Refilling non-refillable bottles ... A warning (1 Viewer)

Minxy

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Aug 22, 2007
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Since 1996, had Elddis/Swift/Rapido/Rimor/Chausson MHs. Autocruise/Globecar PVCs/Compactline i-138
Today we helped another couple in their MH, they are Belgian and have a Cepsa bottle with top mounted reg and rubber pipe going from it to the copper pipe that went into the MH which had been disconnected from the bulkhead reg (ie the reg was bypassed). This was working fine but they wanted to use their original Belgian (non-refillable) bottle which had been refilled by a MH & accessories seller at Agilas, however since then it simply wouldn't work.

This is where the 'fun' started ... not Funny ha-ha though.

They asked if we knew anything about gas so of course we said yes and tried to get to the bottom of the issue they were having. After a lot of quizzing we discovered that the MH place had filled the bottle in situ and thus hadn't bothered to check it's weight in order to calculate how much LPG could be put in. This immediately started alarm bells ringing!

Hubby was concerned that reconnecting the bottle to the bulkhead regulator could have caused it to fail whereas I was more concerned about the bottle being overfilled.

What was weird though was that when letting a small amount of gas out to check it had gas in it there was no smell, nothing at all, so then made me wonder if it had actual LPG in it ... There was definitely some type of gas in it as it came out when I briefly opened the valve.(wearing my thick fleece lined purple gloves I hasten to add), but no smell ... This was something I'd never come across before.

After a bit of discussion it was decided that letting some gas out was the first course of action to try in case it had been overfilled so it was removed and placed a distance away from the MHs and I did a 10 second or so full blast after which it was reconnected and the gas hob tried. After a couple of seconds the air was purged, the gas got through and the hob worked. Yay!!!!

It seems that the bottle had been overfilled and thus was unable to sufficiently produce gas from the LPG for the appliances to work so removing some of the contents therefore allowed it to do so.

There being no smell from the gas turned out to be a 'red herring' but it does make me wonder what the source of the LPG was as I thought it had to have a smell added in order to be able to easily notice a leak.

The major concern though is that others will be using this MH place to get their non-refillable bottles filled and if they are being done with no safety measures in place, such as checking the existing weight and contents, but instead in such a slap dash way, it's only a matter of time before there's an accident.

The upshot is that if you choose to allow your non-refillable bottles to be refilled at least make sure it is done correctly.
 
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Minxy

Minxy

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LPG has no natural smell, here they add a stench to help detect any leaks, I don't know if they do it everywhere.
All LPG wherever we've bought it has had a strong smell, be it from UK or various EU suppliers so no smell was puzzling.
 
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Minxy

Minxy

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LPG is heavier than air so maybe it was air at the top of the bottle that you released to atmosphere, which is why there was no smell.
That's an interesting suggestion ... stevewagner The Ex-Gasman could this be the reason?

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Jun 29, 2015
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Depending on how long the LPG has been in a tank the stench can drop to the bottom, I've not heard of the gas having no smell but it does cause the last bit of gas to smell so much people think there's a leak.
 
Jan 13, 2014
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My understanding is that the bottle fills to 80% and an automatic cut off stops overfill it’s the same with on board tanks. This is how mine work.
 

DuxDeluxe

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All LPG wherever we've bought it has had a strong smell, be it from UK or various EU suppliers so no smell was puzzling.
Yes, when at sea we used to have to carry the stenching agent, either methyl or ethyl mercaptan in drums. Double disposable coveralls, double gloves, full masks and you still stank for a week. It sounds like a dodgy supplier; commercial stuff has to be stenches by law for safety reasons. LPG and LNG themselves have very little smell

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Minxy

Minxy

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Aug 22, 2007
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My understanding is that the bottle fills to 80% and an automatic cut off stops overfill it’s the same with on board tanks. This is how mine work.
Not a 'proper' refillable bottle so no cut off.
 

