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Safe gasoline storage on a 24 foot keeboat?


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Where do you store your gasoline? I have owned my Kent Ranger 24 for nearly ten years and (as the previous owner did before me) I keep gasoline in a 6-gallon plastic tank in the port cockpit bench/seat locker. I recently realized that any leaked fuel or vapor has access to the cabin - the locker isn't sealed off and drains ultimately into the bilge. My understanding is the gasoline vapor can potentially collect in the cabin sole and bilge, creating a fire hazard.  Obviously hasn't been an issue yet, but I'm wondering if I should figure out a way to keep it out in the open in the cockpit. I'd be interested in what other folks do on boats like this. (I only have an outboard, no inboard).

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You are correct -- gasoline vapor and leaked liquid have access to the bilge and interior where a spark could cause ignition if the air fuel ratio was correct.

My Dad has had a Morgan 24 for 50 years in Florida with a gas tank down below (shelf in cockpit locker).  

His practices were pretty simple:

1. Turn of the power before leaving the boat.

2. No auto bilge pump (though those are often ignition protected)  

3. No leaks in fuel system (maintain system)

4. Disconnected hose from motor and run engine dry after using.  Kept gas hose connected at tank end only.  

5. Vent on tank closed when not in use.

6. Off season, he removed the tank and hose and dumped the old gas into the car to ensure fresh gas for the boat.

7.  If it smelled at all of gas below, open the hatches, ventilate and inspect the tank and fuel system.

 

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I have never stored gasoline below decks on any boat except in a built-in tank that fills from a deck fill and vents overboard. Dinghy gas tanks stay on deck someplace. Long ago we had an outboard powered sailboat and the outboard and gas tanks lived in a sealed stern locker that did not connect to the rest of the boat but vented overboard. The next outboard powered sailboat we got did not have such an arrangement, so we installed a gas tank like an inboard boat would have with a deck fill and overboard vent. No gas fumes in the boat.

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10 hours ago, matthewwhill said:

Where do you store your gasoline? I have owned my Kent Ranger 24 for nearly ten years and (as the previous owner did before me) I keep gasoline in a 6-gallon plastic tank in the port cockpit bench/seat locker. I recently realized that any leaked fuel or vapor has access to the cabin - the locker isn't sealed off and drains ultimately into the bilge. My understanding is the gasoline vapor can potentially collect in the cabin sole and bilge, creating a fire hazard.  Obviously hasn't been an issue yet, but I'm wondering if I should figure out a way to keep it out in the open in the cockpit. I'd be interested in what other folks do on boats like this. (I only have an outboard, no inboard).

Portable gas tank & hose, carried down to boat and shock-corded into a secure corner of the cockpit.

No gasoline inside the hull, fumes disperse throughout and the human nose is not reliable indicator. Or you can roll those dice, plenty of people do and nothing happens to them except a few of them catch fire and/or explode. But that only happens once.

Another option is to build a fuel storage box into one of the cockpit lockers. It needs to be sealed to the hull and cockpit, and ventilated overboard. Relatively easy to do with hardware-store fiberglass supplies.

Cockpit lockers that are open to the hull can also be a sailing hazard, I should mention. If the boat is knocked down and the lockers allow water to flood in, the boat could have a big problem aside from fuel storage.

FB- Doug

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8 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

Cockpit lockers that are open to the hull can also be a sailing hazard, I should mention. If the boat is knocked down and the lockers allow water to flood in, the boat could have a big problem aside from fuel storage.

FB- Doug

Mine are double-latched, there are a few times I wouldn't be around to write this if they had come open.

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1 minute ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Mine are double-latched, there are a few times I wouldn't be around to write this if they had come open.

Good lip seals are important, too!

Multiple reasons we don't need to go into on a family channel.

- DSK

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Alternatively you can also explore electric outboard options and eliminate gas altogether.  Pretty spendy though...

Agree with other posters, if gas, then need to ensure liquid & vapors are allowed  / encouraged to go overboard instead of in.  Of course, overboard leads to environmental issues.  Keep oil / gas absorb maps aboard. 

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4 hours ago, Pinching said:

You are correct -- gasoline vapor and leaked liquid have access to the bilge and interior where a spark could cause ignition if the air fuel ratio was correct.

