Thursday, May 18, 2017

Dogwood T Shirt Order Form

Official Dogwood Chapter T shirts

Your Color Choices

Our Dogwood Chapter shirts are now available to order. It is time to dress this crowd up a bit and Paul says that only members wearing Dogwood shirts will be allowed in group pictures (LOL).
In all seriousness, these shirts are long overdue and a long time coming, so jump on board and order your shirts now.

The Official Dogwood shirt photo includes color and an example of the logo,  The order form below can be emailed to Jim with your order information,

The order cut off date for the 1st order is July 1st. The order form below includes instructions on how to order the size, color and type of shirt you would like. Also whom to make checks payable to and where to send the order form.
When we return in late July, we will come up with a plan to get the shirts distributed, ie; central pick up point, rally distribution etc.
We hope you like the shirts and that we see all of our members wearing them.
Regards and SAFE Travels,


All shirts are pre-shrunk
COLORS: Blue, Gray, Pink, Teal
COST:  $8.00 per shirt for sizes S-XL
            $11.00 per shirt for sizes 2X, 3X, 4X                                                                                                                                                                                    
         *    ADD $2.00 PER SHIRT WITH POCKET
Name                                         Size              Color             Pocket(Y/N)      Quantity            Cost/each                  

Total Cost                                                                                                                                  

TOTAL COST FOR THIS ORDER (Add all lines in Total Cost column and place amount here.)       ______________                                                  

Make checks payable to John Martin.

Mail order forms along with checks to:  Jim Buelow, 112 Don Juan Circle, Yorktown, VA 23693


May 2017 Director's Report

May 30, 2017

Hello Dogwood Members,

Below is an email from our National Director, Ed Fisher addressing the FMCA Proposal to allow all RV's  into FMCA. This is a VERY IMPORTANT issue and requires our attention. In his email Ed provides information as to why this proposal is being presented. For additional information on the subject, read the Presidents Message in the April issue of FMCA magazine, or go to FMCA REMODEL on your computer.

In order for this proposal to pass, the FMCA Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Constitution must be changed.

The Bylaw changes can be approved by a majority vote of the Governing Board which Ed is a member of. This vote will take place in July at the FMCA Rally.

The Articles of Incorporation and Constitution changes require a majority vote by the FMCA membership.

If the Bylaw change is approved in July, the next step will be to present the proposal to the entire FMCA membership for a vote, so we DO have a voice in this decision, both at the July vote and the general membership vote.


Thank you,

Jim Buelow
Dogwood President

Director May 2017 Report
Ed Fisher

To All Dogwood Chapter Members
As your National Director, I will be asked to discuss and vote on the proposal to amend the FMCA Articles of Incorporation, Consti- tution, and Bylaws. This will allow the Executive Board to proceed with admitting RV Families, instead of restricting membership to Motor Homes only.

