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Step 3: Build the supply system

Picture of Build the supply system
In this project, I assume a basic knowledge of plumbing and working with pipe and fittings. The pictures provided, combined with the fuel system diagrams and bill of materials, should be more than enough to go about making your own system. If you have any questions about how something goes together, just leave a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP!

In this step, we'll assemble the propane supply system, which is responsible for taking high pressure propane from our supply tanks, regulating it down to a lower pressure, and storing it to be used by our flame effects.

When doing any plumbing with a flammable gas, it is especially important to make sure that each joint is sealed with properly-applied hydrocarbon-rated Teflon tape and that your system has zero leaks in it.

I used three 20# tanks with individual shutoffs chained to manifold with a pressure gauge. The gas then passes through an adjustable 50-135psi propane regulator and into the buffer tank, which has a second pressure gauge attached to it. The gas is fed through a ball valve and into a quick-disconnect coupler to make its way to the main accumulator tank.

A commonly-asked question: why did I use three 20# tanks instead of one big one? The reason for this is simply that it's all I had on hand - of course, a single 100# tank for the supply would have been optimal, but at the time all I had on hand were three 20# tanks. Using a single 100# tank would also cut down on the number of fittings required for the supply system, as you wouldn't need to run individual lines to each tank.

A note about using copper tubing to connect each tank: the copper refrigeration tubing is rated for pressures well above what you'll ever see in a propane system. However, copper tubing is very sensitive to repeated flexing of the line. Flexed enough, the copper will be weakened significantly and can and will break, releasing high pressure propane everywhere until the excess flow-limiting valve on the 20# tank kicks in. If you're using a 100# tank, you won't have this luxury. Ideally, you'd use high pressure propane-rated hose to connect each tank, although the ideal system wouldn't be using little propane tanks like this. Just be sure to limit motion of the copper tubing during use.
 
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MFXPYRO2 years ago
There is another good reason for using 3 tanks rather than one and that is take off rate/freezing. multiple tanks allow you to take off more gas gas quicker and it takes longer before they start freezing (the vapour is boiling off from a much larger surface area of liquid gas). As you point out you have to be careful with copper, personally I'd use flexi armoured propane hoses, you can get them with the POL connector already on them (at least you can in the UK) as they are intended for manifolding cylinders in this way and generally they aren't that expensive. http://www.bes.co.uk/products/067.asp
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