Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Propane In The Ass

When we removed our propane locker to get to the deck underneath, Frank noticed that there was a cut in the copper line that was plugged with plumber’s epoxy. Scary….very scary, as I had been cooking with our stove for quite some time now. Propane is heavier than air and likes to slowly accumulate in the bilge, when a pump turns on, that is all that is needed to turn your boat into the world’s largest firecracker. So, we went ahead and replaced the copper line (which is no longer used in boats at all) with flexible rubber hose. It seems like the copper line was installed before most of the interior of the boat was built out, leaving little room for the new rubber hose, which is 4 times the O.D. of the existing one, thus turning a minor project into a real pain in the ass. It snakes along under trim where the deck meets the cabin top and we had to get creative with re-routing the new hose. Because of this, the job ended up taking 3 days instead of 3 hours like it should’ve. To put our nerves at ease, when we replaced the solenoid and regulator, we also went ahead and installed a Xintex Fireboy S-1A propane sniffer in the bilge. This will alert us if there is any potential leak.

Frank also rebuilt the rotted out propane locker using our the same teak that was used on our cabin-top panels.  How he built it was he used a table saw to cut rabbits in the corner pieces and the bottom and top trim as well as a compound miter saw to cut the slats precisely to size.  Our old box was made primarily of plywood and thin teak veneer.  The plywood apparently rotted out years ago and someone had used the “drill and fill” technique to prolong its life, but as you can see from the photos, it did not work.  Our new box is now  solid teak and only the plywood used is the floor of the locker.  We also reused the top as that hadn’t suffered the same fate.  We did re-caulk the seams as the Cetol has a tendency to turn caulking in complete mush. 

This is the ineffective drill and fill.
Corner pieces, old and new
Side pieces, old and new
Going together
Bungs in!
New regulator and solenoid

No propane refit would be complete without…..A BRAND NEW STOVE!  The nail that sealed the coffin on our old stove was when we went to remove it to access the propane line, one of the burners fell apart.  We knew that this day was coming as the burner was not functioning the way that it should and was leaving little flakes of rust every time we cleaned it.  Why didn’t we just replace the burner, you ask?  Well, since the GSI stove was close to 30 years old, and this is an apparently common weak point, a lot of people tend to be looking for the same parts, which are no longer in production.  The only way to find this would be finding a used GSI stove with the same burners and taking it from that.

Although this was an extremely pricey purchase, this is our home, and we plan on doing a lot of cooking.  We opted for a 3-burner Dickenson Mediteranean Stove with oven and broiler.  We narrowed our choice down between this or a Force 10, which was slightly cheaper, but the highest output burner on the Force 10 was 7000 btu versus the 11000 btu burner on the Dickenson.  Our decision was heavily swayed by the idea of having to boil a big pot of water for lobster and not being able to get it to a full boil or having it take forever in the sweltering tropic heat.  Now that’s what I call dreaming!  Better to plan ahead than be sorry.  This was by far my favorite upgrade to date.  I know this is going to sound stereotypical, but Frank’s love is the engine, and mine is the stove. 


  1. Beautiful Box. That gives me an idea to do something similar... someday.

  2. It wasn't too hard so you should go for it. Thanks for the compliment!

  3. i love my dickinson stove too!