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Old 05-17-2015, 02:07 PM   #1
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Gauges on 30# aluminum tanks

On our '96 34' Excella, we have 30# tanks. I just completed a "remodel", (well almost completed), we've only had the trailer out once for a week on the shakedown trip. I had both tanks recertified and refilled, both guages registered "full", and the monitor on the range hood indicated "full".
This trailer has a gas only hot water heater, and on the first weeks trip, using only the water heater and the kitchen stove on gas, the tanks indicated "full", so I assumed they were both full.

The gas system has no leaks, it was manometer checked before the weeks trip.

This morning, I checked the monitor panel on the range hood, and both tanks registered "full". I wanted to remove some rust on the A frame, so removed the tanks, one of them was empty, but the guage on the tank registed "full". The other tank the gauge registered 1/4 full, and it was full.

Obviously, before I get into the wiring of the monitor panel, I need to replace these tank guages. Have any of you had experience with this, or should I just take them to the local LP thief, and let them deal with it?

Comments, (constructive ones) are appreciated...

Larry
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:50 PM   #2
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I'm assuming when you say that the tank was empty but the gauge read full, you are talking about the gauge on the tank itself.

The "float" for the newer required OPD valves can hang-up/interfere with the "float" for the gauge, depending on how the former was installed. By shaking the tank up and down and side to side, in both vertical and horizontal positions I usually get the gauge float to free up. Sometimes I have to use up some of the propane and try a second time. Once I had to add propane before I could get it to free up.
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Old 05-17-2015, 10:54 PM   #3
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Not good to overfill. But the cylinder maker sells the replacements.
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Old 05-18-2015, 07:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Siegmann View Post
I'm assuming when you say that the tank was empty but the gauge read full, you are talking about the gauge on the tank itself.

The "float" for the newer required OPD valves can hang-up/interfere with the "float" for the gauge, depending on how the former was installed. By shaking the tank up and down and side to side, in both vertical and horizontal positions I usually get the gauge float to free up. Sometimes I have to use up some of the propane and try a second time. Once I had to add propane before I could get it to free up.

Yes, that's correct, the guage on the tank itself shows "full", and registers "full" on the monitor panel on the range hood, however that tank is empty.

On the second tank, the tank guage registers 3/4, but shows "full" on the monitor panel.

When the tanks were recertified last winter, new OPD valves were installed at the same time.

Larry C
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:42 AM   #5
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That's when my issue started; after new OPD valves were installed. Try my shake technique.
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:10 AM   #6
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That's when my issue started; after new OPD valves were installed. Try my shake technique.
Thanks for sharing the "shake" technique! You might add to the procedure by shaking first, and if that doesn't work, "bump" it (vertically) on the driveway.
3 very firm "bumps" freed the one that was empty, but the guage registered full. It went to empty. Now, I'm going to have it filled and see where it is.

The monitor panel still registers "full" on that tank, so apparently there is either a broken wire, or a bad ground somewhere...

Maybe people could call us "The Shake and Bump Folks"

Larry
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Old 05-18-2015, 10:28 AM   #7
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When I got my AS used....one of the floats was hanging. I could shake it loose sometimes, and sometimes not. I took it to a full service LP distributor. He emptied the tank (to the atmosphere, much to my surprise) and removed the gauge and rotated it a bit. Problem solved. It was hanging on the OPD mechanism.

In my experience, the tank gauge and the monitor will never match exactly, but mine show empty by the monitor with maybe a couple pounds left in the tank, which is good enough for me. Make sure the electrical connections are clean and tight. Any undue resistance in the circuit will through off the monitor. Mine are accurate to 1/8 - 1/4 tank.
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Old 05-18-2015, 05:03 PM   #8
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Another possibility is that the gauge face itself is sticking due to age and corrosion.

The float gauges have a magnetic connection to the needle on the gauge face making it easy to replace the gauge face assembly even while the tank has propane in it. VTS has the replacement gauges and can help you be sure you get the one with the remote electronic sensor you need.
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Old 05-18-2015, 09:45 PM   #9
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The gauge is a very simple device and prone to failure. Basically there is float at the end of a long tube. As the float drops it turns a shaft in the tube which in turn moves a magnet up under the gauge. The gauge is not directly connected to the shaft. To many chances of leaks. The typical fault is the float becomes stuck.

Find a propane shop or a hot air balloon repair station. Fix is to drain the tank, remove the gauge and lift out the float shaft. Sometimes they can be cleaned other times replaced.

Used Worthington tanks for years flying hot air balloons. The gauges were always treated with skepticism. Better to know your systems and consumption rates.
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Old 05-19-2015, 08:44 AM   #10
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The Bump technique works!

I had a cylinder in Texas that wouldn't take propane. The filling station bumped the cylinder on the ground and it shook loose the OPD.
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Old 05-19-2015, 09:03 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry C View Post

When the tanks were recertified last winter, new OPD valves were installed at the same time.

Larry C
I have a 2008 Classic 25fb with aluminum tanks. When do the tanks need to be recertified? I thought aluminum tanks were exempt from that sort of thing.

Kelvin
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Old 05-19-2015, 09:05 AM   #12
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I have a 2008 Classic 25fb with aluminum tanks. When do the tanks need to be recertified? I thought aluminum tanks were exempt from that sort of thing.

Kelvin
IIRC, it is at the 12 year mark.
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Old 05-19-2015, 10:12 AM   #13
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The newer ones will already have OPD valves and just require a visual inspection.
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