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Old 08-07-2013, 10:48 PM   #1
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Just wondering

I'm posting here to test my posting skill (or lack of) as well as making an observation. That being there should possibly be a category titled "other".

I was talking to someone and they mentioned they commonly tow their trailer with the propane fueling their refrigerator. Is this a common practice? Is it legal? Seems to me not to be a good idea, but what do I know. I'm wet behind the ears with the trailer towing.

Thoughts welcomed.
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:26 AM   #2
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You will get both answers;

Yes I do it and only turn it off when I fill up with gas!
or
I would never do that, I don't think it is safe!

We do it all the time......
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:19 AM   #3
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We always tow with gas on for the fridge. When my DH gets home, we'll have to talk about this now. Never thought about it before...
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Old 08-08-2013, 10:52 AM   #4
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Quote:
We do it all the time......
Ditto...we usually don't do very long trips, so I rarely have to fuel with the trailer attached. But, when I do, I make sure I turn off the LP prior to entering the station.

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Old 08-08-2013, 09:13 PM   #5
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Not sure if that practice is legal here in Pennsylvania, but I aim to find out.

Whether it's legal or not, it sure seems unsafe. Here's a scenario:

Let's say that a trailer is traveling down the road with one or both propane tanks valved 'on'. Then let's say that something strikes the propane line somewhere between the tank and the point on the bulkhead at which the line transitions from rubber to steel...something sharp enough and with force enough to puncture or even sever the rubber line. Now you're traveling down the road with propane (which, mind you, is heavier than air and will want to flow downward toward the road surface) trailing behind your rig. All that's needed now is for something to ignite that gas stream.

Forget it. We keep our tanks tightly valved off when we're traveling, regardless of the length of the trip. Better overly safe than potentially very sorry.
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:36 PM   #6
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Thinking some more about this...

The potential for hazard is not by any means limited to an external break in the propane line. What if you're jouncing down the road, tanks valved 'on,' and a fitting in your stove (obviously, if you have one), for example, works its way loose to the degree that it starts leaking gas? Propane--again, heavier than air (which, by the way, is why the propane detector near the doorway of every RV is located so close to the floor)--will start to sink its way down to your floor. Propane likes to form pockets in corners, and has a greater explosive range than does natural gas. Propane is potentially explosive from approximately 6-23% gas-air mixture, as opposed to natural gas' rating of approximately 10-15%.

What this all means is that propane is potentially explosive under a wider range of conditions than is natural gas. I could easily see a trailer filling with propane, even under a slow leak condition, becoming an explosive environment, especially if one is traveling with a vent or two open so as to introduce some air into the interior. You get to your destination, open the door and turn on the first light, or whatever, and WHAM!

Not saying that this would be very likely to happen. But, I've enough experience with combustible gases to know that I simply won't give them the opportunity to create mischief...or worse.
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Old 08-11-2013, 04:46 PM   #7
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I think it's a lot to do about nothing. I going out on a limb and saying the stats on this are all most nil. I use the propane to cool the fridge even plugged in (why turn it off it uses so little propane it's not worth it) if the flame goes out the gas shuts off. Traveling down the road the camper is a great big low pressure area anything in side is going to leave. If someone is going to clip the rubber lines they probably will take the tank out too open valve or not. Propane gas dissipates pretty quickly the biggest danger is the liquid. The only restrictions I know of for camper propane is tunnels. Turning off the fridge and or the water heater during a fillup is a really good ideal due to gasoline fumes (they don't rise much above 4')
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Old 08-11-2013, 08:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wannabes View Post
Not sure if that practice is legal here in Pennsylvania, but I aim to find out.

Whether it's legal or not, it sure seems unsafe. Here's a scenario:

Let's say that a trailer is traveling down the road with one or both propane tanks valved 'on'. Then let's say that something strikes the propane line somewhere between the tank and the point on the bulkhead at which the line transitions from rubber to steel...something sharp enough and with force enough to puncture or even sever the rubber line. Now you're traveling down the road with propane (which, mind you, is heavier than air and will want to flow downward toward the road surface) trailing behind your rig. All that's needed now is for something to ignite that gas stream.

Forget it. We keep our tanks tightly valved off when we're traveling, regardless of the length of the trip. Better overly safe than potentially very sorry.
If the line is severed the serge of propane would trip the safety shut off in the line or tank valve. Have you ever turned your bottles on to fast and trip the line valve?
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:21 PM   #9
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Sorry to disagree with you on all counts here, friend.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mainah View Post
"I think it's a lot to do about nothing. I going out on a limb and saying the stats on this are all most nil. I use the propane to cool the fridge even plugged in (why turn it off it uses so little propane it's not worth it) if the flame goes out the gas shuts off."]

I imagine that the stats on this are, as you say, almost nil. But why take a chance? It's impossible to prove a negative.

Now, even if it is true that once the flame shuts off in the refrigerator's burner, the line from the tank to the refrigerator's gas valve is still pressurized. Hence, there is still the possibility that gas can escape from the tank should any portion of the line from the tank to the refrigerator's gas valve somehow be compromised.

["Traveling down the road the camper is a great big low pressure area anything in side is going to leave. If someone is going to clip the rubber lines they probably will take the tank out too open valve or not. Propane gas dissipates pretty quickly the biggest danger is the liquid."]

Not necessarily. Let's modify our original scenario and say that the rubber line from tank to trailer body is in some way compromised: dry-rotted, nicked through to the inner core, whatever. Then, let's further say that propane is slowly leaking out through the breach in the line. Now, let's further further say that we're not traveling down the road, but stuck in a lengthy back-up. There now is no low-pressure condition whatsoever, but rather propane pooling up underneath and around the TV. Moreover: Propane gas does not "dissipate pretty quickly," unless it is discharged into truly open atmosphere. Rather, as I stated previously, it 'likes' to pool in pockets in corners--or any low space it can find, because, again as noted previously, it is heavier than air. Again, the situation that would cause the most concern would be one in which any hypothetical gas leak is inside the trailer itself, the one place in which an explosive gas-air mixture could develop.

["The only restrictions I know of for camper propane is tunnels."] )
Right. Tunnels are a special case, due to the fact that their very design produces the Venturi effect, thereby drawing in potential combustion air to ignite any flammable vapors present. RV's are restricted from traveling through tunnels because their tanks--either two 20's or two 30's--contain enough propane that if, were it vented suddenly in the capacious O2 environment of a tunnel--could easily produce a significant explosion.

My entire point is this: The benefits to traveling with tanks valved 'on'--that is to say, you arrive at your destination with your food cold--is not worth the (admittedly slim) possibility that your action may cause untold harm to your fellow travelers.

I only know that, again, we travel with our tanks fully valved off. This is what I was trained to do whenever I traveled with propane and also with acetylene for use in my work. This included daily travel in and around Baltimore, with its Harbor and Fort McHenry Tunnels.
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:24 PM   #10
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Postscript: The above comments are in bold only because I [obviously] couldn't figure out how to quote properly. Aarrgghhh.....
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Old 08-12-2013, 10:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim44646 View Post
If the line is severed the serge of propane would trip the safety shut off in the line or tank valve. Have you ever turned your bottles on to fast and trip the line valve?
Hi Jim,

I've never encountered automatic pressure surge suppression in an LP system. Will have to check this out in our set-up. Thanks for the tip! As an aside, I always turn gas bottles on slowly, regardless of what their particular contents are.
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