This is a very important decision and I solicit comments from all Dogwood Members. Regardless of my opinion, I will vote the wishes of our membership if I can get enough replies to this Email to determine our members preference.
I find this to be a very distasteful, but important subject. It might well be that very strong trends in the RV market could be a death blow to FMCA as we know it, so your Executive Board is looking at this solution. Even though I personally do not care for the change, I am in favor of it when all of the facts are considered.
Below, I will present the undisputed facts surrounding this situa- tion.
MEMBERSHIP: Peaked at 130,000 Families in 2004. Steady de- clines to 97,065 in 2010, then to 89,864 in 2011, then to 83,708 in 2012, then to 78,708 in 2013, then to 75,699 in 2014, then to 71,771 in 2015. Finally, there was a net increase of 616 members in 2016, but at a recruiting cost of $269,910. This all represents in a 45% membership loss from the peak.
CONTRIBUTING FACTORS: In 1986, motorhomes accounted for 37.7 % of RV sales, while other RV sales accounted for 62.3%. In 2016, 12..7% of RV sales were Motor Homes, leaving 87.3 % to other RVs.
Average age of FMCA members has increased from 65 in 2001 to 71 today, while average age of other RV owners is currently 48. How many Motor Homes will be driven by people 81 years old (other than me) in the future? We must look to increase our mem- bership pool.
WHY DO WE NEED SO MANY MEMBERS: Simply put, with around 72,000 members, there is a shortfall of $16.00 per mem- ber not covered by dues. The difference is being made up from investment income. This has been possible due to the long bull market in stocks, with everyone making money. ALL bull markets come to an end, and when it does, more likely sooner than later, this source of income will be lost. Before internet advertising, FMCA has had from $5 million to $8 million per year advertising income from the FMCA magazine advertising. This income has dropped to $1.82 million in 2016, and this will never come back. Have you noticed how skinny the magazine has become? One advantage of opening to all RVs is that we will have a vast new trove of towable RV advertisers, which should bring back some of these advertising dollars. To provide our same level of benefits at the current dues, we need 125,000 members, at which time we would have net income from dues of $1.72 per member family. This proposal by the Executive Board opens our audience to all 8.9 million RV owners, increasing it by 833%.
Your National Director has lived winters since 1996 at the Bryn Mawr Ocean Resort in St Augustine Beach Florida, and has seen a significant decline in Motor Homes as compared to other RVs (particularly 5th Wheels). As a matter if fact, the Motor Home manufacturers can also see hand writing on the wall. Just last

month, a large Winnebago 5th wheel pulled in, and there have been other traditional Motor Home manufacturer names on 5th wheels this winter.
Please let me have your thoughts on this subject. It is very quick and easy to click "reply" and send me a note, and we can discuss this at rally's between now and the end of June.
Ed Fisher
Dogwood National Director 

President's Message May 2017

Presidents Report

Hello Dogwood members. Spring is finally here and in April and May, we had 2 great rallies. More info on those rallies is included in the rally schedule. Susan and I attended both rallies and really enjoyed seeing our Dogwood friends. We are now busy planning and preparing for a 7 week trip to the northwest. Stopping in WI to visit my family, and then on to Glendive, MT to attend a memorial for Susan’s mother and aunt. From there we will head to the west coast, and we are so looking forward to the trip.
There is a lot going on in Dogwood and FMCA at the present time so I have numerous subjects and items to cover.
First and most important is a proposal by FMCA to allow all RVs to be members of our association. Detailed information pertaining to this proposal can be found in the April FMCA magazines Presidents message. You can also go online to FMCA REMODEL for additional information. Due to the importance of this proposal, we will be sending out a separate mailing to all members with detailed information put together by our National Director, Ed Fisher. I strongly recommend your review this proposal and provide inputs back to Ed and Dogwood. The initial vote on this will be in July at the National convention.
Elections for FMCA National Officers will take place in July at the National Convention. The only contested position is for Treasurer. John Reynolds, our past EAMA President and long time GEAR Host and FMCA volunteer is one of the candidates. Frank Taber is the other candidate. Their biographies can be found in the May issue of the FMCA magazine. Ed Fisher will be our representative at the convention, so if you have any inputs, please provide them to Ed ASAP.
We used our new Keurig coffee maker for the second time at the May rally, and it was well received. The only issue was the wait time if several people show up at the same time. We will use it again in September and go from there.
A new Rally Expense form has been produced and reviewed by our Executive Board and members present at the May rally. It is much less complex than the old form and well received by the members. I will make the suggested corrections, update the Rally Instruction form, and ask Paul to put the new form on our blog so we can begin using it.
Last December, the Cummings presented the idea of purchasing shirts for Dogwood. We came up with a logo, had a few shirts printed and showed them off at the May rally. Members liked the logo and shirts, so we will proceed with the next step. Right now we are doing T-shirts, but that could grow to other things in the future. Original cost was around $8.00, but members requested pre-shrunk shirts and pockets if you so desire. That may change the cost a bit. In addition, sizes larger than xtra large will be a few dollars more. Color options include blue, pink, athletic grey and possibly teal. Pink for the men of course, and they will come with a ribbon (LOL). I will put together an order form and get it out in the next few weeks. As we will not be back until July, it will be after that before you can take delivery. There is no middle man involved in this. My son-in-law does the shirts and what he charges is what you pay. The cost for the logo will be about $25.00 which Dogwood can pay for. Hope you like the wardrobe. 
Late breaking personal good news from the Buelow’s. I took a break yesterday from writing this message so Susan and I could go look at a TOAD. A friend of mine sold his coach but still had his TOAD and he offered to let us use it for our trip. We checked it out yesterday, liked what we saw and made an offer to buy it. An hour later we were on our way home with our new TOAD in tow. Deal included a 2012 Nissan Versa  in excellent shape, tow package, and break system. Needless to say, we are very HAPPY CAMPERS. After 14 years, we finally have a TOAD. Many thanks to all of you whom over the years offered us your back seat or the keys to your car when we were in need. Hope we can reciprocate in the future.  
As I close, just a reminder. As you travel, please make a point to reach out to other motor home owners you see along the way. Make a new friend and invite them to join Dogwood and FMCA. Members are the best ambassadors FMCA has.

