Monday, January 13, 2014

baby propane


Propane should have a limited role in your civilization melt- down plans.  If you are one of those suburban survivalists or Bug In proponents or a Storm Only survivalists, if you think Uncle Obammy and his Forever Fracking cavalry squads will charge in and save the day mere weeks after a grid down disaster, okay then fine, propane is the way to go.  If you have a wilderness bug out hovel, but it isn’t quite as wilderness-y as you would like ( just a wee bit too close to other people ), propane is great for your cooking and heating needs as you hide from everyone.  But after the die-off, please don’t embarrass me and the other redneck irregulars with plans to use propane all that long if at all.  Don’t be one of those jag off’s who brags on his thirteen thousand gallon capacity propane tank, good for cooking his freeze dried meat-like meals for the next five years.  What propane is really good for ( besides the die-off period ) is now while you go off grid to get away from most asshattery and save a gabazillion dollars in rent so you can both thwart the bankers and their master plan to meltdown the last of the American Empire and cash in and slither elsewhere and to improve your lifestyle and reduce your stress level.  And hence we come to our point, filling up the baby propane bottles cheaply.


Old school, there was the MacCoupler ( or was it Mcoupler? ) that you attached your empty disposable one pound propane bottle to and then from a larger refillable five gallon you were supposed to be able to get the baby bottle refilled for pennies ( the disposables cost $5.50 a pair, and most of that cost is the bottles, not the gas ).  I had one from way back and it never worked for me.  At all.  Well, a few weekends ago I was minding my business in the ranch supply store, impatiently waiting for the wife to blow through her gambling allowance ( like a true gambling addict she won big, then pissed it all away the very next day.  I almost had to take her to the hospital for burns where the money had sat in her pocket ) and I see the Mr. Heater brand propane tank refill adapter ( part # F276172 ).  Full well remembering the last unit I wasted money on, I was hesitant to purchase it.  But it looked different, as if the redesign solved the problem.  Yes, I was skeptical.  And yes, I was later to be haunted by the future words of the Mean Minion, accusing me of the very same propensity towards money spending as I just labeled the wife.  But, hey, this was blog research and yes you are all very welcome.  I bought it and got around to testing it the other day.  It works.  Kind of.  Without doing the “freeze disposable, have big tank at room temp” thing that is supposed to increase capacity, you can get a one third refill.  An appliance that got five hours out of one factory disposable tank got one hour and a half out of a refill-it one.  Not the greatest performance, but at least better than the original MacCoupler. 


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  1. A friend of mine is a propane delivery guy and he told me some interesting things about tanks. An outdoor tank on a 100 degree day in the sun might reach 250 psi internally. On a below zero day it is only about 5 psi. Thus the greater the difference between tanks, the easier the 'fill' for the amateur.

    The professional way to fill tanks is to have a valve on the bottom of your outdoor tank. This would be called a 'wet' valve and then you can fill tanks effortlessly at any temperature. Fed Gov doesn't want you doing this and neither does your local propane company, which is why all newer homeowner size propane tanks don't have 'wet' valves.

    Regarding usage: a good rule-of-thumb is that at 100,000 btu you will use 1 pound per hour. So a 12,000 btu heater/stove will run over 8 hours on just 1 pound of propane. Pretty cheap heat.

    I'm sending $20 for all your books on thumb-drive today.

    1. Thank goodness FedGov protects us from ourselves. They do so care. Are you sure about that BTU? My heater was running at 4500 BTU and got five hours. Is it gallons instead of pounds?

