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Old 07-06-2018, 03:46 AM   #1
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Default Propane Tank too Ruster?

My 1997 Coach House has been wonderful. I've never had any problems with it.


Today I stopped to get propane and they said the tank was too rusted and it would be dangerous to fill it. In the 4 years I've had this RV, I've never had anyone say that about the tank.


Attached are several pictures. I'd like your collective wisdom on whether or not the tank is too rusted. When I cleaned it, not much came off except the dirt.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Tank 1.jpg (134.2 KB, 60 views)
File Type: jpg Tank2.jpg (116.3 KB, 44 views)
File Type: jpg Tank3.jpg (109.6 KB, 54 views)
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Old 07-06-2018, 05:10 AM   #2
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My 1997 Coach House has been wonderful. I've never had any problems with it.


Today I stopped to get propane and they said the tank was too rusted and it would be dangerous to fill it. In the 4 years I've had this RV, I've never had anyone say that about the tank.


Attached are several pictures. I'd like your collective wisdom on whether or not the tank is too rusted. When I cleaned it, not much came off except the dirt.
Your tank is an ASME tank that has considerably thicker walls than the typical
DOT barbecue tank and consequently doesn't require re-certification. Given their location, after a decade, t's not surprising to show evidence of corrosion but it's usually superficial rust. Examine the tank and if it doesn't have any deep pits, sand or wire brush off loose corrosion, apply a coat or two of Corroseal, or Naval Jelly (or similar product) rust neutralizer and top it off with a coat of silver paint.
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Old 07-06-2018, 01:18 PM   #3
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My tank corroded badly and started to leak around the decade mark, and so we replaced it (blog post here).

There's a thread here which debates whether these tanks are subject to the 10-year recertification requirement. I can tell you that most fillers and servicers, if asked, will tell you that they believe the recert rule does apply to this type of propane tank (and others). Whether or not they are correct or incorrect I can't say, but I can tell you that this is widely believed, and that servicers will act accordingly.

In order to recert a tank, it has to be removed from the vehicle because they can't evaluate all sides of it when it is tucked up under the chassis (I was told this by my installer). In the context of a Class B, the labor to remove and replace that can become so expensive that IMO it's not worth putting a 10-year-old tank back on.

The labor gets expensive because of the domino effect of working on a Class B where space is tight and everything is installed on top of everything else. For example, in order to remove our propane tank, they had to lift the interior fresh water tank because it was covering the bolts. In order to lift the fresh water tank, they had to loosen the galley cabinetry from the van. In order to loosen that cabinetry so that they could pry everything up, they had to be mindful of water and gas plumbing, the sink drain, etc. etc.

Also, have you replaced your propane flex hose segments under the van? If your tank looks that bad, your hoses might look even worse. They are said by a common manufacturer to have a 5-year expected lifespan. We've had several people with our brand of Class B develop leaks in the hoses, especially the fill lines which are subjected to higher pressure than the distribution lines. Blog post here describing how I had ours re-fabricated by an outfit that was an authorized distributor of the same brand of hose that our van had been initially upfit with. Installation was a DIY job.
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Old 07-06-2018, 02:57 PM   #4
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.

THat's a badly rusted tank.


[Edit] Maybe it is only surface rust; can't tell exactly from the photos alone. An approved inspector can tell you better. Replacing the tank is expensive. Maybe they can refurb it?
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Old 07-06-2018, 03:06 PM   #5
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Default Rusted, not Ruster

Thanks for the helpful information on my rusted propane tank. I think to be safe I'll take it to the RV place and have them check it and the hoses out, then decide what needs to be done.


Really appreciate all I've learned when I ask questions here.
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Old 07-06-2018, 06:44 PM   #6
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There's a thread here which debates whether these tanks are subject to the 10-year recertification requirement. I can tell you that most fillers and servicers, if asked, will tell you that they believe the recert rule does apply to this type of propane tank (and others). Whether or not they are correct or incorrect I can't say, but I can tell you that this is widely believed, and that servicers will act accordingly.
There is nothing to debate regarding the existing regulations involved. DOT tanks do require recertification and that date is stamped on them. ASME tanks do not require recertification. However, as you point out, the propane providers can set any rules they want.
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Old 07-06-2018, 08:06 PM   #7
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There is nothing to debate regarding the existing regulations involved. DOT tanks do require recertification and that date is stamped on them. ASME tanks do not require recertification. However, as you point out, the propane providers can set any rules they want.
I agree that there is no ambiguity whatsoever that ASME tanks have no regulatory requirement for recertification. I have had incidents in which the kid at the filling station thought otherwise, but speaking to the manager always resolved the situation. If you have a recurring problem, perhaps carrying a copy of the relevant regulations might help.
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:13 PM   #8
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I have no direct experience yet with fixed tanks, we just traded in our trailer and track and are awaiting our PW Plateau this Fall!

But from what I read in this thread, I'm thinking that a bit of cleaning up and re-paint on those areas of the tank that are readily visible to the "Filler-upper" might make things go smoother! Couldn't hurt! I'd likely go with some new hoses too!

