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Old 27-11-2010, 14:50   #1
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Propane Shut-Off Solenoid

We have a solenoid gas cut-off in our outside propane tank locker. They seem to only last 3-4 months before rusting out and failing. I have purchased marine solenoids from West Marine, but they are expensive, especially if I go through them in a few months.
Any recommendations for longer lasting models or other ideas? I considered encasing the entire solenoid in polyurethane pour-in-foam. Can you think of reasons not to do this?
Thanks for any ideas!
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Old 27-11-2010, 14:58   #2
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Something seems wrong there. I've never had one fail, even on the boat I've kept the longest, which was eight years.

It might be good to put a mult-meter on the lead and see what the voltage is on where it connects with the solenoid.
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Old 27-11-2010, 15:00   #3
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Something seriously wrong if they only last 3-4 months. I think they cost around $100 and one of mine is 22 years old and the other is 5 years old. When I bought my Beneteau there was a bad batch 6 years ago where some were defective and it was replaced. No problem since then.
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Old 27-11-2010, 16:56   #4
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The coils don't last long in salt water. Keep it dry. It should last years.
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Old 27-11-2010, 17:01   #5
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Jim, Obvious there is an issue other than just solenoid failure. My guess would be that too much moisture is getting in the locker. Try replacing it and making sure you have a very good seal on the locker hatch. Also make sure your wires are connected with heat shrink connectors and coated good with silicone grease inside the connector. Chuck
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Old 27-11-2010, 17:40   #6
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I will be more careful with the installion this time, using heat shrink and silicone. I'll also check the locker seal, which I think is good, but our sail last week (Fiji to New Zealand) had water flowing over the deck and locker most of 8 days.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 27-11-2010, 17:49   #7
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Jim,
I'd not advise using foam around the solenoid. It gets warm with use and foam would inhibit the heat dissipation. If it ran long enough, things could get deadly. Imagine a coil on fire with foam and propane as fuel !
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Old 27-11-2010, 17:50   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim_thomsen View Post
our sail last week (Fiji to New Zealand) had water flowing over the deck and locker most of 8 days.

Thanks for the help.
That just might do it.
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Old 27-11-2010, 18:00   #9
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Originally Posted by jim_thomsen View Post
water flowing over the deck and locker most of 8 days.
The plot thickens.
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Old 27-11-2010, 18:04   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim_thomsen View Post
We have a solenoid gas cut-off in our outside propane tank locker. They seem to only last 3-4 months before rusting out and failing. I have purchased marine solenoids from West Marine, but they are expensive, especially if I go through them in a few months.
Any recommendations for longer lasting models or other ideas? I considered encasing the entire solenoid in polyurethane pour-in-foam. Can you think of reasons not to do this?
Thanks for any ideas!
G'Day Jim,

Could you tell us exactly what is failing? And which solenoid you are having the trouble with? As others have said, these units normally have a long lifetime. The existence of external rust suggests that they are indeed getting salty, but if the electrical connections are ok, the rust shouldn't cause failure of itself.

Our solenoid is in the top of a locker that is not sealed from the bottom at all, and has all the cockpit drainage running through it. We've had neither rust nor failure (touch wood!), so it sounds like you may be getting more than a bit of water actually on the valve itself.

Potting the valve in foam, as others have said, is not a good idea at all. The coil does get warm to the touch even uninsulated, and would doubtless get a lot hotter if potted. Enclosing it in a small watertight box might help without interfering with heat dissipation too much.

Good luck with your fix.

Cheers,

Jim and Ann s/v Insatiable II lying Southport, Qld, Oz southbound
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Old 27-11-2010, 18:22   #11
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Thanks for the info...I will NOT put it in foam!
Jim, the solenoid I just replaced was made by Trident Marine and purchased from West Marine. The connections still looked OK but the solenoid no longer worked (I tested it again after removing it). I'm not sure what brands or prices I'll find here, but the local store (Opua Marina) was out.
This time I have used butt connectors with built in shrink tubing and also covered them with another peice of heat shrink. I'll experiment with some small plastic box.

And I do try not to sail with water over our decks for long periods of time...but how come the wind is coming from right where we want to go?
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Old 27-11-2010, 18:26   #12
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And I do try not to sail with water over our decks for long periods of time...but how come the wind is coming from right where we want to go?
One of the rules here on Cruiser's Forum is that you're not allowed to whine about going to weather if the result will be spending Christmas in Fiji.
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Old 27-11-2010, 18:40   #13
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my solenoid has always been installed inside the house on a bulkhead with a toggle switch, and not far from the stove.. i have never lost one , and my newest one is now 6 yrs old. the parts on the tank havent been in need of replacement for that long,l as well, regulator and valve....


rofl...christmas in fiji!!! wow-- yeah--cant whine bout weather......
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Old 27-11-2010, 19:00   #14
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my solenoid has always been installed inside the house on a bulkhead with a toggle switch, and not far from the stove.. i have never lost one , and my newest one is now 6 yrs old. the parts on the tank havent been in need of replacement for that long,l as well, regulator and valve....


rofl...christmas in fiji!!! wow-- yeah--cant whine bout weather......
I'm not and expert, but I believe the code calls for the solenoid to be in the locker or outside, not in the cabin, since its function is to isolate. Certainly the regulator MUST be in the locker, since they are vented and can leak badly.

I've had external corrosion problems (the locker is well gasketed but in a location that goes through some waves) and I have had good luck coating the outside regularly (every few months) with Corr-Block. Seems to stop corrosion dead. This product got very good review in a recent Practical Sailor on electrical applications.
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Old 27-11-2010, 19:15   #15
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Quote:
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I'm not and expert, but I believe the code calls for the solenoid to be in the locker or outside, not in the cabin, since its function is to isolate. Certainly the regulator MUST be in the locker, since they are vented and can leak badly.

I've had external corrosion problems (the locker is well gasketed but in a location that goes through some waves) and I have had good luck coating the outside regularly (every few months) with Corr-Block. Seems to stop corrosion dead. This product got very good review in a recent Practical Sailor on electrical applications.
the way they are installed is on a bulkheaad-- the toggle is a pretty one with a switch like a light switch in a house. the solenoid itself is on th either side of the bulkhead ihn a protected area. the only thing that fouls them and makes them lose function is leaving them on at all times which some folks seem to enjoy doing. these are meant to be USED, so are inside the house near the stove so they are able to be used. consider this--the solenoid is ELECTRIC, the tank holds BOOM gas. why on earth would you EVER want to place an electrical spark NEXT to the BOOM gas tank????? makes no sense. try installing it correctly and see how long it lasts. the separation thing is to get the boom gas out of the house
the solenoid stays inside the house. duh. are you going to go outside into bad weather just to cook dinner?? the switch is not rated for outdoor use.
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