How Did They Refill LP Tractors?

Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:48 pm

Been wondering how farmers in the old days refilled LP tractors. The tanks didn't come off did they? Would someone have to come out to the farm to fill them up? Or was there some type of pump or? I could see maybe the small tanks like the M's and such had coming off, but those large tanks like the 560's etc, you couldn't remove them. Thanks Brandon.

Thu Nov 16, 2006 5:53 pm

it was a simple, crude, and very dangerous system. an LP tank mounted in a pickup truck. A hose connected to it that drew liquid off the bottom. Connect that to the tractor and open a vent that lets vapor out the top of the tractor tank. pressure in the truck tank pushes the liquid into the tractor tank. DON'T SMOKE WHILE REFILLING That basically is the same system used for refilling the butane lighters, and little butane torches and soldering.

Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:24 pm

How long generally would these tanks last? Seems like in the old days this would be a big problem. They'd be good now but propane is just as high as gas, no savings there. Brandon.

Fri Nov 17, 2006 5:20 am

Brandon,

Gallon for Gallon (an unusual comparison) Liquefied Propane and Gasoline are nearly equal...(Propane has a slightly lower BTU content, but they consider them equivalent.....)

One advantage to propane was that it was possible to store large amounts on your farm, without complicated delivery systems.......and, you may already be using it for heat. Additionally, fuel did not degrade over periods of non-use, like gasoline. I don't know that, Gallon to Gallon, it was ever cheaper.......

--Tom

Fri Nov 17, 2006 7:16 am

Brandon, My neighbor has 2 propane tractors. A 450 farmall and a 4020 deere. they are used every day for different jobs on the farm. in the fall they are used to run the unloading augers to fill the bins. They have a 1000 Gal propane tank near the bins and a long hose. Nice part of the large LP tank is they don't have to worry they have a extended amout of fuel, they also have an adapter to fill the tanks on the tractors while they are used as loader tractors the rest of the year. As for your question on the service life of the tank. At the date of manufacture there was a tag put on the tank. I know of some tanks that are approching 30 YRs.

Fri Nov 17, 2006 8:46 am

One of the big selling points for propane was extended engine life, due to no carbon in the fuel, but you did need hardened valves and seats. also, since propane didn't normally have road tax charged on it, you didn't have to keep track of the paperwork and get your tax money back every year. This samething also encouraged many conversions of pickup engines.

A disadvantage was that any small leak was potentially a huge fire hazard. The renter on our farm had just stopped his and had bent down to check the oil on his engine, when a huge fireball erupted over it. Had he not been bending over his face would have been in the fireball. Being outdoors, usually with a breeze blowing, a leak is not as easily detected by odor as it is in your home.

Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:20 am

Some farms had a large stationary tank to refuel from. Bigger users usually had a vapor return line and used a pump to do the transfer. Without a return line or in the field, refueling usually was done the way John described it.

From what I have seen, use of LP was frequently a regional thing. It tended to be used in areas where there was a local supply of cheap fuel (near the oil patches).

Fri Nov 17, 2006 3:45 pm

Wonder if they made a 2 point fast hitch Bar-B-Q grille attachment? :lol: Brandon.

Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:35 am

To answer the basic question.

Carefully

Richard

Tue Nov 21, 2006 8:43 am

About 30 years ago when propane tractors were more popular than they are now a man drove his truck with a propane filling tank in the back into a brush type automatic car wash. A hose was sticking far enough out the side that the brush wrapped it up and ripped it off of the tank. Everyone survived with only minor injuries, but the truck, carwash, and a vehicle in another bay were all totaled. Later investigation showed he only had a ball valve on the end of the hose, an no valve or flow retarder on the tank, both of which were fire and DOT violations.

Tue Nov 21, 2006 12:45 pm

Another "advantage" is that you can run a propane tractor in a garage or barn for a few minutes before opening the door..propane vehicles produce very little CO.....of course, it is sheer madness to do this, since the leak factor problem mentioned in previous posts would be far more dangerous in an enclosed area......

But, then again, there are a whole lot of us who are stark, raving lunatics....

Tue Nov 21, 2006 11:15 pm

I wouldn't want to be the test dummy for that. But I still like the Bar-B-Q attachment idea. It would be handy at Redpower. Bet you could sell alot, "Buy your Meal Cooked by an IH tractor." They'd stand in line. Lets do it 400lbs What'll you say? We could do it rolling, you could drive and I could flip the burgers. :lol:

Wed Nov 22, 2006 8:50 am

These posts bring up another problem associated with proprane and leaks.

Here in Nebraska we had one of those accidents that should not have happened. Seems that someone buried a line from a propane tank to the house which went under a drive. They did not enclose the line in another to shield it from vibrations. You guessed it. The line cracked eventually leaked gas to the surface and a spark from something large fire ball and loss of everything.

My brother an electrician whenever he has to run a line over which vehicles pass puts the line insead of conduit which is the placed inside of steel pipe over which he places PCP drain tile.

I suggest something similar for propane lines that go under drives paths and roads.

Richard

Mon Dec 11, 2006 11:06 pm

we use propane to power our fork lifts at work, they are small 4 cyl engines and they burn about 7 gallons for an 8 hr day. one advantage to propane is that it burns much cleaner than gasoline. we change motor oil every other month and with no cabon in the fuel, the oil does not get dirty, it is as clean as the day it was put in the motor. and the engines last far longer than when we used to burn gasoline.

Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:27 am

400lbsonacubseatspring wrote:Another "advantage" is that you can run a propane tractor in a garage or barn for a few minutes before opening the door..propane vehicles produce very little CO.....of course, it is sheer madness to do this, since the leak factor problem mentioned in previous posts would be far more dangerous in an enclosed area......

But, then again, there are a whole lot of us who are stark, raving lunatics....


They run propane-powered fork trucks in warehouses and big box stores all over the country.