The following write-up is an article that addresses the lifespan, legislation and replacement of the Vanagon LP Tank.
The original LP tank that was installed on the '80-'91Westy is an out-of-date design that should be replaced for several reasons. In the first place, the newest original LP tank assembly on any Vanagon is now several decades old. This fact,in and of itself, is reason enough to replace it. After all, it's a high-pressure vessel exposed to the elements.
Then there is the law that was passed in January of 2003 stating that all LP tanks be fitted with an "auto-stop" filling port. This required auto-stop filling port is fitted with an internal float that will stop the flow of LP gas when the fluid level inside the tank gets to the correct level, thereby preventing over-filling and the obvious hazards associated with that. Depending on how you read the law, it can be construed to only apply to up-right, portable-type tanks. Regardless, about half the LP filling stations are hip to this new law, for better or for worse. They will simply refuse to fill the original tank on a Westy. But that isn’t the only reason they hate filling Westy tanks. Read on.
"But wait," you say. “My original Vanagon LP tank is already fitted with an auto-stop filling port! So I don’t need one! Yeah!" It's true, some years of Westfalias were fitted with a passive auto-stop filling valve. These older design auto-stop devices did not utilize a float system. Instead, they had a metal tube plumbed up to the theoretical correct fluid level that was supposed to transmit the “shut-off” signal to a diaphragm-ish thing on the side of the filling port. These tanks are actually a higher risk than the tanks fitted with no auto-stop valve. These heinous devices will commonly get stuck during the filling process, and simply leak continuously until all the LP gas is gone. I have heard of several occasions where a four-block radius around the filling station has been blocked off by the fire department, and a haz-mat team called in to secure the perimeter until all the LP gas dissipated. I don’t know what that cost or who paid for it, but it’s probably safe to assume it was considerably more thanour new LP tank assemblies!
Two other items on the LP tank assembly that fail regularly are the pressure regulator and the service valve. The service valve is the thing with the knob on it that you rotate to turn on the gas. The regulator is the device that is housed inside a plastic box just to the left of the service valve. Originally, we tried to procure all of the items and offer them separately. But, because of the other aforementioned issues—and the fact that these parts are very difficult, if not impossible, to replace, especially on old rusty tanks—we dropped them in lieu of offering the entire assembly. And considering the potential hassles, hazards, and costs, picking up a whole new tank assembly is the way to go! Grab your new tank at the bottom of this article.
Our tanks are manufactured by the OEM supplier, Manchester Tank. They are compliant with all Federal Regulations and are a direct bolt-in replacement for all Volkswagen Bus / Vanagon applications. Due to the modern design of regulator, the two copper LP lines must be cut (by roughly two inches) and re-flared for installation using a standard American-gauge flaring tool.
Please note: There is a brass T-fitting connected to your old tank (see photo insert below). You'll need to keep this T-fitting and reuse it with the installation of your new tank.