Please note that the various fuels used by stoves (gas in particular) can be extremely dangerous if installed or used incorrectly. All installations must be inspected by an appropriate expert before use and should be regularly inspected afterwards. It is obviously sensible to install a carbon monoxide and gas (if appropriate) detector. The information on this page is intended only as a starting point for you to research possible safe solutions for installation by a qualified expert.
Many people dislike gas on board a boat. On a Corribee it is difficult to arrange a suitable draining gas locker to store the gas bottle because of the low freeboard. This means that in the event of a leak the escaping gas will accumulate in the bilge. Tony Cant has kindly given permission for the following solution he has installed on his boat Blue Vinney to be shown below:
A cheaper alternative to a fixed gas installation is a portable gas stove with an integral canister. As well as a very low capital cost they avoid the need for fixed copper gas lines, flexible gas hoses, regulators and hose clips, all of which need regular inspection and maintenance with a permanent installation. You can also take them ashore in the winter. There is a Boat Safety Scheme bulletin relating to stoves of this type which is worth reading if you have or are considering a stove like this.
Alternatives to gas are methylated spirit stoves and paraffin stoves.
The best known make is the Origo, which uses methylated spirit. Some people object to the smell, which is caused by naptha (an additive used to prevent people drinking it!). It is possible to apply for a license to buy industrial denatured alcohol (meths with little or no naptha added) by applying to HM Customs and Excise (click herefor the downloadable form). Others have suggested adding 10% water to reduce the smell – I haven’t tried this. The French sell Alcool Abruler in supermarkets, which is denatured alcohol. It is supposed not to smell, but some people dislike it – because of the smell!
Despite all this, there are many satisfied Origo stove owners – if the are set up and operated correctly there are very few problems, and are certainly far safer than a gas installation.
Full instructions on the operation of Origo stoves can be found as downloadable instructions at http://www.dometic.com
Corribee Owners Association member experiences kindly reproduced with permission:
Spirit Stove Problem
Kathleen, I bought Tony Hatcher’s Corribee at the end of last sailing season. It has the standard spirit stove. If it is at all possible, I would very much like to be put in touch with someone who can tell me: a) How to get it out of the boat. b) How to service and fuel it. I have never seen anything quite like it before, and don’t even know which spirit it runs on. Thank you, John A.
John, If your spirit stove is the same as ours (which I think is the original standard issue) it is a simple two burner stove with movable fiddles and copper burner which can be pulled off. There should be a filler at the back into which methylated spirit is poured and around which the same spirit is very easily spilled! There is very little to service and the stove is secured to the boat by four set screws; once these are removed the stove should lift straight out. Using the wretched thing is an art. There is an air hole on the pipe in front of each burner control; when the burner is turned on, meths starts to leak from the hole and is ignited with a match. Eventually one of three things happens (1) It goes out. Probably out of fuel. (2) It warms up, begins to vapourise the fuel, there is a loud pop and somewhat improbably the stove lights. Congratulate yourself and put the kettle on it quickly before it changes its mind. (3) Much as two except louder pop and impressive flames lick up towards the deckhead. Reach for the fire extinguisher. In spite of the above we have lived with this stove since 1982 although it would be tempting providence to claim that I have mastered it. Good luck! David Bird
The Taylors paraffin stove is the most well known example – they are very expensive but built to last a lifetime. They need pre-heating before lighting – if not pre-heated properly the paraffin will flare up. Alarming, but usually harmless, this is sometimes the reason that secondhand models become available! They burn hotter than either gas or spirit so will boil your kettle faster. As fitted to Katie Miller’s Elektra – there is a picture on her web site (see links on the right).
The Taylors 028 cooker – Image provided by Blakes Lavac Taylors and used with their permission
Fitting a Taylors Paraffin Cooker Model K
Fitting is very straightforward once the original gas stove has been removed – most Corribee galleys are built to take a double burner stove so one of the small Taylors stoves will easily take it’s place, either the 028 model shown above or the cheaper Model K.
