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View Full Version : Cutting up Bernzomatic bottles *safely*?



adatesman
09-16-2012, 10:28 PM
Howdy All,

Looking at making a housewarming gift for a friend, which assuming the plan works out will be a set of chimes made from Bernzomatic torch bottles. Thing is, the supply of "empty" bottles I have is a mix of O2, propane and MAPP, and some of them aren't empty but too corroded to hook a torch up to (found them buried in the garage of the place we bought a while back).

So, how does one go about safely puncturing them? If we still lived out in the country I'd simply shoot them, but we're in town now and don't have a place for such silliness anymore. Other options? I'm most concerned about the bottle of MAPP I found that's clearly full, but won't screw on the torch.

-aric.

Duffy
09-16-2012, 10:49 PM
You know, there are a few things that fall under the category of "Best NOT Done At All"
I suggest that trying to poke a hole in a corroded, but FULL, bottle of MAPP is one of them. If it all goes to Hell in a handbasket, then YOU will be having the house warming!

OKChipmaker
09-16-2012, 11:01 PM
I dont know about the mapp or 02 but I cut a propane bottle once(empty)it took several days to get rid of the smell.Hands,tool,shop all smelled bad.

Orrin
09-16-2012, 11:04 PM
Does the bottle have a Schrader valve such as found on one pound propane cylinders? I simply remove the valve and let the bottle vent. The outlet of a propane cylinder also has a Schrader valve. The O-ring makes it difficult to remove; but, for venting purposes it does not have to be completely pulled out. I remove the fill valve then blow compressed air into the bottle, venting it out of the loosened outlet valve.

You may have to make your own valve removal tool. Some that are made for car or bike tires may not fit.

Orrin

ogre
09-16-2012, 11:06 PM
Im just gonna hope for the best and move on to the next thread lol

Dr Stan
09-16-2012, 11:27 PM
Im just gonna hope for the best and move on to the next thread lol

Yep we'll have to keep an eye on the Darwin Awards web site to see what comes up in the near future.:eek:

darryl
09-16-2012, 11:32 PM
A full bottle of mapp- I'd take that to a supplier and have them get rid of it. Same for the O2. Propane- well I came into several bottles in various states of fullness, but most with some rust on them. In a previous era I had made up a coupling hose with a propane torch valve on one end and a 20 lb bottle end on the other. If the small bottle was warmer than the big one and held higher, it would drain into the larger bottle. I emptied all the partially used small bottles that way.

That's probably illegal anywhere these days, but what are you going to do with old rusting bottles- toss them in the trash half full?

If you really want to re-use the bottles, then use them up in a hibachi. Maybe make some good burgers or whatever, or anneal some metal parts. Then either heat them up in the sun or a pan of hot water to build up the pressure, then burn off what you can. That's about as empty as they will get. Then you remove the pressure release valve if you can and insert a small tube through which you can fill it with water. Nail two pieces of 2x4 together to make a V in which you can lay the bottles for cutting with a hacksaw.

Once they are opened up you can bake them in a barbecue to get rid of most of the smell, but it will be awhile before the smell goes away entirely. Even after a year outside, you will probably still be able to smell the mercaptin 'propane smell'.

Having said all that, it's probably best all around to just get rid of them and make your chimes from something else.

tdmidget
09-17-2012, 12:48 AM
If you are still alive, bleach will get the smell.

Fasttrack
09-17-2012, 01:02 AM
In my younger days I may have used an angle grinder to cut up a MAPP gas cylinder. Amazing I didn't blow myself up ... I do remember cutting up more than one in the band saw, though. Some may say that is still risky, but on the plus side you can put the cylinder in the band saw, start it, and then get the hell out of there, just in case.

Anyway, there is a valve on top not unlike a Schrader valve but, AFAIK, not removable. I used a nail to depress the valve "needle" until it stopped hissing. Then I used a center punch to puncture the cylinder just above where I was going to cut it. Then it got clamped in the horizontal band saw and cut open.




