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Old 05-05-2010, 08:41   #1
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Safe Storage of Gas Cans on a Small Boat

Hello again,

I have come to realize that the way I previously stored extra gas on my boat is not considered safe. I have a Pearson 26 with a 15hp Mercury outboard, and I used to keep extra full cans below port bench locker in the cockpit.

After doing a little research, I learned that this method is highly discouraged, if not illegal. Fumes can pool up and find their way into the cabin where they could be accidentally ignited.

I am going on a 6 week cruise up the coast of Maine this summer and I am trying to work out the best place for my gas. I will be in some very remote areas for a while and I will be no doubt be using the boat outboard and the dinghy outboard extensively and I'm afraid I need to carry a fair amount of extra gas. Maybe 6-8 5-gallon cans or more, say. I have resigned myself to the unattractive and clumsy option of lashing them down on deck, 3 on each side just forward of the cabin top along the rail.

I realize this is necessary, but I honestly can't find a good explanation of exactly why. If the cans are sturdy and new, and they are filled to 95%, how are any vapors going to be getting out of them? Cans that are left
half full tend to swell with the pressure of gas vapors. Doesn't that mean the cans are vapor tight? If I keep full cans down below, clean and well sealed, and I take them out every few days to vent excess vapors, what exactly is the danger? Do I really need to go with the deck option?

I know this type of question can ignite an explosive debate over the value of being safe. Please understand I am not trying to get away with doing anything dangerous. I already read enough strongly worded warnings to convince me, but none of them addressed the issue of how exactly the fumes are going to be getting out of the cans? In the past I have never had any problems with cans leaking, full cans developing excess pressure, or any fumes inside the cabin or locker area. Can anyone explain this or advise me on this problem?

Thanks,
Jack

P.S. This photo shows where I was thinking of lashing down the cans. I am going to get the higher quality marine jerry cans, but you can see the general idea in this photo.
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Old 05-05-2010, 08:59   #2
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Jack,

First, if you have the opportunity you may well find you are perfectly happy with about 1/2 the hp you are currently useing. That will cut down on the quantity of fuel you have to carry (I like your motor, since it is the 2 cyl, 2 stroke). I have an Ariel (Pearson replaced my Alberg drawn Ariel with your Shaw drawn P-26). You have more windage, but less weight / displacement then I do... Just a thought.

WRT your question. You are wise to remove the gasoline from you cockpit lockers. The vapors are a real threat, and you will likely get away with it until one morning when you light your stove for that cup of coffee... and your cruise will be over.

What we did to increase our fuel capacity was to install 'pin rails'. Basically I countersunk some stainless cable clamps (like you would use with a thimble to put an eye in cable) into some 30" x1" x 2.5" mahogany boards I had. You could use something like 'trex' plastic decking boards also.

I can place the fuel cans outside the life lines, and lash them to the pinrail boards... Worked out well for us, including several passages in 9 months of cruising.

If you use fuel cans with the nozzle you can invert and stow in the can, you will want to remove them when stowed on the rail like this. When the cans are full, you can get venting through the nozzle up and out of the can... it will destroy the bedding on the adjacent stanchions...

If you are really slow, it can happen all three times .... you may not need to ask me how I know.
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:31   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
I realize this is necessary, but I honestly can't find a good explanation of exactly why. If the cans are sturdy and new, and they are filled to 95%, how are any vapors going to be getting out of them? Cans that are left
half full tend to swell with the pressure of gas vapors. Doesn't that mean the cans are vapor tight? If I keep full cans down below, clean and well sealed, and I take them out every few days to vent excess vapors, what exactly is the danger? Do I really need to go with the deck option?
The question to begin with before talking about any of this is, how much do you trust your gas cans? Is that can really as safe as you believe? Is it free from defects? Can you trust the o-rings and seals used to make it vapor proof?

Do a google search for "gas can recalls". There have been cases where gas can manufacturer have screwed up.

Considering the risk for failure of the cans along with the risk of personal injury in the event of such a failure, it would seem to me a very good idea to deal with the annoyance of keeping them away from yourself and on the deck.

"I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. " ~Patton
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Old 05-05-2010, 09:51   #4
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Where the real danger lies is the can is moving a little bit all the time and will at some point wear through then you have a little leak and a lot of fumes! I have 1 gas can onboard and its got padding on every side its touching something
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Old 06-05-2010, 10:55   #5
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Orange Crush!
Ok I know this may sound just crazy
But how about this:
Use your stowed locker for fuel
purchase a large, fitted fuel tank, (powerboats)
Measure your dimensions and then pics on that fits it well.
Vent the tank outside of the boat.
Then you have a perm. large fuel cell in the boat.
And can plan accordingly for additional fuel cans
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Old 06-05-2010, 11:07   #6
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We have a teak deck box on the forward deck, thru-bolted to the coach roof. It stores anything onboard that can explode, including a small gas tank.

Make sure you adjustments for storing whatever it is that uses the gas. A little honda electric generator or a gas outboard will probably have an easier time leaking than the fuel tank will.
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Old 06-05-2010, 11:16   #7
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I use a cockpit locker but I sealed the lid and it has a drain - it is where my propane lives as well. Hopefully it is safe? I will follow Ram's example as well I think.
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:26   #8
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Thanks! More questions....

I don't think I have any room for teak boxes on my foredeck, and since I won't always need the extra cans I am hesitant to install those 'pin rails' as you described. Seems like a lot of trouble for something that is only slightly more convenient than just lashing them down, unless I am not picturing them right.

