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Old 12-10-2018, 09:08 PM   #1
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Default Propane Question

Went to the UHaul where I always get LP tank filled up and they said because of a lawsuit having to do with an explosion at one of their fill stations in FL they could no longer fill RV tanks that are as old as mine (1997). Didn't completely understand the rationale (the guy in FL had a pilot on). None the less: have any of you with "vintage" RVs experienced this problem? Is this something other vendors are doing?

And, perhaps more important, it made me start to wonder if there is a life to a LP tank. Should these be replaced periodically?

I always have my LP filled at this particular UHaul since it lies between my storage facility and my home. Does anyone know of a good website that lists RV fill stations nationwide?

Thanks!
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Old 12-10-2018, 11:34 PM   #2
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Interesting question and I will be watching the thread!

I don't know much about filling fixed tanks as opposed to 20# 30# removable tanks that we always had on our travel trailers and I am a bit nervous as to how easy it is to find a place that can fill fixed tanks installed in motorhomes. So far I have only found one gas station set up to do it in teh town (pop 180,000!) where I live.

So I am wondering how difficult it will be on the road.

I am guessing that any dedicated propane business "should" be able to do it, and I believe "Flying J" truck stops likely can but beyond that I don't know.

I do know that our local Costco where I get my BBQ and beer-brewing propane tanks filled cannot.

"Allstays" is one RV App that lists propane sources but I don't know that they differentiate between removable tanks that re filed by weight and fixed tanks that are filled by volume.

I need to learn more about this before we hit the road with our new "B" !

Can U-Haul places normally deal with fixed tanks?


Brian.
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Old 12-11-2018, 03:53 AM   #3
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I go to local propane suppliers. I went to a uhaul once and had a bad experience...
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Old 12-11-2018, 12:51 PM   #4
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I've heard it said that these tanks need to be re-certified every 10 years. Ours rusted out in about that amount of time, so I replaced it (details here).

I had a strong suspicion that new rules were going to start coming into force for RV propane tanks, which was one of the reasons I went ahead with replacement. I'm good for another decade. I carry a selfie stick just in case anyone wants to verify the age of the tank without crawling underneath. They can put their phone or my phone on the stick, and shove it under the van to see the tank plate. I can't take credit for that idea - another van owner suggested it to me.

What's happening now at Texas U-Hauls is that the employees must take a photograph of the fill port and upload it to some internet location before their "system" will let them ring up the propane purchase. I wondered what prompted that change - perhaps the Florida thing was it. I asked but they just said "new rule".
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Old 12-11-2018, 01:31 PM   #5
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I often get my 2012 RT 190P filled at Tractor Supply stores. They seem to have low prices.
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Old 12-11-2018, 01:41 PM   #6
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I went looking for this U Haul story... found this below, a propane tank explosion in the northeast, two fatalities, litigation settled earlier this year for $160 million.

That explosion happened some time after the filling - was not a fill-related event but apparently U Haul was the filler. The tank was reportedly manufactured in 1948!! Who in their right mind would use that kind of apparatus?

There were also incidents involving U Haul in Orlando (which was an RV event), Colorado, and a few others where people were either filling or transporting loose tanks which failed and exploded the vehicles.

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Old 12-11-2018, 02:03 PM   #7
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In answer to availability, larger RV parks generally have LP, though it will usually not be the cheapest place to get it.

The Allstays app is your friend for this and can be quite helpful. Google search also works but will include a lot of places that swap out the tanks only.

If you are in an agricultural area rural co-ops can be an excellent source of low cost LP. Think Cenex. I'm sure there are others. Hardware stores and farm/fleet stores are also a source, though again, maybe not the cheapest.

If you see a propane local delivery truck parked somewhere, direct from the truck may work.
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Old 12-11-2018, 02:56 PM   #8
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The propane supply chain is odd. Sources are actually all over the place. it is just that they are amazingly hard to find. I think the problem is that none of the major search engines differentiate what we need from the huge number of places that simply swap cylinders, so RV-capable places tend to get lost in the clutter.

