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MODULE 9. Delivering Cylinders . Introduction.

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module 9

Delivering Cylinders


As a cylinder delivery driver, you’re responsible for loading, transporting, and delivering DOT/ICC cylinders to residential and commercial customers safely and efficiently. This requires you to operate different types of cylinder delivery vehicles and use equipment to lift and secure cylinders properly. You must also inspect indoor and outdoor storage facilities to ensure they are suitable for cylinder storage.

After completing this module, you will be able to:

  • Recognize common features and equipment of cylinder delivery vehicles
  • Identify procedures for delivering cylinders to residential customers
  • Identify methods for inspecting propane storage facilities at commercial locations
  • Identify procedures for delivering cylinders to commercial customers
lesson 1

Features and Equipment of Cylinder Delivery Vehicles


Types of Cylinder Delivery Vehicles

Propane companies offering cylinder exchange services may use a variety of cylinder delivery vehicles, depending on the type, size, and number of cylinders being transported and the number of deliveries required. In this lesson, we’ll look at the different types of vehicles and the features and equipment they have in common. Depending on your customers, you may drive a:

  • Pickup truck
  • Straight truck with a rack bed or stake body (typically with a 1 ton or 2 ton rated chassis)
  • Combination straight truck that combine cylinder racks with small cargo tanks, service tool boxes, and/or boom cranes for ASME tanks
  • Tractor/trailer truck used on large cylinder exchange routes
common features of cylinder delivery vehicles
Common Features of Cylinder Delivery Vehicles

Regardless of their particular design, most cylinder delivery vehicles have the following features and equipment in common:

  • Service beds with stake panels and/or fixed cylinder racks
  • Cylinder securing devices
  • One or more cylinder dollies
  • Lift gates
  • Chock blocks to keep the vehicle from moving when cylinders are being loaded and unloaded at the loading dock or customer site
  • One or more fire extinguishers
  • Placard holders
service beds
Service Beds

A cylinder service bed is a flat deck of steel and wood on the back of the delivery vehicle. It is fitted with pockets on the sides for either:

  • Fixed Cylinder Racks: Are permanently secured to the service bed and have several points for attaching load binders to secure the cylinders.
  • Removable Stake Panels: Allow for more flexible use of the vehicle in cylinder and residential ASME tank delivery operations. Stake panels require additional care when securing cylinders for transportation.

Some service beds can have both fixed racks and removable stake panels and fixed cylinder racks, allowing the vehicle to transport both DOT/ICC cylinders and larger ASME tanks.

cylinder securing devices
Cylinder Securing Devices

49 CFR requires all cylinders and tanks not permanently attached to a delivery vehicle to be secured against movement, tipping, or physical damage during transport. If cylinders are carried in an exchange cylinder cabinet, the cabinet must be secured to the vehicle and the cabinet doors must be securely closed.

Both cylinders and cylinder cabinets may be secured with:

  • Cargo straps and binders
  • Chains and chain binders

Protect cylinder valves in transport by attaching metal caps over them. Some valves are designed to be protected by the “collar” of the cylinder and do not need additional capping.

cylinder dollies
Cylinder Dollies

Dollies are essential pieces of equipment used for safe cylinder delivery and may prevent back injuries from lifting heavy objects.

Exchange Cylinder Dollies

  • Suitable for moving exchange cylinders with up to 100 lb propane capacity.

Stationary Cylinder Dollies

  • Can move large stationary cylinders when a truck-mounted crane is unavailable or impractical.
  • Typically have heavy foot ring lifting points, securing straps and ratchet binders, and lockable tilting levers capable of handling heavy loads
  • Have larger and heavier wheels, a rear stabilizing pivot wheel, and may be equipped with a gasoline engine for propulsion.
safely using cylinder dollies
Safely Using Cylinder Dollies
  • Always use caution when moving cylinders on a dolly. Valves damaged by dropping or tipping over the cylinder can release pressurized and flammable gas.
  • Always wear personal protective equipment to avoid coming into contact with liquid propane, as it can freeze the skin.
  • Make sure the lift gate is large enough to hold the dolly so it doesn’t roll when loading and unloading cylinders. This is especially important if your vehicle is parked on an uneven surface.
  • Firmly secure cylinder dollies to the truck to prevent them from moving and damaging cylinders, falling off the vehicle, or presenting a hazard.
  • Store dollies in a readily accessible location on the truck
  • When using a motorized dolly, remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid personal injury and damage to the equipment
lift gates
Lift Gates

