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Old 04-28-2016, 08:38 PM   #1
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Propane tank fuel lock?

Have this new to me boat, the 34 CHB of course. In going thru various systems today, had a look at the propane tank and the gauge showed zero pressure. Went and had the tank filled but it was obvious it was near full already. Tank had this weird fitting on top between the regulator and the fill connection. I took that fitting off and put it back together without it, and had 100 psi instantly. So this fitting is a Marvel Schebler Century fuel lock- off I guess, saw a couple on ebay. I have never seen such a gizmo on a propane tank before and it works without it, so do I need this goofy thing on my tank??
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:03 PM   #2
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Sounds like you are describing a 12volt fuel shut-off solenoid and yes you need it. I am reluctant to say more because playing with propane on a boat is extremely dangerous if you don't know what you are doing. Get an experienced gas tech to get your system and it's components in the proper order.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:36 PM   #3
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Thanks boatpoker, I did look it up on line and found the company but it sounds like they mostly make carburetors. One I found on Fleabay described it as a fuel lock. It is wired so perhaps you are right. It was not allowing gas thru to the regulator so perhaps as you say it was mounted wrong.
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Old 04-28-2016, 09:52 PM   #4
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It's very important that you have a properly functioning gas shutoff solenoid. It's also very important that you have a gas sniffer and solenoid controller. It sounds like you removed the former and don't have the latter. This is a recipe for disaster. To be safe, you need somebody who knows boat gas systems to set this up properly.

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Old 04-28-2016, 09:58 PM   #5
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When I left the boat all gas was off. I will have it looked at.
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Old 04-28-2016, 10:50 PM   #6
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I'm going to jump in here because I know nothing and Ken and Boatpoker know a lot. Sometimes an explanation from someone who doesn't know anything can be easier...

A boat's propane system should not only have a shut off valve one the tank, but it should also have a solenoid shut off. In every boat I have seen and owned, the solenoid is down stream of the pressure gauge. Yours seems to have the pressure gauge beyond the solenoid. Boatpoker would know if that matters, I don't.

The solenoid provides an additional layer of protection if the valve on the tank doesn't close all the way. The electric solenoid is activated from the galley area before the stove is used, and then is deactivated after you are done using the stove. I also make it a habit to close the valve on the tank as well, but most probably don't.

There should also be a propane detector (sniffer) in the galley area that is connected to the solenoid. If it should detect gas, it closes the solenoid, shutting off the gas supply and sounds an alarm. My 2005 era boat did not have this, my 2010 boat does.

That at least is my understanding of how the systems should work. I am sure that others will correct my errors, but it sounded as if the propane system was new to you so I wanted to provide as simple an explanation as possible to make sure that you got the basics.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:02 PM   #7
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Like most of the stuff on this boat things are labeled indifferently. I guess I will just plead ignorance as having been around a number of propane tanks in trailers and campers, I don't recall any of them having solenoid shut offs. Not saying that's OK, just is. While trying to get gas to register on the gauge today, and not recognizing this Marvel Schebler gizmo, as an experiment I took it off and got pressure. So guessing it acts as a solenoid even though its not called one, and the switch in the boat was on or the gizmo is installed wrong or gunnybag, it appears I need to get it all looked at and all parts identified and working correctly. Thanks for the replies gents.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:16 PM   #8
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One of the differences with a boat vs a trailer or camper, is that leaking propane gets contained in the bilge creating a huge hazard. In a trailer, leaking propane finds it way to the ground outside the trailer where it disperses.

FWIW, those solenoids do go bad on occasion. I had to replace one on my last boat.
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Old 04-29-2016, 03:49 AM   #9
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Greetings,
Mr. 78. Every propane tank I've ever seen has a TW (weight of empty tank) stamped on it. To determine fill state of the tank, simply weigh it and subtract the TW. A completely full tank should weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of TW+17lbs for a 20 lb. tank.

Yup, it seems you've figured out you've got a fuel solenoid. Were the wires connected up to something? Switch? Leak sensor? Without a leak sensing system, IMO, the solenoid is NOT needed. What's the point? The tank should be in a proper propane locker so any leaks will not collect in the bilge. If that unfamiliar with propane, yes, get a tech.
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Old 04-29-2016, 09:00 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by 78puget-trawler View Post
Thanks boatpoker, I did look it up on line and found the company but it sounds like they mostly make carburetors. One I found on Fleabay described it as a fuel lock. It is wired so perhaps you are right. It was not allowing gas thru to the regulator so perhaps as you say it was mounted wrong.
Or the switch was off.

