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Old 09-29-2020, 03:51 PM   #1
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Propane Tank

I need some help/advice. We have a horizontal propane tank that was full when we got the boat 2 years ago that stopped in the middle of a meal. So I grabbed an adapter and connected a 1lb bottle and the meal went on.

Went to get it filled one place they wouldn't fill it due to the date stamped in the top even though there is a visual inspection sticker that was from 2016. The next place tried and said they couldn't figure out how to fill it. A third place went to fill it and said it was full.

I have read that you fill the tank when it is vertical but I haven't found anything on the web that says there is anything else special. I am n the Portland, Or. metro area anyone know someplace that is used to dealing with Marine LPG tanks?
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:31 PM   #2
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Is it the correct tank for your system? Some are designed to deliver liquid where some are for the vapor. Have you tried the tank vertically?
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Old 09-29-2020, 04:59 PM   #3
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A visual inspection is good for five years. A pressure test is good for ten.

Yes, sometimes you have to know how to fill it, know what their adapter looks like, how it fills and then instruct them. At places that only do gas grill tanks, they may have never seen a horizontal industrial tank. Sometimes you have to show them the date of manufacture, that it has an OPD and that even though the knob isn’t a triangle, it’s still legal.

I have a horizontal tank that gets filled vertically from the filling port with the adapter, not the discharge valve. It won’t fill from the discharge valve and lead them to believe it’s full. Why they can’t tell the difference in weight between a full tank and empty one is anyone’s guess.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:06 PM   #4
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If you can’t find any help in Portland. Try calling Sure Marine in Seattle. They can tell you everything you need to know about propane tanks.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:31 PM   #5
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tcoop,
I have the same setup and aluminum tank on my NT 37. A couple of years ago, my tank needed to be properly reconditioned. It only cost me about $85 and that included a fill. I was told that a new tank (same) would cost something like $400, so worth getting it reconned.
I have had it filled several times and never experienced an issue. Unfortunately all of the places I could recommend are in Canada.
Look for a company that reconditions LPG tanks and/or supplies propane (not the gas station), and I am sure they will be able to help you.
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Old 09-29-2020, 07:52 PM   #6
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I've added propane to two boats now and will soon do my third. I built the tank lockers to hold standard patio grill tanks to avoid problems getting them filled, and the high cost of "Marine' tanks. The patio tanks are steel and will rust, but if you do the tank exchange thing (at nearly any gas station in the country) they won't be on the boat long enough to be a problem. You get a new(er) tank every time. If you have your tanks refilled, eventually they'll expire and need recertification. Just take them to the corner gas station and swap for a new one. Same cost as a non expired one. They don't even look at the date.
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Old 09-30-2020, 05:22 AM   #7
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AS explained above a system for tank exchange is best for cruising .
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Old 09-30-2020, 07:06 AM   #8
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Best of all, in most towns there's a gas station with exchange within walking distance from the marina or dinghy landing. Refill place might be 5 or 10 miles away. Only downside I can see is the exchange only fills them about 3/4" full, they say its for safety. Real reason is it makes the price competitive with refilling them at U-Haul or somewhere. If I have a car handy I'll take them to refill. If not, I exchange.
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Old 09-30-2020, 08:37 AM   #9
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Thanks everyone for the advice, I really appreciate it. I think Porgy got it right with everyone trying to fill the outlet. I will get the tank re-certified when needed due to the cost of new. The tank locker won't allow a vertical tank. Thanks again.
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Old 09-30-2020, 08:54 AM   #10
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While the tank exchange sales may be a good idea for many boaters (for reasons outlined here), that idea will not work for the OP in this thread. His tank is aluminum, is designed to "lay on it's side"(and is very expensive compared to a 20lb "stand up" steel tank), and his propane locker will not accept a standing tank. I have never seen an exchange program anywhere that offers this tank. This tank will require "recertification" (eventually), but should last for many, many years, but he will need to find stations that can refill it. This setup is how Nordic Tug outfits (at least did) their boats when propane is specified.
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:19 AM   #11
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Exactly my point. If the factory installed a locker that only fits an oddball tank then your screwed. If your specing or building your own, make it fit the standard tanks. I am new to trawlers so don't know if many of them come factory equipped, but on newer sailboats they invariably use custom tanks even though they could just as easily have used standard ones. Has to be a profit thing, they make more money selling you the custom tank instead of letting source your own. It could get to the point where you consider tearing out the factory installation to put in something that works.
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Old 09-30-2020, 09:51 AM   #12
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FerrellGas in Portland on Lombard serviced and recertified my horizontal aluminum tanks.
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Old 09-30-2020, 11:24 AM   #13
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I will try Ferrell Gas in Portland. One of the failed attempts was the same company in Hillsboro.

The propane locker in the cockpit is designed to be a seat and a step out so that drove the design considerations more than the tank. At least that is my guess.
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Old 10-01-2020, 05:46 AM   #14
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"Only downside I can see is the exchange only fills them about 3/4" full, they say its for safety. Real reason is it makes the price competitive with refilling them at U-Haul or somewhere."

Actually all the newer tanks with the "new style" valve handle can only be filled to the same amount.

The idea was to prevent overfilling so anyone could refill a tank with minor instruction.

All the new tanks must be opened slowly as they have a feature that requires some back pressure or the valve safety shuts .

To reset , a pencil with an eraser on the end can be pushed into the valve .

The hassle cruising with a bastard tank is not every propane supply fills every day , "come back in 3 days " may be a PIA.
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Old 10-01-2020, 07:22 AM   #15
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Nothing to do with the valve.The exchange places, at least the ones I've used only put about 15# in a 20# tank. That's their profit margin as the cost is about the same as refilling with 20#. Well worth it though if you can walk to the exchange vs finding a ride to the refill. Last time I did this the gas station was literally across the street from where I landed the dinghy. There wasn't a refiller in that town.
Thanks for the tip on resetting the safety valve. My turkey fryer will trip it if I crank it open too fast. The burner will flow enough to make the valve think its not connected to anything.
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Old 10-01-2020, 08:08 AM   #16
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I suppose it matters where and how one cruises. We’ve been full time cruising between Maine and the Keys for eight years. While I’ve had to explain things to a gas station attendant from time to time, I only recall once that they didn’t have the adapter. Like every other expendable on the boat, I monitor it’s usage and fill up when and where convenient before it is empty. Not a big deal.
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