4. Disconnected hose from motor and run engine dry after using.  Kept gas hose connected at tank end only.  .

6. Off season, he removed the tank and hose and dumped the old gas into the car to ensure fresh gas for the boat.

7.  If it smelled at all of gas below, open the hatches, ventilate and inspect the tank and fuel system.

 

We only mixed fuel in the actual tank that was hooked to the engine (when using a 2 cycle outboard where fuel and oil are mixed.) We also used the smallest fuel tank we could find to keep from having a rather large amount of unused fuel inthe boat.  The spare fuel was kept on deck or in an open cockpit.  When we would not be using the boat for a couple weeks or more, we always took the spare (unmixed) fuel and put it our truck.  

In our Mastercraft Prostar, fueled by gasoline.  We always open the engine cover before engaging anything electrical, then ran the blower for the recommended number of minutes and then, started the engine.  When the engine was running smoothly and no fuel leaks exposed, we closed the cover and operated normally.  But whenever the engine was running, the blower was running as well.  

Gasoline explosions tend to be somewhat spectacular (and not something one really wants to experience first hand.) 

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21 minutes ago, LakeBoy said:

Alternatively you can also explore electric outboard options and eliminate gas altogether.  Pretty spendy though...

Agree with other posters, if gas, then need to ensure liquid & vapors are allowed  / encouraged to go overboard instead of in.  Of course, overboard leads to environmental issues.  Keep oil / gas absorb maps aboard. 

to get decent range you need the Li batterys that can burn also

we had a outboard well on the c-24 that flooded to often

so it was cut out and sealed a kick up mount put on the stern

and the gas cans got a sealed  lazarette to live in if they leak they could just blow the stern off

but not leak/flow in to the bilge

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12 hours ago, matthewwhill said:

Where do you store your gasoline? I have owned my Kent Ranger 24 for nearly ten years and (as the previous owner did before me) I keep gasoline in a 6-gallon plastic tank in the port cockpit bench/seat locker. I recently realized that any leaked fuel or vapor has access to the cabin - the locker isn't sealed off and drains ultimately into the bilge. My understanding is the gasoline vapor can potentially collect in the cabin sole and bilge, creating a fire hazard.  Obviously hasn't been an issue yet, but I'm wondering if I should figure out a way to keep it out in the open in the cockpit. I'd be interested in what other folks do on boats like this. (I only have an outboard, no inboard).

Some boats have a fuel locker; if yours doesn't the alternatives are either:

  1. an unenclosed location above decks in a location where vapor does not drain into the cabin.  Fuel will get hot and deteriorate quickly
  2. a permanently installed below-decks tank with an overboard vent and fill.  You will need a bilge blower.  Expensive
  3. a fuel tank integrated into the outboard motor (available for 6hp and less).  Worth considering if 6hp is enough especially if you don't motor long distances.  Typically these hold about 45 minutes worth of fuel at WFO.
  4. various safety compromises that aren't really recommended; on an older boat you may not have much choice

6 gallons is a lot especially for a modern 4-stroke engine; these use roughly half the fuel of the old 2-strokes with a usual burn rate of 0.1 gallon per horsepower-hour, so if you have, say, 6 hp running WFO you'll burn 0.6 gallons per hour and will get 5 hours out of a 3-gallon tank.  3 gallon remote fuel tanks are widely available.

Modern CARB/EPA-compliant tanks and hoses aren't vapor permeable, same for 1960s-era metal tanks.  I see them as posing less of a hazard.

If you are refueling a dinghy or an outboard with its own tank there are safety cans available that are non-permeable and properly sealed, with fire suppressor screens.  I use them.

My Hunter 26 had a special fuel locker for the outboard.  My Morgan 24 was designed by someone in denial regarding the need for an auxiliary and so we had the fuel tank in the cockpit.

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We always run our outboard carb dry before putting it down below before a race. We close the vent on the 3 gallon fuel tank and that goes down below as well. 

Never a problem. 

After racing for the day, I leave the fuel tank in the cockpit with vent open. For longer deliveries(when I carry 6 gallons of extra fuel), the spare fuel is always kept in the cockpit. 

