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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.
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Michael O. Skidmore
Alameda CA
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