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Old 01-08-2012, 07:27 PM   #1
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Propane tank switchover didn't indicate...

For the last few weeks, I've been keeping the camper warm via the furnace - we used the camper over Christmas, and we're going to Disney soon, so I decided to save the trouble of winterizing and just keep it warm, with thermostat at its lowest setting of ~50 degrees.

This gave me the first chance to check the automatic switchover functionality of the propane tee. It worked - that is, it automatically switched to the other tank when the first was empty - but the red indicator didn't show up. Anything I should look at on it?
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Old 01-08-2012, 08:15 PM   #2
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Paula

The red indicator will show up when your Second tank is empty - or your first tank is empty and the valve on the second is OFF.

If it switched over, go ahead and fill the first one.
During winter I carry two spare 20 lb tanks, just in case. Why is it that the second tank always goes empty at 3:00 am?

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Old 01-08-2012, 08:22 PM   #3
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We have 2 tanks and have never run out of propane. We leave both tanks on...then we check the indicator regularly... when it's red, we turn the handle toward the opposite tank that it's then drawing on. The indicator will turn green immediately when we turn it to the fresh tank. Take the empty tank off, get it filled, re-install it and turn it on...and when the other tank indicates red, repeat, filling the other tank...
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:16 PM   #4
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Both of the regulators we have had on our Bambi have functioned the same way. With valves on both tanks open, the tank selected for supply will empty first and, when it is empty, the switchover is automatic and the top 1/2 of the indicator red. The bottom 1/2 is still green.

Switching over to the second, full tank brings the indicator back to completely green. The indicator goes to completely red when both valves are open and both tanks are empty.

We found out to watch for the half-red indicator the hard way ... by running completely out of propane in the cold. Sometimes you need to look closely at the indicator to see that it is 1/2 red.

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Old 01-08-2012, 10:45 PM   #5
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Marshall Brass makes a remote changeover indicator for its auto regulators. When it switches, a LED flashes on the inside of the trailer. I've had one for about a year now, much easier to spot. Of course, you do have to remember to watch its batteries. When the LED looks anemic flashing, time to check.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:54 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
The red indicator will show up when your Second tank is empty - or your first tank is empty and the valve on the second is OFF.

If it switched over, go ahead and fill the first one.
During winter I carry two spare 20 lb tanks, just in case. Why is it that the second tank always goes empty at 3:00 am?
Okay, TBRich's description of how it works is how I understood it - your description makes it sound like it won't turn red until both are empty (which is kind of a useless thing to indicate...).

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Originally Posted by TBRich View Post
We have 2 tanks and have never run out of propane. We leave both tanks on...then we check the indicator regularly... when it's red, we turn the handle toward the opposite tank that it's then drawing on. The indicator will turn green immediately when we turn it to the fresh tank. Take the empty tank off, get it filled, re-install it and turn it on...and when the other tank indicates red, repeat, filling the other tank...
In any case, I saw no red or green at all... from the directions on the regulator, I think it should turn red when it flips to the second tank. I'll try to remember to take a picture of the regulator this week.

This isn't a huge deal for me, since both tanks have gauges, so it's easy enough to monitor what's going on even without the red indicator. But it'd be nice to have it working.

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Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
Marshall Brass makes a remote changeover indicator for its auto regulators. When it switches, a LED flashes on the inside of the trailer. I've had one for about a year now, much easier to spot. Of course, you do have to remember to watch its batteries. When the LED looks anemic flashing, time to check.
That looks interesting, but I'm not sure I need to go that far (plus I'm not sure if I have a compatible model).
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:03 AM   #7
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Hi Skater

The red will only indicate when the tank pointed to by the lever is empty. So once you flip the lever the indicator will show green again.

You can check it by closing the tank vale on the tank "pointed to" and running the furnace for a minute or two to burn off the propane in the lines.

If it doesn't turn red, it's shot, and you need a new one. They're cheap, and the manufacturers recommend replacement after 15 years anyway so you're past due.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:36 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer
Hi Skater

The red will only indicate when the tank pointed to by the lever is empty. So once you flip the lever the indicator will show green again.