I also am a big Tractor Supply fan.
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Old 12-11-2018, 05:23 PM   #9
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The propane supply chain is odd. Sources are actually all over the place. it is just that they are amazingly hard to find. I think the problem is that none of the major search engines differentiate what we need from the huge number of places that simply swap cylinders, so RV-capable places tend to get lost in the clutter.

I also am a big Tractor Supply fan.
Thanks Avanti - You have confirmed my suspicions that at times it might take a bit of digging to find a place capable of filling fixed tanks. Easy to get lists of propane locations on several TRV apps, but they don't differentiate and I'm guessing that teh vast majority can only fill or swap BBQ bottles.

I have yet to try to get ours refilled - will likely go through a lot of propane on our snowbird trip south in Feb so I wanted to try to get a better handle on the situation before we head out!

TSC seems like a good option, there are quite a few of those around.

I am guessing that Flying J's (where we always used to stop for diesel with our travel trailers) most likely can fill fixed tanks as they usually have separate RV fuel stations.

Other than that, I suppose a local search for an actual propane distributor will be the best bet.

Brian.
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Old 12-11-2018, 06:15 PM   #10
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Other than that, I suppose a local search for an actual propane distributor will be the best bet.
I've found that most of the distributors in smaller/mid size towns are not regularly staffed. The drivers come in, reload, then head out. If you can catch a driver or somehow get a hold of somebody to schedule an appointment time at the distributor you may have some luck.

I've found it not worth the hassle.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:03 PM   #11
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On the supply chain side, note that there is almost no propane available to be pumped in eastern Canada, especially in Nova Scotia. Plenty of cylinder exchange sites, but the local regulations make direct transfers financially untenable.
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Old 12-11-2018, 08:09 PM   #12
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Edit: This forum keeps timing out today, and it posted my last comment twice. I erased it with this edit.
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Old 12-11-2018, 09:28 PM   #13
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On the supply chain side, note that there is almost no propane available to be pumped in eastern Canada, especially in Nova Scotia. Plenty of cylinder exchange sites, but the local regulations make direct transfers financially untenable.
I understand Ontario is also problematic but have no first hand knowledge.

The last time I bought LP in Canada was in 2017, small town in BC. No issues.
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Old 12-12-2018, 04:44 AM   #14
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So......I'm getting the sense that propane suppliers are getting fussier with tank age? U-Haul 10yr limit and, via Interblog 12 years in TX? I understand if you have a tank that has deteriorated (re Interblog) but certainly many tanks don't fall into this category. So here's my question:

You can have your tank tested and re-certified, correct? Have any of you done this or do you just replace your tanks routinely? U-Haul was looking for a tag on the tank. I'm wondering if mine had been tested and re-certified if they would have gone with that and refilled. Any experience with this?
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Old 12-12-2018, 01:54 PM   #15
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I've found that most of the distributors in smaller/mid size towns are not regularly staffed. The drivers come in, reload, then head out. If you can catch a driver or somehow get a hold of somebody to schedule an appointment time at the distributor you may have some luck.

I've found it not worth the hassle.
Thanks Steve - sounds as though unfortunately this whole thing is going to be a bit more of a chore than it was with the replaceable bottles on teh trailers we have owned in the past.

I bit of a concern as the tank on our Plateau is only about 8 gallons I think and apart from our furnace/fridge/hw heater and hotplates, our Onan runs on propane!

Guess we'll have to use electric as much as we possibly can!

Maybe it won't be as problematic as I am fearing!

Brian
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Old 12-12-2018, 01:56 PM   #16
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I really enjoy this forum and learn lots of things from it. Frankly, the availability of finding propane never occurred to me. It just has never been a problem for us.

I bet there are at least ten places within ten miles radius of our home that can fill our tank. I know of four within five miles that immediately come to mind. It just shows my ignorance of this problem. I think any Flying J can fill your tank.

We may be different because we have so many vehicles in this area (Oklahoma City) that run on propane or CNG (compressed natural gas). We have entire fleets of local companies that run on CNG.

