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Old 01-11-2013, 03:26 PM   #1
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1963 28' Ambassador
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NEWBIE question. Butane tanks

I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of my 63 Ambassador Airstream tomorrow. The trailer is in solid, original condition. It is equipped with butane tanks and the appliances are all working (well the stove has never been used, "new condition"). If I plan to restore the trailer, and travel with it; do I need to get it switched over to propane? I think that involves A LOT, including fittings where ever something is connected? Can you find butane when traveling, or is it challenging? I figure I might as well start asking questions from the very beginning, instead of after. I appreciate any feedback!
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:45 PM   #2
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Are you certain that it has butane tanks and not propane tanks?

Bill

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I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of my 63 Ambassador Airstream tomorrow. The trailer is in solid, original condition. It is equipped with butane tanks and the appliances are all working (well the stove has never been used, "new condition"). If I plan to restore the trailer, and travel with it; do I need to get it switched over to propane? I think that involves A LOT, including fittings where ever something is connected? Can you find butane when traveling, or is it challenging? I figure I might as well start asking questions from the very beginning, instead of after. I appreciate any feedback!
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:52 PM   #3
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Pretty sure. I looked up the original specs for the 1963, and it was equipped with double five gallon butane tanks, and the current owner thinks it butane.
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Old 01-11-2013, 03:55 PM   #4
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Pretty sure. I looked up the original specs for the 1963, and it was equipped with double five gallon butane tanks, and the current owner thinks it butane.
Scratching my head!!!! Hmmm?!?!
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:01 PM   #5
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butane tank photo

had to adjust the pixels to post the photo, but I think I got it right. I'm learning!Click image for larger version

Name:	AS tanks.jpg
Views:	139
Size:	419.4 KB
ID:	176499
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:05 PM   #6
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Those tanks look like 30 lb or 7.5 gallon steel propane tanks. RVs are usually equipped with propane tanks and appliances. There is a difference between butane and propane, but I think the difference has to do with operating temperatures not the efficiency of the gas. Those tanks are probably out of date also and will need to be recertified. A propane dealer can recertify the tanks and tell you if they are butane and if any changes are needed to the appliances.

Bill

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had to adjust the pixels to post the photo, but I think I got it right. I'm learning!Attachment 176499
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:15 PM   #7
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had to adjust the pixels to post the photo, but I think I got it right. I'm learning!Attachment 176499
definately LP tanks. Butane tanks are rounder, and have different valves.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:31 PM   #8
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I think campers in Europe often have butane tanks, but not here in North American. Propane is readily available - many campgrounds sell it, many gas stations have it, and there are also propane distributors that will refill your tanks, too.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:40 PM   #9
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If they are original tanks, they probably never had OPD valves installed. A propane dealer can do that for you as well as certify the tanks. We had that done last Spring on our 30 lb aluminum tanks, and if memory serves, it was less than $30 per tank for the OPD valve, installation, and re-certification.

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Old 01-11-2013, 05:05 PM   #10
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Don't Assume Recertification

Those are propane tanks, as others have said.
A reputable dealer may not install OPD valves and re-certify them if the welds are as badly rusted, as they appear to be. They look like they should be cut in two and sold to the scrap man.
If you intend to renovate the Airstream and turn it from an ugly duckling into a beautiful swan, buy some nice, new aluminum tanks for it. You will never regret the purchase.
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:12 PM   #11
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Propane and butane are essentially interchangeable, but butane will not vaporize below about 30 F. It is very rare to find butane here in the states, and I very much doubt that the original system was set up differently, that is for butane alone (which still would work with propane). Early Airstream manuals were iffy at best, and just may have been someone's writing. For example, we have not used 110 volt power in this country for 50 to 70 years, yet very often someone will say they have a 110 or a 220 volt system when in fact it is a 120 or a 240 volt system.

But the tanks look well past their prime. You can get new steel ones in the 30# variety for about $60 each, and AL ones for much more (like $250 each). I would not bother with changing the valves on very old tanks, it is just not worth it. You can buy steel tanks at most Home Depot stores and all propane dealers. Get new pigtails and a new regulator too, while you are at it, yours are just old and time for replacement.

Happy playing with your new rig!
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:58 PM   #12
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I've got to admit, I'm just darn right giddy about not only an Airstream; but the access to such an incredible wealth of knowledge and support that this community offers. YEAH ME!
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Old 01-11-2013, 09:54 PM   #13
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Congrats on the '63...it's kind of a special year. They have a unique design for the door-in-a-door (in other words, it didn't work too good so they switched back in '64)

Anyway, I believe my plaque says LPG system, my stove works fine on the stuff they refill tanks with now days...
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Old 01-12-2013, 02:41 AM   #14
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Treading,

A group of us are going to be camping at High Falls State Park in GA next weekend (18-21 January). Please consider joining us.
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