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Old 07-24-2016, 06:29 AM   #29
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I am mostly familiar with NFPA in the OSHA context, not the DOT context. NFPA provisions are generally not enforceable in standalone form even if the regulator explicitly endorses a particular standard. In order for a safety provision to be truly enforceable in this country, it has to go through a formal adoption procedure that includes rule proposal and public comment periods. It's part of the "checks and balances" legal process which is necessarily a cumbersome process, hence the development of third party standards (e.g., NFPA churns its electrical safety standard every 3 years; OSHA is lucky if it can muster an update every 20).

Again, my point is not to deny the technical legitimacy of an agency such as NFPA - it's actually a Godsend to those of us who work in industry because it provides ideas and guidance for which we'd have to wait approximately forever if it didn't exist. My intention is to point out that, unless there has been a formally-adopted DOT equivalent measure, nobody is going to get ticketed for effectively violating some NFPA provision.

Carrying propane cylinders - or plastic gasoline containers for that matter - on the back of a vehicle may not be the smartest option, but it is done. It is done universally by street-legal off-road vehicles because their risk of tank puncture is infinitely greater if their tanks are under-mounted. There are commercial products for sale that allow for the mounting of both on the backs of vehicles. Aluminess makes a gasoline tray that sits on their rear bumper. For liability reasons they may not advertise it as such, but their photo gallery shows it containing gasoline. Here's an example in the propane realm, maker unstated:
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Old 07-24-2016, 07:58 AM   #30
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I am mostly familiar with NFPA in the OSHA context, not the DOT context. NFPA provisions are generally not enforceable in standalone form even if the regulator explicitly endorses a particular standard. In order for a safety provision to be truly enforceable in this country, it has to go through a formal adoption procedure that includes rule proposal and public comment periods. It's part of the "checks and balances" legal process which is necessarily a cumbersome process, hence the development of third party standards (e.g., NFPA churns its electrical safety standard every 3 years; OSHA is lucky if it can muster an update every 20).

Again, my point is not to deny the technical legitimacy of an agency such as NFPA - it's actually a Godsend to those of us who work in industry because it provides ideas and guidance for which we'd have to wait approximately forever if it didn't exist. My intention is to point out that, unless there has been a formally-adopted DOT equivalent measure, nobody is going to get ticketed for effectively violating some NFPA provision.

Carrying propane cylinders - or plastic gasoline containers for that matter - on the back of a vehicle may not be the smartest option, but it is done. It is done universally by street-legal off-road vehicles because their risk of tank puncture is infinitely greater if their tanks are under-mounted. There are commercial products for sale that allow for the mounting of both on the backs of vehicles. Aluminess makes a gasoline tray that sits on their rear bumper. For liability reasons they may not advertise it as such, but their photo gallery shows it containing gasoline. Here's an example in the propane realm, maker unstated:
I see this issue as much like texting while driving - illegal in some states, not expressly prohibited in others; having potentially severe consequences, but so infrequently that an occasional breach doesn't seem too unreasonable, given the practical necessities of everyday life.

Unfortunately the adverse consequences typically involve other, innocent people, so I don't think the practice should be condoned.

While the risk of explosion is almost nil, even in a severe impact, leakage is the real danger. A combustible aerosol fog, capable of ignition by even a spark of static electricity, could drastically magnify the adverse consequences of even a minor accident.
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Old 07-24-2016, 11:21 AM   #31
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I saw that fog yesterday and it can be an incredible sight. Thankfully it did not ignite. I had my tank filled by a newbie who made a mistake. Apparently by our local (state?) law, there is a specific switching arrangement that must be set before propane will actually be transferred into a remote tank. If an operator opens the dispensing valve at the end of the hose without having the main tank valve set properly, it will vent from an emergency release at the end of the hose, rather than going into the tank to be filled.

So this poor dude basically screwed the transfer hose onto my fill port and let 'er rip, such that the full force of the main tank pressure was released directly to the atmosphere. For a couple of seconds, the fog enveloped him to the point where I all I could see remaining was the top outline of his head.

