Big Number In Propane

This morning I got a call from a propane dealer in Tacoma. He and his wife wanted to take a drive to Eastern Washington and rub shoulders with people on this side of the mountains and who he knew could talk common sense. He must be part of the 1% of the West siders who hang their hat on the conservative hat rack. I hear they’re an endangered species.

They also wanted to buy a YankATank. I told him I could ship it to him for a hundred bucks but he said he would rather get away from the morass of liberal nonsense for a few hours. He said spending three or four hundred bucks in time and fuel was far preferred to the alternative.

He and his wife showed up this afternoon. We loaded the YankATank in the back of his pickup and shot the bull for a few minutes. He mentioned that he had put in a 30,000 gallon propane tank at their yard in Tacoma. By the time he finished with all the fees and garbage the city required, they had nailed him for a couple hundred thousand dollars in red tape.

Just one of the things they required:

There was a fire hydrant just across the street at their yard but the geniuses at city hall told him he had to have a hydrant on his side of the street. It cost him $55,000 to put it in. They did it because they can do it. I guess the list just kept getting added on to. Business friendly in most government cubicles is actually spelled Charge ’em through the nose.

I would guess the chance that they’ll ever use that fire hydrant for a propane fire is 1 in 535,000,000,000. About the same chance as winning the Power Ball Lottery. But some municipal official is pretty happy with himself.

So recently, this guy and his company opened another facility but stuck it in an outlying town so they didn’t have to deal with bloated bureaucracy. When they called the town inspector to see what it would take to put the same size tank in their new yard, the official said he’d have to check to see what the requirements were.

They didn’t hear back from him so a week later they crossed their fingers and called the inspector. His response was something like this…”Well, we’ve never had a situation like this before. I guess just come in and pay the $25 fee and that’s all you need to do.”

This small town inspector hadn’t caught the highly contagious Bureaucratic, Power Hungry and Egocentric Flu yet. I do know that once an newby gov’t official catches the vision and the No production allowed, All red tape encouraged bug, amen and bye-bye to the common sense and helpfulness of that particular pencil pusher and/or department.

Since we’re talking propane, let me share something else that just came up.

You’ll probably find a few mistakes in my following commentary as far as correct grammar but it’s really nothing compared to the usual lingo I often see on the silver screen. Ok, let’s road the get on the show.

These days the literacy level of the average person is dramatically lower than it used to be. Every day I see examples. You can blame faulty spell checkers. Blame artificial intelligence. Blame the new-fangled math program even if it has nothing to do with literacy. Blame the stinking phone in everybody’s pocket. Blame the drastically lower attention span of a large segment of the newer generations. Or, just blame Trump since he can take the heat.

The latest literacy (and math) boo-boo occurred when I got on the Lowe’s site to look for a propane torpedo heater. I just can’t take it anymore without letting somebody know of my angst. Me: vent. Heater: non-vented.

Here’s the heater. There’s nothing wrong with the picture or grammar on the heater labels.

Dyna-Glo Delux 150,000 Portable Forced Air Propane Heater

The question below the photo posed to Lowe’s customer service by a potential heater buyer is where I started grinding my teeth. Here’s the question:

“approx how long does a 20 lbs of propane lank last for in a 60,000,000 portable forced air propane”

Take a look at that link, specifically the reviews. The third reviewer gave the heater one star simply because he knows absolutely nothing about the purpose and performance of a torpedo heater. He’s an idiot (It takes one to know one). I gave the fourth review. I offered the third guy $50 for his heater that he claimed was worthless.  They printed my stars but not my comment/offer.

I guess Lowe’s doesn’t want people wheeling and dealing on their review page.

Back to the comment that bugged me. “approx how long does a 20 lbs of propane lank last for in a 60,000,000 portable forced air propane” At first glance, you probably see nothing wrong with the verbage. But I do. So unlike the ventless heater, I will vent.

First of all, approx should be capitalized since it’s the first word of the sentence. Second, approx isn’t a word. And if it really was intended to be abbreviated, why isn’t there a period after it?

Third, it should probably read: “a 20 lb. tank of propane” instead of a 20 lbs of propane lank… Fourth, what in the heck is a lank? I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and figure they mean tank. And lastly, where in the heck can you get a sixty million BTU an hour portable propane heater? I know Lowe’s doesn’t carry it.

From my propane days, I remember that a five-gallon propane tank legally holds about 4.7 gallons. That’s about 427,700 BTU’s packed in the little can. They are technically called 20 lb cylinders since that’s the weight of the propane you can get in it before you start flirting with a lawsuit.

If you hooked that 20 lb cylinder up to a 60 million BTU heater (such as this guy is looking for), you would burn through a five gallon tank of propane in about 20 seconds. I don’t think the liquid propane would even vaporize that fast and if it did, it would probably be classified as an uncontrolled explosion. 20 seconds is barely enough time to heat your barbecue up but is also likely to burn your house down IF you CAN get the heater fired up.

Of course, that could only happen if you had a big enough valve, regulator and piping system coming out of the tank. In fact, the valve would need to be about three times as big as the tank to handle the gas passing through. I don’t know if this guy cares about costs but I would guess a valve that size would run a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Of course, this heater line of Lowe’s is for vapor-fired heaters which are little bitty when compared to liquid-fired heaters. But that’s a whole ‘nother story (btw, is ‘nother a word?).

I admit, the whole thing is preposterous. The customer was probably meaning to ask about a 60,000 BTU heater but was probably thinking about that kid from Florida that just won 400 and some million dollars in the lotto. That would explain all his extra zeros.

It would take 665 gallons of propane to fire up the heater this dude is looking for and run for an hour. That would take 142 five gallon tanks, I mean 20 lb cylinders. His garage would be toasty for the rest of the afternoon.

I’d like to find out who this fellow is and go to work for him. Maybe he would get carried away when he was writing my check and throw a few extra zero’s down. But then again, he would probably spell my name Bent.

I think I could set up his heater for him. Just don’t call the inspector because in reality, the only propane training I ever received was from the School of Hard Knox.

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