Regards and SAFE travels,

VIR Rally June 2017

VIR Rally June 2017, Hosted by Ed Fisher

I am planning a VERY SIMPLE rally at the Virginia International Raceway. It can work for 2 coaches or 30, but I will need to have a count by May 30, 2017. 

LOCATION: Virginia International Raceway, 1245 Pinetree Rd, Alton VA, 24520 (near Danville)RALLY FEE: $10.00 to DogwoodCAMPING FEE: 

To VIR, $50.00 per coach for weekend, and $25.00 per person race admission.                          This will be discounted by $10.00 per person if paid on line by 5:00 PM, June 2.  

 OK to arrive on Thursday.RACE AND TRACK INFO: Google Virginia International Raceway. Wealth of infoCAMPING AREA: Along the track at the "Snake" esses just North of the cross over bridge. 

We camped in that area, and found pretty level ground and good track view.SCHEDULE: 

Friday, 4:00 PM, social at coaches. Bring lite snacks and your beverage

Friday, 5:15 PM depart for Dutch Treat dinner at Golden Leaf Bistro, 215 Craghead                       Danville.

 Saturday, 9:00 AM, breakfast furnished in rally fee, consisting of eggs, sausage,                       biscuits, butter, jelly, juice and coffee.   

Saturday, 4:00 PM, social at coaches                       

Saturday, 5:30 PM, bring a meat of your choice for the community grille and your                        drink. Other food in your rally fee.                        

Sunday: Enjoy race and depart on your own schedule.      

                        Ed Fisher

Fall 2017 Rally

Our September rally will be at Mayberry Campground in Mount Airy, NC. The dates are September 15-17 (Friday night through Sunday morning). Your hosts are the Phillips and the Buchanan’s.  Mayberry Campground is centrally located to Mayberry RFD (Mt. Airy), Pilot Mountain, and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Also close by is the world's largest open face granite quarry!  
A description of the Park can be found on their website:
Campground Reservations: Make your reservations directly with Mayberry Campground, at 336-789-6199before August 1.  Tell them you are with the Dogwood rally to get the special rally rate (also available for early arrivals and late departures).  A block of 15 sites has been reserved. A $30 deposit required for a reservation. 
The Mayberry Campground is located at 114 Bunker Road, Mt. Airy, NC 27030.  

From 77 North (Virginia Area):

Exit onto 74 East. Take Exit 11 Highway 601, at the end of the ramp take a right onto Highway 601.  Take the first left which is South McKinney Road.  Go approximately 1/8 mile, take the first left onto Rustic Village Trail. At the stop sign, go straight across into the campground parking lot. 

