Aluminum Propane Tanks

Tom's RV Message Board: VAC Discussion List: Topics A - C: Aluminum Propane Tanks
By Gordon Glass on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:11 am:

Hi all- new to this AS game with a 1953 [13 panel] 25' "Cruiser" but enjoying it greatly so far.

A couple of questions:

I saw something about aluminum propane tanks on the Airmark Airstream Polishing web site. Does anyone have any experience with aluminum propane tanks? Good/bad indifferent? If good, does anyone know a source for buying them?

On the subject of polishing an Airstream in general. Does continued polishing reduce or extend the life of the AS? I read something somewhere about aluminum thickness in the 50's and how you could damage the thin skin by continued polishing. My partner, Debra, thinks we should polish......I'm fine with this but don't want to diminish this well preserved (and never polished) trailer.

Thanks much.
Gordon in Seattle

By Richard P. Kenan on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:12 am:

Aluminum tanks are an extra-cost option on AS trailers. They are very nice looking (especially when polished), lighter to tote to the propane supplier, and less susceptible to corrosion/rust than the cheaper steel ones that come on most trailers. Don't know of any downside, other than initial cost.

No opinion on polishing (you'd really have to work to seriously thin the skin, IMO).
- Dick
(5368)

By Bill Scott on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:13 am:

Gordon, if you want aluminum propane tanks, they are here, and on sale.
Bill Scott

http://www.airstreamdreams.com/catalog.html;$sessionid$UFZCTHIAAACU1WGIHUVUTIWYZA4S1PX0

By Bob Kiger on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:17 am:

My 1966 Safari had two stock 10 gallon tanks onboard when I bought it. They were chained to the tongue. I asked why the chain was necessary. The previous owner said that aluminum tanks were so popular that they needed this special security. I am now looking for a less pretentious way of securing the tanks, assuming that the previous owner was correct.

Rather than polish them, I have used a light steel wool pad and some cleanser to clean them. They look great with just the natural patine.

Bob Kiger aka Cruiser Bob

By Scott & Lise Scheuermann on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:18 am:

Gordon,

It is my understanding that the older the Airstream the thicker the aluminum is. You will have no problem with it being too thin. You may want to consider having a clear coat applied when you are done so that you don't have to constantly touch up your shine job. If so be sure to use the Airstream clear coat, not automotive clear coat.

Scott

By POTTERJRP on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:19 am:

My 64 Safari has the two 30 Lb tanks secured with a bicycle cable & lock. It's almost invisible, and does not clank around like chains would, due to a vinyl coating. Think of this instead of chains.
Jere #1877

By Bob Kiger on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:20 am:

"Airstream Clear Coat"!? Where do I get it?

Bob Kiger aka Cruiser Bob

By Pearl Main on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:21 am:

Gordon Glass

I have hadd aluminum propane tanks for almost 10 years and the convenience of being lighter weight sure helps my back. Haven't had any problems tho I do use a o ring in when I connect them to the propane line.....biggest problem is remembering to take the o ring out when having them filled. I bought them at Jackson Center......my old steel tanks were over 25 years old and was afraid to have them certified again beside wanted something easier to carry.
Pearl

By Scott & Lise Scheuermann on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:22 am:

Bob, you can get it from any Airstream dealer. I would think that most places that refinish Airstreams would also carry it. It was developed specifically for aluminum. Other clear coats just do not hold up.

Scott

By Jerry Harris on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:23 am:

Hi Gordon,
I have the aluminum tanks. I bought mine from Steve. I think he is very careful not to use this mail list for commercial purposes, but he has the web site http://www.AirstreamDreams.com I appreciate his being careful, because I do not want a barrage of ads on here.

The tanks I bought from him were excellent quality. In fact, they look better than others I found (not all are the same). The tops of the Wellington, I think the brand is, tanks are very strong and the top ring (if that is what you call it) is solid and about 3/4 inch. They look great. I compared prices and could not beat the price anywhere I found.

