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Hallvalla Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:11 am

I've had nothing but problems trying to get mine filled around the Bay Area. Usually they'll get about .5 gallons and it stops, and they eventually give up. But we just use it for the stove, so it can go a long long way on just a little propane.

Bay Area Westy's: can anybody recommend a fill-up location that has knowledgeable attendant's? It would be worth it for me to drive there just to see how they do it correctly.

danfromsyr Tue Apr 10, 2012 11:15 am

are you sure it's empty when you take it in..
if you just use for the stove it's quite plausible that the 1/2 gal is all your using.. the stove is essentially a coleman propane that could use green 1# bottles.. and those would last a few weekends for casual use.

turn the burners on full for a minute and use a spray bottle (mister) to spritz the propane tank, the condensate will stick better at the fluid level.. and let you know where your lvl is.. you can drain it all the way down to the bottom and still have gaseous propane.. 2.8gal propane is approx 11.7#s nearly 12x's the capacity of a green 1# bottle.

just some thoughts fwiw..
dan in NY

Hallvalla Tue Apr 10, 2012 3:57 pm

Thanks, Dan. Good tips.

This weekend (three day camp trip) the burner flame started turning an orangish color, I wonder if this is any indication to getting close to empty?

danfromsyr Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:16 pm

Hmm,
An orange flame is an indication that it is not getting enough oxygen (air) for complete combustion.

spiders and gunk can easily get in the way

presslab Tue Apr 10, 2012 4:54 pm

I had an orange flame on one burner, and soot ended up on the pot. It turned out there was a large spider nest in one of the flues. Are both your burners orange?

If I recall when the propane gets low my flames just get smaller, and it's hard to light.

JN99 Tue Apr 10, 2012 8:40 pm

Ok, so that I am sure I have this straight. Since the above referenced valve and bleeder are a relatively inexpensive and simple addition I thought I'd order them and upgrade my tank with the hopes of avoiding the hassles, headaches, and confusion sometimes faced with the AutoStop valve.

So the replacement valve and bleeder are a direct replacement for the Auto Stop and thread into the tank and that's it? It looks like the bleeder is connected somehow on the valve with the AurtoStop; I guess that's the design. So that comes out and I just replace with the valve and bleeder? And then when refilling, the bleeder valve is opened during filling or what's the process?

madspaniard Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:24 pm

Hallvalla wrote: I've had nothing but problems trying to get mine filled around the Bay Area.

Bay Area Westy's: can anybody recommend a fill-up location that has knowledgeable attendant's? It would be worth it for me to drive there just to see how they do it correctly.

Same here. I used to go to the gas station on Powell St in Emeryville but they now deny propane service to Westys (thanks to one of my friends and his near miss incident with his Westy propane tank). I also went to this other gas station in Richmond but last time the guy at the pump almost got frostbite in his hand when he mishandled the whole thing filling up my Westy, propane all over the place, he didn't know how to shut it off...

Last time I filled the propane tank on my way to Yosemite in one of those small towns and in the process the night shift attendant stole my credit card number, got about $2,000 in charges from England before the end of the weekend. Thanks god bank took care of it.

presslab Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:39 pm

JN99 wrote: Ok, so that I am sure I have this straight. Since the above referenced valve and bleeder are a relatively inexpensive and simple addition I thought I'd order them and upgrade my tank with the hopes of avoiding the hassles, headaches, and confusion sometimes faced with the AutoStop valve.

So the replacement valve and bleeder are a direct replacement for the Auto Stop and thread into the tank and that's it? It looks like the bleeder is connected somehow on the valve with the AurtoStop; I guess that's the design. So that comes out and I just replace with the valve and bleeder? And then when refilling, the bleeder valve is opened during filling or what's the process?

Ah, yup, that's all correct.