You can check it by closing the tank vale on the tank "pointed to" and running the furnace for a minute or two to burn off the propane in the lines.

If it doesn't turn red, it's shot, and you need a new one. They're cheap, and the manufacturers recommend replacement after 15 years anyway so you're past due.
I think the indicator moves when the pressure of the tank selected as primary drops below a predetermined value. The ones on my prior trailers went completely red. This one moves into the red, but when viewed from slightly above ( with the tank cover lid open ) a lot of the green remains visible. The switchover is correct so I assumed the indicator was sticking or wasn't adjusted correctly during assembly. I will check to see if it does go completely red using Jammer's suggestion. It may be that they are just "cheap."
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:09 AM   #9
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I had one on my old SOB which stuck once. Tapped it and it immediately went all red while lever pointed to empty tank. Only happened that once.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
Hi Skater

The red will only indicate when the tank pointed to by the lever is empty. So once you flip the lever the indicator will show green again.

You can check it by closing the tank vale on the tank "pointed to" and running the furnace for a minute or two to burn off the propane in the lines.

If it doesn't turn red, it's shot, and you need a new one. They're cheap, and the manufacturers recommend replacement after 15 years anyway so you're past due.
Sounds good. I did tap mine a couple times and saw no red. The hoses going to the tanks are kind of brittle, too, so it's probably not a bad idea to just replace all three pieces.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:32 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skater View Post
...

This isn't a huge deal for me, since both tanks have gauges, so it's easy enough to monitor what's going on even without the red indicator. But it'd be nice to have it working.

...

That looks interesting, but I'm not sure I need to go that far (plus I'm not sure if I have a compatible model).
My Excella has the readouts in the control panel, but none of the tanks I have have the gauges. I decided that the LED indicator was a much less expensive proposition than two new tanks with gauges. Plus, the warning is automatic. Doesn't depend on me remembering to check.

It's been a very long time since I've had another switching regulator other than a Marshall, so mine have been compatible. The one that was on my Trade Wind was another design, but I replaced it with a Marshall sometime in the 1980s shortly after I bought it.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:32 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
My Excella has the readouts in the control panel, but none of the tanks I have have the gauges. I decided that the LED indicator was a much less expensive proposition than two new tanks with gauges. Plus, the warning is automatic. Doesn't depend on me remembering to check.
Yeah, I have the LED readout, too. I think, from my days as a B190 owner, I'm already trained to be very, very mindful of the amount of propane aboard, because the last thing I wanted to do with the motorhome was get set up somewhere then realize I was out. You have NO idea how much I prefer having tanks I can remove and easily get refilled, versus driving the whole camper somewhere.

Quote:
It's been a very long time since I've had another switching regulator other than a Marshall, so mine have been compatible. The one that was on my Trade Wind was another design, but I replaced it with a Marshall sometime in the 1980s shortly after I bought it.
I'm not sure what brand mine is, but I can tell you that it didn't match anything I saw during a quick search online. Mine is a dark gray plastic with a large arrow-knob. The ones I saw online were mostly chrome made by Camco I think. I know those would work but I kind of like the OE one better.
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Old 01-09-2012, 12:54 PM   #13
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One time I got to thinking that it had been a long time since the indicator turned red, so I took the tanks loose and gave them a lift. The one that the lever was point to was empty, and the other wasn't very heavy, and the indicator was still green. After filling the empty tank, I checked the operation of the changeover valve, as described above, and found that it never went to red. I replaced it for about $30.00

They don't last forever.
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Old 01-10-2012, 07:02 AM   #14
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Well, I'd planned to look at the valve more closely, in the 50 degree weather we were supposed to have yesterday. But instead we had snow. This also used much more propane than I'd planned, so I might get to test that switchover again this week before we leave on our trip...

My lesson learned: Next time, I'll just winterize it again. We were camping in it over Christmas, and we're going to Florida (leaving in a couple days), so I decided that I'd just keep the furnace on, at a low level, for the three weeks or so. Unfortunately, I've spent far more time worrying about it and checking it (not to mention refilling the propane tank) than I would've just winterizing it.
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