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