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Old 06-02-2015, 10:25 PM   #1
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Propane: Black pipe or Copper under trailer?

I was hoping to get some input.

I am having new propane lines installed in my 73 Tradewind. The tech. suggested and measured for black pipe under the trailer.

He said is was more difficult to do but that is what he suggest

Could some folk let me know there opinion about using black pipe or copper under the trailer.

I do have the concern of dissimilar mental and plan to wrap it with pvc pipe wrap

Thanks in Advance

Tony
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:37 PM   #2
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Black pipe where!?!?

Tony, Do not let anyone tell you to use black rigid pipe for anywhere on an RV. I would not even use it if the trailer were a park model unless require by local code! The reason all travel trailers use copper is that rigid pipe will crack or break couplings from the bouncing and flexing that trailers do during travel. JUST DON'T DO IT!!!!! Ed
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Old 06-02-2015, 10:41 PM   #3
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COPPER COPPER COPPER! With Flare connections.

Flexible copper tubing, comes in coils from big box hardware stores. Don't use hard straight copper pipe that would be used for water lines in a house.
Big safety issue here.

Black pipe will easily corrode under there, and you have to transition to copper at some point for connecting to the appliances.

Flare fittings, not compression fittings. Compression fittings are for liquids, flare fittings for gasses. Copper will be a bit more expensive than black pipe, but it's a safety issue. You can reuse the flare fittings if they're in good shape, probably are and just need a bit of cleaning. Also salvage the gas shutoff valves under there. Lines going to each appliance should have a valve. Old valves wire brushed and soaked in some PB blaster should be like new.
You can likely get away with using all 3/8" copper tubing, to save a little money vs using 1/2" as the main line and branching off 3/8".

Are you just trying to replace the main line and keeping the branches, or replacing everything from source to end?
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Old 06-02-2015, 11:04 PM   #4
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Propane: Black pipe or Copper under trailer?

I presume you are referring to black steel pipe as the trunk line. If so, this is common in the RV industry and works just fine and has been time tested successfully. Two of our rigs are plumbed this way and I would not hesitate to do the other rig this way if the need ever arises. Threaded steel trunk line with copper branch lines to appliances.

All copper is great but the cost is through the roof expensive.
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Old 06-02-2015, 11:17 PM   #5
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Thanks for the responses.

It was a gut job so it is all new and new appliances and the rest. I appreciate the responses but am confused with the differences of opinion. The tech has 14 years experience a reputable ( enough) RV outfit in Medford, Oregon in the service department and is now a mobile service. He actual made an appointment and kept it. Saw the job took notes and conducted himself like a citizen. He is RVDA/RVIA Master Certified Aqua-Hot Certified and is licensed and insured.

But I never know for sure.

Anyway, keep any opinion coming it gives me the information to keep me out of trouble.

Tony
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony S View Post
He is RVDA/RVIA Master Certified Aqua-Hot Certified and is licensed and insured.
RVIA Master Certification means that he's certified in five specialty areas— Appliance, Body, Chassis, Electrical Systems, and Plumbing, and that he has at least five years documented experience. Propane piping is a subset of plumbing, so it's in there.

In my book, if an RVIA master tech says do it a particular way, that carries more weight than if a talented amateur from the AirForums says do it a particular way.
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Old 06-03-2015, 08:28 AM   #7
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Protagonist I tend to agree with you. I question him a little while he was here but being our first meeting I didn't want to seem like I didn't have faith or respect for his work. He was cool and basically said it was stronger and the new trailer used it. I replied well that sometimes the trailer companies use things based on price not that it works the best. (is that not the truth) That was about as far as I took it figuring I would do some research and pick some brains.

Does anyone know what Airstream is using on the new one out of the factory.
Anyway any other info would be great.

Tony
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:45 PM   #8
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My '69 Shasta has black iron pipe for the main gas line. And my 2015 Nash has it as well. My '74 Argosy is all copper.
Heavy industry uses black iron pipe for gas. In conditions much more severe than bouncing down the road on rubber tires and torsion axles.
I would use black iron.


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Old 06-03-2015, 01:02 PM   #9
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Black iron pipe is used for gas in houses because it's easily distinguishable from water lines. It is NOT particularly specified for gasses, however.

If you want longevity... use galvanized pipe. It's also approved for gasses.

Main/Trunk lines are good in rigid pipe if it's properly secured.

