Propane Stove & Fuel System
This page was last updated on 24 March 2002.

Stove and Basic Installation          Gas Control Panel Installation

LPG Tank, Regulator, and Solenoid Installation          LPG Vapor Sniffer and Alarm System Installation

stove1-71001.JPG (175489 bytes)With the cabinetry around the stove and galley done, and the stove (which had been stored in the head since August) generally in the way, I decided to turn to the installation in its proper place.  Previously, I built a cabinet for the stove--more of an alcove, really, with dimensions based on the size required for the unit.  The stove is a Seaward Hillerange 2-burner with oven.

To install the gimbaled stove, I first cut a paper pattern of the side of the stove, with the gimbal point clearly parked, and test fit it on the side of the alcove, swinging it to and fro to see how far it would go without hitting any obstructions.  I moved it around until I felt I had found the proper place, and marked the gimbal center.  I transferred the measurement to the other side in preparation for installing the gimbal brackets.  I bolted these brackets to the cabinets with #10 machine screws; I had to use bolts since screws would have penetrated the 1/2" plywood enclosure.  Then, it was a matter of lifting the stove into the brackets, which are equipped with clips that prevent the stove from jumping up out of the brackets.

Next, I drilled a hole in the cabinet opposite the gimbal lock lever and installed the supplied cover plate. This completed the physical installation of the stove unit itself.

At this stage, I also installed a Trident solenoid control panel in the electrical panel across from the stove.  This panel features its own circuit breaker and indicator light.  At the time I purchased the panel, the s tore did not have one with integral alarm in stock, so I bought the regular panel.  It can be upgraded to include a sniffer, alarm, and auto shutoff, which I will do a little later.

Installing the Trident panel was a matter of cutting an appropriate hole in my wooden panel, and screwing the panel into place.  Then, I ran a pair of wires (red and yellow) from the back of the panel, behind the engine, and along the starboard side of the hull, following my existing wiring runs, and dead-ending the wires in the head, where I would eventually create a final run up to the propane solenoid, when installed.   However, at this point (February 2001), I had bigger fish to fry, so to speak, as I rushed to get the boat ready for launch.  Completing the LPG installation would have to wait until later.

Update--July 2001

Well, it took nearly two months after launching the boat to finally get the propane tank and hoses installed!  Working with the engine and other projects--plus enjoying the boat and sailing--meant that my timeframe got delayed somewhat.  Plus, the fact that I didn't have a clear idea how I was going to install the tank meant that I tended to procrastinate on starting the job.

My initial thought, way back when, had been to install a dedicated locker in the lazarette.  However, after cutting the hole and sizing things up, it seemed to be a complicated proposal--and it would eat up all the valuable storage space in the lazarette.  After having the boat in the water for awhile, it was obvious that I didn't want to give up this space.

The next thought was to build a deck box to hold the tank and secure it somewhere on the deck, perhaps by the mast or on the foredeck.  This simplifies matters because, with the tank essentially open to the atmosphere abovedecks, many of the critical safety considerations are eliminated, since the gas, if it were to leak, would just blow overboard rather than collect somewhere in the bilges, as it would with a belowdecks tank.  I went forward with this plan, and built a nice mahogany box for the tank (a horizontal 10-lb. aluminum tank).  I varnished it up nicely, and finally was ready to try it on the boat.

foredeckbox2.JPG (178416 bytes)An ideal place for this box would have been behind the mast, immediately forward of the bump in the cabin trunk.  Unfortunately, on my boat I installed a solid boom vang that cuts into this space; I was certainly not going to give up the vang for the sake of propane storage.  I had thought that maybe the box would fit to either side of the mast, but this didn't work either.  The foredeck, just forward of the cabin trunk, had potential, but it definitely took up more room than ideally desired, and I worried a little about genoa sheets catching on the box.

Holding this idea in reserve, I looked into other options.  After much discussion, eventually we decided to install the tank--without a box--on the coachroof aft of the mast.  While the tank and regulator will be exposed here, it seemed the best all-round location.  We'll build a canvas cover for the whole thing to clean it up a little and help protect it from the weather and other damage.  I don't know what I'm going to do with my nice deck box.

lpgtankbolts.JPG (168649 bytes)To make the tank easily removable for filling, I installed four bolts from inside the cabin (in the head); these are long enough to penetrate the cabin, allow for room for a nut and washer (to hold the bolts permanently in place), and allow for the tank to sit over the exposed ends for securing with wing nuts for easy removal.  I gobbed lots of caulk around the boltholes and beneath the fender washers.

lpgtank.JPG (164079 bytes)The tank rests neatly on these four bolts, and is secured with wing nuts and lock washers.  It's open to the atmosphere, so venting won't be a concern.  It clears the boom vang nicely, and is pretty much out of the way here.

