Adding Propane Lockers

Nellie said no more kerosene. Period. If I planned to eat again, there would be a propane stove on the boat. The problem was, there was no more room. Where to put propane tanks?

I've had a few questions about how to build these. Here are some of the comments I've sent:

The first is a comment sent to someone wanting to build a Binini. I pointed them to this website to see the pictures so they could get ideas.

Use formica for a mold. Use plywood or other wood to hold the formica to the shape you desire.

Shape the formica to make the outside 2 diminsional curve. Use plywood cut edgewise to make the curves, lay the formica against it. You can use a strip of wood at the edge of the formica, screwed to the plywood ribs to hold the formica on. You could also use screws through the formica outside the area you plan to use as a mold.

Build a strip of formica around it to make the edge that goes down, secure it with whatever is handy to hold it where you want the edges to be. You can use strips of plywood, 2x4 cut with a jigsaw to make irregular shapes, whatever.

Wax all the formica with mold release wax.

To make the curve at the joint (transition between the big flat part and the lip that makes the edges), use childs clay. Smash it into the corner, using a spoon or any other object you can come up with to make a tool. Just work at it until you get the smoothness and amount of curve or radius that you want.

Then using a paint brush, paint the whole thing with gel coat. Use as many layers as you like. The thicker, the more material you have to polish it out over the years. On the edge where you used the clay, make it a bit thicker as you'll end up sanding a bit and polishing it to make it the way you'll want it.

As soon as the gelcoat is set up, start laying up the fiberglass. You can actually do this over several days, but I think it's stronger if you do it within a day. Pre-cut the pieces of cloth, then spread the resin. Use one of those rollers that have the ridges that are made for this, you won't believe how much air you'll get out of your layup compared to just using a brush.

Once it is done to your satisfaction, let it cure for a day or so, then peel off the mold. Sand the edges with some 220, then 320, then 400, then polish it with a cloth and normal polish. this goes far quicker than it sounds like.

Feel free to write if none of this make sense or you want more details.

And, after, I got questions specific to the lockers and how to re-use the molds.

>In a posting to the liveaboard group, you said:
>"Once it is done to your satisfaction, let it cure for a day or so,
>then peel off the mold."
>I presume that we are talking about a female mold here. Do you mean
>that you (at least partially) destroy the mold when you remove it?
>Looking at your beautiful propane lockers, I don't see how you could
>remove the complete locker from the mold without pulling the mold apart.
>I guess that you can re-use parts of the mold each time, but wouldn't
>you have to redo the clay fillets each time?
>Thanks for any pointers,

You can reuse it as many times as you like. I used mine all twice, once on each enclosure. Just take care taking it off. Use the good mold release wax and it should be no problem. When you'll get into problems is when you let the resin or cloth go over the edges of the mold. On the lip around it, I made it taller than I really needed it, then used my 4" hand grinder with a sanding disk to trim it to the edge of the mold (or into the edge just a bit.) You can always take some off to get the "lip" to what you want.

My friend had a big "Maybe 8+ feet wide by about 15' long) table in the middle of his shop. It had formica for a top, glued to plywood and supported by ribs, and had about an 8" curve from side to side. On this he could clamp an edge to make any size top he wanted. Use the clay to make the radius, and he used it to make dozens, if not a hundred tops of various sizes.

In the case of my lockers, since the sides are parallel, it wouldn't be easy to just pull them out. I made horseshoe shaped pieces of plywood for ribs that went completely around. The end towards the boat was open. The part towards the boat at the top was a separate, removable part. It all sat flush on the bottom, which was a flat piece of formica on plywood. All corners were radiused with clay, then I glassed the insides up. I only put a layer of glass and resin on this way, no gelcoat. This was my first try, and I wasn't sure how things were going to work out.

Then I removed the horseshoe shaped plywood, then the formica would just pull off.

None of the pieces are damaged that way and can be removed. You will have to re-assemble it and re-do the clay each time. You can even re-use the clay for the most part.

Once I had the shape molded, they were thin, but a fixed shape. I then fit the edge to the boat, waxed the back of the boat, mounted the locker skins (with no back yet) against the boat. A thin layer of glass was laid up inside, against the boat transum and laping over the thin lockers, all on the inside. At this point I had lockers the right shape, just very thin.

Then I just took them home and glassed up enough layers inside until I had thick enough lockers to meet my needs.

On the lockers, I put the gelcoat on afterwards, many layers, then block sanded it to get the finish. After a number of passes doing this, I got what you see. If you do it this way, you need some PVA vinyl stuff, I'm not sure the exact name, but it's a liquid you spray on so that the gelcoat will cure. Exposed to air, it doesn't cure properly.

Once they were to a good surface with the sandpaper, it's easy to polish them, just like oxidized fiberglass would be.

On the lids, I used what I'd learned and made molds out of a flat piece of formica, cut a piece of old flywood to make a rim for the outside, they put a lip of formica about 2" high around where the edge would be. I used the clay to make the raduis, the gellcoated it heavily. No PVA stuff is needed here, since it will be covered with resin and cloth.

This is the method most boats are made. Once you have the thickness you desire, remove the mold, use your sander to make the edge correct, then sand the raduis to get it smooth, polish and you're done.

The lids are just about like making a bimini top, just smaller. The lockers themselves are much more complicated. If you make something like this, give some thought beforehand as to what attachments you need. You can easily glass in plywood to hold screws, or make strong points for other reasons. I actually cut out a piece of plywood for each top and it is glassed inside each lid to give it strength because I knew I'd stand on them frequently.

Feel free to ask more questions.

I don't recall who was going to try glassing their cloth bimini, but I'm sure they won't be happy. This is more work, but it can give a very professional job.

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