Apologies in advance as this one is a bit of a dull technical one.
For those that have been keeping up with the blog, you will know that the reason we ventured to Saint Tropez was to make good use of time whilst waiting for a replacement gas regulator. At last it had arrived from England to our old campsite in Antibes. Even though technically not part of our 6 month warranty Webbs sent one free of charge. Merci beaucoup Danny and Portia from Webbs. All we had to do was pick it up and spend 5 minutes fitting it right?
Picking it up went without a hitch. The mad receptionist at the Antibes campsite handed over the parcel and we drove off to Lidl so Emily could do a food shop and I could use the time to fit it. We needed to know if it worked so we could plan where we needed to stay that night. If it worked we could wild-camp off-grid. If it didn’t we had to choose a campsite with electric to power the fridge.
Original broken regulator
Opening up the box we see
Problem number 1:
It’s longer than the old one.
I can hear something rattling inside, like a large ball bearing.
Oh the joys of taking your home on the road. It reminds me so much of working on yachts. So many things used to go wrong on boats and in remote parts of the world where the language barrier made everything so much harder to resolve. I guess my previous experience gave me the confidence to have a go at fixing anything. Even when at the start of the fix you have no idea what you’re doing and even with something potentially as dangerous as gas.
I plumbed in the new regulator easy enough. At least the connectors were the right size and I didn’t over tighten. The extra length made for a tight fit when closing the gas compartment door.
I turned on the gas and tested for leaks by palming soapy bubbles over each connector. No leaks. Good. The sweat was dripping from my forehead and not just because of the intense midday sun. I jumped inside and switched the fridge to gas. Red Light. Dam. That means it can’t light and there is no gas flow. I tried the gas hob. Nothing. Not a whiff. WTF. Such disappointment.
Have they sent a duff one? Have I fitted it wrongly? Stay calm. Think basics. What is the easiest thing that could be wrong? The reset button. “YES! You’re a genius”. I pressed the reset button and tried again. Nothing. “You’re an idiot”. 30 minutes had passed on this 5 minute job. I was hot, frustrated and out of ideas. Only one thing for it. Read the manual. Or RTFM as it’s known in the man trade (google it). I know most of the women out there are saying “What! Why didn’t you read that first?”. Fellas, I will leave it to you to explain.
Reading the manual it mentioned something about the crash sensor should always be verticle. I had already spoken to Webbs about this as the unit was fitted horizontally on the roof of the gas box by the builders. It was a bit of a red herring but it did give me an idea. Maybe if I disconnected the regulator from the van but kept it connected to the gas bottle I could position it vertically and press reset and hear if gas comes out. That would isolate any issues upsteam of the regulator and allow to instantly verify gas flow after each test.
As I moved the regulator around from horizontal to vertical I could hear the ball bearing inside moving and couldn’t help but think it was some how responsible. With the regulator in a verticle position, the gas bottle open, sending high pressure propane to one side of the regulator and the other side open, I pressed the green reset button. A tiny whiff of gas came out of the open end and then nothing. My mind flipped to the line from dumb and dumber “So you’re telling me there’s a chance”. However small the posibility, I knew that if I mess around with positioning, speed of button press, speed of button release I had a chance to get it to work.
20 minutes later I discovered the knack. I’m not sure whether the angle of the regulator mattered but I pressed the reset button slowly over three seconds and released it over three seconds the ball bearing rattled until it didn’t and gas started to flow from the regulator outlet. At last. I turned the gas off at the bottle and plumbed it all in with the relevant checks and turned in the fridge once more. Green light. Result. Turned on the gas hob. Fire. Result. Turned on the water heater. Hot water. Job done. Easiest 1 hour “5 minute job” I have ever done.
Knock knock. “I’m home, oh great it works then, good job, as I have lots of yummy food for the fridge. Was it was it easy to fit?”
“Read the blog sweetie, I’m gassed ;-)”