While I don't think there is too much risk of actually blowing up one of these cylinders once empty, I suggest avoiding the angle grinder method. ;)

Greg Q
09-17-2012, 01:22 AM
You can build a fire and keep a man warm for a day...but set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.:cool:

kd4gij
09-17-2012, 01:44 AM
I had an old mapp torch go bad and had a fire from the valve. 2 differnt types of fire extingwishers wouldn't put it out. put in a bucket of water didnot work buried 2ft under ground didn't work. took 2 1/2 hrs for it to burn out of gass.

SteveF
09-17-2012, 08:11 AM
You can build a fire and keep a man warm for a day...but set a man on fire and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.:cool:

Only if "the rest of his life" means he dies immediately, otherwise the EMTs will pack him in ice.

Steve

Greg Q
09-17-2012, 08:51 AM
Only if "the rest of his life" means he dies immediately, otherwise the EMTs will pack him in ice.

Steve

That's why its important to set him on fire with propane or mapp bottles, otherwise the promise, and witty bon mot is rendered moot.

adatesman
09-17-2012, 08:58 AM
Huh. Not quite the can-do response I expected from this crowd.

Here's the thing- trash guys won't take them, recycling guys won't take them, scrap guys won't take them... all because of safety concerns due to them possibly still having gas in them. And frankly slipping them in when they're not looking isn't exactly a nice thing to do, so I've got quite the collection of them piling up and no way to get rid of them.

What I'd like is a way to safely puncture them so I can fill them with water to purge anything that's left and then saw them open.

vpt
09-17-2012, 09:14 AM
Honestly I would take the .22 out in the country with the bottles at about 100 yards or so and stand behind a nice big tree.

Willy
09-17-2012, 09:17 AM
I believe your first thoughts were the best of the options presented so far.
Although shooting in the back yard will probably bring the swat team over now that you're in town, why not take them for a little drive out of town?
Paste some targets on them and have some fun. Takes the worry out of venting them when done in a safe location.

Edited to add: I see Andy and I are on the same page.

Grind Hard
09-17-2012, 09:34 AM
Once you get them purged without killing yourself, fill them with water and CUT THEM full of water. It's the only way to do it safely.

Or you know work on a more safer/sane project like... oh I don't know... something with lasers.

Rosco-P
09-17-2012, 09:48 AM
Huh. Not quite the can-do response I expected from this crowd.

Here's the thing- trash guys won't take them, recycling guys won't take them, scrap guys won't take them... all because of safety concerns due to them possibly still having gas in them. And frankly slipping them in when they're not looking isn't exactly a nice thing to do, so I've got quite the collection of them piling up and no way to get rid of them.

What I'd like is a way to safely puncture them so I can fill them with water to purge anything that's left and then saw them open.

City, town or county doesn't have a free "Hazmat for Homeowners" day couple of times a year? Propane bottle as wind chimes would make for some fugly chimes. Maybe copper tube would be better, nicer, less hazardous?

PTSideshow
09-17-2012, 10:30 AM
To drain the disposables, I clean the threads with a wire brush while holding the threads and neck down. Then I attach one of these adapters that were common a number of years ago from HF and others stores.
http://i35.photobucket.com/albums/d200/ptsideshow/Tools/WElding%20equipment/DSCF0008-2.jpg
It is a refill adapter from larger cylinders. It worked for that but with the hot water etc. you needed to do other than emergencies it was easier to have an extra bottle on hand ;)
It works on the MAPP and propane bottles, it is open both directions no check or one way valve. You can see the vapor cloud coming out for a short distance in not bright sunlight.

You can always pick up a cheap torch head remove the tube with nozzle and use it for a drain head. On the oxy bottles I have in the past just let the torch hooked up to it and Let it drain.

But here are some sites that may be of interest
http://www.anvilfire.com/FAQs/bells.htm bells, triangles and gongs

http://home.fuse.net/engineering/Chimes.htm The best site

http://www.metalwebnews.com/howto/wchime/wchime.html another more than you might want to know.

:D

RussZHC
09-17-2012, 05:18 PM
Here's the thing- trash guys won't take them, recycling guys won't take them, scrap guys won't take them... all because of safety concerns due to them possibly still having gas in them. And frankly slipping them in when they're not looking isn't exactly a nice thing to do, so I've got quite the collection of them piling up and no way to get rid of them.

had not thought of these aspects...frankly I am guessing "...slipping them in when they're not looking..." happens quite a bit when one realizes the other groups that won't take them...wonder what the suppliers/sellers/manufacturers expect users to do with them?

