Ok folks. I have talked with several of my OLD SCHOOL fellow RV'ers, and Decided to post a blog on Gas fridges.

(Im relaxing before a long haul).

Ok, here goes.

The number one problem the Old Skoolerz,(as we are called) have seemed to notice over the years is Auto ignition, (peizo ignition).

Case in point,, Ole Frankie,(our senior member in the close knit group), had a problem with his Auto ignition clicking ON,even when switched over to full electric. He would hear that ole click,click,click,click, as if the igniter was trying to light. For an old guy who is older then dirt, he has some good hearing. He went in to investigate. He says Sure Nuff, its a clicking, and under close observation he noticed the pilot light *trying to light.

With a gas regulator, NO gas is supposed to pass thru the valve assembly without the Thermocoupler being at set temp, therefore allowing gas to pas through the valving. He watched it for a bit,(laying on the floor he decided hes gonna be there awhile). He watched the pilot light nozzle spurting a little yellow flame,, *trying to ignite.

Each time it Clicked, a small short burst of yellow flame would come out. That is NOT supposed to happen.

OK,, Pay attention now. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS.

Frankie took his BBQ lighter and slid it into the firebox (after he took the inspection glass out), and flicked his bic, so to speak.

Frankie lost his eyebrows and part of his mustache.

Now Ole Frankie is in his 90's (like I said,, hes an old timer).

He jumped back and put his eyebrows out and realized his FIREBOX was filling up with gas, from the valve assembly, allowing gas to pass through. Now Ole Frankie says,, THAT IS NOT A GOOD THING AT ALL. He calls his fellow Rv'ers and asks what the problem mite be? 

(Its pretty obvious,,bad gas regulator). Everyone he called verified that.

Frankies regulator was approx 4 yrs old,and it was failing.

Frankie had a youn ac/heating guy who does residential home installs and maintenance come out and look at it,, The young guy spent about 10 minutes checking the system out and verified the gas regulator was failing and installed a new one. He then used sudsy soap at all the connections of the gas line to verify no leaks.

He mentioned to observe the following,,,,,,,

If your fridge makes clicking sounds while ON ELECTRIC only,,, Shut it down completley and turn off Gas at the tank and let, the rig air out, with windows and door open. Check the back of your fridge (thru the access door on the outside), and see if the pilot light is trying to light.

Ive called a few RV repair centers around Waco,Austin and San Antonio and they have said, Gas regulators do go bad and its mostly due to NOT being used, and mother nature takes its toll, with corrosion etc. Especially with moisture IN THE PROPANE itself which causes corrosion inside the regulator valve assembly. Thus causing gas to leak through, and eventually into the fire box.

The same goes with gas furnaces,  The fire box being a large or small one.  Fridges have a smaller, so called fire box,  but it doesnt take much to accumilate enough *gas, to cause a major problem.

Forgot to mention,, Gas water heaters has same concept,,

Gas appliances have a so called fire box to isolate the heat to a specific area and they all have regulators. Some have manual light and auto (peizo) lighting.

So as you do your maintenance checks,,  Check your gas appliances on full electric (if you have the dual option of gas/electric). and listen for the auto ignition and see if its *trying to light.

Some RV manufactures are installing Electric ONLY appliances in their new RV lines, thus avoiding issues with gas.

They have even upgraded with better battery banks,inverters and gensets.

Hope this info helps .........

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Comment by Joanne Leiser on July 3, 2015 at 7:56am

Yikes! Glad Frankie is a quick Old Skoolerz. Glad to add this to our list for maintenance. Thanks.