Like I said, reading is learning. I am going to be more sensitive about keeping my tank full! Especially when we are traveling away from the Southwest.
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Old 12-12-2018, 01:57 PM   #17
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I understand Ontario is also problematic but have no first hand knowledge.

The last time I bought LP in Canada was in 2017, small town in BC. No issues.
Wow, that is a bit concerning if correct - especially as I live in Ontario! Be interesting to hear if any other Canadian owners have comment.

Brian.
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Old 12-12-2018, 03:44 PM   #18
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I'm about to head over to a propane dealer. I called them in advance and was upfront about my situation: I have a Manchester tank in my 97 PW that has a mfg date of 1996. What the main office of this company said was if it had a metal information plate that was welded or riveted on the tank body, it was almost certainly a ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) certified tank and not one that was DOT (Department of Transportation) certified. She said (and I've since read this online) that ASME tanks are tested and certified at the point of manufacture and are certified for life. It doesn't mean that they shouldn't be periodically inspected for damage/rust/leaking and they do recommend that you replace the pressure relief valve about every 10 years. I'll update after I go and the technician verifies what type of tank I have.
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Old 12-12-2018, 05:14 PM   #19
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Thanks Steve - sounds as though unfortunately this whole thing is going to be a bit more of a chore than it was with the replaceable bottles on teh trailers we have owned in the past.

I bit of a concern as the tank on our Plateau is only about 8 gallons I think and apart from our furnace/fridge/hw heater and hotplates, our Onan runs on propane!

Guess we'll have to use electric as much as we possibly can!

Maybe it won't be as problematic as I am fearing!

Brian
I'm thinking that you are going to get really proficient on having your tank filled and locating fill stations if you need to run the genny quite a bit.

If it is an eight gallon tank it only can hold a hair over six gallons. A wild guess would be about .4 gallons/hour running on half load on the genny though real life figures are available.

This setup will be problematic iff'n you would want/have to run the A/C for prolonged periods as the math works out to less than 20 hours and that is with no other consumption.

I will say this. I was on a four month trip out west this past summer and only put 34 hours on the genny. I used the heat a lot more than A/C due to elevations. I do quite often fire up the A/C for about an hour when first parked to remove the heat soak from the chassis components, depending on outside temps. Especially when it is over 85*.

The engine/transmission/chassis frame/exhaust all give off a lot of heat when first shut down.

A fairly robust house battery setup would seem to be called for. This would alleviate starting the genny for short bursts of power. If boondocking more than a day at a time I would think solar would be mandatory.

O course, you could also idle the van engine but from what I've heard, that is not a recommended practice for a variety of reasons.
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Old 12-12-2018, 10:00 PM   #20
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Steve,

I'm not really certain about the tank size, I read the 8 gallon figure from a spec chart in teh PW manual along with fresh water and black/gry water capacities - it listed propane capacity as 8 gallon and so I took it that 8 gallons was filled to the 80% level - hope so anyway!

I'll try to look at the tank itself and see what is stamped on it.

The good thing is that we have never been much into boon docking with our trailers we have owned for years - I suppose that could change now that we we the "B" but probably not too likely as my wife likes conveniences such as decent washrooms, running water, electricity!

In the past, roughing it for us means a state or provincial park with no sewer hooks up, only water and elec - and some times only elec!

So it will likely be only overnight stops en route or the odd stop at a Cracker Barrel, Flying J, or "Harvest Host" winery so maybe we won't have that mush of a problem.

I'm sure I will be getting a bit paranoid and looking for fill up spots when we get down to about 1/3 tank of propane left though and start keeping an eye open for potential fill up spots!

We do also have solar and 200AH Lithium so that should help! Also a convection hotplate.

I have heard the potential downside of idling the MB diesel - but for what I have taken away from threads I have read, an hour or two isn't going to be a big deal just to charge the lithiums a bit if/when needed.

Moderation in all things applies I guess.

Thx ........ Brian.
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