Slightly related, we have any number of out-of-date propane cylinders at work (mostly BBQ but a couple from a long gone sweeper), getting rid of them safely means more cost to us (I was under the impression some similar items had a cost built in so later costs were taken care of up front, sort of like the $5 fee per car tire we have locally) so what ends up happening is them being left out, someone will come along and just take them...pretty sure that would not work with the much smaller cylinders you are talking about...

thebigron
09-17-2012, 05:39 PM
Here in Catawba County, North Carolina, USA, we have a day or two a year that is advertised in the local papers and on TV that a citizen can bring in old paint, household hazardous waste, unwanted medications and prescription drugs, and propane bottles outdated and/or empty and turn them in to the landfill/wase management group. You all might want to check with local authorities to find out if you can do the same in your location. If not send them on a UPS truck with a small stipend to me here in Catawba County and I will see that they are disposed of correctly.

T

SGW
09-17-2012, 06:04 PM
I've sawn a few propane bottles and not blown myself up. Whether that's attributable to technique or dumb luck I hesitate to say.

Unlike yours, I could screw a torch head onto mine. I burned off what I could, then left the torch valve open with the bottle outside for a few hours. I made a tool to unscrew the tank valve, took it out, and let the bottle sit for about a week, then sawed it.

I'm not sure how I would deal with a bottle I couldn't empty by screwing a torch head onto it. The 100 yard firing range, with a lighted candle next to the bottle so you'll know when you hit it, and a big tree to hide behind when shooting, has definite possibilities.

johnnyd
09-17-2012, 07:28 PM
IF...it were me...& IF I was VERY determined....I would clamp the cylinder in my big bench vise. Than I'd unclamp the vise & submerge the entire mess in a container full of water. I'd then take a small hand powered drill & carefully drill a small hole.
The bubbles will alert you when you break thru & hopefully the water will kill any tendency towards sparking.

IF....I was VERY determined.:confused:

co_farmer
09-17-2012, 07:49 PM
I have opened several, older, long type propane bottles in the past. First use an old type torch with the manual valve and open the valve for a day or so, outside.

Then chuck up the base of the bottle in the 3-jaw chuck of your lathe. Use a live center in the tail stock to hold the center of the threaded cap on the other end. Use any of your lathe tooling to cut a ring clear through the bottle. I cut near the top, just before the end of the straight side.

I quit doing this because I ran out of uses for the resulting product. Never had a flash or even a pop.

Paul

_Paul_
09-17-2012, 07:55 PM
Made some "Patio heaters" out of old Propane Cylinders, drained the cylinder of gas filled it full of water and left it alone for a couple of weeks cut it up then with an angle grinder.

See here Mig Welding Forum (http://www.mig-welding.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=12279&highlight=bigweld)

Willy
09-17-2012, 08:18 PM
Paul, thanks for the link to the patio heater...nice simple project yet it turned out quite elegant.
I like the way you were able to incorporate the "scrap" in useful elements of the heater.
Going to have to do one of those now that the weather is cooling off.

elf
09-17-2012, 08:26 PM
Honestly I would take the .22 out in the country with the bottles at about 100 yards or so and stand behind a nice big tree.

How do you know they're safe to transport?

boslab
09-17-2012, 09:09 PM
I cant believe you don't know how to cut a gas cylinder, my old metalwork teacher taught me, First you grip it firmly between your legs, then attack the end with a 4" angle grinder, just make Shure there is enough residual gas to blow up, cutting your own throat may be quicker! He was fairly sarcastic mind!
Looking at all the bottle and drum accidents i'm seeing he might have a point! [we chuck them in a slag pool in work as we are not allowed explosives in the uk]
A 100lb propane can safely demolish 2 houses.
buy some tube and be safe
regards
mark

flylo
09-18-2012, 12:42 AM
I cant believe you don't know how to cut a gas cylinder, my old metalwork teacher taught me, First you grip it firmly between your legs, then attack the end with a 4" angle grinder, just make Shure there is enough residual gas to blow up, cutting your own throat may be quicker! He was fairly sarcastic mind!
Looking at all the bottle and drum accidents i'm seeing he might have a point! [we chuck them in a slag pool in work as we are not allowed explosives in the uk]
A 100lb propane can safely demolish 2 houses.
buy some tube and be safe
regards
mark

If it didn't kill you look at all the money you saved on condoms. Wales birth control! LOL

biometrics
09-18-2012, 04:23 PM
BTW, in the event you are not aware... from my best recollection from 20 years ago... the torch for a MAPP bottle is LEFT hand threads... so if you were trying to screw on a propane bottle torch... that is the reason it wouldn't attach.

