Building the Propane Locker and Installing the Gas System
I have thought long and hard about where to locate a propane locker. My Cape Dory, as did most, came with a Seaward Princess Stove--three burners and an oven--plumbed for CNG. When I bought the boat it had two very large steel or aluminum tanks (I can't remember which) secured in brackets bolted inside the lazerette. CNG sounds like a great fuel but it is hard to come by outside a few areas in the US (so I am told) and is almost non-existent over seas and it is not as efficient a fuel as propane. However, CNG is lighter than air and much safer. Nonetheless, if we were going to do any long range sailing the CNG had to go. The two options for fuel, from my perspective, were kerosene and propane. I have no issue with kerosene. I have used kerosene in several of my back-packing stoves with no problem. But it does have a strong smell and does require routine maintenance to be reliable. But, even more important than that, there just aren't many kerosene stove/ovens available. The selection is small and they are expensive. Propane is much easier to use, requires almost no maintenance, burns hot, and is available all over the world. The real problem with propane is it is heavier then air and can be very dangerous. ABYC has strict requirements for the storage of propane. I had a good stove/oven already so it made sense to use what I already had . . . but for propane. A few years back, while I was waiting for the opportunity to begin the restoration, I contacted Seaward Products, that makes the Princes Stove, and bought a conversion kit that would enable my CNG stove to operate on propane. So far, so good.
I had two options regarding storage of the propane bottle: on deck or in a custom built locker. I did not want the bottles hanging off the back of the boat making us look like a cross between the Clampetts and the Griswalds. So, that meant I would need a dedicated locker. Per ABYC standards, the locker has to be used for propane bottle storage only. It must be air tight and must have a vent, no smaller than 1/2" that vents the locker above the static waterline. After thinking through every conceivable option, the best choice seemed to be to construct a locker just forward of the lazerette hatch, under the helmsman's seat, which is part of the overall lazerette locker. I measured the space under the seat. I researched propane bottles and decided to go with three 10lb composite bottles which I bought from the RV Supply Warehouse. The dimensions became important because the bottom of the locker had to be above the static waterline . . . 20 lb bottles were just too tall. But, the 10 pounders are 9 1/2" wide and 17" tall. This would allow me to keep the bottom of the locker well above the static waterline. And because the locker would be on the centerline I believe the stern wake will not cover the vent.
This would not be a simple project though. It would require cutting a hatch in the cockpit seat, fabricating and installing water gutters, and building a locker for the bottles that would be airtight, separated from the rest of the lazerette and vented overboard. I took many measurement. I drew up several sketches. I discussed this with my sailing friends to get their thoughts.
I knew I wanted a professional factory looking locker. I was researching ways to build such a locker when I ran across Dave Krall's website featuring his Westsail 42 Elysium. He has a page on his site that shows how to make a factory looking fiberglass cockpit hatch by the use of a custom built "plug." I called him on the phone and he very kindly walked me though the pictures. Now I had a plan.
Once I decided on the spot it was only a matter of building a mock-up, measuring carefully--many times--then getting the appropriate cutting tools lined up and "go to town."
To get started, I drew the hatch opening dimensions on the seat. I had to allow for the gutter width (3/4") and thickness of glass on the inside of the gutter (1/4" then the lip the gasket would sit on (3/4"). There would not be enough room for deep gutters as the shoulder of the outside bottles would actually sit under them--the fit would be that close. I also determined that I did not need deep sloping gutters as the gutters would be oriented fore-and-aft vice side to side. So they should drain the same on either tack. I decided to slope them 1/2" from aft side to the front side of the hatch. When it came time to cut I used a circle saw to cut as much as I could then transitioned to a jig saw. I finished up the lower corners with a saws-all. I have to admit I was anxious about the cuts when I was figuring the math. But once I was satisfied that this plan would work, the cutting was anti-climatic. At this stage, having literally ripped the boat apart, repaired deck coring, glassed in bulkheads, and made significant rudder repairs, I am fairly immune to cutting or drilling holes. Plus, I have the confidence now that I can fix anything I need to.
The hatch plug--upside down
The key to a professional looking locker is the upper part of the locker that the hatch sits on—the gutters and the lip on which will sit the gasket, which makes the locker lid airtight.To achieve this I had to build a wooden plug that would serve as the mold over which I would lay wetted out glass tape and “form” the gutters and lip.I could lay the glass up over the plug, let it cure, remove the cured assembly from the plug, and then glass the cured assembly into the hatch opening.But, I think it will be stronger and more precise if I can actually lay the glass over the mold with the plug in place.The top photo shows the plug upside down. When flipped over, the large piece of ply wood will sit on top of the cockpit seat and cover the opening.The wood trim (the mold for the gutters) will fit down through the hatch.If you look closely you can see the inside of the plug is “shallower” than outside the trim. That’s because I had to allow for the depth of the hatch itself to side down on a recessed lip that will have a gasket on it.
The bottom photo shows how the plug right side up.The cut out in the center has no real purpose but made it easier to build.
The gutter will be two inches deep in the back and slope to 2 ½ “ in the front.The rear gutter will be 7/8” wide to provide more room for the lip on the back side of the hatch to clear the inside edge of the gutter and gasketed lip.The sides are ¾” wide and the front wood molding is ½” wide.There is no gutter in the front. The thickness of the wood in the front serves to allow a recess front verticle lip of the hatch lid will have room close flush with the vertical face of the cockpit well. All this is clear as mud, right?I regret that my skills to write a more articulate narrative are so limited.I think it will be more clear with photos when I actually install the assembly.
I sanded all the wood starting with 120 grit all the way to 600 grit.When I am ready I will wax the plug many times to ensure the glass won’t stick to the wood—failure here would cause a real bad problem.
Hatch plug--right side up
After thinking about this for awhile I decided to build the hatch coaming in two steps vice one. First I would make the coaming in the shop. Second, I would glass coaming to the bottom side of the opening of the propane locker. After going through the steps I believe it will be just as strong but a whole lot easier to build the coaming in the comfort and convenience of the shop vice squeezed into the lazerette of the boat where I have to go in and out of the lazerette to wet out cloth, etc.
Once I was ready to begin laying the wetted out fabric to the plug, I waxed it first with three layers of Minn-Wax to the epoxy would release from the wooden plug.I wanted the fiberglass coaming to have a smooth surface so I started with two layers of 8 oz finishing cloth.Then I added 3-4 layers of 17 oz biaxial.After it started kicking and was still green I trimmed the excess with a razor knife. The top picture shows the wetted out cloth on the plug.
The next morning I used a hammer and chisel to lift the edges and then I was able to pop the coaming off the plug. The bottom picture shows the coaming removed from the plug. It is sitting upright with the front of the coaming facing toward the camera . . . just the way it will sit in the locker. The gutters slope down about 1/2" from front to rear. They don't have to slope any more than that since the gutters are running fore-and-aft vice athwart ship--in other words, the gutters won't have to drain water from the low side of a healing boat. Keeping the gutters shallow allow some room for the shoulder of the propane bottle to fit under the gutters and allow the three bottles to fit in a compartment that is wider underneath the gutters then the hatch on top.
