Tuesday, October 3, 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 Amazon.com, and they price out at about $35. 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 out 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.

Another easy and safe way to transport LP cylinders is in milk crates that are strapped or bungie-corded snuggly into the truck bed.



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1 month ago

I only take one little one at a time. I got a canvas thing the tank fits in with straps to secure it. It was a bit spendy, but a crate took too much space for me.

Ham Radio
1 month ago

I’ve used the milk crate solution with success but our current method is a HitchMate ratcheting cargo bar+cross brace that fits east-west in the truck bed. Set the LP cylinder(s) into a corner, attach the cargo bar to the bed, position the cross brace on the bar with thumb screws and the cylinders are rock steady. The cargo bar is also wonderful for transporting cartons or bulky items. Cheers.

Calvin Wing
1 month ago

If you’re going to all the trouble to cut a piece of plywood to fit the truck bed then why not cut a couple of holes in the plywood to fit the rings on the bottom of the LP tanks? Then an eye bolt on either side for a ratchet strap and you have the same setup without the cost of the tank bracket.
But personally I just use a 2” ratchet strap and have never had any issues strapping the tanks upright across the tailgate.

1 month ago

Those seem like they would still allow a cylinder to topple much easier than in a milk crate ($11.49 at Home Depot).

1 month ago

Milk crates for the win.

Left Coast Geek
1 month ago
Reply to  Dennis

yeah, I put my 20 lb propane tanks in 16 quart milk crates, $24 for 3 at Amazon, and strap those down in the truck bed with ratchet straps. they are useful for lots of things. I also use them for 5 gallon water carboys.

Neal Davis
1 month ago

Interesting. Thank you!

1 month ago

Never had any problems using straps. I use 2 of them. One high and one low. Nobody is going to build a system like this.

dale rose
1 month ago

When propane is vented to atmosphere, it expands 270 times. At 70 degrees, the propane in a 20 pound tank is at 145 psi. At 100 degrees, propane is at 172 psi.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago

Milk crates for me too. Simple solution, though I have been guilty of just sliding my tank into the back of my p\u for the quick trip to and from U-Haul if no milk crate was available.

Jim Johnson
1 month ago

My vote is for the less expensive and very effective ‘milk’ crates for 20 & 30 lb propane tanks. (note: fully legal (as in not stolen) and durable crates are now available from many big box hardware stores) No choice but to transport tanks for refilling inside our SUV. The cargo area has a non-skid rubber mat. The tanks don’t slide, and have never fallen over while in a crate. I also use those crates for temporary transport of other things – like firewood.

Bob P
1 month ago

This will work good if you’re taking two cylinders at a time, however I’ve never emptied both cylinders simultaneously. When one runs out to take it for refilling. The milk crate works great for this.

J Straw
1 month ago

Any LP tank that is the same diameter as the “standard (grill 20#) tank” will fit nicely into a milk crate. Use the milk crates all the time to transport, they are affordable, keep the tank from tipping, can be used in any vehicle, and can be used for other purposes.

1 month ago

That’s a great idea but too bulky to store. We just use milk crates and hook them to the truck as needed. Perfect snug fit. Stackable when not needed.

1 month ago
Reply to  Jules

I also use milk crates. I have one that stays in the bed of my pickup all the time. Also comes in handy when shopping to keep bulky items from sliding around. Tie them to the cargo hooks on the side of the bed.
I was lucky when a dairy store near me went out of business. They had them stacked up for trash pickup.

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