Fasttrack
09-18-2012, 04:42 PM
BTW, in the event you are not aware... from my best recollection from 20 years ago... the torch for a MAPP bottle is LEFT hand threads... so if you were trying to screw on a propane bottle torch... that is the reason it wouldn't attach.


?? My torch head screws onto either MAPP or propane just fine. The O2 bottles are the left-hand thread ones ...

co_farmer
09-18-2012, 07:09 PM
BTW, in the event you are not aware... from my best recollection from 20 years ago... the torch for a MAPP bottle is LEFT hand threads... so if you were trying to screw on a propane bottle torch... that is the reason it wouldn't attach.

Nope! I have both bottle gasses at the plant. Used to heat screws to disassemble solder pots and pumps. Each one is both the same! Interchangable.

Paul

aboard_epsilon
09-18-2012, 07:30 PM
forget it !

just cut some scaffold poles up

all the best.markj

J. Randall
09-18-2012, 10:09 PM
Buy a cheap freon can tapper, cannibalize the pierce valve and make your own ring to fit the outside of the bottle. Pierce it with the valve and bleed it off.
James

boslab
09-18-2012, 10:10 PM
Over here Its hard and fast, All fuel gasses, LH thread, all others RH, so mapp and propane are both LH, Oxy is RH, so is argon etc but even a tiny bit of fuel Like Argon2%Methane is LH as there is a fuel in it, is it different elsewhere?
regards
mark

Rosco-P
09-19-2012, 07:55 AM
forget it !

just cut some scaffold poles up

all the best.markj

Or some 3" EMT. Fish it out of the dumpster (skip) at some construction site or ask an industrial electrical contractor for a couple of short pieces.

vpt
09-19-2012, 08:23 AM
How big of a boom can the small tanks make even completely full?

Would they be safe if you buried them in the ground say 3-4 feet with a pointy rod aimed at them threw the dirt. Then just hit the rod with a hammer and pull the rod back out and let the bottle empty under ground.

Just don't stand over the rod.

Ray Sidell
09-20-2012, 04:35 PM
Here's how not to do it:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/07/29/oil-drum-explosion-kills-man_n_1715280.html

kwoodhands
09-20-2012, 06:35 PM
I cut the empty cylinders in half with a 4x6 bandsaw. I made sure the cylinders were empty. The half cylinders were disposed of in a recyling can.
If the OP cannot release the gas, the
cylinders should be given to a supplier for proper disposal.

kwoodhands
09-20-2012, 06:38 PM
Mapp gas and propane are both right threaded. Maybe acetylene is left threaded,don't remember.
mike

adatesman
09-20-2012, 09:16 PM
I have to say this is the first thread here I've intentionally avoided, in spite of being the one who started it. Yikes.

Long story short, I've got maybe a dozen bottles sitting here, with the bulk being O2 bottles. Of the dozen or so, 1 is a very old, very rust MAPP bottle that's clearly still mostly full, which I found in the debris under mostly collapsed garage roof at the place we bought a while back. The rest are bottles I personally used and know to be empty. As I mentioned, no one will take the bottles for recycling unless they're cut open due to possible hazards of still-full bottles. Already asked everyone involved, and cut open is the only option.

Perhaps my use of the word "chimes" was ill-advised, as the ultimate goal is a cheap/scrap source of tubes to hang around my buddy's back acreage as targets for his air rifle. "Chimes" came up as an idea since it would be easy enough to turn them to length to tune them to a musical scale of some sort, which would go over better with SWMBO for him.

But long story short, I get the sense that must of us/you simply slip these things into you regular waste stream, which is a major no-no. Not sure what I think of that, but the short version isn't positive. Pardon me if I don't check back here in this thread, but the questioning of my intelligence has gotten old.

