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Tundra Down
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Discussion Starter #1
Drop-in propane locker for small sail boats?

I am building myself a propane locker for our Islander 28. I am a retired boat builder / composite engineer. I have an older Islander 28 that my wife and I sail along the Maine coast. We want to install a propane heater and convert the alcohol stove to propane. After considering several options I have decided to build a "drop-in" propane locker that will consume the aft 26 inches of the quarter birth. It will accommodate a pair of 5 pound fiberglass propane tanks, regulator and solenoid shutoff valve, be sealed from the interior of the boat and have an overboard drain. It will be installed in the starboard cockpit seat and will have a double hatch configuration that seals the locker from the weather and a second "internal" hatch that seals the propane compartment from everything else.

I am "retired" and enjoy designing and engineering "stuff". It occurs to me that there are many smaller, older, sail boats that suffer from the same lack of space the Islander 28 does for retrofitting a propane locker. I know we will not miss the full length of the quarter birth and I suspect that is true for many other owners.

I want this locker to be "drop in" and easily removable so if it is installed in a location that blocks access it will not create a permanent obstruction. The actual locker will be removable by disconnecting hoses, removing a few fasteners and and lifting it out through its exterior, flush cockpit seat hatch. As I considered this design's application to other small sail boats it occurred to me it might solve this same problem for others.

I am going to build it. I am going to build it as a fiberglass part that is ultimately produced from a mold. I want it to be a "finished" component and am wondering if I should build the molds to a standard that will allow me to produce more than the one I intend to install on Tundra Down.

Does this idea appeal to anyone else?

Thanks,

George
 

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Big Chicken Baby
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I'd be interested. Currently, the propance lockers available commercially are too big and way over priced for what they are. Our boat does not have a dedicated propane locker and while we have alittle bit more room tha you, we don't want to waste it anymore than is necessary.

Keep me posted, I can;t stand the fact that as of now our gas locker is a propane tank strapped to the rail!
 

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George

I also might be interested. We have a 28 Newport which we may be sailing for a few more yrs. I have considered using our aft cockpit cooler but the wife doesn't want to give up the beverage storage.

Peter
 

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Telstar 28
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Hi,
I am building myself a propane locker for our Islander 28. I am a retired boat builder / composite engineer. I have an older Islander 28 that my wife and I sail along the Maine coast. We want to install a propane heater and convert the alcohol stove to propane. After considering several options I have decided to build a "drop-in" propane locker that will consume the aft 26 inches of the quarter birth. It will accommodate a pair of 5 pound fiberglass propane tanks, regulator and solenoid shutoff valve, be sealed from the interior of the boat and have an overboard drain. It will be installed in the starboard cockpit seat and will have a double hatch configuration that seals the locker from the weather and a second "internal" hatch that seals the propane compartment from everything else.

I am "retired" and enjoy designing and engineering "stuff". It occurs to me that there are many smaller, older, sail boats that suffer from the same lack of space the Islander 28 does for retrofitting a propane locker. I know we will not miss the full length of the quarter birth and I suspect that is true for many other owners.
Getting the propane locker truly air-tight to the boat's interior and still having it drain overboard properly will be very difficult if it is mounted in the quarterberth.

I want this locker to be "drop in" and easily removable so if it is installed in a location that blocks access it will not create a permanent obstruction. The actual locker will be removable by disconnecting hoses, removing a few fasteners and and lifting it out through its exterior, flush cockpit seat hatch. As I considered this design's application to other small sail boats it occurred to me it might solve this same problem for others.

I am going to build it. I am going to build it as a fiberglass part that is ultimately produced from a mold. I want it to be a "finished" component and am wondering if I should build the molds to a standard that will allow me to produce more than the one I intend to install on Tundra Down.

Does this idea appeal to anyone else?

Thanks,

George
There are probably going to be some severe logisitical problems in making a single mold that will allow the locker to be properly retrofit into boat's other than the one you've designed it for.
 

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In theory it sounds like an interesting idea. I'm sure you're aware that mass-produced propane lockers already are available on the market. Pulling from vague memory, it seems to me that some of those could be modified for the application you propose. Maybe not?

