Saturday, October 19, 2013

Jim & Linda's 'Aliner RV' Propane Repair

Aliner Propane Issue

Furnace worked one night while camping on the Colombia River although several times the furnace did not start on the first try but the furnace did start on the automatic restart. The second night the furnace never would light the propane.

Before this trip I found a leak where the hose from the tank connects to the regulator so I replace the hose. This hose apparently has a valve installed per the governments requirement to shut off the propane if there is a surge of propane due to a cut hose or some such.

Checking the furnace system out in the shop. First I verified there were nice electrical sparks available to light the furnace. Then I connecting a plastic hose to the propane line right at the heater entrance and configured a ’U’ loop in the clear hose. I filled the hose with about 17 inches of water and let the water settle evenly at the bottom of the ’U’. Then I turned on the propane and measured the height the water rose. You can either measure how much the rise is on one side of the ’U’ and double the result or measure the water rise on one side of the ’U’ and add the amount the water dropped on the other side of the ’U’. The result is in inches of Water Column (WC).

I measured 13 inches which is great as 11 inches of WC is sufficient for the furnace per the specification. However when I turned on the stove also the pressure dropped to 8 ¾ inch which is way too low. I then disconnected the tubing and left the connection open to the furnace. I disconnected the hose going to the output of the regulator and blew through all that tubing and hose easily.

Then I reconnect the hose to the heater and using a 12 volt battery eliminator energized the two gas solenoids on the furnace and then blew through the hose. Air blew easily for 3 seconds then got much harder. I reconfigured the furnace heater element screen to be outside the furnace so I could see the flame in action and connected all hoses. The flame when lit by a hand held lighter reached about 3 inches tall and covered only about ¼ of the wire screen that should all be lit. (Maybe 6 square inches of surface if working correctly.) Then with the furnace lit and turning on the stove the furnace flame diminished even more and turned quite yellow.

I installed Bob’s old regulator and it performed the same. I removed the Aliner regulator and observed clear oil leaking from the inside. I purchased and installed a new regulator model GR9959 (8EA9)from Clear Creek RV for $32. Now the furnace lit just fine with large flame maybe a foot tall and covering 90% of the heating element screen. The stove also ran at the same time with full flame.

I then reinstalled everything back into the furnace and using soapy water checked all the connections for gas leaks. The furnace operated very well. The next day I turned on the propane at the tank and once again the furnace did not light! So I disconnected the hose at the propane bottle and burned all the gas from the line at the stove burner. The next morning I connected up the bottle and opened the bottle valve extremely slowly. I could hear gas flow and it flowed for like 10 seconds slowly while the lines were pressurized. Then I opened the bottle’s valve all the way. I lit the stove which takes 10 seconds of flow before the air is purged and the gas reaches the stove. Then I turned on the furnace and it lit the first time. While the furnace was running I lit all three burners of the stove and all is working as designed.

In conclusion the first hose was replaced due to a slight propane leak at the hose fitting going to the RV. The RV regulator is likely bad due to lack of flow and also the oil leaking out of the regulator. (I did cut open up the regulator to see if oil is suppose to be inside.) (Bob’s regulator remains in  unknown condition.) I suspect that the valve on the bottle needs to be opened ever so slowly to prevent that government mandated excess safety valve in the hose from stopping the propane flow. There is little documentation about this government required valve. You have to learn by error. (Government at its normal confusing best.) The government means well but performs poorly at times. 

Here you are able to see the clear hose with propane pressure applied and water level raised. Also the furnace burner is removed. 

This is the furnace burner being inspected. All ok. 

Notice the very low flame. Only 1/4 of the screen has flame. 

With new regulator we have a large flame filling 3/4's of the screen. 

This is similar to the "Excess Flow Valve". 

I think if we turn on the gas too fast at the bottle this trips and causes a very low flow. The low flow is designed so in an accident, little gas is added to the crash however we can still find leaks in normal conditions. But how many know to turn the gas on very slowly?  Now if I can just remember.

This is the bad regulator and was replaced. The defective one appeared to be leaking oil.