Rally fees for the weekend will be $15 per person ($30 for a coach with two adults) to include, dinner Friday night, full breakfast Saturday morning, and a continental breakfast Sunday morning.  Additional people in a coach will be $15. Other meals will be on your own at a wide variety of local restaurants or in your coach.  There will be no pot lucks, except that you may certainly bring a snack to Happy Hour if you like. Also, we will have a dessert social Saturday night. You can bring a dessert to share if you like.  
Please register with Pam Phillips as soon as possible, but no later than August 1.  You will find a registration form at the end of this article. 
Schedule (some items subject to change)
Friday, Sept. 15 
5:00 PM - Happy hour (bring an appetizer to share)
6:00 PM – Dinner (furnished)  BYO drinks, plates and utensils.  
Saturday, Sept. 16
8:30 AM -  Breakfast (furnished)  BYO drinks, plates and utensils.
Afternoon and evening – Lunch & dinner on your own. You can visit local wineries, tour the town of Mayberry and dine there too. Below is a sample of places to visit:
·        Leon's Burger Express
·        Andy Griffith Squad Car Tours
·        Andy Griffith Playhouse
·        Downtown Cinema
·        Opie's Candy Store
·        Andy's home place
·        Mt. Airy Tractor Toyland
·        Floyd's Barber Shop
·        Snappy Lunch
·        Old Mayberry Jail
·        Barney's CafĂ©
·        Bluebird Diner
·        Mt. Airy Museum
·        Andy Griffith Museum
·        Wally's Service Station
8:30 PM – Dessert Social  (BYO drinks & a dessert to share)
The rally masters will be there, but don’t worry if you’re having too much fun to come back to Mayberry Campground  – we’ll see you at breakfast.
Sunday, Sept. 17
8:30 AM – Continental breakfast.  BYO drinks, plates and utensils.  Short business meeting after breakfast, at the discretion of the  President.
Mayberry Rally
Sept. 15-17, 2017
Names _________________________________
___  Number of adults/children @ $15 each = $________
Total enclosed ………………………………. =$________
Make checks payable to Pam Phillips, and mail to:
Pam Phillips
P O Box 9843
Henrico, VA 23228
Cutoff date is August 1, but please confirm as soon as you can so we can get an accurate count for the campground.


Charlotte NC Rally April 2017

Charlotte Motor Speedway April 2017

Thanks to Wilt and Barbara we kept warm and dry
Dogwoods first rally of 2017 was held at Charlotte Motor Speedway campground April 6-9. Attendees included the Allen’s, Buelow’s, Cummings, Ed Fisher, Greene’s, Greenwoods, Hills, and 3 friends of Ed. A small but distinguished group (LOL). We didn’t have an indoor facility to meet in, so we brought pop ups along to rally under. Well that didn’t work as it was cold and windy most of the time. No worries though. The Greenwoods opened up the ballroom in their coach for social hours and meals. At one point we had 15 people in their coach and had room to spare (we didn’t use the bed). Thank you Wilt and Barbara for coming through again. Activities included the Charlotte Auto Trade Show which consisted of hundreds of cars of any and all types along with hundreds of venders peddling their wares. Really a site to see. Some attendees also visited Nascar race shops and the NASCAR Hall of Fame. As is usual at Dogwood rallies, food, fun and friendship were abundant and a good time was had by all. Thanks to ED for setting up the rally, and to the Buelow’s, Cummings, Greenwoods, and Hills for assisting.   

Bubba and Fried Chicken

Ed Fisher not pictured

Click this link to the YouTube video

Natural Bridge Rally May 2017

Natural Bridge Rally 2017

We arrived on Thursday to avoid the Friday traffic on I-81 and the rain on its way Friday.  
We started the day at the Pink Cadillac Restaurant for breakfast.  It was so good and close to the campground several folks could not resist a second visit.

