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Old 09-18-2015, 02:05 PM   #1
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1977 31' Sovereign
Fort Erie , Ontario
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No Gas at water heater

We just purchased a 1977 Sovereign and are just getting it all sorted. This is our first airstream and can't express how excited we are to get it out. It's generally in fantastic shape and only a few minor issues.

I am however not able to get water heater to fire up. I'm not hearing any gas at the pilot and can't smell anything. Both valves are open and lp tank is full.

Any thoughts on first steps for troubleshooting?

Thanks
Mike
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Old 09-18-2015, 02:11 PM   #2
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Are you getting LP elsewhere (stove is usually easiest to check)?
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Old 09-18-2015, 02:24 PM   #3
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1981 31' Excella II
New Market , Alabama
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I second that. Also some trailers have shutoff valves at each appliance. I had the rubber hose between the regulator and the copper tubing swell to the point it would not let gas pass through.

Perry
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Old 09-18-2015, 06:05 PM   #4
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1977 31' Sovereign
Fort Erie , Ontario
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LP is flowing to stove and valve at WH is open. Was reading to owners manual and it mentioned opening hot water tap in washroom to fill tank. Maybe there is a fail safe where if tank is empty it won't let heater ignite. Going to try in AM and see if that does it.
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Old 09-18-2015, 06:35 PM   #5
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1968 24' Tradewind
1967 17' Caravel
Northborough , Massachusetts
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12v

The secondary safety valve won't open without 12V... How are your batteries?
Is a fuse blown? Is the WH switch on? Etc... You are not finished checking yet.
There is an over temp switch that will shut it down if it gets too hot, there may also be an over pressure switch. Check for 12V getting to the gas flow control.

Chuck
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Old 09-18-2015, 10:00 PM   #6
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1968 24' Tradewind
1967 17' Caravel
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Solenoid...

The flow control "solenoid" needs a 12v supply to operate. Dead or low battery voltage will nix the flow of gas into any appliance that has this kind of valve... Fridge, Water Heater, Furnace. Stove will work fine without 12v so it is fine to check for gas but not for the rest of the possibilities. There should be a switch that turns on the appliance... mine has 2, one for gas the other for 110v electricity, I can use either or both... but gas will not work if there is no 12v.
There generally needs to be a reasonable battery in the circuit... the 12v charger may not be a "good" enough source of power for it to be happy.
If your battery voltage gets too low it will cease to function... a full battery reads around 12.8v, a empty battery reads around 12.2v. Both of these numbers are for a battery that is not supplying power to anything (load), under load the number for full/empty depends heavily on how much power is being supplied... and will be between those 2 numbers. So the operational range for battery voltage is pretty narrow.

Check at the appliance for a source of 12v, then turn on the demand switch and there should be a click from the solenoid to allow the flow of gas. This may require 2 people to troubleshoot... one to turn on and one to listen at the appliance's solenoid.

Solenoid's and control valves do fail so this is a possibility as well.
No "click" ? Troubleshoot the 12v supply through the control circuit... or seek professional help if this is not your cup of tea.

Any part could be the fault.

No gas...
No 12v..
Low 12v...
Power switch not on...
Blown fuse...
Bad control board...
Bad/stuck solenoid...
etc...

Chuck
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Old 09-18-2015, 11:44 PM   #7
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1974 31' Sovereign
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"Valve at the WH is open"

Is that the one under the trailer? There's a valve (or should be)under the trailer in the line feeding the water heater. If it's closed the 'handle' will be perpindicular to the gas line. If it's tough to open spray with a little pb blaster or wd40 and let soak for a minute.

To check gas to the WH you can loosen the gas connection and use soapy water to check for bubbles to indicate pressure.

If it's a manual pilot, probable on a '77, the 12v is moot.
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Old 09-20-2015, 11:24 PM   #8
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I have a 1976 Caravanner which had the same issue, no gas at the pilot. Turned out to be an obstruction of the pilots orifice. Easy to disassemble and check. Used a needle to carefully clear what appeared to be rust. Be
careful not to enlarge the diameter of the hole.

Quill
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Old 09-21-2015, 11:50 PM   #9
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Orifice is definitely another possibility. I think you'd be surprised how full of crap the propane lines that old would be. The additives and impurities on the propane build up over the many years of use.
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Old 09-22-2015, 04:51 PM   #10
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1977 31' Sovereign
Fort Erie , Ontario
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Thanks all for the help. I just got home from a 2 night tent camping trip (reminded me why I hate sleeping on the ground) and I had a chance to check the gas flow using the soapy water suggestion from @hijosilver and found that gas was being supplied. Tightened the connection back up and tried lighting the pilot again...sputtered then lit. Took 2 attempts but the heater eventually fired up. Wonder if I dislodged something while opening the gas fitting. At any rate it's back to life and now I can move on to sealing since the Parbond I ordered just arrived. Thanks all again for your help.
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Old 09-22-2015, 05:32 PM   #11
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Probably purged lines finally.
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Old 09-22-2015, 05:45 PM   #12
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When was the last time the water heater fired up?
Was there an interruption in gas supply which would let air in the line?
Is it the original almost 40 year old water heater?
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Old 09-22-2015, 07:56 PM   #13
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Glad she's up and running.

Waking up freezing in a tent in Yellowstone. I'm too old for this freezing sleeping on the ground stuff. The AS is a nice shiny comfy tent you can keep simple if you want.
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Old 10-31-2015, 06:51 PM   #14
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1989 32' Excella
Sharon Springs , New York
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Have a 1989 Excella with a Newtec Gas Detection Unit's alarm that won't shut off unless I turn the switch off. Will that affect the LP gas flow to the furnace, water heater or fridge? The stove works ok but I haven't tried the other stuff on lp as its winterized now. I know I need to replace the detector anyway, will it matter which brand I use because Newtec is out of business I believe. The unit is a 2-wire, flush-mount, 12 volt set-up and looks pretty standard. My lp tanks have wires coming off
them, but I think they are for the fuel level monitoring system, could be wrong though. Any experience with replacing the gas detector would be appreciated.
Regards,
James
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