I had a gasoline powered Atomic 4 in a previous boat. While coming up to it in the dinghy one day I could smell a lot of gasoline. The carb float had stuck open and drained 20 gallons of fuel into the bilge! What a mess. From that point on, I installed a fuel shutoff and closed it every time I left the boat.  

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13 hours ago, matthewwhill said:

Where do you store your gasoline? I have owned my Kent Ranger 24 for nearly ten years and (as the previous owner did before me) I keep gasoline in a 6-gallon plastic tank in the port cockpit bench/seat locker. I recently realized that any leaked fuel or vapor has access to the cabin - the locker isn't sealed off and drains ultimately into the bilge. My understanding is the gasoline vapor can potentially collect in the cabin sole and bilge, creating a fire hazard.  Obviously hasn't been an issue yet, but I'm wondering if I should figure out a way to keep it out in the open in the cockpit. I'd be interested in what other folks do on boats like this. (I only have an outboard, no inboard).

Tough choice .. gasoline is nasty stuff

the locker is cool, out of the sunlight , little expansion

probably the best location 

the last time I has a gasoline leak it was caused by a faulty plug end fitting 

the gas leaked out of this end fitting … the little ball failed to seal 

good idea to install an on off valve before the plug fitting to eliminate this danger 

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1 hour ago, solosailor said:

Misinformation......   unless you're using dangerous LIPOs, which no one really does.

https://www.tesla.com/  ?

a fair number of do it yourself types think scrap/junk cars for batterys packs

as cost are a small fraction of new

yes there are better batterys but the costs are MUCH HIGHER

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6 gallons. Isn't that pretty big for a 24' 3000lb boat?

I've see 2 solutions, but maybe they were more about odors & grime than explosions:

1) an airtight container sealed in a plastic trash bag for the plastic gas itself can kept in a lazarrette

2) an outboard holding bracket mounted on the transom like you might see on a jeep

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1 hour ago, Squalamax said:

I had a gasoline powered Atomic 4 in a previous boat. While coming up to it in the dinghy one day I could smell a lot of gasoline. The carb float had stuck open and drained 20 gallons of fuel into the bilge! What a mess. From that point on, I installed a fuel shutoff and closed it every time I left the boat.  

Palmer P60 gas engine here.  That should never happen when the ignition's off.  There should be a manual shutoff valve at the tank port according to USGC regs.  The port should be on the top of the tank, not the bottom (!) so fuel has to be sucked out, not under the pressure of the fuel in the tank (also a USGC requirement). Good place to hang the engine key. The Palmer original magnetic push-pull canister style fuel pump also acts as a low pressure shutoff valve when not running.  I've had problems with a stuck float valve but only in the ignition on or engine running situation where the pump will dutifully pressure gasoline to the carb and overflow through the carb throat into the bilge.  Yep, the engine will run with a stuck open carb float, rich but operational.

I'm real jumpy about fuel leaks so here's my protocol:

  • Check the engine compartment fume detector is reading green.  It's on 24/7 (200ma/hr), is a parasitic load so a float charger/small solar panel is a good investment if you leave your boat for weeks.  Every few months push the test button to make sure the alarm horn is working.
  • Check that the Halon engine compartment automatic fire extinguisher light is reading green, i.e., has not inadvertently discharged. On 24/7 but only a 2ma draw, trivial.
  • Run blower for a few minutes, keep it on during the first 20 minutes or so when under power.
  • Open shutoff valve, turn on ignition and listen to the clickety-clack of the fuel pump; it should quickly stop clicking when the float valve closes.
  • Briefly look for fuel line drips/ leaks on the pressure side of the pump.  BTW, we're talking 3 psi here so it's not like car fuel injection @ 50psi.
  • Start engine.  I have a fuel catch pan below the carb throat so I'll look there for any evidence of spilt fuel indicating the float valve is stuck as rattling of the carb when running may shake debris into the float valve.  Check again after 30 minutes or so of powering and anytime the engine is acting up.
  • Upon long term shutdown, first close the shutoff valve so the carb and pressure side of the fuel line is pumped out/below atmospheric pressure as the engine dies.
  • When refiling the 30 gallon tank at the gas dock open all cockpit hatches, etc., run blower and watch/listen to the tank vent fitting on the hull for plenty of air/fumes being emitted or even a spritz of gasoline if you're topping off to make sure the vent hose etc. is open.

