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Old 05-04-2006, 02:18 PM   #1
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butane vs propane?

My trailer dates somewhere from 53-55. If butane was used in the 50s then my gaslight and stove are not set up for propane, correct? I understand that the size of the hole is different for one over the other. Can I run propane without changing anything?
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Old 05-04-2006, 03:11 PM   #2
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Probably a Propane Connection

Quote:
Originally Posted by lwebb
My trailer dates somewhere from 53-55. If butane was used in the 50s then my gaslight and stove are not set up for propane, correct? I understand that the size of the hole is different for one over the other. Can I run propane without changing anything?
lanny
If your Gas Connection to the regulator fits a standard LPG Liquefied Petroleum Gas) bottle then don't worry about it.

Actually, the BTU values per pound are very close. Propane delivers about 21,600 BTUs per pound, and Butane will put out about 21,300 BTUs. Not enough of a difference to argue in real life.

In the case of standard commercial cylinder (LPG) gas, what you often get is a "mixture" of Propane and Butane varied by area and season (and now, unfortunately, by availability). At atmospheric pressure Butane has a freezing point of 0ºc while Propane has a freezing point of -42ºc. When liquified gas approaches its freezing point, it ceases to vaporize effectively and the gas available to the Airstream is dramatically reduced.

If you have a heavy draw on the regulator (total gas demand maximized) in cold temperatures (winter) as the vapor is drawn off, it causes the remaining liquid in the tank to become colder, and, as the temperature falls, butane becomes less and less effective. Butane remains a liquid, which means it will not give off any gas vapor at 31 degrees F at atmospheric pressure, while Propane continues to perform at a higher level at the same temperature - it liquifies totally (stops gassifying) at -48 degrees F at atmospheric pressure.

Now, to quote one of my professors from the Missouri School of Mines and Metalurgy, "It is intuitively obvious that as evaporation cooling affects the temperature of the cylinder, Propane will maintain a more stable flow than Butane, all other factors being constant".

What the above means is that, under most cases, economics aside, Propane is a better fuel than Butane.

Holy Crap!!! been carrying around the books with those numbers in them since the dark ages in college (pre-computer) - and this is one of the first times I have been able to use those bits of information.
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Old 05-04-2006, 03:28 PM   #3
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Speaking of mining terms - Wow Dennis, Did I hit the mother load of info with your reply. The tanks are the old style regulators. I am having a guy switch them out with the new fangled one. Gona cost about $50 per tank. Kinda high I thought. I don't know that what I have is butane, I was just told it was probably originally set up that way. My brother in law told me that. He's never had a camper. Is there any danger in running the propane? What, if anything, might happen if the stove was set for butane.
Anything?
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Old 05-04-2006, 03:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwebb
Speaking of mining terms - Wow Dennis, Did I hit the mother load of info with your reply. The tanks are the old style regulators. I am having a guy switch them out with the new fangled one. Gona cost about $50 per tank. Kinda high I thought. I don't know that what I have is butane, I was just told it was probably originally set up that way. My brother in law told me that. He's never had a camper. Is there any danger in running the propane? What, if anything, might happen if the stove was set for butane.
Anything?
FYI, there are some people, my wife included, who call any gas in bottles butane regardless of what is there. Perhaps your brother in law is the same. I don't think that $50 is high as I think that the valve costs about $20, although for that price they should recertify the tanks since the existing certification date is long expired. A new date should be stamped on the handle.

Bill
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Old 05-04-2006, 04:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwebb
Speaking of mining terms - Wow Dennis, Did I hit the mother load of info with your reply. The tanks are the old style regulators. I am having a guy switch them out with the new fangled one. Gona cost about $50 per tank. Kinda high I thought.
Just to be accurate, you probably only have one regulator; the things you're having switched out are merely the valves. If you have aluminum Worthington tanks, then the $50 per tank is well spent. If, however, you have old steel tanks, you're probably money waaaay ahead to just buy new tanks. 20lb Manchester steel tanks can be found at Sams for about $26 each with the new OPD valves already installed.

