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Gas water heaters don't have elements, so I am confused about what type water heater you have.. Look on the side of tank for the label. Find the brand, and type. Does it show BTUs? Or does it show wattage? Then re-post question with this information, for best possible answer. Also post question on Tank forum. http://www.thetankatwaterheaterrescue.com/forums/forum3/
Try spraying some WD-40 in hole where thermocouple attaches to gas valve, then twirl a small piece of steel wool in your fingers and insert it in that same hole and twirl it as you push it in to clean surface where thermocouple makes contact. Then blow out with compressed air if possible and then re-install thermocouple fitting snuggly. If that doesn't do it, you'll have to get a new gas valve/control.
When you light the pilot lite you have to hold the button down until it gets the element hot enough to stay lit. If you hold down the button and lite the pilot and let it go right away it will go out. What to do is hold down the button and lite the pilot and continue to hold the buttn down for about 45 seconds to a minute then let it up very slowly and you will see if it is going to go out by the flame getting smaller as you let up on the button. If it does start to get smaller conitnue to hold it again for a few seconds and repeat the process of letting it up slowly. when the control element gets to the right temperature it will stay lit then turn your valve to "ON" and the fire will start up and continue to heat the water.
the white rodgers gas control needs to be replaced; the way it works is: the thermocouple opens the pilot gas circuit and, holds it open when it heats up by creating a magnetic field in the gas control then: when you turn the knob on the gas control to "on" a valve inside the gas valve opens the main gas circuit and, electricity supplied by your RV keeps it open. the main gas coil inside the gas valve is defective and, can not hold the main gas circuit to the burner open anymore.
I recommend contacting the company and asking them to send you a new thermocouple. This is easy to change and will most likely solve your problem. When you contact them have all of the information ready such as model #, serial #, date of purcahse etc., whatever you have. good luck