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 Jim Stoltz on June 19, 2015 at 2:28pm

Unfortunately he didn't have a propane alarm, but it probably would not have done any good because there was no one in it when it exploded (thankfully). I'd like to think that if he did have a propane alarm, and he was around to hear it, he would have been able to get out before it exploded.

The bulge, according to my research and that article from that investigative site, is indicative of a fire in the fridge box. The fire superheats the tubing until it has to blow somewhere. It's not a great pic - on the other side of that bulge the pipe is torn open.

It all happened so fast that my brother isn't recalling every detail. He only heard one explosion, a "pop" which we assume was that pipe blowing. That's what got his attention and he ran outside. The trailer was already full of black smoke at that point and he knew it was a total loss. He removed the propane tanks and watched it burn. That single "pop" would mean, however, that the fire that caused the "pop" started without any drama (i.e., no propane explosion). He said when he heard the pop, he looked outside and there were flames shooting through the roof out the fridge vent.

Comment by Matthew Tritt on June 19, 2015 at 2:07pm

Well this is a cheery subject, isn't it? Here are a few observations on gas and gas electric fridges: All gas reefers have clearance at the back to allow heat to rise up and out the roof vent. Most also have a louvered vent near the bottom of the coils through the wall of the vehicle that allows air in to replace the rising hot air that exits through the top vent. If there is a propane leak at the back of the unit, being heavier than air, it will "fall" to the lowest point available, which could be the bottom of the reefer enclosure OR the louvered vent to the outside. Or both. If the gas enters the living space of the coach the gas alarm should (presumably) go off, which it didn't seem to do in this case.

Also there has to be an ignition source to have an explosion or fire. This makes me think that there was gas built up within the fire box prior to ignition. Does that make sense? The bulge in the coolant tubing is really weird and must have come from excess pressure; perhaps an external flame from a leaking gas line? Keep in mind that all these units have a high pressure rubber hose gas line that allows removal and installation, and that it's possible to get a kink or cut in them, which could lead to prolems. Still, propane is by far the most efficient fuel for cooling when compared to electric in a heat absorbtion reefer and big problems with it's use seem few and far between. When this kind of thing happens though, it can't help but make you wonder...........

Comment by So ska noname on June 18, 2015 at 10:02pm
Sounds just right to me.
Comment by Rich Thomas on June 18, 2015 at 9:46pm

The palace fridge is a Cold Star. I don't know who makes it or if it was a company all to it's self but I gave it a good look over today. It all looks good and tidy. I did get down and read the directions and It notes  to check all gas fittings with soapy water each time before lighting. a weak ago I would have thought that to be a bit excessive. 

Comment by So ska noname on June 18, 2015 at 7:17am
I prefer to do most things myself and save money, but propane and our safety is not an area to pinch my pennies at. I tried smelling for ammonia, in case this fridge has some. Did not smell any. I did find an electrical plug, possibly for and from the fridge, in closet area next to fridge. Will find out what it belongs to I replace the sink p-trap that's missing and finish plumbing systems check.
Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 18, 2015 at 7:07am

Ah, I see now. Yes, it's wise to have it checked out before firing it up. The previous owner of mine had a catastrophic engine failure on his way to a camping trip. The gasoline tank and the propane tanks were both full. I had a pretty good idea that everything worked properly because of this. My theory was mostly correct, but I did have a significant propane leak at the front furnace. What tipped me off was the valve to it was shut off. When I turned it on the smell was strong. I replaced a couple of brass fittings and it was good to go.

In addition to the hard-wired detector, I have a wand-type detector that plumbers and the gas company use. It's very sensitive and can pick up leaks around fittings that you'd never be able to smell.

Comment by So ska noname on June 18, 2015 at 6:54am
I should have clarified more. I am okay using it. I prefer gas in my house as well. Having this new to me trailer, a 1959 boles aeros, I am not familiar with its propane systems. Several friends work in heating and cooling, said let's add propane and crank her up!! Not!! She is going to trailer shop for a thorough propane line inspection, maintenance, and check-up. And the fridge is original-- so unsure if I have ammonia or not.

I am getting one of those propane leak detectors you mention. I read the article to the link. Once I Am sure it's safe I will be okay. I will be more vigilant after reading the dutchmans story and near tragedy.
Comment by Jim Stoltz on June 18, 2015 at 5:18am

I wouldn't be afraid of propane systems - they've been reliable sources of heat and light for a very long time. They require regular inspection and maintenance. Older campers, like mine, didn't have propane leak detectors in them either. I installed one earlier this season - everyone should have one. And, older campers have been subjected to many, many years (in my case 31+) of extreme temperatures, vibrations and the constant twisting/flexing of the chassis. Things are bound to loosen up eventually.

Comment by So ska noname on June 17, 2015 at 11:14pm
I have a gas mantle propane light and love it. Also have laterns. Going add some solar to this trailer soon.
Comment by So ska noname on June 17, 2015 at 8:35pm
Oh yes that's good information to have. Thank you for inquiring. Knowledge is power.

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