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  View original topic: Propane Tank Capacity (actual)
Merian Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:06 pm

I am curious what the actual capacity of the propane tank is. From GoWesty ads for bigger tanks, it appears that the stock tank holds 3.3 gallons.

But can you get all the propane out? And is there enough pressure for the last bits to make the propane usable?

Also, you can only fill it up to 80% of max., so is 3.3 gal. the real capacity or is it 0.8 * 3.3 ( = 2.64) gallons?

Timwhy Sun Apr 13, 2014 2:46 pm

I just had both tanks filled and the empty one got 3.4 gallons pumped into it.

crazyvwvanman Sun Apr 13, 2014 6:57 pm

I wouldn't put all that much trust in what a propane station pump says your tank took. In any case the certification plate on the tank should have a capacity stamped into it. There is a lot of confusing info on the plate but look for WC which stands for 'water capacity'. On ASME tanks used on VW camper vans it is typically given in gallons. The tank does not get filled all the way so the propane capacity is about 80% or .8 of that.

I just checked 3 different tanks and the 84 and 85 tanks were marked WC 3.2 while the replacement tank made in 1998 said 3.3 gals. Since they only get filed to 80% that means they should take 2.5 - 2.7 gals to fill when bone dry.

Mark

ThankYouJerry Sun Apr 13, 2014 10:45 pm

Wouldn't it be "technically against the law" for a propane vendor to charge you more than what the meter displayed? I'd trust the meter/pump (and Timwhy)... despite the fact that I might also buy into the very occasional conspiracy theory ;).

crazyvwvanman Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:08 am

Around where I am some stations charge more than the pump displays quite often since they have a posted minimum charge of 5 gallons.

If you look at the certification plate on any propane tank you can see the maximum possible amount of liquid that could be forced into an overfilled tank. Propane tanks are designed to be filled to roughly 80% of that WC amount listed on the tank. If the pump says they pumped in much more than %80 of the WC number then either the tank was overfilled or the pump is optimistic.

I have had dozens of Westys tanks filled or topped off. I usually take a BBQ tank along so I don't pay for 5 gals while getting only less than 3.

I have an empty Westy tank that I plan to fill today. I installed a new valve in it yesterday so I know it is as empty as can be. It is marked WC 3.3 gals so we will see what the propane selling pirate most convenient to me says it takes.

Mark


ThankYouJerry wrote: Wouldn't it be "technically against the law" for a propane vendor to charge you more than what the meter displayed? I'd trust the meter/pump (and Timwhy)... despite the fact that I might also buy into the very occasional conspiracy theory ;).

Ahwahnee Mon Apr 14, 2014 6:41 am

I've never used a place with a 5 gallon minimum charge... but I do feel bad when I make the guy crawl around and futz with that thing for a 2+ gallon purchase -- especially in very hot and very cold weather.

I always apologize for the small amount warning them in advance 'it holds less than 3 gallons when it is empty and it not quite empty'. Also good if you have something for them to lie on (sheet of cardboard, old rug. if the pavement is wet, icy, etc.

Navy_Flyer Mon Apr 14, 2014 8:15 am

I just finished refurbishing my tank after the troublesome auto-shutoff valve failed. Installed new double-check valve fill valve, new 80% overflow/bleeder valve and new 2-stage regulator after wirebrushing the tank, and painting it up nice. So - went to the propane place, and it took 3.2 gal from complete empty, this with the 80% overflow/bleeder valve open during fill-up as per normal procedure, and everything closed and shut-down as soon as LP started to emerge from that overflow. AND - all this with no frown or look of confusion on the propane tech. He even did a purge, pressure check and leak test as this was the first time filling after new valves installed (with gas-rated thread seal compound). All is well - no more auto-stop valve woes.

ThankYouJerry Mon Apr 14, 2014 10:34 am

Ahwahnee wrote: I've never used a place with a 5 gallon minimum charge... but I do feel bad when I make the guy crawl around and futz with that thing for a 2+ gallon purchase -- especially in very hot and very cold weather.

I always apologize for the small amount warning them in advance 'it holds less than 3 gallons when it is empty and it not quite empty'. Also good if you have something for them to lie on (sheet of cardboard, old rug. if the pavement is wet, icy, etc.

TK sells a handy dandy extension pipe that makes filling much easier.

Typhon2222 Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:18 pm

Ahwahnee wrote: I've never used a place with a 5 gallon minimum charge... but I do feel bad when I make the guy crawl around and futz with that thing for a 2+ gallon purchase -- especially in very hot and very cold weather.

