Sunday, May 21, 2017

Propane tank locker Part 2: Done!

I finished the propane tank locker project by gelcoating the interior and exterior of the propane locker, changed the hatch lift handle to a latching one, installed a wall-mounted tank bracket plus straps and padeyes to keep the propane tanks secure inside the locker, made a drop-in board to separate the two tanks, mounted the regulator, solenoid, hoses, pressure gauge etc. inside the locker and then ran the gas hose through a vapor-tight thru-fitting to the galley (using support clamps along the way) where I installed the new Dometic Moonlight 2 stove. (I didn't hook up power to the solenoid except for test purposes for now, will do that when I re-do the electrical wiring.)

Propane tank locker

So after doing all that, making sure everything worked, I hooked up the stove and the solenoid to a 12v battery and clearly heard the click sound as the solenoid opened  (and repeatedly testing to make sure that gas was coming out of the hose and reaching the stove) ... the stove does not work. I can't figure out why no gas comes out of the burners even though everything is connected and I made absolutely sure that gas was reaching the stove. The oven light and igniters work, the gimbals work, the gimbal lock works, and there's gas flow...but no gas comes out of the burners.

Dometic cooker. The red thing is a silicone baking mat for the oven. I also put an oven thermometer in there, all for naught!

Oh well, I'll deal with that later. For now I'll continue cooking using an electric range.

In the meantime I made a hinged countertop lid that closes over the stove when not in use, which has a sheet of aluminium screwed under it and two barrel bolts that keep the lid locked-down tight when the stove is not in use. This arrangement should help prevent the stove from jumping out in case the boat heels too much. I'll have to figure out a place to put a fan too, to blow the heat from the stove out the companionway.  Plus, a light so I can see what I'm cooking.

Trident Marine on/off gas control panel

I used the Trident Marine on/off propane control panel without a built-in alarm because based on my experience, the alarms often go off for no apparent reason and cut off cooking gas flow at the most inopportune times. Many boaters have simply disabled their alarms or circumvented the solenoid because of false alarms, which is of course quite dangerous. However I did install a propane leak alarm, just in case:  a SafeTAlert MTI 30-441-P 12V White Surface Mount LP (Propane) Gas Detector. I'm also going to make sure the tank  valve is closed when no one is using gas.

Of course I made sure that the supply hose was properly supported and protected from chafe and damage along the way by running it through conduit I made of PVC piping and support clamps, plus soft rubber grommets through bulkheads.

Rubber grommets protect the gas supply hose from chafe

Per ABYC code, I should have two warning labels installed in or near the LPG tank, one warning that propane is flammable etc, and another label that shows "Comprehensive printed instructions and a labeled diagram(s) covering details of proper installation, maintenance and operation" of the propane system..." Those will come later too.

As for the propane tanks, I went with two 10-lb aluminium tanks, which based on my calculations, each should last me about 2 months of my normal daily cooking. Aluminium is of course lighter than steel and much less prone to corrosion. These  tanks also fit into the locker while staying upright. I was considering going with a larger vertical tank but I was convinced that refills would be easier with two separate tanks.

Just wish I could actually cook with the stove now! Grr! All that work, and no working stove. Very frustrating.

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