DuxDeluxe

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LPG is heavier than air so maybe it was air at the top of the bottle that you released to atmosphere, which is why there was no smell.
Yes, sounds very much like it, but with an empty LPG bottle it would contain vapour and filling would simply displace vapour and hard to see how air could be introduced, unless there was air in the filling line. However a cylinder fill would give too much turbulence for effective layering, I would have thought; it is hard enough when trying to do it when inerting a ships cargo tank.

Either way, @Minxy’s friend probably avoided a dangerous situation

P.S. Methyl mercaptan has a small threshold of about 1 to 2 parts per billion (you read that right)
 
Jun 29, 2015
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If a cylinder is overfilled then the danger is that liquid will come out instead of vapour that is very dangerous, it would cause over pressure in the gas line, if Minxy 's friends van has an opso it would stops the gas flow.
 
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Minxy

Minxy

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Opso ... Over pressure safety outlet?
 
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Minxy

Minxy

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I'm glad we got them sorted as the connection of the hose from the Cepsa bottle to the pipe which had been detached from the reg was 'dodgy' and came off when he removed the other cylinder! Fortunately he'd turned it off before doing so.

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funflair

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I'm glad we got them sorted as the connection of the hose from the Cepsa bottle to the pipe which had been detached from the reg was 'dodgy' and came off when he removed the other cylinder! Fortunately he'd turned it off before doing so.
Sounds like "your friend" is an accident waiting to happen ;) best not park too close.
 
Jun 14, 2014
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Today we helped another couple in their MH, they are Belgian and have a Cepsa bottle with top mounted reg and rubber pipe going from it to the copper pipe that went into the MH which had been disconnected from the bulkhead reg (ie the reg was bypassed). This was working fine but they wanted to use their original Belgian (non-refillable) bottle which had been refilled by a MH & accessories seller at Agilas, however since then it simply wouldn't work.

This is where the 'fun' started ... not Funny ha-ha though.

They asked if we knew anything about gas so of course we said yes and tried to get to the bottom of the issue they were having. After a lot of quizzing we discovered that the MH place had filled the bottle in situ and thus hadn't bothered to check it's weight in order to calculate how much LPG could be put in. This immediately started alarm bells ringing!

Hubby was concerned that reconnecting the bottle to the bulkhead regulator could have caused it to fail whereas I was more concerned about the bottle being overfilled.

What was weird though was that when letting a small amount of gas out to check it had gas in it there was no smell, nothing at all, so then made me wonder if it had actual LPG in it ... There was definitely some type of gas in it as it came out when I briefly opened the valve.(wearing my thick fleece lined purple gloves I hasten to add), but no smell ... This was something I'd never come across before.

After a bit of discussion it was decided that letting some gas out was the first course of action to try in case it had been overfilled so it was removed and placed a distance away from the MHs and I did a 10 second or so full blast after which it was reconnected and the gas hob tried. After a couple of seconds the air was purged, the gas got through and the hob worked. Yay!!!!

It seems that the bottle had been overfilled and thus was unable to sufficiently produce gas from the LPG for the appliances to work so removing some of the contents therefore allowed it to do so.

There being no smell from the gas turned out to be a 'red herring' but it does make me wonder what the source of the LPG was as I thought it had to have a smell added in order to be able to easily notice a leak.

The major concern though is that others will be using this MH place to get their non-refillable bottles filled and if they are being done with no safety measures in place, such as checking the existing weight and contents, but instead in such a slap dash way, it's only a matter of time before there's an accident.

The upshot is that if you choose to allow your non-refillable bottles to be refilled at least make sure it is done correctly.
A few years ago in our tugging days we bought 2x6kg lpg refilled bottles for our trip to France (The red ones reputable company)

Anyway. First time I turned them on and could not get to light the hob. Fridge would not work on gas. I removed them to check connections etc. Absolutely no idea what the issue was.
I could hear gas and the bottles were definitely full. Lots of head scratching and self doubt that I was actually Gas Safe Registered engineer at the time and should be able to sort this.
Eventually I took the bottles to a safe area. Middle of field and released some gas from the bottles. (Not recommended) but as we were in France and no dealers we could go to. It solved the issue at the time. Maybe the very hot temperatures at the time and new bottles didn't help the situation.
This issue can happen even when using a reputable gas company as well but thankfully not often. Human error is always possible.
 
