Westsail Owners Alliance - Thread: "Propane Vs. Alcohol And Kerosene Stove"
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Thread: "Propane Vs. Alcohol And Kerosene Stove"

12,268 posts on 2,444 threads   •   From Mar 07, 2004 - Jan 08, 2012


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Propane Vs. Alcohol And Kerosene Stove

Bob Mitchell

I will start this chain by admitting, up front, that I am a coward when it comes to gas. My W-32 has a propane stove and heater in it. The propane tank installation, however, is, in my opinion, far less than optimal. Theprevious owner simply put the tanks int he aft lazerette and ran a lilne from there to the stove and then to the heater. The question is whether to try and redo the gas or simply replace the Force 10 with an alcohol or kerosene stove and substitute a nice coal/wood/pellet heater for the gas one. I do not cook much anyway and primarily use the stove to heat water for tea and heat up stews (the outer limits of my culinary talents). I am looking for advice on the choice of fuel and insofar as someone suggests gas, for suggestions on where to put the tanks. I do not like the foredeck box option because of the need to run the hose all the way back through the boat to the stove and the consequent chance for leaks at bends and in spots that are not readily accessible.

Frank and Melanie Scalfano

I have a box on the foredeck, and in addition to the valves on the tank, there is a cut-off solenoid (open when energized) with a switch on the cabinet above the icebox. I also have a propane detector just above the sole in the galley area. I would caution against the coal or wood heater options as they are much more dangerous with respect to carbon monoxide. I have a question of my own--does anyone else have a problem with rain water coming down the exhaust flue of the force 10 heater? It seems that rain splattering on the cabin top gets under the cap.

Kevin Donahue and Marilyn Falconer

We have mounted the propane tanks on all our boats to the stern pulpit. On some we have mounted a shelf across the aft end of the stern pulpit, on another we had a bracket fabricated that mounted to one of the legs of the stern pulpit. These installations keep the propane completly above deck with no worries about leaks. We use 2.5 gal aluminum propane bottles to avoid issues with rust and weight. We've used this installation for more than 25 years on 4 different boats with no problems. I have seen some small/tall (1 gal.?) aluminum propane bottles that were mounted to the boom gallows of another Westsail using large hose clamps.

We prefer the instant on/off heat that a propane stove provides and not having to deal with priming and pressurizing of a liquid fueled stove.

Joe Kovacs

Bob dislikes the propane tank installation in the lazarette. Whether that's really a good installation or not depends on that compartment. If it's completely sealed with a 3/4" vent at the bottom, the way a propane compartment on a boat is supposed to be, it's as OK as it gets.

That's the arrangement on Sea Breeze. I sealed off the lazarette and installed a small thruhull, the way the Coast Guard says to do, and I'm happy with the result. A 20 pound aluminum propane bottle makes its home in there.

When I bought the boat two 20 pound propane bottles sat on the caprail under the gallows. On the first ocean trip, on a benign ocean, one fell off three times and I jettisoned it. That was a mickey mouse arrangement and I didn't like how it looked at all. I like a clean deck.

Mike and Ivana Meyran

I recently bought a westsail which had a new kerosone stove. Never had any experience other than propane, which is plenty safe if you take the right precautions. I always shut off the valve at the tank and burnt off the excess in addition to having solenoid valve in line. Finding a decent spot on a westsail for a locker is a tough one. Personally I wouldnt want another item up on deck, both for aesthetics and the practical side. To get to my point, I have been pleasantly surprised with kerosene, which burns hot and clean, is a simple system, and doesnt leave you with the worries of propane. We cruised this summer, and did a bunch of cooking with it and plan to not go to propane..
my 2 cents

George and Rayna Shaunfield

Tell me more about your kerosene stove please. My W28 came with a Dickinson Bering stove with small oven. The previous owner used kerosene. I have only used non-perssurized alcohol cooktop before (no oven) - not bad at all. I understand kerosene burns clean and hot. What is the procedure to light it? Is it gravity feed? Any other info, pros, cons, would be appreciated.

Mike and Ivana Meyran

The procedure is pretty simple. You fill a cup below the burner with clear alcohol. It preheats the kerosene burner. If the burner is not heated enough either you get no kerosene thru the valve (no flame), or you will get a cooler, yellow flame licking the roof of your cabin, black smoke (not so fun). Once we figured this out, the the steps are:
1- preheat with alcohol (I have a small bottle to squeeze in about a tablespoon, about a minute of burning/preheat)
2 - one alcohol burns off, immediately light kerosene burner.
As I said, my original plans were to pull this out and replace with propane, but I talked myslef into giving it a shot. It cooks nice and hot.
There is a tank just below the sink which holds the kerosene. You use a bike pump to pressurize the tank/line.
I understand that the key is to buy clean kerosene, or filter it when you are cruising in areas were the kero is not clean.
For my first fill, I bought a gallon at ACE hardware for about 5 bucks. From what I can see, after a summer, there is still plenty left.
The other challenge you avoid with kero is having to find a place to mount a propane tank/locker, which in my opinion is very limited on the westsail. I refuse to have tanks stapped on deck - too much clutter..

Gary and Charlotte Burton

One way to mount the propane bottle is in the cockpit - ONLY if your cockpit drains are above the waterline. The way I have seen it done on Dave Kings boat was to buid a small locker at the stern end of the cockpit. If well executed as Daves is, it looks good and takes up very little space.
Dave - care to comment?

