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Old 09-09-2010, 08:40 AM   #15
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Any special tips or hints about refilling?

Brian.

There used to be DOT regs to the effect that refilled containers were not legal for interstate transport, but I don't know if such regs are still out there ...

I used to refill them regularly for tent camping, and it worked just fine. One tip that seemed to make life better was to put the refillables into the freezer for an hour or two to get them good and cold, which reduced internal pressure and made for a better fill. Then I'd place them in full sun on hot asphalt for an hour or two, so that if they were to vent from overpressure / overfill, they'd do it outside (I don't think they ever did vent, but I didn't sit there the whole time to just watch) ...

But I too have abandoned that practice and have started hooking everything (propane grill, "otudoor" small propane stove, propane lantern, generator) up to larger tanks. That makes life a lot easier and it's a LOT less expensive per pound of propane (and perhaps safer) - and the larger tanks live in the bed of the truck when not in use.
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Old 09-09-2010, 09:02 AM   #16
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Do it outdoors away from ignition sources. Mark them clearly and don't get them mixed in with retailed new cylinders. Use them for the dedicated applications where you expect them to be emptied before removing or changing the connections.

I've had a propane cylinder valve stick wide-open giving me a 70mph 5-foot long eruption of gas fog in an enclosed room next to a coal stove I had just lit. (1AM, 5F, near snow-bound West Virginia) It was only by sheer will-power my wholly spastic backhand toss without any windup (that nearly wrenched my shoulder out of socket) levitated the cylinder 16 feet out into the night through an open shed man-hatch door. If you've ever want a definition of "blessed" its feeling the warmth of a fire and the cold from boiling propane simultaneously while seeing the propane cloud & contrail AND a crackling orange fire both within four feet of ones face and not having any harm done. So, to pay back the Karma I am impelled to repeat the story every time someone starts talking how neat itty-bitty little bottles of propane are if you...

If you must refill, save the old cylinders for outdoors activities and keep the new ones for basement projects, etc. There is something about the surge of reverse flow propane through the outlet that may rob the seals of lubrication. Just FYI.
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Old 09-09-2010, 10:07 AM   #17
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I carry them in the trailer storage compart which is actually under our bed, or in the covered bed of the pickup.

This is my reasoning about them being inside the trailer.

There are several feet of propane tubing inside the trailer. There are valves and hand applied fittings. these all get vibrated and shook every time we travel. Any one of those, in the case of our trailer, has the ability to release up to 80 lbs of propane into the living space.

If I am going to get paranoid about the propane, I believe I will chose the main propane system to lose sleep over.

Regards,

Ken
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:19 AM   #18
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w7ts

The propane tubing inside the trailer has vapor (not liquid) in it at less than 1 psi of pressure. The tanks themselves and their relief valves are outside.

Disposable cylinders have liquid in them at typically 100 psi of pressure, depending on temperature. They pose a greater risk.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:25 AM   #19
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For the guys that refill the disposable bottles - I have often wondered about trying that, I've seen the adapters at harbor Freight.
Target sells new cylinders for a few bucks.

There are three problems with refilling disposables:
1) It requires a considerable amount of fiddling around for the money saved.
2) There is the possibility of overfilling the cylinder, which could cause the relief valve to open when the temperature increases, leading to an extremely dangerous condition.
3) The valve and seal will develop leaks over time, in part because of dirt, rust, scale, and other crap that tends to end up mixed in with the liquid propane when you invert the 20 pound cylinder you use as a source.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:52 AM   #20
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w7ts

The propane tubing inside the trailer has vapor (not liquid) in it at less than 1 psi of pressure. The tanks themselves and their relief valves are outside.
-------------------------------------

.
as long as your regulator is functioning properly.

So are you saying that less than a quart (liquid) that exits through a leaky valve is more dangerous than 15+ gallons (liquid) that leak through a regulator?

If explosion (BLEVE) is the concern, the fact that the propane bottles are on the other side of a few aluminum sheets is irrelevant.
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Old 09-09-2010, 01:08 PM   #21
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I agree with the rear bumper for storage.
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Old 09-09-2010, 01:41 PM   #22
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as long as your regulator is functioning properly.
They have an overpressure vent built into them. Accidents from overpressure due to regulator failure are all but unheard of.

