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Old 11-07-2013, 07:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
Life is too short to worry about the piddly annoyances.
I really am concerned by this issue, but I want to pursue it only when that pursuit is likely to be constructive. Venting liquid propane from an overfilled cylinder is a pretty significant annoyance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by captmath View Post
I had 3 cylinders filled this afternoon. The two newer ones took exactly 20 pounds. The older one took 19.2
He did not weigh them, but used the valve on the side and shut the gas off when they were full.
I weighed them when I got home.
Excellent - your cylinders must have a proper 80% level bleed valve; that's a valid alternative method to weighing, and I have heard it is standard practice in some areas even for these little cylinders. Depending on just the OPD - as my guy was doing before I questioned him - usually works too... it just isn't reliable.
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:12 PM   #12
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http://allpropanemowers.indigofiles....ane_Safely.pdf
This site completely explains propane dispensing. Most folks are unaware of the properties of LP gas, it's incredible expansion rates due to temperature changes (reason why only fill tank 80%)and it ability to give the dispenser 3rd Degree burns if they are exposed to the liquid propane(-44 F). Having managed a hardware store (33 years)with a propane dispensing station got to see some interesting tanks both free standing and permanently mounted and hear a lot of misinformation. Too many businesses dispensing propane with poorly trained employees out there for sure!
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:38 PM   #13
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Howard - very informative - thanks!
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Old 11-07-2013, 08:58 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ADKzookeeper View Post
http://allpropanemowers.indigofiles....ane_Safely.pdf
This site completely explains propane dispensing.
Excellent! Most available material is aimed at consumers, and avoids details of proper dispensing... after all, we are supposed to be able to depend on the "trained professionals".

The source is the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). I was unable to find this document in their website, which suggests that it is supposed to be available only to registered commercial members; the company which posted it may be violating the terms of their access to this material. I believe it is a component of a training package which must be purchased from PERC.

This is U.S. material - so it refers to the U.S. National Fire Protection Association code 58 and various U.S. government agencies, but propane is the same everywhere and I believe that the content is generally applicable to Canadian practices.

For anyone wanting to quickly get the portion of interest, our tanks are DOT cylinders (see section 4) and are "small cylinders" for filling purposes (see section 5).

A couple of quotes of note:
from page 19:
OPDs are not the primary means of preventing overfilling. The dispenser operator's responsibility is to close the hose end valve when the proper filling level has been reached.
from page 26:
Cylinders less than 200 pounds water capacity and subject to DOT jurisdiction must be filled by weight. Check with your supervisor for any exceptions.
This document may be somewhat obsolete (or perhaps this is a Canada/U.S. difference), because it does not mention the use of approved stop-fill devices for permanently mounted tanks (such as motorhomes). This isn't relevant to your Escape's portable tanks, but is a caution about the current validity of this document.
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Old 11-11-2013, 05:01 PM   #15
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Information from manufacturers

As promised...

I asked this question of Manchester Tank and Worthington Cylinders, the two major manufacturers of small (30 pound and under) DOT-standard cylinders used for propane on travel trailers such as an Escape:
Quote:
I have several small portable DOT-style Manchester propane cylinders (20-pound and 30-pound capacity) with similar valve assemblies. In addition to the vapour service port and valve handle, and the relief valve, there is an additional port closed by a slot-head screw.

When I recently had one of these cylinders filled, the attendant used this screw as a bleed valve to monitoring filling. Is this valve connected to a dip tube to the 80% fill level for use as a fixed liquid level gauge, or is simply connected to the top of the tank volume (perhaps as a purge valve)?
In the question to Worthington, which was by e-mail and so allowed me to attach a photo, I illustrated the subject port with the photo attached to this post. The question to Manchester was a text-only web form.

