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Old 09-26-2012, 02:52 PM   #1
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Default Doing your own CO2 refills from a larger tank

Hi folks! First post on HBT; I hope this isn't a question that's been answered before, my search didn't turn up anything.

I've got a 5# and 20# for my homebrewing. I'm lucky enough to also work in a microbrewery, and there are always a bunch of tanks, 50# I think, circulating though here.

I figure there must me some device you can get to refill small tanks off a bigger one - just something to let you equalize the pressure between the two. Small tank swaps are expensive around here, it would be great if I could just tap the brewery's supply. Has anyone ever heard of such a thing?

Thanks!

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Old 09-26-2012, 03:42 PM   #2
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Yes...
But when filling a CO2 tank you fill liquid not gas.
Most tanks are not syphon tube cylinders so you would need turn the 50lb tank upside down to get the liquid CO2.
A scale to make sure you do not overfill your tank.
Safety equipment, liquid CO2 is a freeze hazard.
High pressure hose and fittings.

I'd google and get more information and facts.

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Old 09-26-2012, 05:51 PM   #3
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I used to work in the custom spraying and ag testing field. We would do 4' handheld sprayers with a 5lb CO2 backpack tank through a two liter bottle with the appropriate product mix to the boom. I did self fills all the time. Smooth is right about the siphon tube. A standard CO2 tank will not fill the liquid, never tried them upside down.

You would need a high pressure transfer hose. Hook the two together, open the small, empty tank, open the larger tank. Wait till the sound of transferring liquid stops. Close big tank. Close small tank. Just barely crack the fitting to release pressure (our hose had a pressure relief built in that you could crack open). Voila! A scale would be useful for making sure you dont overfill. I never used one, probably have hundreds of self fills under my belt.

Disclaimer: This is dangerous. You are dealing with a high pressure gas. Things can and will explode. The expanding gas causes temperatures well below zero.

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Old 09-26-2012, 05:58 PM   #4
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I say go for it - the Darwin Awards are always looking for new candidates

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Old 09-26-2012, 08:08 PM   #5
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I say go for it - the Darwin Awards are always looking for new candidates
Thanks for the vote of confidence, man. If I'm here asking for the opinion of folks with more experience, it's so that I hopefully stay out of the running.
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Old 09-26-2012, 08:10 PM   #6
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A standard CO2 tank will not fill the liquid, never tried them upside down.
Thanks for the input, ktm. I'm just not sure I understand - so you were using non-standard tanks? Or did I miss something?
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Old 09-26-2012, 09:20 PM   #7
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There are two types of CO2 tanks that he is talking about here. A siphon tube tank has an inner tube connected to the valve that pulls the condensed liquid CO2 from the bottom of the tank, much like the dip tube on your keg pulls beer from the bottom. A standard CO2 tank does not have this tube, so when you open the valve you get the gas that is in the headspace of the cylinder.

From what I have read, it is possible to use a standard tank to fill by turning it upside down, or tilting enough so that liquid will flow out instead of gas. The hazards of such a practice are increased as dropping the tank on its top (the valve) will likely result in injury and certainly property damage, such as the tank rocketing through your roof.

If you can design some kind of ramp that would allow you to secure an inverted standard tank, I don't see much of a problem with flowing liquid CO2 through the valve, hi-pressure cryogenic tubing (or just direct metal fittings), and the valve on the donor tank. As someone said, best to weight the cylinder to make sure you don't overfill.

Anyone see a problem with this approach? This coming from the guy who has not actually tried this...

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Old 09-26-2012, 09:35 PM   #8
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I think paintball guys do this. I have a friend that uses a 20 oz paintball tank for serving, and he fills it and force carbs with the larger 20lb tank. He mentioned having the right part to do the transfer, but that is all I know.

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Old 09-26-2012, 10:02 PM   #9
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I have refilled my paintball tanks from a bigger normal tank that was hung upside down.
you need a scale for the tank that is filling so you dont overfill it.
some high pressure needle valves,the ones I had where rated at 6000#.
all fittings and nipples use sced 80 forged fittings with high pressure rateings.
overfilled one tank and the bust disk blew off while driving and scared the crap out of me.

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Old 09-26-2012, 10:06 PM   #10
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You need a high-pressure hose with tank connectors at both ends and a SOLID stand to hold the 50 lb tank upside-down so you can also access the valve. And a scale, because an overfilled tank can blow the safety disk with even a small change in temperature. With those, it's safe enough.

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