lpgregulator1.JPG (156550 bytes)I installed a remote regulator assembly, attached to the tank with a pigtail, on the forward end of the cabin trunk bump.  It's sort of tucked in behind the "top" end of the tank, the end with the valve assembly, which helps protect it from the weather.  To the regulator, I attached, using a series of brass nipples, an electric solenoid control, which is switched on and off by a panel in the cabin. This valve keeps the system closed off when not in lpgregulator2.JPG (183113 bytes)use; I will soon be installing a vapor alarm for the bilge, which, in addition to an audible alarm, will shut the lpghosesinside1-71001.JPG (161465 bytes)lpghosesinside2-71001.JPG (173899 bytes)lpghosestove-71001.JPG (184555 bytes) solenoid if vapors are detected.  Downstream of the solenoid, the 15' hose run is secured, which runs through a vapor-tight cable fitting into the head, then across the bulkhead, where it disappears behind the main cabin settee backs for its run aft to the stove.  I installed a plastic cover over the regulator to protect it and the integral vent from water. The solenoid wires run through another vapor-tight fitting near the hose exit, and are tied up alongside.  I need to build a wooden trim piece to hide the hose and wiring inside the boat--this will probably happen during the off season. (I copped out--see my trim solution here.)

backoftridentpanel.JPG (159163 bytes)Finally, I completed the wiring connections at the tank (solenoid) end and behind the Trident panel according to the instructions included with the panel.

propanetank.JPG (158758 bytes)The regulator assembly is admittedly not the most attractive thing in the world, but, with the tank installed, is fairly hidden--we plan a canvas cover for everything soon anyway.  Sometimes, function has to come before form (not often, though...).

Before starting the system for the first time, I performed several leak tests.  First, I opened the tank valve until the pressure gauge on the regulator rose to 110 (a normal reading for 70 degrees).  Then, I shut the valve and waited a number of minutes before checking the gauge again.  It didn't move; if there had been a leak somewhere in the line, or at a fitting, the pressure would have gone down.  Then, I brushed some very soapy water on every joint and nipple, looking for bubbles that would indicate leakage.  None.  With these critical safety tests complete, I was able to test-light the stove; in its initial test, the stove and oven worked great!  We used it for an entire--if brief--season with excellent results.  I didn't get around to installing the vapor-detector kit right away.

Update 19 March 2002

Finally, I got around to installing the sniffer/alarm system after the first season.  It was one of those small projects that I just could never find the time for during the summer.

Installation was fairly straightforward.  The kit includes a sensor assembly, which is to be mounted somewhere fumes might collect if there were a leak, and an additional circuit board and reset button that is intended for installation on the original Trident gas control panel.  These panels are sold complete with the alarm setup already installed, or separately--as I had purchased them.  I did this because the store didn't have the complete system in stock when I needed it, so I bought the normal panel at that time, and ordered the upgrade alarm kit later on.

This is the new circuit board.  It features whatever electronic wizardry that makes it work, along with four new wires, and an alarm light circuit (left, with the yellow wires) and a reset button--the black knob next to the bundle of four wires.  I followed the included instructions and installed it on the back of the  Trident panel.  First, I had to enlarge the cutout in my switch panel board to allow it to fit properly.   Access is tight, so I used a serrated narrow-blade knife that I had on board to saw out the opening.  It worked surprisingly well, but I didn't get a perfect cut--not that it matters, since the opening is hidden anyway.

lpgalarmchip-31902.JPG (151878 bytes)Then, I removed two blanks that filled the holes for the new reset button and red alarm light, and installed the circuit board over two studs that I screwed into threaded holes provided in the back of the panel.  The studs hold the circuit board in the proper place.  I installed a red plastic lens for the alarm light, and pressed the wired bulb into the lens from the back.  Then, I attached two of the included wires to the original circuit breaker switch, as directed by the instructions.  The other two wires will be connected a little later on, after I install the vapor sensor.

lpgsensorf.JPG (173167 bytes)I installed the vapor sensor in a compartment beneath the stove.  I was a little unsure where to put this.  My first instinct was the bilge, but looking at the sensor I decided that it looked entirely UN-waterproof, and the chances of it getting at least damp are pretty high were it to be located in the bilge.  I settled for the space directly beneath the stove, where the water pumps are installed.  It seems logical that propane might collect here if there were a leak around the stove.  I attached it with a blob of  caulk, and duct-taped it in place while the caulk cured.

The sensor is connected to a power source and to other wires on the Trident control panel with a length of triplex wire.  I ran the wire behind the engine room and through my wire chases to the electrical panel, and connected the various wires as directed by the instructions.  One wire runs to the positive distribution buss; another, along with one of the wires on the new circuit board, grounds to the negative distribution buss; and the third connects to the final wire on the circuit board (exact function unknown...but that's where it goes!).   You can see these wires secured to one of the thick red battery cables in the photo towards the right center.  The negative buss is at the top of the photo; the positive buss is just below, with the red wires attached.



The alarm system worked fine when first connected, but at one point during our cruise it started going off intermittently, then almost continuously, so eventually I had to disconnect the buzzer.  Troubleshooting and repair of this is on the project list for winter 2002.  As usual, these silly electronic devices are more trouble than they're worth.  In 2008, I removed the sniffer and its wiring completely.

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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