Cool weather did not stop this group of Dogwooders from seeing friends and “The Safari Village”.  Words cannot express the fun everyone had when we road through the gate behind a farm tractor.  Our guide gave out the food bowls and the rest was up to the wildlife to get it from you.  A link to the video is posted   

Dogwood Chapter Natural Bridge 2017 Rally to see and hear the Safari Village tour. 
Some folks visited Lexington, VA home of Washington & Lee UV and VMI.  Others made the trip to see VA'S newest State Park, Natural Bridge.  Layne’s Country Store was another unique stop.  A family owned and operated business. They specialize in pint jars of everything from Pickled Eggs to Bread and Butter Pickles the way Mom use to make.

Steamed Oysters were shared during Happy Hour thanks to Fairleigh.  Reid’s Pork roast was also a hit.  Side dishes rounded out the meal.  Fried Chicken at the Safari Village hit the spot too.  Sunday was a full breakfast with a business meeting to end the rally. 

We thank our hosts, Reid & Jenny, Ed & Connie and Wilt & Barbra.

Say High to Don and Carol, We miss you all

Secretary's Reports May 2017

Secretary's Report, May 2017 Business Meeting 

The business meeting for the December Dogwood Rally held at Natural Bridge/Lexington KOA was called to order on 05/07/17 at 9:48 a.m. by President Jim Buelow.  

Attendees were: Buelow, Cockrell, Cummings, Greenwood, Greenwood (Stephen), Hill, Phillips, Miller/Fisher, Saul, Schoolar, Sohls and Tilman.

Welcome to our guests: Ron & Andria Lee (guest of the Hill’s)
President Buelow thanked the Greenwoods, Sauls and Tilmans for hosting the rally. The Safari was great! 

The Waltham family are doing great, Carol has a good attitude and is walking with a prostatic. Don is doing yard work etc.  They welcome visitors. 

Vice President, Treasurer, Pat Allen​ – No report

Vice President Rallies, Donna Hill​ told members about the upcoming Rallies. 
  • July12-15th FMCA's 96th International Convention
    Indiana State Fair Grounds, Indianapolis, IN
  • Sept. 8-10th Host: Buchanan’s/Phillips @ Mayberry Campground Mt. Airey NC
  • Oct. 4-8th GEAR Rally @ Lewisburg, WV
  • Nov. 3-5th Host: Alexander’s @ Ed Fishers / Urbanna Oyster Festival
  • Dec. 1-3rd Host: Executive Staff @ Americamps RV Resort 

President Buelow suggested having a Winter Rally in Florida for the snowbirds. Everyone thought it was a good idea. 

Vice President, Communications, Paul Cummings told members enews will be coming out next month and to please share with him any news you would like reported.  Ben Phillips told members that Camping World bought out McGeorge RV, Stafford RV and Gander Mountain.   

Old Business:
President Buelow asked members how they felt about the Keurig Coffee maker, Members only concern was the line waiting for the pot to brew.  It was suggested that we purchase a carafe for the Keurig. Jim was going to check into the cost and let members know. 

President Buelow talked to members about purchasing club tee shirts.  The cost for the Dogwood Logo setup would be $25.00. He had samples in several different colors (pink, blue and gray) cost $8-10 each. The members agreed with getting tee shirts.  But several members were concerned about the quality and said they would rather pay more to get a better shirt. Also, some of the men asked about a pocket tee shirt.  Jim & Susan are going to check with their son and get back to the club with a price and color selection of a better-quality tee. 

President, Jim Buelow, told members he had revised the Rally Expense sheet.  Since we don’t have a quorum the revised sheet will be emailed to members for a vote.  He reminded members that that Rally form goes to the Treasurer, Pat Allen and the Rally input from goes to the VP Communications, Paul Cummings.
New Business:
FMCA Election for Treasurer will be in July, the candidates are:
  • John Reynolds
  • Frank Tabor
Ed Fisher will be voting in our behalf.  Jim Buelow made the motion that we authorize Ed Fisher to vote in his best interest for this position. Motion was seconded by Fairley Schoolar.  Motion passed.

