LPG & Safety

LPG AND SAFETY

 

Firstly I would like to introduce myself.  My name is Craig Morgan. I am a qualified mechanic and Lpg fitter. I have been in the RV industry for many years and have been the service manager for a major dealership in the Adelaide area for around 6 years.

In this time I have dealt with many lpg related issues and repaired gas systems for customers during this time.

Many people don’t understand lpg and are frightened by it. However I hope I can help explain what you need to do to keep yourself safe and have a reliable system for many years.

Firstly I will discuss lpg cylinders,  every cylinder has to be stamped with a date of testing. Whether this is at the time of manufacture or re complying after expiry.

All cylinders are to be retested at a period of ten years. Now this doesn’t mean you cant use the lpg left in the cylinder, it is illegal to refill the cylinder after this expiry date. There are many testing stations around that will perform the required test and restamp of your cylinder or you can purchase another.

Another choice is to use the `swap and go’ cylinders available at many service stations, hardware stores and lpg suppliers. There are some `myths’ that are going around that the quality rating for caravans has to be a certain number, this is not true. The number stamped on the cylinder is just a rating for paint coatings. There have been a number of discussions on various online forums relating to the type of gas bottle required for use on caravans.

However, the comments being shared in these forums are perpetuating urban myths that have no basis in fact.

Specifically, claims that you can only use gas bottles with certain Coating Classification Codes on a caravan and that the use of the wrong gas bottle could void your insurance.

There is no truth to either of these contentions.

Caravan gas bottles & holder in summary:

• There are no caravan specific standards, including types of coatings, which apply to the gas bottles themselves.

• There are very specific requirements on how and where you store the gas bottles in and on a caravan.

• The total number of gas bottles that you can legally carry is subject to control and can vary based on different state regulations.

• Gas bottle holders must withstand a 4g load.

 

 

The Australian Standard Explained

 

To explain, a bit of background is in order.

As with most urban myths, there is a bit of fact mixed in with misinformation. 

This Standard specifies manufacturing requirements for welded carbon and stainless steel cylinders with water capacity not less than 0.1kg or more than 150kg. 

The Standard does NOT reference any application restrictions.

There are four Coating Classification Codes in this manufacturing Standard.

The Classification Codes are stamped into the neck ring of the gas bottles.

Depending on the Classification Code, the number 1, 2, 3, or 4 will appear within a 10mm circle.  The lower the number, the more durable the finish.

The Coating Classification Codes

Classification Code 1:

These are hot dipped galvanised gas bottles.

This would be the most durable finish but these bottles could cost 3X what a normal caravan gas bottle would cost.

Classification Code 2:

These are abrasive blasted, then coated with a base coat and a zinc rich top coat. 

Classification Code 3: 

These are sprayed with a single layer of a zinc coating.

Classification Code 4: 

These are sprayed with a primer and a polyester top coat.

This would be the least durable finish.

There are NO Specific Requirements for Caravans however I have mostly seen classification 2 fitted to most caravans.

In reference to the first myth, there is not, nor has there ever been a prohibition regarding the use of any Coating Classification Code gas bottle on a caravan. 

Many, many years ago there was a common sense “recommendation” suggesting that Code 4 bottles would not be ideal for continuous exposure on a caravan tow bar.

This was never a ban and even the recommendation vanished from the Standards many years ago.

I would like to cover what to look for when checking over your caravans lpg system. Let’s start at the cylinder, connect your cylinder and turn the gas on. I do advise my customers to invest in a gas safety valve. This is fitted to the cylinder and the hose is fitted to the valve. This is invaluable for safety if a hose blows off or a fitting breaking. It will shut the supply off to limit the escape of gas.

If you have a cheap spray bottle fill it with detergent and water. Spray all the hoses, fittings, lpg regulator and cylinder connections liberally. Any leaks will form bubbles and you can identify any areas that require attention.

If you do see bubbles forming on a join or a fitting you can try to tighten it first. A lot of the time I find loose fittings as they can shake around when the van is being towed. If this doesn’t fix your leak then I advise getting an lpg fitter to repair it.

 

Article by Craig Morgan - All About Caravans