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Old 27-08-2016, 05:13   #1
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Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

We are an american boat with two twenty pound fiberglass propane tanks. One is hooked up to our propane system and the other is a spare. When the "in-use" tank gets empty, I swap it out for the full one and then have a couple of months to get it refilled.

Recently, one of the bottles stopped supplying propane, so I assumed it was empty and swapped it out. I was unable to get it refilled in Portugal (they said it was illegal) so I waited until we got to Gibraltar.

Here in Gibraltar, the propane folks were unable to fill the tank, saying that the valve was faulty. They were unable to open the valve to get gas into the bottle.

I have since examined the bottle, and there is a few inches of liquid inside. Opening the screw on the side of the valve releases propane under pressure. So there is some liquid propane inside the bottle.

So, remembering that this bottle was hooked up and in use for months, and then failed while in use, how is this possible? What could fail inside the valve to shut off the flow of gas? We were sitting in a boatyard at the time so there wasn't even the typical motion while at sea. The valve appears to operate correctly - you operate the handle and it goes for several turns before backseating. But no gas into or out of the bottle.

Any suggestions for a repair?

Thanks!

Steve
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Old 28-08-2016, 04:55   #2
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

The only thing I can think of is a stuck overflow shut off. On the bottom of the valve, (inside the tank) is a float which prevents a filler from overfilling the tank. I have had them stick and prevent gas flow. Try dislodging it by banging down, (vertically oriented) onto the deck. (We refill propane at work) In the end you will probably have to let the gas out with the vent and replace the valve if that doesn't work. It is a fibreglass cylinder so don't bang too hard.

You can not just off gas cal with the valve on as there is a check valve at the out put. When you hook up the fitting it depresses the check valve.
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Old 28-08-2016, 05:08   #3
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

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You can not just off gas cal with the valve on as there is a check valve at the out put. When you hook up the fitting it depresses the check valve.
A seized or stuck check valve can also cause condition described. In either case, a competent propane service company can replace the valve assembly which will include both possible failure points.

At least in the US... your mileage in EU may vary.
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Old 28-08-2016, 06:13   #4
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

Note that many (most?) f-glass propane tanks were recalled a year or two ago.
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Old 28-08-2016, 06:44   #5
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

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Originally Posted by jamhass View Post
Note that many (most?) f-glass propane tanks were recalled a year or two ago.
The recall was in 2013 and only for cylinders manufactured by Lite Cylinder Company. Other fiberglass tanks are not affected by this recall.

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Old 28-08-2016, 07:09   #6
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

"I was unable to get it refilled in Portugal (they said it was illegal) "

It's been awhile (9 years) since I was in Portugal and dealing with NA propane tank re-filling. At the time, my understanding of the legal issue was that filling the tanks was not illegal, but transporting them in a private vehicle was and included a E10,000 fine.

So I was forced to rely on marine businesses to fill my NA tanks. They could transport the tanks to and from the stations that serviced GPL cars and get them filled. It was expensive and inconvenient, and for most of my stay in the W. Med I used Camping Gaz tanks, but it could be done.

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Old 28-08-2016, 07:27   #7
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pirate Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

I live in Portugal and my tanks can be filled at petrol stations that supply Gas propelled cars.. sometimes they are in walking distance.. sometimes a cab or bum a ride.
As for the valve.. its called wear and tear..
Got a tank refused in Ft Lauderdale, Florida when I took 2 to be filled.. guy claimed the valve was illegal.. said I was sailing for Europe so it did not matter.. he still refused.
Its not just and EU thing..
In Mallorca.. when you get to the Balearics.. the place to get your tanks filled is Alcudia.. there's a gas plant on the outskirts.
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Old 28-08-2016, 08:30   #8
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

One other possibility. New valves have a runaway provision which closes the outlet.

It's possible, if you still have the bullet connector, that has happened. However...

Reset is simple. The manual, right-hand plastic nut variety have a 'nose nipple' protruding from the bullet shape. That 'unlocks' it when you insert it.

Because I have a valve with a wonky o-ring, I don't use the manual type on that connection. I took the manual end off, and put on my knurled, O-ringed POL nose.

I saved that manual end. After refilling, if the filler didn't do it, I have to insert that manual end. When I do, I hear a 'pop' as the valve releases. A short turn of the handle confirms that the valve is open.

On which subject, unless you're using a great flow, about 1/4-1/2 turn is likely the amount of valve opening you need. Greater may allow enough flow to upset the valve, and shut you off.

Yours may not be that case, but for those who just filled their can/fiberglass with the provider, and wonder why they can't get any, or whose tank isn't REALLY empty, that may be the cause and the cure.
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Old 28-08-2016, 09:06   #9
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

Quote:
Originally Posted by skipgundlach View Post
One other possibility. New valves have a runaway provision which closes the outlet.

It's possible, if you still have the bullet connector, that has happened. However...

Reset is simple. The manual, right-hand plastic nut variety have a 'nose nipple' protruding from the bullet shape. That 'unlocks' it when you insert it.

Because I have a valve with a wonky o-ring, I don't use the manual type on that connection. I took the manual end off, and put on my knurled, O-ringed POL nose.

