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Old 05-20-2012, 03:10 PM   #1
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Propane Availability

So let's say your cruising will be the USA and Canada. If you have propane on the boat, is it still fairly easy to get your tank(s) refilled within a reasonable distance of the average marina? Reason I ask is that the country has gone to swapping tanks in a big way and many of the places that use to pump, now just swap. Other than the 15 pounds they put in the 20 pound tank , I think I would rather have aluminum tanks instead of steel (no rust). This is aimed at long term cruising (the loop) not the 2 week vacation.

What say you?

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Old 05-20-2012, 04:30 PM   #2
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Ted,
In the PNW there is no problem getting a propane refill almost anywhere. Remote areas use a lot of propane so they have refill facilities. Many Fuel docks and marinas have propane supply tanks.
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Old 05-20-2012, 05:31 PM   #3
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... I think I would rather have aluminum tanks instead of steel (no rust)...
Ted
Ted how about the plastic tanks? We have seen lots of the plastic (polypropylene copolymer) tanks in the last few years. Filling them in Central/South America has not been an issue. The ability to see how much propane you have left is a nice feature.

Does anyone have any experience with these? They seem like a good alternative to steel and/or aluminum.

The Lite Cylinder - Revolutionary Propane Cylinders
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:41 PM   #4
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Ted how about the plastic tanks? We have seen lots of the plastic (polypropylene copolymer) tanks in the last few years. Filling them in Central/South America has not been an issue. The ability to see how much propane you have left is a nice feature.

Does anyone have any experience with these? They seem like a good alternative to steel and/or aluminum.

The Lite Cylinder - Revolutionary Propane Cylinders
I'll have to do some research. In the compressed gas industry, fiberglass wrapped tanks are subject to different rules. One is that they have a maximum 15 year life from date of manufacture. Even though they are tested like other tanks, they must be taken out of service after 15 years. Don't know if these fall into that requirement.

Correction: They have a 15 year life. At least that's what the DOT tag says under the valve in the picture.

Tank Picture with DOT tag

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Old 05-20-2012, 06:57 PM   #5
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Has anyone heard the cost on them? I'd love to have one on my BBQ. The thing always seems to run out while I'm cooking.
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Old 05-20-2012, 07:00 PM   #6
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On second thought, a 15 year life for my boat propane tank shouldn't be an issue as I'll likely only be telling stories about going boating 15 years from now.

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Old 05-20-2012, 07:01 PM   #7
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Has anyone heard the cost on them? I'd love to have one on my BBQ. The thing always seems to run out while I'm cooking.
You can buy them on line from that site, $100 + shipping for a 20 pound tank.

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Old 05-20-2012, 07:08 PM   #8
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You can buy them on line from that site, $100 + shipping for a 20 pound tank.

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Thanks Ted, that's within $30 of a steel one. Well worth the convenience in my book.
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Old 05-20-2012, 08:29 PM   #9
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I think you will see marinas putting in propane fill stations as more and more boats are using it for cooking and even a few propane outboards are being sold. I looked into selling propane at my store. The up front cost is very little. The propane supplier will install the tank and pump. The dealer just has to bring power to it. I would guess that the propane supplier would only do it if they thought the dealer would move enough propane to make it worth while.
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Old 05-20-2012, 08:33 PM   #10
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Refilling your own tanks beats the "swap n go" thing growing rapidly here, provided you can find a supplier. My tank bottles have a dedicated locker with shaped timber supports so keeping the old ones is good. I can get them topped up,just paying for what they take. The supplier will also test and re-certify tanks,usually they renew the valve. Certification in OZ is 9 years, not your 15. Not seen any fibreglass/plastic tanks so far. BruceK
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Old 05-20-2012, 11:24 PM   #11
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No problem getting propane tanks filled in the PNW and BC. And don't overlook RV service centers.

We have two 2.5 gallon horizontal aluminum marine tanks. One tank seems to last six months or so of our "normal" year round cruising. We cook most meals on the boat. So we draw from one tank until it's empty and then change tanks. We take the empty home and I get it filled at the wholesale propane supplier next to our studios.

But if we were on a cruise when the first tank ran out we could complete the cruise and take a bunch more before the second tank ran out.

BTW, if you have an older horizontal tank that doesn't have an OPD valve there is a waiver that enables you to still get it filled. The tank also needs a sticker on it that says "No OPD Valve.". We have a copy of the waiver but no propane dealer or service station up here has ever asked to see it. The waiver applies only to tanks that were manufactured as horizontal tanks. Tanks converted to horizontal tanks by adding feet or whatever don't count.
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Old 05-21-2012, 06:49 AM   #12
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For a cruiser Getting a tank filled is a poor idea.