I always apologize for the small amount warning them in advance 'it holds less than 3 gallons when it is empty and it not quite empty'. Also good if you have something for them to lie on (sheet of cardboard, old rug. if the pavement is wet, icy, etc.
I hear you. I often felt badly about that too.

Then we took our Westy with us to Europe, where LPG is super-easy to find, and where the customer simply pulls up to a LPG pump and pumps it himself, just as if he were pumping gasoline. I love it. Yet another thing that makes life as a camper here so much easier than in the U.S.

crazyvwvanman Mon Apr 14, 2014 3:48 pm

Ok, I just filled my empty Westy tank. I replaced a sometimes weepy 80% valve on it yesterday so zero propane remained in the tank.
It took 2.6 gals indicated on the stations pump. The tank is marked WC 3.3 gals. Since 80% of 3.3 is 2.64, I got the expected amount of propane to fill it to the 80% safe limit.

To verify the accuracy of the stations pump I took with me an empty 5 gal BBQ style tank. Before I left I carefully weighed it 5 times, getting 17.2 lbs each time. (the tank is marked TW 17.0 lbs) After I got it back it weighed 36.0 lbs checked 5 times in a row. So they put 18.8 lbs of propane into it. Propane weighs about 4.2 lbs per gallon so I got about 4.5 gals of propane and their pump indicated 4.6 gals. The BBQ tank is marked with a WC equal to 5.7 gals. Since tanks get filled to 80%, and 80% of 5.7 = 4.56 gal, I got the expected amount of propane in the BBQ tank to fill it to 80%.

Bottom line, my stations pump looks to be pretty accurate. I am getting the amount of propane I am being charged for and the tanks are filled to the max safe level. The pump shut off automatically for both fills. Both tanks are modern types with OPD fill valves and they are designed to stop when full.

The price I paid today was $28.80 which is $4.00 gal times 7.2 gals.

The 'Westy' tank I filled is a replacement tank built in 1998 according to the ID plate, by Manchester Tank who also built the original tanks.

Mark

70coupyel Mon Apr 14, 2014 4:38 pm

I fill up at to begining of trips. I did 2.6 gals one time. I was surprised my reefer was still working at the end of that trip. Maybe Timmy has the larger tank? :?

kamzcab86 Mon Apr 14, 2014 5:35 pm

crazyvwvanman wrote: It took 2.6 gals indicated on the stations pump. The tank is marked WC 3.3 gals. Since 80% of 3.3 is 2.64, I got the expected amount of propane to fill it to the 80% safe limit.

My new tank (built in 2013), is marked simply "Gal 3.3" with no "WC" anywhere on the label. After the RV shop installed the fresh-out-of-the-box tank they also filled it; the 80% stop fill device stopped at exactly 3 gallons.

The old original tank, when empty (albeit not bone-dry empty), took 2.9 gallons at U-Haul (bleeder valve properly functioning). How accurate the local U-Haul is, don't know.

The owner's manual states the original tank has a capacity of 3 gallons, but does not stipulate if that is 80%.

Perhaps a call to Manchester is in order? http://www.mantank.com/contact/index.htm :lol:

jimf909 Sun Oct 20, 2019 12:43 pm

I just filled mine today and got 2.6 gallons (the expected amt for my 3.3 gallon tank) before LP came out the overflow valve. The tank still had a small amount of propane from my fill of two green 1 lb bottles last week and the propex was still running during some pre-winter testing I'm doing).

Fill from 1 lb disposable bottles...
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=9190413#9190413

E1 Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:30 pm

The only two times we've run them dry, both our last two fills from dead empty took exactly 2.6 gallons.

The latter one was done at our favorite propane shop and they said the overflow came out exactly as it should (A&A Propane, Wheat Ridge, CO).

Don't EVER fill these tanks past 2.7 gallons (!). Our auto-bleed valve failed on an original tank last year, tank took 3.3, and started a fatal and immediate leak.

The best method is to crack the bleeder valve and let propane jet out. The sight and sound of success.

dgbeatty Mon Oct 21, 2019 5:25 pm

It is a middle school math problem. Calculate the volume. Multiply by 80%. Done.

E1 Mon Oct 21, 2019 5:52 pm

Thanks for straightening that out. :wink:

msinabottle Thu Oct 24, 2019 4:31 pm

Quote: The latter one was done at our favorite propane shop and they said the overflow came out exactly as it should (A&A Propane, Wheat Ridge, CO).

LOVE those guys, particularly Tim Glover. They rigged my low-cost gear to run Winston's stove and fridge off propane cylinders. Ecce:

https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=353952

Did have to put some dope on the threaded fittings after some years went by. I've been known to tip obliging tank fillers. I need to have Winston's tank and guard bead-blasted and powder coated.

Best!



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