The biggest negative I see about your proposal is the use of 5 lb propane tanks. Those are pretty small. If someone is looking to add a propane system to their boat, they are often thinking about more than just a stove/oven application. Once you have propane, it's nice to have the option of adding other appliances, like grill and cabin heater. More capacity via larger tanks would be better.

Have you considered all the other options? Like hanging twin 10 lb tanks off the transom in a dedicated mounting bracket:




In any case, it sounds like you have the ability and understanding to do a nice job of it. Even if it's only for your boat, if it's what you want and it works out well for your purposes, then I say go for it!


P.S. I noticed that you posted the same thread in two different forums. I combined them for housekeeping purposes. If you prefer that the thread be kept in the "Islander" forum, let me know and I'll move it.
 

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Tundra Down
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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for all the good advice. I like the two transom mounted tanks but it won't do for this boat. Only having 10 pounds of propane is a limitation but it is 10 pounds more than I have now and the diameters of larger tanks won't allow this solution. Our uses will be limited to weekend and week long gunk holing and will never be too far from refills.

The size of the installation will be fashioned around a standard after market hatch and will be 16" wide which just fits our cockpit seat.

I think I have solved the drain and seal issues but you are right on in pointing out their special requirements.

I was also wondering how "dear" the space is in the stern end of the quarter birth. Is it an important berthing space? It was a standard use of space when these boats were being marketed as sleeping 5. I wonder how many people use their quarter birth for sleeping? Times have changed and for us that space is storage anyway.

Thanks for consolidating. Placing it here was a second thought after I had put it in the Islander post.

George
 

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We use our quarterberth all the time for sleeping -- so we wouldn't want to give up that space. But that would likely differ from owner-to-owner. Just keep in mind the resale issue: If you plan to sell the boat down the road, somebody else may be looking for that bunk as a sleeping space.

Have you exhausted all the other possibilities? For instance, our locker is tucked up in the "dead space" under the cockpit coaming. This is outboard and above the cockpit locker. There's enough space there for 2 x 10 lb tanks:






I don't know the configuration of your boat, but I offer those photos just as an example of how creative thinking can often find unconventional solutions.

However you configure it, be sure to follow the ABYC safety specs: Vapor tight fittings, pressure gauge, remote safety solenoid, etc etc.

Good luck!
 

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Learning the HARD way...
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This post prompted me to check the price of a pre-built LPG locker from our favorite Marine dealer - WOW!!! It would seem to me that there is a lot of potential margin if you were to make these as a reasonable cost ($100-300).

Be careful though, I am sure that some lawyer will tell you that you may be liable unless you include appropriate disclaimers with your product.

I am looking at boats that have only one propane locker, and had considered adding and additional one myself. I would love to see what you come up with, and, pending boat, would be interested in buying one myself.
 

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I was also wondering how "dear" the space is in the stern end of the quarter birth. Is it an important berthing space? It was a standard use of space when these boats were being marketed as sleeping 5. I wonder how many people use their quarter birth for sleeping? Times have changed and for us that space is storage anyway.
That's one of those things you have to evaluate for yourselves... short term/long term...... My forward berth cushions are at home in my cellar and my still un-done project is to make a rack system for better storage up there.
I had done all that to my C320 but when I traded/brokered it in for the NC 331 the Broker said ..... Oh... you HAVE TO.... return the forward berth to original so I can sell it. I removed the shelving and intrusive DVD/VCR with much labor and aggravation. So when I spoke to the person the broker sold it to who was going to Live Aboard he said...... "Oh that's such a shame we would have Loved to Have it the way You had it set up".
Will the intrusion totally ruin the berth? Will it still be able to be used if say.. a daysail with guests turns into an overnighter dictated by weather or something ? You can guess my opinion - go for it.
 

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Tundra Down
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Discussion Starter #11
More good advice. One of the reasons for the "drop in" design is to make it removable if that space needs to be restored for any reason but it sure makes sense in yours.

Thanks,

George.

I don't have the room to put them in the coaming space on this boat.
 