Comment by Matthew Tritt on June 21, 2015 at 6:00pm

Holy Smokes!!!! Lucky (sort of) that this happened back where you actually have green in the world. If it had happened here they'd still be trying to put it out. No kidding! That sounds like a low pressure explosion for sure. It doesn't even look that old a trailer. :-(

Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 21, 2015 at 4:15pm

Not to beat a dead horse, but here's some more fuel for the fire (pun intended). My brother contends that the sound of an explosion caused him to go outside where he found the trailer on fire. He said there was only one explosion (a "pop" he described it). He sent me this video today. He filmed it while he was waiting for the fire department and AFTER the initial "pop" that drew his attention. If you listen at 0:10 in the video, there's another pop/explosion. THAT, I believe is that fridge pipe popping. The first pop was probably a propane explosion.

https://youtu.be/5HohnRP0Vy0

Comment by Matthew Tritt on June 21, 2015 at 11:41am

From the way you've described your RV, I wouldn't be afraid at all, Rich. Just follow the instructions on the appliances, make sure the pilots are working and have a good gas sniffer installed in the right spot and it'll be good! A couple of years ago I decided to fix a noisy blower fan in the furnace in my GTC, which entailed also removing the reefer for better access. I had to remove the aluminum louvered vent cover to have access to the back of the unit to access the propane connections as well. I think that it's a wise idea to remove that cover at the start of camping "season" just to make sure that things are as they should be with the gas connections and check for possible wasp colonies that might have developed. The worst thing we can do is to be complacent about the systems in our vehicles that could be a problem on the road. A little dish soap in a spray bottle applied at every gas connection you can find is a good first step.

Comment by Rich Thomas on June 20, 2015 at 8:14pm

I'm with you on the lay on the floor and light Matthew, my old fridge also a three way works perfectly even in the 90 + degree heat we had over the past week or so but, I'm still shaky when I go to propane after this event. I've crawled all over it and have found no reason to suspect anything but normal use but I still can't get my head around using the propane. I've had it plugged in to the AC all week and the fridge has Ice in the freezer so unless I'm camping somewhere electric isn't an option I'll be on A.C. at least until I use it a few times and build confidence.

Comment by Matthew Tritt on June 19, 2015 at 8:43pm

A real bad news/good news event! Too bad for your brother none the less.

The gas detector I removed (and foolishly threw out) was made by the same outfit that made them for marine use and was simply called "Sniffer". I'm sure it wouldn't have functioned when needed and I don't know why I was so slow in replacing it. I think it might have been installed by the dealership who sold it up in Portland, who also installed an automatic Winterizer, which is another very early innovation in the RV world.. I also should add that my ride still has the original 3-way Travlr fridge made by Elixr that still works perfectly, even though lighting the burner is one of those lie down on the floor exercises mentioned earlier. Elixr is just a marketing company and the nameplate informs that it was actually built by Sanyo!. I'm knocking on wood as I type.

Comment by So ska noname on June 19, 2015 at 3:20pm
I get chills jus thinking about it.
Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 19, 2015 at 3:04pm

And on your injuries comment - even though it sucks for my brother, it could have been a lot worse. We were loaded up for the trip to Hershey. We would have been in side-by-side sites, packed in like sardines in the pull-through section of the campground. That fire would have taken out pretty much that whole section. I get chills thinking about the carnage.

Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 19, 2015 at 3:02pm

I didn't know they made alarms that far back. My Allegro didn't have one, nor did my brother's trailer (1991). I'm sure our '76 Winnie didn't have one either. I installed one a couple of months ago because it seemed like a good idea. I put it under the fridge, directly across from the range and furnace (away from drafts, per the instructions).

Comment by Matthew Tritt on June 19, 2015 at 3:00pm

So fortunate that this didn't involve injuries. I just replaced the original propane alarm in my 73 Hall GTC after discovering that they normally have to be replaced every 4-5 years. A bit over that @ 40, no? In boats, where the bilge is where propane goes when there's a leak, it's common to have more than one bilge sniffer because of the assured catastrophe should something go wrong. Many old timers in the marine world won't have propane on board and instead use alcohol stoves and Diesel heaters. I had both in my boats but always turned the tanks off when not in use.

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