Part 4: We Got A Tank!

The first tank has been acquired! After a beautiful drive up to Flagstaff, I got to spend a night with great friends and good food. We talked about how I was going to go about cutting the tank, the dangers of cutting into used propane tanks, and how to do it safely. It helps to have a friend that works for a propane company. The next day I drove out to get the tank. Now, the benefit of getting the tank from a propane company is that they have the equipment to load it into the truck, the downside is that I don’t have a forklift at home… so that was the easy part.

All loaded up

All loaded up and strapped down, I said good-bye to Flagstaff and started the drive back to Chandler. The looks I got on the interstate were awesome. They ranged from the confused people pointing out their windows to the approving thumbs-up and nod from a passing cowboy. Yeah, he knew what it was gonna be…

Pro Tip: If you’re going to strap a 500lb propane tank into a Tacoma short bed, please make sure you mark it with “EMPTY” on the visible sides. I passed probably 8 DPS cars on the way down the mountain and watched every one of them read the tank. I’m not sure if it’s a legal requirement, but I think it made everyone feel better that I’m wasn’t carrying a pressurized bomb in the bed of my truck. Thanks for that Jay.

Ok so, remember the part where I said loading it up was the easy part? Yeah, getting this 500lb tank off the truck was going to be the not easy part. It was time for some local friends to help out. I got to help with the engineering of getting it down, but in the end Scott figured out the best and easiest way. In the end Scott, Avery, Gabe, and Zack helped get the beast onto a set of movers dollies (you can see them at the bottom of the page) and then we just rolled it into the back yard.



Now that the heavy lifting was done and the tank was unloaded into the yard, it was time to evac the tank. Here I’m filling it up with water and dish soap. The goal here is to get as much residual propane out of the tank and leached out of the walls as possible. I’d heard and read people saying that propane gets into the metal itself and I’ve also been told that saying it’s in the metal is a bit of a misnomer. The inside of propane tanks can be rough and unfinished, so you get pits and little crevices that gas can hide in. Filling the tank with soapy water helps pull those bubbles out and, since propane weighs more than air, the water pushes that last little cloud of propane out the top.

Filling a 250 gallon tank takes a while, but it’s worth it. Right about here I started picturing what my yard was going to look like when I decided to drain it. Wait… how was I going to drain this thing?! It’s 500lbs empty and now that it’s full it’s gotta weigh over a ton… I guess that’s a problem for future us.

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