Subject:  Second propane tank setup
Date:    8/5/01 11:25:52 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From:    jones@COLORADO.EDU (Richard A. Jones)
Sender:    vanagon@gerry.vanagon.com (Vanagon Mailing List)
Reply-to:    jones@colorado.edu (Richard A. Jones)
To:    vanagon@GERRY.VANAGON.COM

Steve:

I added a second propane tank to my '87 Syncro Westy this June.  I had a second tank 
(from Chris [JordanVW]) that was complete with regulator, brass T fitting, etc.  Even the 
"skid plate!" (Thanks, Chris!)

On my Westy, under the sliding door, the two rear studs for a propane tank were there.  
Instead of the two front studs, there were two nuts, which upon closer inspection were 
the plastic nuts on plastic bolts from the top--the "dummy" bolts for seat belts on a 
center seat.  They were in exactly the correct position for the propane tank.  Go figure.

I removed the plate in the sliding door opening, the floor screws but not the cabinets.  
I could then bend up the camper floor just enough to have 1 or 1-1/2 inches clearance 
over those plastic bolts--enough to remove them and put in some real metal ones. I bent 
the floor up only from the r-f corner--closest to the passenger seat.  I don't think it 
would have flexed any higher, but this was just enough.  I put nuts on the bottom of 
bolts and then put the floor back down. This turned out to be pretty easy.

Now I had the four studs to hold the propane tank.  The two front ones had nuts up 
against the bottom of the metal floor and the back ones didn't, but I ignored this--the 
difference is so small.

I bought new fill/bleed valves and a new regulator, painted the tank and plate with a 
"propane tank" spray paint and then installed it.  The new regulator with its snap-on 
plastic cover is easy to put on if the plate is removed.  With the plate, I think you 
have to break off some of the plastic cover so that it will turn 360 degrees screwing 
it in.

I used the brass T fitting from the old regulator.  On one side I put a cap--future 
expansion to the Carver heater.  The other side connects to the line to the other tank.

On the old tank side, I bought a union and a T fitting.  On the lower propane pipe, I 
put in the union and the T, then reconnected the pipe.  It wasn't hard to carefully bend 
it around to work. When I have to put a new regulator there, which is longer, it will 
probably be some harder work....   But I have a flare tool, so I can shorten the line 
and re-flare it.

I ran a copper line between the new tank and the T on the old tank.  My route was along 
a cross member that is between the tanks and has a nice flange stamped on it.  The line 
is bent to "hide" in the corner of this flange.  It passes  over my Syncro drivetrain.  
I put a flare fitting at each end.  Upon connecting everything, I could test everything 
but the new fill/bleeder valves in the new tank since there was propane in the old one. 
Soapy water showed me where to crank some flare fittings tighter and then--no more leaking.

When I went to fill the new tank, I told the guy what I had done so he put just a little 
propane in the new tank, then we went over the fill/bleeder valve--and everything 
else--with soapy water.  No leaks, so he filled it up, then filled the old tank, 
commenting that the autostop valve was not working very well. When that tank is empty, 
I'll put new filler/bleeder valves on it.

I did not put any shutoff valves in the line, so now I have quite a bit of propane "after" 
the regulators.  So when I shut off both tanks, the fridge will run quite a while; it 
takes several minutes to burn it off on the stove.  I don't see this as a problem, but 
some might want a shutoff at each end of the connecting line.

My mode of operation:  Run on one tank, with the other full but shut off.  When one 
tank is dry, shut if off, open the other, relight the frig and continue.  Fill the 
empty tank when convenient in the next few days, and repeat.

This was all triggered because we  ran dry in Utah on our trip in May            
http://jones.colorado.edu/jones/Utah01 
and just barely got a refill in Mexican Hat at 4:59pm on a red-hot day by someone 
who had never seen an autostop valve--and didn't care! .  Won't have that problem again!

I haven't taken any photos of the setup, but it is pretty straightforward--after all, 
I could do it.  ;-)  If you have questions, just ask.

                                        Richard A. Jones
                                        Boulder, Colorado
                                        '81 Vanagon   Mr Bus
                                        '87 Syncro Westy   El Jefe