Call me anal but I believe a gasoline engine is not the time bomb some claim it to be and most explosions are because of operator error/poor maintenance.  Consider the myriad powerboat gassers running hundreds of horsepower with giant tanks in your marina that don't seem to blow up that often.  I've had my boat for 35 years now and although have had some scares (stuck float valve) haven't gone to heaven yet ;).

Folks with outboards that store sealed 5gal plastic jugs below decks are asking for God to smite them.  Yah, the odds are low but if done for years low odds add up.  Much better is to store them on deck and throw them overboard if they crack/leak unexpectedly.  

 

 

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19 hours ago, axolotl said:

Palmer P60 gas engine here.  That should never happen when the ignition's off.  There should be a manual shutoff valve at the tank port according to USGC regs.  The port should be on the top of the tank, not the bottom (!) so fuel has to be sucked out, not under the pressure of the fuel in the tank (also a USGC requirement). Good place to hang the engine key. The Palmer original magnetic push-pull canister style fuel pump also acts as a low pressure shutoff valve when not running.  I've had problems with a stuck float valve but only in the ignition on or engine running situation where the pump will dutifully pressure gasoline to the carb and overflow through the carb throat into the bilge.  Yep, the engine will run with a stuck open carb float, rich but operational.

I'm real jumpy about fuel leaks so here's my protocol:

  • Check the engine compartment fume detector is reading green.  It's on 24/7 (200ma/hr), is a parasitic load so a float charger/small solar panel is a good investment if you leave your boat for weeks.  Every few months push the test button to make sure the alarm horn is working.
  • Check that the Halon engine compartment automatic fire extinguisher light is reading green, i.e., has not inadvertently discharged. On 24/7 but only a 2ma draw, trivial.
  • Run blower for a few minutes, keep it on during the first 20 minutes or so when under power.
  • Open shutoff valve, turn on ignition and listen to the clickety-clack of the fuel pump; it should quickly stop clicking when the float valve closes.
  • Briefly look for fuel line drips/ leaks on the pressure side of the pump.  BTW, we're talking 3 psi here so it's not like car fuel injection @ 50psi.
  • Start engine.  I have a fuel catch pan below the carb throat so I'll look there for any evidence of spilt fuel indicating the float valve is stuck as rattling of the carb when running may shake debris into the float valve.  Check again after 30 minutes or so of powering and anytime the engine is acting up.
  • Upon long term shutdown, first close the shutoff valve so the carb and pressure side of the fuel line is pumped out/below atmospheric pressure as the engine dies.
  • When refiling the 30 gallon tank at the gas dock open all cockpit hatches, etc., run blower and watch/listen to the tank vent fitting on the hull for plenty of air/fumes being emitted or even a spritz of gasoline if you're topping off to make sure the vent hose etc. is open.

Call me anal but I believe a gasoline engine is not the time bomb some claim it to be and most explosions are because of operator error/poor maintenance.  Consider the myriad powerboat gassers running hundreds of horsepower with giant tanks in your marina that don't seem to blow up that often.  I've had my boat for 35 years now and although have had some scares (stuck float valve) haven't gone to heaven yet ;).

Folks with outboards that store sealed 5gal plastic jugs below decks are asking for God to smite them.  Yah, the odds are low but if done for years low odds add up.  Much better is to store them on deck and throw them overboard if they crack/leak unexpectedly.  

 

 

The tank port to the engine fuel pump(mechanical) was on the top of the tank. There just wasn't any shutoff installed. I had a full tank of fuel and the tank was located higher than the pump/carb. Shut the engine off, buttoned the boat up and left it on the mooring. Syphoned all the fuel into the bilge. 

It was an illegal/unsafe setup but that's how I bought it. 

I've also had good luck with that A4 and it never let me down. Not nearly as nice as a diesel, but it did the job and was a smooth engine.  

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Convenient thread for gas related questions?
Was guest on a small boat with a gas outboard, tank somewhere in the lazarette.

Left my foul weather gear in the cockpit locker for a day or two. That is connected to the lazarette and not really vented. Hence it did take on that nice gasoline smell until aired out...

