CYLIN­DER CAU­TION

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Af­ter read­ing Peter Nielsen’s re­view of the Lehr 2.5hp propane out­board ( Oc­to­ber), I was com­pelled to write about fill­ing “the small cylinders from the ship’s propane tank.” A friend was fill­ing small cylinders from a larger tank at home. It was sug­gested that plac­ing the cylinders in the fridge would al­low for ad­di­tional propane to be added af­ter the first re­fill. Now, the sim­ple valve on most of these small cylinders is merely a ball bear­ing in a seat held closed by a spring, and rust or dirt can eas­ily de­feat the seal. A bot­tle leaked while overnight in the fridge and filled it with propane that then leaked through the fridge drain to the space un­der the fridge. When the com­pres­sor ( and elec­tric mo­tor) kicked on early in the morn­ing, there was a spec­tac­u­lar ex­plo­sion that blew the fridge door open, plas­tered the walls with all the con­tents of the fridge and blew out ev­ery closed door and win­dow in the house. For­tu­nately, the house didn’t catch fire, and no one was at home thanks to a good surf that morn­ing. My friend was at the beach early when told “get home, the bomb squad is at your house.” The news photo of him in wet­suit, drip­ping wa­ter, look­ing at his house is price­less. The bomb squad cleared the premises, the sher­iff as­cer­tained there wasn’t a meth lab present and the fridge, al­beit some­what de­formed, still worked. The re­mains of the melted wall phone now live in a pre­sen­ta­tion case in an hon­ored po­si­tion on a book­shelf. The moral of the story is to store propane can­is­ters in a proper vented locker and don’t try to shove in more than they can safely hold. Propane in the bilge can be a very bad thing.

— Brian Turner, Im­pe­rial Beach, CA

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