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Old 01-09-2009, 01:30 PM   #1
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I've had problems with my outdoor barbeque regulator going bad. I'm on my third regulator in a year and a half but Blue Rhino has been good enough to replace them free with free shipping. The regulator fills with oil which is corrosive to diaphrams used in propane regulators. I've talked with others who have experienced the same problem but didn't know where the oil was coming from. Last night as I was cooking some fish I noticed the oil was dripping on the ground again which was coming from the regulator. I spoke with the fellow who delivers propane to the park today and he said that was called propane "ends" and would accumulate in any low spot in the hose and would ruin a barbeque regulator. He said on some houses they install an "ends collector" and it's his job to drain that when he fills the propane tank. I'm probably the only person on the planet that didn't know this but I've never used propane except on the barbeque. I have a hose connected to the tank in the coach then connects to the barbeque. I could just use the small tanks that attach to the regulator but those don't last long. The hose ends are the type that shut off when disconnected so they won't drain. So I left the hose connected to the tank and opened the other end with a small brass screwdriver and got about a fourth of a cup of oil out of the line. This would be the accumulation of about a year and a half and has ruined two prior regulators. Has anyone else ever had this problem or is it just me?
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:46 PM   #2
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Well you just found someone else on the planet that didn't know about this either. I'm guessing that since it collects in low points, it will not affect the regulator in my fiver? To tell the truth I have never been able to keep a grill long enough to find out. Something mechanical always happens to them.
I'm wondering when it is time to refill should I tilt them upside down so the valve is at the bottom and crack open the valve a little to see if anything is collecting in the bottom??
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:48 PM   #3
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That's new to me. I know about "drip legs" in houses to protect propane appliances from foreign substances, they are required by safety regulations. If you are getting that much "oil" out of your cylinder something is very wrong.
I would consider having the cylinders evacuated and cleaned. Ethyl Mercaptan (an oily substance) is added at the ratio of 20ppm. This tiny amount should not build-up to the amount you are describing, unless something is drastically wrong with the supplier's systems.

This is my opinion only, you should consult a reliable LPG supplier for complete information.
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Old 01-09-2009, 01:52 PM   #4
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I have seen small amounts of an oily substance dripping from the regulator on my BBQ grill that is connected to my main propane tank, but so far (five years) it hasn't damaged my regulator.
I did see the following post on rv.net some time back.

"3+tons ain't pc wrote:

I am late to this thread but it caught my attention. I have been involved in the refining process (including the manufacture of propanes, etc.) for over 35yrs. I seriously doubt that the contamination described by the original poster is that of oil. In the refining process, by design there is very nearly no opportunity in which an oil excursion of any kind might occur into the propane fraction, and even if this could happen, realistically this contaminated product would never make it into commercial propane storage facility (e.g.
safeguards/quality controls, etc). Nor might it be ethyl mercaptan. Ethyl mercaptan is introduced into commercial propane (e.g. propane destined for use as a fuel) at the extremely low ratio of only (approx) 800cc per 9,500 gallons gross, also not very likely.

Ethyl mercaptan (by deliberate selection) is also very friendly to propane handling and storage devices. Most likely the substance
being described here as "oil" is actually a caustic solution which is used during the final finishing phase of the propane stream
(lowers sulfur content), but every bit as slippery to the touch as is any oil. Caustic solution is typically misidentified as oil.

Unfortunately, no process is foolproof, and while RARE, it is possible via an episode of cascading mishaps (part mechanical), for
this caustic solution to become entrained into the final propane product and end up in some unfortunate customers propane tank.

This is bad news as caustic solution is extremely corrosive even in small amounts, and can take out LPG regulators. To aid in
diagnosis you might try testing this substance with litmus paper (available at pool supply stores) for a high p/h number. JMO...Good Luck!"
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Old 01-10-2009, 02:07 AM   #5
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I've read discussions on this and other forum's referencing propane appliance issues referring to cleaning the gas valves on refrigerators, water heaters, etc. Over time a buildup can make these valves faulty. Even the manufacturer's mention as a point of maintenance for a faulty device, remove and clean the gas valve by soaking it in denatured alcholol. According to their documentation, "Overtime oil, present in propane can clog the valve and/or the jet in the burner."