FMCA remodel to allow all RV types.  FMCA is in trouble and we’ve lost 45% of our members. The average age member is 71.  Check out Ed Fishers Director report in the enews/blog site. Please give him your thoughts and input he will be voting by the governing board on July 1. We need to give him our vote of confidence. Several members had a lot of concerns/suggestions etc. For example:
  • Increase dues
  • Marketing – lack of it
  • Need to make it more appealable to younger people
  • Some members don’t care if we try allowing towable’s in FMCA
  • Some members don’t want towable’s in FMCA

Motion to adjourn by Fairley Schoolar and 2nd by Reid Saul.  Motion passed

Meeting adjourned at 10:30 AM

Submitted by Pam Phillips, Secretary

Up Date Rally Report May 2017

Donna’s Rally Update May 2017

Let's Rally!

FMCA's 96th International Convention, 'Crossroads to Fun' will be in Indianapolis, IN at Indiana State Fair Grounds on July 12-15, 2017. Let me (Donna) know if you plan to be there and  we can plan a Dogwood gathering.

Sept. Rally

The Greater Eastern Area Rally (GEAR), 'Majestic Mountains' will be held at the fairgrounds in Lewisburg, WV on October 4-8, 2017. As usual, there will be entertainment each night and will include the Warthans's Heritage Bluegrass band on Saturday night. Lewisburg is a fun town and lots to do in the area. Many Dogwood members do attend and volunteer; we will have booth at the chapter fair.

Winter Rally in planning by the Buelows to occur in Florida. More to come.

Care Report

 I talked to Donald and Carol recently and they are really doing well for all they have been through.
 Donald is getting around good and is even working out in the yard and hanging around his shop a bit. He is still having some issues with his thumb, but overall he is doing very well.
Carol has been fitted with a prosthesis and continues to make good progress. She is using a walker and becomes more independent all the time. That would be Carol.
Donald’s Heritage Band is scheduled to perform at GEAR in October, and Donald plans to be on stage, and I am sure Carol will be there cheering him on. Keep those thoughts and prayers coming.

Our condolences to the Hill family. Donna’s mother passed away in late April after a long stay in the hospital. Please keep Donna, Rob, and their family in your thoughts and prayers.

