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Old 11-26-2002, 11:52 PM
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MarySarah MarySarah is offline
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Question Propane regulator - questions!

Hope someone can help me figure out what could be wrong. I started working tonight and the flame was fine, but by bead #5, my flame was getting progressively smaller and no matter how much I turned up the propane, I couldn't get it any bigger. I finally had to quit without finishing the last bead I started (after 45 minutes of working in a tiny flame, trying to finish it!) I checked the propane tank - it has enough fuel, I think. But the regulator, which had been fine at the start tonight, registered at zero, and wouldn't respond when I turned it.

I shut everything down, bled the propane line, and tried again - no luck. No matter how far I turned the regulator handle, I couldn't get propane pressure.

It's very cold here - supposed to be a low of 6 degrees. Could that have anything to do with this problem? Could it be a problem with the propane tank? Or maybe it's the regulator - can a regulator "go bad" suddenly like that?

I know my local welding shop can fix my regulator if it is broken, but how do I determine if that's the problem, or something else?

Frustrated & clueless in frigid Iowa! Thanks for any help.
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Last edited by MarySarah : 11-27-2002 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 11-27-2002, 12:41 AM
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ValorieCox ValorieCox is offline
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Mary,
I've been having the same trouble these past days, and finally solved it tonight. I don't know if my solution will help, but my symptoms were the same. Of course first thought was the most expensive...I thought trouble with the generator, then maybe trouble with the torch. When those checked out ok, on to the propane regulator. Same trouble, going down to zero, and no pressure. I happened to have a second full propane tank, and tried switching it out with my 1/2 full tank. Once I changed tanks tonight, the problem stopped instantly. I don't know why it helped but it did. (We are having very cold weather too).

Try the least expensive solution first (changing the tank), and hopefully some others will chime in with other solutions.

Good luck Mary, Valorie
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Old 11-27-2002, 08:59 AM
BillBrach BillBrach is offline
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I guess at low temps, it might be possible to freeze up the exit orfice in the tank. If it happens again. take an very hot towel and wrap it around the top of the tank and regulator. If this fixes it, then you need to figure some way to heat the tank. Maybe a 100 watt light bulb shining at the valve area of the tank ?? Possibly a wood box with a light bulb to keep the tank warm ??

If the tank is outside when not in use, you might have to find a warmer spot for it during the night.

Bill
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Old 11-27-2002, 10:37 AM
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Thanks so much, Val & Bill ! I checked the propane tank gauge again this morning (it was hard to see last night, since it was dark outside), and it does look like it's getting kind of low on fuel, so I'm going to try that first. I really hope it's not the cold doing this .... that will make for a very frustrating winter! But if that is the problem, you gave me some good suggestions for trying to remedy it, Bill.

Thanks again!
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Old 11-27-2002, 10:46 AM
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I have used propane down to below zero, with high volume use. Icing can be a problem, but with the low volume a torch is using, it would be unlikely. I think your problem may be the tank safety valve. The newer tanks have a unrestricted flow shut off. If your regulator were to break off the tank, in theory, the safety valve would close off the flow of gas. I have heard of these just stopping the flow from full tanks and a system with no problems. That is where I would look first. HTH

Al
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Old 11-27-2002, 11:40 AM
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With the "new" (triangle-shaped knob) tanks, it is also important to open the valve ALL THE WAY to prevent freeze-ups while you are torching.
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Old 11-27-2002, 12:16 PM
DonnaB DonnaB is offline
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If you do want to warm up the top of the tank by the regulator, I remember reading that a safe and effective way is to use one of those heating pads which you warm up in the microwave. (No cords or electricity).
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Old 11-27-2002, 12:46 PM
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...and the easy way to make a cheap (ok, inexpensive) heating pad like that is to take a cotton tube sock -- you know, one of the ones you have in a pile or the bottom of a drawer because it's mate disappeared in the laundry--fill it about 1/2 to 2/3 full with plain old white rice (not the quick cooking kind) and sew or knot the top. Pop that in the microwave for 2-3 minutes and you've got a sock full of warm rice that will hold the heat for quite a while. Don't heat it for longer than about 3 minutes--don't want the rice to burn, just to get hot. There's just enough moisture in the rice to hold heat for a while.