  2. EDIT: I discovered an incredibly easy way to fill the tank, with no salt ice, hot water, or magic. READ THIS COMPLETELY BEFORE YOU TRY. Do the cannister-in-the freezer thing and fill it the expected one-third or so up. Don't put the big tank in any hot water; don't put the little tank in ice water or an ice cream bucket; don't stick needles in a Troll doll. Just put the little tank back into the freezer for a few more hours. Now, repeat the filling and you can refill the small tank as full as you want! Which brings me to an important safety disclaimer: while I know from physics it is impossible to truly fill the tank 100.000% because of the evaporated gas inside, by letting the second fill continue until all transfer finished (no more hissing sound), the 1-lb tank was so full that I could not even hear any liquid slooshing inside when shaking the tank. That's probably DANGEROUSLY full, and I connected it immediately to my BBQ to run some of the propane back out of it. So either do this carefully or don't do it at all, and remove the tank BEFORE the transfer is completed (in my experiement with a sample size of one, I could hear the transfer clearly slowing down before the hissing completely stopped).

    You Know Who

    1. My issue with the freezer method is, as soon as you are grid down it no longer works. So I consider it a cheat, if you will.

    2. You're right.

      But until then....


    3. Why would it be a cheat?
      When it is winter you have PLENTY of freezer around here, and if you have propane obviously you have heat available- and in summer if you have a propane powered fridge or freezer that isnt cheating either.
      Of course your first point is correct- Propane wont last.
      Methane digesters MIGHT last a little longer, and are definetly more 'off grid' I am planning on both to add the luxury into my off grid dirt dugout.
      But primary heat is going to be a rocket mass heater setup to use any solid fuel- straw, wood, coal, etc.
      And of course solar- though I wont count on it for winter heat, it can keep the place warmer in spring and fall at only the cost of the glass.
      The best oportunity we have now with our industrial society is non-perishable insulation and glass. These will be the luxuries of the future if die off isnt fast enough or is too violent get them NOW- stack them deep, and keep them buried. it WILL pay off in the long run.


    4. The device does call for the large tank to be at room temp as you freeze the small, so there is also that issue. Now I have to heat the big tank? Totally agree on the glass and insulation.

  3. "Old school, there was the MacCoupler ( or was it Mcoupler? ) "

    Strange coincidence James, as I literally just posted a review on this very device at Amazon no more than a few days ago:

    "I purchased this device because I was using a small 3000 BTU propane heater on a regular basis, and it did not allow for a bulk connection.

    Initially it seemed as if I was unable to fill these bottles to their original capacity as when they were new, even after chilling for long periods in the refrigerator. However, I recently tried it again after chilling in the freezer for about 15 minutes. I recorded the original, empty, and refill weights below.

    Weight brand new = 26.690 0z
    Weight after empty = 14.648 0z
    Weight after refilled = 30.250 0z

    As you can see above, with proper chilling, I was actually able to get slightly more weight from the tank than when it was new, which was somewhat surprising to me?

    Overall, I think that it's a useful little device that cuts down on landfill, and gives a new lease on life to the cylinders. It's also pretty easy to do, especially if you set it up as a permanent refill station for the small tanks.

    I also feel that it's pretty safe as long as proper precautions are in place, and the tanks are checked for leaks prior to use."

    Unlike yourself, I had pretty good luck with this device. I place the small tanks in the refrigerator for about a half an hour or so, and then in the freezer about 10 minutes prior to filling, and I got the fill weights that you see in my review above. Don't over do it with the freezer though, because this morning after refilling, I noticed some slight leakage afterwards, but it stoped about 30 seconds later? I think that I got the bottle so cold that the valve became sticky? So it's probably best to start off with about 5 minutes in the freezer? I get about 3 hours use or so from a Mr Buddy heater at the 3000 BTU setting.

    I don't know if it's necessary or not, but the article below shows how to fill the bottles completely as when they were new.

    How to completely refill a 1lb "disposable" propane Bottle

    1. I might have gotten a defective unit, as I got ZERO gas transfer.

    2. I don't mean to insult your intelligence James, but you did have the main tank, or large tank upside down when you attempted to transfer the gas to the small tank, correct?

    3. No worries, I've pulled worse boners before. Yes, I did have the tank turned upside down.