Safety Tip from Butch

Living with Propane

Butch Jones

  For many years recreational vehicles (RV) of all types carried propane (LP) in tanks or bottles and many carried smaller cylinders for use in grilles. Times are changing and many if not most new motor homes offer full electric appliances and/or diesel fired heating units with no propane.  But, there are still tens of thousands of RVs carrying and using propane. 
 Propane can be a very helpful and a necessary component of any motor home. It can be used safely and has successfully been safely used in hundreds of thousands of RVs over the years. However, we must not get too complacent, There are things to know and remember and things that need to be done to carry and use it safely.
. Even though most Dogwooders have many years of experience dealing with LP, I thought it might be a good time to review the basics of LP and the maintenance of LP systems.
  Let’s start with the basics of the LP systems on motor homes. There are two basic types of LP containers and systems. The first is Department of Transportation (DOT) cylinders and then there are American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) tanks.  The main difference in the two are their storage position and intended use. The cylinders are designed for what can be called temporary use in that they are not permanently affixed to the RV and can be removed for refilling. These cylinders are positioned vertically and usually mounted in the front or rear of the RV most often on the outside of the vehicle. Motor homes use the ASME tanks permanently mounted under the vehicle, sometimes near the entryway. Many have a special compartment for the tank (which cannot have a lock so the shutoff is accessible in an emergency) and some diesel pushers have the tank mounted in the center between the frame rails behind the fuel tank with a remote fill and emergency shutoff again in an unlocked compartment.  
  While both systems perform the same function, the DOT cylinders must be inspected 12 years after the date of manufacturer and every 5 years thereafter. If the cylinders are out inspection date, the filling stations may refuse to refill them.  The manufactured date is located on the top collar that protects the valve. 
ASME tanks are not required to be tested but should be inspected and tested yearly. Regardless of container type, all refilling, repair, or replacement must be done by certified service technicians. I also recommend that you watch the refilling process. I was having the tank on my motor home refilled and I did not see the person doing the refilling open or close the vapor or overfill vent. This is the vent that lets the person refilling the tank know that it has reached 80% of its capacity (propane tanks are filled to 80% capacity to allow for expansion if heated), but I thought that he must have done so and I just did not see it. Later that day when we reached our destination and parked there was the distinct spell of propane. A quick check of the motor home did not reveal any leaks. The smell dissipated but returned. As I was walking around the coach and when I passed the relief valve location (this motor home had a tank between the frame rails and a vent out the curbside of the vehicle) I noticed the cap was off and just then propane gas began to emit from the relief valve. I realized that the person filling the tank did not open the overfill vent and had filled the tank completely and as the temperature increased that day the expanding propane was activating the relief valve emitting the propane into the atmosphere. Not only did this create a dangerous condition with propane gas floating around but I lost 20% of the tank of propane. Although everyone allowed to fill propane tanks or cylinders is required to be trained, don’t take for granted that everyone will follow the required procedures. As it has been said “trust but verify”.
 The relief valve is a safety device that is on every LP pressure container. It is designed to relieve the pressure (and LP) when the tank is heated to prevent it rupturing, which can be catastrophic. It will usually be located on the LP tank. Usually on the underside, however if your tank is mounted between the frame rails, there will be a remote discharge line routed to the curbside of the RV. It will usually be an iron pipe with a plastic or rubber cap. This will allow the escaping LP to flow to the outer edge of the RV.
 The photo below shows a typical motorhome LP tank compartment with the required warnings. 

 Typical locations of valves and gauges are shown in the photo below.

