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Old 28-01-2010, 09:34   #1
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Copper Tube for Propane

I'm getting SO sick of propane! Not propane it's self, but the ridiculously varying opinions. You talk to one person and they think it's the safest thing in the world. You talk to someone else, and having it on board in any shape or form, following all regulations and safety procedures, and you're boat is still going to blow up.

So, here's the latest. The lines for my fridge and stove are copper. A mechanic who was working on my boat, said they should be changed, and that they don't look to be in great shape. I did get the impression this guy errs on the not liking propane at all side.

Now, as far as I understand, copper will get some discoloration, but doesn't really rust. Hey, the Statue of Liberty is still standing. The guy that helped me deliver my boat isn't the biggest fan of propane himself, and changed out his own lines for rubber, and he didn't seem to be too concerned about the condition of my lines.

So, should they be changed? Or is this a waste of time and money, and not really necessary?


Here's a few pictures of my lines, in case that helps.


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Old 28-01-2010, 09:42   #2
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I would deff change your current tube and replace with more copper.
The code in UK states it must be sheathed inside plastic tube, with the gas locker end left open and free to vent via the locker which in turn must be vented from the lowest point to open air.
The inboard end should finish as close as possible to the stop cock and the outer plastic tube sealed to close the gap between it and the copper, thus if there is a leak, it can vent outboard.
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Old 28-01-2010, 09:50   #3
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We too have copper lines for the propane to our fridge and stove. I have no plans to change them at this time and the boat was just surveyed not too long ago and the surveyor mentioned to me, not in the survey, that the lines were copper, nothing more. My adage that "if it ain't broke don't fix it" apiles here. But if there is any signs of corrosion or serious wear by all means fix it. It is on my todo list to replace at some point but it is on the bottom of the list. But this is just my opinion and you have to do what you are comfortable with. WG
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:06   #4
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Oh man that copper looks bad. I would replace that a.s.a.p. and use rubber hose instead.

The problem with copper is that it work-hardens (think micro fractures as the result of vibration from engine or whatever) and it will react in not so nice ways with other metals and most chemicals.

Most European boats use low pressure hose after the regulator. This is legal because it is low pressure at that point, but that hose deteriorates way too quick. Most US boats use high pressure hose everywhere and that will last a very long time.

Also, I get the impression that you would have someone do this work for you. You shouldn't, this stuff is too important to trust someone else on. You can get all you need easily, even the West Marina has it. Read their "advisor" thingies and follow that info, like installing proper glands where the hose feeds through bulkheads etc.

I am pro LPG because it is convenient and gives you more cooking in a smaller tank than any other fuel. But that high energy density, combined with it's property that it is heavier than air, also makes it a potentially dangerous fuel that needs to be treated with respect. If you would have a hundred US$ to spend on safety and have to choose between replacing these propane lines or buying a life vest, I would choose to replace the propane lines.

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Old 28-01-2010, 10:23   #5
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Replace that copper it will get pin holes from corrosion and all it takes is a small hole in an unseen place. Some things are not to be fooled with. Propane is very dangerous on a boat but it is a great cooking fuel. If you are wise and take the basic safety precautions it is a great fuel, much better than others I have used. Those pictures show some badly corroded lines I would replace them right away with rubber hose designed for propane and proper compression end fittings. Make sure your system has a gauge and solenoid valve. Use the gauge to check for leaks about once a month and test your new fittings with soapy water. Common sense and life will be good

These are pictures of a boat that had a propane explosion, believe it or not the owner survived.
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:31   #6
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Copper lines have been used in homes for many years, I only real differance I see in rubber or copper is when they fail rubber will blow all at one time but copper will leak awhile. On a boat you have movement so just watch for places that the line could rub either rubber or copper.

Make sure you have all safty devices in place bildge sniffer the right venting, LPG will always drop to the lowest point.

I beleive that the West Marine website has a how to section that shows the right way to vent your boat if not look at a Chapmans.

Myself I am removing all LPG from my boat for safty and cost. I got a electric range with a NuWave Oven (love it) with the right electrical system, Battery bank, solar, wind and Genset I found I could support my LPG needs with reuseable enery.


Best of luck,

Dutch
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:56   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Waterwayguy View Post
We too have copper lines for the propane to our fridge and stove. I have no plans to change them at this time and the boat was just surveyed not too long ago and the surveyor mentioned to me, not in the survey, that the lines were copper, nothing more. My adage that "if it ain't broke don't fix it" apiles here. But if there is any signs of corrosion or serious wear by all means fix it. It is on my todo list to replace at some point but it is on the bottom of the list. But this is just my opinion and you have to do what you are comfortable with. WG
I can't agree with your position. The "if it ain't broke don't fix it" attitude is fine for many things aboard but not for your LPG installation. Because when that breaks, chances are good that there's no boat to fix anymore.

The LPG installation is one of the primary systems aboard that requires preventative maintenance. (just like sea-cocks, bilge pumps etc., things that can sink or destroy your boat). If you do not do that, you are an accident waiting to happen and probably violate some laws too.

The remark from your surveyor was meant to wake you up and replace it before you get trouble... which is now, not in a couple of years because he wouldn't have made the remark if it all was in good order.

cheers,
Nick.
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Old 28-01-2010, 10:59   #8
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Houses and boats are very different things. Good high pressure hose will not blow out as you say. This is not something to mess with do it right. The bilge sniffer is not a bad idea. don't see anyone being able to do any cooking off batteries, gen set yes, batteries don't think so.

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Old 28-01-2010, 11:31   #9
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"Copper lines have been used in homes for many years" is a statement that begs a minor qualification. Homes don't usually flex, bend or vibrate. Rigid copper llines will crack at some point in time given the constant flexing of the vessel, nevermind any weakening from chemicals or salt water.
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Old 28-01-2010, 11:56   #10
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I do beleive I did state that a boat has movement/flex and that he should keep that in mind.

As for the cooking with Electric my wife did a 4lb yard bird in 35 mins off the battery bank but I have to admit I have not run it alot yet due to the fact I have not installed my new bank yet, ran into bigger problem before I could finish that project.


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Old 28-01-2010, 12:01   #11
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Pray tell please
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(appart from a 60s pop group)
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Old 28-01-2010, 12:03   #12
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chicken lol
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Old 28-01-2010, 12:17   #13
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you're running the oven off an inverter off you're batteries? How big is you're battery bank?

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Old 28-01-2010, 12:25   #14
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Many years ago you could by a hose that would shrink closed in a fire...I have looked and looked to no avail.

I haven’t yet run my gas line and was intending to do it as Anjou described...copper tubing with a rubber shroud, sealed on the stove end to the last fitting....that’s how it had been for thirty years before the refit.

I have to say that we had copper tubing in motor homes for gas hobs without that problem of cracking from work hardening.

I willing to be convinced...but this sounds like one of those way over the top concerns.

Also, I question the location of the sniffer as being best in the bilge.
I know the gas would eventually settle there.....but if the only connection I have outside the on deck gas locker is directly behind the stove....seems like that would be a better place for the sensor....why wait for the gas to migrate all the way down to the bilge?

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Old 28-01-2010, 12:28   #15
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yes you are right 1,160ah 6volt interstate moldle number u2200
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