Monday, December 4, 2023


Safely carry LP cylinders in your pickup with this clever mod

Towable RV owner? Then you’ve probably needed to transport your rig’s LP cylinders in for a fill-up, while the RV stays put. It’s important to move them safely. The propane industry is emphatic: LP cylinders should be transported upright, and secured so they won’t fall, shift, or roll around. If you’ve ever tried transporting an LP cylinder in a pickup, you know how difficult it can be to wrangle the durn things. Here’s a do-it-yourself modification that can help you stay safe.

Uptight about upright?

Some wonder, what’s the big deal about transporting an LP cylinder upright? We’ve been at propane refill stations many times and watched folks just toss cylinders into the back of a truck or a car trunk, carrying them on their sides. The problem? The safety relief valve built into the top of the cylinder must be in “direct communication” with the vapor space at the top of the cylinder. If the cylinder is not upright, then it’s likely that the relief valve will be in contact, not with vapor, but liquid LP. That’s a problem.

If the safety valve were to “pop off” or open when in contact with liquid LP, then that liquid could gush out of the tank. Liquid LP will disperse in a greater quantity than the vapor, and the danger of fire is greatly enhanced. Keeping cylinders upright has a purpose. Tanks that are allowed to roam free can also get into trouble. While LP cylinders are relatively sturdy, they aren’t indestructible and impacting on something hard and sharp could allow LP release.

Keep it upright – keep it secure

RVing boondocker Frank Billington struggled with hauling his LP cylinders. He used straps, and they proved “unacceptable.” “They always work their way out of the straps,” observed the bothered boondocker. Frank set about implementing a solution to the LP cylinder carrying conundrum. His mod tackles the “keep it upright, keep it secure” directive neatly and in short order. Click any of the photos to enlarge for a better view.

LP cylindersFrank took a piece of 5/8” plywood and cut it to fit the rear-end of his pickup, stretching from side to side. The plywood serves as a solid footing for what holds the bottles in place: dual propane cylinder racks. You often see them installed behind the hitch of travel trailers. Frank found his on, and they price out at a bit over $30. The racks often have several slotted holes punched in the bottom of their trays.

Easy build

LP cylindersWith rack in hand, Frank tells us, “I chose holes that lined up with the grooves in the truck bed, and carriage bolted them to the plywood from the bottom up. I ground off any of the bolt that protruded beyond the nut.” His purpose in this was to ensure the cylinder could sit down in the tray, and not rub bolt ends.

Frank adds, “No need to drill holes in the bed of the truck. The only time the bottles could possibly come out is if the whole sheet of plywood came at the same time. That would only happen in a rollover, at which point you would have much more to worry about.”

LP cylindersThe Brainy Billington sums up his clever contraption this way: “I found this worked really well as the bottles were firmly attached, yet easy to get at. It also leaves easy access to the back of the box to load other items, and then still be able to open and close the tailgate as needed.”

We say, “Tanks a lot, Frank!” for the great idea, and the photos. And we add, if you have any other clever mods to share, drop us a line. Use the form below and include “RV mods” on the subject line.

Click or drag a file to this area to upload.


Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.



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Left Coast Geek (@guest_185638)
1 year ago

I stick my LP bottles in 16 quart milk crates (the square ones), and secure that with a ratchet strap across the back of the truck so they are up against the tailgate. I almost always have at least two of those crates on hand in the back of my truck to keep things from sliding around.

volnavy007 (@guest_186421)
1 year ago

Same here. I use tie down straps to keep the crates from moving around.

Melissa Leisure (@guest_187186)
1 year ago

Me too. Perfect fit and never turns over. I always have at least 2 in the truck bed. One I throw the rv hoses into when not in use.

Steve Hericks (@guest_185609)
1 year ago

Securing propane tanks is a serious thing but fear-mongering is not helpful.

The pressure relief is 250PSI which would require 129F to activate. Impact or mishandling will not cause it to operate. It is specifically designed to operate ONLY on pressure produced by temperature and inferring otherwise is untrue and not helpful. It would be more helpful if you would encourage users NOT to place tanks in the blazing sun of an Arizona summer which is far more likely to cause relief activation.

There is no difference in the likelihood of pressure relief activation of a tank on its side or upright. Similarly, since relief activation is tremendously flammable, there is also no practical difference in the flammability hazard of an event in either orientation. Having the over pressure device function will discharge a large cloud of 250psi gaseous propane if upright versus liquid at 129F which will immediately flash to gas if on the side. The mass of propane released may be different

Kevin (@guest_186363)
1 year ago
Reply to  Steve Hericks

👍, yes yes. I have worked on a fork truck where the tank was installed sideways. They wouldn’t have built it that way if it could be a problem.

Charlie Davis (@guest_221120)
10 months ago
Reply to  Kevin

They are built differently for forklifts and other similar devices, not the same as RV’s bottles, including the ones that fire up your grill.
They have been building “laydown tanks” for longer than I have been in the RV business, 50 plus years, the laydown tanks are not made like the upwrite internals at all, better not use a laydown in an upright position, big explosion and fire.

TexasScout (@guest_185472)
1 year ago

For years I have used “milk crates”. They have a flat bottom, fit both 20 & 30 pound bottles, easy to find and in most cases, free. Set them in the back of your pickup and one strap holds them in place.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_185515)
1 year ago
Reply to  TexasScout

That’s what I’ve been doing for years.

John (@guest_185538)
1 year ago
Reply to  Tommy Molnar

Yep, me too

Bob (@guest_186443)
1 year ago
Reply to  John

Same here.

David carlson (@guest_185823)
1 year ago
Reply to  TexasScout

me too, I also keep the tank in the crate when it’s on the ground at camp, keeps the tank from being knocked down

Kat (@guest_185469)
1 year ago

Noobie here…I have to ask, what holds the tank to the base? Something on bottom of tank lock onto the black plate? Does it twist lock onto it?

MrDisaster (@guest_185591)
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat

Carriage bolts. Re-read the paragraph titled “easy build”

Frank (@guest_185598)
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat

There is a rod that comes with the black plate and screws into the black plate between the two bottles. On the top of the rod is a notched bar along with a wing nut to pull the tanks down onto the black base.

Frank (@guest_185603)
1 year ago
Reply to  Kat

Just realized that none of those photos show the crossbar and wing nut installed. Sorry about that.

Jake (@guest_221399)
9 months ago
Reply to  Kat

I had the same question!! Thank you Frank for the answers!

wanderer (@guest_185450)
1 year ago

Seatbelt, open windows. Cost: free.

Gary Machholz (@guest_185405)
1 year ago

That is definitely a stable way to do it. Two other options that many propane filling stations offer for sale would be the Camco or Mr. Heater tank foot. Also available on Amazon so can get their spiff.

rich (@guest_185395)
1 year ago

Milk crates hold a standard tank perfectly, and then can be strapped or bungied to a fixed point to prevent sliding around.

Crowman (@guest_185412)
1 year ago
Reply to  rich

Yep a lot of us do that.

Dan (@guest_185518)
1 year ago
Reply to  Crowman

I use the crate method, then pack it in with gear for extra protection. Also considering possibility of a collision.
On a similar note, I pack my truck with the thought of gear in a collision. Nothing loose at window level in the truck bed.

Jay (@guest_185393)
1 year ago

My 20lb tank fits snuggly in a milk crate which I strap down.

Jesse Crouse (@guest_185379)
1 year ago

“Can’t fix STUPID, only what STUPID does”. ‘What’s the big deal”. Can’t tell you how many times i have heard that come out of someone’s mouth. The “big deal” is a big “KABOOM”. This from a Plumber with 53 years of experience.

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