The answer is unfortunately inconsistent:
From Manchester Tank:
Quote:
The bleeder screw should be secondary measure, the tanks should be filled by weight.
No, the bleeder screw is in the valve, if liquid is coming out then the there is a chance the tank may have been overfilled.
From Worthington Cylinders:
Quote:
The slot head screw is often referred to as a “spitter” valve and it is a part of the dip tube. All 20 lb. and 30 lb. cylinders should be filled by weight, however, come propane fillers will just fill the cylinder until the propane comes out of the spitter valve which will give you rougly 80% fill + or -. In saying this, we do not recommend this method of filling a propane cylinder.
The conclusion:
The guy at the station in BC overfilled my tank because he depended on the OPD which failed to shut off flow at the proper 80% mark. There may be no dip tube leading to that bleed screw (so it is just a top-of-cylinder bleed), if so, if you fill until it spits liquid the cylinder is probably over-filled.

What should be done in filling one of our tanks?
  1. The primary method to determine the filling level is the weight of the cylinder, according to all sources, and regardless of the bleed valve configuration.
  2. The bleed valve is a suitable monitoring tool only if it is connected to an 80% level dip tube; even then, it is not recommended to use this as the primary or only method to determine when to stop filling.
  3. The OPD is a safety backup which might save someone filling a tank from their own incompetence or errors, but cannot safely be depended upon as the primary (let alone only) method to determine when to stop filling. It must not be be only method used.
Attached Images
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:05 PM   #16
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Brian, I really appreciate your research and posting. In my experience, RV camping for the last four years, and lots of grilling tanks refilled before that, I don't recall anyone ever looking at the empty weight stamped on the cylinder to determine how many pounds to add. They do usually set the tank on scales, so maybe they use a nominal cylinder weight and fill based on that. More often I see the bleed screw employed, or simply pumping propane in until the flow stops as indicated by the gallons meter. Even the weight idea is a little suspect considering the weight of the fill hose and associated valves attached to the tank. I guess we're fortunate that more accidents don't happen in this process.
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post
In my experience, RV camping for the last four years, and lots of grilling tanks refilled before that, I don't recall anyone ever looking at the empty weight stamped on the cylinder to determine how many pounds to add. They do usually set the tank on scales, so maybe they use a nominal cylinder weight and fill based on that...
Even the weight idea is a little suspect considering the weight of the fill hose and associated valves attached to the tank.
Yes, everyone I see assumes a standard weight. The nozzle and hose are supposed to be included in the target filled weight.

This assumption that all tanks are the same is not good if you have a lightweight (aluminum or fiberglass) tank, although of course the vast majority of people have a steel tank such as those which come on Escapes. For non-standard tanks, correct use of a proper 80% bleed valve would be a better method, if the attendant will not bother to do the job properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post
More often I see the bleed screw employed, or simply pumping propane in until the flow stops as indicated by the gallons meter.
That appears to be a regional thing. Here in Alberta, I've never seen the bleed screw used - it is always weighed... and it normally is in B.C. (Escape's home), despite my improperly trained guy last week. Propane for tanks filled through the vapour service fitting (RV, barbecue, and other small portable cylinders) is not even run through the meter here; they charge a flat rate by cylinder size regardless of how little it actually takes.

Stopping based on the meter reading is scary unless they are very sure the tank starts empty.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post
I guess we're fortunate that more accidents don't happen in this process.
Yes, and the accidents tend to happen later, when an overfilled tank gets hot and vents liquid propane. The overfilling may never be known, so the true rate of incidents is not likely known, but there are not many propane incidents compared to the number of RV and barbecue tanks out there, so the luck is running good so far!
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Old 11-11-2013, 08:26 PM   #18
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Make informed decisions

Propane Bottle and LP Gas Cylinder Filling

Keep reading and make informed decisions

Howard
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Old 11-12-2013, 04:12 PM   #19
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Very interesting, and enlightening, discussion. I can safely say I have NEVER had a propane tank weighed at a filling station here in California. I can't recall even seeing a scale. Most of the time the tank is either placed on the ground, or on some sort of elevated platform. One favorite location uses a folding chair! They all utilize the bleed valve. I'm going to start shopping about and paying a little more attention.
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