Thing is that all the ironed on seals over the stitching on the inside peeled off within days after. Any chance of a connection there? Meaning if the adhesive could be susceptible to gasoline fumes? I have no experience in that regard.

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50 minutes ago, allweather said:

Convenient thread for gas related questions?
Was guest on a small boat with a gas outboard, tank somewhere in the lazarette.

Left my foul weather gear in the cockpit locker for a day or two. That is connected to the lazarette and not really vented. Hence it did take on that nice gasoline smell until aired out...

Thing is that all the ironed on seals over the stitching on the inside peeled off within days after. Any chance of a connection there? Meaning if the adhesive could be susceptible to gasoline fumes? I have no experience in that regard.

IMHO yes, easily possible.

Gasoline is a solvent and it's vapor is chemically active.

Doesn't necessarily that is truly the one cause, though.

FB- Doug

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1 hour ago, Steam Flyer said:

Doesn't necessarily that is truly the one cause, though.

Makes me wonder though. I know my mom went through some foul weather gear suspiciously fast. What's the resistance of waterproofing? Probably depending on specifics I suppose. Has anyone tested this?

Apparently goretex itself is resistant to gasoline...

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Fuel vapor is a non-polar solvent and you can use mineral spirits/white gas/probably others to thin out SeamGrip when applying or removing it.

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https://www.tesla.com/  ?

a fair number of do it yourself types think scrap/junk cars for batterys packs

Tesla currently uses an NCA chemistry (that’s lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum), while lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) chemistries are common across the rest of the EV industry. 

I don't know of ONE person who used an old Tesla battery on a boat.   I certainly wouldn't.  LFP (lithium iron phosphate) is a safe chemistry and by far the type most used on boats.

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30 minutes ago, solosailor said:

Tesla currently uses an NCA chemistry (that’s lithium-nickel-cobalt-aluminum), while lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC) chemistries are common across the rest of the EV industry. 

I don't know of ONE person who used an old Tesla battery on a boat.   I certainly wouldn't.  LFP (lithium iron phosphate) is a safe chemistry and by far the type most used on boats.

I'm pretty sure I saw a big-ass Tesla battery on the gunboat cat in the 2015 transpac. In a compartment under the forward cockpit. Seemed at the time to not be a great place for it.

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On 10/18/2021 at 3:30 AM, matthewwhill said:

Where do you store your gasoline? I have owned my Kent Ranger 24 for nearly ten years and (as the previous owner did before me) I keep gasoline in a 6-gallon plastic tank in the port cockpit bench/seat locker. I recently realized that any leaked fuel or vapor has access to the cabin - the locker isn't sealed off and drains ultimately into the bilge. My understanding is the gasoline vapor can potentially collect in the cabin sole and bilge, creating a fire hazard.  Obviously hasn't been an issue yet, but I'm wondering if I should figure out a way to keep it out in the open in the cockpit. I'd be interested in what other folks do on boats like this. (I only have an outboard, no inboard).

If you've an anchor locker that drains overboard it's the best place, but maybe pushing it for six gallons...

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15 hours ago, boguing said:

If you've an anchor locker that drains overboard it's the best place, but maybe pushing it for six gallons...

I lot of motion in the bow locker 

be sure your tank and storage tie downs are up to the task 

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8 hours ago, slug zitski said:

These motorcycle style tanks in 3 gallons can be mounted , bolted with a center twist lock mechanism ,  to the stern rail and are a very nice solution for some boats 

CA709EAE-D9CC-4D42-8013-6ADCB9841208.jpeg

I still have a few of those from my Jeep, and bolted to the stern pulpit is exactly where I plan to carry one when needed. However, I’m in the probably blow up some day camp. I put the main six gallon tank under a pilot berth in the cabin while sailing. There isn’t really any where else to put it. 

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On 10/19/2021 at 1:56 AM, solosailor said:

Misinformation......   unless you're using dangerous LIPOs, which no one really does.

I’m in a Lithium battery Facebook group and a few people are using Tesla batteries on boats, they reckon they have the hazard covered but I don’t see how anyone can stop a fire from those type of batteries. There are going to be a heap of these batteries come on the market cheap in the future

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