Should you turn your RV's propane system off every time you drive? Or is it okay to keep it on as you travel down the road?
In this episode, we answer the questions, brought about after an RVer got involved in an accident. Afterwards, he got to “what iffing,” wondering about his propane issues. We tell the story of his accident and get some great expert help on the answer.
Plus, Jennifer's Tip of the Week, a Reader question about restoring a vintage RV, apps to make traveling better, a bucket list destination of the week and a fun interview with a mystery writer whose hero travels the country in an RV. Ever thought about writing a book? You'll enjoy this interview.
Shownotes for Episode 62 of the Roadtreking RV Podcast, released Nov. 18, 2015
JENNIFER'S TIP OF THE WEEK – A retractable Clothes Line for the RV
Jen's tip is a response to an email she received from a reader named Jean Boyle, who asks: “Jennifer, Did you ever get the pull out clothes line you mentioned in one of the videos? If so, what did you get and do you like it? Thank you!” [6:01]
Well, Jean, and anyone else who may be interested…. Yes, she did get one It’s a very handy retractable 8-foot long clothesline we found on Amazon for around $16. (http://amzn.to/1WXei4z). We have it mounted in the bathroom of our Roadtrek CS Adventurous XL. It mounted inside the shower enclosure and we use it to dry towels and the like as we travel.
Something else we added was a magnifying mirror we also found on Amazon for about $25 (http://amzn.to/1QswnmF)
Propane: On or Off while Driving?
Don Bell from Texas got in a frightening accident in his RV a couple of weeks ago. We shared the story and video taken with his dash cam that caught the whole crash in a recent blog post. Lots of people wanted to know how it has gone fro Don since the accident. We can report that he is fine. His insurance is going to take care of it all and, thanks to his dash cam video, there is no doubt that he was not at fault and the ticket went to the driver of the pickup truck. This is the dash cam Don uses. But we also heard from Don after the accident. Don wanted to know what he should do about the propane on his RV while driving. [9:12]
Asked Don: “The night before my Roadtrek was involved in a major roadway accident, I was using propane for the refrigerator, Alde water heating system and range. On the day of the accident my propane was turned off at the tank. If one or more of the propane lines had been breached amid sparks flying during the collision, how likely would it be that the residual propane would ignite? What additional pre-trip preparations should I undertake to minimize the risk, if one exists?”
I reached out to some experts for their advice.
Gary says as a compressed fuel, propane is still relatively safe, even in the event of an RV collision. Obviously, if propane is leaking from a severed section of tubing and ignition sources are close by, that would present a problem. But on ASME tanks and DOT cylinders, multiple safeguards are present on every RV. With the ASME tank, more often found on motorhomes, inside the POL fitting that attaches directly to the tank service valve, is a square-looking device called an excess flow restrictor. This excess flow device protects the high pressure (tank pressure) from escaping to quickly should the regulator and/or the POL fitting be broken off.
POL? I had to ask Gary about that one. And he notes that actually, the part has always been called “POL” and campfire wisdom says it stands for “Put On Left” since it’s always a left-hand threaded fitting. But it probably really stands for “Prest-O-Fit,” one of the first companies to produce gas fittings for RVs and mobile homes back when you and I were learning to tie our shoes. Prest-O-Fit used to stamp their initials into such specialty fittings and over time it became known simply as the POL fitting. Exciting stuff, this RV technical info, huh?
Keep in mind, says Gary, it will not totally shut off the gas flow, but it will impede it greatly. Other safety devices include the backflow check valve (at the ASME fill valve) and a separate safety relief valve.
Propane expands 24 to 1 in the atmosphere, meaning that as the gas escapes into the air, it will take 24 cubic feet of air to mix with 1 cubic foot of propane in order to support combustion. The fact that it expands so rapidly and literally combines with the air in an open atmosphere, that flammability is somewhat limited. It takes between 2.15% and 9.6% of gas in the air to even burn. That’s why a propane leak on the exterior of the RV is not as dangerous as a propane leak inside the coach. But that said, if a spark or ignition source were to be present, danger exists. Hence the importance of checking for propane leaks often (1-2 times per years), and especially if a user smells the presence of the odorant in the propane at any point.