But, I will not go back to steel tanks again. The aluminum looks too good with the trailer and it will never rust.
jerry
2982

By Lashway on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:25 am:

For Aluminum tanks source try http://www.airstreamdreams.com

Advantage of aluminum is their light weight and long life as they do not rust as steel tanks do. They are also twice to three times as costly as steel. They polish up nicely. The initial polishing of a vintage trailer using a heavy granular polish to remove oxidation is normally a once in a life time thing. The finer polishes that bring out and/or maintain the shine do not remove much aluminum and a once a year light polish will not wear out the skin if it is not already eaten up with aluminum corrosion. Your Cruiser can take a lot of polishinjg and doubtful you can polish it enough to wear off the skin using normal polishing techniques. If you contemplate polishing suggest you call Rolite Corp, at 1-800-253-6466 on their products. Ask for Janet. I just completed polishing a '56,16ft Bubble with their stuff and it came out wonderful. I was very pleased with the quality of their polishes (use 4 different ones).

By Bob Kiger on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:26 am:

Dear Roy,
Since I will be living on a bluff overlooking the Pacific in Oceanside, I am particularly concerned about somehow sealing the finish after cleaning and stripping. If I do not clear coat, do you think the Walbernize Seal and Glaze be sufficient protection if reapplied annually?

Bob Kiger aka Cruiser Bob

By Patrick Ewing on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:27 am:

Bob,

I've used Walbernize on my clear coated 31 ft. with great results..............it helps keep the cleat coat from drying out and pealing. On my polished Bambi I've used a high quality wax with good results. If I'm able to repolish it this spring I plan on seeing just how well the Walbernize will work on a freshly polished unit.

Around salt air I feel the best thing you could do is to wash, or at least rinse the trailer off once a week or so. After a good storm you will probably find that there is actually a salt mist that can caot everything. You need to keep on top of this. For one year I had my 31 ft. with clear coat at Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in Wash. State and had no ill effects as I would occassionally wash it and keep it clean. I just hate having any of my trailers around salt water but at times it can't be helped. They are made to be used............... not kept in a garage.

Pat

By Alexander Kensington on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:28 am:

Hey folks, a question on the new valves-

I understand about the New Overflow Protection valves which are coming online next year. Here's my question-

What I currently have are two fine, but older, Lennox aluminum tanks with Ancient valves BUT in working order, my local Farm Beurau Co-op still fills them. At least this year....

Nevertheless, I am trying to find LP gas folks who will fit my tanks with new valves and bring them up to compliance. On the phone they all tell me: NO! buy new tanks, yours are Too Old..

What's the skinny on this? HOW old is Too Old? Mine are stamped 71 which I hope is not the year (almost as old as me!). Are these LP guys just high pressure salesmen (no pun intended), or is here a source for new valves I can utilize?

I'd rather polish than pitch these tanks; they are in great shape!

Hoping to Get Cooking on This ....

Alex
66 Safari
WBCCI 8728

By Scott & Lise Scheuermann on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:29 am:

Alex, 71 is most likely the last time they were certified. I don't see how a tank could be too old, just too neglected or abused. My '60 still has 1 original steel tank, it would still have both if it weren't for a Canadian law stating that valves must be replaced every so often. Next year I plan on replacing both tanks, perhaps getting the aluminum ones. My theory is that replacing the valve is too much of a bother for most companies to deal with, they would rather push for selling a totally new tank. More profit that way.

Scott

By Patrick Ewing on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:31 am:

Alex,

On my Bambi I just have the small steel tanks. The tanks are only about eight years old and in fine condition. I'll be using them for backup tanks as I just purchased brand new OPD valved tanks for it at Costco for $23.95. I'll be painting them aluminum today and installing them along with my new deep cycle battery in it's new battery box mounted on the tongue of the little trailer.

My 1972 31 ft. Sovereign International has the 40# aluminum tanks which I had recertified just about a year ago. They are in great shape and my local propane dealer will install new OPD valves in them for $19.95 each. However I think you still have a year or so to get this done.

If I were you I'd most definately keep the aluminum tanks and check around about getting new valves installed. Your tanks are not too old............ they are the expensive aluminum. If they were the average steel tanks that have been abused and are rusty I would agree with them. They will need to be empty though. You just might polish them first so they will look very impressive when you take them to get the new valves & inspection.While you get the valves installed have them recertified and date stamped if the current stamp isn't recent. I hope to get another good thirty years out of my aluminum tanks.

