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Old 06-18-2011, 05:39 PM #1
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Air System Mega Safety Sticky

One of the great 'myths' within the paintball community and within air systems itself are the stories of the exploding paintball tank and what causes them; mostly the debate of putting oil in the fill nipple to stop a fill nipple leak. It is a known fact that oil of any kind is flammable or may become flammable under the right circumstances. It is also a documented fact that tanks have ignited in the past due to oil being introduced into the system. People read these threads or hear the latest incident but seem to quickly forget about them shortly after, we as a community are going to start to change that and keep the knowledge with all the players and give them access to it.
This thread is here to spread knowledge on the topic of what can happen if an air system is not treated with knowledge and respect at all times. It is not meant to scare you into not using them but to put them into perspective on what potential for damage they can cause if mistreated; not only in the case of the exploding tanks but also in day to day use and the general safe usage of your system.
  • Never use oil or oil-based lubricants in your system.

    Oil and oil based (petroleum) products have no business in your air system. Period. This is a Non-Negotiable guideline from all Manufacturers, Service Techs, and anybody associated with the usage of High Pressure Cylinders within the Paintball Industry.
    By placing an oil or oil based product into an air system you create a very real risk of a flash fire or explosion. The 'trick' of putting oil into your fill nipple to stop a leak is the biggest, and seems to be the most common, reason for a paintball tank ignition. What happens is when oil is introduced into the fill nipple and the fill begins this oil begins to vaporize much like a fuel injector in a car engine. This increases the surface area of the oil and also reduces its flash point; the point where it will ignite. Air fills are mostly compressed air which mean it has oxygen. As the oxygen content increases the flash point decreases. Most fills are hot/fast/slam fills which generate heat; I'm sure most of you have felt the cylinder getting hotter as it's being filled.

    Vaporized Oil + Oxygen + Heat = IGNITION

    This is why you never introduce oil or an oil based product into the air system. Even using an oil based grease for your regulator o-rings can cause an ignition in the right conditions. Oil based greases have a much lower flash point then a silicone based grease. A silicone based lubricant is the ONLY lubricant that should ever come into contact with your air system. It does not take a large amount of oil to cause an ignition of any sort.

  • Do not oil your tank threads.

    While generally harmless and widely recommended it can be a very bad and unsafe practice to do this. Using a silicone based grease to help ease your tank threading in and out of your asa is a much better option. If you over oil or spill on your threading there is a risk of the oil entering the regulator through your pin valve and contaminating the regulator.
    If you are currently oiling your threads, it is recommended you stop and switch to a silicone based lubricant such as dow 33/55. Also under the product names of Sl33k or Molykote 55.

  • Never intentionally over fill a system.

    This is an extremely dangerous practice and thought process with some users. If a cylinder is labeled 3000 psi, it's 3000 psi. If it's 4500 psi, it's 4500 psi maximum. Never go over for any reason and always pay attention to your tank and fill station gauges.
    Cylinders expand when filled and contract when emptied. They are like a rubber band in a way and that is why you have the hydrostatic test ever 3 to 5 years depending on the cylinders DOT/TC permit. This test ensures the tanks are expanding and contracting within the proper rating; if they fall outside this rating the cylinder is stretching and becoming weak increasing the chance of it bursting.
    Over filling a cylinder stresses a tank needlessly beyond it's safe working/filling limit. People will use the Bursting pressure rating as a guideline and think it's safe to fill below or up to that rating. Wrong. The bursting pressure on 4500 cylinders is around 13,000-15,000 psi. That is the same energy release as two sticks of dynamite if released from a 68 cubic inch cylinder.
    The thing with burst pressures are though is they are not set in stone always. If the cylinder has a weaker spot or defect in materials the bursting pressure on any particular cylinder can be much much lower without you knowing. Generally as a player, you are the one holding the tank when it is being filled. You are also the one that is shouldering it when playing, putting it only inches from your face. Would you really want to take the risk of intentionally over filling your tank while holding it and then putting it next to your face?

  • Never 'part swap' without checking with the manufacturer.

