Monday, March 2, 2015

Propane Conversion

Hullabaloo came equipped with Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), a very safe type of fuel for a boat. There's this handy little storage spot for the tank in our lazarette and refills/exchanges are pretty inexpensive. The issue with CNG is that it is not readily available everywhere, especially when traveling abroad. But propane is (at least more than CNG).

In order to be able to use our oven/stove and grill we need to convert propane, so much easier said than done! We got a good deal on a conversion kit for our stove, but the biggest issue is how and where to store the propane tanks. Let me tell you, we've spent hours and hours researching, debating and bickering over what to do. I was all, "let's just wedge 'em in somewhere so they can't roll around, it'll be fine" at first. Glad I got talked out of that!

This is a pretty serious subject to tackle as propane is probably the biggest danger we have on our boat. It's heavier than air and any leaks may result in propane gas collecting in the bottom of the boat. If enough gas is present and a spark occurs.....KA-BOOM. That might ruin our day.

We'd like to avoid this
Image here

We had a couple options for storing the tanks on board:

1)Put the tank in an airtight locker in the lazarette with a drain going overboard to vent any leaking gas - $600 for a pre-made, airtight box? Yeah, no. So what if it comes with everything we need like a solenoid and a 10lb aluminum tank, that is still ridiculous.

2) Fiberglass in an airtight locker in the lazarette - A major undertaking we wanted to avoid at all costs. Plus we'd still need to buy all the bits and pieces.

3) Store the tanks on the rail - I initially wanted this option as it was cheap and easy. I got vetoed.

None of these options is perfect but we had to do something. So we sucked it up and went with a little Option 1, a little Option 3. We have 2 10lb tanks, one will be in the locker in the lazarette for use and the other will be stored on the rail in a homemade holder Ron constructed. The rail mounted tank (as long as it's not empty) will also be easy to hook up to our grill.

We just might start looking like the Clampetts with crap strapped all over the stern rail real soon, but we don't have a whole lot of options aside from looking trashy or blowing an insane amount of money. And looking trashy isn't really the end of the world, right?!?

Changing jets for the burner -
 propane on left, CNG on right.
Some of the old jets put up a good fight.
The $600 box.
The kit: 10lb tank, regulator, solenoid and box
And yes, we measured the space in the lazarette to make sure we have room for the box and changing tanks. I can't imagine the horror that would ensue if we found space an issue during install.
10lb tank and rail mount
We'll probably tool dip  the rail mount (or do something similar) to prevent any metal on metal wear but I think it turned out pretty well.

Now, we just wait a *little* longer to take it all to the boat!


  1. Can't wait to see a pic of it installed :)

  2. Ours is on the rail, for all the reasons you found.

    1. At first the thought of all that stuff (grill, life Sling, propane, etc) on the rail bothered me...but I'm finding that there really isn't a way around it! The closer we get to leaving, the less I care about it :)