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Old 11-29-2019, 08:12 PM   #1
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Propane Tank Restoration Project

The propane tank installed by SMB was very rusty and needs some serious attention. Any advice on what to do to restore the metal? half of the tank (the top side) has intact paint and the mid area has paint peeling and bubbling and the lower side (facing the ground) is all rust. Here are the options I'm considering, any recommendations or other suggestions?

1. Take everything down to bare metal, etch, prime and paint. (would it be dangerous to do this with a tank that is 3/4 full?)
2. Use rust converter on the rust, and light sand the intact paint then prime and paint.

Any suggestions on the best primer and paint? I want to use something that is super tough and will resist damage from rocks on dirt roads. It appears that the tank get's blasted pretty bad from sand, rock and road debris which is why it is in such bad condition. I'm considering installing a protective shield to protect the bottom of the tank since it gets blasted so badly.

Here is a picture of the tank. https://photos.app.goo.gl/dn24wPqD3HDpFCTQ8

For anyone looking to do this as well, here is how I removed the tank. Picture above will help explain some of the following steps.

1. sprayed the 2 attachment nuts/bolts at each end of the propane tank with anti-seize penetrating fluid to help loosen the bolts.
2. used a scrap piece of shelving that was about 3' long and 7.25" deep. I screwed 2 strips of wood on the edges of the shelf so that the propane tank would not roll off the shelf.
3. I attached the shelf to a floor jack using screw eyes on the bottom with paracord attaching the shelf to the jack.
4. used a breaker bar to crack the nuts on either end of the propane tank holding the propane tank to the frame. The bolts were rusty so it took some persuasion to get the loose.
5. disconnect the tank from the supply line running to the van appliances. I disconnected the fitting that screws into the tank shutoff valve. NOTE: this fitting is reverse threads!
6. removed the fitting that secures the gas supply line to the frame as it runs to the back of the van. This allowed more movement to disconnect the fitting in step 5 above.
7. position the jack with attached shelf under the propane tank and snug up so that it is supporting the tank.
8. remove the nuts and bolts that were cracked in step 4.
9. begin slowly lowering the tank a couple of inches. At this point you have to rotate the tank because there is an attached bracket under the valve area. You have to rotate the tank so that the valve is pointing up at a 45 degree angle instead of pointing parallel to the ground. This allows you to clear the van body. You may need 2 people to rotate the tank (one on each end).
10. begin slowly lowering the tank again making sure that it is clearing everything and not getting hung up.
11. roll the jack and tank carefully from under the van and you're done.
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Old 11-30-2019, 07:55 AM   #2
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I would consider sandblasting (bead blasting/other media blasting) the tank...at least the heavily corroded area..that would allow a good evaluation of the structure of the tank..then primer and paint...or take it to a powder coater.


I suppose if you wanted to get rid of the propane you could connect the tank to your BBQ and cook a few hundred burgers.....
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Old 11-30-2019, 09:48 AM   #3
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I suppose if you wanted to get rid of the propane you could connect the tank to your BBQ and cook a few hundred burgers.....
A couple days ago I went to get my tank filled and discovered that the little vent valve used while filling was clogged. In order to remove it, I needed to empty the tank and thought about just removing the hose and opening the valve, but within a few seconds I realized it would really stink up the neighborhood, not to mention the danger. Then Mrs A/T said "why don't you burn it off?" So, I connected our weedburner / campfire starter and lit it. Sounding a little like a jet engine afterburner I figured it wouldn't take long, but several hours later it was still burning, so I'd say it was probably good for a couple thousand hamburgers.
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Old 01-04-2020, 06:54 AM   #4
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To the OP, CDACamper, how did your project turn out? Did you empty it, or were you able to treat it and paint without removing all the propane?
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Old 01-04-2020, 08:55 AM   #5
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Is there an age limit on the larger propane tanks like the smaller ones on a barbecue where after 10 years most places won't fill it?
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Old 01-04-2020, 09:11 AM   #6
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Yes, but some places can re-certify a propane tank. My local RV service store did this for me on my van. He crawled around on the ground and inspected the tank. Didn’t care at all that half the paint was missing and replaced by rust. I asked him if he was concerned. He said “No, they get like that on RVs.”

These guys will inspect 20 lb bbq tanks too. I have a couple old ones I need to take down there.
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Old 01-04-2020, 10:18 AM   #7
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Is there an age limit on the larger propane tanks like the smaller ones on a barbecue where after 10 years most places won't fill it?
It all depends on whether the tank is DOT or ASME certified:

https://www.rvsafety.com/rveducation...ecertification

Also, with regard to typical BBQ tanks, I just periodically exchange my tanks for pre-filled ones (like Blue Rhino at the supermarket) so mine are always current. I know I might pay more in the long run but the convenience is worth it. In between the occasional, pre-filled exchanges I get them filled normally.
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Old 01-04-2020, 10:18 AM   #8
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My understanding is that DOT certified tanks like those used on RV's are much thicker than the little BBQ type. As a result, there is no requirement for re-certification. I've never been refused, nor has anyone ever looked for any type of certification stamp. YMMV.
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Old 01-04-2020, 06:12 PM   #9
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I stand corrected, permanently mounted RV tanks are ASME certified, not DOT, and they are the ones that don't need re-certification. Thanks for the clarification BCam.......
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Old 01-04-2020, 06:18 PM   #10
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Excellent beta! A major reason I still frequent this forum.
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