    The part swap can be a risky maneuver without checking with the manufacturer first. Many companies make regulators for 3000 and 4500 psi systems and use similar regulators but they can be different. Sometimes the internals are not up to the pressure rating of a 4500 psi system if coming from a 3000 psi system for instance. Also converting a 3000 to 4500 by swapping out the high pressure burst disc can yield much confusion because of the ports being marked differently.
    The main reason these days to check with the manufacturer though is because many regulators are coming engraved now. The low side and high side burst discs are being labeled with 1.8k LP and high sides are being marked with 5k HP for 3000 psi systems or 7.5K for 4500 psi systems. Also the regulators themselves are being marked as 3000 or 4500 psi regulators. Many manufacturers are recommending you do not do conversions with their systems now. Feel free to check with them but if they say not to do it, then do not do it. Always follow the manufacturers recommendations.

  • Never swap burst discs, gauges, or fill nipples into other ports without checking with the manufacturer.

    The ports for the fill nipple, gauges, and burst discs can be and are often different threading. Especially burst disc threading as burst discs only should ever be put into those ports. Swapping things around to your liking can by-pass safety features and you run the risk of essentially making a bomb.
    The burst discs need to remain in their specific ports and only their specific ports. The burst disc air paths in the regulator expose them to different pressures from different parts of the regulator. Putting a High Pressure burst disc into the Low pressure port by-passes the safety feature of allowing the regulator to vent should it be exposed to 1800 psi or more due to a bad seal or contaminant, like dirt, in the system which will cause the pressure to creep. This runs a very real risk of exposing your macroline and marker to the full 3000 or 4500 psi tank pressure instead of the proper regulated pressure. Bursting macroline is no joke, even at 400-900 psi I have personally seen a hole be ripped into two layers of a players clothing that was holding his marker to his body at the time. Imagine 3000-4500 psi drilling a hole right into your body in a directed stream through a hole in your line. That is not mentioning the damage that would be done to your marker.
    Fill nipples and gauges are similar in some cases. However, should the threading be different that can cause a serious safety risk with the fill nipple or gauge not being seated properly. If a fill nipple is digging into your wrist and you wish to make a swap, contact the manufacturer first. If they say no, then do not do it. If they say you can then drain your system of air and make the swap, ensuring to use the proper thread sealant as recommended by the manufacturer. Whether it be teflon tape, thread locker, or something the manufacturer themselves uses at the factory.

  • Never by-pass the burst discs by replacing them with a higher rated pressure disc or plug.

    The burst discs are the main safety line on regulators. There are other features such as the bleed holes in the threading and air grooves; but those are mainly for venting should a regulator start to separate from the cylinder.
    A burst disc is meant to burst when exposed to its pressure rating. The Low pressure burst disc is always 1800 psi (1.8K as it's stamped on the disc) on a 3000 or 4500 system. The High pressure burst disc is 3000 (3K) on co2 systems, 5000 psi (5K) on 3000 system, and 7500 (7.5K) on 4500 cylinders.
    The most common reason for a Low side burst disc to burst is the regulator is creeping. That is due to contamination like dirt damaging the seals, general wear and tear on the seals causing them to become damaged, or lacking proper lubrication. Sometimes a cleaning and relubing with the proper silicone based grease is all it needs but other times a rebuild kit is in order. This is the burst disc you will see burst 99.99% of the time.
    The high side burst disc is meant to burst due to a cylinder being over filled. Should the fill station be malfunctioning or somebody is trying to intentionally over fill, the high pressure disc will burst and release all the air in the cylinder once that pressure rating is reached. That is to keep the user safe and prevent the cylinder from bursting. The High pressure burst disc is required by DOT law and you will see one on all pressurized cylinders.
    By-passing these burst discs by placing them intentionally in the wrong ports, replacing them with a higher pressure rating, or plugging them all together is a serious safety hazard. You are in fact by making a bomb if you by-pass these burst discs in any way. You put yourself and all those around you at risk every time you fill and use your cylinder.
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Last edited by Tabris17 : 07-07-2011 at 05:04 PM.
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Old 07-06-2011, 08:36 PM #2
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  • Never play with an out of hydro or non-certified cylinder.