After Thanksgiving, I will further trim the coaming to have a ¾" lip on the inside of the gutters (the gasket will be attached to this lip).Then epoxy the hatch coaming to the underside of the hatch opening.Then I will build the lips to the sides and back of the hatch, that was formed from the seat I cut out of the cockpit to form the opening for the locker.After that I will build the propane locker glassing it to the coaming and rear vertical face of the cockpit well.
The hatch coaming glassed on the plug
The hatch coaming removed from the plug.
Preparing the locker opening for the gutters.
Before I could install the rain gutter I had to prepare the locker opening. I determined where the hinges would go and removed the balsa core from that area. I located the outside edge of the hinge 4 1/2" from the edge of the locker. Though not shown in this photo, I eventually removed about 1/2" of balsa core all the way around the locker opening and filled it with epoxy thickened with 407 filler except the hinge area where I filled it with 406 thickened epoxy. I also filled the holes where the shore power connector and the cockpit mounted bilge pump were mounted with 17ox biaxial cloth patches from the inside of the locker.
Next I coated the top edge of gutter assembly with 406 thickened epoxy and clamped it into place. I made sure I had enough thickened epoxy on the flange to squeeze out all the way around. Then I cleaned up the squeezed out excess with a sharpened stir stick.
Though not shown in these photos, after the clamps were removed I tabbed the assembly in with multiple layers of 17oz biaxial tape and filled in the void, where I removed the balsa core from the exposed deck edge, with thickened epoxy. After it cured I sanded the epoxy down to created a smooth transition between the original deck and the gutter assembly. Much more fairing will be required in this area to get nice finish.
Initial fitting of the rain gutter
Next I went back to working on the propane locker. I build the plug for and installed the rain gutters a couple of months ago--see the propance locker project. When the temperatures got cold I stopped working on it and have been grinding the last month and half. Now that I have just about run out of grinding projects--finally--I decided to shift back to epoxy work that I can perform in my wood shop where I can control the temperatures.
Today I took the seat top that was left over from cutting the hole for the locker and began the work to convert it into a locker lid. That means it needs to have "lips" all around. When I initially cut the hatch lid out, I cut down the cockpit seat face 2" to create a lip on the front but there was nothing I could do about the sides and rear of the seat/lid. They have to be fabricated. I could just leave them flat without lips and rely on a gasket to keep the water out. However, I think I can do better than thant and I want to try to create a factory look. First I cut the about 1/2" off on each side and also 1/2" in the back to create room for the new 1/4" thick lips and room for the hatch to clear the sides of the rain gutters when it is closed. Anticipating this project, a few months ago I ordered the bronze factory hinges from Spartan( $45.00 each!) so all the hardware in the cockpit will match.
Next I ground a beveled edge back on the hatch lid for a 12:1 bevel. Then I built a jig out of some 2X4 scraps. I built it to fit the hatch so I can lay the biaxial cloth over the top bevel and down along the jig--which will be sanded very smooth to 600 grit and heavily waxed. I cut out the end grain balsa where the hinges will go and filled the void with thickened epoxy. Tomorrow I will wet out the cloth and build the sides.
The next task was to build the hatch lips. I started by sanding the 2X4 plug/mold that I built previously. I sanded it smooth starting with 80 grit then progressing through 120, 150, 320, 400, and finally 600 grit paper. I used my finish sander to get the best finish possible. Once it was silky smooth I waxed it with Minn Wax which is the same past wax I use on the surface of my table saw and jointer.
I needed to build only three sides to the hatch since the front of the hatch incorporates 2" of the vertical face of the aft cockpit. The biaxial tape, however, dose need to just wrap around the beveled edges of the front lip. You can see this in the bottom picture. Next I measured and cut single lengths of biaxial tape. West Systems recommends the longest/widest be laid down first but I chose not to do it that way to allow the longest/widest tape to go on last to aid in getting the best fairing job possible. Also, there is no need to achieve maximum structural strength for this project. The emphasis is create the hatch lips to help keep water out of the locker and execute my best effort to achieve a quality aesthetic result.
I made three lengths starting with 54 1/2" long then working up to the last layer at 55 3/4." This would allow each length to slightly overlap the previous layer length wise. I cut the shortest one down to make it 2 1/2" wide, the next 3" wide and the last and longest length I left at 4" wide--this would allow overlaps as well, width-wise. Then I wet out the beveled edge with slightly thickened epoxy. I left it alone to start to kick and tack up. With the surface slightly tacky, the wetted out tape has something to stick too otherwise it just slides off the beveled edge.
I wet out each layer of tape, in turn, and applied them over the beveled edge with the shortest and narrowest first layer just going over the edge of the beveled surface. I cut "pleats" for the corners after the tape was wetted out and on the seat--one has to remember to clean the scissors immediately with acetone when the job is complete. That way they are in the right place and make the best fit. Once I placed the last layer on I used a 5/8" roller to work the three layers of tape and squeeze out any air. This also helped work the tape down over the edges and corners of the hatch to resist pulling up.
Next I will begin fairing in the minor depression between the inside edge of the tape and the line that forms the start of the gel coat.
Eventually, when the final fairing is complete on the rain-gutter I will cut the hatch lips down to match the angle and depth of the rain cutter. The lips will be longer towards the front of the hatch and less in the rear.
Three layers of 17oz biaxial. The new lips will be cut down significantly to be compatible with the depth of the rain gutters.
The lip in the front was part of the cut-out from the aft cockpit seat. It is the correct depth. The sides of the hatch will be cut down to match the angle of the rain gutters. In this case, the side facing will be trimmed to match the front lip on the right corner and cut at an upward angle going to the left. The back lip will only stick down about 1/2".
After the newly laminated lips had cured I removed the hatch from the plug. I used a chisel and a hammer to pry up the edge of the lip in several places. With very little effort the hatch popped right out.
Next, I washed the hatch and the new cured epoxy with water and a scotch-brite pad to remove any amine blush. Then I wiped down the inside of the hatch with Interlux 202 to ensure no release wax from the wood plug remained on the epoxy.
Then I mixed up some epoxy and thickened it with 406 and made fillets all the way around on the inside of the lips to both fill any minor voids and to soften the 90 degree edge to prepare the edge for a layer of biaxial tape. I left the fillet for a couple of hours to kick and get to the point where it was firm but not fully cured.
Last, I laid a single layer of 17oz biax that I trimmed to 3" wide to cover the fillet and add some addition strength to the lip from the inside of the hatch.
The hatch fresh out of the mold.
Fillit added to the inside edge of the hatch lips.
Single layer of 17oz biaxial over inside fillit.
