Gear Test: LPG Safe Store - Soundings Online

Gear Test: LPG Safe Store

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At one time or another we’ve all found those pesky little portable propane cylinders floating around on our boats. You know the ones; they’re about 3-3/4 inches round, hold a little more than 16 ounces of highly combustible gas, and are used for such items as barbecue grills, camping lanterns and portable heaters. As compact and useful as they are, storing them is a real problem aboard any boat.

The American Boat and Yacht Council addresses this issue in sections A-1 and A-30 of its Standards and Technical Information Reports for Small Craft. Section A-1 applies to LPG systems used for “cooking, heating and refrigeration on all boats up to the point of interface with the appliance.” RequirementsA-1.7.6.1 and A-1.7.6.1.1 state: “LPG cylinders … shall be readily accessible, secured for sea conditions, and protected from the weather and against mechanical damage, and shall be installed in a ventilated location on the exterior of the boat.” Section A-30 applies to cooking appliances with integral LPG cylinders of not more than 450 grams (16 ounces), and requirement 30.5.5.2 states: “Cylinders with greater than 8 ounces capacity shall not be stored inside the boat and shall be stored only on the boat exterior where escaping gases can only flow overboard.”

The problem is determining how and where to properly stow the cylinders. I have seen products over the years that attempt to address this, but they either lack in weather protection, mechanical protection or securing for sea conditions. Sailor’s Solutions of Northport, N.Y., manufactures the LPG Safe Store, which, when mounted in the appropriate location, will protect the typical 16.4-ounce cylinders from mechanical damage and weather, and allow any escaping gas to flow overboard.

The LPG Safe Store is a 16-inch section of 4-inch-diameter “marine grade polymer” (looks like PVC pipe) with a stainless steel stop rod through the bottom and a domed, removable cap on top. The cap has a line secured through it that should be fastened to the mount or boat. Along one side of the tube is a 1-3/8-by-1-3/4-inch plastic rib that has a machined groove along its length for hugging a rail stanchion and slots to accept the stainless steel hose clamps that secure it to the rail. It is a simple piece that does a good job of storing two LPG cylinders appropriately. The open bottom allows escaping gas to vent from the container and, when installed on the outboard side of the rail stanchions, directs the gas flow overboard. The ABYC also recommends that LPG vents be located at least 20 inches from any hull opening to the hull interior. Once installed, the lid is easily removed, though it retains a grip on the canister sufficient to prevent it from flying off while under way.

There are a few minor issues that came to light when installing and using the LPG Safe Store. The rail stanchions on my trawler are a touch bigger than 1 inch in diameter, and although the stainless clamps eventually did the job, they were very difficult to form and grip the rail. I would like to see a slightly longer clamp provided. Although excessive tail length could be problematic, the clamps included made installation a two-person job. The short line attached to the unit’s cap is left to be tied off somewhere near the container following installation. It would be a bit handier if it were attached to the product on both ends.

All things considered, the LPG Safe Store is a good example of a simple yet effective design that is well executed. It blends in with the lines of the boat and adds to peace of mind when it comes to on-board hazards. It retails for $59.95 on the Sailor’s Solutions Web site.

For ordering information, contact Sailor’s Solutions at (631) 754-1945 or visit www.sailorssolutions.com .