Using an out of hydro or non-certified cylinder is not only dangerous to yourself and others but it is also a federal DOT violation to use, fill, and transport. The DOT hydro testing laws are not a suggestion, they are a requirement for the safety of you and the others around you. The hydro test can be done locally at a dive shop, paintball field, or sent to various paintball vendors that offer the service through their websites or stores.
The hydro test ensures the proper expansion and contraction of your tank. You can not test it any other way then with the hydro test. It's inexpensive overall and only comes every 3 to 5 years depending on your cylinders permit number. A tank is only in service for 15 years in total so if you have a 5 year cylinder you only need to do the test twice before the tank must be taken out of service.
Using an out of hydro cylinder at a field or national tournament can lead to you be removed from the premises or disqualified from play. This is a very serious matter, it is not a joke, it is not something to skirt and argue. Fields can face fines for filling an out of hydro tank and denying your two dollar fill is a much better option then facing those consequences. The same goes for a non-certified cylinder, it does not have the DOT clearance or testing to ensure it meets their safety standards and is there for not acceptable to use, fill, and transport.
  • How to properly screw in and remove your air system from your marker.

This seems like such a simple thing but you may be surprised that you are in fact removing your system in an improper fashion from your marker or screwing it in improperly to begin with.
As mentioned earlier if you are going to lubricate your tank threading, use a silicone based grease. This will keep the o-ring from drying out and also make it easier to screw your tank in and out easier but this isn't necessary.
The most important thing to do when screwing your tank in is not to force the threading in. It should screw in easily and smoothly, if you're cross threading it, back it out, forcing it in is only going to make the threading bind or snap off. It should require little effort to go in smoothly until it nears the bottom when you may need a small amount of force to ensure the regulator is seated all the way.
Removing the system the user should never grip the cylinder body to break the threading free. This can be a critical juncture where an accident may occur and often times does. Grasping the tank cylinder promotes stress on the regulator to tank cylinder threading as well as the regulator to asa threading. Should your asa and tank be cross threaded or bound tighter then normal, the regulator can begin to separate from the cylinder. This is when you can have a tank come flying off and causing injury or death to a person nearby. People have been killed with these flying tank accidents, there are news reports from across the country to confirm this.
The proper way to remove your cylinder is to grasp the tank regulator itself and use that to break the threading free. That puts the stress on the regulator to asa threads, not the regulator to cylinder threading. Once you break it free and back it out a couple of turns you can grasp the cylinder to finish unscrewing. You should ALWAYS be observing your regulator and cylinder though to ensure there is not a separation occurring until the tank has been removed fully from your marker. It is also important to ensure that your regulator has been properly installed onto your cylinder from the start with proper tool force and/or thread sealant; especially if you have installed the regulator yourself or had a local shop do it.
  • What happens when a tank explodes?

What happens is not the cylinder itself rupturing (From what has been seen thus far) but rather the regulator itself becoming the central ignition and bursting point. Please bare in mind this can happen to ANY regulator made by ANY manufacturer. These incidents do not discriminate, there is no regulator on the market that is 'more safe' then another when it comes to an ignition. They all fail in similar fashions. This is why you NEVER USE OIL PRODUCTS in your air system.
Going back to point one about oil in the fill nipple the oil travels into the fill nipple, down the threading (stem) of the regulator, and enters the cylinder. There is a small volumizing chamber the air enters when leaving the fill nipple, this is where the regulator stores some air before it enters the piston to be regulated. This is also where the ignition most commonly occurs.
Once the ignition happens, the regulator fails; catastrophically. It essentially explodes from a violent ignition or rapid melting of the regulator internals and body. This leads to a full separation of cylinder and regulator. Not only do you have an explosion but now you have a cylinder that has rocketed off and will continue to fly until it strikes something or someone. The separation is sudden and violent with no warning until you hear the 'bang' of the explosion.
Users that have experienced the explosion first hand have suffered serious injuries such as broken bones, been knocked unconscious in some cases, as well as severe burns.


The Exploding Tank links and pictures.

Ninja Paintball 'Use no oil' safety advisory flyer.
http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=3641585

Take 5 minutes to read PBN news post.
http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=342608

The Stako Millenium incident.
http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=2534185
This incident involved the previous unidentified player putting oil into their system, contaminating the fill whip with oil during filling, and then the injured players tank igniting during his fill.

Exploding tank
http://www.pbnation.com/showthread.php?t=2325446


Quick Reference Pictures: WARNING MAY BE GRAPHIC TOO SOME

Burst/Destroyed tanks as per DOT safety regulations- Every 2 out of 200 units must be randomly chosen during manufacturing and overfilled to bursting to ensure they meet minimum safety requirements or the entire 200 unit batch is condemned.





Stako Incident- Ripped/Burnt jersey, broken hand, tank destroyed. (No other photos available)





Exploding tank- Severe burns, gloves burnt on hands, knocked unconscious, damaged/destroyed marker, tank destroyed.