Lift gates raise and lower cylinders on and off of the cylinder delivery vehicle. They vary in size and lifting capacity, and may be either electric/hydraulic or cable operated. The lift gate platform may fold or be a single-piece.  Inspect the lift gate frequently during your daily deliveries for these signs:

  • Low reservoir levels or hydraulic fluid leaks
  • Excessively worn or damaged hydraulic hoses or fittings
  • Pivot point bearing lubrication
  • Excessive corrosion on mounting bolts, cylinder mounts, travel arms, or lift gate pieces
  • Frayed or loose cables or cable attaching mechanisms
  • Cracked or broken welds
  • Misaligned arms or other travel components
  • Loose or damaged electrical wiring
safely using lift gates
Safely Using Lift Gates

Follow these precautions when operating lift gates:

  • Park your vehicle on level or near-level ground before moving the dolly and cylinders onto the lift gate.
  • Never ride, or let others ride, on the lift gate unless manufacturer’s instructions allow it.
  • Keep your hands off the lift gate when raising and lowering to avoid a pinch point injury.
  • Keep your feet clear of the lift gate landing area, especially while folding or unfolding two-piece platforms.
  • Make sure the load is centered on the lift gate, and not allowed to tilt or fall.
  • Do not try to catch a load if it does fall.
  • Operate the control levers or switches from a safe position as specified in the manufacturer’s operating instructions.
lesson 2

Delivering Cylinders to Residential Customers

loading and securing cylinders
Loading and Securing Cylinders

Now that you understand the common features and equipment of your delivery vehicle, you can properly load and secure your cylinders for transport to customers. In this lesson, you’ll learn how to exchange cylinders at residential sites. First, let’s review some tips for loading and securing cylinders.

Before delivering cylinders to customer locations, they must be properly loaded and secured on the vehicle.

Before loading you must . . .

  • Inspect all cylinders for proper markings and fitness.
  • Ensure cylinder valves and fittings are leak free before loading.
  • Protect cylinder valves and fittings against physical damage.


loading and securing cylinders cont
Loading and Securing Cylinders cont.

During loading . . .

  • Place cylinders so that the weight remains evenly distributed on the service bed. An ideal load places most of the weight on the front and rear axles, and evenly distributes it, both side-to-side and front to back. An unbalanced load is very dangerous, and can make the vehicle hard to handle or even overturn.
  • Load cylinders in a suitable rack or frame on the service bed.
  • Securely restrain cylinders in an upright, vertical position to keep them from shifting, falling, or being ejected from the truck.
  • Position cylinders so that their relief valves are in direct communication with the vapor space at all times. Secure them in this position with binders or straps.
steps for delivering cylinders to residential customers
Steps for Delivering Cylinders to Residential Customers

When delivering cylinders to residential customers, these are the proper steps to follow:

  • Step 1: Position the Delivery Vehicle
  • Step 2: Inspect the Cylinder Installation
  • Step 3: Determine if an Interruption of Gas Service Occurred
  • Step 4: Move Cylinders to Installation Site
  • Step 5: Determine Type of Installation
  • Step 6: Exchange the Cylinders: Automatic Installation
  • Step 7: Exchange the Cylinders: Manual Installation
  • Step 8: Return Empty Cylinders

Note: Exchange cylinders may, in some cases, have a protective cover over them to protect the regulator from rain, snow, and other debris. The cover in the photo has been left off for instructional purposes.

step 1 position the delivery vehicle
Step 1: Position the Delivery Vehicle

When positioning the cylinder vehicle for delivery, be sure the brake and chock blocks are properly set.

Also, check the area for any open flames or other ignition sources.

step 2 inspect the cylinder installation
Step 2: Inspect the Cylinder Installation

Visually inspect the customer’s installation before exchanging cylinders.

The Cylinder Foundation

  • Cylinders must be placed in an upright and stable position on a firm and level foundation and not in contact with the soil.
  • Cylinders must be firmly secured in case of expansion, contraction, jarring, vibration, and settling.
  • Connecting piping must be flexible.

General Hazards

  • Installation area must be clear of any loose or piled combustible materials such as hay, paper, firewood, or miscellaneous trash for a distance of 10 ft around the cylinders.
  • Pigtails and valves must be clear of debris.


step 2 inspect the cylinder installation cont
Step 2: Inspect the Cylinder Installation cont.

