Time for another U-turn, and on this occasion, it concerns the desirability of fitting a gas tank. For some years I have espoused the virtues of fitting refillable cylinders as opposed to gas tanks.
'Essential kit' (aka 'junk', according to my wife Flora) changed my mind.
Our last motorhome had loads of exterior-access lockers. Add a huge payload and my propensity to acquire kit 'just in case', and we quickly arrive at an over-comprehensive inventory.
Our new 'van's shorter length wasn't the real problem: our difficulties lay in the fact that the Bailey Advance arrived with only one exterior-access locker - and we already had plans for filling that!
The solution? Fitting an underfloor tank would free up storage space in the surprisingly big gas cylinder locker.
However, the desire to have a tank larger than 25 litres, plus a lack of ground clearance - a consequence of the ultra-low Al-Ko chassis - posed some problems.
Enter Diamond Dave, who consulted Autogas and found it offers a range of longer and slimmer tanks. The tank and an exterior barbecue point were fitted at the same time.
Please note, headline prices quoted in the adverts are sometimes just for the tank itself. Many components are needed and it's a labour-intensive job.
- First, consider whether to stick with exchange cylinders, or opt for refillable cylinders or a gas tank. Think about convenience and cost. Recently, there have been reports of the closure of some LPG Autogas pumps, presumably a result of a reported (not proven) drop in demand for LPG engine conversions, with buyers opting for hybrids. The long-term future of Autogas pumps is unclear, but I'm relaxed about this.
- Intended length of future ownership of the 'van has to be considered. The tank might be removed and fitted to the next 'van, but many don't bother.
- Cost per litre of pumped LPG is the same, whatever the size of tank. Unlike exchange cylinders, it doesn't get cheaper the more gas you buy!
- A litre of LPG weights about 0.5kg.
- Tanks can only be fitted to a maximum 80% of stated capacity.
- Some island ferries and Continental road tunnels might not allow 'vans with fitted LPG tanks. Check ahead.
- Think about having an extra inline shut-off valve.
- Insist on the use of proper exterior fitting kit, with all straps and fittings protected from corrosion.
- Travellers abroad will need to have European fitting adaptors.
- Autogas recommends having a full inspection and function test by an approved engineer once a year.
- Finally, pumped LPG is very cold, so wear rigger gloves when filling up!
- Autogas 38-litre tank £251.53
- Al-Ko fitting kit £141.00
- Truma horizontal Mono Control, Autogas filler, LED gauge and sender unit, level ball shut-off valves, armoured gas piping £237.85
- Labour £250.00
- Bullfinch BBQ point and fittings £47.73 (+labour if not fitted with tank)
Total project price £928.01 (inc VAT)
Fitting by Dave Newell Leisure Vehicle Services
Address Unit P, Courtworks Industrial Estate, Bridgenorth Road, Tweedale, Telford, TF7 4JB
Tel 01952 587 702