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[APD] Re: transporting CO2 tanks?
This is probably heresy to the safety minded here but I suspect a lot
of the scuba divers on the list are scratching their heads at the
caution being suggested. I can't count how many times I have carried
scuba tanks (at 3000 psi, 72 - 80 cu ft.) on their sides in back of
my car or my friend's SUV stacked two, three, and four high. We
prevent them from rolling with the weight belts and make sure the
valves are away from the walls and have something like a wt. belt or
towel to prevent them from shifting and getting hit. The trouble
with a vertical tank is when you stop and it leans forward. The
bottoms are frequently rounded, and unstable. Also it is difficult to
secure them from jumping as you drive over bumps.
I am not a transportation lawyer, but I think the DOT rules apply to
commercial suppliers engaged in business and interstate commerce, not
the public hobbyist. If it did apply to us then surely it would be
taught in scuba courses and you would hear stories of ticketed divers
all the time. Did the ticketed Walmart guy fight it in court? Cops
aren't always correct on DOT regs applicability. Certainly in a dive
state like Florida cops could spend all day ticket divers at beaches
and caves if he was correct.
That being said, despite the many urban folklore talks of cylinders
getting hit and the valve going through a cinderblock wall, I have
not personally witnessed that when tanks fell over, onto asphalt or
rolled out of the backs of cars. I did of course get out of the way.
I have asked many instructors, and shops if they have witnessed a
cylinder valve break and become a projectile and none have but they
all seem to know a third person story of one that did.
I did witness a fire at a dive resort on a remote part of Fiji
(Kadavu island, Nukambalavu Resort) and after saving about 1 dozen
tanks from the fire (I had 3 paid dive days left!) , stood back as
about 4 propane tanks and 2 dozen cylinders cooked off as the fire
consumed 4 bures including the dive/ boat bure. Moslty, They didn't
explode, the burst disks melted and then very noisy air escaped, or a
side stream of propane fire jet came out. Two cylinders did explode,
they tore open side ways on the seam, but no valves came off. The
only really terrifying part was when the 55 gal drums of fuel went
up 100+ feet in the sky and lit more palm tires on fire. Picture the
Apocalypse Now movie, then spend the night on the beach outdoors
getting bitten by sand fleas. :-O
Last week I refilled my 10 cu CO2 tank and put it on it's side in
the back of my car in a cargo net sling, and didn't worry about it. I
did however, worry about the crazy drivers at the 80/ 580 (the maze)
merge who get very hostile for no apparent reason when traffic slows
by 2 mph.
One thing for sure is DO NOT leave in cylinders in closed trunk of a
sedan on a hot day while you continue to shop. The internal temp
increases and makes the liquid gases expand, they increase the
pressure past ratings until the burst disk blows, as it is designed
to. This isn't unsafe but will scare the bejesus out of you if you
are nearby and waste a fill.
Michael O. Skidmore
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