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Old 05-15-2011, 09:39 PM   #1
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A warming tale from our latest trip

On Friday 13th, we headed out to the Brant Conservation Area in Brantford, Ontario for the weekend, primarily to get some specific shopping in, but given that we have a brand new Airstream on the drive, we thought we'd take that as well, for its third shakedown trip.

On arrival (in the rain, naturally), we parked up, unhitched, hooked up and flicked the water heater on. The red light worked as it was supposed to so we thought nothing more of it.

About two hours later, I tried to fill the sink and guess what? No hot water. Sure enough, the red light at the switch wasn't working. Despite the dark and the rain I went outside and had a cursory look at the LP gas system and that seemed OK but I checked the gas to the stove just in case. Uh oh, no gas. I undid and refitted the gas connectors (flashlight in mouth) and that solved the stove supply, but still no hot water. Opening the water heater panel on the outside of the AS I was confronted with a nice mess of burnt plastic dangling on some wire. That looked pretty terminal so I repaired to my nice warm sofa and fetched out the manuals.

Sure enough, the melted plastic was the remains of the Thermal Cut Out device, put there to disintegrate and cut the power and gas should the water heater have a failure. The manual said that sometimes insects get into the pipes and cause blockages and that we should clean it all up, fit a new cut off and try again. That surely wasn't us, though, our AS had been standing for less than two weeks; how would it be infested with insects? Still, it wasn't a a biggie, really we thought, because as seasoned tent campers we'd never had hot water before anyway. It looked like we were set for the shower block in the morning and a call to the dealer in the week.

Trouble mounted in the morning. I took a stroll (in a rare dry period) to the nearest bath house and was dismayed to find the only shower in the place had long since given up supplying any water. OK I thought, I'll go to another block (passing an old Airstream on the way). The next block's shower cubical was locked with no one in it; this wasn't looking good. I headed back to the AS and my better half put in a call to the Gatehouse. Were there any working showers? There should be, came the reply! Apparently a block about 10 minutes walk had some showers, 25 cents for three minutes. Insult to injury I thought; we need hot water!

I did do a cursory bug check on the water heater but couldn't see anything untoward. We called a local RV supplier to see if we could get a cut off device but he didn't have one. I could, he said, just bypass the device temporarily. Now I knew enough to know that if a cut off fails then there's a problem but I thought I'd give it a go anyway. Remains of the device removed, I connected up the wires and fired up the heater. Whoops! Flames came out of the air intake and out of the flue, but not much in the way of flame was occurring in the chamber. A quick switch off and a blowing out of flames and it was time to call our dealer Can Am RV in London, about an hour away.

Somehow I managed to get speaking with none other than co-president, Andy Thompson (towing guru to the stars). Yes, he said, you probably do have some little critters in your system. He had, apparently, a friendly technician living in the Brantford area who he felt sure would come out and fix the problem. Sure enough, Murray called right back and offered to come out within 30 minutes. Well, that was service!

Murray, and his delightful wife, duly arrived. He had the water heater burner stripped off in seconds and located the problem; a spider's nest right on the bend of the main gas supply pipe. With the aid of a bit of rag and a bent coat hanger he had the pipe clean in minutes. The burner was reassembled, a new cut off device installed, the system fired up and adjusted in just a few minutes and there we were, all hot watered again.

Murray and his wife told us about their association with Can Am RV, with the Ontario Unit of the WBCCI and with the Brant Conservation Area and we both felt really lucky that not only had we had the good fortune to buy from Can Am but that Can Am employ such great people like Murray. How many other dealers will have their co-president call out a technician on a Saturday morning?

So, top marks to Can Am, and top marks to Murray. Of course, I paid close attention to what Murray was doing so that I won't have to call anyone in if it happens again. All I need now is a pack of Thermal Cut Off devices!

What happened with the rest of the weekend? Well, we both had some lovely hot showers, that's for sure, but the rain kicked in on Saturday and didn't stop. Not on Saturday, nor Sunday. It's still raining now about 40 hours later! Hey ho, it's all good experience.


Mr and Mrs (very clean but very wet) Toad.
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:10 PM   #2
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Hot dog!
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:21 PM   #3
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Glad they got it all squared away for you.
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:27 PM   #4
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Now that's service!
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:38 PM   #5
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You can not beat this kind of advertising. Great Airstream dealer!
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:46 PM   #6
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Fantastic service! Way to go Can-Am!
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Old 05-16-2011, 01:44 AM   #7
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Hi, glad you got your water heater fixed. Sometimes a web or something will cause this blockage and will burn out at the same time that the thermal cut off will fail. They sell these in a pack of two and I always keep a few spares in my trailer. The first time mine did this I was able to bypass it and the flame was normal. [Not recommended] The next morning I bought my first twin pack of spares. I bought my last pack from an E-bay seller for under $20.00 and free shipping; I found that some RV places don't have them in stock or take a package apart and charge you the package price for only one.
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Old 05-16-2011, 05:56 AM   #8
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Bob, I couldn't make out the Atwood part number from your picture. Would you please post it? I'd like to make sure I get the proper spare also.
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Old 05-16-2011, 07:05 AM   #9
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Nice story, thanks for sharing.

