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Old 02-07-2019, 12:39 PM   #1
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Year: 2003
Chassis: Chevy cut-away 6-window shortie
Engine: 6.0L Gasser
Where to put propane cylinders?

I've been debating for awhile how to do the propane in our short bus (6-window). We're planning an on-demand hot water heater, small space heater, and a camp stove, all using propane. That said, we'll not be using any all that often (short trips, typically not during winter), so we don't need a large propane tank setup, but the 1lb bottles are just too expensive over time, and I don't want a pile of them rattling all around.

I'd love to do 20lb BBQ tanks as they're easy to swap/fill almost anywhere. However, I don't know if there's a good way to mount them on the bus. Hung underneath the floor they hang just below the plane of the center of the axle, which I don't think is allowed or safe. Inside is definitely not my preference either, even if I build a sealed box and vent down through the floor as I've seen many seem to do, especially the van crowd.

Alternatively, I've looked somewhat at 5lb tanks and mounting brackets like the one linked here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004M9KX52/ The initial investment (especially in the 5lb tanks) is higher, but they can be filled just about anywhere that also fills BBQ tanks (just not swapped). The tanks are only 12" tall, and are much lighter, so they fit better under the bus and are not as difficult to lift into place or carry around.

Thoughts on these options? I'm leaning towards the last option, if for no other reason than I'm not sure it's smart to put the propane bottle in the bus, even if in a sealed and bottom-vented box.

What have others done on their short busses who don't have permanently-mounted RV tanks, with space at such a premium?

Chris
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Old 02-07-2019, 12:58 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farok View Post
I've been debating for awhile how to do the propane in our short bus (6-window). We're planning an on-demand hot water heater, small space heater, and a camp stove, all using propane. That said, we'll not be using any all that often (short trips, typically not during winter), so we don't need a large propane tank setup, but the 1lb bottles are just too expensive over time, and I don't want a pile of them rattling all around.

I'd love to do 20lb BBQ tanks as they're easy to swap/fill almost anywhere. However, I don't know if there's a good way to mount them on the bus. Hung underneath the floor they hang just below the plane of the center of the axle, which I don't think is allowed or safe. Inside is definitely not my preference either, even if I build a sealed box and vent down through the floor as I've seen many seem to do, especially the van crowd.

Alternatively, I've looked somewhat at 5lb tanks and mounting brackets like the one linked here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B004M9KX52/ The initial investment (especially in the 5lb tanks) is higher, but they can be filled just about anywhere that also fills BBQ tanks (just not swapped). The tanks are only 12" tall, and are much lighter, so they fit better under the bus and are not as difficult to lift into place or carry around.

Thoughts on these options? I'm leaning towards the last option, if for no other reason than I'm not sure it's smart to put the propane bottle in the bus, even if in a sealed and bottom-vented box.

What have others done on their short busses who don't have permanently-mounted RV tanks, with space at such a premium?

Chris
if there is no room in the 'basement', I've seen many camper/motorhomes with 20 or 30 lb bottles mounted in a rack on the back bumper - a 5lb bottle will last for a frustratingly short time
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:07 PM   #3
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I saw a conversion several years ago where they built a propane locker inside of the bus with an outside access door and vent.

The interior portion was sealed to prevent propane from getting into the living space.
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Old 02-07-2019, 01:47 PM   #4
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If you have the ground clearance you could weld in a steel frame or box under the floor with a door on the outside.


I think several of our more "handy" skoolie friends have done just this....
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Old 02-07-2019, 02:14 PM   #5
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Manchester makes some of the best DOT approved tanks around. And they hold up so well, used ones are fairly easy to find at big discounts. Check out Ebay or any RV wrecking yard. Also easy to hang. I welded some steel strap, drilled a few holes and was done.


They come in a very wide range of sizes. As I recall, mine is about 30 pounds.





The "DOT Thing" can become a big deal at times. You can be denied entry into most tunnels and quite a few parks with bumper mounted tanks.
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:02 PM   #6
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if there is no room in the 'basement', I've seen many camper/motorhomes with 20 or 30 lb bottles mounted in a rack on the back bumper - a 5lb bottle will last for a frustratingly short time
This is what I'm planning to do. My propane needs are limited (cook with kerosene and heat with diesel and a kerosene backup - just need the propane for the water heater) so I too originally looked into smaller tanks, but once you start finding a place to put one outside the bus, you might as well go to a 20 pounder.
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:42 PM   #7
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marine propane lockers are a possibility although the are VERY expensive, thinking of building one myself.
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Old 02-07-2019, 03:53 PM   #8
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Is your diesel heater air or hydronic?

If it is hydronic you could use it to heat your water.

The water heater that I put in my last bus had a heat exchanger loop for that purpose as well as electric element and propane burner. I have seen marine water heaters that have just the heat exchanger and electric.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tango View Post
Manchester makes some of the best DOT approved tanks around. And they hold up so well, used ones are fairly easy to find at big discounts. Check out Ebay or any RV wrecking yard. Also easy to hang. I welded some steel strap, drilled a few holes and was done.

There's a free one of CL right now. I'm guessing it's gone already though because the guy has not responded to me.

I didn't realize bumper mounting was a no-no. Guess I will rethink that.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:46 PM   #10
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marine propane lockers are a possibility although the are VERY expensive, thinking of building one myself.
I was just looking at those, $600 or so. Yikes.
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