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Propane Tank source (In Virginia)

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by dogwood, May 25, 2009.

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  1. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    I found a source for used 1000 gallon pressure tanks in Virginia I thought I'd share. Valley Feed Company in Staunton is selling used 1000 gallon tanks that were used to spray ammonia (NH3) on grain crops. The tanks are identical in appearance to propane tanks and have some added benefits. You dont have to deal with mercaptan. The owner said ammonia absorbs water, so the inside of the tanks are rust free.The tanks have a baffle built into them, I'm guessing to keep the ammonia from sloshing around. The outlet ports are large, several 1.25 inch ports on top and a 2 inch drain on the bottom. Mine had two pressure gauges on top, one looks like it might be functional. There is what looks like a one inch dip tube on mine and some smaller ports. And the tanks come mounted on a heavy duty eighteen foot trailer included in the cost. You can just hook one up to your truck and roll it on out of there. I paid $800 for mine.

    Ask for the proprietor, Mr. Bob Nutt (that's his real name), when you call. Their number is 1-800-476-2697 or 1-540-886-2311. They are located near Interstate 81. The tanks vary some in price. I looked at a $700, $800 and a $1000 tank. There were a number more on site. These things are heavy. I think he said 2300 or 2400 lbs. The only drawback on the one I purchased was some surface rust in sections which I have almost finished sanding off before I repaint the tank. The tanks are thick walled and the rust was insignificant relative to the thickness of the tank I thought. The more expensive ones appeared more rust free. The tanks are roughly sixteen feet long, the trailer somewhat longer. The tank has it's label still, and is rated on the label at 250 psi at 650 degrees.

    By the way the hitch on the trailer is two flat pieces of metal creating a horizontal slot with a hole to accept a pin in both. The slot would accept a flat piece of metal similarly drilled, on your hitch. My Tractor Supply Co. catalog has a picture of a "ball mount clevis" and a solid drop ball mount that looks just like this arrangement, although I don't see where a ball would come in. My truck wasn't big enough to tow it and doesn't have a hitch it so he towed it for an additional fee. Now I have to figure out how to get it off the trailer. If anyone has an idea on how to do that I'd welcome suggestions. The tank has a top mounted hook on either end for lifting.

    It took me a long time to run down a tank for pressurized storage in state. Hope this helps somebody out there.

    Mike

    (Good tip Mike, I just added the state to the title to make it more helpful... (Gooserider in moderator mode))

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  2. mcote

    mcote New Member

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    If you get a chance, let's see a photo of this thing. Sounds pretty interesting.
  3. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    I'll take a picture and post it this week. Can pictures be sent as an attachment on this site or is it more complicated than that?

    Mike
  4. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Yes, see the sticky at the top of each forum area on how to prep your photos... I personally suggest doing 640 x 480 jpg's - seems like they give a good balance between a useful size shot and getting at least two - three shots in per post.

    Gooserider
  5. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hey Mike, thanks for the lead!

    I called Mr Nutt this morning and drove to Staunton(2 hours from Floyd) a little while later. I too have had some trouble tracking down good storage tanks so this was quite timely. I am getting him to deliver me two 1000 gallon tanks (without trailers)-hopefully next week. My Kubota will lift about 1800 lbs and I could certainly get the tanks off his trailer one way or another but I'll probably ask my neighbor to use his big ag tractor to just lift them off. Hopefully you know someone who could do the same.

    After seeing the tanks I wanted more info on the baffles. A google search of "1000 gallon anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks" turned up this:http://www.doli.state.mn.us/CCLD/BoilerIncidentsPressure.asp YIKES!
    It looks like there is only one baffle in about the middle of the tank.

    Also this on ebay:http://cgi.ebay.com/1000-gallon-anh...ItemQQimsxZ20090524?IMSfp=TL090524141003r9494

    Great find Mike. What did you do about the ammonia vapor?

    Thanks again,
    Noah
  6. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Noah,

    Glad you were able to get those tanks. I haven't dealt with the vapors yet although I really didn't smell much ammonia when I removed a top plug. Mr. Nutt said his workers had rinsed the tank after they loosened all the plugs for us. I'll pressure wash it anyway as there was a some black residue deposited on the drain plug. Mr. Nutt said anhydrous ammonia is a coal product and the residue was likely wet coal dust. It looked like it could be. He also mentioned ammonia will react to water, in fact would eat your skin until it got to water it could absorb. He said it reacts to copper too, so I am going to make sure the tank is thoroughly rinsed out.

    Did you find out where the baffle is located in the tank, or how far it extends from top to bottom if that is how it is situated? I'm hoping it doesn't get in the way if I pressure wash. If it stops raining and I get the tank primed and repainted this weekend I'll rinse it out and let you know if this is enough to remove any fumes. Maybe I'll be able to see the baffle through one of the openings.