We had wasps of some sort take up residence in our propane pipes, as apparently they like the odor. Once cleaned out, a bit of screen over the end has kept them from returning.


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Old 05-16-2011, 07:44 AM   #10
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All's well that ends well!

We have reservations at that same conservation area next weekend with one of our daughters and her family who just started RV'ing last year (non-AS unfortunately!)

I guess from your message, we'd better bring a supply of quarters just in case we fill up our gray water tank - I don't believe there are sewer hookups?

On the other hand, it may give me chance to try a couple of techniques to make better use of our tanks.

(1) We bought cheap plastic dish basins that fit our galley sinks perfectly - this will allow us to dump dishwater down the toilet to better use the black tank.

(2) I bought a hose adapter cap for our sewer outlet and a 5 gallon collapsible water container - if method (1) above isn't enough, then we can just dump gray water tank water 5 gallons at a time each time we go out of the park.

I had considered buying a blue boy, but I think we would use it so infrequently that it would just be a waste of valuable space in our case as we almost always have full hookups.

Thanks for the story! Guess I'll be looking to get me one of those overloads to carry as a spare! I had minor problems with our water heater not working last time we used the trailer, but it just turned out to be poor contact at a spade connector - seems to happen to me all the time with appliances so it is the first thing I generally check when we have problems. I just pull all the connectors, scrape them clean and refit with dielectric grease.

Brian

PS - find anything interesting to do around that conservation area?

We've already been to see Alexander Graham Bell's childhood home! We will bring mountain bikes and geocaching gear and hope the rain is gone by the weekend!
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Old 05-16-2011, 10:35 AM   #11
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What a grand story of excellent customer service, Mr. Toad! Very pleased to hear that Mr. Thomson had someone nearby that could help you. I too have had an instance of Andrew Thomson bailing me out of a critical situation, and I will never forget it.

Can-Am RV is tops, in my book.

One question though; you said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrUKToad View Post
a spider's nest right on the bend of the main gas supply pipe. With the aid of a bit of rag and a bent coat hanger he had the pipe clean in minutes. The burner was reassembled, a new cut off device installed, the system fired up and adjusted in just a few minutes and there we were, all hot watered again.
Did you mean that somehow, the spiders were able to get inside the copper gas supply lines? I'm wondering how, since, for obvious reasons, those inlets are always closed tight, except when you are burning gas. And even then, I don't see any possible entry point for them

I can certainly see them getting into the burn tube where ignition and flame happens (to heat the water). Is that where you meant to indicate that they had nested?

Cheers,
Aage
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Old 05-16-2011, 12:17 PM   #12
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Great story - nice dealer!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
I had considered buying a blue boy, but I think we would use it so infrequently that it would just be a waste of valuable space in our case as we almost always have full hookups.
I used to think the same way, but then we went to a state park where we had no sewer connection and filled the tank by Saturday (B190 gray tanks are amazingly small). We went to a local RV dealer and bought one, then when we got it home I put it in the shed. It's easy enough to toss it in the camper when we need it and leave it at home when we don't.

They do seem rather expensive for what they are, though. Fortunately it's basically a one-time purchase.
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
Hi, glad you got your water heater fixed. Sometimes a web or something will cause this blockage and will burn out at the same time that the thermal cut off will fail. They sell these in a pack of two and I always keep a few spares in my trailer. The first time mine did this I was able to bypass it and the flame was normal. [Not recommended] The next morning I bought my first twin pack of spares. I bought my last pack from an E-bay seller for under $20.00 and free shipping; I found that some RV places don't have them in stock or take a package apart and charge you the package price for only one.
Your tale of bypassing the the thermal cut off made me smile; it shouldn't be done but is probably OK in an emergency. You have reminded me to order some spares!
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Old 05-16-2011, 04:11 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aage View Post
What a grand story of excellent customer service, Mr. Toad! Very pleased to hear that Mr. Thomson had someone nearby that could help you. I too have had an instance of Andrew Thomson bailing me out of a critical situation, and I will never forget it.

Can-Am RV is tops, in my book.

One question though; you said:



Did you mean that somehow, the spiders were able to get inside the copper gas supply lines? I'm wondering how, since, for obvious reasons, those inlets are always closed tight, except when you are burning gas. And even then, I don't see any possible entry point for them


I can certainly see them getting into the burn tube where ignition and flame happens (to heat the water). Is that where you meant to indicate that they had nested?

Cheers,
Aage

The spider had found it's way into the pre-burn pipe, that's the metal pipe about half an inch in diameter that runs from the LPG inlet solenoid on the left, includes the air intake, then does a right angle into the main burn tube. It's open at the burning end (where the ignition is) and there is access for all sorts of critters through the air intake point (the bit with the slots in that slides along the pipe to regulate the amount of air burned with the LPG.). The whole assembly just lifts off when you undo a couple of bolts. Only then can you see down the pipe to view any obstruction.

You'd have thought that the LPG would blow the spiders out, or when hot, burn them. However, there was sufficient blockage there to have LPG coming out of the air intake, leaving very little to go down into the burn tube. Of course, when that happens, the thermal cut-off fires and everything stops.

As I said, a bit of wire coat hanger and a scrap of cloth had the the thing cleared in no time.
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