Disappearing LPG pumps...

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colin33
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Disappearing LPG pumps...

#1 Post by colin33 » Fri Feb 07, 2020 6:16 pm

With Shell now ditching their LPG pumps where are we getting our fuel from? My local is due to stop LPG in October and there's no other viable options in my area (West Cornwall) Until recently Shell were still encouraging conversion to LPG and how many users are gonna be pissed off after spending thousands on conversions only to find Shell now ditching the fuel? Bunch of cnuts!

Brian_H
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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#2 Post by Brian_H » Fri Feb 07, 2020 7:00 pm

Make it quite clear to them you won't be buying any fuel from them in future once the pump goes. If there is enough demand you might get some alternative option, but in more remote places you could well be out of luck. Scotland has lost almost every one of their pumps from autogas, although in the built up areas its available in quite a few supermarket stations. Just they aren't 24 hour in a lot of cases.

Its not a wholesale ditching of Autogas by Shell, just they have decided to (foolishly) remove all their non-profitable pumps. A lot of the reason those pumps are not returning a profit for them, is simply they are too expensive. Derby for example, the Shell station they removed the pump from was at 67.9 before it was removed, Asda a mile away was 52.7. If they can't see why they can't make a profit at that then there isn't any helping them really.

I've seen over the last few years its gone from having around 20 locations within 20 miles of home I could fill up at, down to 10. And I'm relatively lucky in that respect. Every one thats disappeared (with one exception as that garage got demolished and replaced with a housing estate) are the places that were more expensive hence I tended not to use them anyway. One of the local ones to me (The only BP station out of them) lost their pump for a while when BP stopped doing autogas, but it got recomissioned when the ownership of the forecourt changed to Malthurst, and is now supplied by Flogas instead (its no longer a Malthurst site, its now MFG but is still a BP).

I can only assume Calor are either having trouble turning a profit and are cost-cutting, or just don't have much of a clue what they are doing, as some of the places they have removed autogas from (Calor Swindon for example) had said they used to see loads of autogas sales right upto Calor head office saying the pump was going. I can only guess the other possibility is that they are worried their cylinder operation will be undercut by people using safefill cylinders as being the motivation (Selling 19kg of propane for £51 in a cylinder vs £22.76 of autogas for the same amount given the current price on the pump here today)

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#3 Post by colin33 » Fri Feb 07, 2020 9:44 pm

Brian I have spoken to Autogas who have told me that Shell are ditching all their LPG outlets because many are approaching 20 years old and Shell don't want the cost of renewing all the tanks and infrastructure. My local garage is probably one of the busiest for LPG, particularly in the summer, but it is going after just 10 years of operation. On the whole, demand is at its lowest point since 2011 and Shell don't see a future in this fuel. They tell me to look forward to "exciting new fuels of the future" but I had to explain that plugging my vehicles into electric or filling with hydrogen simply won't work in my lpg tank! I will of course never fill up at a Shell garage again, and will be ditching my Shell internet service, but the loss of one customer will probably have little effect....

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#4 Post by Brian_H » Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:10 pm

Not really much you can do if its going, the only installer I know of down that way is Ozon in Plymouth - https://www.ozonlpg.com/ (my second LPG vehicle was originally converted by them, before I owned it). At one point they did have a tank, it may be worth getting in touch with them to see if they are still going and if they still have one/have any plans or know of anywhere that isn't on filllpg to fill up. Otherwise it may be worth getting in touch with Flogas to see if they could extend their account network down to you (they brought Countrywide's LPG business when they went bust with the 40 or so pumps that had, though lots of those have gone now too) but I'd think that was a long shot personally.