-aric.

firbikrhd1
09-20-2012, 09:17 PM
Wrap the bottle where you want it cut several times with Det Cord. Place the bottle behind a berm several hundred feet away and set off the Det cord electrically. Hunt for the pieces.

adatesman
09-20-2012, 09:19 PM
Wrap the bottle where you want it cut several times with Det Cord. Place the bottle behind a berm several hundred feet away and set off the Det cord electrically. Hunt for the pieces.

Please see the post above yours.

Sigh....

(then again, it would seem hooking me up with a source for Det cord might prove interesting, should I live to post about it....)

firbikrhd1
09-20-2012, 09:39 PM
Please see the post above yours.

Sigh....

(then again, it would seem hooking me up with a source for Det cord might prove interesting, should I live to post about it....)

I suppose you meant your previous post. If that is the case, it appears that you were typing that post as I was typing mine. I'm a slow typist and I meant my response as tongue in cheek. I have no source of Det Cord either, although I wish I did. It's probably better that I don't thopugh. I guess I've been watching too many episodes of Mythbusters.

On the serious side, I dispose of mine in the regular trash. It all gets buried in the landfill where I live and they continually burn off the methane produced within the pile. I don't see how a little residual gas from a small bottle could hurt much along with all that methane. The rest is just steel anyway and will rust through eventually releasing residue.

Beazld
09-20-2012, 09:41 PM
IF you sure they are empty and depresurized, why not a plumbers tubing cutter with a steel rated cutting wheel.

ed_h
09-20-2012, 11:29 PM
I believe someone mentioned this already, but what's the risk in puncturing empty bottles under water?

aboard_epsilon
09-21-2012, 09:08 AM
if the mapp gas bottle is old

then its possibly included in the recall

there is a world wide recall on bottles manufactured by worthington

http://news.consumerreports.org/recalls_safety/2012/02/recall-more-than-30-million-gas-cylinders-by-worthington-cylinders-wisconsin-due-to-fire-hazard.html .

.they also manufactured bottles for others ..list in the link that includes bernzomatic

so you can exchange it for a new one ..or get your money back

Rosco-P
09-21-2012, 09:28 AM
I have to say this is the first thread here I've intentionally avoided, in spite of being the one who started it. Yikes.

Perhaps my use of the word "chimes" was ill-advised, as the ultimate goal is a cheap/scrap source of tubes to hang around my buddy's back acreage as targets for his air rifle. "Chimes" came up as an idea since it would be easy enough to turn them to length to tune them to a musical scale of some sort, which would go over better with SWMBO for him.

-aric.

Cut them open before using them as targets? Why bother? Mythbusters disproved the movie myth that shooting at a full propane cylinder with ordinary ammunitions will cause the cylinder to explode. Nothing short of an incendiary round did anything but vent the gas

A.K. Boomer
09-21-2012, 09:34 AM
While I don't think there is too much risk of actually blowing up one of these cylinders once empty, I suggest avoiding the angle grinder method. ;)


Fasttrack that's when the bottles are at their most lethal due to the amount of oxygen in them, they may not start a fire but they will blow your fuqueing head off - and send shrapnel everywhere.

your story of a kid makes me wonder if I did anything like that - if I didn't it's just because I lucked out.

I like your bandsaw approach except id have it all chucked up ready to go and the power cord/extension in the next room so I could just plug it in and would not have to run.

Someone mentioned a plumbers pipe cutting tool and that's what I thought of, your hard pressed to cause a spark at that low of speed - they cut more by pressure and rolling not friction - sounds very safe but I still would not have one of the ends pointed at me.

Remember not too long ago that kid lost his life on an empty barrel that was used for peppermint oil.

as far as that full bottle I think id just crack the shrader valve loose slightly (outside) till I heard leaking and then just throw it on the ground for an hour or so,
go back and remove the valve completely, then take all the precautions above.

Kevin45
09-21-2012, 03:17 PM
I didn't read through all of the responses and mine may have well been addressed prior, but what about using a large pipe cutter to cut the bottom off? If you are making a set of chimes, I would imagine that you need the bottoms off anyways to make the chime. Just a suggestion.