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Propane Issues


Ross Jones

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If it is freezing, does that mean I should find a way to store it in a warmer place? I keep it outside and it's getting pretty cold here in New York

 

That's not what he means by freezing. The outside of your tank will develop frost on it because your regulator and burners are pulling out vapor faster than it can convert from liquid to gas inside the tank. The liquid propane is converting to gas fast enough to draw heat from the tank, and it starts frosting up. When this happens, the pressure can drop because your tank just can't convert to vapor fast enough.

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But none of that explains the hissing noise when the pressure drops. I suspect the regulator is fried and leaking from the diaphragm.

Then he should be smelling propane. I started to think that he is running the pressure too high (he said 12 pounds) and he was just blowing the burner out because he's pushing more propane than can stay ignited in the forge body, but he would smell that propane too. So either there's a mysterious sucking/blowing noise being made by a poltergeist, or he has no sense of smell.

 

However, it just occurred to me what is going on. I experience a similar condition with our NC Tools Whisper Daddy when there is dirt or debris in the feeder tube and it partially blocks the orifices that shoot the propane down the burner tube. The flame starts to flicker and it makes this weird gurgling/sucking sound. Most times it blows the blockage out, but there have been a couple of times that I had to pull the whole thing apart and clean out the propane feeder tube.

 

BE ADVISED!!!! you are using a gas fired forge that obviously isn't working correctly. Continuing using this apparatus is extremely dangerous and can lead to injury, fire, explosion, or death.

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The loss in pressure is to be expected this time of year due to the gas flow exceeding the vaporization rate of the tank (what Wes and Kelly already pointed out). The lower the ambient temperature, the lower the tank's vaporization rate and the faster it freezes up (similar to the compressor on an AC/heat pump freezing up when it can't keep up with the thermostat). The fact that pressure dropped even faster when you switched to the full flow POL connection to the tank also makes sense since it would increase the volume of gas flowing out of the tank, even without changing the pressure, and therefore speed up the freeze process. I had the same issue when using a #20 tank running at 8psi in my venturi forge. Fix for me was to get a bigger tank so it has a larger volume and more surface area for heat exchange, both of which help to sustain the vapor pressure during cold weather use. I opted for a 120 gallon permanent tank, but a 100 lb cylinder should be adequate.

 

That sucking sound is familiar as well. It could be (what it was for me) the gas is still flowing but as the tank chills pressure drops and flow drops too low to sustain a proper flame or register on your pressure gauge, as you noted. The slower flow allows the tank to recover slightly and raises vapor pressure, but as soon as the flow increases the tank chills and pressure drops again... You end up with a pulsing flow of gas that may stay under the minimum pressure for the gauge to register.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out!

James

 

Edit to add: Warming the tank would improve the vaporization rate, so it could be of some help. There are propane tank heaters on the market that look kind of like a heavy duty electric blanket, but I have never used one so am not sure how much benefit they offer.

Edited by James Spurgeon

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  • 3 weeks later...

Thanks for all the help on this one, guys. I shoveled out my shop after a snow storm the other day, tried the forge out one more time, and decided to wait til the weather warms up and see if that does indeed help this problem. I would like to go for the larger propane tank, but a lot of surprise expenses lately have put that out of the budget, for now. I guess that once spring comes, I'll know whether or not I want to break down and get a professionally made forge instead of my ill performing first attempt at a homemade forge.

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However, it just occurred to me what is going on. I experience a similar condition with our NC Tools Whisper Daddy when there is dirt or debris in the feeder tube and it partially blocks the orifices that shoot the propane down the burner tube. The flame starts to flicker and it makes this weird gurgling/sucking sound. Most times it blows the blockage out, but there have been a couple of times that I had to pull the whole thing apart and clean out the propane feeder tube.

 

Here in Virginia, I get the Mud hornets, not sure what they're called. Anyway, in the spring/summer, if I take off for few days, I come back and they've built a mud nest and planted eggs. Only takes a few minutes to clean out, but now I try to remember to cover the forge before road trips.

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sounds to me like your tank is freezing, set it in a large tub of water and do a test run.

This.

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When you run the forge for long enough that the tank is freezing, when you place it in the tum of water, you should notice ice build up on the outside of the tank.

 

that being said, what sized orifice are you using to control the amount of propane entering the burner apparatus, or are you using a needle valve to regulate the flow? Do you have the hose running directly into a fitting, that has no orifice in it? I am wondering if you are getting so much flow through the system that you are triggering the over-flow protection internal to the tank? That may explain your sudden decrease in pressure after only a few minutes of operation...

 

do you have pictures of your set-up?

Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly, the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest... is silence.

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I think I finally figured out the issue today, while discovering a possible new one. The problem was that I would always be running both burners on my forge at a high psi, draining out the tank quickly. The tank wasn't being changed often enough, so I was running on little to no gas when it would freeze up. The tank freezing up was caused by the two strong burners at high psi drawing more gas than the tank could vaporize, as well as the temperature where I am.

 

I ran the forge today with only the front burner at a lower psi, and besides a few split second freeze ups due to the fact that it snowed hard a couple of hour before I tried, it went without a problem. I got to heat treat 6 knives, finish the last bits of forging on a dagger and anneal a small knife before I shut off the forge of my own whim. It's been so long since I stopped working because I chose to instead of my tank deciding that I was done for the day.

 

However, a new potential problem is that when I connected my regulator to one of the new tanks, the pressure gauge shot up to 12 psi even though the tank was closed. I opened one of the burners to see if maybe there was just some trapped gas, but it blew out a solid stream of propane before I quickly shut it off. I tried a different tank, and this one showed 4 psi before I even opened the tank. I decided to open the tank, then close it and then try to let out trapped gas. This time the tank being closed meant that gas didn't come out again until I opened it. I don't know what that weird situation was about, but everything was smooth sailing after that. If that sounds like something important to any of you, please don't hesitate to tell me.

 

Thanks for all the help, guys. I can finally get back to blacksmithing.

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