Quote:
So are you saying that less than a quart (liquid) that exits through a leaky valve is more dangerous than 15+ gallons (liquid) that leak through a regulator?
Yes, because the likelihood of a rapid enough leak to pose a serious safety hazard is much higher due to the higher pressure and the presence of the propane in liquid form. The relatively small size of the disposable cylinders is a safety feature but there's still enough propane to lead to a serious fire or explosion.

Quote:
If explosion (BLEVE) is the concern, the fact that the propane bottles are on the other side of a few aluminum sheets is irrelevant.
[/quote]

BLEVEs are rare and nearly always involve larger tanks. In a fire, with a 40# tank usually the propane will boil away and vent through the relief valve before the tank is hot enough to lose its strength. Instead, the hazard we're talking about here is leakage and accumulation of propane vapor indoors. If the 40# tanks on the a frame leak, so what, it's outside, and the risk is minor.
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Old 09-09-2010, 01:55 PM   #23
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It might be worthwhile for you to know that liquid propane expands by 270 times when it vaporizes. A quart of liquid propane makes a lot of propane vapor.

Lynn
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Old 09-09-2010, 02:33 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer View Post
Target sells new cylinders for a few bucks.

There are three problems with refilling disposables:
1) It requires a considerable amount of fiddling around for the money saved.
2) There is the possibility of overfilling the cylinder, which could cause the relief valve to open when the temperature increases, leading to an extremely dangerous condition.
3) The valve and seal will develop leaks over time, in part because of dirt, rust, scale, and other crap that tends to end up mixed in with the liquid propane when you invert the 20 pound cylinder you use as a source.
Certainly sounds as though its not worth taking a chance,

I just use a 20# bottle and hose to run our BBQ when we are camping and I carry the bottle in the back of the pickup.

I only carry a couple of the disposables to run two very small mantle lanterns that we use once in a blue moon if we have no electricity and I am concerned about the trailer batteries.

Come to think of it, I guess that isn't even an excuse to carry them now, as I just bought one of those nifty little Honda EU2000i gennies!


Brian.
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Old 09-09-2010, 03:15 PM   #25
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...
2) There is the possibility of overfilling the cylinder, which could cause the relief valve to open when the temperature increases, leading to an extremely dangerous condition.
This is a good part of why it's illegal for commercial fillers to refill these things (at least here in NM, though I suspect everywhere).

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Old 09-16-2010, 11:42 PM   #26
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the nice part of having the refill adaptor is that in the boondocks when you can not get a new cyl, you can fill up your empty right then and there. it's easy as pie
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Old 10-25-2011, 11:08 PM   #27
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May want to re think propane storage.....

Thought I'd share this in the interest of saving someone a serious loss down the road.

For the last couple of years I've been lighting my charcoal grill with a torch that uses the disposable cylinders that are the focus of this thread. After lighting the grill one night last week I went back into the house to finish preparing the meat for the grill. When I returned to the patio 5 minutes later, I found the deck area next to the grill engulfed in flames!

After extinguishing the fire I tried to understand how the fire started and why it was so large. This was especially odd since the grill lid was closed as soon as it was lit. In sifting through the remains of the melted deck box that sat next to the grill, I found the torch still hissing away and leaking gas. After removing the torch head I found that the internal plastic valve ring on the tank was deformed big time (see photo). I'm guessing that the valve deformed over time due to the heat of the torch and began to leak where it was seated against the tank valve. The leaking gas ignited from a sparking charcoal ember and we were off to the races.

At the end of the day I'm out a section of my pergola, one resin wicker deck box, and several grilling tools (photo 2). No one was hurt and my house did not burn down, so I consider myself lucky. I had encountered one leaky valve on a cylinder like this while back, but did not consider it much of a risk since that leak only happened after I had detached the appliance it was fueling. I'll also add that none of these cylinders were ever refilled.

Needless to say, you cannot be too careful using and storing these tanks. Good Luck!
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