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Gas locker corrosion nightmare


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Well, after not inspecting the gas locker properly for about 4-5 years, i am now paying the price for my neglect.

 

A complete clear out, and removal of rubber mats reveals this nightmare. The white spot is the "drain" hole, and the floor is pretty poor. Most worrying is the gaping hole - which didn't need much prodding with a screwdriver to make itself known. Its on a bulkhead, with the water tank a couple of inches behind it. It isn't great in the other corner either. 

 

Meltdown!

A few questions ....

 

1. Is the floor of the gas locker likely to be below the waterline or will it have a separate skin? I have scraped a fair bit of rusted metal off it.

 

2. The hole in the bulkhead- is it an urgent fix in terms of structural integrity of the boat? I am sure it would fail a BSS re: proximity to the gas bottles.

 

3. How the  hell can a welder get anything done in there without hacking off the top bow area of the boat?

 

The boat is a 1996 Evans and Son Trad.

 

Thanks in anticipation. (Sad face icon thingy .....)

 

 

IMG_20200929_144847393_BURST001.jpg

IMG_20200929_144909263.jpg

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The floor is almost certainly nothing to do with the hull apart from whee it is welded and will have a void under it.

 

I don't think the hole has much effect on the structural integrity but is downright dangerous in the case of a gas hose, regulator or bottle failure.

 

If it were mine I would  silicon a very temporary pach over the hole and then get the floor and possibly the bulkhead over plated with 6mm steel ASAP. Why 6mm? Because that area is always subject to wet, damp and rust so it will take longer to rust through. I would also not use rubber mats but rather two plastic strips.

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9 minutes ago, Hartlebury lad said:

Well, after not inspecting the gas locker properly for about 4-5 years, i am now paying the price for my neglect.

 

A complete clear out, and removal of rubber mats reveals this nightmare. The white spot is the "drain" hole, and the floor is pretty poor. Most worrying is the gaping hole - which didn't need much prodding with a screwdriver to make itself known. Its on a bulkhead, with the water tank a couple of inches behind it. It isn't great in the other corner either. 

 

Meltdown!

A few questions ....

 

1. Is the floor of the gas locker likely to be below the waterline or will it have a separate skin? I have scraped a fair bit of rusted metal off it.

 

2. The hole in the bulkhead- is it an urgent fix in terms of structural integrity of the boat? I am sure it would fail a BSS re: proximity to the gas bottles.

 

3. How the  hell can a welder get anything done in there without hacking off the top bow area of the boat?

 

1) The floor will  not  be the baseplate, it's above the waterline, otherwise the drain hole would have filled the gas locker with water......

 

2) It's an urgent fix in terms of the safety of the boat. Like that, the next time you change a gas bottle and get a bit of grit in the joint, the leaking gas will fill the bilge and blow up the boat.

 

3) When we had a new gas locker floor the welder use a plasma cutter to remove the top of the gas, locker, did the work, then welded the top back on. You can't see the join, from the outside, anyway.

 

MP.

 

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Thanks chaps...

That already makes me feel better and makes a lot of sense. I am particularly glad there is a void under the floor!

No escaping the fact that the top bow area will need cutting open.  

Temporary patch over the hole, and i will get onto my welder contact.

I always thought those rubber mats cause more problems than they solve too ......

 

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It is certainly a BSS failure and failing to 'immediately' rectify it means your BSS is invalidated.

 

I had a NB fail on the same (but not actually perforated) and the surveyor suggested putting 2" of concrete in the base and re'drilling the drain holes.

 

BSS T&Cs

The owner’s on-going responsibility: it is crucial to maintain the vessel in good condition in accordance with the safety requirements; and, any other licensing, registration or mooring conditions of the relevant navigation or harbour authority. The validity of a BSS pass result may be affected and can be cancelled if the vessel is not properly maintained; and/or non-compliant alterations are made....

 

As the gas locker floor is now part of the BSS 'test' having a hole in it means a fail, therefore your BSS is invalid as the boat is non-compliant.

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14 minutes ago, Hartlebury lad said:

I always thought those rubber mats cause more problems than they solve too ......

 

 

I agree - I had some signs of a similar problem starting some years ago, but a proper rustproofing and paint job, and the use of a pair of wooden slats to sit the gas cylinders on, seems to havehas eliminated the problem (as far as practicable). I intend to inspect and repaint the gas locker as necessary, as the years go by, but the wooden slats are sacrificial. 

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Have a really good poke at the gas locker floor as that must be in good condition. I assume you have a plastic or stainless steel water tank just under the gas locker? Unless you have a solid watertight bulkhead somewhere it is likely that any gas leak will drop down through any perforations in the floor and find its way into the boat, this is very bad thing. Also note that on many boats the gas locker drain holes can go below water level, for example if your water tank is full and you are in a turbulent lock water may well go in through the drains, and again find its way into the cabin. If you have an integral tank then both leaking gas and canal water can end up in your water tank.

 

...............Dave

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2 hours ago, Alan de Enfield said:

It is certainly a BSS failure and failing to 'immediately' rectify it means your BSS is invalidated.

 

I had a NB fail on the same (but not actually perforated) and the surveyor suggested putting 2" of concrete in the base and re'drilling the drain holes.

 

BSS T&Cs

The owner’s on-going responsibility: it is crucial to maintain the vessel in good condition in accordance with the safety requirements; and, any other licensing, registration or mooring conditions of the relevant navigation or harbour authority. The validity of a BSS pass result may be affected and can be cancelled if the vessel is not properly maintained; and/or non-compliant alterations are made....

 

As the gas locker floor is now part of the BSS 'test' having a hole in it means a fail, therefore your BSS is invalid as the boat is non-compliant.