I saved that manual end. After refilling, if the filler didn't do it, I have to insert that manual end. When I do, I hear a 'pop' as the valve releases. A short turn of the handle confirms that the valve is open.

On which subject, unless you're using a great flow, about 1/4-1/2 turn is likely the amount of valve opening you need. Greater may allow enough flow to upset the valve, and shut you off.

Yours may not be that case, but for those who just filled their can/fiberglass with the provider, and wonder why they can't get any, or whose tank isn't REALLY empty, that may be the cause and the cure.
I have a fiberglass propane tank and have had this shutting off problem . It is a mechanism designed to shut the flow off should a break in the line occur. I found that if I turned the gas on at the bottle quickly it would shut off. The way to reset it is to shut the valve off and reopen it slowly. As for filling. if the place you are filling has the old style nozzle without the tit at the end of the nozzle to pop open the valve it won't fill. I have had to shut the top valve off and pop the inner safety valve using a chop stick and then if the attendant puts the pressure on and slowly opens the tank valve it will refill.
Sometimes new safety features can be a pain in the a.., especially if not everyone is up to speed with the equipment.
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Old 28-08-2016, 09:34   #10
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

I guess I missed the lesson where fiberglass propane tanks have an advantage over painted steel. It sure is not the minimal weight difference or a hidden rust problem. Here in the US, swapping empty steel tanks for full is the way to go. Valve maintenance becomes somebody else's problem.
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Old 28-08-2016, 10:47   #11
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
I guess I missed the lesson where fiberglass propane tanks have an advantage over painted steel. It sure is not the minimal weight difference or a hidden rust problem. Here in the US, swapping empty steel tanks for full is the way to go. Valve maintenance becomes somebody else's problem.
Some of us actually cruise; getting to dirt, let alone services such as swapping out a rusty can, is an infrequent event.

Even more so those without a bike or other transport (have you tried riding a foldup bike with even an empty 20# can?) are SOL if they don't have transportation AND a swap shop.

As to minimal weight difference, I haven't put them on a scale, but I find a full "20# (they're really a bit more than 17#) fiberglass can weighs less (in hand, not, as I said, on a scale) than an empty aluminum 10# can.

The fiberglass ones don't corrode, let alone rust, and they drop into the same space as a can, but the bottom is flat, rather than round with a flat ring...
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Old 28-08-2016, 12:07   #12
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

Valves do go bad. had the same problem could only use 2/3 of bottle. replaced valve and problem solved. did you know that those fiberglass tanks stopped be made. one company has a few law suits and the other one stopped before it got the same. don't change the valve get an aluminum tank they last for decades.
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Old 28-08-2016, 12:43   #13
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

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Originally Posted by Dave22q View Post
I guess I missed the lesson where fiberglass propane tanks have an advantage over painted steel. It sure is not the minimal weight difference or a hidden rust problem. Here in the US, swapping empty steel tanks for full is the way to go. Valve maintenance becomes somebody else's problem.
That's how I deal with it. The tanks rust but someone else has to deal with it. Many gas stations, home centers and even grocery stores exchange tanks. Getting one filled is much more difficult around here.
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Old 28-08-2016, 13:47   #14
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

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Originally Posted by skipgundlach View Post
Some of us actually cruise; getting to dirt, let alone services such as swapping out a rusty can, is an infrequent event.

Even more so those without a bike or other transport (have you tried riding a foldup bike with even an empty 20# can?) are SOL if they don't have transportation AND a swap shop.

As to minimal weight difference, I haven't put them on a scale, but I find a full "20# (they're really a bit more than 17#) fiberglass can weighs less (in hand, not, as I said, on a scale) than an empty aluminum 10# can.

The fiberglass ones don't corrode, let alone rust, and they drop into the same space as a can, but the bottom is flat, rather than round with a flat ring...
You are right on two things, the bottoms differ in ways that don't matter and transporting any tank on a bike is not practical. It is sad that an extra 10 or 15 lbs stresses you so much as you take a taxi, beg a ride or walk to the nearest filling station. Whatever the material, propane tanks have to be refilled and that usually means transporting them to a swap or refill location. I repeat that here in the US there are probably 2 or 3 swap locations for every tank refill station. Refill stations will fill a swapped tank but swap stations will not generally accept a fiberglass tank in trade. As for rust, I've seen little significant rust on painted steel tanks after months of deck exposure or years of dock exposure. However, I do set my tank on plastic as the bottom rings do rust and will stain fiberglass.
I will ignore ignorant boasts as to who is 'real' cruiser. It is not a subject that interests me.
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Old 28-08-2016, 15:11   #15
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Re: Mystery failure of Propane (Cooking Gaz) bottle

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Originally Posted by tinkrman69 View Post
Valves do go bad. had the same problem could only use 2/3 of bottle. replaced valve and problem solved. did you know that those fiberglass tanks stopped be made. one company has a few law suits and the other one stopped before it got the same. don't change the valve get an aluminum tank they last for decades.

You mean like these, in production for a very long time?

Ragasco Clear View Composite Propane Tanks

It's what we have and I refill several times a year with no issues at a variety of fillers...
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