After we got everything straightened out, he told me it was only the second RV he had ever filled, hence the operator error. I went into the store and told his boss that he was a really nice guy and I wasn't upset with him. Boss said, "We all make mistakes and learn by them."
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Old 07-24-2016, 12:21 PM   #32
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That fog you saw was frozen water vapor in the air. Liquid propane expands to 720 times its volume when it vaporizes, and the sudden expansion causes a drastic drop in temperature (remember the "ideal gas law"?).

Ignition of the vapor requires two things— a spark and a propane content between 2.1% and 10.1% by volume. But even if neither of those prerequisites exist, there is a distinct possibility of frostbite from contact with the vapor— that's how cold the vapor gets during sudden expansion. We're not talking liquid nitrogen instant-freeze like in the movies, but there's a reason most licensed propane fillers I've encountered wear heavy leather gloves when handling the fill hose…

I've already mentioned the possibility of asphyxiation from breathing vaporized propane in another post, but I thought the frostbite risk was something interesting that most people wouldn't necessarily know— unless they've read the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) for propane.
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Old 07-24-2016, 01:00 PM   #33
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I've heard propane truck drivers say they cooled their soft drinks by releasing a bit of propane directed at the six pack. At least I hope it was soft drinks. There's a lot of propane in those delivery trucks they drive.
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Old 07-25-2016, 05:47 AM   #34
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That fog you saw was frozen water vapor in the air. Liquid propane expands to 720 times its volume when it vaporizes, and the sudden expansion causes a drastic drop in temperature (remember the "ideal gas law"?).

.....
Yes, I remember the ideal gas law. It was one of many preludes to what was probably the most challenging course I ever took in my life - geochemical thermodynamics at the graduate level.

I've never seen an operator NOT wear leather gloves, even that newbie. Most of them do release clouds of propane every time they fill - just not as huge as the one I saw on Saturday. I have no idea why the transfer mechanism is constructed as it is. It seems counterproductive.

Oddly enough, the newbie was the only operator I ever encountered who physically got down and checked my propane tank plate, even after I told him that I had the tank replaced at a location less than a mile from that fill station (checked because of the 10-year limitation on RV propane tank certifications). He was a very large man and it was an immense struggle for him, as the T1N only has nine inches of clearance at the running boards. I offered to scoot under there and take a cell pic for him if that would make it easier. He was having none of it. So conscientious, and then he accidentally almost offs himself in a massive propane haze. But I have no doubt whatsoever that he won't make that particular mistake twice.
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Old 07-25-2016, 05:52 AM   #35
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I offered to scoot under there and take a cell pic for him if that would make it easier. He was having none of it.
I have never taken a selfie with my smartphone, but I carry a telescoping selfie stick specifically to inspect the top and underside of my Interstate— ever since I snagged a low-hanging tree branch in my brother's yard last year. With the smartphone in video mode the selfie stick works surprisingly well as an inspection stick.
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:39 AM   #36
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I have never taken a selfie with my smartphone, but I carry a telescoping selfie stick specifically to inspect the top and underside of my Interstate— ever since I snagged a low-hanging tree branch in my brother's yard last year. With the smartphone in video mode the selfie stick works surprisingly well as an inspection stick.
Now that is a good idea. The low-end ones are so cheap that I'm going to get one and stash it permanently in the Interstate. I have no hesitation about crawling under there but it can be very dirty. The last time I had to do it in an unplanned manner was at a gas station in Wichita Falls when I noticed that the exhaust pipe for the genset had broken free from the chassis and needed to be re-strapped - greasy ground, not good. I carry a cut piece of tarp so I don't have to be dragging myself across filthy concrete, but a stick might be better in certain scenarios.
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Old 08-18-2016, 06:41 AM   #37
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I'm wondering if the OP made any headway on this issue since the thread was last active?

