We decided to proceed with a DIY removal of those line segments of our propane distribution system that were not copper. Our Interstate actually contains a mixture of copper (to refrigerator, hot water heater, and furnace - lines that penetrate into the interior of the living space are reportedly required to be made of copper), braided flex (fill and overfill, and to Onan generator), and solid flex (internal distribution segment) lines. The braided flex lines were of three different diameters and were manufactured by Parker. The solid line includes a tag indicating that it was manufactured by Marshall Gas Controls.
Note our DISCLAIMER for this kind of DIY work. If you screw up working on your LP system, you could kill yourself. Don't do any work if you don't have confidence in your abilities.
These were our steps.
First, I did a total burn-down of the LP tank so that it would be completely empty ahead of this job. I ran the generator until it coughed out of operation from running out of gas. Then after it quit, I cranked up the stove burners and watched the flames slowly shrink and sputter out. Then I opened the residual lines to vent any remaining wisps of gas. This step may not be strictly required on a rig such as ours, but I don't feel comfortable working with a tank full of flammable gas.
Second, I switched off the LP solenoid.
Third, I labeled the lines to be removed.
Fourth, I took a lot of photographs of the way that everything was connected (see above). We could probably remember what went where, but why trust memory alone when the cell phone is right there in the pocket?
Fifth, it was then necessary to dismount of the lines. My husband did this part, as brute strength helps in the process. Plus he has far more general "working on cars" experience than I do, so he knows what things are supposed to feel like. If anything abnormal manifested in this process, he'd be better able to detect it.
Line dismounting was not as easy as it could have been for two reasons. Number one, there's the chronic issue of working in very tight spaces under the Interstate.
|It is immensely helpful to do a four-wheel stack of the vehicle during this process, so that sufficient clearance is obtained for working. See this post for some ideas on constructing ramps, if you don't want to buy them.|
|It's not a simple matter of putting a wrench on it and taking it off.|
|The second person can put an additional wrench on the line and prevent it from being torqued as the first person is applying major pressure to the nut in order to free the flex segment.|
Sixth, we isolated those fresh, shiny threads from weather and road grime by cutting the fingers from nitrile gloves and using elastic bands to hold them on all exposed nipples.
Lines were thusly removed.
|There she is... Miss America. Sort of. This photo looks a bit like a work of modern art. Interblog's "Ocotillo" or something.|
|I also cleaned and zip-tied them.|
- Fill - Parker brand, 64.75" long, 0.78" OD
- Overfill - Parker brand, 61.5" long, 0.53" OD
- Genset - Parker brand, 78.5" long, 0.65" OD
- Distribution - Marshall Gas Controls brand, 49" long, 0.66" OD, catalog # 42613-48 (stamped as "Flex Tech 3/8 RHA-6 Gas Hose Max WP 350 PSI)
That last one appeared to be an off-the-shelf product, but I couldn't find that exact number on the internet and I didn't know if the "close" numbers represented the same spec. For non-consumer items, sometimes internet listings can be vague and incomplete.
Ninth, I took those neatly-bundled lines over to the hose-maker.
Tenth, a few days later, I retrieved the new lines from said hose-maker (and paid him, of course).
Twelfth, I had my husband check that all lines were secure.
Thirteenth, I checked the lines again, as a few weeks had passed between the re-installation and the impending propane fill.
Fourteenth, as we were en route to the propane filling station, I recited the following:
|^^ The patron saint of female camper van DIYers.|
|For the first time ever, a female service person filled our tank, rather than a male. I think it was Holy Mary in disguise.|
|For my future reference, this is what our nominal six gallon tank takes when bone empty.|
|We were greeted with vigorous performance.|
|For that, I needed this. Soapy water to wet all the connections and watch for bubbles.|
|Nnnnope. Nada. No bubbles anywhere.|
This wasn't exactly a relaxing project, and I'm tremendously relieved to see it completed.
|Well, I was kind of on a meme theme, so I figured I'd stick with it. Whew, indeed.|