Good luck!!

Pat

By jim clark on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:31 am:

My understanding is that with that stamp (71) , they should refuse to refill them this year....

From the information I have... move up the supply chain one step and find the LP distributor in the area... They should be able to install the new valves and retest at the same time and maybe save a few bucks over doing it piece meal....

Good Luck...

Jim

By Bill Scott on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:33 am:

The recertification is nothing more than a visual inspection to see if there are any welds cracked or valves leaking. If you have aluminum tanks that are not cracked, just get new OPD valves installed for about $20 each. The aluminum tanks do not wear out. The LP dealer may re stamp the tanks to indicate when the next inspection will be required. There used to be 2 Aluminum tank manufacturers, ..Lennox, and Worthington. Now, only Worthington makes them. They cost a little more, but they last forever, and polish up , nicely.

Bill

By Dr. Gerald N. Johnson on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:33 am:

Doesn't certification also require a hydrostatic pressure test?

Gerald J.

By Jim Dunmyer on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:34 am:

Alex,
Take those tanks in to a competent propane dealer and they'll inspect and certify them and fit new valves. They did for me, and mine are older than yours.

Jim

By Dr. Gerald N. Johnson on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 07:59 am:

http://www.syix.com/fletcher/techtips/propanevalves.html has a survey of the rules.

I also found a few propane dealers publically offering recertification when I did an Alta Vist search with the terms +"propane tank" +recertification.

Gerald J.

By Dr. Gerald N. Johnson on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 08:00 am:

http://www.grillsource.com/opd.htm Another educational page on propane tanks.

Gerald J.

By Rob Super on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 08:01 am:

We have the same Airstream with I believe the same tanks. Mine also work perfectly. So if it "ain't broke . . . why fix it?"

Unfortunately, in April of 2001 propane dealers in the US will be prohibited from filling tanks that lack the new valves, un-broke or not. I have no idea what Canadian regs say--anybody know?

Rob

By Jim Dunmyer on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 08:02 am:

Gerald,
There are at least a couple of ways to 'recertify' a propane tank.

A simple inspection, presumably inside and out, by a "qualified individual" can be used to recertify the tank for 5 years.

Applying a full hydrostatic test, done by a qualified testing laboratory, can be used to recertify a tank for (I believe) 11 or 12 years, same as whatever a new tank is certified for.

Needless to say, the "inspection" method is more widely used and is plenty adaquet for propane tanks. Also, most filling stations don't look at the date anyway, so you can use a tank that's long out of certification.

High-pressure tanks as used for oxygen and welding gasses are a different story, those are usually certified by a hydrostatic test every five years. I've returned tanks for exchange that I know for a fact are long out of certification, but haven't been questioned. My assumption is that they'll get inspected somewhere along the way and "someone" will cover the approximately $25.00 cost.

Jim

By EEmer59728 on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 08:04 am:

Alex,
I had my aluminum propane tanks recertified and fit with the new valves at Ferrellgas in Appleton, WI. They have locations all over the USA (they are a customer of ours at work). The tanks were stamped 1968 and they did not blink an eye about recertifing them. The cost was $10.00 to recertify, $30.00 for the two valves and $1.22 for the haz-mat warning marks and labels (did not use we make nicer ones at work and I can't have a competitors labels and marks on my stuff!) for a total cost of $43.28 for the two tanks which I had to refill yesterday after a winters use. Check out Ferrellgas, I have conducted Haz-Mat transportation training at a number of their locations and they all seem like good people who do things the right way.
Ed
68 Sovereign
WBCCI 4425

By EEmer59728 on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 08:04 am:

In some cases, yes the tanks will require that test. They had to do it to my 1968 tanks before they would issue the recert.
Ed
68 Sovereign

By Lashway on Monday, May 01, 2000 - 09:16 am:

I would not consider clear coating a newly polished trailer. If you go to the trouble of polishing your trailer an annual touch up is not to much work. Clear coat from Airstream has been problematic for the last five years and not many outthere know how to apply. Even when applied clear coast requires one or two treatments a year of Walbernizer Seal and Glaze to keep the clear coat from drying up and flaking off. Not a lot of people do this and this is why you see so many peeling finishes from the 70's on.

Roy