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Liquid petroleum gas (LP gas) or propane, is a very useful, convenient and widely used fuel in the farrier industry. Transportable propane cylinders, as used in the typical farrier forge, are regulated by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT). There are two basic types of portable propane cylinders used by farriers; vertical and horizontal cylinders.
Most farriers use 20- or 30-pound portable vertical cylinders, although some prefer 30-pound or more fixed horizontal cylinders. These cylinders are sometimes described in terms of the volume they hold in gallons. For example, the 20-pound cylinder is often referred to as a 5-gallon cylinder. This isn’t a precise measurement, as a 20-pound cylinder holds closer to 4.7 gallons of propane. It’s more accurate to refer to cylinder sizes by the number of pounds of propane they hold rather than gallons. Propane tanks are filled to 80% capacity, leaving a safety cushion of 20% for gas expansion.
The DOT sets exact limits on the weight of hazardous materials that may be transported before a vehicle is required to have a placard. A placard is a sign that is attached to the vehicle denoting the types of hazardous materials being transporting. When you are transporting propane cylinders, you are transporting hazardous materials. Vehicle placarding is required when the total weight of the cylinders and propane reach a combined weight of more than 1,000 pounds or exceeds 25 20-pound cylinders. Very few farriers are ever likely to have to deal with this transportation regulation.