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Last edited by Tabris17 : 07-20-2011 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 07-08-2011, 09:22 PM #3
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Reserved.
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Old 07-08-2011, 11:09 PM #4
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Old 07-13-2011, 04:08 PM #5
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That picture at the bottom of the ego happened in east london south africa, guy is still playing.
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Old 07-14-2011, 09:06 AM #6
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Reserved.
Good job Tab. Players forget or have never been thoroughly informed of the dangers of HP and it's components. good heads up.
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Old 07-14-2011, 04:50 PM #7
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I've been playing paintball a long time and have wondered this since the day I bought my first compressed air tank.

Roughly how many psi does it take for a bottle to explode? We're talking in a test environment with no regulators and burst discs.

How many psi for a steely and how many for a fiber?
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Old 07-14-2011, 05:16 PM #8
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I've been playing paintball a long time and have wondered this since the day I bought my first compressed air tank.

Roughly how many psi does it take for a bottle to explode? We're talking in a test environment with no regulators and burst discs.

How many psi for a steely and how many for a fiber?
mis-read your question Electro. Here's what I posted in his other thread in response to his question:

One out of every 200 bottles that come off of the assembly line are blown up on purpose. The are supposed to explode at 3 times the rated pressure of the tank. So on a carbon fiber bottle, without a regulator attached and no burst disks, it will blow at 13,500 psi (3 times the rated pressure of a 4500psi tank).

On a Ninja Paintball aluminum tank (3AL), without a regulator attached and no burst disks, it will blow at 7,500psi (2.5 times the rated pressure of a 3000psi tank).
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Old 07-19-2011, 02:41 AM #9
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Very informative and much needed thanks Tabris
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:51 PM #10
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Just to clarify the burnt hand is from the oil igniting under pressure correct? The tanks don't spontaneously combust when they are out of hydro. You would need fuel for that (the oil)
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Old 01-11-2012, 06:11 PM #11
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Correct, the burns are from the flash fires that occur when the oil ignites under the pressure/heat of a fill.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:29 PM #12
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Just to clarify the burnt hand is from the oil igniting under pressure correct? The tanks don't spontaneously combust when they are out of hydro. You would need fuel for that (the oil)
Yea, I am friends with the guy (his name is Nigel) it happened to- his reasoning was that there was oil in the system somehow that ended up in his tank (you can see the result yourself). He made a full recovery and has been back on his daily grind for years now.
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Old 02-22-2012, 03:52 PM #13
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Old 04-17-2012, 09:15 PM #14
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That picture at the bottom of the ego happened in east london south africa, guy is still playing.
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Old 07-21-2012, 09:47 AM #15
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:31 AM #16
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i have a question, did that stako incident where the tank blew up, did that happen when the tank was filled? or did that happen on the feild of play? or did that happen when the guy screwed the tank into his gun to air it up? thanks
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Old 09-11-2012, 02:21 PM #17
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i have a question, did that stako incident where the tank blew up, did that happen when the tank was filled? or did that happen on the feild of play? or did that happen when the guy screwed the tank into his gun to air it up? thanks
If I remember correctly, it was when a person was filling the bottle, mounted on the marker. The tech for the compressor and fill station had just used a petroleum based lube, not the player, and the player was first in line to get a fill. So it wasn't actually the players fault, but the tech's fault.
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Old 09-11-2012, 09:33 PM #18
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If I remember correctly, it was when a person was filling the bottle, mounted on the marker. The tech for the compressor and fill station had just used a petroleum based lube, not the player, and the player was first in line to get a fill. So it wasn't actually the players fault, but the tech's fault.
thats what im confused about, was the player filling his own tank? the place where i go i hand them my tank, and they go and fill it, then hand it back to me filled
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Old 09-12-2012, 03:49 PM #19
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Too my understanding he was filling his own tank as it was a pit/staging area. I've heard it was the player/person in front of him filling his tank that had oil in his fill nipple and it left a heavy residue.
In either case it was during the fill. That's when the tank comes under heat and extreme pressure. At rest the tank should not have an issue as there is no heat generated, only during the fill process is heat generated.
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:46 PM #20
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thanks, that helps

so once the fill process is over, the risk drops of significantly
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Old 09-12-2012, 04:51 PM #21
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Well you don't want to have that potential period.
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