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Old 05-23-2009, 11:17 PM   #15
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I have spoken to a local propane dealer and I am certain that an untrained proffessional should NOT remove the valve under any circumstances. Having done a fair amount of welding and metal work I don't think it is a good idea to have open valves when using a tool that could potentially cause a spark. MHO

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Old 05-24-2009, 07:11 AM   #16
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Polish the tanks by hand, if your making a spark, you'r working too hard!!!

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Old 05-24-2009, 08:04 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by phoney View Post
I have spoken to a local propane dealer and I am certain that an untrained proffessional should NOT remove the valve under any circumstances. Having done a fair amount of welding and metal work I don't think it is a good idea to have open valves when using a tool that could potentially cause a spark. MHO
It's absolutely true that one should not just go removing a valve UNLESS as much propane as possible has been used up from it.

It's actually pretty challenging to remove a valve because it's hard to hold the cylinder still. I tried one a year or so ago, gave up, and took it to the local dealer and had them remove the valve. (They have a strap system to hold the cylinder still while they remove the valve.)

But as noted above, just removing the valve does not, in and of itself, cause the residual propane to disappear. Propane is heavier than air, so with valve removed, turn the cylinder upside down and let it stand that way for a couple of hours. (The quicker route is just to fill the cylinder with water, pushing the propane out, but then you've got a bunch of water, too.)

Oh, and no smoking nearby.

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Old 05-24-2009, 09:42 AM   #18
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Hello All,

I just had a set of 40 Lb. Aluminum Tanks overhauled (valves updated and recertifed) at the local propane warehouse. While waiting for the work to be completed, I observed the bread and butter of this business - Overhauling 20 Lb. STEEL bottles. Several workers were "grinding" on rusty steel tanks, sparks were literally flying. Once the bottles were sanded, (ground on) they were hung on a assembly line, and ran through a spray booth, then new labeling was shrink wrapped on with a heat gun, and then the bottles were refilled and stacked for shippment.

I asked one of the workers (The Manager, the guy who helped me, the only one I came in contact with who spoke english) what preparation they did, prior to the grinding. I thought maybe they filled them with water or some other non-flamable substance. His reply was that they did nothing. Whatever residual gas that is in them, when they arive, stays in them throughout the whole process, until they are refilled. He actually thought that I was joking with him, when I suggested that they should at least have a ground wire clamped to each bottle while grinding on them, to keep static electricity from building up.

Here's is what I would recommend:

1. GROUND THE BOTTLES WHILE WORKING ON THEM. I cannot stress this enough. Any build up of static electricity if discharging through the bottle, could have a very bad outcome. If you own a set of battery jumper cables, clamp the bottom lip of the bottle with one end, and clamp the other end (same color!)to a water pipe or similiar, that ends up going to earth ground. Think about it. If you have a set of wooden v blocks or whatever holding your bottle horizontal on a table, you have just insulated the bottle electrically from ground. As you rub, sand, polish, swish rags, or whatever, you could be charging the bottle with electrons. Now the more you rub, the more you build up an electrical charge (essentially your bottle is now a capacitor, storing a charge). Kind of like dragging your feet across a carpet, just prior to touching a door knob. At some point, if your bottle gets charged enough, it will discharge to ground, possibly through your body, like when you touch the door knob, after draging your feet across the carpeted floor. If you keep the bottle grounded, any static will instantly bleed off to ground and no build up will occur.

2. Whoever mentioned NO SMOKING /open flame above, knows what they are talking about - not just while working on them but whenever you are within 50 feet of them! Sanding, polishing, etc., through friction, will cause the bottle to get warm. When you heat gas, the pressure increases. When it reaches a certain pressure, the valves have a built in overpressure vent, and the bottles could leach out some gas. So even if you bottle is shut off, there is a chance it could vent just because of changes in temperature caused by ambient temperature fluctuation, or friction from buffing, sanding etc.

3. Do your task in an open area, preferably out side where you are in an open air environment - plenty of ventilation. This is not a job for the middle of winter, in your basement! Remember that electric motors from hand tools and heaters, gas pilot lights from water heaters and cloth dryers all produce sparks, and should not be used in a gaseous non vented environment.

4. When sanding, polishing, buffing, cleaning and the like, especially when using equipment other than your bare hands (electric or pneumatic sander,polisher) run them SLOWLY and stop periodically to use your bare hand to verify that you are not overheating the surface that you are working on! Just because you are using a power tool to cut down on physical labor, don't expect the job to take less time without risking life and limb. Remember, the cooler the surface is, the longer you will live after the polishing to enjoy your shinny bottle(s).

Whether or not you vent whatever gas you think you can out of the bottle prior to starting your polishing mission is, in my opinion is not as important as following the above guidelines, and other common sense safety practices. I will say that I would not personally empty the bottles, but that is my opinion. You do what makes you feel comfortable and safe. Know that even when we mere mortals think they are empty, some residual gas remains in the bottle, and still presents a danger, if safety practices are not followed. I know that most people have heard the phrase that you should always treat a gun like it is loaded, whether it is or not. Same rule here for gas bottles, because even if I vent it down to atmospheric pressure, some gas will remain.

If you do decide to empty them, please at least take them back to the place where you had them filled, and let them recapture the gas, don't just let them vent into the atmosphere (this is both and unsafe practice in itself, and not the best for mother earth either). The place I go to actually gives credit on the next refill if you let them evacuate/recapture the gas.

Best of luck. Take your time, and be safe!