At the propane regulator, the propane pressure in the system is reduced to .4 of one PSI (as required by the RV appliances). With low pressure, the chances of flammability (outside the coach) is minimal. To properly set and test the propane pressure regulator, service technicians routinely allow propane to escape into the air since the regulator must be adjusted while gas is actually flowing. It is possible to have “pressure” without “flow.” And the regulator has to be in operation to properly adjust the pressure to 4/10 of one PSI (11.0 water column inches).
Though the risk is slight, it is still possible, given the right circumstances, for a propane accident to occur. But with the service valve shut off completely while traveling, there is minimal risk at best, even with propane in the lines. Upon an accidental breach in any propane system, with the tank turned off, the rapid rate of expansion will dissipate the gas to stay outside the limits of flammability in most cases. However, it is encouraged for all RVers to turn the propane container(s) off while driving down the road.
I also posed Don’s question to Marl Polk, who runs the website and do it yourself site known as RVEducation101. Here’s what Mark said:
There has always been controversy about leaving the propane on while traveling. Lots of folks insist it needs to be on so the refrigerator can run to keep the food cold. The other side of the coin is if there is an accident where sparks or flames are present an open propane system could be disastrous. If the refrigerator is cold prior to leaving on a trip it will generally stay cold during the hours you are traveling, unless people are constantly opening the refrigerator door allowing it to lose some of the cooling. From a safety and (liability) standpoint I always recommend traveling with the propane system turned off at the cylinders or tank. You are not only safer in the event on an accident, but when refueling too if the refrigerator has an open flame in proximity to fuel vapors.
Mark also recommends folks use a pre-trip checklist so nothing important is forgotten.
Restoring a Vintage RV
We also had a question this week from a reader who wants to restore an old travel trailer. [22:07]
I refer him to a blog devoted to Winnebago Restoration – https://thecolliersix.wordpress.com/category/winnebago-restoration/
Also the site Clasic Winebagos and Vintage RVs is a great resource, devoted to all makes and models of vintage motorhomes and RVs http://www.classicwinnebagos.com/forum/index.php
Sponsoring this part of the podcast is Van City RV in St. Louis, and their Partner Dealerships Creston RV in Kalispell, Montana, and Wagon Trail RV in Las Vegas. Bringing You the largest Inventory of class B’s from three locations.
All three have a great fly and drive program. They'll pick you up from the airport and will reimburse you $500 toward your airfare. Then, your RV will be fully prepared for travel, complete with full tanks of fuel and propane.
RV NEWS OF THE WEEK:
Three stories for you this week, from the Yukon, Maryland and Utah- [26:00]
RV Park owner takes aim at Walmart’s Overnight Parking – http://www.yukon-news.com/news/rv-park-owner-takes-aim-at-walmarts-overnight-parking/
Campers kill and grill a rattlesnake, then hit with fine – http://www.wwaytv3.com/2015/11/12/campers-kill-grill-snake-but-get-an-unexpected-side/
Utah Man in critical condition after RV falls off Jack onto him – http://www.ksl.com/?sid=37367573&nid=148&title=man-in-serious-condition-after-rv-falls-off-jack-onto-him&s_cid=queue-3
This portion of the podcast is brought to you by Alde… the only name in heat that you need to know for your RV
The Alde hydronic system brings many features and benefits not found with any other product.
- Silent Radiant Heat – providing a warm even natural heated interior. Great for pets. (And Humans)
- Increased Interior Space by combining two systems in one.
- Efficiency. The whole system draws less than 1 amp on 12V DC and will extend the life of your propane roughly 40 percent over forced air.
- Heating on Electric or Gas.
- Multiple Options and Amenities: Towel Warmers, Floor Heat, Tank Heating, 4 Season Camping, Engine Heat, Driver Comfort,
- Modern Programable Color Touch Screen Thermostat and Interface
- Minimal Side-Wall Penetration. Small combined intake and exhaust eliminate big cut outs and sidewall congestion.