 You will note the label on the overfill valve stating that propane pumping should stop when liquid appears at the valve.
Since LP is extremely flammable it should be treated with respect. There are some things that you should know and practices that should be followed. 
  1. The first is that LP is heavier than air and that means it will flow to the lowest part of your motorhome.   Therefore if it is leaking it will travel to the lowest point it can. That is why most LP detectors are located near the floor. LP is very flammable and should be treated with respect. Unlike gasoline (which is also very flammable) LP is stored as a liquid under pressure. When it is expelled either by a leak or when an appliance valve opens to allow it to flow to the pilot light or igniter it becomes a gas. Gases are more difficult to locate than liquids as gases are often clear and odorless. LP has an odorant added to give it the “rotten egg” smell to make it easier to find. You may have seen videos of fire departments applying water to burning LP tanks and not extinguishing the fire. Their plan is to let the LP burn off while protecting the tank from rupture. The theory is that if the LP is burning you can see where it is and if you put the fire out without shutting off the flow you have no idea where the LP will go, that is until it finds an ignition source. 
  2. Inspect all of your LP appliances often. Look for damage, cracking in lines or hoses. Check exterior vents to make sure they are clear and free from debris and insects.  Look at every accessible area of each appliance.
  3. Installing insect screens is a good idea on all appliance vents.
  4. Inspect the tank and mounting system for signs of rust, damage fatigue and general wear and tear. Inspect all hoses and piping for damage, rust and leaks.
  5. Unless you are qualified, do not make any repairs yourself, call a trained technician. Yes, I know they cost money, but how much are the lives of your family worth? 
  6. Make sure that your RV has at least one BC fire extinguisher and operational propane, carbon monoxide detector and smoke detectors (a combination photo-electric and ionization is best in the bedroom in addition to the one near the kitchen/galley). I like to keep another fire extinguisher in an outside compartment (in addition to the one by the door, one in the kitchen and one in the bedroom).
  7. Most LP companies recommend traveling with all (including the refrigerator) LP appliances turned off when traveling. If you travel with the refrigerator on (using LP) make sure to turn it off before entering tunnels and some bridges.
  8. When refilling the LP tank, make sure the LP is shut off, all pilot lights (do they even have those anymore?) if equipped, and have everyone (including pets) disembark the motorhome until the process is complete.
  9. While at a campsite, use the hood vent if it exits to the outside when cooking with LP, if it does not exit outside, open a window while cooking.
  10. Make sure your outdoor grille is at least 10 feet from your propane compartment.
  11. Have your propane system inspected once a year. That might seem a bit often. Having this done annually is just another bit of insurance against a problem later. A pressure test every few years is also a good idea.
  12. Any systems that require an inspection by a “qualified technician” are necessary not only to ensure that they are in good safe operating condition, but it an issue develops that inspection could mean the difference in insurance coverage and none. Be safe not sorry.
  13. If you travel with small propane bottles for you small grilles, make sure that the bottles are stored in a secure location away from electrical equipment and other ignition sources. It is best not to travel with bottles that have been opened.
  While talking about propane inspections, there are some areas that should be done every                time the RV is being readied for a trip. Here are a few items to inspect:
  1. Test the propane detector inside the coach. The only way to test it is by pressing the test button, if equipped. If it alarms then it is ok if not, replace it. Some have tried to test using butane or even propane lighters or torches. However, these are 100% concentrations of these gases and even a failing detector will might detect these high amounts. Most detector manufacturers do not have a test method for end users. Propane detectors have a life span of 5 years, CO detectors 5 years and smoke detectors 10 years. So check your life saving detectors and replace them if they are getting old. Detectors will give off a beep every minute or so when the batteries are dying and also when the detectors has a problem or is dying of natural causes. Most detectors cannot be repaired so replacement is necessary.
  2. Inspect all of the accessible fittings on every propane alliance for leaks, damage or corrosion.
  3. Inspect the tank, mounting hardware and its fittings. Look for debris, damage corrosion and leaks. Make sure all fasteners are tight, Use caution when working with metal tools around LP tanks.
  4. Inspect all accessible hoses, lines and fittings for damage, corrosion and leaks.
  5. Make sure that there is a cover over the regulator to protect it from damage.
  6. If there is rust or paint flaking, the tank can be cleaned and painted. Some do not advise painting tanks, however, cleaning the rust and repainting is a good way to see damage and rust in the future. It can be hard to remember how much rust was there the last time you inspected the tank if left untreated. When removing rust remember to be aware of sparking from using a grinder or wire wheel as these can cause problems if there is a LP leak.
  7. Operate the shut-off valve and make sure it operates properly.
  8. Make a note of the date of this inspection in your maintenance records. You do have maintenance records? Of course you do.
 It is not “normal” for propane systems to leak. If you detect a leak, or sense a propane odor (rotten egg smell) have it checked out immediately. The following is a list of things to do if you have a leak.
  1. Immediately put out all smoking materials, pilot lights, and other open flames 
  2. Do not operate lights, appliances, or cell phones. Flames or sparks from these sources can trigger an explosion or fire. 
  3. If you are able to, safely turn off the gas supply valve on your tank. 
  4. Open all doors and other non-powered ventilating openings. 
  5. Immediately leave the area and call 911 or the local fire department.
  6. Before you restart or use any of your propane appliances, have a qualified service technician inspect your entire system.

This is what an LP explosion inside a motor home can look like. With a little maintenance and safe operation this may have been prevented. LP can be stored, transported and used safely, if you use these tips, common sense and maintain the system properly.

That is all for this month. In the future we will look at inspecting individual appliances and other areas of the motor home. If you have any safety subjects that you would like to explore, just send me an email or call me.