Frequently you will need a taxi to the refill place , and a prayer they are open.

Sometimes you need to wait a day , and taxi back!

Far Far easier is to simply swop std. tanks at any food store , gas station , usually with in walking distance of a dock.

A folding 2 wheeled shopping cart will hold a pair (careful over curbs when full) and take no effort.

The cart is a cruiser requirement to be on board for groceries or beverages.

WE carry 5 or 6 tanks , using a tank every 20 days for a large reefer , a half dozen allows swop refills on OUR sked.

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Old 05-21-2012, 07:50 AM   #13
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I went to all exchange tanks. The only refill place in my home town only refill between 8 and 11 am weekdays. Makes it impossible for me. Like FF said, I can choose between 20 or more convenient exchange locations on my trip to and from work.
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Old 05-21-2012, 10:32 AM   #14
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It's fairly easy to tell how much propane remains in a steel tank. Buy a cheap fish scale. Weigh a full tank, then weigh an empty tank.

If my memory serves, an empty standard tank weighs 20 lb (I think it's stamped on the tank). With 20 lb of propane, it will weigh 40 lb. 30 lb indicates 1/2 full, etc.

If your tank is rusty, it might pay to exchange it.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:02 AM   #15
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Empty weights should be stamped on the tank. Exchange tanks are now typically filled with 17#. Makes you feel good about the price.
I have a key to the propane facility I work at part time in the winter. I fill mine to 20#.


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Old 05-21-2012, 02:22 PM   #16
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I fill mine to 20#.

According to the gov.BS about the new valves with overfill protection , this is not supposed to be possible.

How do you do it?

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Old 05-21-2012, 03:20 PM   #17
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I've been using a plastic and I think fiberglass propane tank for 2 years or so. I did'nt like the blue color of the outer part so I covered the whole thing w a fender cover. It was black and I was'nt nuts about that either but now it has faded to green and that's one of the basic colors of the boat but It looks a bit old and faded.

The tank is right above Chris on the cabin roof.
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Old 05-21-2012, 03:33 PM   #18
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For a cruiser Getting a tank filled is a poor idea....Far Far easier is to simply swop std. tanks at any food store , gas station , usually with in walking distance of a dock.


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That works fine if what you use on your boat are the standard steel backyard BBQ vertical tanks. But if you use aluminum tanks made for the marine environment, particularly if they are horizontal tanks like ours, you can't exchange them. Your only choice is to have them refilled. Fortunately, at least in this part of the world, that is pretty easy to do.
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Old 05-21-2012, 06:01 PM   #19
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I fill mine to 20#.

According to the gov.BS about the new valves with overfill protection , this is not supposed to be possible.
How do you do it?
You are correct that the OPD valve will shut it down when it reaches the pre-determined level. Typically 80% liquid fill. If you have a 20# tank it should be twenty pounds or there abouts.
It's not SOP to turn on the liquid pump and count on the OPD to function properly when filling. Great way to die....or maybe not such a great way.
The exchange cylinder folks fill the cylinders by weight with the cylinders on a scale and automatic shut down when the preset weight is reach. It's a fairly automated process as you can imagine the number of tanks they deal with. Cylinders here are filled to the 17# range and many of the new exchange cylinders are actually 17# cylinders. Hard to tell apart. It also gives them a broader safety margin for all the tanks sitting out in the sun at the local 7-11.
The other way to fill the cylinders is to open the bleeder valve which will puke liquid when 80% full. It's the way I fill my tanks to the safe max and seldom will the OPD valve shut it down before they're at a safe full not overfull.
I have no problem with the OPD mandate. It got a lot of unsafe cylinders out of circulation and gives me an excuse to say 'sorry Fred, I can't fill that rusty cylinder with the leaky obsolete valve. I'll loose my job.'
Hope that helps.
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Old 05-21-2012, 06:36 PM   #20
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[QUOTE=Anode;87905]I have no problem with the OPD mandate. It got a lot of unsafe cylinders out of circulation and gives me an excuse to say 'sorry Fred, I can't fill that rusty cylinder with the leaky obsolete valve. I'll loose my job.'[\quote]

But you can take that rusty cylinder with the leaky obsolete valve to the home center or convenience store and trade it for a good filled cylinder.

Let the propane company deal with it. I'm sure unuseable cylinders are figured into the price.
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