Sharon and I are gearing up to ship our Roadtrek to Europe for six months this coming spring, and there are many, many things we need to do – a long term visa, shipping for the Roadtrek, insurance for the Roadtrek, health insurance for us, plane tickets back and forth, paperwork and a carrier for Fiona, and so on. A small but important detail is the propane tank. The standard fill fitting we take for granted in North America has a variety of forms in Europe, depending on where you are. No adapter means your fill port won't fit the local fuel nozzles. So off I go to look online for adapters.
I stumble upon a website – lpgshop.co.uk – which looks promising, but I need to browse around a bit to learn the terminology. I have no idea what they call all these different fittings, or what they call the North American one. As I read along and look at the photos, it turns out the standard North American fitting is called an ACME fitting, and is also used in Germany and Ireland, so that means there are at least some places in Europe where you can fill your propane tank without an adapter. So what I need is a set of adapters which converts an ACME fitting to the other types you find in Europe. Now I know what I'm shopping for.
I order the right set of adapters, and it arrives IN THREE DAYS, for less than forty bucks, including shipping. We are truly living in a global economy. The box is a little beat up from its rapid and unceremonious transatlantic voyage, but they're brass fittings, not china or electronics, so I don't care. After cutting through all the tape and digging into the bubble wrap, three pieces emerge. They're nice brass with good finish, clean threads, quality machining. I am impressed. I didn't expect to see such high quality workmanship. So now I have to figure out how they work, and which fitting I need in each country.
In France, Italy, and Eastern Europe, they use what is called a Dish filling port, which has a 10 mm diameter female fitting with 1 mm threads. The biggest adapter piece I have screws onto my ACME port and has one of these Dish ports on the other side. I thread it on and it goes on smooth as silk. My threads are beaten up compared to theirs, but it's still an easy hand threaded fit. Here's what it looks like installed. My guess is the gas seal is inside the 10 mm threaded interior – there's no lip on the outside. Kinda small orifice, but under pressure it doesn't really matter that much.
Next we get to Spain and Portugal, which adopted the nifty newly designed EURO connector, intended to standardize all this chaos, but of course everyone else didn't budge and stayed with what they had. The second piece of my adapter set converts the Dish port to the EURO connector port, which is 64 mm long and sticks out a bit, but not enough to cause clearance problems – I hope. The fill port on the tank points downward slightly, so with a very long nozzle you might not have enough room between it and the ground to line up your fill hose and thread it on straight. I have run into places with funny nozzles in the US that can't fill my tank, and I have to keep shopping when I find one of those places.
Last but not least come the Brits, who, being Brits, do things in their own peculiar way. The adapter to convert the Dish fitting to the British one is VERY long and has little ears on the outside so the fill hose goes on and turns to lock – this is called a bayonet connection. Norway also uses this type of fill port (we are NOT going to Norway). Why anyone would have a fitting that sticks out this far to get banged up is beyond my comprehension, but I spent enough time repairing Jaguars and MGs not to worry my head about it excessively. That's just the way the Brits are, bless their hearts. I hope their fill nozzles will fit between this flying buttress of a port and the ground.
So now I'm still not ready to go to Europe, but my propane tank is. Stay tuned.