Norm Rhines

An option for the Propane tank location is on the coach roof under a raised platform see. http://www.imagine.ws/Graphics/imagine2006.jpg

Look in front of the dodger. (also helps my short wife with the sail)
I use a Manual shut off valve above deck with a sealed rod and handle inside above my galley (I have a galley forward layout) Has worked without a hitch (I also love my broadwater stove and oven, it is just wow!)

and when it is cold out it is a good time to get cooking.
Aloha for now

Mike and Ivana Meyran

I beleive the cockpit is small enough as it is, and I am adding hinges/dog latch to give me qucik access to the engine. If I were to go propane, the aft lazarette is where I would go.
Just my opinion..



I have an old Shipmate Kerosene stove on Oceana. The first few attempts were a disaster..flames from alcohol and billowing smoke from the kerosene. To remedy the problem I:

1. Flushed the system of old kerosene and replace with new kerosene ($15/gal!!)

2. Dismantled and cleaned the burners

With practice I've mastered the stove and when I hear a hissing after the preheat with alcohol she's ready to light up. Once the stove is on I've found the kerosene clean and very hot and easy to adjust.

Does anyone know where to buy replacement burners?



Stephen and Lu Ann Yoder

If I may... If you're using alcohol from the drugstore to preheat your kero burners, be sure to buy the stronger stuff. It's 90% alcohol or higher. Rubbing alcohol, at 70%, just doesn't seem to burn hot enough for a proper preheat. At least that's been my experience.

Also, we buy kerosene for our lamps (aka paraffin) in 2-1/2 gallon jugs from a restaurant supply store (Cash and Carry). Don't remember the price but it was considerably cheaper than $15/gal.


Mike and Ivana Meyran

I bought it by the gallon from ACE hardware. Beleive I paid 5 bucks a gallon in a prepackaged metal can. Worked like a charm.


Any ideas on where to purchase new burners?

Martin and Catherine Whittemore

In Maine, many gas stations sell Kerosene out of a pump just like gas or diesel. Price is typically slightly more than diesel. I don't know about other regions, but check out your local filling stations before shelling out for store bought stuff.

Martin and Catherine Whittemore

As for burners, I purchased a burner for my kerosene Taylor's stove at Defender.com.


In looking at pictures of other people's stern pulpits, I noticed one had a seat, just a board going across, it looked nice. I'm wondering how a strong teak box seat, where the top lifts up might look, the seat box could also act as a propane locker. The next quandry would be how to run the hose....


a polite bump. Anyone have any feedback regarding the plumbing?

Aaron Norlund


A propane box out on the boomkin could work, bit I think it would be awkward as you'd have to build something to keep it above the rudder cheeks and tiller. A better route would be to have a stern pulpit made (or buy one from Bud), that includes exterior mounts for your propane tanks. This frees up the area around the boomkin for you to get to a windvane, stern anchor, generator platform, dinghy, etc...

As for running the hose, it's mostly a matter of running it along sturdy things (pulpit, boomkin), and preferably on the underside where there will be less sun. Outside, I think it's smart to put it inside a sacrificial hose so the actual propane hose isn't being consumed by UV rays. We drilled a hole inboard on the bulwark on the port side, where the caprail comes down to deck level. Right now, I have a propane tank seized to the boom gallows, but when we get our new boomkin and pulpit (that will have a seat for both tacks molded into the rail), I'll run the hose back to where the propane tanks will be mounted (port side, outboard on the boomkin/pulpit in porpose-made brackets to hold to 10lb round tanks.)

Hope this helps!
Aaron N.

Jay Bietz


Here is a link to how the propane is mounted on my boat.
http://picasaweb.google.com/jaybietz/PygmalionAndFriendsOnTheSFBay#5260466496499 171106

The white boxes hold a ~ 2.5 gal propane tank. The drain is just overboard and the lines is only run from the Port side. http://picasaweb.google.com/jaybietz/PygmalionAndFriendsOnTheSFBay#5260466440479 852690

You see the electrical valve and the fuel line running down a SS tube through the caprail and into the engine compartment, along the top of the compartment to the galley stove. I have the gas sensor mounted low in the cabin and the control panel opposite the galley.

Tom and Dana Stiffler

I have two 2.5 gallon aluminum propane tanks mounted on gimbals from my stern pulpit. One goes to the stove and Force 10 heater with a solenoid on off switch mounted on the bulkhead in the galley. The other goes to a Force 10 barbecue mounted nest to it on the stern pulpit. It is safe and looks good.

Tom and Dana Stiffler

Bob,here is a picture of Devon's Whisper showing the propane tank installation. The Gimbals were fashioned from gudgeons and pintals for a small sailing dingy.


Jim Focha and Julie Gwin

Freinds of mine on an Islander 36 and a Freya 39 bought two of the tall/narrow tanks each, 2.5 lbs I think. They installed them in the hard plastic container you buy for the man overboard sling. It's a real clean installation as you don't seee the tanks.


I appreciate all these ideas. I am really trying to avoid having the tanks visible. Although I have yet to install my new stern pushpit, I think I've figured out that my box idea does not have enough clearance, meaning the second (lower) rung is not high enough. Back to the drawing board... Dang!

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