Copper has a weakness, can you guess what it is?

(Hint: It become brittle and easily fractures from flexing and vibration.)

If flexing and vibration concern you... do NOT use copper. (Even Chas. Lindbergh knew better way back in 1927 when he deliberately cut/isolated the copper oil pressure lines and supplanted them with rubber connectors in his airplane to avoid the fracturing copper is infamous for due to vibration.)

AS uses copper tubing because it's CHEAPER when the labor it takes to measure and fit rigid pipe is taken into consideration. Soft copper can be hand-bent to fit by assemblers, even when the tubing was cut to an improper length, and made to fit quickly. It corrodes when exposed (like beneath trailers) and when it fractures it leaks dangerous gas.

If I were restoring a trailer, I'd use galvanized pipe in exposed locations, and flexible hoses where vibration required it. (Just exactly like the LPG industry requires when connecting your tanks to your regulator and your regulator to your trailer.)
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Old 06-03-2015, 08:13 PM   #10
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no galvie pipe

gas code in the northeast does not allow galv pipe, black iron is ok, I believe there is a reaction between the galvie and gas. Use ductile iron fitting as they are more forgiving. If it's exposed under the pan, black iron is much stronger than copper.
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Old 06-03-2015, 09:58 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kevin245 View Post
I presume you are referring to black steel pipe as the trunk line. If so, this is common in the RV industry and works just fine and has been time tested successfully. Two of our rigs are plumbed this way and I would not hesitate to do the other rig this way if the need ever arises. Threaded steel trunk line with copper branch lines to appliances.

All copper is great but the cost is through the roof expensive.

Bingo!

That is what I did, no problems at all.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:02 PM   #12
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Propane: Black pipe or Copper under trailer?

Do not use galvanized pipe. It's illegal. The coating flakes off and clogs gas jets. Soft copper with flair connections is the proper stuff to use. Slip a piece of rubber tube over the copper where it goes through the trailer body to keep it from wearing. You only need a short piece where it enters the trailer or passes though a wall.

Don't forget to put the flair nut on the pipe before you flair the ends.

What's the cost of copper got to do with it. It's and Airstream. Do the job right.

Copper turns green and the oxidation actually protects the pipe.

FYI 35 years as a trained and certified pipe fitter.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:40 PM   #13
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Propane: Black pipe or Copper under trailer?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigventure View Post
Do not use galvanized pipe. It's illegal. The coating flakes off and clogs gas jets. Soft copper with flair connections is the proper stuff to use. Slip a piece of rubber tube over the copper where it goes through the trailer body to keep it from wearing. You only need a short piece where it enters the trailer or passes though a wall.

Don't forget to put the flair nut on the pipe before you flair the ends.

What's the cost of copper got to do with it. It's and Airstream. Do the job right.

FYI 35 years as a trained and certified pipe fitter.

Yes, galvanized pipe is not for use with gas service, and one typically only forgets to slide the nut on prior to flaring the tubing a time or two before it sticks in their head.

Copper is one way to accomplish this project, it is not necessarily the "proper" way though. Cost has much to do with it for some people, irrespective of the Airstream moniker. I wouldn't use copper for DWV applications, but if it's for an Airstream perhaps I should? This is form over function thinking rather than function over form.

The same task can be accomplished appropriately and at a significantly lower cost. Not all here have the desire or means to throw money at something just because "that's the way it's always been done."

I'd much rather save my RV maintenance and repair dollars for things that will pay me "camping enjoyment dividends".
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Old 06-03-2015, 11:42 PM   #14
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Black iron pipe doesn't "flake" and "clog" gas jets? I guess "rust" doesn't flake and cause problems, heh? (All types, including copper, should always be installed with sediment traps.)

Galvanized is "illegal"?

Really?. Show me where that is codified.

From the IRC:
"
2009 IRC G2414.4.2 (403.4.2) Steel. Steel and wrought-iron pipe shall
be at least of standard weight (Schedule 40) and shall comply
with one of the following:
1. ASME B 36.10, 10M;
2. ASTM A 53/A 53M; or
3. ASTM A 106.
Commentary: Steel pipe must be Schedule 40 or heavier, must comply
with one of the listed standards and can be black
iron or galvanized. Contrary to popular belief, natural
gas does not adversely react with the zinc coating on
galvanized pipe."



From Galvanized natural gas pipe - InterNACHI Inspection Forum
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