Propane installation

We have thought long and hard on how to solve the propane installation on our sailboat. The solution was not obvious. The first idea when we bought the boat was to have the propane in one of the hatches in the cockpit, where the pervious owner had their bottle. But when we started measuring we would not be able to fit the propane bottle we wanted to have through the opening of the hatch, there’s plenty of room inside the hatch but the opening is to small. We want to have pretty big bottles so that we don’t need to fill them up so often, and we also want to have two bottles.

The size of the opening wasn’t the only problem with the hatch in the cockpit. For safety reasons we also want to have good drainage in the bottom of the hatch where we store the propane. Propane is heavier than air and will sink and by having a hole in the bottom of the hatch the propane will pour out through them. The problem with the cockpit hatch is that it is very deep and if we would want a hole in the bottom, it would be below, or very close to the waterline and for another safety reason we don’t want that either.

When we ruled out the cockpit hatch, we started thinking about other places on the sailboat. One idea was to have them on deck, which would solve the drainage issues. But there’s not much room on deck so we didn’t chose that solution. We didn’t have a good idea how to make the installation in a good way when having the bottles on deck either.

Another idea was to build a separate box in the bed in the stern, properly sealed towards the living area. We definitely don’t want the propane inside the living areas, could be really dangerous!

The idea we finally proceed with was to have the propane bottle inside the anchor chain locker. The anchor chain locker already have drainage, for the water coming from the anchor chain. It is also sealed from the living area. The anchor chain locker is pretty big and have room for two of the propane bottles we want. One of the disadvantages we see with choosing the anchor chain locker is that there will be a lot of movement in the bow, much more than in the stern, and the holders we make for the propane bottle might not be strong enough to deal with those forces. But it is the best solution we could come up with and it will probably be good enough.

When we decided to go with the anchor chain locker idea we could continue with the propane installation.

First up, removing the anchor chain from the chain locker.
The chain locker needed some cleaning as well. We have a hatch from the living area towards the chain locker.
After cleaning the chain locker. At the bottom of the “triangle” in the bottom of the chain locker the drainage holes are located.

When the chain locker was clean we could start working with the holder for the propane bottle. We definitely don’t won’t the bottle loose in the chain locker.

Starting to measure the holder for the propane bottle.
We started welded the holder. Here Thomas is trying to see so that the strap fits in the holder.
Testing to see that the holder fits together with the propane bottle.
Next up was to get the copper pipe in position. The pipe goes from the chain locker to the kitchen area. To avoid leakages in the propane system we wanted to have as few connections as possible.
After the pipe was in position it was time to get the holder for the bottle in position. This is how the chain locker locked before.
A mahogany plywood glued onto the wall for extra stability for the bottle holder.
The holder for the propane bottle in position.
The propane bottle in the chain locker with the hose connected.
The hose connected to the pipe which goes almost all the way to the stove.

We bought a leak detector for the propane system, but the model we bought doesn’t fit in the chain locker. We will either buy a new one of another model or simply check the system for leakage by turning the propane of at the bottle, wait a while and the turn the stove on. If it burns for a while there are no leakages, but if it doesn’t light up we have a propane leakage somewhere in the system.

Testing the stove with the new propane installation, and it worked really good 🙂

Now we will be able to cook some dinner when we are out sailing, but we still need to install our new refrigerator to store the food, which will be next up! 🙂