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Aux Battery & Getting Started
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RaxAdam
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Joined: September 03, 2011
Posts: 101
Location: Montreal
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SSWesty wrote:
The job is pretty straight forward. I think it's only 4 bolts and a propane connection to unhook and hook up again. However those could be really rusty bolts and I believe the propane connection may need to be updated. I could see this taking 3 hours with a few snags. You could try switching the tanks on your own and have the mechanic do the propane line. That would save you some money because I bet most of the work will be getting the old tank out and the new one bolted up.


Yes, he mentioned something about "flaring" - a term I'm not familiar with. Besides removing the bolts (which he made to sound very difficult: apparently they are not visible, so if one breaks, it's a pretty big snag), I wasn't sure where all the hangs up might come in.

Are there any tricks for helping to loosen up seized bolts? Maybe I'll try to get under there before going & loosen them up. I don't really have the appropriate equipment with me on the road to tackle the job, but I could try to set things up so they go smoothly. Basically I'm just trying to learn as much as I can about the system so as not to be taken in by false-logic used to justify extra service time (I hate operating on this assumption, but have not had much luck so far!).

SSWesty wrote:
As for the fridge not working it's possible it may not work. A good move would be to take it out and clean up the burner and lighting system. There are lots of threads here on servicing the fridge.


Great, I'll poke around and see what I can find on the fridges. I hope you can understand how it's all a bit overwhelming - I don't mean to over-rely on your help by any means, but have also spent hours searching other info in vain on account of not know reliable sources. Clearly I've found one now!

Thank you (all), again. I love this van through & through and want to take the best care of it possible & could not do it without your help. Your generosity with your time and advice are greatly appreciated.

All the best,


Rax
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Home Team Van
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Joined: January 02, 2008
Posts: 465
Location: wilmington, nc
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this should help you with the fridge.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/werksforwagens/sets/72157594499353583

As far as getting the tank off, it shouldn't be that hard. Get underneath the van and you'll see the 4 bolts. I put a cinder block with some padding on it under the tank so that I could kind of lower it down without it crashing. You can buy a reflaring tool or any propane place should be able to do it for you very cheaply and should only take a few minutes. Maybe you didn't see me asking before but does your stove work?
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SSWesty
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Joined: August 20, 2008
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Location: Bellevue
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think a couple of us are wondering how you determined that the old tank was bad. I am assuming you've been able to confirm that the tank was no longer safe to hold propane and have moved on by getting a new tank. Quite a few folks here have cleaned up rusty tanks and updated the valves. If you are second guessing yourself you could work with the existing tank to confirm what does or doesn't work. Putting some propane in the tank and sniffing for the smell of propane around the stove and under the sink would be a good start. If you suspect a leak use soap water on the connection to see if a leak will make the water and soap bubble. Once you pass a basic leak test you could see if the stove will light. A propane dealer or RV repair place may be able to test the existing tank.

Okay back to plan A for switching the tanks out. At minimum spray the 4 bolts holding the old propane tank with WD-40. If you can do this a few times it will probably help break the rusty bond. Spray, let them sit for 30-60 minutes and spray again. Next try to loosen the bolts a couple turns. If you can get all 4 loose that will help the mechanic(snug the bolts back up before driving). Or if you have time undo the propane line and drop the tank. If you still have time and things are going well clean up the area where the old propane tank mounts touched the van. Brush or sand off the rust and re-coat with primer and a paint. Doing this with RustOleum paint would be better than nothing. If you really want to go after the rust a popular product on this forum is POR but is a little harder to get. Once you get this far you may just choose to bolt the new tank up. Given that this is your first rodeo having a "trusted" mechanic look things over is probably worth it and you'll need someone to do the propane fitting unless you pick up a flaring tool.

There are a number of threads here on replacing and redoing the propane tank. You can use the info to either do it yourself or sanity check what a mechanic might suggest.

Good Luck!
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RaxAdam
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Joined: September 03, 2011
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Location: Montreal
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howdy -

Sorry for the delay in response: been on the road for 3months trying to get my business started and the busyness really made it difficult to track everything: place to sleep, food to eat, meeting invites & follow-ups etc etc.

I had already purchased the propane tank by the time of posting: I've heard quite a bit of feedback that the originals can be hard to have filled (because they don't meet present day regulations so fillers will refuse to fill them as they are legally accountable).

I gave up on the tank and dropped it off with a friend because I couldn't find anyone who would install it, except for the "mobile" installer in Mass. who wanted >$200 for the job ... It was just too complicated what with work and survival.

I've started spraying the bolts with WD40, but am hesitating on the install because I'm wondering if I shouldn't get this van in good running condition, sell it and look for another with less rust, and less mileage & put the tank on it ... I don't want to part with my present van, but I'm also weary of taking on more than I can realistically handle. Also not sure how much the new tank would increase the resale value.


[b] The Battery [\b]

This is perhaps the single worst experience with the van I have had: first a westy mechanic sells me the wrong kit; y'all helped me sort that out (thank you!); then goWesty sells me another, but it requires cutting wires from the fuse box & I had neither the tools nor the experience to do it on my own on the road (& couldn't afford the hold up or repairs if I did real damage): so I broke down and had an experienced Vanagon mechanic install the kit: except that he refused to install the goWesty kit because he felt it was some sort of ill-thought-out fangled contraption that would cause me troubles in the future and was unnecessarily complicated. He had a kit of his own that was "simple and sophisticated and clean": it doesn't run the radio or the stuff up front, just the "camping" stuff in the back - including the fridge.

When I went to this guy initially, I thought it would cost me ~$30 for him to do a 15min install (it seemed pretty straight forward to me - minimal work, I had the kit and battery already), but it came out to $180 in the end [ pain. ] and, to add insult to financial injury: the surge protection on my power adaptor prevents my computer from taking a charge from the 400W, modified sine-wave inverter. Charging the computer was the primary reason for this entire effort! I now have a really expensive cell-phone charger in my van (but no cell phone). Of course, it has been nice to have the battery for the fridge, though the propane tank remains preferable, I think.

I'm going to take some photos of the final system installed & see if I can sort exactly what the guy did (he was a good mechanic, but really unwilling to discuss the work - he just wanted to "do"; as a result, i probably won't go back because I can't learn anything about the van): I'd like to put together a clear and simple "idiot's guide to installing an aux. battery" for '89 Vanagons (& similar models) for future newbs like me. If anyone else is interested in helping with this project, please let me know. I'll post the finished .pdf here when it is done.

Thanks again to all for their help!

Best,

Rax
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