DOT exchange cylinders must be positioned with the discharge of the pressure relief valves installed:

  • At least 3 ft horizontally away from any building opening located below the level of the relief valve discharge.
  • At least 5 ft in any direction from any exterior source of ignition, openings into direct-vented appliances, or mechanical ventilation air intakes for the building ignition sources, openings into direct-vented appliances, and mechanical ventilation air intakes.
  • Pressure regulators must be positioned so that rain, snow, or sleet cannot enter the regulator vent.
step 3 determine if an interruption of gas service occurred
Step 3: Determine if an Interruption of Gas Service Occurred

If all cylinders are empty or filled cylinders are not turned on to supply the system, you must use special care to ensure that gas is not introduced into the customer’s home until a leak check has been performed.

  • Look for signs of pressurized propane vapor in the system by checking:
  • The status of cylinder service valves
  • The level of pressurized vapor at the fixed maximum liquid level gauges
  • Propane liquid levels

Note: Use the methods your company specifies to determine if an interruption of gas service has occurred.

step 4 move cylinders to installation site
Step 4: Move Cylinders to Installation Site

Once you determine the customer’s cylinder is empty:

  • Lower the full cylinder from the delivery vehicle to the ground: Be very careful not to drop the full cylinder. If you are using a lift gate, lower the platform slowly and support the cylinder.
  • Move the full cylinder to the installation site: Once the cylinder is safely off the truck, transport the cylinder by dolly to the installation site. Make sure the valve protection remains in place until the cylinder is secured on the installation foundation.
step 5 determine type of installation
Step 5:Determine Type of Installation

Before exchanging the full cylinder with the empty one, determine if the customer has an automatic or manual installation.

Automatic Installations: When the supply cylinder empties, the system automatically switches to the reserve cylinder.

Manual Installation: The customer must manually change propane service over from the empty supply cylinder to the reserve cylinder. Procedures for manual installation cylinder replacement will depend upon the type of "T" connection.


step 5 determine type of installation cont
Step 5:Determine Type of Installation cont.

There are four types of changeover manifolds including:

  • Simple "T" connection: Requires the delivery person to close the service valves on both the supply and reserve cylinders, causing a temporary interruption in customer service. Note: See your company policy regarding procedures for an interruption of service. If the service valve is not closed on the reserve cylinder, propane is forced out the other side of the "T" connection into the service area.
  • T-check manifold: Has a floating disc check which minimizes the discharge of gas to the atmosphere when the empty cylinder is being replaced. The difference in line pressure created by the empty tank forces the valve shut on the supply side when the empty tank is removed.
  • Multiple cylinder manifold: Used with suitable pigtails to connect multiple cylinders together. This manifold provides a three-way tee function without an internal disc check.
  • T-block manifold: Is no longer being manufactured but may still be used in some of the installations you service. Provides a positive means to close off one service line and open another. In a two-cylinder system it is used to provide an uninterrupted service while the empty cylinder is being replaced.


step 5 determine type of installation cont1
Step 5:Determine Type of Installation cont.

T-Check Manifold

T-Block Manifold

step 6 exchange the cylinders automatic installation
Step 6:Exchange the Cylinders – Automatic Installation

Follow these steps to exchange cylinders at an automatic installation:

  • Determine whichcylinder is empty.
  • Close the service valve on the empty cylinder.
  • Change the supply indicator. The cylinder that was the reserve is now indicated as the supply. The new cylinder is now the reserve.
  • Check that the indicator has changed color. The indicator may be on the cylinder or in a remote location.


step 6 exchange the cylinders automatic installation cont
Step 6:Exchange the Cylinders – Automatic Installation cont.

Follow these steps to exchange cylinders at an automatic installation:

  • Disconnect the empty cylinder.
  • Replace the empty cylinder with the full one and reconnect the pigtail.
  • Turn on the service valve on the full cylinder (which is now designated as the reserve cylinder).
  • Check the connection for leaks.
step 7 exchange the cylinders manual installation
Step 7:Exchange the Cylinders – Manual Installation

Follow these steps to exchange cylinders at an automatic installation:

  • Determine which cylinder is empty.
  • Check to see if the service valve is closed.
  • Disconnect the pigtail from the cylinder (remember, it’s a left-handed thread).
  • Remove the empty cylinder.


step 7 exchange the cylinders manual installation cont
Step 7:Exchange the Cylinders – Manual Installation cont.

