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Old 04-22-2004, 07:42 PM   #1
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1966 26' Overlander
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Hot water heater

I have owned my Overlander for 3 years and have never gotten the water heater to work. It is the original unit as best as I know. There is propane to it, cause I can light the pilot. However I cannot fire off the main flame. Every other component that operates on propane works, except the water heater.

I have let the pilot light burn for over 4 or 5 minutes. (That's a long time when I sit there and hold the valve handle) Still no main flame.

So my Q's are:
Does the tank need to be totally full of water for the main flame to work? IE is there some sensor that has to be activated by a full tank to allow the flame to come on?
How do I test components to determine if the valve in fact even works at all?

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Old 04-22-2004, 09:10 PM   #2
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Not sure when you say you hold the handle for 5-6 minutes, however it sounds as if you have an older style control with a thermocouple. If that's the case, there should be a small copper colored (looks like a wire) coming into the bottom of the control. Try tightening the nut slightly. This is where the connection is made for the main burner to work. Also how is the pilot burning against the thermocouple ( that's the other end of that copper looking wire inside the heater ) ? Yellow? It needs a clean flame to work. If your control has a red button to hold down to light the pilot, then it sounds as if your thermocouple is perhaps bad. The thermocouple is replaceable & you should be able to get what you need at a LP Co or RV store. If you're not real sure of what you're doing, then I'd suggest you have it checked by a LP service.
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Old 04-23-2004, 06:49 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Action
...I have let the pilot light burn for over 4 or 5 minutes. (That's a long time when I sit there and hold the valve handle) Still no main flame.
I take it you have to keep the button pushed in for the pilot light to stay lit? If you let go, the pilot goes out?

If yes to both, then I agree - you probably have a bad thermocouple.

Unfortunately, if your water heater is as old as mine, you will find the thermocouple & pilot light are constructed as one assembly, and at least in my case, the particular assembly is no longer available.

Oh, and running the water heater with insufficient water in it could hurt it.

Good luck,
Tom
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Old 04-23-2004, 06:59 AM   #4
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Button

The Thermocouple opens main gas flow.
The button you depress for pilot lighting is not controlled by Thermocouple. It is a bypass. The Thermocouple will open the gas valve when it reaches the threshold for gas flow.

Sounds like a Thermocouple to me.

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Old 04-23-2004, 09:43 AM   #5
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I agree it sounds like a thermocouple being the culprit.
But you also need to check your other gas appliances, are the flames burning correctly? The control valve also has a sensitivity to gas pressure.
If everything else looks good try the thermocouple, if not look at gas pressure also.
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Old 04-23-2004, 12:02 PM   #6
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I have always had a hard time lighting my water heater, and adjusting the flame, so I had the RV service guys look it over - they ended up replacing the burner assembly, along with the valve (which they said wasn't letting enough gas through anymore), and added a re-ignitor module. When I got it home I went to light it and barely had to hold the pilot before it took. I was amazed it made such a difference in how easy it was to light, and of course the re-ignitor takes care of the problem of holding a lighter to it while heating up the thermocouple. I might actually use it regularly this season, now that I won't have to sit out side holding the pilot button down for five minutes at a time!
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Old 04-23-2004, 02:19 PM   #7
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Wow

Thanks for all the replies.

The reason I am a little vague on my proceedure is I am going on a trip next month and thought it would be cool to have hot water. And I have not looked at the water heater since last fall. And yes I believe you are correct, the burner is a button I push in after turning the knob to a certain position. When I release the knob/button the pilot goes out and there is no flame.

I will look at the thermocouple and the burner.

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Old 04-23-2004, 06:44 PM   #8
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Try this

You may have already but if not,
hold the lighter directly on the Thermocouple when lighting pilot.

If your is older, I think you may have a weak Thermocouple or it may just be too far awayfrom the pilot light.

Try lighter on Tcouple and then try bending T couple housing closer to Pilot flame.

I think it will light now. Let us know.

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Old 04-23-2004, 07:10 PM   #9
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You know when I bought the trailer there was an extra new thermocouple with a pile of other stuff. I think I know where it goes.

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Old 04-23-2004, 08:50 PM   #10
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Just a word of caution---Be extra careful if you bend the thermocouple into the pilot flame. After 35 years of working with natural & LP gas, I've seen more than once where this has been done & the pilot flame would then be strong enough to hold the main gas valve open, but not burning high enough to immediately light the main burner, until enough gas entered the chamber & then well it's not a nice happening, but does seem to clear only the burner, chamber & flue pipe, if you're lucky. If you're not real sure of what you're doing, I'd suggest having a qualified serviceperson check it over.
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Old 04-24-2004, 03:16 AM   #11
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Just out of curiosity, what do you people with new AS have to do to light your hot water heater, furnace, etc? Do you just push a button and it happens? Do only us vintage owners have to sit outside in the rain lighting water heaters, and lay on our bellies in the tub lighting furnaces?
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Old 04-24-2004, 05:59 AM   #12
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Some do and

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Just out of curiosity, what do you people with new AS have to do to light your hot water heater, furnace, etc? Do you just push a button and it happens? Do only us vintage owners have to sit outside in the rain lighting water heaters, and lay on our bellies in the tub lighting furnaces?
Stefrobrts,
It just depends on what model you have installed..Even as an Vintage owner,
you can have that feature installed as well..Now you just have another Spring project~!

ciao
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Old 04-24-2004, 01:10 PM   #13
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Based on an hour of fiddling I think I need to replace the thermocouple. The replacement that I have with the trailer is a 24". The one on the water heater is a 12". Will the extra length make a adverse difference?

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Old 04-25-2004, 04:40 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Action
..The replacement that I have with the trailer is a 24". The one on the water heater is a 12". With the extra length make a difference?
It shouldn't, but I am not an authority.

Thermocouples are devices which produce a small amount of electricity when heated. The extra length you have will induce a voltage drop, but with 12 inches, it should be negligibile.

I do know you will not hurt anything by trying the longer one, and it will probably work just fine. Just be sure to wrap the excess up in a nice circle, and tie it off if necessary to keep it from vibrating around.

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