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Old 08-30-2009, 05:31 PM   #19
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New to forum, but not new to propane explosion

Hello all, Its very good to have this thread going and in particular because virtually all airstreamers are propane users
It would be kind of some full time forum user to put this post where all are sure to see it.
It concerns not so much, the measures to take for propane safety which I hope for everyone’s long life can be determined exactly on this forum!, but the effects a propane blast can produce .
I will try to be as brief as possibly.
Last month I was helping my ex-wife and our children move all of their earthly belongings from their old home to a new one 300 miles away. She had rented the largest Penske truck they make. The day of the move was very hot, 105 at least, and we were very rushed to finish before the real heat of the day at noon or so. With friends and family the very last items were packed ( I mean packed to the gills) before 11:30. Amid the confusion and heat, a canvass covered barbeque was loaded from storage and none of us opened the cabinet under it.
Without incident we all arrived (three cars + moving truck ) at the Grandparents house that evening and spent the night with plans to continue to the new house a couple miles down the road in the morning.
The next morning after breakfast, with high spirits and a sense of excitement in all, the ex-wife’s Uncle and his Wife climbed into the truck and started it up.
At this time most of the family were in the house putting away sleeping bags, dressing ect., I was just reaching for the sliding door handle on the opposite side of the house from the truck, when the most incredible sound I’ve ever heard assaulted my ears while at the same time the air around me went blurry and hot. It would not be a stretch to compare the sound to a jets sonic boom 50 feet over your head . It went on forever but was probably only a second or two. As I turned I was blasted with glass and debris but unharmed. My Daughters were just behind me in the center of the living room and screaming hysterically, I went to them and after determining they were not critically injured pulled them as carefully and quickly as possible away from the blast direction, which was now evident because there were no doors or windows. The truck had evidently gone 10 feet or so forward but was now rolling back downhill on its own amid a rain of continuing debris. There was no trailer only a flat bed remained!. I raced around the house to see if I could stop the truck, as I rounded the corner I could see that it would very difficult to scramble over the wall of debris surrounding the truck, which had been the truck and all of its contents, when the debris itself stopped the truck under the wheels.
What continued was a jumble of events, but importantly, to inform all to the severity of propane’ s explosive power is a list of the effects of this blast .( the investigators came to the conclusion that the valve on the propane tank itself was on and that a barbeque burner knob, during loading or transport was twisted to the on position, empting the tank but filling the trucks trailer with the gas . ( please, readers of this account, I for myself carry a HUGE amount of guilt for not having caught this before it happened , My ex- wife’s Fiancée who died of a heart attack in front of my daughter and my ex-wife during a charity race left this barbeque in her storage and neither of us was familiar with gas barbeques. I use charcoal . The Uncle who drove the truck was a retired professional mover and it was his helper who mostly directed how the truck was packed, so I only being there for the muscle, acquiesced to be as helpful as possible in the Heat. I guess none of us in the heat and confusion, considered what could have been under that cover )
So the following is quite different from how I (and maybe you) previously perceived the degree of propane's explosive power (movies, news ect.)
The Blast was so load that volunteer fire department personnel three miles away didn’t wait for a call
The Driver of the truck received a concussion and ruptured eardrums
The passenger , four broken ribs ,punctured lung, broken scapula and concussion
Two who were on the porch but shielded from the blast by the cab of the truck, Back injury
The rest of us were incredibly lucky even in the house.
The entire shell of the trailer was blown off and apart (3/16 thick fiberglass)
The empty but locked 700lb gun safe was blown open and puffed out like a marshmallow
Refrigerators, washing machine, dryer all appliances that had cabinets blown open and off the truck
Trailer wall closest to the house ,15’away, was blown toward the house caving in the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen’s exterior wall, the house was blown 6” off the foundation
The GPS unit attached to the windshield was found across the street 45’ away. The furthest piece of truck
145’ away
Investigators found sheetrock that had come from the house on the bed of the trailer in they theorize “air blast recoil”
Needles to say 99% of what my Ex-wife owned was destroyed and the grandparents house condemned.
But we are so grateful we are still here The driver is now O.K. and his Wife will face a long but full recovery. My children and I are still a little jumpy around loud noises, Penske trucks . I took them Backpacking to a Yosemite High camp a couple weeks ago and it helped a little.

So please all of you who use propane, this was only a 11 pound tank, its worth a review of what it takes to be safe around it and warn all you know to be careful.
Take care of each other, Scott
(not the same Scott as the last poster)
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Old 08-30-2009, 05:48 PM   #20
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All I can say is Holy Crap! You are one lucky dude. If you dont' beleve in the All Mighty , you should.

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Old 08-30-2009, 07:03 PM   #21
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I have been polishing my bottles with them half full. I have been very careful not to get the bottle heated while polishing and I will take the previous advice to ground them (sounds logical). I have only done about half of one bottle to see if they will shine up well.

I will say though, this summer, the wife and I went to visit my parents camper and at that campground, they had a camper explode earlier in the summer due to propane. Apparently, the owner smelled something inside and called a non-certified repairman over to take a look. When they entered the camper, something sparked and the whole camper exploded. They lived with minor injuries. The tanks did not explode, just the gas that built up inside the camper but the camper was a site.

The campers on either side looked fine (this was a month or so after the explosion so I am not sure if they had repairs). The exploded camper though, the walls had blown out, the roof fell flat on the floor and there was shrapnel all over the place. This was a good learning experience for my wife who keeps asking to get a gas fireplace insert for our wood fireplace in our house which I really don't want for fear of gas leaks.

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