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Old 10-03-2014, 06:18 PM   #1
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Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

I've done some searching on the forum and haven't found anything on this topic yet.

With respect to the simple twist-latch mechanism that holds the propane-tank access door closed outside the van: Has anyone modified or replaced this with a locking mechanism of some sort? Or perhaps created/rigged up a more rugged/secure latch of some sort?

(Additionally -- anyone know if it is *Legal* to lock this door? Wondered if perhaps there's a fire code that stipulates that propane fittings always be accessible to anyone attempting to shut off the gas in a fire situation.)

The factory 90-degree-twist-latch seems pretty flimsy at best, it's only friction that keeps it turned to the "latch" position.

I found this one online, and figured it would be an easy swap:
http://www.atgstores.com/latches/first- ... 46616.html


Two initial motivations for asking this:
1)I've found an area drive-through car wash that my Ford E250 RB30 (penthouse roof) will fit into (they can accept/wash cars/vans up to 7' 8" in height!) but I'm concerned about the aggressive carwash brushes flipping the latch open (and subsequently the propane access door).

2) Also seems like a lock on the propane access door would be nice, just to know that nobody can easily meddle with your propane tank/fittings when you're out and about.

Has this been discussed before?
Thanks guys.
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Old 10-03-2014, 07:33 PM   #2
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

I don't actually know the laws in every state or province, but "common knowledge" is that it is against the rules to lock the propane compartment door, or even to have it potentially lockable. I think the idea is that firefighters or other responders (or you) may need to get to it in a hurry to shut the propane off. In all the manufactured RV's I've ever looked at, I've never seen a locking propane compartment.

I've also never heard of anyone meddling, although I suppose it's possible. I think I'd rather take that chance but have easy/quick access for personnel.

(Too, the usual compartment locks are more just to keep honest people out. So I think they would not really guard against malevolent people, but they WOULD slow your or other good people down who might need to shut off the propane. Plus, there are so many OTHER ways for people who want to mess with your vehicle and cause you trouble to do it; they probably don't need to mess with the propane system.)
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Old 10-03-2014, 10:31 PM   #3
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

My 08 SMB has a lock on the door. I believe it came from SMB Indiana that way, as I seriously doubt the PO would have installed one.

I know some of you have much larger doors on yours. Mine is a small plastic door, about 7 inches wide. The only things behind the door are the filler port and the bleed valve. The shutoff valve is on the tank under the van.

If the van was on fire, I don't know if anyone would crawl under there to turn the valve off.
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:08 AM   #4
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

Interesting.

While I definitely agree that it likely wouldn't be very wise or "fire-code-friendly" to have the door locked while the propane is turned on and while you're camping/using the propane.....it seems that having the door locked when the propane is turned off poses no obvious hazards.

Again, I know this kind of lock wouldn't keep out anyone who was truly determined to get into the propane compartment, my goal is more to 1) prevent it from inadvertently flipping open in the drive-thru car wash and 2) (this may sound a little crazy) to keep it from opening up at the hands of curious small children (I was one! Drove my mom crazy. I wandered around whenever she wasn't looking and took things apart, flipped switches, turned knobs, etc....I had to see how everything "worked"....ruined a lot of radios and clocks when I couldn't remember how to reassemble them.....but the collective experiences of playing with everything mechanical I saw made me a pretty-well-informed product designer when I grew up.)

So yeah, it's not so much keeping out anyone who wants to maliciously "meddle" (I love that word....Scooby-Doo....nobody meddled with the mystery machine though) It's just the kids. Not the meddling kids, it's the briefly-unwatched little buggers who could view all the widgets that stick out of the side of a Sportsmobile as an unexpected "activity center" with knobs and switches to play with.

Curious what the actual propane laws/codes are, gonna have to go dig a bit.
(If anyone knows the actual laws, at least for California, that would be very much appreciated!)
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Old 10-04-2014, 08:33 AM   #5
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

Mountainbikeroamer:

Have you considered any Southco latches? The have lots of styles locking and non-locking that would surely survive a car wash and small children. Many Southco styles are also available in stainless for exterior/marine use.

Also, as you are probably aware, those keyed latches come in zillions of body length and lever offset combinations depending on panel thicknesses and offsets...........mcmaster has a moderate selection:

http://www.mcmaster.com/#cam-latches/=u07emk
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Old 10-04-2014, 09:12 AM   #6
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

boywonder,

Hey that is perfect. Some of those recessed twist-latch and flip-up designs look pretty nice.
It's looking like I will probably err on the side of choosing a non-locking one after all (though I am still enthused to "kid-proof" the door.)

On the legality front --- I did just do a bit of googling, and am indeed coming up against pretty universal declarations everywhere that it's a violation of DOT (or RVIA) code to have access to propane shut-off valves locked (or potentially lockable.)

Photographix - in your case it sounds like your rig is still compliant, since only the fill valve/gauge are locked away, not the shutoff valve.

Good stuff, thanks guys.
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Old 10-04-2014, 12:14 PM   #7
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

Mcmaster sells much of the Southco product line, you just have to know what to search for to find it.
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Old 10-06-2014, 03:35 AM   #8
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

These guys have tons of latches and everything else one could ever want for this sort of thing: http://www.industrialhwe.com/ Their catalogs are easy to navigate through, lots of images to help with design considerations. They will also sell just one piece (same as McMaster-Carr), their only real advantage is a wider range of selection.


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Old 10-19-2014, 02:06 PM   #9
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Re: Lockable outside Propane-tank Access Door?

There is a heat sealed plastic dust cover over a threaded steel connection on the underside of the propane tank. Is this the top of the tank with the tank being mounted upside down? And am I looking at access to the vapor removal tube?

This is directly accessible under the van, and not via the van's exterior utility panel door (i.e., where you have power and city water connects along with the propane fill valve and vapor relieve valve). If you're worried about someone messing with your propane seems like this is another avenue of access...

Does anyone know what it looks like under the dust cover? Is this a double threaded tube, threads on outside for a cap option vice dust cover and threads on inside for a steel plug?

It looks like there was a plastic cap that must have fallen off because there is a broken end of a rubber connection tie piece, like the kind on some milk jugs, still attached to the heat seal dust cover. Can anyone verify this?

Does anyone know if I can buy replacement a cap?
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