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Old 10-14-2007, 11:35 PM   #1
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my gas tanks are empty!

OK, it's 40 degrees and raining and the forecast is for colder temps and the propane tanks are empty. I'm new to the Airstream thing so I'm hoping there is a better way of monitoring tanks than the walk through guy told us. Basically, he said that the tanks would change automatically and that we could tell when a tank was empty by the small lever at the valve.

The lever never changed and the tanks are both empty. Is there a good way to gage the tanks so that I can anticipate when I need to fill these things?
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Old 10-14-2007, 11:41 PM   #2
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The lever does not move, it points to the primary tank (the one that empties first). You should have a glass gauge on the regulator. Green is good. When it turns red the primary tank is empty and it has switched over automagicly. You then move the lever and make the other tank primary, remove the empty tank, have it filled and put it back on. You do have to look at the glass once and a while. Running the heater will use alot of propane.
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Old 10-15-2007, 12:19 AM   #3
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So what now?

Thanks!

I think I found out the hard way that using the heater does indeed use a lot of gas.

I don't have any kind of gauge on the regulator. Is there any that you recommend or are they just standard issue? can I just put one on or is this a dealer service type of thing?
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Old 10-15-2007, 01:17 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tfetterer
Thanks!

I think I found out the hard way that using the heater does indeed use a lot of gas.

I don't have any kind of gauge on the regulator. Is there any that you recommend or are they just standard issue? can I just put one on or is this a dealer service type of thing?
Hi TF, if you have an autoswitchover regulator there should be a place where you can see if the switching has indeed taken place. Mine has a black plastic cap over it with a small window at the bottom. Green means that you are still on the first tank, red means that the first tank is now empty and can be removed safely for filling. Flip the black lever to the other tank, usually 180' turn. The lever on mine says supply on it with an arrow pointing to the tank being used. Fill the now empty tank and the process starts all over again.

Pics of your particular regulator might help because each manufacturer is a bit different.
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Old 10-15-2007, 01:29 AM   #5
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In the meantime, you can pour a pan of hot water over the tank - the tank will get warm above the fluid line, cool below the fluid. You can feel the difference with your hand.
Dave
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:43 AM   #6
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How the LP/propane valve works

If you want to learn all about the auto switch-over valve and how to test it, these documents from the manufacturer should answer your questions:

http://www.shleggitt.com/edlees/250acft.pdf


http://www.shleggitt.com/edlees/250aco.pdf

I spoke to Ed at the manufacturer and he was very helpful in providing these links.
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Old 10-15-2007, 06:48 AM   #7
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I figure out that running the furnace on new unit is harder on propane than my 1975 Overlander.
New technology doesn't always mean more efficiency...
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Old 10-15-2007, 10:49 AM   #8
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you might want to close off the second tank to see how long the first one lasts. you also might get to go outside in you jammies at 3 a.m. to open the second tank.
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Old 10-15-2007, 10:58 AM   #9
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Late model Safaris have a simple lever without any gauge or automatic switchover. To keep using without adding the nice gear you should use one tank until it is empty -- don't switch over before that. LP fillers think taking in a partly empty tank is a PITA.

I have used almost 50# of propane in one 3 day weekend of subfreezing weather -- mostly because I had to run the furnace underway for 600 miles to keep it warm inside. Wind chill at 60mph drew a lot of heat out of there! A stationary bulk tank is a good alternative if your are in a fixed location. Time to winterize and use it like an aluminum tent?
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Old 10-15-2007, 11:06 AM   #10
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You might also consider getting some form of electric heater (assuming you have hook-ups) to help supplement your propane and have in case you do run out in the middle of the night during a hard freeze.

Shari
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Old 10-15-2007, 12:15 PM   #11
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When our trailer was new, we also ran out of propane. It was the middle of the night and cold. Our problem was how we were reading the little indicator on the automatic switchover. Yes, it shows red when the selected bottle is empty and it has switched over to the second bottle. What we did not know is that the indicator only turns half red when the one bottle is empty. It turns completely red when both bottles are empty. Our rule now is if any red shows, get the empty bottle filled.
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Old 10-15-2007, 12:21 PM   #12
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and if you look at it from a higher point you don't even see the red...
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Old 10-15-2007, 04:32 PM   #13
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I always leave one tank closed - even though I may have to go out in my jammies, I've never run completely out on a cold night since.

Pat
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Old 10-15-2007, 07:16 PM   #14
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Actually the auto switch over valve in the late model Safari is designed to pull the gas from the main tank but when it is cool and there is no enough vapor in the main tank, then the valve switches over to the reserve tank.

It was explained to me by one of the engineers at Marshall that the only way anyone should run is with both tanks fully open and to let the automatic valve pull the vapor as needed.

I did what some others have suggested and ran with only one tank open. We thought we had drained the main tank when we could not get the water heater and furnace to both run. When I called Marshall about the valve I was told to let it pull as needed from each tank so that's what I do now.
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