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Thread: propane tank smelter question

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    propane tank smelter question

    Have a used propane tank (properly purged) to hack for a smelter. Tried cutting it in half with a Sawsall - MY gawd the thing is hard. hence the question.

    I started the cut just above the weld seam. After attempting this, and making nearly no progress... Do I need to cut along the very middle of the weld seam? Is this easier to cut along the seam than the tank case itself? Thanx

  2. #2
    I'm A Honcho!
    warf73's Avatar
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    I cut mine just below the weld seam. I used a cut off wheel in my 7 1/2" skill saw, it took 1 full blade and about 1/4 of another.
    There is a band between the halfs that make it thick. I'll take a pic of mine for ya and post it later this morning. I cut my tank in half about 3 weekends ago and have ran a batch of lead threw it already.
    "Life isn't like a box of chocolates...It's more like
    a jar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn
    your *** tomorrow."

  3. #3
    Boolit Master altheating's Avatar
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    I used a good metal cutting jigsaw blade. I cut mine right at the edge of the weld. Started with a small hole drilled right at the weld line. I don't think it took three minutes to cut it in half. Wear SAFETY GLASSES !

  4. #4
    Boolit Master
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    On Hows That Made they showed the manufacture of the tanks. The seam line is a little thicker for the weld and they temper the steel after fabrication so it will be hard and tough to withstand high pressure... the steel is tough but not brittle.

    whatever you use to cut one in half with just make sure it's designed to cut tough metal.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master
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    I did my tank with a sears rotozip with an abrasive metalcutting wheel. Marked it with a magic marker and just followed the mark around a couple of times. It was full of water and when that came out the cut in a couple of places I knew I was close to through. Then finished it off. I cut mine higher up just below the shoulder to make a bigger pot. Use the top as a cover to save heat when I start a batch of "ore" on the way to ingots. 10
    10 gauge: as per Robert Ruark, "use enough gun"

    MOLON LABE

    "I have a list, and am prepared for widespread civil disorder!" 10 ga

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Here's the pot I got from one of the members here D Crockett




    Here it is after I painted it with high temp bbq paint:
    Last edited by bumpo628; 02-01-2012 at 03:51 AM.
    Ronald Reagan once said that the most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help".
    Download my alloy calculator here: http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=105952

  7. #7
    Boolit Master
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    How much weight you think the metal ring on the bottom of the tank will hold? I'd hate to have 150+lbs of molten lead take a spill cause that metal ring base folded up under the heat & pressure.

  8. #8
    Boolit Buddy
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    I cut mine off at the weld seam, used a "quickie saw" . as far as weight I stood in mine and the ring held just fine, thats 200 # on one foot.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    Thats 200lbs @ room temp. What about @ 700-900F?

    What about 400lbs? I'd like to be able to do large batches to keep alloy consistency.

  10. #10
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    I like this, and since I got a couple old tanks, I may just try it...

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    cutting tanks

    for those of you that have not had any experence in cutting propaine tanks open don't do it the reason I say this is I went to school to learn how to do this safely I build bbq grills and smokers out of big tanks if you do not do this right you can get hurt or even killed cutting one open and cutting one open with it full of water using a power tool is not a good idea this is just a word of WARNING so I do not here about one of you getting hurt or worse D Crockett

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    D Crockett, I like the pour spout. I need to put a handle on mine,
    might do a spout too.
    For all the work involved yours looks like a dang good deal!

    Here's a previous thread on this subject:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=92447

    I used a thin cutoff wheel in an angle grinder, plugged into a GFI 'cause
    I had filled the tank with water. Wet but safe. Probably overkill as the tank
    had been sitting in the sun for a while with no valve in it. Purchased for $1
    from a propane dealer. Makes a nice lead pot!

    Got a tip from Fugowii,
    cut a 3" wide ring from the top half, welded it to the bottom.
    Very stable. I drilled holes in it for the flames to escape, maybe
    not necessary.

    Here's mine:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...8&postcount=15

    Here's Fugowii's:
    http://castboolits.gunloads.com/show...6&postcount=25
    Last edited by a.squibload; 02-01-2012 at 03:02 AM.

  13. #13
    I'm A Honcho!
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    Quote Originally Posted by D Crockett View Post
    for those of you that have not had any experence in cutting propaine tanks open don't do it the reason I say this is I went to school to learn how to do this safely I build bbq grills and smokers out of big tanks if you do not do this right you can get hurt or even killed cutting one open and cutting one open with it full of water using a power tool is not a good idea this is just a word of WARNING so I do not here about one of you getting hurt or worse D Crockett
    People have been converting propane tanks into smelting pots for quite some time now and no one has blown themselfs up. All you have to do is aply some common sence and you will be fine.
    "Life isn't like a box of chocolates...It's more like
    a jar of jalapenos. What you do today, might burn
    your *** tomorrow."

  14. #14
    Salty Dog

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    I cut mine ABOVE the weld seam, and then cut another two inch circle from the remaining top, and tack welded that ring to the bottom (outside of the existing bottom ring) to make a wider support. 150+ pounds of molten lead makes me nervous without proper support against tipping.

    Should look like:
    http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbu...=1#post1492320



    NRA Life Member
    NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor

    Author of a book on reloading

  15. #15
    Boolit Master


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    warf73,

    I have some news for you, "The WORLD is FULL OF PEOPLE WITHOUT A LICK OF COMMON SENSE."

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    smelting pot's

    Moonman you hit it right on the money that is why I put the warning up just to let people know in my town a few years ago we had someone killed opening up a propaine tank so evey time I see a thread I will post a warning on the safty of opening a tank I think there should be a sticky on this D Crockett

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Don't tell my wife I might blow myself up... If she knows that, she will be egging me on for the insurance $$$!

    If you happen to see a bunch of guns for sale in the very near future...

  18. #18
    Boolit Buddy
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    I used a sawzall and just cut the bottom off, then welded angle iron legs to it with 3/4" rebar welded in the corners of those legs to add strength. made it into a bottom pour smelter and it can easily do 300lb batches, so long as I have enough ingot molds to keep up.

    Pictures and description are at http://castboolits.gunloads.com/showthread.php?t=56062 , but now I use a high pressure burner and wrap the tank in fiberglass insulation surrounded by aluminum foil when I am doing large batches.

  19. #19
    Longwood
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    Here is one I started last year but did not finish.
    I have the valve made for it but I may drill and install it if my spout idea works.
    The plan is to weld a small spout into the side with the hood that has an inside tube going down into the melt, sort of like the bottom pour ladles.
    I may not need the internal tube since I began using sawdust for flux and don't have junk on top of my melts any more.
    A simple spout on the side with the hood and a couple of pieces of round stock ears on each side so I can tip the whole works like a big blasting or foundry furnace.
    I would change the shape of the hood some so I would not have to worry about spilling around it if I were to make another one.
    Last edited by Longwood; 02-04-2012 at 07:40 PM.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
    a.squibload's Avatar
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    Never thought of it that way.
    Couple of thoughts, if you're pouring out the top make the handle or handles
    kinda long for lots of leverage, better control.
    Maybe a rod welded at the bottom of the pot on the spout side, or angle iron,
    crossways to the spout, sticking out a few inches left and right.
    Would keep it straight, keep it from rolling to the side.

    Now I'm seeing a chain hoist with hooks, and pipe welded to both sides of the pot
    to hang it from, lead flowing and sparks flying...
    naaah, you'd have to hire a couple of guys to keep moving the ingot molds, etc.
    But it would be fast!

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check