Unscrew the old valve, and remove the tube from the bleeder, and put some sealant on the new valves and screw 'em in.

crazyvwvanman Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:36 am

The purpose of the bleeder valve is to let the tank filling person know when the tank is full. The bleeder valve is connected to a certain level near the top of the tank. Propane is a liquid but it turns into a vapor before we use it. When the bleeder is open it lets vapor out until the liquid level rises high enough in the tank and then it starts spitting liquid to let the filler know the tank is as full as it is supposed to be. That is why the bleeder must be opened before tank filling starts.

http://www.propane101.com/fixedliquidlevelgauge.htm

The original "AutoStop" valve device that many Westy tanks came with was supposed to remove the need for the filler to pay close attention to the bleeder. The concept was fine but the device relies on rubber o-rings to hold the propane in the tank EVEN WHEN ALL THE VALVES ARE CLOSED! The eventual failure of the o-ring means that the entire contents of the tank may then empty and no one can stop it.

The much later tanks and new replacement Westy tanks use a float level device inside the tank to stop the filling when the tank is full. The replacement valves that many of us use to remove the hazardous AutoStop setup don't have overfill prevention and must rely on the filler guys to know what they are doing and pay attention. The very early Westy tanks are this way too.

Mark


JN99 wrote: Ok, so that I am sure I have this straight. Since the above referenced valve and bleeder are a relatively inexpensive and simple addition I thought I'd order them and upgrade my tank with the hopes of avoiding the hassles, headaches, and confusion sometimes faced with the AutoStop valve.

So the replacement valve and bleeder are a direct replacement for the Auto Stop and thread into the tank and that's it? It looks like the bleeder is connected somehow on the valve with the AurtoStop; I guess that's the design. So that comes out and I just replace with the valve and bleeder? And then when refilling, the bleeder valve is opened during filling or what's the process?

delibessleep Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:40 am

Quote: The replacement valves that many of us use to remove the hazardous AutoStop setup don't have overfill prevention and must rely on the filler guys to know what they are doing and pay attention. The very early Westy tanks are this way too.


But...isn't the position of the bleeder valve enough to ensure you never overfill the propane tank? I can only assume that was the intent. Kinda reminds me of the filling location on a gearbox.
I see what you mean though...and you could conceivably fill faster than the bleeder can bleed.

presslab Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:52 am

delibessleep wrote: ...and you could conceivably fill faster than the bleeder can bleed.

That's exactly what can happen if the attendant is not attending to things. If this happens, the tank is now overfilled. There is another safety mechanism that accounts for this, it is the over pressure valve located on the service valve. As the tank warms back up after filling, the OPV will slowly bleed off propane until enough is removed. Ask me how I know. :roll:

So the moral of this story is that it's good to find a station that knows what they're doing. I have one I regularly go to, and I still watch them with eagle eyes.

crazyvwvanman Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:59 am

Yes, if the bleeder valve is opened and the guy filling pays attention he should shut the pump off when it spits. That is the point of the bleeder valve. At my local filling station their pump won't force way too much in anyway but who knows about other pumps.

If they don't open the bleeder wide then the liquid pumping in has to fight against the growing pressure of the existing vapor and this may prevent you from getting a properly full tank. Even the portable BBQ tanks have a bleeder they are supposed to open during filling to make room for the new liquid.

Mark

delibessleep wrote: But...isn't the position of the bleeder valve enough to ensure you never overfill the propane tank? I can only assume that was the intent. Kinda reminds me of the filling location on a gearbox.
I see what you mean though...and you could conceivably fill faster than the bleeder can bleed.

delibessleep Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:17 pm

Right, well today I replaced all four items on my propane tank this morning. It took about 1 1/2 hours.

I used a filler and bleeder from Helmar. Price was great and the parts are of high quality (Rego).
I bought the shut off valve from TK. Again, nice piece.
The new regulator is from Go westy.

It takes a fair bit of energy to remove those valves. I actually got out my floor jack to help move the wrench around at first.

I used pipe dope, got it all hooked up and ready to go. I'll fill it tomorrow and let you know how it went.

delibessleep Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:00 pm

Great success!
Filled the tank with 2 gallons, checked the lines for leakage..
Fired up the stove first. Both burners work very well.
And would you believe I got the fridge to fire as well! Pretty satisfying, and well worth the money.
Thanks to everyone for your help/guidance.

