DIY inexpensive propane storage

Store propane cylinders safely on deck

By Dave Osmolski

Summer’s here! Now’s the time to get in the boat, visit your favorite cove and drop the hook. Before long, you’ll get out the propane grill and throw a couple of steaks on while you enjoy a glass of wine with the sunset.

Propane grills that attach to a boat rail or a fixture inserted into a fishing rod holder are popular and provide additional enjoyment on day trips and cruises; however, their use raises the question of how to store the steel propane cylinders that fuel the grill.

America’s Boating Course, Seamanship and a number of sources teach us that carrying propane cylinders belowdecks or in storage lockers is an invitation to disaster. Heavier-than-air propane can collect in the bilge, which could cause a disastrous explosion. Propane cylinders should always be stored on deck in open air, but how should we secure them?

You could probably hold a cylinder in a modified fire extinguisher mount, but someone might mistake the cylinder for a fire extinguisher, wasting precious seconds in an emergency. On my boat, I solved this problem by making a removable cylinder holder from readily available materials.

There are two styles of portable propane containers: tall, narrow cylinders usually associated with propane torches used for soldering and short cylinders that have a larger diameter. Both types fit inside standard-diameter PVC pipe available at most hardware stores. The narrow cylinders fit in 3-inch PVC pipe, and the shorter cylinders fit in 4-inch PVC pipe.

I made a holder for tall cylinders, which I use with both my gas grill and propane torch. I cut a piece of 3-inch diameter PVC pipe 11 inches long. A half inch from one end, I drilled two quarter-inch holes on either side of the pipe. I ran a 4¼-inch piece of  ¼″-20 UNC all-thread or threaded rod through the holes and put a ¼″-20 UNC Nylok™ nut on each end to secure it. The rod keeps the steel cylinder from bouncing against the deck. The constant movement of the cylinder in its containment could wear a nasty mark in teak or gelcoat.

I used a hook-and-loop strap to lash the tubing to the upright of my T-top. Now the propane is above deck and out in the open, and it won’t create a hazardous situation that could spoil my cruise.


D/1st/Lt David H. Osmolski, SN, of Charlotte Power Squadron/27, has been repairing boats since high school when his first boat, a canvas-covered canoe with cedar ribs, leaked in gallons per minute and required constant repair.

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