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This page updated:
August 2006

Fuel types:
Mostly from "Good Boatkeeping" by Zora and David Aiken (on Amazon - paid link), and article in March/April 2000 issue of Good Old Boat magazine:

Rough consensus: propane is best. (Although some people disagree strenuously.)

Mike Buckler's "Fuel Name FAQ"

From Felton on Cruising World message board,
[Re: CNG hard to find:]

Not Hard to Find ... Impossible.

I have been negotiating to purchase a Sabre 34 that is equipped with CNG aka "Safegas". You can't get CNG in Texas ... period. I have gone so far as to call the utility company and they told me that the Texas Railroad Commission (don't ask ... they regulate oil and gas in Texas) prohibits the refilling of the cylinders *unless* they are permanently installed in vehicles (cars). You can *try* to ship the containers, but UPS doesn't like that and the charges are prohibitive. There is a website for "alternative fuels", but calling every one of their provided locations was the same ... "no can do ... sorry". ...

Propane is impossible to get in the French Caribbean islands (Guadeloupe, Martinique); they use butane, I think.

Propane system:

Propane tips:
Big John Grills' "How To Use Propane Safely"
BoatU.S.'s "Propane"
Don Casey's "Propane Systems"
West Marine's "Safe Propane Installations"
Patricia Baasel's "Propane's Pleasures and Perils"
SailNet - Doreen Gounard's "Refilling Propane Tanks"
IWW's "Propane or Butane - bottles, standards, dangers ?"

Propane tanks:
From Rick Kennerly on the IRBS live-aboard mailing list:
Are aluminum propane tanks worth their extra cost ?

You bet, but if you ever send them off to be filled, particularly in the islands, you'll probably lose them if you don't go with them. [Paint boat name on them in big letters.]

From Jerry Donofrio on the IRBS live-aboard mailing list:
Granted that salt will tear up steel but only if maintenance is ignored. Before putting a steel tank into service additional coatings of your favorite anti rusting paint will go a long way to making the tank last longer. As you point out you could buy 5 steel tanks for the price of one aluminum and the aluminum would also have to be retested during that time which cost about half of the tank value.

One of the features of the new steel tanks is the auto fill safety float internal to the tank. This allows the tank to fill up to the maximum allowable level without overfill. Many filling stations really do not fill a tank to the full level. A simple scale revealed to me, that my local station was not giving me what I was paying for. ...

From John / Truelove on the IRBS live-aboard mailing list:
Propane is (or should be) sold by the lb. for the DOT-certified tanks that we all use on our boats. It's sold by the gallon for ASME (fixed home-type and industrial) tanks.

I had all this explained to me a couple of years ago, when I questioned the amount of propane a filling station put in my tank. Here's what I recall:

The rated capacity of the tank is based on the water capacity (stamped W.C.) of the tank. If the W.C. is 47 (typical for a 20 lb tank) it will hold 47 pounds of water. Dividing by 8.3 (pounds per gallon of water) = 5.66 gallons. Multiply by 4.24 (pounds per gallon of propane) gives the capacity (24 lbs) of the tank, which includes 10% for expansion. There is another factor that the filling stations use which I don't recall.

The newer tanks are available with a gauge (finally) which I think is really neat.

From Bruce on Cruising World message board:
We've got one of the little Force 10 grilles, and recently found out a couple of things when I was trying to figure out why it didn't want to stay lit.

1) Read the manual. This sounds basic, but there really is some information in there that's helpful.

2) Adjust the regulator properly! Under the peel-off label on the knob of the regulator there's a little screw. Turn it in to increase the flame, out to decrease the flame.

3) Adjust the air "gate" that mixes air with the raw propane before it goes down the tube to the holes. You want to adjust it so it's mostly blue with some yellow in the flame. Too blue, and the flame will jump off the tube easily and can be blown out. Too yellow, and that's not good either, but I don't remember why. Once adjusted properly, they say not to grille with the top closed all the way, 'cause it will get too hot and damage the drip pan and such.

Now ours burns bright and hot. Last year it burned so cool we had to wrap the thing to get the temperature high enough and keep the flame from blowing out!

Thank God I read the instructions, as it saved me from going and buying a new regulator when I only needed to adjust the one I had.

Solar oven:
How to make an oven:
Make A Pizza Box Solar Oven
Solar Cooking's "Solar Cooking Plans"
Mark Aalfs' "Principles of Solar Box Cooker Design"

Make a solar oven:
Reflective panels, glass on top, black interior.
Maybe good to use an insulated icebox as the container.
Want a good seal of glass lid to keep heat from escaping.
Best to use flat-black pots and pans, with lids.

Ovens for sale:
Global Sun Oven ($230)

How to use an oven:
Solar Cooking's "Solar Cooking Hints"

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