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Old 09-10-2018, 08:32 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 54
Pre-trip warning! Don't let this happen to you!

This is our 3rd season in our Catalina 273TBS (which we bought new). Last month, we went on a two-week adventure to visit all five Great Lakes (to be fair, three are GREAT, two are pretty neat). On day one of our trip, I was lucky to avoid what could have been a major catastrophe. We had been on I75 for several hours and had just pulled off for the last few miles into the campground. As we wound down the curvy 25 MPH road into the State Park, I heard a very slight thunk. Given the music on, the two kids being kids in the back seat, and The Wife jabbering on non-stop in the passenger seat, I probably would not have paid it much thought until I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the cover of my propane tanks skittering across the road. I immediately stopped and went to inspect.

I was horrified when I got to the rear of the truck and saw that both of my 30 lb. propane tanks were dragging by the hose UNDERNEATH the trailer. Thankfully, nothing important seemed damaged. There was no evidence of a gas leak, no ripped gas lines, no damage to the camper exterior. The only real damage was that the plastic propane cover itself was a little beat up and the small door on the top of it (to access the knobs) was MIA.

So here is my warning to you (finally). A quick inspection showed that the thin metal rod which runs vertically between the two tanks had come loose from the base. (A pic of the rod, circled. I am sure it has a more appropriate technical name.)

I usually check the bracket and the tightness of everything from the TOP of the rod, because that is just what makes sense to me. I also use very little propane. The assembly holding the tanks gets very little use from me. I fill the tanks once per season and that is it. I didn't even fill them this year because I had so much left. But I HAD undone the top bracket twice this season to check the weight of each tank. What I didn't know was that as I was unscrewing the bracket from the top, it was probably also ever so slightly working the rod itself unscrewed from the base. It never dawned on me that this rod would also easily unscrew when counter-clockwise pressure was applied. That is probably my fault for being naive. I looked at the underside of the base and I wonder why some type of locknut wasn't applied to keep the rod in place. Here's a pic of the underside of the base.

After realizing what happened, I was so grateful that nothing bad happened. Especially when I considered the possibilities. Just moments before, I had been traveling about 70 MPH on the freeway. If this had happened then, the results could have been catastrophic. BEST case scenario, the tanks would've gotten sucked under the camper, ripping the lines from the unit, damaging the exterior/axles, and rendering all gas appliances useless on the first day of a two-week international trip. More likely, the tanks would likely have broken loose before I could have gotten off the roadway. I shudder to think of what those things could have done to anybody else traveling near me. Luckily, I escaped with no damage, death, or destruction. But I assure you that now, as part of my pre-trip inspection, I check to make sure that the tanks are secured and that the rod itself is securely attached to the camper. I hope you will too!

Happy trails!
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Old 09-10-2018, 08:35 PM   #2
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 54
Missing pics...

Not sure why it won't show the pics that I tried to insert...

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Old 09-10-2018, 08:58 PM   #3
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Now that's pretty scary

Thanks for sharing your experience.
Happy Camping!

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Old 09-10-2018, 09:05 PM   #4
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Posts: 931
On my old trailer I had put a double nut on it so it woudn't come loose.

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Old 09-11-2018, 12:20 PM   #5
Join Date: Apr 2018
Posts: 40
Thanks for the warning! I printed this out to show my husband. I read all the posts and keep him up on what people are saying. This one was scary! Glad you like the Great Lakes --- some of our favorite places!
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:39 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jul 2018
Posts: 9
I'm sure very few people have ever considered checking that... I know that I will be looking at that before my next trip now. Thanks for the tip, and we're all glad you learned it with "minimal" damage!
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Old 09-11-2018, 12:57 PM   #7
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This is also my third season and something very similar happened to me. We were driving in the mountains, fortunately only about 30 miles an hour, when I looked in my rearview mirror and saw my propane cover sticking up above my truck bed. I stopped the truck and went back to check. The propane rod had also separated from the bottom and the propane tanks were leaning against the front of the trailer. I now check before every trip and make sure the rod is seated properly.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:11 PM   #8
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Whoa Nellie! I think I will go check mine just to make sure everything is tight.

Glad you caught it before any major damage was done.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:26 PM   #9
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I bought three nuts and put one on the top side of the bottom hole where that rod is threaded to the bottom side and reefed it tight so that the rod can not come unscrewed (which is probably what happened to you) when removing tanks to get filled.

Now, if I reef hard enough it will come loose...but I have to want it to come loose for it to spin now!

The other two I used for the regulator to hold it in it's place (one on top and one under it).

Funny, the LP guys at the winter RV park I was in had never seen that before and thought it was a good idea.

I was surprised that they had never seen something like that done previously.
Someone "doing it for years with no problems" doesn't mean YOU should!
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:40 PM   #10
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Thanks very much for the warning. This is our 5th season and it never occurred to me to check that the rod is secure in the base. You can bet I'll be adding it to my checklist.

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