With fillets and the final inside layer of biaxial tape cured, I carefully measured and in a series of cuts trimmed the hatch to fit the recently build rain gutters. The gutter assembly had already been installed in the opening of what will soon be the new propane locker.
Then I mixed up some epoxy and thickened it with 407 and started the process of fairing hatch lid. The first to be faired is the minor beveled "trough" that remained from the process of grinding the edge to accept the three layers of biaxial that formed the lips on three sides of the hatch.
The newly built hatch lips trimmed to fit the rain gutters in the propane locker.
First fairing on the new hatch.
After applying the fairing material to the hatch cover I began work on the propane locker itself. I spent awhile on the boat measuring for the locker. Then I used a piece of inexpensive 1/4" plywood to make a template. I cut some poplar on the table saw to use as cleats. I used dry wall screws to fasten the locker together and took it up to the boat. It was too big so I hauled it back down to the shop, took the cleats off, and trimmed some more. I reassembled the box and took it back to the boat. It fit nicely. All three of the composite 10 lb bottles fit and best of all I can take anyone of the three bottles out without moving the others. That was a pleasant surprise. I also test fit the propane gas regulator and the manual shutoff valve that I intend to use. The locker is on the centerline and the through hull vent, which I will install later, will exit about 16" above the scum- waterline. There will be a single vent off-set just to the portside of the centerline of the boat. I think this will work out nicely. The box and the entire gas system will be built to the ABYC standard.
The shut off valve is brass T-valve used to turn the gas on and off in a fireplace. I will use this in place of an electric solinoid. What is nice about it is the body bolts through the propane box and the lever is inside this part of the valve. The one I have looks just like the photo to the right. The valve is threaded under the escutcheon. That part will be mounted horizontally through the vertical face of the locker under the port side seat. The gas line will run from the regulatro to the this valve. Then continue on through the locker wall (sealed to keep gas in the locker and out of the boat should there be a leak) and on to the stove. The short gas key depicted in the picture will be replaced with a bronze rod (about 6' long) that will run from the valve just under the lip of the port seat locker and exit through the bulkhead that separates the galley from the lockers. It will be capped with a bronze lever. Standing at the galley stove you will reach your hand out to the left and the lever will be right there. Turn it on to let gas flow to the stove. When you are finished cooking you turn off the valve. The flame goes out. Then you turn off the stove. You know the valve works. There is no electric solenoid to fail. This is the same kind of system that Lynn Pardy uses on Talisen--except their bottles on deck and my bottles are in a propane locker--which they don't recommend. We will incorporate a gas sniffer in the bilge as an added safety measure.
Next I will cut the marine grade plywood I will use for the propane locker (1/2" for the bottom and 1/4" for the sides) and start glassing it up. I will do all this in the shop. I won't be able to install it in the boat though till the temperature comes up.
Gas valve used to turn propane on and off in the propane locker.
Next went back adding another coat of 407 fairing to the propane locker hatch lid.It’s slow going but that’s the way it has to be to get it right.After applying the fairing I returned to more work on the locker.The top picture depicts the underside of the rain-gutter assembly.I failed to include this picture earlier but decided to include it here because I think it makes it much more clear how the assembly is glassed into the bottom side of the deck around the hatch opening.
The next picture depicts the three 10lb cylinders that the locker is designed to hold.They are 17 ½” tall and 9 ½” in diameter.I would like to have had 20lb cylinders but the taller cylinders meant the bottom of the locker would be closer to the static water line than I wanted plus the locker would have probably “bottomed-out” on the inside of the hull below the locker.As it is, the locker bottom is about 4” below the bottom of the cockpit floor and 3 ½” from the hull at the corners as evidenced by the 2x4 blocks holding the locker in place.With a single drain/vent on the centerline, and the lockerbottom about 16” above the “scum waterline” I don’t think there will be much likelihood the locker will flood with sea-water but I will have to sail the boat to be sure.
The bottom picture shows the mock-up locker in place.I used some cheap ¼” ply for the back and sides and ½” ply for the bottom.That is what I will use to build the real locker out of.Doing it this way allows me to make sure everything fits the way I want before I cut and glass together the much more expensive marine grade plywood I will use for the real locker.I used ¾”x ¾” cleats and dry wall screws to hold everything together.I had to carry the mock-up up and down the ladder from the boat to the woodshop and back to the boat at least a half dozen times to get the tight fit I was looking for.The locker fits snug around the outside of the gutters, under the bottom of the deck that you can see in the top photo.It will be glassed in all around the top, sides, and bottom on both the inside and outside.It will be strong and air-tight.The real locker will not use cleats or screws. I will build it using the stitch-and-glue method.This method is essentially a technique using epoxy fillets and glass tape to fasten the parts together.I will cover the inside and outside of the entire locker with 10oz cloth and epoxy.
The rain gutter assembly glassed in to the underside of the new propane locker hatch opening.
The locker needs to hold these three 10lb composite cylinders to ABYC standards.
The mock-up of the propane locker. The real locker will not have wood cleats.
The mock-up blocked into place and trimmed to fit.
The picture to the left is shot from the fantail of the boat looking down through both the lazerette hatch opening and the opening into the propane locker. In this picture you can clearly see the 2x4 blocks holding the mock-up locker in place.You can also see in this photo that the locker is longer (wider) on the left (port) side of the boat than the right side.In fact, it is about 3” wider to the port side.This is necessary to make room for the gas ball valve that I will install through the forward face of the locker (which is the bulkhead) with a 6’ long bronze rod running forward that will allow the valve to be manually operated from the galley. The next photo shows that the locker came out both level fore-and-aft and side-to-side.To be truthful, I was a little relieved to see that it was dead-on. Building something square, level, and plumb is essential to producing a professional product. I had thought about angling the locker down and aft to use gravity to help any gas or water in the locker to better make its way to the vent.But after thinking about it for a while it just made building the locker harder than it needs to be.
The last picture shows the mock-up with the three cylinders installed.There is more room in the locker than I would like.The locker size is driven by the outside dimension of the gutters to which I will glass the box.I thought about making angle to the sides to make the box smaller but, again, it would make the locker harder to build and it might compromise the strength.So, I will likely fill the voids in the locker with Styrofoam and trim it to fit.Then I will cover it with a layer of cloth/epoxy.Depending on the work I want to do, I could form-fit the bottles.By decreasing the space in the locker it leaves less room for seawater to get into the locker and less space for gas to collect should there ever be a leak inside the locker. After I was satisfied with the locker fit, I took it out of the boat and back into the wood shop.I disassembled it and used the parts as templates for the marine grade plywood which I will use to make the real locker. Next I will start building the locker.
Level fore-and-aft and side-to-side.
A good fit but with a little more room than I would like.