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Last edited by Judy in MN : 11-27-2002 at 12:49 PM.
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Old 11-27-2002, 12:49 PM
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Emily Emily is offline
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I've used the microwave heating pad-things. What I have is basically a long narrow canvas bag (it was made to go around your neck, but never did anything for me) filled with something that feels suspiciously like rice. Stick it in the microwave for 30 sec. to a minute, then wrap around the regulator and give it a minute to warm up.

I've read (on the ISGB forum, so there should be stuff in the archives) about people rigging light bulbs to warm their regulators. The heating pad thing seemed simpler to me, though. If you want to check the ISGB archives, I think the specific problem people were trying to solve was propane surges - flame going high, then low. You could try searching on "surge" or "surging."
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Old 11-27-2002, 09:59 PM
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Some great suggestions here!

Mary, Did you solve the problem yet?

Val
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Old 11-28-2002, 09:28 AM
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Nope, I haven't solved the problem yet. I haven't had time to refill the tank, either.

BUT -- here is what happened yesterday when I opened the propane valve, just to see if I could get any pressure: As I opened the valve (I didn't even get it very far open), the needle on the pressure gauge (on the left - that IS the pressure gauge, isn't it?) immediately went all the way around the dial to the end point, without me even tightening it at all (it was loosened, as I always leave it when I'm shutting things down for the night). The needle stayed at the farthest point to the right on the gauge until I shut off the propane tank and bled the hose, then as the flame on the torch got smaller, the needle gradually moved toward zero.

Just a few minutes ago, I tried it again - the same thing happened, just like yesterday.

What does this mean? Is the regulator broken? Should I start with refilling the tank and see what happens? I am totally baffled, and it doesn't help that I am mechanically challenged!

I'm not going to have time to mess with it today (gotta get those turkeys on their Foster's cans and into the oven!) but if anyone has any suggestions for me, please help!! I should have time to work tomorrow as DH is supposed to have a little shorter work day.

Happy Thanksgiving!
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Old 11-28-2002, 10:07 AM
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Happy Thanksgiving, All!

Mary Sarah,

Two things are sticking in my mind. One is the directions sheet from the regulator that said that the regulator is reliable down to 38 degrees farenheit (Sp?). It could be your problem. I store my tank outside and every night disconnect the regulator, make sure there isn't any left over smell of propane in it and bring it in the house.

The second thing is - doesn't the propane tank get colder as you use it? I seem to recall several posts talking about how the tank will sweat and become colder - add the outside temperature to this and it seems that it could contribute to your problem.

I would continue to investigate the regulator and the propane tank.

Hope this helps.
Cindy
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Old 11-28-2002, 10:55 AM
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Jinx.Garza Jinx.Garza is offline
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Sounds to me like your regulator is shot. I would call the supplier and describe exactly what it's doing. They should be able to tell you over the phone whether you need to send it in for repair or, if it is the cold, what to do about it. I've had two oxygen regulators die over the years and my supplier (Wale) has always been very helpful in diagnosing the problem (and repairing the regulators). They're the experts!

Jinx

Last edited by Jinx.Garza : 11-28-2002 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 11-30-2002, 09:19 AM
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Thanks again to all who helped with suggestions for my propane problem!

It turned out to be ..... the most obvious solution! Even though the gauge said there was 1/3 of a tank of propane, the tank was empty. I filled it yesterday and everything is working fine -- though the accuracy of the gauge leaves quite a bit to be desired, LOL!
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Old 11-30-2002, 12:34 PM
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Dale_M Dale_M is offline
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With a two gauge regulator, the right handd gauge for the tank does not indicate volume of fuel in tank. The gauge indicates the pressure inside the tank. On left hand gauge is the regulator outlet pressure (low pressure gauge).

Whether a propane tank is full or not is the volume of liquid in the tank!... Tank pressure is a constant as the liquid "propane boils" off to a vapor the pressure in tank will not vary. When tank gauge drops you are totally empty.

To check how much fuel in tank you must measure level of liquid. Warm side of tank with hot water (slow thin dribble) and feel at what level the temperature of the tank changes.... Where line from warm to cold is the level of the liquid in tank.

Dale
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