As standard they come with a 1.5 gallon paraffin tank, which is rather large for a small boat. Taylors used to make a 4 pint tank, which is often available secondhand at boat jumbles.
Because it is pressurised the mounting position isn’t critical, but it needs to be accessible for filling and to pump it. Also provided are a small filter and a shut-off valve, along with 3m of copper tube and the necessary compression fittings to connect it all up, as shown above.
There are a few other points worth considering. A drip tray under the tank may be useful, not because the tank will leak, but in case of over-filling. A dispenser for methylated spirits would make it easier to fill the pre-heating cups under the burners. Lighting the meths is best done with a piezo igniter (the type used to light domestic gas cookers). Finally, you have some extra space (probably in the forepeak or the stern locker) where the gas bottle used to go, and you don’t have that nagging doubt over having switched the gas valve off.
Alan McKeand writes:
When I bought my junk-rig Corribee Maridadi in 2002 she was equipped with a single burner Origo 1500 stove and it was used regularly until 2007 when I replaced it with a single burner Butterfly brand pressure stove.
Butterfly #2412 Brass Pressure Stove – image provided by St. Paul Mercantile and used with their permission.
Let me say at the outset that I found the Origo perfectly reliable and quite simple to use besides being much safer than gas which I would not entertain on my boat under any circumstances. However, its main drawback as far as I am concerned is the fact that it leaves a black sooty deposit on the underside of pans and kettles which necessitates frequent vigorous cleaning with a pan scrubber otherwise it rubs off on to your hands, clothes and anything else with which it comes into contact – this cleaning is not only time-consuming but also wasteful in water consumption – an important consideration on a small boat with limited fresh water storage capacity especially when cruising!
It may well be that the problem of sooty deposits with the Origo is far less pronounced outside the United Kingdom since the methylated spirit sold in this country contains significant amounts of naphtha and other aromatic hydrocarbons as denaturants which, besides making it undrinkable, are solely responsible for the production of unburnt carbon when used as a fuel.
I have heard that the French equivalent of methylated spirit, i.e. alcool à brûler, is much better in this respect although I have never tried it myself. Pure ethyl alcohol (ethanol) which is the main component of methylated spirit (about 90%) burns with a completely smokeless flame and is therefore problem-free but virtually unobtainable to the general public.
Determined to overcome this problem and not being able to afford the luxury of a 2-burner Taylors paraffin pressure stove, I decided to opt for a much more realistically priced single burner pressure stove like the original Swedish Primus stovewhich used to be so popular with campers, hikers and mountaineers 30 or 40 years ago. Unfortunately, the Primus company no longer manufacture pressure stoves having switched over to gas models and my attempts to find any United Kingdom supplier of pressure stoves have been entirely unsuccessful. A search on the internet did, however, produce a direct lead to a company in the United States of America (St. Paul Mercantile) offering single burner Butterfly brand brass pressure stoves manufactured in Indonesia of almost identical design to the old Primus stove at a price of only USD 50 (as of 2/7/2009) plus postage and packing – say about GBP 45 altogether. This sounded good enough to me and I promptly ordered one which was delivered to my United Kingdom address complete with instructions and a few spare parts in less than ten days from the date of placing the order. Please note that if you order one of these stoves from St. Paul Mercantile, you will need to email them to obtain the international shipping cost as the web site prices are for shipping within the United States of America.
So far I have been more than satisfied with my purchase of the Butterfly stove and am now thankfully free at last of the dirty pan problem. Moreover, I find that boiling a kettle or cooking food on it is far quicker than the Origo because the flame is much hotter due to the fact that it burns a gas mixture of vaporised paraffin and air (i.e. a free supply of oxygen) which is very similar, in fact, to a gas cooker which uses a mixture of either propane or butane gas with air. Methylated spirit stoves, of course, only burn the meths vapour which is why the flame is not as hot. Please note that the manufacturer specifies K1 Kerosene as the approved fuel for use in the stove. There are, confusingly, different uses of the terms kerosene and paraffin in different geographical regions (e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand, United States of America vs. Ireland, South Africa, United Kingdom) so please check the stove instructions to ensure that you are using the correct fuel whatever it may be called in your country.