Before I began to epoxy up the locker I took the mock up back into the boat one last time to get a fresh look to see if there are any changes required. It looked good. I will build the locker incorporating the stitch-and-glue method which I have never used before. This is supposed to be a good technique for bonding light plywood. It uses copper wire to hold the pieces together and epoxy fillets and tabbing as the glue. Since the bottom of the locker is 1/2" ply and the sides and back are 1/4" ply I used two separate techniques. For the bottom joint I cut a small 1/4" deep and wide rabbet with my table saw and rounded over the outside edge with a disk sander. The 1/4" ply sides sit in the rabbit joint. I used the stitch-and-glue for the sides and back.
The first pictures shows the tools required for stitch-and-glue.
The second picture show the wire ties run through the holes and twisted tight. A key point is to create an exposed corner. The corner will be filled with a "reverse" epoxy fillet rounded over to allow the tabbing to bend around the corner--you want to avoid 90 degree turns. You need to use this technique because the 1/4" plywood corner is too thin to really round over and the outside fillet adds strength to the joint.
The third pictures shows the same corner from the inside.
The fourth picture shows the fillet in the bottom joint made with 406 thickened epoxy. You can see the tabs I used above this to lightly bond the sides so I could later remove the wire and then fillet and tab the vertical joints. This is not the standard technique. I read about this in The Boatbuilder's Apprentice by Greg Rossel. All the other sources I have read tells you to leave the wire in and fillet over the wire. Then when the epoxy fillet has kicked, but before it is hard, you snip the wires on the outside and pull them out with pliers. If you can't get them out, you cut them short, grind down any protrusions and tab over them. Well the technique I read about in The Boatbuilder's Apprentice sounded better so that is what I did. I used 8oz finishing tape trimmed down so I could fillet over it. But I don't like the way it came out. I think it looks messy and it is not real smooth. I will reserve my final opinion after I try to fillet and tab over it tomorrow. The last picture shows the completed tabbing around the bottom joint. I applied a 4" wide tab of 17oz biaxial then covered it with a 2" wide tab. Eventually, I will cover the sides, back, and bottom (inside and out) with 12oz cloth that will overlap the wider 4" tab and run up to the edge of the 2" wide tab completely covering all the plywood. That will best insure there are no gaps for water to find its way into between the cloth and the tabbing. I think it will make the locker very strong--which it needs to be.
Next I applied thickened 406 epoxy to make a round-over on the outside corners. I gooped it on the gap with a mixing stick. Then I used a very soft piece of thin flexible plastic to drag over the corner and make a "round-over." After it cured I sanded it using a sanding block. I was not looking for the perfect round-over but just enough to help the biaxial bend around the edge of the locker. The top picture shows the edge after I sanded it.
The bottom picture shows the locker after I applied two layers of biaxial tape in the same manner I used on the inside of the locker--a 6" wide strip down first, followed by a 4" wide strip. I added an extra piece of biaxial around each corner to provide extra strength and ensure the corners are air-tight.
Next I will start covering the locker with 12oz cloth to make it strong and water and air tight.
The round-over epoxied edge ready for biaxial tape.
The outside edges with two layers of biaxial tape.
Next I added some fairing compound (a mix of 406 and 410) to the inside vertical edge of the deck to which the hatch assembly is glassed. Then I added a layer of 8oz tape, 3" wide on the inside and deck section of the fore and aft section (deeper) and 2" wide on the athwartship section (shallower with less room in the back) to give it more strength. In December I removed the exposed end-grain balsa and replaced with 406 and 406 thickened epoxy so there is no exposed end-grain where I cut the hatch out of the cockpit seat. This tape covers it and wraps onto the horizontal part of the deck that I previously beveled. If you look closely you can see the cloth tape. Today, I spread 410 microlight fairing compound over the tape and tomorrow I will sand it.
I called West System today and talked to the tech department. I asked about the warning in the West System manual to not use the 410 fairing compound under dark colors, e.g. the light gray paint I plan to use on the deck non-skid. I was informed West Systems is going to revise that warning in the next printing of the manual. Apparently they have run some tests and not had any problem with the 410 and dark colors that tend to heat up the deck. The tech rep told me that the light gray paint I will use in the non-skid area will not be an issue. This was good news because as easy as the 407 is to sand the 410 is much easier. It also hangs on vertical surfaces much better than 407.
Preparing the propane locker hatch assembly for fairing.
The next task was to glass in the supports for the bottom of the propane locker. I built the box part in the shop last winter when it was too cold to do any glass work on the boat. The Top of the box will be glassed to the underside of the deck around the hatch opening I cut out of the cockpit last year. The sides and the bottom will be glassed to the lazerette side of the vertical aft face of the cockpit. I believe it should also have some support under it. Not so much because it will have three 10lb propane bottles in it (though it won't hurt) but because I want to structurally tie together the aft deck/cockpit similar to what was there before I cut the cockpit seat out.
To build the support I first made cardboard templates then transferred them to some 3/16" luan ply. I trimmed these a little more to improve the fit and once satisfied I transferred the pattern to some 1/2" marine grade Douglass Fir. I fit these to the exact spot and leveled the top and also trimmed them to accommodate 3/8" closed-cell bevel cut foam and placed it between the ply and the hull. I don't think it is necessary to do this if the supports were just holding up a shelf but because it is all tied together and supporting the aft deck I followed the recommended procedure for installing a bulkhead. I decided to offset them slightly to one side since the propane box extends to the port side about 4" more then to the starboard to provide room for the gas shut off valve, etc. This will place the supports an equal distance from each outside edge of the box. Once I measured everything and test fit the whole thing I rigged up a 2x4 across the aft cockpit and clamped some vertical pieces of wood that I could use to hold the supports in place with squeeze clamps. Next, I mixed up some slightly thickened epoxy and wet out the area on the hull and back of the cockpit where the biaxial tape would be laid. Then, I wet out a 6" wide and 4" wide layers of 17.7 oz biaxial tape for each side of the support, both the horizontal and vertical edges. Once I had smoothed out the air bubbles I covered the epoxy tape with some release fabric. I used release fabric because I do not want to use water to remove the amine blush and get the wood wet. The release fabric will allow me to glass right over the epoxy once it is cured. I finished off tonight by placing a shop light in the lazerette and covered up the hatch openings. It will stay plenty warm in there for the epoxy to cure properly.
Tomorrow I'll remove the release fabric and test fit the propane locker. If all goes well I may glass it in and be done with it. That would be nice.
Looking down on the vertical supports into the lazerette that the propane locker will sit on.
The next day I removed the peel-ply release fabric. I used a sanding block to knock down some of the rough edges. You can see the supports are off-set to account for the box extending a little to the port side to provide space for the propane gas line and shut off valve. If you look closely you can also see the limber holes cut on the forward bottom edge of the supports to prevent water from being trapped there. Then, I spent a couple of hours in and out of the locker with some fittings thinking about how they would be aligned to properly vent the locker in accordance with the ABYC standards.
