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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 10-07-2003
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update alcohol stoves

I have a galley maid alcohol stove on my 30 catalina, I am going to upgrade the stove to propane. Just wondering if anyone has done this before, I found distributors where i can buy the propane burners. it shouldn''t be to hard to convert. I cant see spending $1000.00 for a new stove since i like the gimbaled one i have. I also realize all the dangers involved in doing so. But I am very mechanically inclined. I have been a do it yourselfer for all my life. Plus, I have been trained by the USAF in all aspects of maintenance. But suggestions are greatly appreciated.


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Old 10-07-2003
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update alcohol stoves

If you are going to do it safely with any regards for the current safety regulations (and be advised to do less will generally void your boat insurance policy) converting to propane is much more than just changing the burners. You need to build a sealed locker that is vented top and bottom to the atmosphere which cannot vent to the interior of the boat in any manner. You need to add solinoid valve with remote cut off. Most modern installations include a sniffer which is also hooked to the shut off since propane is explosive (about on a par with gasoline) and propane can sufficate you in your sleep if you have a bad enough leak. You need tanks that are designed to operate at a heel angle and which have the required overflow prevention valve. You need to use shielded fuel lines. You also need a reliable source of ignition.

All of that combined can easily add up to a thousand or more dollars without even buying the stove. I looked at merely bringing my existing system up to compliance and at the increase in insurance rates for propane and chose to go with an Origo catalyzed alcohol stove. I found that it provides almost as much heat as most marine propane stoves and without the flare up problems associated with old style pressurized alcohol stoves.

Jeff
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update alcohol stoves

Jeff,

thanks for your imput, i work on charter boats and am well aware of all the requirements for safe propane installations, but once again i value your input, i''m sure there are lots of folks that will benifit from your knowledge, however even if i bought a new propane stove all of the requirements are the same.

thanks again,

reality captain
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update alcohol stoves

I went through a similar analysis with my boat and selected the Origo. I just couldn''t see all of the work and cost to install propane. As I recall, the Origo boils a quart of water in about 8 minutes while my electric stove at home accomplishes the same thing in about 6 minutes. Most of the time you won''t even be using the full heat output of the stove. A couple of minutes a day is not significant in my view.

Alcohol stoves unfortunately got a bad reputation due to marginal heat output of the old pressurized type and further reductions as burners clog over the years. The non-pressurized Origo is completely different (no clogging) and safer as there''s no tricky lighting or pressure to force unburned fuel to spill.

A number of years ago, diesel engines replaced gasoline engines in new sailboats, due in large part to safety concerns. At around the same time, the industry went away from alcohol to propane or CNG. This makes no sense as propane is even more dangerous than gasoline. Propane can explode with extremely devastating effects, gasoline burns rapidly but won''t really explode in most cases.

Yes, alcohol has only half the heat output per pound of fuel compared to propane, but that doesn''t consider the fact that propane is under pressure and must be stored in a heavy container. Alcohol is more dense and has about twice the heat output per unit volume of propane stored in a tank.
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update alcohol stoves

petercra
I understand and will look into your suggestion, however, i guess i should also say i am putting a propane dickeson heater as well, gasoline is explosive under the right conditions. fumes in the bilge. etc.

thanks for the input

realitycaptain
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update alcohol stoves

Yikes, propane is explosive too! To me the problem with doing an installation like this on your own is that you may not have the benefit of a learning curve - your first mistake may be your last.

Just kidding (I think), good luck
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Old 10-13-2003
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update alcohol stoves

I have a two burner Origo and I am considering getting the stove with oven. Can those of you who have one tell me how you like the oven? Trying to determine if it is worth going for the oven. I really like the stove.
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update alcohol stoves

I really like the two burner stove but I am a little disappointed with the stove/oven combination. The workmanship on the oven is not quite as nicely finished as it is on the stove. While the stove seems to work as well as a propane stove or my electric at home, The oven seems to take longer to heat up than a shore side oven. I have used the oven for some minor kinds of baking, mostly casseroles. I am a vegetarian so it seems to work fine for me, but I am not sure how well it would work for a carnivore.

Jeff


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Old 10-13-2003
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update alcohol stoves

Jeff

You got this question almost 100% right Alcohol burns alot cooler than propane. Even the stove isn''t as hot but what the heck it''s cheeper and safer than a modfication to propane. I think we all know that eletric is out of the question except while tied up to your slip..
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update alcohol stoves

We installed a second hand 15+ year old origo 6000 stove/oven this season, which is gimballed on our Bayfield 32c.

It is fantastic. At this age, I expected to need to replace the burner canisters. I was wrong. All that needed was a good cleaning, this stove was top notch. They are great, simple and built to last. The stove gives about 95% of the heat of propane, but with no stress of propane sniffers, explosive fumes etc.

The oven is a little slow to heat up. If you light it 20 minutes prior to use it is just fine. My wife baked bread and cookies on it this summer while swinging on the hook. They all turned out great.

One big plus with the ORIGO vs. propane is ease of storing and purchasing fuel. We keep three 1 litre containers under our galley sink. These will burn for 4-6 hours of continuous use each. If you are walking a ways from your anchorage/marina to a store while cruising, being able to carry 12-18 hours worth of fuel in a backpack, and pay less than $10.00 for it is great. We usually go to walmart or a hardware store and buy methyl hydrate from the paint section for half of what the local marine store charges.

Could not recomend alcohol stoves (non-pressure type) highly enough.
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