Follow these steps to exchange cylinders at an automatic installation:

  • Properly position the full cylinder.
  • Reconnect the full cylinder to the pigtail and turn the service valve on.
  • Check the connection for leaks.
  • Turn the service valve off.
step 8 return empty cylinders
Step 8: Return Empty Cylinders

After you have exchanged cylinders, you must return the empty cylinder(s) to the truck.

  • Be sure the protective cap is secured over the service valve of the empty cylinder.
  • Carefully load the empty cylinder on to the vehicle. Do not toss the cylinder onto the truck.
  • Secure the cylinder in an upright position on the truck.
lesson 3

Delivering Cylinders to Commercial Customers

inspecting indoor storage facilities
Inspecting Indoor Storage Facilities

In addition to residential deliveries, your job includes transporting and exchanging cylinders at commercial locations such as home improvement centers and gas stations. Exchanging cylinders at these locations may be less complicated, but there are additional inspection requirements you must follow.

Before unloading cylinders inside buildings, inspect the storage facility to ensure that the area is suitable for storing cylinders. Although local requirements governing indoor storage areas for portable propane cylinders vary, they all must meet certain conditions to be incompliance with NFPA 58 regulations.


inspecting indoor storage facilities cont
Inspecting Indoor Storage Facilities cont.

NFPA 58 regulations include:

  • At least one fire extinguisher of a minimum of 18 lb with a B:C rating.
  • Cylinders must be positioned with the pressure relief valve in direct communication with the vapor space.
  • The storage location minimizes exposure to physical damage, tampering, and excessive temperatures.
  • Cylinders and their valves are adequately protected.
  • The storage racks are free of any structural damage.
  • No trash or combustibles are within 10 feet of the storage area.
  • No more than 300 lb of propane is stored at the location. This is a maximum of nine 33 lb cylinders, six 44 lb cylinders, or three 100 lb cylinders.
  • The storage area is located at least 300 feet away from any additional propane storage area on the same floor inside the building.

If you determine that the storage facility is unsafe, it is your job to advise the facility manager of the problems you found and postpone any cylinder delivery until the problems are corrected.

inspecting outdoor storage facilities
Inspecting Outdoor StorageFacilities

There is no maximum propane storage limitation for outdoor storage areas, but several NFPA 58 requirements do apply. The storage area must:

  • Be at least 10 ft from doorways or openings in public buildings with only one means of exit.
  • Be at least 5 ft from doorways or openings in buildings with at least two independent exits.
  • Be at least 20 ft from any automotive gas pump.
  • Have adequate protection from vehicle traffic.
  • Be protected by a 6 ft high industrial fence OR
  • Contain lockable, ventilated metal lockers on racks. that prevent tampering with valves and cylinders.

Note: If more than 720 lb of propane (36 or more 20 lb grill cylinders) are stored in one location, the area must be provided with at least one approved portable fire extinguisher having a minimum capacity of 18 lb dry chemical with a B:C rating and located no more than 50 ft from the storage location.  If the installation does not comply with requirements, notify your supervisor.

steps for delivering cylinders to commercial customers
Steps for Delivering Cylinders to Commercial Customers

When you arrive at your commercial customer’s location:

  • Park and secure the delivery vehicle in an appropriate area near the cylinder storage location and place the chock blocks.
  • Inspect the storage area.
  • Remove empty cylinders from the storage area. Before loading empty cylinders onto the truck, inspect them for signs of damage and missing parts, and verify that the DOT shipping labels are readable and proper. Then load and secure empty cylinders onto the truck.
  • Unload full cylinders from the vehicle. Use proper handling methods to prevent damage to the cylinder or injury to yourself and others.
  • Properly position filled cylinders in storage racks with the relief valve at the top of the cylinder communicating with the vapor space. Make sure the fixed maximum liquid level gauge and service valve are shut.
  • Complete the appropriate company paperwork.

Some important points to remember from this module are:

  • If you deliver propane cylinders to customers, you must be trained on your vehicle’s features and equipment. Cylinder delivery vehicles have various tools and equipment such as dollies, lift gates, and storage racks to help make your job easier and safer.
  • When loading cylinders on your vehicle, it is critical that they are secured in racks with binders to prevent moving, tipping over, or physical damage during transportation.
  • When delivering cylinders to residences, be sure to inspect the customer’s foundation and cylinder area for hazards. Use proper exchange procedures based on the type of installation.
  • Both indoor and outdoor storage facilities at commercial locations must be inspected to ensure that the areas are suitable for cylinder storage. If you find unsafe conditions, alert the facility manager and postpone the delivery until the situation has been corrected.