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Minxy

Minxy

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Sounds like they’ve filled it themselves and as in most cases, pass the buck.
Nope definitely filled by the dealer.

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Feb 27, 2011
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.S. Methyl mercaptan has a small threshold of about 1 to 2 parts per billion (you read that right)

Strangely enough I knew that unusual fact. Turns out that stuff is amazing for hydrocarbons but for Hydrogen it doesn't work. The chemists are having a rare old time trying to find a chemical that can be used in hydrogen that not only works but doesn't break stuff like fuel cells or pumps.
 
Oct 18, 2021
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Yes, when at sea we used to have to carry the stenching agent, either methyl or ethyl mercaptan in drums. Double disposable coveralls, double gloves, full masks and you still stank for a week. It sounds like a dodgy supplier; commercial stuff has to be stenches by law for safety reasons. LPG and LNG themselves have very little smell

Just found this after being linked from another LPG thread and yes mercaptan does stink to high heaven in very small quantities.

Interesting aside. Some years ago in Canada they installed a large bore underground pipeline to carry liquid gas which, after testing, was found to have an unacceptable level of leakage over, IIRC, a section of 60+ miles.

Rather than expose the entire length to locate and repair the faulty welds they trained selected German Shepherds to find the leaks by dipping clothes pegs in mercaptan and then burying them at increasing depths. After training the dogs were phenomenally adept at locating even small leaks, thereby saving the company a fortune. Even the handlers were amazed when they returned to base and the dogs were indicating on pegs that had been buried some six months earlier!
 

68c

Oct 22, 2019
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A few years ago in our tugging days we bought 2x6kg lpg refilled bottles for our trip to France (The red ones reputable company)

Anyway. First time I turned them on and could not get to light the hob. Fridge would not work on gas. I removed them to check connections etc. Absolutely no idea what the issue was.
I could hear gas and the bottles were definitely full. Lots of head scratching and self doubt that I was actually Gas Safe Registered engineer at the time and should be able to sort this.
Eventually I took the bottles to a safe area. Middle of field and released some gas from the bottles. (Not recommended) but as we were in France and no dealers we could go to. It solved the issue at the time. Maybe the very hot temperatures at the time and new bottles didn't help the situation.
This issue can happen even when using a reputable gas company as well but thankfully not often. Human error is always possible.
Not sure how releasing some gas helped.
 

JJ

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May 1, 2008
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The upshot is that if you choose to allow your non-refillable bottles to be refilled at least make sure it is done correctly.

I used to make sure it was done correctly by doing it myself...

...oh the "stick" I used to get from certain Funsters...

"You are breaking the law..."

"I wouldn't park next to your van... too dangerous..."

...and so on.

The joy of knowing I was denying those theiving gits at Calor of some income was well worth it.



JJ :cool:

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Apr 12, 2020
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LPG is heavier than air so maybe it was air at the top of the bottle that you released to atmosphere, which is why there was no smell.
That is the great danger where boats are concerned. Because it’s heavier than air, any leaks and it collects in the bilges and can’t escape.
I always had gas detectors on mine!
 
May 26, 2016
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I used to make sure it was done correctly by doing it myself...
...oh the "stick" I used to get from certain Funsters...
"You are breaking the law..."
"I wouldn't park next to your van... too dangerous..."
...and so on.
The joy of knowing I was denying those theiving gits at Calor of some income was well worth it.

JJ :cool:
Whatever you do, don't read the "propane gas refills thread". Lots of commenters on there having kittens at my sentiments - very similar to yours.
 
Sep 17, 2017
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I'm not sure on the physics. I guess the gas vaporises at the surface. If the bottle is filled to the neck, there's only a tiny area that it'll vapor into. So if you open the valve, that bit will puff out, but it'll be replaced with more vapor only very slowly? Maybe???

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