The locker was designed to look like it belongs there. It will completely conceal the tanks. It will hold three 10 lb composite bottles. It is built on the center line. The only draw back is that it takes up a good chunk of the lazerette. I'll also have to allocate some space for the quadrant of the Cape Horn windvane. That will leave some space mostly for fenders and other light bulky things of that nature. I suppose the loss of space also works to our advantage as there won't be enough room in there to throw in all the stuff we don't need and weigh that boat down in the worst possible spot . . . the stern.
In a couple of days I will glass the locker in all around the edges with multiple layers of epoxy and biaxial as well as glass tape the supports to the bottom of the locker. I hope I never have to cut this sucker out.
Supports for the propane locker.
Today I got most of the propane locker epoxied in place. Got a late start after spending time deciding on staving width and talking to the tec rep at CP Adhesives.
Next, I filleted the inside corners of the locker then tabbed them with a single layer 17.7oz biaxial tape across (except two layers at the bottom forward inside corner). It went smoothly and without issue. It just took more time than I thought it would. The tapping on the inside of the locker is not really necessary. That sucker is bonded very well from yesterdays tabbing. Nonetheless, I added a layer to ensure it is sealed air tight. After the tabbing I added some epoxy, thickened with cabosil to peanut butter consistency, filleting over the tabbing in all the corners to made sure they are air tight. I have only one photo of the inside of the locker below . . . the rest are pictures of the outside of the locker taken from inside of the lazerette. I am very pleased with this glass work. It will not been seen and eventually it will all be painted. The only thing left to glass in is the under side of the forward edge of the locker to the awtharship bulkhead and the supports to the bottom of the locker. I'll take care of them tomorrow.
Back and right side of propane locker. To the right is the aft end of the awarthship bulkhead that runs under the aft end of the cockpit.
I finished Phase II of the propane locker modification. The phases are: Phase I build the hatch assembly and the box; Phase II epoxy the box it into the lazerette; Phase III fill the voids and build brackets for the bottles, and Phase IV plumb it for propane.
It took a little twisting and contorting to get down in the lazerette and get my arms under the box to apply the tape. I glued some foam wedges in first to allow the tape to gently bend across the 90 degree angles. I wetted out the surfaces with slightly thickened epoxy. It was tricky getting the wetted out tape under the box and applied evenly. I only put one layer across the bottom edge to the bulkhead (there are two on the inside bottom edge of the box). I applied two layers of 17.7oz biaxial on each side of the supports. It seems to be rock solid. I am pleased with it overall. The box will need to have foam blocks glassed in later to eliminate excess space--though there isn't much. Tomorrow I'll go back to the locker briefly and scrub off any amine blush and knock down the roughness with some light sanding. Eventually this will get painted.
After completing the glass work on the locker I moved into the wood shop and starting ripping the African Mahogany that I will use for the vertical staving. It has a beautiful color. Tomorrow I will finish ripping the mahogany and then start setting up the table saw to cut the half laps. I'll need to make a few more feather boards to make sure the wood is properly supported against the surface of the table saw as well as the fence. After the half laps I'll cut the "V" groove on the router table. It's good to be moving along and making progress.
Here is a picture of the propane locker with the hatch on it. I think it looks pretty good. You can see the locker lid sits a little lower than the surrounding cockpit horizontal surfaces. That is because I built the rain gutter rim about 1/2" lower to allow for a 1/2" thick gasket which I won't install until after the Far Reach is painted in the spring. I also purchased a set of bronze hinges from Spartan Marine that match the other cockpit locker hinges.
When the time came to build the drain system I ran into some obstacles. I had intended to use two through-hulsl--one for the hull and one for the bottom of the locker--connected by a hose. However, there is not a lot of room for the through-hulls as they were just two long. So, I decided to make the one that will fit in the bottom of the propane locker. That way it will be perfectly flush in the bottom of the locker and I can trim the length to get the clearance required.
The PVC pipe is inserted over a 3/8" diameter nail about 12" long. The nail is inserted through a hole in a piece of plywood. Plastic is laid down over the PVC. The wetted out biaxial is wrapped around the PVC.
The PVC pipe was pulled from the biaxial before it was fully cured. Later is will be trimmed and sanded smooth.
I made the drain the same way I made the drain for the icebox but a little larger diameter to be in compliance with ABYC standards. Click here for more info on the propane locker. Over the next couple of days I'll trim it and sand it smooth. It is made out for three to four layers of 1708 biaxial and epoxy. I used a 5/8" OD PVC pipe over a 3/8" diameter nail. I waxed the PVC pipe, slipped some sheet plastic over it. Next, I cut small slits in biaxial squares wetted them out and slipped them over the pipe. Then, I wrapped wetted out biaxial around the pipe and flared the bottom to get a wide overlap on the biaxial on the bottom. I finished it off with a thickened epoxy fillet. Four hour later, before it was fully cured I popped the pipe out and left it to harden overnight.
The first drain plug I made for the propane locker was too large a diameter and I decided I needed it to angle aft as well. So, I made another one. It takes about 30 minutes to make it and another 30 minutes to trim it up after it cures so it's not a big investment in time or materials. This one has a 20 degree angle. Once I had it trimmed to size (except for length) I drilled a 7/8" diameter hole in the center of the locker. The propane bottles sit on 1/4" raised rubber strips--just like the dedicated shower water tank so the bottle won't block access to the drain. The outside diameter of the tube is 5/8". Today, I ordered a 5/8" bronze through hull with hose barb from Hamilton Marine. When it arrives I'll drill a hole under the aft overhang and complete the installation of the propane vent/drain system. The drain will be epoxied in place and then covered with a layer of 12 oz mat.
This is the second drain plug I made. This one has a 1/2" ID and is angled 20 degrees.
7/8" diameter hole. I beveled the hole with a chisel to match the bevel of the drain plug.
11 Dec 12
Today I went right back to work on the propane locker. I started off shopping for two different kinds of 5/8" hose. I bought a short pre molded heater hose from auto zone and some heavy duty fuel line from a little chandlery up the road. Which ever one works best is the one I'll use. Then, I crawled down in the lazerette and confirmed where to drill the hole for the through-hull. As many holes as I have drilled and as much work as I have done on the Far Reach I still get a little anxious before performing major surgery. I measure several times and then usually go have a cup-o-joe or eat lunch and then come back and look at it again before I start cutting. Anyway, I taped the topside to prevent cracking the gel coat and drilled a small 1/8" diameter pilot hole from the inside of the locker. There was very little clearance under the propane locker bottom but I was able to use my Dremel with the flex cable to get to the right spot and drill the hole. Satisfied, with the way everything looked, I drilled a larger 1 1/8" hole up through the aft overhang. I test fit the through hull. It looked good. Next, I used a 1 1/2" diameter hole saw to cut a backing plate for the through hull then I drilled a 1 1/8" hole in the center, essentially making a small "doughnut" backing plate. Using some 80 grit abrasive paper, I sanded the backing plate, the epoxy drain plug I previously made, the area around the hole in the bottom of the propane locker and on the inside of the hull where the backing plate would be located. I vacuumed up the residue and then performed an acetone wipe down.