Your problem has become our problem, too. One of the most significant things we learned on our recent jaunt across the US and eastern Canada is that it's almost impossible to recharge an RV with propane north of Bangor. In a future year, I'd like to take my husband back to NS in the fall to see the changing of the leaves, an event which intentionally coincides with a large music festival called Celtic Colours. My husband is a native Houstonian and hasn't seen much in the way of leaf-changing in his life. Perhaps I'm biased, but NS's leaf-changing might be the most spectacular in the world. It's worth seeing.

Well, leaf changing is triggered by frost. Frost requires the Interstate's heater to be run at night. The heater requires propane. We can't carry enough in that one small tank for an extended trip, so this goes onto the long-term list of projects that need to get done eventually - how to expand the capacity.
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Old 08-18-2016, 08:23 AM   #38
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Well, leaf changing is triggered by frost. Frost requires the Interstate's heater to be run at night. The heater requires propane. We can't carry enough in that one small tank for an extended trip, so this goes onto the long-term list of projects that need to get done eventually - how to expand the capacity.
If you would have an electrical hookup, the answer is easy— carry supplemental electric heat. I have a small desktop electric heater for that purpose. I chose a desktop model because it is small AND because it has a tip-over switch on the bottom that shuts it off if I accidentally knock it over. Given the small size of an Interstate, a small desktop heater should keep your Interstate warm enough by itself in above-freezing temps, and will definitely keep the Interstate warm enough in conjunction with the furnace in below-freezing temps. Adjusting the thermostats so the electric heater comes on first and the furnace only comes on when the interior temp dips too low will minimize the amount of propane burned.

If you're going to be boondocking, electric heat won't help, so plan on filling the propane tank as far north as you can, because cold propane is denser than warm propane, and you can squeeze a few extra BTUs worth into the tank if you fill the tank when the air temp is near freezing.

But since a T1N Interstate really does have a small tank, roughly half the size of an NCV3 Interstate's tank, you might want to check with a dealer to see if a tank from an NCV3 Interstate can be retrofitted to a T1N Interstate. Or, I don't know the underbody configuration of a T1N Interstate, but it seems to me that the ideal protected location for a supplemental propane tank would be in between the frame and the driveshaft ahead of the rear axle, assuming that space isn't already occupied by water or waste tanks. A long but small-diameter tank (or two shorter small-diameter tanks end-to-end) might fit in that area, depending on the location of frame cross-members.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:38 AM   #39
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In NS in October, electrical hookups might be even more rare than propane. Most tourist facilities are shut for the season before that point.

I will be evaluating for the potential to add a second chassis tank.
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Old 08-19-2016, 04:18 PM   #40
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I'm wondering if the OP made any headway on this issue since the thread was last active?

Your problem has become our problem, too. One of the most significant things we learned on our recent jaunt across the US and eastern Canada is that it's almost impossible to recharge an RV with propane north of Bangor. In a future year, I'd like to take my husband back to NS in the fall to see the changing of the leaves, an event which intentionally coincides with a large music festival called Celtic Colours. My husband is a native Houstonian and hasn't seen much in the way of leaf-changing in his life. Perhaps I'm biased, but NS's leaf-changing might be the most spectacular in the world. It's worth seeing.

Well, leaf changing is triggered by frost. Frost requires the Interstate's heater to be run at night. The heater requires propane. We can't carry enough in that one small tank for an extended trip, so this goes onto the long-term list of projects that need to get done eventually - how to expand the capacity.
We've made no headway...have just scoped out all of the nearby propane sales as soon as he gets into town each week. He found propane for less than $1.00 last week in Springfield, MO!

He's also getting better making his propane last a bit longer.
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Old 10-31-2016, 06:11 AM   #41
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Postscript to this thread... this video is long, but at the 10.5-minute mark, you can see this vehicle's propane set-up. I WISH!! Something like this, and our propane shortage issues would be history. The narrator knows something of the regulations, however, as he notes that propane bottles must be integrated in the U.S., so technically this kind of set-up would not be allowed here.

I and the narrator were both surprised at the stated price, both expecting it to be far higher. For about $120K, apparently in Europe you can have incredible off-roading and boondocking capacity, a "Class B" analog that can be submerged in water to a depth of three feet, all stainless steel fittings, etc. etc.

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