Propane is reasonably safe if installed correctly and handled correctly.

Without being there and seeing your setup, I would guess that you removed the solenoid that allows you to turn off the propane when not actually using it. There should be a switch in the galley that you turn on when you want to use the stove and turn off when not using the stove. This switch controls the shut off solenoid in the propane locker.

Find the switch. Now reinstall the solenoid exactly as it was. Turn on the switch in the galley and you should have propane to the stove.

If you can't figure it out, get an experienced pro to fix it for you. Don't remove safety devices.
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Old 04-29-2016, 10:18 AM   #11
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Look on your stove. My switch for the solenoid was mounted to the face near the gas knobs. It also had a lamp to show when it was switched on.
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:13 AM   #12
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If you don't know which way the solenoid goes (most are not directional but not all) and if you don't know which connections require pipe dope and which should not have pipe dope
....... don't play with this stuff. if you don't know the order in which the solenoid, regulator and pressure gauge are fitted, don't play with it. I am a propane fan but it should not be played with if you don't know.
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Old 04-29-2016, 11:22 AM   #13
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...Without a leak sensing system, IMO, the solenoid is NOT needed. What's the point? The tank should be in a proper propane locker so any leaks will not collect in the bilge. If that unfamiliar with propane, yes, get a tech.
It's needed because without one the gas lines are pressurized all the way to the stove. If there's some kind of leak in the stove your bilge will fill with propane. The solenoid allows you to turn on and off the gas from the galley. I never leave it on except when I'm actually cooking.

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Old 04-29-2016, 11:45 AM   #14
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You should always turn off the propane solenoid when you are not using propane because the solenoid is cooled by the flowing gas. The solenoid itself is oil-filled for cooling but forgetting to shut off can cause the unit to overheat and fail, they are expensive and a nuisance to replace. I installed a light over the stove as a telltale to remind me.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:16 PM   #15
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You should always turn off the propane solenoid when you are not using propane because the solenoid is cooled by the flowing gas. The solenoid itself is oil-filled for cooling but forgetting to shut off can cause the unit to overheat and fail, they are expensive and a nuisance to replace. I installed a light over the stove as a telltale to remind me.
I never knew that, thanks for the information. I don't recall, but it is certainly possible that I had left mine on one time and that might have sped up its demise. Replacing it wasn't too much trouble on my last boat as it was relatively easy to access. In my new boat, it has a much better propane locker, but the solenoid would be more of a pain access.
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Old 04-29-2016, 12:40 PM   #16
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The tank is up in the flybridge like most CHB boats I imagine. It is vented outside as well. I will get it looked at, thanks again for the replies.
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Old 04-29-2016, 01:03 PM   #17
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Greetings,
Mr. B. Thanks. I hadn't thought about THAT point. I guess we never ran with the tank valve open (ONLY opened for cooking then closed) and as a result I'd never considered that.
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Old 04-29-2016, 02:17 PM   #18
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It's needed because without one the gas lines are pressurized all the way to the stove. If there's some kind of leak in the stove your bilge will fill with propane. The solenoid allows you to turn on and off the gas from the galley. I never leave it on except when I'm actually cooking.

Richard
Exactly.
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Old 04-29-2016, 02:49 PM   #19
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What everyone above said.

Think of it this way, at home on my BBQ, I would turn the gas on on the bottle, then turn the burners on. When done, burners off, and bottle closed also.

Now, on a boat, the bottles are stored OUTSIDE, ussually on the fly bridge. So it's convenient to have the solenoid to give you that SECOND shutoff. The first being whatever apliance, stove or BBQ, that is using propane.

i also installed a lite rocker switch, so that I always can see when propane is ON. As others have said, it should always be off when not in use.

My stove, a Princess, also has a internal solenoid that only allows the gas to flow when the thermistor is hot. Thus if a gust of wind would blow the burner out, the stove will turn off the gas sooner or later.

My BBQ is outside, so less of safety issue, but more of a problem with me forgetting to turn it off, thus the lite switch.
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Old 04-29-2016, 02:54 PM   #20
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............. Now, on a boat, the bottles are stored OUTSIDE, ussually on the fly bridge. ............
They should be in a propane locker. The propane locker is sealed, the lid is on the top and it has a vent through to the outside of the boat near the waterline. The vent hose goes down without any loops. There should be a pressure gauge and solenoid.
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