I mixed up some unthickend epoxy and wet out the inside of the beveled hole in the 1/2" thick plywood bottom of the propane locker then ( the entire locker has several layers of epoxy cloth on it--inside and out--and added some thickener to the remainder and trowled it on around the epoxy plug and pressed it into the hole. From the excess I formed a fillet around the underside of the drain plug where it passes through the 1/2" ply bottom to the propane locker. I scraped up the squeeze-out and trowled it on to the backing plate and pressed it into position over the hole I previously drilled through the aft overhang.
Next, I took some 8oz cloth trimmed into a 6"x6" square and cut a small hole in the middle and laid it over the top of the epoxy drain in the bottom of the propane locker. This small section of cloth serves as a barrier to seal off where the edge of the drain plug passes through the plywood. I wetted it out with unthickend epoxy and worked out any bubbles and left it to cure overnight. That was all the work for the day.
I completed installing the propane locker drain system today. To begin, I taped off the outside of the hull around the hole. Then, I gooped up the through-hull with 3M 4000UV and positioned the fitting. Gayle held the through-hull in place with a special tool I made way back when I removed the through-hulls from the boat. Next, I crawled into the locker and tightened the nut from the inside. Then, I scooped up the excess bedding compound and then cleaned up the fitting with some paper towel and mineral spirits. Next, I cut the 5/8" ID hose to length. Then, I inserted the hose over the barbed end, added two hose clamps (there isn't room for two over each barb) and fit the other end over the custom made epoxy/biaxial drain I installed in the bottom of the propane locker a few days ago. Finally, I tightened the hose clamps down. There is not a lot of room in the locker but he hose can be inspected and replaced as necessary.
The big project during the last two weeks was designing and installing the LP gas system for the stove. The most difficult part of this was coming up with the gas shut off valve system. I did not want an electric solenoid because I do not want to be dependent on an electrical system to operate the Far Reach. I want all the systems to be simple and manual whenever possible. With an electric solenoid if you lose power you lose your ability to cook--or you have to by-pass the solenoid which requires a jury rig and now you have bypassed a key safety system.
Two years ago, when I designed, built, and installed the propane locker, I bought a gas valve made for a gas fireplace. It's UL approved and manufactured in a ISO 9000 plant. It is made of brass. It is designed to be able to turn on a ball valve that allow gas to flow by turning a handle on the other side of a wall. When I saw it, I thought it would do what I wanted done--keep the valve in the propane locker (in compliance with ABYC standards) yet allow the valve to be operated from outside the box (ABYC standard) without compromising the vapor tight integrity of the system. The trick was how to operate the valve, installed in the LP gas locker, from inside the boat--six feet away. Way back when I built the box I knew what I wanted to do, I had the valve I needed and knew where to install it, but I was not sure how I was going to operate the valve.
So, this week, I pulled all the parts together ( a Trident Marine LP gas regulator, the shut off valve, some 1/2" copper tubing, and some 1/2" copper water pipe). I played around with the parts for a couple of hours in the boat and propane locker looking at what would work. I needed to be able to fit the regulator in the box in a way that I could see the pressure gauge (with the lid up) which is a key component of leak testing the system, yet I needed room for the bottles. It was a tight fit. I decided it needed to be installed at an angle so I cut a piece of scrap teak with the appropriate angle to accomplish that. I had bought some copper tube and a tool to allow me to flare the tubing to fit with flair fittings.
I drilled a hole in the forward end of the propane box which is glassed into the port side cockpit bulkhead (it separates the lazerette from the port locker. I made a wood block for the locker side and scribed it to fit into the radiused corner. I test fit the valve. It looked good. I installed the regulator and hooked up the copper gas tube between the regulator and the gas valve. Next, I needed to come up with a way to turn the handle. I cut the handle off the end of the key that came with the gas valve so I had the socket with a 1/4" diameter shaft about two inches long that fit into the back side of the valve. I drilled holes in a brass hose barb after filing off the barbs. I used thickened epoxy to glue the shaft of the socket into the hose barb. The holes helped the epoxy grab onto the hose barb. Next I drilled some holes into a copper repair sleeve for 1/2" copper water pipe. Then I epoxied the threaded end of the hose barb into the copper repair sleeve. I then cut a six foot section of 1/2" copper water pipe and it slid perfectly into the other end of the repair tube. Now it was only a matter of drilling the hole through the main cabin bulk head above the stove keeping everything lined up. I used a piece of string to determine a level line and drilled a 5/8" diameter hole through the bulkhead and staving above the stove. Next, I removed the water pipe and took it into the shop. I cut a handle from left over 3/32" thick flat silicon bronze I used to make the brackets for the kerosene navigation lights. I fit the handle to the water pipe by cutting a slot in the end of the water pipe with my jig saw. I reinstalled the 6' pipe with the handle in the boat. It worked great . . . at least in practice.
At this point, everything fits nicely. I have some finish work to do. I will fabricate a support point for the long copper pipe. I'll solder on the handle to the water pipe and drill some holes and install a bolt or two to secure the water pipe to the repair sleeve. What I like about this set up is I can remove the entire thing if necessary. I can buy replacement parts at the hardware store. And, the handle comes out right above the stove. It is right there where you can see it. When the handle is horizontal the gas it off. When it is vertical the gas is on. What could be simpler? To turn the stove off just turn off the gas. When the flame goes out you know the valve works. Then, turn the stove off.
There will be a shelf build behind the stove so the handle should blend in well. I measured for the gas line and put the order in for the hose and a vapor fitting from Trident Marine. Now if I can only get started on those cabinet doors.
Earlier in the week I installed the propane regulator in the propane locker. Yesterday, the Trident Marine propane hose and vapor proof fitting arrived. After determining how to run the line I cut some small circular blocks from scrap Iroko. I sanded the selected spots and epoxied them in place with thickened epoxy and left them to cure overnight. Today, I installed the hose from the locker to the stove. It is completely out of the way but visible and easy to inspect or replace if ever necessary. I still need to add bedding compound to the vapor proof fitting but I will not do that until after the propane locker is painted. Other than that, the propane system is complete.
25 July 13: I don't even know what to call this post.
I just received the Aug 2013 Practical Sailor today and opened it up tonight to find on pg 5 a notice that Lite Cylinder propane tanks have been recalled. Searching on the internet indicates the company has shut down due to massive recall that appears to invlove all of thier tanks. What's the "so what." Today, I just finished applying the final coat of paint on the propane locker after a week of modifying it to fit the Lite Cylinder 10 lb propane bottles I bought three years ago (see photo gallery below I uploaded earlier today). The whole design was based on these narrow 10" wide cylinders. I don't think there are any cylinder, other than steel, that will fit the space, and I won't even consider steel. Unless, I locate another cylinder manufacturer with cyclinders 9 1/2" wide x 17" tall or smaller I will need to cut all that work out of the locker. I think I can fit 10 lb aluminum cylinders in the locker with some mods. Incredible. Tomorrow, I look at the recall notice more closely but the initial read looks like it includes all the cyclinders.
