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Installed hatch to my propane tank

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Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Sat Dec 24, 2016 3:59 pm

I spent this holiday thus far getting some work done.  Today's tasks were to install the access hatch to my propane belly tank and to install a simple splash guard to protect from the rear tires.  

This is the door that I will be installing.  A marine boat hatch that is designed to install flush.  I wish it was aluminum, but it is just a hard plastic, but it didn't have any flex so it should be durable enough....and only $50.



I started out by marking out my lines using a paint stick that I purchased from my local welding shop.  It is like touch-up paint and has a felt tip like a permanent marker....$4.



Then I drilled pilot holes at the corners so that I could turn the jigsaw in the corners.



Then it came time to cut out the window.  Now the skirting on my box truck is 1/4 inch aluminum so there were probably better options, but I went with a jig-saw with metal blades.  It shreds the aluminum and throws off a lot very fine particles, so I put the dust mask on and safety glasses.  The temperature was 19 degrees out, so every breath fogged up my glasses.....it was a catch-22, vision or breathing?  I stayed with both along with some choice words in frustration.

At least it worked and I had my opening.  All that was left to do was drill / install the hold-down screws and the hatch was operational.  I think it actually turned out pretty good for a guy how was cutting through fogged glasses in the cold.





The splash guard was a simple affair.  I might end up going with diamond plate instead down the road, but for now I went with a universal mud flap for $8

There was already an angled brace installed under the truck, so I just installed the mud flap to the brace using a piece of slotted metal stock that I painted black.  A couple of stainless bolts and it was done.  It isn't great, but it will keep the rear tires from throwing gravel and slush onto my propane tank.



So, there you go, access hatch and splash guards installed for less than $70.  If it wasn't for a broken drill bit and bent jig-saw blade, it would have been a complete success. Wine
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Mo on Sat Dec 24, 2016 11:58 pm

Nice work Bob . alot better than the shield I made
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Sun Dec 25, 2016 12:39 am

Thanks Mo, once the holiday is over, I will get that tank filled up and give it a go. I will be connecting the hose on Christmas and then I will be done.

I just wanted to finally finish this project before the arrival of another year. It will be put back to work soon, hopefully. I still only have 3 fill stations within 30 miles of me and none closer than 20 miles, but that will be the next hurdle.
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Freemind1 on Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:27 am

Looks good!

Now to figure a way to fill it up at home. The farm I used to work for, filled their fork truck tanks off a 500 gallon pig. They didn't have a pump, just off tank pressure. It worked fine.

If you talk to your propane dealer, I'm sure they can fix you up.

That would be better anyway, then trekking to someplace to fill before they close.

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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Sun Dec 25, 2016 2:05 pm

I spoke with the salesman about it on a 250 gallon tank. They were willing to pour a small slab and set-up the tank for free if I sign a contract for 2 years on both the propane delivery and lease of the tank.

The price was actually very reasonable, but the tank had to be a certain distance from buildings and power lines which placed it right in the middle of my back yard. I was not too excited about that part.

Now if I could find a shop for rent come Spring....that is definitely going to in the equation. During the winter, that truck will not see much usage so it will work out for now driving to the filling station.
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Freemind1 on Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:10 pm

My tank sits in my back yard too. It's piped to the opposite corner of my house.

I'm sure, if you wanted a tank, they could copper pipe to your garage, and could get you set up from there. You could heat your garage and have a propane set up to fill your tank on your truck.

I have a small pig tank that I bought a few years ago, and never have set it up. I was thinking of setting it up for my garage/ 3 season room, where I keep my business equipment. The small square garage heaters that run on propane, run pretty reasonable here.

I should clarify, I'm talking about the kind that ceiling mount. They also have electric ones, but they run on 220, and I'm sure they cost more than propane to run. Especially, if you are like me, and would need to update to 200 amp service to run them. I'm tapped out on the 100 amp service I have.

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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Sun Dec 25, 2016 10:38 pm

I am in the same boat with you on the panel capacity. My house is only 100 amp service with a 30 amp sub-panel which feeds the garage. Needless to say, 30 amps service to the garage is pitiful, but I would need to upgrade the house to 200 amps service to make any changes.

My dream is to have a nice heated garage/shop again with water and sewer access. That would make my life so much easier and worth every penny this time of year....just can't afford anything like that right now.

Propane would be the cheapest route for me around here, but I haven't embraced the move yet. It will likely have to wait until next fall.
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Freemind1 on Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:04 am

I too, want a garage. Mine won't be heated though. The one I have attached to the house is a small one car.