And I guess on the back of that insurance is also invalidated?

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1 minute ago, Traveller said:

And I guess on the back of that insurance is also invalidated?

You don't need a BSS to get insurance, but I bet there is an insurance condition (there is in mine) that says something to the effect "it must be maintained in a safe condition".

Failing to meet the "Safety" requirements would suggest it is not maintained in a "safe condition"

 

I would suggest that you are probably correct.

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3 minutes ago, Traveller said:

And I guess on the back of that insurance is also invalidated?

A boat in our marina sank because of rust holes in the gas locker floor. The insurance didn't pay out, because fixing holes in the gas locker floor is maintenance, and the insured is obliged in the contract of insurance to maintain the boat. The insurance didn't pay out to repair blacking stripped from other boats by the diesel leaked from wreck either.

 

MP.

 

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2 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

You don't need a BSS to get insurance, but I bet there is an insurance condition (there is in mine) that says something to the effect "it must be maintained in a safe condition".

Failing to meet the "Safety" requirements would suggest it is not maintained in a "safe condition"

 

I would suggest that you are probably correct.

There is such a condition in my insurance also.

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2 hours ago, Hartlebury lad said:

Thanks chaps...

That already makes me feel better and makes a lot of sense. I am particularly glad there is a void under the floor!

No escaping the fact that the top bow area will need cutting open.  

Temporary patch over the hole, and i will get onto my welder contact.

I always thought those rubber mats cause more problems than they solve too ......

 

I have seen Rose narrowboats doing this when I have passed and they have cut the floor out through the hull.

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1 hour ago, dmr said:

Unless you have a solid watertight bulkhead somewhere it is likely that any gas leak will drop down through any perforations in the floor and find its way into the boat, this is very bad thing.

 

On my boat the gas locker sits on top of the water tank. The floor of the locker is at the same level as the foredeck well, several cm above the water.

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5 hours ago, Hartlebury lad said:

 

IMG_20200929_144847393_BURST001.jpg

 

 

How high is that drain hole above outside water level? If the bow drops for any reason (full water tank), canal water could enter the gas locker and then flow through that hole in the bulkhead into the bilge.  And it doesn't take too much of that to sink a boat.

 

If you have to move the boat to a yard where you can get it repaired I would suggest removing the gas bottles altogether, bolting a plate, or even a piece of plywood, over the drain hole with a suitable layer of sealant underneath. That way neither the hole you have found, nor any other, can sink the boat.

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Well, i don't feel so good now!

 

The boat is going nowhere for a while (lockdown) but when it does, it is going straight off to be welded up, after i have put a temporary sealed cover over the hole. it will have a low water tank, and nothing in the locker!

Thank you for all these contributions so far everyone.

The stainless steel water tank is behind the hole in that bulkhead under the deck below the cratch.

I will be looking at getting the gas locker floor and bulkhead plated.

If my regular welder chap can't do it easily, i am open to suggestions from anyone on here. The boat is in the Nantwich area. Happy to travel a couple of days.

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In 50 odd years of boats and gas I have only known 3 gas leaks at the bottle, one leaking bottle at a suppliers, one leaking bottle in a boat gas locker and one that is in my car right now, that one has a faulty valve that leaks when the bottle is turned on. I'm not suggesting that its safe, it clearly is not great but its probably been dangerous for a long time, the difference is that now you know.  A big handful of filler or clay would make it a lot better. I suspect that a good many boats have something very similar lurking under a gas bottle but its probably been painted over to get a safety thingy. What I want to know is how does water get in the locker? mine is often wet and its way above the waterline with a really good lid.

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16 minutes ago, Bee said:

In 50 odd years of boats and gas I have only known 3 gas leaks at the bottle, one leaking bottle at a suppliers, one leaking bottle in a boat gas locker and one that is in my car right now, that one has a faulty valve that leaks when the bottle is turned on. I'm not suggesting that its safe, it clearly is not great but its probably been dangerous for a long time, the difference is that now you know.  A big handful of filler or clay would make it a lot better. I suspect that a good many boats have something very similar lurking under a gas bottle but its probably been painted over to get a safety thingy. What I want to know is how does water get in the locker? mine is often wet and its way above the waterline with a really good lid.

Gas locker vents are often near, or below, the waterline.  BW used to show putting a vertical slot in for the vent, so it could still vent if the floor of the gas locker was below the waterline and hence the locker is flooded.

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21 minutes ago, Bee said:

In 50 odd years of boats and gas I have only known 3 gas leaks at the bottle,  ... one ... that has a faulty valve that leaks when the bottle is turned on

Until a couple of years ago I had never had a leaking bottle  but since then I have had 3 which leaked from the valve stem when turned on. I wonder if the standards of inspection and maintenance by the suppliers have slipped?

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1 hour ago, Bee said:

What I want to know is how does water get in the locker? mine is often wet and its way above the waterline with a really good lid.

As you draw gas out of the bottle, the liquid gas in the bottle boils to form the gas. The energy needed to change the state of the propane from liquid to gas comes from heat which comes from the liquified gas itself ....so the liquid gas cools....so the bottle gets colder. The bottle then is colder than the surrounding air so water vapor in the air can ...and does....condense on the side of the gas bottle. This then runs down the side of the bottle producing a pool of water in the botttom of the locker. Every time you use your gas you will get some degree of condensation. Far more than what you see in your engine bay, in your diesel tank or on your windows.

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1 hour ago, Dr Bob said:

The energy needed to change the state of the propane from liquid to gas comes from heat which comes from the liquified gas itself ....so the liquid gas cools....so the bottle gets colder.

Exactly how a fridge works. :)

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