Ray

Franklinstower Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:14 am

I stopped by a local RV supply and service store yesterday to get some Butyl Tape (for my sailboat) and asked the dude at the counter what kind of fill valves he has to replace my Autostop. He went into a big dissertation stating he wouldn't sell me a valve. I said it was a manchester tank that meets the RV standards but i have problems finding an attendant to fill it. He told me that he knows all about the problems filling autostop valves and has had numnersous discussions with manchester. He also said he knows plenty of peoply change their fill valves, but unless they change it to a fill valve with a float style shut off in the tank, then it is an illegal and dangerous situation.

he told me, they will rebuild my autostop (which doesn't leak) or I can buy a new tank that has the float style auto shut off. He said there are no other legal options for my westy?


Any else hear of this?

Paul

crazyvwvanman Tue Apr 17, 2012 8:46 am

Yes, I have heard of this. While the first several years of Vanagon Westy tank had no auto shutoff filler all the later years do. You are not allowed to remove the newer safety device and put in the older type valve. Lots of people do it anyway as a new older type valve is safer than an old failing AutoStop version. The very latest Westy tanks have a float type safety shutoff instead of the failure prone AutoStop leaker. The issue is that the float type valve is made to fit a tank with a specific position on the side of the tank for the filler boss. The filler boss on the tank is down lower on AutoStop valve tanks. If you try to use the latest float type valve on the earlier AutoStop tank the float is too low in the tank and shuts off before the tank is full.


Mark


Franklinstower wrote: ........ he knows plenty of peoply change their fill valves, but unless they change it to a fill valve with a float style shut off in the tank, then it is an illegal and dangerous situation.

he told me, they will rebuild my autostop (which doesn't leak) or I can buy a new tank that has the float style auto shut off. He said there are no other legal options for my westy?

Any else hear of this?

Paul

JN99 Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:42 am

Franklinstower wrote: I stopped by a local RV supply and service store yesterday to get some Butyl Tape (for my sailboat) and asked the dude at the counter what kind of fill valves he has to replace my Autostop. He went into a big dissertation stating he wouldn't sell me a valve. I said it was a manchester tank that meets the RV standards but i have problems finding an attendant to fill it. He told me that he knows all about the problems filling autostop valves and has had numnersous discussions with manchester. He also said he knows plenty of peoply change their fill valves, but unless they change it to a fill valve with a float style shut off in the tank, then it is an illegal and dangerous situation.

he told me, they will rebuild my autostop (which doesn't leak) or I can buy a new tank that has the float style auto shut off. He said there are no other legal options for my westy?


Any else hear of this?

Paul

This is what concerns me - damned if we do, damned if we don't with the old auto stop valves. It sounds like it will be pretty much hit or miss as to whether or not I'll find a place to fill it (able OR willing) in either case - with the old auto stop or a new non float style valve...

I don't really want to shell out $400 for a new tank but more and more it sounds like that is the only foolproof solution. I don't really want a situation where I put myself or anyone else in danger either. I must admit though that I don't get what the deal is with these replacement valves - why are they any more dangerous on our Westy tanks than any other kind of tank?

crazyvwvanman Tue Apr 17, 2012 9:52 am

I have never had a station refuse to fill a Westy tank and I have filled many different ones. One of my vans even has a replacement tank on one side and a very early tank on the other. The stations fill one side and then the other and don't say a word about the difference. Maybe I'm just lucky?

Mark

JN99 wrote: ......
This is what concerns me - damned if we do, damned if we don't with the old auto stop valves. It sounds like it will be pretty much hit or miss as to whether or not I'll find a place to fill it (able OR willing) in either case - with the old auto stop or a new non float style valve...
.....

Summers420us Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:57 am

Nobody bothers me either and I have the Terry Kay set up. I do take the time to lay down a small matt for the guy that is doing the fill up. I figure, hey, if he is a little more comfortable, perhaps he will take a little more time getting under there and filling it up correctly.

delibessleep Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:56 pm

To the PNW posters: The shell station in Woodinville filled mine up without concern. I told him to stop at 2 gallons before he began.

And while the standard and float requirements have changed for the better, I find it very difficult to believe a tank is any safer with the float. I think it comes down to paying attention when you are filling the tank.

There is no way the Auto Stop is any "safer" than the replacement filler and a bleeder.



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