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Old 03-08-2020, 12:49 PM   #1
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Propane tank as air tank

I am just getting use to my SMB so have a ton of questions. First is that I do not need the installed propane heater and will be removing it. I need an air tank for my onboard compressor and was wondering if I can convert the install propane tank into an air tank reservoir? Any negatives to doing that?
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Old 03-21-2020, 08:09 PM   #2
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So I made the conversion, putting a splitter into the air line and running one line into the propane tank and the other to the fitting for the tire filler hose. I emptied the propane tank as much as possible first of course. The ARB compressor ran well at first, filling the tank and shutting off in about a minute or two. I then tested filling tires and filled from 20psi to 42psi in about a minute. Use to take two and a half minutes. But the air compressor shut down after that minute or two. Fuse is good. And after a half hour, ran again, so thought it was the over heat shutdown (which I never had a problem with before filling all 4 tires in about 10 minutes). When it ran again, it shut down after about 30 seconds and now won’t run at all. I never touched the wiring when replumbing for the propane tank. Any ideas where to start trouble shooting?
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Old 03-21-2020, 09:50 PM   #3
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Do you have an auto reset breaker on the air compressor in addition to the fuse? They trip, you wait, they re-set, repeat.

I have to ask, what is the pressure rating on the propane tank?
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Old 03-22-2020, 07:27 AM   #4
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I thought it might be the reset breaker too. But now, even after 24 hours, it will not start.

Good question on the propane tank, can’t find any pressure rating on it. But I checked with numerous people, including my local propane distributor and they all said it should be fine up to 110 psi.

The ARB compressor is brand new by the way.
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:13 AM   #5
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ARB single or twin? Not that it really matters as I believe both have a 100% duty cycle (mine is a twin and it does).

I assume the ARB supplied dash switch was used, correct? Sounds like it's time to get out the VOM meter and start following the circuit. When SMB Texas installed mine they placed an auto-reset breaker adjacent to the engine battery in the footwell compartment and in addition they placed two (40 amp as I recall) blade fuses immediately adjacent to the compressor. You said "Fuse is good" - which fuse are you talking about? Those compressors are very well made, thus I would rule out anything electrical before I pulled the compressor. I suggest you start by flipping on the ARB switch on the dash and then test for power at the blade fuse adjacent to the compressor.
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:36 AM   #6
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Sorry, it is a single CKMA12. The fuse I checked is the 30amp one just before the compressor. Don’t know if there is another one, will have to pull the drivers side kick panel and look later today. Can I just short out the pressure switch without any danger to the system to check if it is that as a first test? By the way, I have a 2006 Ford E 350 SMB I just purchased. Have used the compressor a number of times with out problems. The problem only started when I added the propane tank as an air tank. Even though I emptied the propane tank, is it possible that back pressure introduced residual propane into the compressor body and that damaged the compressor?
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Old 03-22-2020, 08:55 AM   #7
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My van is a Sprinter, thus the engine battery is in a different location than yours.

If you have power to the fuse adjacent to the compressor you should be good (electrically speaking). I'd try a new fuse at that location just to eliminate the simple stuff... (BTW, I'd still want a fuse adjacent to the battery or the buss or wherever the power run originates.)

If all-things electrical check out, then I'd look to the pressure switch that is part of the compressor.

I simply don't know if back-feeding propane into the compressor would damage it.
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Old 03-22-2020, 09:02 AM   #8
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A while back I had an issue with my ExtremeAire compressor, but suspected I cratered it running through high water...used jumper cables attached to a separate car battery and touched each to the Pos & Neg leads on the compressor itself to see if it engaged.
It ran fine, so ended out ordering & replacing the Pressure Switch, Relay, and Circuit Breaker (just made sense to do all at one time)...ended out being the Pressure switch.
Might start with the same test to see if in fact its the compressor, or (hopefully) someplace else.
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Old 03-22-2020, 03:55 PM   #9
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OK, shorted the pressure switch and it runs fine. Found out there is an internal relief valve also. So now have to find a pressure switch in Belize-good luck with that. Wonder if online ordering still works these days? In the meantime I can short it out whenever I need air. Thanks for the feedback
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Old 04-04-2020, 11:17 AM   #10
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Sounds like you probably found the problem, but just to throw into the mix, I had a check valve at the tank go bad and wouldn't let air through in the through direction. Pressure would build up in the line very quickly and the compressor would shut off.
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