I have placed my stove on a small wooden board (about 15 mm thick) into which I’ve cut out three small circular recesses (about 5 mm deep) for the three legs of the stove to rest thereby giving it a stable platform.
The stove is not gimballed which is no problem for me as I only cook on it when at anchor, on a swinging mooring or moored to a quay and never when I am under way as I don’t fancy leaving the stove unattended when sailing mostly single handed.
Another big advantage of this type of stove is that it is highly portable and can be easily disassembled in a few minutes allowing it to be easily carried in a knapsack or holdall (after emptying out any residual paraffin) for those of us who might want to go hiking or camping for a few days.
To summarise, the ever-present fire and explosion hazards associated with the storage and use of gas on a boat are entirely avoided with the paraffin stove since the paraffin pressure stove offers the great advantage of only producing a flammable gas directly at the point of use – what could be more perfect! Paraffin fuel in its liquid state has relatively low flammability and is therefore much safer to store and handle than methylated spirit which represents an extreme to high fire hazard risk due to its much lower flash point. A further bonus is the considerable cost advantage since paraffin (despite recent price increases) is currently less than half the price of methylated spirit in the United Kingdom.
Paraffin is readily available throughout the United Kingdom from nationwide DIY stores like Focus, B&Q, Homebase, etc. as well as some ironmongers, builders merchants, chandlers, garden centres (used for greenhouse heaters) and the like. Normally sold in four litre plastic containers, current price as of July 2009 is GBP 5.99 to GBP 7.99. In the United Kingdom it now seems to be manufactured more or less exclusively by a firm called Bartoline. Caldo Oils produces a specially modified brand Paraffin Extra which is claimed to be virtually odourless with improved burning characteristics and is available in 4 litre packs and has been seen in a chandlery in Gibraltar.
Incidentally, when paraffin is used in lamps and heaters with wicks, for example hurricane lamps, greenhouse heaters, etc. only neat paraffin is used as the fuel giving a yellowish flame (no mixture with air) and there is always a noticeable smell in that case although it is not overpowering. By contrast, paraffin pressure lanterns and pressure stoves burn a mixture of paraffin vapour and air giving a blue flame (like a gas stove) with no smell.
Update: I came across a source of British-made Monitor single-burner paraffin pressure stoves – Williamsons Conveyors & Handling Equipment Ltd.At only GBP 38.00 (as of 2/7/2009) including free delivery, I may well order one of these so that I have the equivalent of a two burner pressure stove like the Taylors but at one tenth the price!
Jonny Moore has kindly allowed us to reproduce this article:
Although on Casulen II we had a double burner gimballed gas stove with a self-draining sealed gas box in the lazerette we decided to change it. The reasons behind this were that we never seemed to use more than one burner and the stove was getting suspect and needed regular attention, not a good sign for a gas stove on a small boat. Also the gas box took up a lot of room in the lazerette and we wanted to store a small outboard for the inflatable in there. We looked around at stoves and concluded that a fully gimballed Kuuma Seacook stove would fit the bill. The problem was that they didn’t appear to be for sale in the UK. Having exchanged a few emails with various US marine suppliers we still could not find out for sure if the European self sealing gas cylinders would fit and if not was there an adaptor available.
Eventually we just ordered the stove working on the theory that we could always change the burner if we had to. The stove duly arrived within about 5 days, and no, the European cylinders wouldn’t fit, so again no real surprises here. To our astonishment a standard Primus Mimer stove screwed straight in, the burner was even the same size. So out came the double burner and we made and fitted a storage shelf where the stove was. The stove itself was simplicity to fit with just four bolts to hold in the mounting plate. The end result should be a much easier stove to use on passage, no 10kg Calor bottle and gas box in the lazerette so room to fit in the 2hp tender outboard (although we will still have to store the disposable gas cylinders in the lazerette). We intend to use the Primus 450gm screw on disposable cylinders but any of the screw on disposable camping cylinders will fit. As these are universally available in the UK from camp sites, hardware stores etc supply should not be a problem.
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