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Tundra Down
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Discussion Starter #12
I have been mistakenly stating the size of the propane tanks I am building this locker for. I said 5 pounds and I should have said 5 gallons. I hope to be able to install two 5 gallon tanks. They would contain about 16 pounds each which results in a respectable 32 pounds of propane. My fall back is two 3 gallon (11 pounds each) tanks for a total of 22 pounds. Sorry if I mislead anyone.

George

George
 

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If you are thinking about selling your item commercially, then you need to determine an effective method of marketing. The standard model in the marine world seems to involve regional disributors who purchse from manufactures, resell to retailers who in turn sell to boaters. This is the reason so much of what we buy is so pricey.

If you can sell over the internet, and can figure out an effective method of attracting people to your site then you could probably do good business.

As far as your actual locker goes, I think the most marketable design would be something that could be mounted on the stern rail. I don't think that a large number of boat owners would be too eager to start drilling holes through their hulls for propane vents, but would like to find something that protected the tanks and fittings from damage and corrosion.

Good Luck ! :)
 

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Telstar 28
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That makes a huge difference. :)

I have been mistakenly stating the size of the propane tanks I am building this locker for. I said 5 pounds and I should have said 5 gallons. I hope to be able to install two 5 gallon tanks. They would contain about 16 pounds each which results in a respectable 32 pounds of propane. My fall back is two 3 gallon (11 pounds each) tanks for a total of 22 pounds. Sorry if I mislead anyone.

George

George
 

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Tundra Down
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Discussion Starter #15
Yup a huge difference.

I am the one I am designing this locker for. I do appreciate the advice RE: marketing and such. If my efforts translate into something that is attractive to another DIY sailor that will be a plus.

After reading a post about using the Honda 2000 generator for charging batteries I checked it dimensions and may build the dual tank locker space so it could alternatively store the Honda generator. Ha!

I am just having my kind of "fun." Drilling holes in my boat isn't a problem for me. Who knows if it will solve any problems for others.

Thanks again,

George
 

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Telstar 28
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There's a much bigger market for two 16 lb. Propane tanks, since that's sufficient storage for most cruising boats, than there is for two 5 lb. tanks.... :)
 

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Tundra Down
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Discussion Starter #17
Yup, for me, too! I think the two 5 GAL (16 lb) tanks will ft in the location I have. It is about depth for the locker and I think I will have enough space. A shallower locker would accept the smaller 3 GAL tanks and still offer 22 lbs of propane. Two 5 GAL tanks are enough propane for my refill to refill needs here along the Maine coast.

I have only been aboard the boat once since this idea hatched. I know the boat well enough to do some drawings and I am sure about the available width of my cockpit seat being 16". I am finally getting back home after several weeks of absence and will be able to take some more measurements now. I will build this from a plywood mock up of the seat. It will require two separate parts and one of the molds will be a two piece mold for ease of removal and so I can design more shapes into the tub.

Tundra Down is in and ready to go but our little Marshall Cat Boat needs some varnish and a fresh coat of paint on the mast. I replaced one of my mooring balls and that required the skiff. Its OBMs needed to be checked and the trailer's wheel bearings greased. And so it goes! All is well.
 

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Propane locker interest

George,

I would be interested in seeing/buying your finished product. I have a 39 Pearson with Luke Alcohol stove I wish to replace with propane.

Bob
 

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From the on-line Don Casey library at
Propane Systems by Don Casey
is a good article that I review now and then.

Thanks to John Pollard for the stern 'worth a thousand words' picture of the tank holders. I now have a project in mind as my tanks are on deck right now.

Composite (spun glass) tanks might also be considered. They supposedly do not explode but rather will burn through at some surface point; then burns the fuel off through a small hole rather than explode. Probably look like a small strapped down jet engine but at least won't supposedly explode.
 

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I doubt that they won't explode under the right (wrong) circumstances, but boat explosions are not the result of tanks exploding, but of propane that has through a leak filled the bilges until it finds a source of ignition. I have a composite tank and will buy another. As light as aluminum and locally half the price for same capacity. No corrosion and no rust on deck or wherever they're located.
Brian
 
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