I’ve had to replace all the propane bottles on Lunacy over the past two years, as no one would refill the really old aluminum ones that came with the boat. While shopping around, I took a hard look at the new fiberglass bottles that are now available. As intriguing as they seemed–because they are so light and you can actually see the fuel inside–I opted to stick with aluminum bottles, simply because they last longer. Now I’m very glad I didn’t buy any glass bottles from Lite Cylinders of Franklin, Tennessee, as it turns out their products have recently been recalled and the company has gone out of business as a result.
You can read the full emergency order from the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) here. It describes the problems with Lite’s bottles and Lite’s failures to comply with manufacturing and testing regulations in some detail. Probably the most alarming fact in there is that the overall failure rate for certain Lite bottles during tests was over 9 percent in 2012. For big 33-pound bottles it was 36 percent!
Read the announcement here to see how the recalled bottles are marked.
Because Lite Cylinders has now gone belly up, they cannot replace any bottles they’ve sold. Your only redress is through retailers, who will only help you out if they are really nice guys. Down in the islands, at least, Island Water World and Budget Marine have stepped up to the plate and reportedly are offering to replace bottles they sold at cost (or close to it) if you can produce proof of purchase.
Scanning a couple of forum discussions on this topic (here and here), I was a little alarmed (but not too surprised) to see that some cruisers out there are trying to figure ways to keep using the Lite bottles they already own.
Don’t be stupid, people! This is propane gas we’re talking about. Your boat could go boom big time if it is stored improperly.
Also: this doesn’t mean fiberglass bottles from other manufacturers are suspect. There’s no need to write off the whole industry!