Machine Converts LP Tanks Into Burn Barrels And More

Over the years we’ve seen a lot of uses for old LP tanks, but the idea of cutting one up is a daunting proposition for many people. That’s why we were amazed to get a look at Don Schley’s operation in Elk Mound, Wis.

“We buy a lot of used 500-gal. LP tanks and refurbish them for individuals so people can own their own tanks,” says Schley. “Some of the tanks can’t be reused for gas so we made a machine to cut the tanks into fire rings, hot water boilers, culverts, burn barrels, and more.”

They made the machine out of parts they already had laying around except for the variable speed control, which they bought for $185. The machine cradles the tank on 8 rubber wheels – 4 idlers and 4 drivers – and rolls the tank while it’s being cut with a plasma cutter that mounts on a metal arm. “It takes about 3 min. for each cut on 3/8-in. thick tanks,” says Schley. “Older tanks will be 1/2 to 5/16 in. thick; 1970’s and newer tanks will be 1/4 in. thick or less.

“We usually cut fire rings from 12 to 18 in. high. We cut some tanks in the middle for use as burn barrels. On other tanks we cut off one end to make boilers, or both ends to make culverts.”