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Thread: Cutting a BIG propane tank?

  1. #21
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    Well, the usual method is to purge the tank, then fill with inert gas. Local guys use exhaust gas, tank hooked to the tailpipe of their truck. It's how fuel tanks are repaired. Both gas and diesel.


    This size tank makes me ask: railroad tanker car?

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Cordochorea View Post

    So, theoretically speaking, make sure all of the theoretical "stuff" is theoretically removed from the theoretically huge theoretical tank before making the theoretical torch cuts. Please do this on the East Coast, and I'll stay home here in Oregon.
    You know, I always said this country would be better off if the whole East Coast just got swallowed up by the ocean. Guess now's my chance! (Only kidding, of course)



    Thanks Willy for the very sensible suggestion. I suspect that part of the decommissioning process involves a hot water pressure washer. I've seen smaller low pressure tanks sold after being cleaned this way and they can, supposedly, be torched apart without risk of explosion.



    Tim Clarke - it's not a railroad car, just a big tank. Typically it's the tank used to fill smaller propane trucks that then service residential homes and the like. My brother-in-law recently installed a 30,0000 gallon tank on his farm to run the grain dryers. When you buy propane in those quantities, you get a *big* discount! But we never talked about cutting it up, it was just filled back up with LPG after installation.


    I'm at a weird place in my life. When I was younger, machining was a means to an end, namely building go-karts. Now I've outgrown the go-karts but I still like machining. Unfortunately, I seem to have been stuck for the past several years and haven't had time to even set up my shop or work on my machine tools, let alone think about what my next endeavor should be! Mostly, I work a desk job and work on my 1880s farmhouse, which is a major project (think hydraulic jacks lifting it off the foundation project). But sometimes I like to daydream; back in high school after I felt like I had done all I wanted to do with go-karts, I started thinking about submarines. The other day, I was thinking about submarines again and got to wondering about building one myself. I was struggling with how to make the hull when it occurred to me: propane tanks are readily available pressure vessels.

    Am I going to build a submarine out of a 30,000 gallon tank propane tank? No. Probably not. But hey, that would be pretty cool, right? First step would be figuring out the feasibility of working with a tank that size. Then all the other details - power, life support, etc.

    And in case you think I've really lost my marbles, I'm not the only person to start thinking along these lines! When I was pricing used 30,000 gallon tanks yesterday, I found the following: https://bosunsbox.com/diy-submarine/

    Well... back to reality. Lunch break is over.

  3. #23
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    May 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fasttrack View Post
    Darryl, these tanks have access holes large enough for a man to get inside. So you could, theoretically, get inside to pressure wash. I've done that before in diesel and water tanks. Not a fun job.

    Filling from a pond or river is an interesting idea, as is the dry ice.

    As a fun piece of trivia, propane tanks are also radioactive. The light oil which condenses and accumulates typically includes traces of radium and the gas itself contains radon. Propane tanker trucks trip the radiation portals at ports of entry all the time due to this naturally occurring radioactive material!

    Do not go into a tank unless you have oxygen supply tank or are fully versed in closed area ingress. I've heard of too many poeple going into something like a tank and they have "bad" air in there, pass out and die. Others that try to save them can fall victim as well. When we would go into a tank or closed space we alway had air quality monitors. The one time the alarm went off, I needed to change my underwear after I scrambled out of the furnace.

  4. #24
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    We hired a tank company to remove two 10,000 gallon gasoline underground storage tanks at our plant. Apparently the law requires that any buried tank that was used for gasoline must be rendered unusable before removal from the site. The tank company used an air chisel with a beryllium cutting chisel to chop a two foot square hole in the end of the tank. Afterwards they washed out the interior and vacuumed up the wash water as hazardous waste - not something necessary on a propane tank.

    One thing though, the worker cutting the tank had to wear a supplied air respirator not for fume protection but for beryllium dust protection.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank K View Post
    We hired a tank company to remove two 10,000 gallon gasoline underground storage tanks at our plant. Apparently the law requires that any buried tank that was used for gasoline must be rendered unusable before removal from the site. The tank company used an air chisel with a beryllium cutting chisel to chop a two foot square hole in the end of the tank. Afterwards they washed out the interior and vacuumed up the wash water as hazardous waste - not something necessary on a propane tank.

    One thing though, the worker cutting the tank had to wear a supplied air respirator not for fume protection but for beryllium dust protection.
    Interesting. I sure as heck wouldn't want to try and chisel an opening in one of these pressure vessels with a beryllium chisel. Well, I wouldn't want to try it with any kind of chisel but yeah, beryllium can be seriously nasty stuff if you breath or ingest any bits of it.

  6. #26
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    Heck Fasttrack, if it's for a submarine, just use the whole thing - you don't want to feel all cooped up, now do you? You could have a full-sized unterseeboot shop! Go big or go home.

  7. #27
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    now that's what I call a thought experiment! That should keep you busy for a good long time

  8. #28
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    Like I say, you could make one heck of a BBQ out of it... use a forklift cylinder to lift the lid. Fire it up every 4th...

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Engelhardt View Post
    Yeah, one hears stories of exploding propane tanks, but the devil is in the details - just what were the circumstances of the explosion. I guarantee it was not someone cutting open an empty tank where a cutting torch was not involved.
    I while back I spent a couple hours searching for news stories of just this kind of thing. Only found two guys who blew themselves up after "safely" cutting open "hundreds" of tanks. And, yes, both were indeed using a cutting torch.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fasttrack View Post
    I suspect that part of the decommissioning process involves a hot water pressure washer. I've seen smaller low pressure tanks sold after being cleaned this way and they can, supposedly, be torched apart without risk of explosion.
    High pressure steam is used. There is a need to get 100% of the "stuff' 100% "out."

  10. #30
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    Mar 2015
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    .50 bmg from 300 yards away

    Sent from my SM-G950U1 using Tapatalk

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