6 Aug 13
We are sitting tight on the propane bottle for now. There is no need to react and get drastic with the grinder as we have time and there is plenty of other work to do. In the meantime, perhaps Lite Cylinder will come back on line and start making propane bottles . . . in which case we will buy some the same size as those that fit our locker and that will solve the problem. If not, I'll modify the locker to fit the 10 lb aluminum bottles.
Those folks that have followed along with our adventure may recall that a few weeks ago I was very disappointed to learn that the Lite Cylinder Corporation, the maker of my composite propane cylinders, was put out of business by a mandatory US DOT recall of all the cylinders they had manufactured. The worst part of this surprising event was I completed the propane locker the very day I learned of the recall. The Lite Cylinder bottles were the narrowest on the market and that is one reason I chose them. After spending a couple of weeks thinking about my options I went ahead and bought three aluminum 10lb cylinders which are 3/4" wider. They arrived and with only a little modification I was able to fit two of the three cylinders into my propane locker. The locker will require a grinder, epoxy, and paint (which I don't want to do) to fit accommodate the third bottle. Nonetheless, for the time being I am declaring victory. I will probably stick with two bottles for a while and see if it serves our purpose. If not, I'll modify the locker at some point in the future for the third cylinder.
One of the issues that continues to vex me is the mainsheet system. I eliminated the original mid boom sheeting set up forward of the companionway opting instead for end boom sheeting for a couple of reasons: 1) mid boom sheeting puts a lot of stress on the boom; 2) There was only 8 1/2' ft between the mast and the mainsheet traveler and my dinghy is 9' long; 3) I wanted to eliminate as many holes in the cabin top as possible which meant holes for the traveler, the winches, and cam cleats; and 4) it's simpler to handle the mainsheet when its in the cockpit. However, the layout of the cockpit, combined with the propane locker I built has made installing an end-boom sheeting a challenge. I have several options I am considering. One is to see if a raised traveler is feasible (the hinged propane locker lid would have to open underneath it) thus I decided to go ahead an install the hinges for the propane locker to see. Another is to install a traveler against the aft cockpit coaming and replace the hinge pins with removable ones. The lid would open enough for everything except removing the tanks. For that, pull the pins and remove the whole lid.
Instead of using nuts, I over drilled the holes, filled with epoxy, and tapped threads for #10 machine screws. Interestingly, I had to reverse the hinges with the wider leaf on the seat and the narrower one fastened to the deck. The reason is that it allowed the hinge pin to be on the aft side of the gap between the lid and the deck. That meant when the lid is open, the aft bottom inside edge of the lid, retracts away from the rain gutter. When I installed them the other way, with the hinge pin closer to the lid, the aft bottom inside edge moved forward just to jam on the rain gutter. It was an interested lesson in geometry and the physical aspects of how something as simple as a hinge works.
I installed the hinges for the propane locker lid.
I put off futher work on the propane locker for about 9 monts for two reason: 1) since it was early winter by the time I bought the aluminum bottles and completed other already in the work projects, the temperature had dropped and it was too cold for exterior epoxy work, and 2) I did not have the mental state for the project which required destruction and grinding. I was still mad about the whole thing.
Now seemed like a good time to modify the locker. The temps are great this week. The question was, did I want to add another filler box and just go with two 10lb cylinders or remove the one filler box already installed and go with three bottles. I think the box works better with two bottles--it is less likely to get water in it via the vent tube since the space is narrow 'thwartship, but I really think with four people on the boat, 30lbs of propane will be nice to have.
I started by assembling all my cutting tools. I donned the paper suite, 3M full face respirator, and gauntlet gloves. I carefully cut out the filler box then sanded it smooth. I vacuumed and cleaned up the work space. Next, I measured and cut some 1/4" 1088 plywood and beveled and shaped as necessary to achieve a lose fit. I test fit everything to make sure I have enough room for the bottles. I then laid out some plastic sheeting in the wood shop, sanded the plywood parts with 80 grit abrasive and cut fiberglass cloth to cover the panels. Tomorrow, I will epoxy in the panels and do a little fairing. All that will be left to do will be to let the epoxy cure fully and apply paint. I plan, later, to build a teak grate to fit in the bottom of the locker.
The next day I continued with the modification to the propane locker to hold the three aluminum 10lb bottles. I applied 6ox cloth to the back of the panels and let them sit till I could trim the edges with a box cutter. Then, I wet the edges of the 1/4" ply wood panels out with epoxy. Next, I mixed up some epoxy and thickened it with cab-o-sil. I gooped the thick epoxy on the edges of the panels and pressed them into position. Then, I trowled on more thickened epoxy making wide filets. I let it kick till it was rubbery and I laid the pre-cut cloth on the panels and wet them out in place. I laid multiple layers of 6 and 10oz cloth on the panels and in the corners covering the fillets. I applied several coats of unthickend epoxy to fill the weave. I went back about an hour layers and laid on some more epoxy with 407 medium density filler in the those areas that needed some additional fairing. The next day, I scrubbed down the fresh epoxy work with water and a 3M medium purpose pad and wiped it dry with paper towel to remove the amine blush. I'll let it continue to sit for a few more day, then I will prime and paint it with grey Interlux bilge kote paint.
Next, I completed the fiberglass modifications and painting of the propane locker. I did not spend a lot of time fairing the inside of the propane locker. It is very strong, absolutely water and airtight to the interior of the boat. It is vented to the outside of the boat, above the waterline, to ABYC standards. Today, I installed the gas system in the locker. I bedded the regulator with 3m 4000. I used butyl rubber to bed the vapor tight line fitting, and I used a combination of butyl and 3M 4000 to bed the manual shutoff line. The manual shut off valve is UL approved brass fitting designed for a home propane fireplace. By attaching the square "key" to a long copper water pipe, and run to the galley, we can manually turn off the valve from inside the boat. Its design keeps the locker air tight to the interior of the boat. For more info on the manual shut off valve scroll back up through this page and look for the two different entries on the manual shutoff valve.
The propane gas system is installed.
Two Steps Forward and One Step Back
It took some time, but yesterday, I was able to complete the installation of the stove, connect the LP lines, pressure check the system (more on that later), and light off the stove.