Bear in mind also that tanks have to be inspected and re-stamped every few years, so if the tanks you're having converted haven't had that done, this may be an ideal time for that also.

Roger
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Old 05-04-2006, 05:07 PM   #6
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Dennis,

Well said! I couldn't have said it any better! And lwebb, if you are going to go ahead with the conversion of your existing tanks to OPD, then you should also invest in a 2 stage regulator. A single stage has a heck of a time dropping tank pressure to the required 11" water guage that the appliances require. A 2 stage will first drop to 10-15 PSI, then down to the 11" ( which is about 0.4 PSI)
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Old 05-04-2006, 05:35 PM   #7
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thanks

All great info. Many thanks. Yes, the guy said the tanks would have to be re-certified. That's included in the price.
The tanks are original with the Holiday and since there are only two Holidays that anybody knows of, I have been told that anything I do to veer away from original issue will be a sacrilege. They are the small tanks but have the tall tops, if that makes any sense.
I feel better about the price now. What does a two stage regulator cost? Is it a Walmart item?
Since no one has really addressed the issue of the openings in the stove being different sizes for butane vs. propane I'm guessing it's a non issue.
Thanks all,
Lanny
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:36 PM   #8
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I would not worry about single and two stage regulators. Yes the argument can be made the two stage is more accurate, but the equipment it feeds just does not care and works fine in the range provided. Failure in these regulators is almost always leaks because of a failed neoprene diaphragm and rarely in the pressure control seat mechanism (unless you introduce dirt).

Steve- certified whacko who just happened to own a welding supply for 30 years and rebuilt pressure regulators for a living
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Old 05-05-2006, 07:00 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwebb
Speaking of mining terms - Wow Dennis, Did I hit the mother load of info with your reply.
No kidding, I shot him some karma on that one on principle alone.
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Old 08-11-2008, 12:02 PM   #10
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Hi all.

I don't own a trailer but I got lead here looking for propane versus butane info.

Does anyone here have any experience with converting an old Wedgewood stove from natural gas to run on butane?

I know this is wildly out of your customary range but just thought I'd ask.

Thanks
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:02 PM   #11
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not out of the range, i'll try to dig up a thread on the two fuels that is here somewhere.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/231504-post1.html
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Old 08-11-2008, 01:06 PM   #12
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you might notice it's in the beginning of this thread :-) lol, small world!
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Old 08-11-2008, 02:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lwebb View Post
My trailer dates somewhere from 53-55. If butane was used in the 50s then my gaslight and stove are not set up for propane, correct? I understand that the size of the hole is different for one over the other. Can I run propane without changing anything?
lanny
Butane was popular many years ago.

It went south for use with RV's since it freezes at the same temperature as water.

Hence, we now have propane.

Future years may come up with "corntane", who knows.

Andy
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:34 PM   #14
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Holy enthalpy Batman! Dig out the textbooks!

I always thought that the boiling point of butane was 31F. Now I find out that's really the freezing point.

Who would have thought things would change so much once calculators were invented.
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Old 08-11-2008, 04:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markdoane View Post
Holy enthalpy Batman! Dig out the textbooks!

I always thought that the boiling point of butane was 31F. Now I find out that's really the freezing point.

Who would have thought things would change so much once calculators were invented.

markdoane,

31F is the boiling point, below that temperature, butane is a liquid. The various appliances in an Airstream use a gas and not a liquid to create heat. Therefore below 31F, butane is useless.

Bill
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Old 08-11-2008, 05:07 PM   #16
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In the 60's I was calling all LPG Butane. When I ask the delivery man a question about my butane tank, his answer to me was. " All butane tanks are underground and all above ground tanks are Propane." Since then I have just assumed that all above ground tanks contain propane. Since Dennis explained freezing point I understand why butane tanks were buried.

Kay
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Old 08-11-2008, 07:33 PM   #17
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I have an old Gaz backpack lantern (French) which uses the CV470 propane/butane mixture cartridge. I used it in lieu of the Coleman lantern in my Cabela's Guide model tent. I noticed that in really cold weather that it has a tendency to sputter a lot. I guess it is the butane in the propane that is doing it.
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