TRAVELING TECH TIP: Apps to stay informed on news while traveling
We learned of the dreadful Nov. 13, attacks on Paris as we were driving through the night from Georgia towards our Michigan home. While millions of North Americans watched the story on television, we turned to apps to do the same thing, piping the audio from my smartphone through the vehicle’s sound system.[35:05]
Both Direct TV, Xfinity and AT&T offer apps that allow you to watch live streaming television just as if you were home.
I listened to CNN, Fox News and Al Jazeera America as I drove, Jennifer watched the story unfold on the screen of my iPhone 6S Plus.
The key, of course, is having a strong cell service. In our case, we use the the Wilson Electronics Sleek 4G – Vehicle Cellular Signal Booster to ensure I have a strong signal, o help pull in the maximum signal, I substituted the small little stubby antenna that comes with the Sleek with the Wilson Dual Band – 800-1900 MHz Magnet Mount Antenna. I have it mounted at the top of the vehicle and I snaked in the coax cable around the drivers door.
I have the Verizon Jetpack data card which I use for an in-vehicle Wi Fi Network, though your cell or tablet – assuming it has cellular service – will do just fine for most folks.
Another app ww use a lot is iHeartRadio, available for all platforms. I also have Tunein, another app. These apps let you listen to radio stations across the country.
We used one of the radio apps to also listen to the BBCs World Service for awhile after the American stations started repeating themselves.
About 3 am, somewhere between Atlanta and Chatanooga, we pulled into a Cracker Barrel to catch a few hours of sleep.
But thanks to the apps, we were as thoroughly informed as if we had ben at home, sitting in front of out TV.
This podcast is brought to you by Verizon, with the nation’s largest and most reliable 4G LTE network.
The LG Watch Urbane 2nd Edition LTE, powered by Android Wear, is a smartwatch that connects to the Verizon 4G LTE network and helps you maintain that connected feeling without requiring your smartphone within constant arm’s reach.
Being connected through a smartwatch means that when you’re away from your smartphone, you’ll still get notifications and can reply to friends, search for food, listen to music and more. You’ll also be able to make and answer voice calls via Bluetooth.
Additionally, the smartwatch will be compatible with Verizon Messages, so texts you send from the watch will use your smartphone's number, and your messages will sync across devices without needing your smartphone nearby.
The LG Watch Urbane 2nd LTE will be available online and in stores for purchase beginning November 19. You’ll be able to add the smartwatch to an existing Verizon Plan for $5 per month (taxes and fees apply).
Visit this site for more information: http://www.verizonwireless.com/
Visit Roadtreking.com/vzw for stories about how technology can enhance and improve your life.
Bucket List of the Week- Destin FL: The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village
This week, we profile one of our favorite places – Destin, FL [40:42]
Read all about this and check out my photos at http://roadtreking.com/rv-trip-destin-fl-the-worlds-luckiest-fishing-village/
There’s plenty of parking for RVs in the parking lots around the Boardwalk and lots of places to camp in the area; See my stories on state parks near Destin or beach camping near Destin. And for what other attractions are in the area, see this story on the Emerald Coast.
This part of the podcast is brought to you by Leisure Time RV, serving central Florida and the Internet from Winter Garden, Florida.
Leisure Time RV, a family-owned dealership in Winter Garden, Florida, near Orlando has been in business for 45 years and is consistently among the top Roadtrek dealers in North America. They have a full line of the Roadtrek inventory as well as travel trailers and used RVs. Jennifer and I have visited Leisure Time RV and we know the staff and we are very impressed by the honesty, integrity and first rate service we found there.
INTERVIEW: RV Mystery series writer W.J. Costello
W.J. Costello is the author of the Rip Lane novels. His career included stints as an internationally syndicated columnist and a nationally syndicated political cartoonist and a local radio personality. He lives in Maryland. [47:02]
His character Rip Lane is a retired US Marshall who travels the country in an RV, solving mysteries. Here’s a link to his author page and books on Amazon – http://amzn.to/1WXim4I
We talk about his books and, specifically how Amazon has made it easy and convenient for writers to get their books out to the public and actually make money. “This is the best time ever to be a writer,” he says, explaining in the podcast how you can get around having an agent and a publisher and take your book directly to the marketplace and make a great living.
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