We want to build one that is 4 car with shop space and an over hang for trailers on the one side. Some day, I plan on adding a small van to my business. I've talked to my contractor guy, and he said about 10 grand for it, plus whatever the cost of the electrical updating. So probably around 14 grand. I will be adding the generator tap out at the electric pole at that time.

My electric is all over the place here... 100 amp at the pole where the electric comes to the house. 100 amp in the house, and 30 amp in the garage. And my electric is buried from the pole to the house. No power head on the side of my house.

A cluster fu** if you ask me.

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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:45 am

Yep, same problems with the power.....remember that my house was built in 1860 and the electrical work was last updated in 1979, so 100 amp was normal at that time and the garage didn't show up until just before I got here 10 years ago.

My garage is an over-sized 2-car (34x46) with a loft with hay doors for loft and a hoist. I insulated the walls and windows, but then I realized that this building was very poorly designed for my needs.

The loft floor was only a 1/4 finished, but the rafters were not strong enough to support any real weight. The spans are 24 inches on center using 2x6's so it was pointless to finish the loft. I thought about installing the proper sized boards at 12 inches on center, but couldn't see any way to really do it and still be level and work around all the stuff already there.

Then came the garage doors. They are nice and wide, but only 7 feet tall. My van doesn't even fit under them unless I remove the 3rd brake light or air down the tires 50%. Even worse, there really isn't any good way to modify it to accept a taller door.

Every time that I consider upgrading this garage, I keep concluding that it would probably be easier to just tear it down and start over. It is a great garage for cars and pickups with tons of space for the work benches and storage, but not for my van.

It is just so frustrating to deal with it this time of year. Having both work vehicles parked outside all the time really takes its toll on them this time of year.....and expensive to protect.

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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by dp1 on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:19 pm

But if it costs you $ 1000 / month for heated garage rental ( it has to fit 2 trucks right ? ), that would be $ 12,000 / year, you could probably just build a new garage on your property for a little more than that and it would be a great investment especially for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th year.
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Mon Dec 26, 2016 10:47 pm

I have run those numbers many times over myself, but there isn't enough space on my lot unless I want to run everything through the alley since there is no path to reach it from the driveway.

The most logical to me would be to tear out the existing garage and build on the current slab to the design that I want. Then run plumbing and gas lines to the building along with a separate electric service and drop line.

I actually received bids to do just that a couple of years ago....it was closer to $28,000 for the building. Not sure what it would cost to tear down and remove the existing structure.

Every time I consider this plan, I come to the conclusion that I should just put the place up for sale and build a fire house to live in. A couple of shop bays with living quarters upstairs. I would be money ahead that way as a single guy doesn't really need a house.

It is all a dream right now as I am still worried about keeping the lights on for the next few months. A house fire would be a nice blessing though as the house is insured for more than twice what it is actually worth. It would make for about the right amount to build that fire house....no pun intended.
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Freemind1 on Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:54 am

Maybe what you need to do, is look for another piece of property? Be it bare property to build to what you want, or finding another house that fits your needs. I don't know what your house is worth or how well houses like yours are selling.

We had a hard time finding a house with the features we wanted, with a price we would pay.

Property here is REALLY high. It's only because of the lakes though.

I wanted 5+ acres, but we settled on a ranch style house with one acre. Smaller tracts of land off the lakes sell for about 10k an acre when you look at 5-10 acre tracts. A single acre tract goes for about 23k.

So when we bought a house with an acre, garage and home in good shape for about 75k, we were happy.

The average home price here exceeds 100k, and those are usually on city lots.

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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by dp1 on Tue Dec 27, 2016 12:43 pm

@milspec6 wrote:It is all a dream right now as I am still worried about keeping the lights on for the next few months.  A house fire would be a nice blessing though as the house is insured for more than twice what it is actually worth.  It would make for about the right amount to build that fire house....no pun intended.

I would be careful with that post, if *knock on wood* your home is caught on fire and the insurance company find this post, it might come back and haunt you
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Tue Dec 27, 2016 1:36 pm

I told it to the agent's face when they made me buy that amount of insurance....they know my view on the subject already. They insisted on full replacement value instead of the mortgage value, so I would not feel bad if it blew up tomorrow.

Well, I would mourn my guitars and amplifiers, but that is about all.
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Mo on Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:12 pm

Hopefully you're not in the house when it blows so that you can rebuild Very Happy
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by Mo on Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:14 pm

Rob you have built a nice looking rig. It looks totally custom and not built half assed. I bet you'll get top dollar if you decide to sell it
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Re: Installed hatch to my propane tank

Post by milspec6 on Tue Dec 27, 2016 9:59 pm

Thanks Mo, hopefully I will get more usage out of it before I make that decision, but it might find itself on ebay soon.
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