The idea of a permanent tank is very appealing. I see some for sale online that are large enough and would fit nicely below my cockpit bench locker. I am still a little confused about how it will be vented, though. Can I leave the fuel tank down low (near or below the waterline) and run the vent hose up on deck where the vapors can spill over the side? Or do I need to vent the AREA that the tank sits in? That would be much more complicated since it is an open area that connects with the cabin, etc.

This picture is a 25 gallon polyethylene tank available on Amazon. I could easily make a platform for it against the inside of the hull under my cockpit benches. Can I simply vent a tank like this with a hose that comes up and out of the locker?

Then, how would I get the fuel OUT of it to where it could be used? My outboard now gets its fuel from a 6 gallon tank that is located in a recessed area in the cockpit. I am imagining that a fuel hose would be too long if I ran it all the way to the bottom of the cockpit locker, but transferring fuel to the smaller, closer tank could get messy. Maybe some sort of foot-pump and hose that I could use to fill either the working (6-gal) tank or the dinghy motor tank as necessary? Is that realistic?

Your advice is greatly appreciated!
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:50   #9
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Gas is pretty plentiful in Maine. Are you sure you need to carry 30-40 gallons? Have you checked a cruising guide and mapped all the potential gas stops on your route? You might get by carrying less. . . .

Just to to commiserate, we faced the same dilemma going to the Exumas this winter. I wound up with one of my spare gas cans living in the anchor well. . . .
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Old 06-05-2010, 12:59   #10
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Yeah, I am going to be about 2 weeks without much opportunity to get gas. I'm going straight from Provincetown, Cape Cod to my family's cabin, which is just short of Lubec. I'll stay there for a few days then work my way down the coast. There are a few places I can stop, but none are exactly on my way until I get to Bar Harbor.

Even if I was only going a few days at a time, I will need more than six gallons, so it seems like I need some sort of system. Exactly how many gallons could be up to debate, but I need to figure something out. Plus it will be nice not to have to make too many detours simply for the purpose of gassing up.
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Old 06-05-2010, 13:30   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OrangeCrush View Post
... I am still a little confused about how it will be vented, though. Can I leave the fuel tank down low (near or below the waterline) and run the vent hose up on deck where the vapors can spill over the side? Or do I need to vent the AREA that the tank sits in?...
The required Fuel Vent ventilates & relieves pressure in the fuel tank; not the area it within which it sits..

ABYC H-24 (ANSI) — Gasoline Fuel Systems
This standard is a guide for the design, choice of materials for, construction, installation, repair, and maintenance of permanently installed gasoline fuel systems.

Portable Gasoline fuel systems are covered by ABYC H-25, "Portable Gasoline Fuel Systems".

The United States Coast Guard has promulgated mandatory requirements for gasoline fuel systems in 33 CFR, Subpart J, Sections 183.501 - 183.590. Refer to the CFR for complete, current federal requirements.

The Environmental Protection Agency has promulgated regulations regarding the evaporative and diurnal emissions for gasoline spark ignition marine engines and fuel systems. These regulations can be found in 40 CFR chapter 1060.

Transport Canada
“Construction Standards for Small Vessels (2004) - TP 1332 E”Construction Standards for Small Vessels (2004) - TP 1332 E - Marine Safety Publications - Marine Safety - Marine Transportation - Transport Canada

Section 7.0 Fuel Systems ➥ Section 7.0 - Construction Standards for Small Vessels (2004) - TP 1332 E - Marine Safety Publications - Marine Safety - Marine Transportation - Transport Canada

7.3.5 Fuel Tank Venting Systems ➥
Section 7.0 - Construction Standards for Small Vessels (2004) - TP 1332 E - Marine Safety Publications - Marine Safety - Marine Transportation - Transport Canada

Moeller Marine
Fuel Tank Installation Instructions

http://www.moellermarine.com/sites/m...structions.pdf
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Old 06-05-2010, 13:44   #12
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I got very confused on this thread until I realised that gas meant gasoline. Not propane or butane.



We're not all americans......
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Old 06-05-2010, 16:57   #13
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Storage on deck is the only practical way of storing gasoline. But then you have the heating from the sun to deal with. Some friends showed my how they solved that problem. They went to the discount stores and purchased the shiny metalized auto windshield fold-out stuff to keep the sun off your dashboard. Then then sewed up "cozy's" or little covers for each tank. The shiny metallic material reflects a lot of the sun's heating rays from getting to the plastic tank. Those auto windshield guards cost about $1-5 bucks depending upon where you get them.
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Old 07-05-2010, 06:32   #14
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I am planning on going with a Moeller permanent tank. (29 Gallon Permanent Fuel Tank, 43"L X 25.75"W X 8.63"H - Moeller 32529 - iboats.com).

I am thinking of installing it underneath the cockpit sole as far back as it will fit (right in front of the rudder post tube, sitting on the two plywood ribs that run lengthwise in that area). I will make a platform for it so it is well seated and I will run the vent to the side, the intake tube to a convenient spot on deck, and the fuel line through the deck right by the motor.

Is there anything special I should know about tank placement or installation? I see the instructions someone posted, thanks. I will make sure the tank is centered port/starboard, but will that much weight aft be a problem in any way? Is there a limit to how long the fuel line can be for the motor to draw fuel without a problem? The tank I am looking at is quite long and flat. Will the sloshing water make it difficult for the motor to draw fuel or is it designed to accomodate that?

Has anybody done an installation like this? Thanks!
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Old 07-05-2010, 10:44   #15
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And sorry for the American-centric choice of vocabulary! You don't usually think of these discrepancies until someone is already confused.
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