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Old 09-11-2005, 10:38 AM   #1
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Propane smell

I am a very new airstream owner. My parents gave me theirs, (they never did take it out of the driveway) It is a 1972 Excella 500 31' and in fairly good condition. They bought it used 5 years ago and other than my mother cooking Thanksgiving turkey's and using the (electric) refrigerator to hold overflow food from their house, they really never did use it. But they have turned on the propane in the past, is what I am getting at. Daddy says it was about 3 years ago when he last turned it on. I tried to turn on the valve outside last week, and I really smelled propane. Is that okay? Is that normal? I immediately turned it back off because I don't want it leaking while I am waiting to get propane in the lines to the stove and oven. Daddy also said it will take a few minutes for the gas to get inside to lite the pilot lights. I just bought a hot plate to cook on instead, but would like to get the oven going sometime and just thought maybe someone here could get me going in the right direction. I appreciate any help. Jimmieanna

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Old 09-11-2005, 10:43 AM   #2
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Short answer is No.

Your best bet if you are not fully versed in propane systems, would be to find a qualified mechanic who knows Airstream trailers.
Don't mess around with this or you might find your new gift in a molten pile in your drive way.

P.S Welcome to the Forums, you have found your way into what could be the time of your life.
Not to mention all of the information on Airstream trailers you could ever want.
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Old 09-11-2005, 10:53 AM   #3
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That is what I have been thinking, I laughed, molten pile, that is a good one. No I don't want that. Thanks for the speedy reply. Jimmieanna
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Old 09-11-2005, 11:08 AM   #4
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gary has good advice.

i might add that when you get someone to look at your trailer try to be there so they can explain to you how the propane and the other systems work.

this forum is a great place to find out information. use the search function at the top of the page.

some suggested key words might be: propane, pilot light, gas regulator, and OPD valve.

again, welcome to the forum! don't be afraid to post specific questions.

john
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Old 09-11-2005, 12:45 PM   #5
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Hi, Jimmieanna,

Does the trailer have the four burner Magic Chef oven in it? This oven has a pilot light hidden under the middle of the stove top.

When I got my Excella, my mom looked in it during my first show-off of my new twenty-six year old travel trailer, and immediately said that she smelled gas. Dangerously, I had lit the pilot in the oven, but did not know about the pilot under the burners. (I had been lighting the burners the same way I did with the Suburban stove in the Argosy - with a camp lighter.)

Every propane line on the trailer has a shut-off valve. You can shut off all the lines this way and use soapy water to determine if any of the valves themselves are leaking. I've replaced three valves on my trailers. Every time one has failed, the leak was *outside.*

The hookup to every component that runs on propane can be accessed, either in a compartment from outside, or in the case of the stove and heater, inside the coach. As far as I know that's common to all 70s models, and that's a pretty good design. It allows you to turn on the supply to each component one at a time, and you can use soapy water to test each connection.

But if you've got the Magic Chef oven, look for that hidden pilot light under the stove top.
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Old 09-11-2005, 02:06 PM   #6
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Greetings J..

Maybe for now, you should shut off the gas at the tank.
There should be an arrow pointing out which direction to turn
Then perhaps find someone who has tested a gas system to help you.
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Old 09-11-2005, 02:32 PM   #7
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Yes the stove is a Magic Chief and my folks did tell me about the pilot. Unfortunately, I can't even begin to deal with that yet. I am dreadfully afraid of gas type stuff. But since I have to get a plumber out here anyway(I also have a busted pipe), I found the leak....but I don't have the know how to even begin to fix that, so when i get the plumber here I will have him look at my propane at the same time. Thanks for the information, everyone here is so nice. I really do appreciate that. Jimmieanna
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Old 09-11-2005, 03:05 PM   #8
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Jimmieanna,

It was not clear to me: Did you smell gas while you were turning the tanks on (outside), or after you went back inside your Airstream? This knowledge could help your plumber.

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Old 09-13-2005, 01:58 PM   #9
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quoting SafeHarbor here:
"Every propane line on the trailer has a shut-off valve. You can shut off all the lines this way and use soapy water to determine if any of the valves themselves are leaking. I've replaced three valves on my trailers. Every time one has failed, the leak was *outside.*"

"The hookup to every component that runs on propane can be accessed, either in a compartment from outside, or in the case of the stove and heater, inside the coach. As far as I know that's common to all 70s models, and that's a pretty good design. It allows you to turn on the supply to each component one at a time, and you can use soapy water to test each connection."

This sounds like the problem I'm having. The shutoff valve to the stove seems to be leaking big time. In fact, it emptied my tank on the last trip.
Where did you find replacement valves for these? I guess I better stock up!
Thanks
Guy
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:39 PM   #10
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I have seen the same style valves my Overlander has at home improvement stores in the "brass fittings" aisle.

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Old 09-13-2005, 05:06 PM   #11
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I just wanted to say welcome to Jimmieanna, and assure you that not too long ago I was also scared to death of all my propane appliances. But over time I have learned to deal with all of them. However, having them all professionally inspected by a local RV shop gave me great confidence. When you have it all checked out, have someone instruct you on how to get them all started, and don't hesitate to ask them to show it to you again! Better safe than sorry! Don't ask me how I know!
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:40 PM   #12
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Old 09-13-2005, 07:08 PM   #13
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ok, but I only do this so others will NOT follow in my footsteps

Shortly after buying the trailer I was trying to light the water heater, and the pilot kept going out. It was one of those 'hold down the button, light the pilot with a camp lighter, and then let off the button after a minute and see if it stays lit' deals. But the pilot kept going out. So I got the bright idea that if I switched it over to ON then maybe it would get started before the pilot went out, but the pilot went out. I should have just switched it back to off and waited for the gas to clear. But instead I thought about it a second, then, with the gas ON, I stuck the lighter in there to light the pilot again - insert LOUD POP here as the gas lit off! Nearly toasted my eyebrows with that one!

I think on my next trip to the RV shop I had the water heater burner replaced. Now it lights up no problem, and no more exciting experiences lighting it up.

There's another similar story involving the old propane heater, but it can be found in a thread titled "hydroflame incident".

Just remember, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger (or wiser, I hope)!
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Old 09-13-2005, 07:29 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGalt48
quoting SafeHarbor here:
This sounds like the problem I'm having. The shutoff valve to the stove seems to be leaking big time. In fact, it emptied my tank on the last trip.
Where did you find replacement valves for these? I guess I better stock up!
Thanks
Guy
Hi, Guy,

I got the last one at Home Depot. I handed it to one of the fellows there, and he said, "Propane?" I said, "Right," and he led me right to them. It was a perfect match, and it was only like $12.

It was the valve to my stove line, too.

They can start to leak when you're just sitting, too, so I always suggest that you turn the gas off at the tanks when the trailer is going to be sitting idle.

I've also had a failure of the regulator. I was sitting on the couch in the front of the trailer and heard a "Poof." Then the front window on my Agosy clouded over and made a really strange creaking sound that I'll never forget. When I walked into the parts room at Three-Way Camper in Atlanta, they had the replacement part sitting on the counter as soon as they spotted what I was carrying. (I like those guys. They sold the Argosy originally and always welcomed me back like I was their job security.)

Lamar
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