When I went to install the four screws (they are supposed to be installed through the top outside frame into the wood cleats that support the stove) to hold the stove securely in position I noted the holes for the screws were not centered in the access openings. The were so far to the side I could not get a drill in there to drill holes into the wood frame and follow it with a screw. So, I removed the stove from the frame it was hanging on and drilled new holes, from the outside in, ensuring they were centered properly. In the photo below, you can see the original hole covered with green tape on the outside of the stove. It's not even close to being in the center. You can see the hole I drilled in the center of the access hole. Next, I reinstalled the stove. However, even though the top grate is hinged it needed to removed to get the drill into position to drill the hole through the access holes. But, of course, it was held on with bolts and nuts instead of the quick release as depicted in the instructions. There was no way to remove the grate with the stove installed as the outside head of the machine screws (slotted) is set down below the counter top which blocks access to the large headed screws (which did not even fit properly). Once again, I removed the stove and went to the chandlery down the road. I purchased a couple of 10-24 standard pan-head machine screw and SS wing nut returned home. Then, I reinstalled the stove and attempted to install the screws with the stove in position--to see if it was double as I do not want to have to remove the stove to remove the grate. I was able to do it but only after dropping one down inside the stove. Why do manufactures insist on designing something like this?? Though doable, it is a difficult evolution and will no doubt cause problems later. At some point I'll come up with a better solution. With the stove in position it was time to connect the LP lines and pressure check the system.
I connected the lines, ensured the stove was shut off, and opened the manual remote shut off valve. I turned the gas on, charging the system. I watched the pressure gauge on the system, then shut off the propane bottle. The pressure should remain the same for at least three minutes. The pressure dropped to zero in three seconds! I heard the gas run out. I tightened all the connections. Retest. Better, but still leaking out. I made up a soapy solution of water and used an acid brush to soap the connections. I recharged the line. I cleanly saw the bubbles and tightened the connections more. This went on for a couple of times till at last the pressure held. I could see after about 10 minutes there was the smallest drop in pressure, maybe a pound or two from 122 lbs. I decided to light the stove off anyway as I was confident the leak was in the locker.
With all the gas shut off at the bottle and the manual shut off I tested the electronic igniter. The battery was dead. It is easy to replace, so I installed a new AA battery and the igniter clicked as soon as I pressed the button. I read the directions for the third time, turned the bottle on, opened the manual valve, turned the burner knob pressing it in, and hit the igniter--no flame. I closed the knob. The instructions said if it doesn't light right away try a butane lighter. With the butane lighter, the burners lit off right away. I shut them off, then relit them trying the electronic igniter. It fired right up. I lit all the burners, the oven, and the broiler. Then, I shut everything down.
Today, we went to the boat show in Oriental, NC. We were not there to see new boats, or even used boats for that matter. I wanted to see the marine flea market and swap meet. it was very small. I have that much stuff in my garage. Nothing to get excited about. I did score a chain pipe cover to my ABI windlass, but that was on the consignment shelf in the back of the Inland Waterway Provision Company and not the boat show. The weather was beautiful. The people were friendly. It was a nice day to get out.
I thought about the propane leak all day. This is a very small leak. But, it needs to be eliminated. It seemed to me the copper tubing, and the bend in it, is the most likely culprit. The high pressure line is 1/4". The Trident Marine line from the manual remote shut-off to the stove is 3/8". But, but the copper tube is 1/2" in diameter by 9 1/2" long. It is a short section, rigid between two fixed points--the regulator on one end and the manual shut off on the other end. Even though I could no longer see a leak with the soapy water on this section, that is where the leaks were and I suspect that is where the small one is as well. Also, I just don't like the copper tube. I think it is a vulnerability. So, this afternoon, I crawled back into the boat and removed the regulator, manual remote shut off valve, and the copper pipe. I went to the hardware store to find the fittings I needed to make the connection 3/8". Lowes did not have what I needed. Maybe I'll run it down tomorrow. I will replace the copper tube with a custom made rubber one about 11" long with 3/8" swivel female fittings at each end. That's how I should have done it to start with. Two steps forward, one step back.
I was not happy with the copper tube that I ran from the LP regulator to the manual shutoff valve. So, I decided to replace it with a flexible hose. The problem was I could not find one short enough for the job--about 10" long. The shortest 3/8" ID line was two feet long. It would have to be coiled up in the locker and that is not what I wanted to do. I found a 1/4" ID hose a foot long but it really should be 3/8" ID the same as the rest of the low pressure lines. So, one of my mentors suggested trying the local gas company. Bingo. Mallard Gas made one for me on the spot--heavy duty 3/8" ID hose with the brass fittings for $13. The were very nice and even gave me some pointers on installing the MIP tapered thread fittings into the regulator and manual shut off valve. I had no idea that they should be installed that tight. They used two 12" crescent wrenches and cranked them down as hard as they could and were emphatic they should be that tight. We are back in business.
I replaced the copper tube with a rubber one. The local gas company make it for me. Took them about 10 minutes. $13 including the hose and the fittings.
Work continues on the propane locker. I installed and EPDM gasket to make the locker top air tight. I also installed a Spartan Marine bronze latch to match the original latches on the two other cockpit lockers. I had to tap the fiberglass for the upper part of the latch because the lid coaming the lip fits over is not deep enough to allow for nuts. So the 10-24 bronze machine screws thread directly into the lid and I cut them off flush. The lower part of the latch has bolts, washers, and nuts. I offset the latch because if I put it in the center I could not raise the tiller up vertically.
Next, I made a template for the removable insert I will install in the bottom of the locker that the propane bottles will sit on. I originally planned to build the insert as a teak grate. But, my wife asked why I did not install a plastic one. That made a lot of sense. So, I ordered some UHMW from McMaster Carr. It arrived today so in the next couple of days I will build the insert and get that checked off the list.
Propane Locker Grate. The UHMW that I ordered from McMaster-Carr arrived (photo gallery below). I made a template to fit the bottom of the locker with doorskin and a hot glue gun. It was a simple matter to lay the template on the UHMW and trace it with a fine line sharpie. I used a combination of the table saw and jig saw to cut the out UHMW. I cut a hole for the drain hole with a 1 5/8" hole saw. After I test fit the grate I made a series of drain and vent hole in the UHMW with a 7/8" hole saw. I radiused the edges with a 1/4" round over bit in the trim router. Next, I cut strips of 1/4" thick medium hard neoprene rubber and laid them out on the under side of the UHMW. I traced them with a fine line sharpie and used 40 grit abrasive paper to abrade the UHMW and one side of the neoprene rubber. Next, I laid the UHMW on a 2"X10" plank to serve as a strong back. I mixed up some System Three T88 epoxy (which, like GFlex epoxy, works very well on rubber and plastic) and applied it to the UHMW and the abraded rubber. I positioned the rubber strips then then clamped flat and true 2x4s down on to the rubber essentially clamping the UHMW, the rubber, the strong back, and the 2"X4" all together. I let it sit for about 2 hours then unclamped it temporarily to scrape up the epoxy squeeze out. Then, I reinstalled the clamps I left it to cure overnight.
Next day, I removed the clamps and installed the grate. It fit nicely. I am very pleased with how this worked out.
The three 10lb propane bottom have a 1/2" raised UHMW platform to sit on.