|Must-know facts about paintball air tanks|
|George said, "I found this tank in my workshop. It looks ok, but how old is it? Is it ok to fill?" |
This is a question every airsmith hears. Paintball is 27 years old in 2008-it started in 1981-and the constant air tanks came into paintball in 1985 and 1986 in southern California, so there can be some older tanks out there.
There are stampings in the aluminum or steel tanks, and a manufacturer's sticker on the fiber-wrapped tanks. The information on the tank will tell you a lot about the tank. When was it made? What is the pressure rating? When was it last properly pressure tested and inspected?
There's a lot of good information on the label. Some of it is in a special code that you can learn easily. Unlock the meaning now!
Aluminum and Steel Tanks
Aluminum and steel tanks manufactured or tested in the past five years are good for five years from the date of testing. So long as they keep passing the hydro test every five years, all-steel and all-aluminum tanks are good indefinitely.
Decode the Label
Look at the pictures with this article. Start with the compressed air fiber-wrapped tank in Example 1. Look at the big label on the side.
The most important thing you're looking for is what pressure the tank is rated to hold. Second most important is the date of manufacture.
The first critical line has "TC" in it. This indicates a tank with Canadian approvals. The code means "Transport Canada." Next is the Canadian "exemption" number, meaning that the manufacturer has received approval of this tank design and production from Canada's regulatory agency. The last number (310) is the pressure rating in bars, a metric unit of measure.
The next line starts "DOT," which stands for the United States Department of Transportation. The next group starts with an E and is the DOT exemption number under which this tank was produced. The last group on this line is 4500, which is the maximum pressure in PSI that this tank can be filled for regular use. (Other common pressures are 1800, 3000 and 5000.) Never overfill a tank. Always inspect the tank for the pressure rating before you fill it, because tanks can look alike but have different pressure ratings.
The next line has the serial number of the tank, followed by the name of the company that made the cylinder.
The next line of code tells when the tank was manufactured. The tank can be made in one year but not put into service until a later year, but nevertheless, the tank is considered as old as the date on the tank.
A 10 means that it was made in October, the tenth month of the year. An 06 means 2006.
In between the month and the year, there is a code symbol for the testing service that tested the tank when it was made. In Example 1, the arrow-like symbol stands for Arrowhead Industrial Services.
There are several companies that make compressed air tanks. Each company has its own DOT number or numbers for US made tanks. Usually, the tank is made by one company, and the valve or valve-regulator is added by a company for paintball use. The tank may have the company's name added to "private label" the resulting system.
These numbers may be in different places on bottles from different manufacturers, but wherever they are, now you know what they mean.
In Example 1, after the TC, DOT and serial number lines, there two general description lines that describe its capacity.
This tank was made in July 1995. When it was retested in July 2001, another label was attached to the tank above the original label. There is a figure of 5000 in the pressure box. This is the test pressure only. The working pressure, 3000 psi, is always controlled by the original label.
In August 2004, the tank was tested again and the bottom label added.
When fiber wrapped tanks were first introduced in paintball, in the U.S., the service life of the tanks was set at 15 years. That means even if it passed a test on the last day of the 15th year, it could not be used the next day, day one of the 16th year.
Tanks also had to retested every three years.
There are now 3 tank series whose tests are good for five years.
1) Carleton Technologies tanks manufactured under DOT-E 11194, IF they were manufactured or tested after July 1, 2001.
2) Luxfer Cylinders produced under DOT-E 10915, IF they were manufactured or tested after May 11, 2001.
3) Structural Composites Industries tanks produced under DOT-E 10945, IF they were manufactured or tested after July 1, 2001.
In 2005, U.S. federal law changed the designation from exemption (E) to Special Permit (SP), for new or renewed exemptions/permits. Since the exemptions/permits are either two or four years in duration, some are now being renewed, and the SP designation should start showing up on paintball tanks.
Keep in mind the maximum fill pressure is critically important for your safety and the safety of those around you. When a tank was made or last tested dectermines when the tank can be filled.
You are responsible to know about every tank you own.
Disclaimer: The information in this article does not include all the cautions and hazards associated with the use of air power in paintball. Dangers associated with the use and handling of air power may include serious injury or death. Air power includes the use of compressed air, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and/or propane as power sources for paintball markers.
Proper storage of tanks: empty, isolated so they don't bang each other on the regs, gauges, or threads.
A regulator (arrow) reduces the pressure of the high pressure air from inside the tank, and lets that lower pressure air out so it can power your paintballs downfield.
Powered up! High Pressure Air (HPA) is compressed air, used by nearly 100 per cent of tournament players.
For safety, chronograph your marker after every tank fill. This player at Oklahoma D-Day. is adjusting his tank velocity while a referee observes and will check the chrono speed.
Example 1. This is a tank certified for Canada. Notice the TC on the top line; TC stands for Transport Canada.
At some events, a tank that has been checked for hydrotest date, and visually inspected for damage, will get a band (arrow) to show it has been checked.
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Do not put stickers on your tanks. Instead, use a tank cover and put stickers or team information on the removable tank cover.