Otherwise your pretty much stuck with keep on with it as long as you can, and either sell the car when you can't get gas anymore, run it on petrol or move to somewhere else. Probably none of those ideal options but not much else to suggest really. Alot of that depends how you use the car, and how far you go. Personally I do around 40-50k miles a year most of which is on gas, so get round quite a lot of stations. I do notice some areas are less well served than others though.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#5 Post by Brian_H » Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:17 pm

Is this station - https://www.mylpg.eu/stations/united-ki ... 9EA4F58D8A
Crane Garage Herniss Quarry, Halvasso, Penryn TR10 9DL

Anywhere near you? Its not on filllpg so might have already disappeared, I don't know that area well enough to say.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#6 Post by Gilbertd » Fri Feb 07, 2020 10:20 pm

There's a difference between Shell owned and Shell supplied. Much the same as BP, the ones with the M&S shop are BP owned so won't have LPG but the ones that sell BP fuel but have a different shop may well do it. The Shell ones are the same, so it is Shell that are removing the pumps whereas the filling stations that are supplied by Shell rather than owned by them will likely carry on supplying it.
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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#7 Post by colin33 » Sat Feb 08, 2020 1:04 pm

Yes Brian, Crane Garage is still going but not the best place to fill up, it's far more expensive than Shell and it's 11 miles away in a direction I rarely travel. There is one other supplier too, but at nearly £1 a liter I don't believe he has any customers. I'm now thinking 47kg bottles, now how can I empty one of those into my car? :-)

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#8 Post by Gilbertd » Sat Feb 08, 2020 3:45 pm

96 Saab 900XS, AEB Leo, sold
93 Range Rover 4.2LSE, Lovato LovEco, sold
97 Range Rover 4.0SE, multipoint, sold
98 Ex-Police Range Rover 4.0, AEB Leo, daily motor
96 Range Rover 4.6HSE Ascot, AEB Leo, my spare


Proud member of the YCHJCYA2PDTHFH club.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#9 Post by Brian_H » Sat Feb 08, 2020 9:43 pm

How much can you purchase a 47kg for though?
https://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/15898519/15898519
£108.57 works out to £1.15 a litre (as its around 2 litres to a kilo) , which would probabbly work out around equal to running on petrol costs (might even actually be more expensive).

If you can find somewhere more reasonable (its hard to find prices online as most want you to contact them to see how much they can fleece you for) if you can find one for around £60 of that size, that would compare fairly well with the current pump price of 59.9 here. You'd still have to obtain a pump though or make one as detailed on the above link.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#10 Post by minimutly » Sun Feb 09, 2020 7:03 pm

How does a home tank work out these days, would still need a pump, and factor in road tax...

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#11 Post by Brian_H » Sun Feb 09, 2020 9:21 pm

That would be the more sensible option, But I've never known of anyone posting on here having managed to sort that out. I would expect if it was a home tank with a liquid offtake, that the gas would be supplied with the road duty taken care of (which wouldn't be the case with using cylinders obviously)

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#12 Post by CNG » Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:42 am

If you heat your home via Natural gas, better one of these. Not for big girls' blouses though, more for long-game, and/or high mileage players...

https://www.lpgshop.co.uk/cng-3-evo-col ... ompressor/

It'll cost you the price of a decent used car to set-up. All in, £5-6K? IMHO the only way to go, but that's me.

LPG at home? You'd require a transfer pump to shift the liquid. See piccy. The reason it's rare is that home tanks are pricey, and you get locked-in with 'orrible contracts via Calor or Flogas. Only vaguely viable if you already heat your home via LPG. Pump is pricey too. You require a bottom take-off on your home-tank. And most home-tanks lack this, which adds another obstacle.
Believe me, you don't want to be webbed-up with Calor or Flogas unless forced. They will crucify you. I used to live off-grid, thus heat my home with a coal-fired boiler and limit LPG to cooking so I might avoid the c&*%$£s. You wouldn't volunteer to be in with them.
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Brian_H
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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#13 Post by Brian_H » Tue Feb 11, 2020 5:40 pm

The email received today, suggests its going from all the Shell branded forecourts supplied by Calor/Autogas over the next 12 months. But it also states they only supply Shell forecourts, which is at odds with the first bit (theres an Esso near me thats one of theirs, and I know its not the only one about). They also state the kit is all approaching 20 years old and due for replacement. This can't be completely true, as they have opened stations much more recently than that (Cobham services for example being one).

So it will just be a case of wait and see what happens I guess.