    Mike
  7. Floydian

    Floydian Feeling the Heat

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    Hi Mike.
    I messed up on posting a link in my post. Hope this works.

    http://www.doli.state.mn.us/CCLD/BoilerIncidentsPressure.asp

    The last photo shows the baffle which looks to me like its attached right where the two halves of the tank are welded together.
    I am guessing our tanks are the same as everything else about them looks the same.

    I am going to contact some folks I know who have worked with anhydrous ammonia and see if they can offer any suggestions.
    I'll let you know if there is anything more than pressure washing that should be done.

    Noah
  8. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Noah. I'll be waiting for your info on cleaning the tank insides. I googled anhydrous ammonia nurse tanks as you did and found a lot of interesting information including what all the different valves and fittings were for. Good suggestion.

    I bought some Valspar "premium oil based metal primer" with rust inhibitors at Tractor Supply to paint the tank. Anyone know if the primer would have any problem holding up with the temperatures up to 200 degrees the tank may be at when the water in it is fully heated. I'd hate to see it bubble or peel. The product uses on the can said for storage tanks, farm equipment and machinery, but nothing on temperatures it could withstand. Maybe I should have gotten some high temperature engine primer and paint instead. At least I can still return the unused can if anyone thinks this might be an issue. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks

    Mike
  9. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I would check out the can label to see if they have a tech support contact - almost certain that they would, if not Google for it... I would suggest going to the source for the authoritative answer, especially on something like this where you will be going outside the usual application range...

    Of course I assume that you will be insulating the tank, in which case it may not matter all that much what you paint with...

    Gooserider
  10. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Do you know what the other dimensions of the tank are? It would be nice to pass off a mountain biking excursion to the GW National Forest as a necessary trip to keep the house warm.
  11. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Sorry it took so long to attempt to post pictures. It's been raining evey day for weeks. Attached hopefully are pictures of the freshly
    primed tank. Its dimensions are approximately 16' long by 42" wide. All the fittings except the 2" drain fitting are located in the top
    middle of the tank. I have removed the cage, essentially a double roll bar that protects all the gauges and pressre relief valve from the top. Still have to figure out how to get it off the trailer and into the garage.

    Mike

    Attached Files:

  12. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    Getting those tanks at those prices seems a very good deal, indeed.

    However, let me reinforce to the suggestion by Gooserider that you go to an authorative source before you start modifying the tank in either a material or cosmetic way. Using these tanks to store propane when they were designed and built to store ammonia might (and might not) be as simple and legal as would seem.

    My 1,000 gal propane tank is UL certified to store propane AND UL certified for burial. Burying a propane tank requires much more than digging a hole in the ground, placing the tank in the hole and back-filling with dirt and rocks. Even storing the tank above ground might have certain requirements which are not intuitive ie; can it be stored in a garage or must it be stored a minimum distance from a dwelling? Can it be stored on the ground or must it rest on a permanent manufactured support? Can it be covered, etc.?

    I make these suggestions not to rain on a good parade, but to have you check carefully with an authorative source before you do something which might require undoing at a later date. How about your insurance company and codes offices; do they have any requirements before allowing a 1,000 gallon propane tank to be stored or buried near any dwelling? Must any material or cosmetic changes to the tank be performed by a person certified to do such things?

    I sincerely hope this "find" of tanks is, in fact, as great as it seems.

    best Wishes,

    John_M
  13. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Valid point John, but I don't think it applies - my understanding is that the tank is intended as a thermal storage tank, not a propane tank - IOW it will be filled w/ hot water, at a pressure not over 20-30psi, NOT repurposed into a propane tank (which I agree is something that might be very questionable from both safety and legal standpoints)

    I know it's a bit confusing because of the thread title, but that comes from the fact that repurposed propane tanks are popular choices for making pressurized thermal storage systems. The OP probably used the title since most of us know the deal on used propane tanks, and would be happy to consider a used ammonia tank as an equivalent...

    Considering that treated boiler water is pretty non-reactive, and we will be dealing with far less pressure than either a propane or an ammonia tank was designed to handle, it should be plenty safe... Most states don't have any special rules that I know of on locating thermal storage tanks, and have no problem with them for that application. (Unfortunately MA seems to be one state that does, as all pressure vessels are required to have an ASME stamp...

    Gooserider
  14. dogwood

    dogwood Minister of Fire

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    Exactly so. This tank will only be used for hot water storage and will be above ground in the garage. I do appreciate your concern however John. You are right about checking with building inspectors and insurance people. The International Building Code that is used in this locality does not allow a wood furnace to be used in a garage. I'll be putting the tank itself in the garage, or in the part of the garage partitioned off from the garage with no door in between, where the furnace will be located.

    Mike
  15. John_M

    John_M Minister of Fire

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    Gooserider and dogwood, thanks for clarifying my garbled thinking. I should have read the original post more carefully before posting a response. I will look for a silver lining in the cloud I created and hope that if another person reads the thread and is currently thinking of modifying a new tank for propane storage, he/she will consult proper authorities before proceeding.

    Best wishes,

    John_M
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