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post #1 of 17 Old 12-06-2001 Thread Starter
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Converting to LPG

I own an Islander 36 and am in the process of installing a propane stove/oven. I''m looking for suggestions on where to stow the LPG cylinder. I''m thinking of building a cylinder locker and installing it into my starboard lazarette so the lid opens to the sky. I''d rather not have it on deck. Any other idea''s?
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post #2 of 17 Old 12-07-2001
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Converting to LPG

I just went through this myself. The boat that I purchased had a totally illegal propane system.

I found that retrofitting a boat for a proper propane system was terribly expensive. I already had an almost new LPG stove but when I added up the cost of doing the system corrently I could buy a new stove for less. If you do the system right, you are buying a long list of expensive items with a few not so expensive items thrown in: Tank (go aluminum), shut off/connector, servo-valve (solinoid), properly made up gas lines, a sniffer/shut off switch/and carbon monoxide alarm, either a manufactured pre-fab tank storage unit or else building a proper storage well (sealed air tight with a hatch that opens directly to the sky {rather than ino a locker)with a drain at the bottom and a vent at the top; Both the drain and the vent opening over the side above the heeled waterline and no electrical connections within the container), tank hold downs,and a bilge blower system.

Given that I have seen way far more boats that burned or blew up because they had propane and a diesel than I have seen gasoline engined sailboats catch fire or burn, and that like most people I would be hesitant to buy a boat with a gas engine, it seemed obvious to me that LPG was a really bad idea.

I ended up deciding to install an Origo 600 non-pressure alcohol stove/oven. (Defender Marine has the best price.) The Origo is the safest of stoves that you can buy with almost no moving parts. Alcohol is easy to store.

Origo''s do not have the dangers and poor performance of the older pressurized alcohol stoves. The Origo burners have nearly the same heat output as a Marine LPG burner and more than twice the heat output of a normal pressure alcohol burner.

I have used an Origo on my last boat for over 13 years and they are really wonderful to own. I have spent too much time in my life searching for small propane leaks, to ever want propane on a boat of mine. Beside installing the Origo was way less expensive than putting in a proper LPG system.

Another really neat system (especially if you are going offshore) is the Wallas Stove and Oven. These burn diesel fuel in sealed compartments (no oil burning smell) so you only carry diesel fuel onboard. These are really well built units and although quite expensive are still way safer and well less expensive than installing an LPG system.

Jeff

Just my two cents here.
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post #3 of 17 Old 12-11-2001
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Converting to LPG

Jeff: Thanks for your commonsense reply. I currently have CNG on my 1986 Hunter 45 and was thinking of converting to LPG. I think my current CNG locker could be converted to properly handle propane tanks but all the attendant equipment would make the job way too expensive. I''m told my current CNG stove can''t be legally converted to propane hence a new stove (around $1K+ plus new tanks, regulators, etc). I had Origo''s on my other boat (H37) and found it worked "ok" I just didn''t think it was as hot as the CNG and I didn''t like filling the burners.
Anyway, your reply has me thinking I''ll probably just stick with the CNG.

Thanks

John Fletcher
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post #4 of 17 Old 12-11-2001
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Converting to LPG

If you do decide to go to LPG, I do have a two burner LPG Hillerrange with oven that is virtually new and that I would be willing to sell you quite cheaply.

On the other hand, the trick on the Origo is to find a laboratory bottle to hold the alcohol. Also use a wooden dowel and gently slightly increase the detent in the screen. Then filling is really easy. The heat content is virtuall the same as a typical marine CNG burner and only slightly less than a marine LPG burner.

Cheers
Jeff
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post #5 of 17 Old 01-07-2002 Thread Starter
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Converting to LPG


Thanks for the suggestions. I''ve already bought a Seaward 3 burner range ($800 through Boatersworld) and a LPG locker kit with alum. cylinder and everything built in from Sailnet for just over $300. The only thing I''m lacking is a sniffer. I''m planning on building the locker into the starboard locker so the top is just under the hatch. I will seal all around it so there is no chance of leakage below deck. Hope I don''t turn by boat into a liquid asset!!
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post #6 of 17 Old 01-09-2002
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Converting to LPG

Although propane is certantly the most dangerous fuel, the only story I ever heard first hand on the loss of a boat was with alcohol, presumably the safest fuel. It just goes to show that care is required with any installation. That being said propane is far and away the hottest and most convenient and converting a CNG stove to propane is just a matter of changing the orafice. There is essentially no difference other than that between CNG and propane appliances.
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post #7 of 17 Old 01-10-2002
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Converting to LPG

Actually, marine propane burners do not have significantly higher heat output than a catalyzed alcohol burner (such as Origo). The last time I researched this the heat output of an Origo was something like 3200 BTU''s vs something like 3500 for propane. This compares to a pressure alcohol stove at 1700 BTU''s and pressure kerosene/diesel at 4100 BTU''s. Typical CNG burners had substanially less output than either Propane or catalyzed alcohol.

People often judge alcohol based on the poor peformance and safety of earlier pressure alcohol stoves. While Propane has more heat per pound (another reason that many people eroneously think that propane burners put out more heat), it is the burner confiuration that actually determines the amount of heat that is produced.

As far as safety, I actually got a small discount on my marine insurance when I removed my propane system and went to an Origo. Catalyzed alcohol stoves do not have the risk of a flare up (if filled properly) and sure beat trying to find gas leaks, something that I have spent way too much time doing. At least in my lifetime I have seen far more sailboats lost to propane explosions than to gasolene engine explosions and yet most sailors these days would not consider having a gasolene engine. Go figure.

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post #8 of 17 Old 01-10-2002
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Converting to LPG

Unless I''m mistaken most propane burners have anywhere from 5000-8000 btu burners, that would almost double the output of alcohol. Undoubtably propane is dangerous if mis-used or mis-installed but installed properly I can''t imagine spending time chasing leaks. I worked for 15 years as a plumber and installed many miles of gas and propane piping, it''s not that difficult to do it well. The analogy to gas engines is not well founded as other reasons the gas engine are shunned is the delicacy of the ignition system in a salt environment and the much shorter range per gallon. Those points aside, if one feels unsafe or unsure of a particular system by all means go for peace of mind.
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post #9 of 17 Old 01-10-2002
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Converting to LPG

Your right , my stove tops burns up to 8000btu. Also have gas engine. I guess I will blow up one way or the other if I dont crash my motorcycle first.
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post #10 of 17 Old 01-10-2002
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Converting to LPG

No one above seems to be aware that "sealing off" the bottom of the propane locker is NOT the thing to do. Since propane sinks in the atmosphere, it creates the hazard of its leaking into the bilge, where a spark could blow up the boat. This is why CNG is considered preferable, because it rises, and will then dissipate into the atmosphere with no danger of explosion. If the bottom of the propane lockeer is sealed off, any leaking propane will end up filling the locker, just waiting for an errant spark to set it off. Propane lockers should have bottom drains leading overboard to a point above the waterline so any leaks will definitely go overboard and not into the bilge. CNG is much safer and easier to work with, but is a lot less easily available, so most installations go with propane, but follow the rules carefully.
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