Dear RV Shrink:
We just stopped for propane and the guy wouldn’t fill us. He told my husband our attached tank did not look healthy enough.
We have a Class B Sprinter with about 100,000 miles on it. We bought it used and the tank does have some surface rust. This guy poked it a bit and a big chunk of paint came off leaving an ugly rusted area near the fill cap. My husband just tried another propane station and the kid filled us up, no questions asked.
I’m nervous, but my husband says the first guy was just over-cautious. Are we on borrowed time? Please answer quick — the tank seems to be located under my seat. —Overwrought and Under Pressure in Portland
It sounds like you need a second, professional opinion — and I would do it at the next available propane dealer. I don’t have all the facts here. Is the tank even date stamped for a legal fill? A rig with 100,000 miles could mean old or just well-traveled.
All underbelly tanks get rusted, some more than others, depending on salt conditions. It’s a good idea to wire brush them once a year, shoot some Rustoleum on them, and inspect them for any damage.
Most underbelly tanks are thicker than regular bottles, some up to 1/2 inch. If you are just losing surface paint it could be fine, but a propane dealer would be a better judge of your condition with a hands-on inspection.
Even if your husband is confident you have no issue, it might make you feel better to hear it from a guy that works with equipment like yours everyday. If it is outdated, it can be inspected and re-stamped, it can often be reconditioned or, worst case scenario, it can be replaced with a new tank. —Keep Smilin’, RV Shrink