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Old 07-06-2018, 11:58 PM   #9
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I agree that there is no ambiguity whatsoever that ASME tanks have no regulatory requirement for recertification. I have had incidents in which the kid at the filling station thought otherwise, but speaking to the manager always resolved the situation. If you have a recurring problem, perhaps carrying a copy of the relevant regulations might help.
I've studied this syndrome in depth and have determined the following:

T'here are two categories of homo sapiens that uniformly have a bad attitude - locksmiths and propane attendants. Although the behaviors are similar, the causes differ. The bad attitude of a grumpy locksmith has been discovered in their DNA. If fact, if they can't present evidence of their grumpy DNA strand, they are prohibited from taking the qualifying exam for the profession. The situation with sullen propane supply attendants differs. Their DNA is not involved. It's simply that the propane station never has a full time attendant, so the guy serving you has been chronically interrupted all day from his primary job and soon into the day after a parade of propane customer interrupts his primary job, we seem more like endless annoyances than customers.
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Old 07-07-2018, 12:25 AM   #10
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The situation with sullen propane supply attendants differs. Their DNA is not involved. It's simply that the propane station never has a full time attendant, so the guy serving you has been chronically interrupted all day from his primary job and soon into the day after a parade of propane customer interrupts his primary job, we seem more like endless annoyances than customers.
--or, maybe it is an effect of sniffing too much propane.
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Old 07-07-2018, 12:50 AM   #11
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--or, maybe it is an effect of sniffing too much propane.
Considering the fact that all over the country, every time the filler hose is disconnected from a propane tank, a significant shot of propane is expelled into the air so maybe we are all sniffing to much propane
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Old 07-07-2018, 02:39 PM   #12
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.
... Replacing the tank is expensive. Maybe they can refurb it?
The OP's tank is probably a Manchester 6813 or similar product number. Those are on eBay right now for $400. Other sources are slightly more. The issue is the labor required to do anything. RV repair places universally charge above $100/hour for labor. IMO it's not worth investing in an older tank, especially given that any corrosion that extends into the fittings' threads (corrosion which ours had) renders the heavier tank gauge to be a moot point. Well, maybe they could re-thread the threads if the threads get bad... on a $400 tank? That is not a decision that I would make.
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Old 07-08-2018, 12:02 AM   #13
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The OP's tank is probably a Manchester 6813 or similar product number. Those are on eBay right now for $400. Other sources are slightly more. The issue is the labor required to do anything. RV repair places universally charge above $100/hour for labor. IMO it's not worth investing in an older tank, especially given that any corrosion that extends into the fittings' threads (corrosion which ours had) renders the heavier tank gauge to be a moot point. Well, maybe they could re-thread the threads if the threads get bad... on a $400 tank? That is not a decision that I would make.
Agreed.


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Old 07-12-2018, 05:08 PM   #14
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For what it's worth, I asked an old timer Propane Guy how long my tank will last, and he said "Forever". I have an 08 Pleasure-Way. He was in charge at the Amerigas location I went to, and trust me, this guy was an expert on propane. I would say about 40 plus years in the business.
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:22 PM   #15
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We do weld X-ray and all sorts of tank and vessel inspections at our company
There is definitely some significant pitting going on there but what is there that you can’t see . It really needs to be removed and closely examined. It may be alright with a cleaning and repaint but I wouldn’t trust it the way it is .
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:22 PM   #16
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Prime with POR (paint over Rust) primer and repaint the tank.
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Old 07-12-2018, 05:39 PM   #17
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Odd that it would be so rusty after such a short time! The tank in my 45 year old Hall is in far better condition (cosmetically). However, after being told that they wouldn’t refill it because of problems with the fill valve, I had to have them replace just the valve. The point is that if a propane dealer says you need to replace it, you do - fair or not. One thing you don’t need to have happen is a propane leak.
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Old 07-13-2018, 12:42 AM   #18
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For what it's worth, I asked an old timer Propane Guy how long my tank will last, and he said "Forever". I have an 08 Pleasure-Way. He was in charge at the Amerigas location I went to, and trust me, this guy was an expert on propane. I would say about 40 plus years in the business.
The problem is that most of that old timer's experience by definition was rooted in the era before volatile organic compound (VOC) control was written into the regulations (<--a real humdinger of an insomnia cure in that link).

When industry adjusted to conform to those regs, some of the coatings that came into general use were absolutely horrific. The coating on my original Manchester tank physically fell right off. An inappropriately-coated tank simply cannot last forever. In my case, it didn't last even ten years.

Let me say this again because someone's life could depend on it:

A tank that has begun to oxidize badly can have that rust creep into the fitting threads. It doesn't matter what gauge the tank is, and whose ASTM or DOT or XYZ standard it was intended to conform to, if the threads have started to rot. At that point, the situation becomes analogous to Challenger's O-rings in its potential to allow for blow-by of flammable gas. At that point, "game over" is one possible outcome.

Apples to apples. Sure, give me a good robust coating with about a 4.5 lbs/gal VOC content to make that stuff really stick well and seal that tank proper, AND THEN we can delve into the old-timer lore. But nobody uses that stuff any more - it's not legal. In the absence of that kind of equivalency, past performance is no guarantee or future or even present results.
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Old 07-22-2018, 06:23 PM   #19
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I've dealt with far rustier ASME tanks than yours appears to be in the photo. These are not like the flimsy outdoor grill tanks - they are thick and your photos appear to show superficial surface rust and some minor pitting. If this were my tank, I'd treat the rust and paint, or use a heavy coat of self-priming oil paint, to make it pretty and protected from further damage, and call it good. Of course the final decision is yours to make.
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Old 07-22-2018, 06:27 PM   #20
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I've dealt with far rustier ASME tanks than yours appears to be in the photo. These are not like the flimsy outdoor grill tanks - they are thick and your photos appear to show superficial surface rust and some minor pitting. If this were my tank, I'd treat the rust and paint, or use a heavy coat of self-priming oil paint, to make it pretty and protected from further damage, and call it good. Of course the final decision is yours to make.
I agree. That rust is superficial. Give it a good coat of POR-15 and forget about.
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