Accept your point on CNG - looks like it works for you and at least your in control of it. Which is fine as long as you can store enough gas in your tank to go where you need to and return home without needing to fill, or can tolerate running on petrol if not. Not really an option that works for me. But anything that avoids leaving yourself open to the mercy of Calor/Flogas has to be a good thing. There is a reason most people use oil over LPG for home heating - you can have your pick of suppliers within reason, and if you ever need to top it up you can always go and collect it in a jerry can if needed.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#14 Post by colin33 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:03 pm

So how about one of these for filling the car from a cylinder? https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LPG-Filler-D ... 0005.m1851

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#15 Post by Brian_H » Tue Feb 11, 2020 8:41 pm

Have a watch of the video they link to. You won't get the whole contents of the cylinder (I'd guess around 1/2 of the lpg in the cylinder went to the truck shown) and you need a liquid offtake ideally (else you have to turn the cylinder upside down to get liquid out of it rather than vapour). And that took 11 minutes for a transfer of 7.65kg (15 litres approx).

Have you looked into the price of a cylinder though? Unless you can find ones at a reasonable price your somewhat stuck anyway.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#16 Post by colin33 » Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:21 pm

I've been advised that if the cylinder is turned upside down, and heated slightly ( electric blanket?) then the temperature difference should force the lpg into the vehicle tank, assuming this is at a lower temperature. If this works, great, but as you say, it would depend on being able to get cylinders at a reasonable price...

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#17 Post by LPGC » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:56 am

I was searching Ebay for a Smiths LPG transfer pump when I found this https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/LPG-Tank-Pum ... O6_nMxwYhA
colin33 wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 9:21 pm
I've been advised that if the cylinder is turned upside down, and heated slightly ( electric blanket?) then the temperature difference should force the lpg into the vehicle tank, assuming this is at a lower temperature. If this works, great, but as you say, it would depend on being able to get cylinders at a reasonable price...
The feed tank has to have a liquid take-off (a vapour take-off becomes a liquid take-off if the tank is upside down). If the feed tank and receiving tank are at the same temperature and the receiving tank is completely empty of liquid gas the feed tank will have more pressure so a few litres of gas will flow from the feed to the receiver until the pressures are balanced. The problem with heating the feed tank is that really it's the temperature of the gas that matters - you heat the feed tank to heat the gas inside it which increases feed tank pressure but then when the warm gas flows into the receiver tank it's still warm gas in the receiver tank, this will shift quite a lot more gas than if the tanks began at the same temperature but still nowhere near as good as using a pump.

Decanting is interesting when it comes to seeing if you can decant as much gas as you were expecting... Usually a tank 90% full of liquid gas will have the same pressure as a tank 1% full of liquid gas, so decanting wouldn't be possible. But if a tank is 90% full of liquid gas and the other tank contains no liquid gas you may decant more gas than you expected (still only a couple of litres) because liquid gas first entering the receiving tank evaporates and cools the receiving tank. I often purge new tanks of air by decanting a little gas from a full tank to the new (empty) tank, then let the gas out of the new tank and air comes out with the gas. Do that once and the new tank becomes very cold, do it twice and the new tank is really very cold indeed with icing on the outside. On the 3rd go I leave the gas in the tank (maybe 2 litres) just to allow idling the engine in the yard on LPG before finalising the mechanical fit and putting engine trim etc back on before going to a forecourt to fill up. On the 3rd go I could probably put quite a few litres in if I wanted... but I've already wasted maybe a couple of litres in purging the tank of air. I purge tanks of air because it prevents subsequent fills at the pump slowing as much as usual towards the end of the fill - a tank filling to 80% will have 4 bar of air pressure, 90% 9 bar of air pressure... In cold weather LPG pump pressure might only by 7 bar and tank pressure might only be 4 bar (if it wasn't for air pressure and/or if the tank is less than 80% full). Tank pressure will be whatever is higher out of both gas pressure and air pressure, if air pressure becomes higher than gas pressure it will slow the speed of the fill (and can even stop filling beyond a certain percentage of full altogether), e.g. even with a tank valve modded to allow the tank to fill to 90% full it will never be possible to fill it to 90% full if the pump only pushes 7 bar if tank air pressure at 90% full would be 9 bar. Even if the tank is set to fill to the usual 80% fill, purging air makes a difference to fill speed as the tank approaches the 80% level if pump pressure is low (due to cold weather) at around 7 bar. There are lots of misconceptions, some people see they get the same number of litres in a tank regardless of weather - really they should be able to get a bit more gas in in cold weather because the gas is colder so denser, gas is really sold by weight (pumps compensate for temperature) so denser gas should give more litres if the tank fills to the same level (depth) in the tank (a litre of cold gas is more weight than a litre of warm gas) which is controlled by the float shutting off incoming gas.. if people only get the same number of litres in a tank in cold weather as they do in hot weather it's possible that air pressure in their tank is preventing getting a few more litres in when the weather is cold and pump pressure is low. Not true of all pumps but most (that have a pressure gauge) push more pressure in hot weather than in cold weather, this keeps the same difference in pressure between the pump and the tank for all weathers so means you fill up at much the same speed regardless of weather... otherwise if pumps always pumped at say 12 bar you'd fill up much quicker in winter when your tank is cold and it's pressure is maybe 4 or 5 bar than on a summer day when your tank pressure might be 10 bar.