I did just that a last year when my refrigerator started acting up when operating on propane. Sometimes it would light and the flame would look and sound fine, other times it wouldn't light, and/or when it did it looked and sounded different. I removed the valve and soaked it as suggested then blew it dry with compressed air. It's been working fine since.
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Old 01-10-2009, 06:28 AM   #6
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BigSkyBob,
Thanks for the new thread. This stuff is real interesting. I've also noticed an oily type substance when I detatched my hose from my grill regulator. Rather, when I used to use a hose from the MH's tank to the grill. That grill's valve parts deteriorated and I also had problems with it's regulator. Yup, once I had my hose connected, I left it that way while I was in one place for any length of time. I ended up throwing the whole contraption away because the valve handles would no longer move the on/off gas valve on the grill. I also had some migrating flame. I bought a new grill and now have a small propane tank with a new hose. I also detatch it after use. I never really thought about the oily substance, but it hasn't affected me so far. I was only detatching the hose and turning off the tank to prevent any leaks just for safety. What Clay wrote is also very interesting. Now I have another reason to detatch the hose from the grill.

Thanks Guys,

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Old 01-10-2009, 08:03 AM   #7
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I'm with Ray - you have oily crap in your tank and it is migrating up the hose with the propane. Somewhere along the line, you got a bunch of oil/water/whatever in your propane fill. Perhaps several times. Clean the tank (or might be just as cheap to replace it, if a portable).

As Clay has explained, this gook did not come from the manufacturing process - it accumulated in a tank somewhere along the way to you and you got a dose of it.

I've never heard of "propane ends" either, but the oily residue problem is not rare in RVs, where water condensation and other tank contaminants seem more common.
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:32 AM   #8
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Gary, propane "heavy ends" are a fact of life with propane. They are an unwanted by product of the cracking process and have been blamed for fouling propane regulators on most every device using propane, including vehicles. My tank is new and is not contaminated with anything. Propane "heavy ends" will accumulate in any low spot in a feed line and in my case the flexible hose feeding my barbeque. This is discussed in depth and detail in a thread I posted on RV.NET. I might add this oily residue is not from water accumulation or any other contaminate but originates from the refining process.
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Old 01-10-2009, 08:46 AM   #9
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Thank you for this thread. I had NO idea. Learned some more today.
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Old 01-11-2009, 02:33 AM   #10
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You can read more about "heavy ends" at this site. http://cars.rasoenterprises.com/Propane-Residuals.htm
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Old 01-11-2009, 05:42 PM   #11
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I have a small marine BBQ that normally uses the 1# propane tanks. A couple of years ago, I converted it to use the 20# tanks. After a while, the BBQ started losing heat, to the extent that it would only generate about 1/2 the original heat. I phoned the manufacturer and they told me that the problem was that 20# and 30# tanks have a lubricant added to keep the valves from seizing up. The 1lb ones don't. They said the lubricant plugs up the smaller jets in the 1# regulators.

They had a special regulator for their BBQ that allowed it to be hooked up to the 20lb tanks.

Could the problem be the lubricant they add to the tanks?

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Old 01-15-2009, 07:24 AM   #12
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Wow! I've been purusing these forums for years, and this is the first time I've run across mention of this problem. I just threw away a BBQ because it didn't produce good heat anymore. I've also noted oily deposits at times, but never made the connection in my mind.

I will also add that Mexican propane almost destroyed my catalytic heater. When run on Mexican propane, the heater partially clogged and was putting-out foul smelling vapors. When I go to Mexico now, I run the catalytic heater off of a seperate propane bottle purchased in the U.S.
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Old 01-16-2009, 04:51 PM   #13
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If memory serves me correctly, Mexico uses butane instead of propane, or a mixture thereof.
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Old 01-16-2009, 08:55 PM   #14
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I started having this problem with my Webber Baby Q BBQ when I purchased a new motorhome that had the propane tank valve on the driver's side. I had a 25' propane hose made up and ran that under the motorhome and over to my BBQ on the passenger side. Shortly after I started using the 25' hose, my regulator died. I noticed black oil dripping out of it. Webber sent me a new regulator and it lasted about 2 days. I am on the third regulator and am only using a 6' hose to a 20# tank. That was Webber's recommendation. So far no trouble after a week.

The common thread here seems to be using a extra long hose attached to the main RV propane tank. The long hose seems to cause this substance to condense out of the propane and gum up the regulator. I guess I am stuck with using the 20# tank. I will do whatever it takes to get that hot, juicy steak on my table.
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