Usually it's cheaper to buy gas from an autogas pump than buy it in portable bottles, I've only ever known big 47kg bottles and forklift bottles to occasionally be cheaper than gas from the pump... in case of 47kg bottles from the type of suppliers that deliver lots of bottles to static caravan sites, in case of forklift bottles from some of the lesser known suppliers. I've known people buy cheap gas in forklift bottles and run their vehicle directly from them... It's illegal if road duty isn't paid on the fuel but I believe it is legal to keep records of how much gas is used in a vehicle and pay the duty in arrears, of course gas you buy from an autogas pump already has the duty paid.
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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#18 Post by Brian_H » Wed Feb 12, 2020 10:08 pm

The last paragraph in the post above, is particularly worth being aware of, its effectively the same thing in the eyes of HMRC as running a vehicle on the road on Red Diesel if you don't somehow pay the duty on it.

Probably also worth trying any smaller suppliers if you can find any local enough to make it worthwhile - Birmingham Autogas sell cylinder refills at £17 for a 19KG cylinder collected (From Birmingham), so its possible to find them, although that supplier obviously isn't a useful one for yourself. The same refill from Calor is around £50 when I last checked. Or around £32 from Flogas last time I got one there (Space heater in the workshop runs off propane cylinders, as does my mates greenhouse heater so we get through a few over the space of a year).

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#19 Post by CNG » Tue Feb 18, 2020 10:35 am

A home-based LPG bulk tank is something I looked into. My bulk tank was due to expire. Had I not moved home, I'd likely have one today. Be sure to spec a 'bottom-fill' when your bulk-tank expires. However if like me, you're set to run a car for another 150-200,000 miles or greater, and/or your family will do this combined, the NG solution works. Range 230 miles. It's not often I'm found at more than 230 miles in a day. Then I run liquid. Any other time, it wins over running LPG - bulk-tank or otherwise. However, it's not for the majority. Most seem to revel in blocking pumps for 35mins buying a Mars bar.
Last edited by CNG on Wed Feb 19, 2020 12:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Disappearing LPG pumps...

#20 Post by Gilbertd » Tue Feb 18, 2020 5:39 pm

My argument against CNG is the lack of anywhere to fill other than at home if you have your own compressor. To visit may partner's parents I need to fill the tank 9 times each way. Easily possible on LPG but not on CNG or, for that matter, any other alternative fuel. A guy at work used to run a diesel Shogun on waste veg oil and was trying to convince me that was the way to go. If you never go more than half a tank of fuel from home, fine, but as I said to him, filling up at McDonalds isn't really viable.

Shell removing pumps is a bit of a bugger and I feel sorry for people living in areas where they no longer have anywhere to fill up. I suppose the other way of looking at it is even if there is a supplier but they are expensive, they are still cheaper than petrol. So you may not be saving as much but you are still saving. Much like when I go to France and have to pay 1 Euro a litre, it's expensive but compared with petrol at 1.65 Euro a litre, I'm still saving money.
96 Saab 900XS, AEB Leo, sold
93 Range Rover 4.2LSE, Lovato LovEco, sold
97 Range Rover 4.0SE, multipoint, sold
98 Ex-Police Range Rover 4.0, AEB Leo, daily motor
96 Range Rover 4.6HSE Ascot, AEB Leo, my spare


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