Tuesday, April 29, 2014

RETHINKING PROPANE: Dismantling the Hillerange Seaward Stove Part Three

I was away from the boat for two weeks as work got in the way once again. But, then it will allow me to pay the boatyard for dropping the morning back in the water. So it is a trade off. When I got back on board I continued on the propane project which entails partially dismantling the Hillerange Seward Stove that has been on board since 1986. Due to corrosion in the burner area and the expense of rebuilding it I decided to abandon it's use as a stove and oven and use alternative cooking plans. I was able to remove most of the burner, controls and manifold on my last visit to the boat. On this visit I planned to take a look at the oven and see what I could remove there. Since I've owned BIANKA since 1995 I think I've used the oven twice. Frankly, trying to start it was always difficult and somewhat scary. Which is why I won't miss it much. But, I did store some cooking items inside of it as shown below:
Though they were just covers and bowls and oven pans in the limited space available. So since I no longer  plan on using the oven I thought it would be good to remove the burner and whatever else I could take off the boat. First I removed all the "stuff" that was stored in the oven:

The area needs a good cleaning and there is some rust that needs to taken care of. First thing was remove the oven tray. I found this was just held in place by two screws located in the back of the oven:

Once the tray is removed I had easy access to oven burner:

A screw on the left side holds it in place:

Over on the right side is a nut that connects the pilot light to it's stainless steel feed pipe securing the right side:

Once the screw on the left side and the pilot feed nut are removed the whole burner assembly is easily removed:

Removing the oven tray and oven burner created a much bigger storage area in the now unused oven space:

It needs a good cleanup  and some rust removal and I think I'll do some re painting in the future. But, I am happy with that the space that opened up by removing the burner:

I was now able to store all of the pots and pans I use on board in the oven area. Including my cast iron frying pan and four quart pressure cooker.  I still need to remove some of the oven pans which I will no longer use too. With the unused oven burner parts removed and the additional storage space created, I'll turn my attention to cleaning up the top burner area.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


  "I had resolved on a voyage around the world, and as the wind on the morning of April 24, 1895 was fair, at noon I weighed anchor set sail, and filled away from Boston, where the Spray had been moored snugly all winter. The twelve o'clock whistles were blowing just as the sloop shot ahead under full sail. A short board was made up the harbor on the port tack, then coming about she stood to seaward, with her boom well off to port, and swung past the ferries with lively heels. A photographer on the outer pier of East Boston got a picture of her as she swept by, her flag at the peak throwing her folds clear. A thrilling pulse beat high in me. My step was light on deck in the crisp air. I felt there could be no turning back, and that I was engaging in an adventure the meaning of which I thoroughly understood."  - Sailing Alone Around the World

Monday, April 21, 2014


You never know what will happen when you head down to the boatyard to work on the boat. You might get distracted in an extended gam with another boat owner talking about various boat projects or other such boat related items. Sometimes a little local knowledge or scuttlebutt piece of info might come your way. That's what happened recently after I had finished the first phase of my stove conversion project. I was putting the ladder away in the car when another sailor asked me if I was going to head over to the beach to see the seal release. I had not heard about this event but, since it was taken place just across the road from the boatyard I thought why not stop and check it out:

 The seal named Steve was rescued and released by The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation

Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel García Márquez and the Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor.

The death of Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel García Márquez at the age of 87 has reminded me of one of my favorite books of the sea. The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor written in 1955 as a series of newspaper articles by  Márquez about a twenty year old Colombian Navy Sailor named Luis Alejandro Velasco. He and seven other sailors were washed overboard along with some cargo on their severely overloaded ship. The search for the sailors was called off after four days. Velasco was lucky enough to find a raft and was the only one who survived having washed up on shore after ten days at sea.  Márquez spent twenty six hour days interviewing Velasco about his ordeal. Taking copious notes and asking trick questions to expose any contradictions in the sailors account. It was so detailed that it still makes an impression on me today and I think about it every time I hear about a rescue at sea. I recommend it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

RETHINKING PROPANE USE ON BOARD: Dismantling the Hillerange Stove Part Two


 A week after spraying some PB Blaster on the screws and flanges. I was back on board hoping it had done a good job penetrating the dissimilar screw and manifold flanges.  It worked pretty well on the twenty seven year old stove. I was able to remove all the burners easily: with no problem even though the flanges were pretty rusted:

But other items like the Gas manifold pipe and the oven gas valve each had one of the stainless steel screws that would not budge. Here a photo of the items I wanted to remove from the stove top as I would no longer be using them:

After removing the burners I started on removing the Gas Manifold. Because one of the screws on one flange did not budge I used a Dremel Tool with a reinforced cutting disk to cut through the flange:

Before continuing I also disconnected the hose that connects up to the manifold using a 17 mm wrench at the back of the stove:

 Even with those steps it still required a little extra "persuasion" to fully remove the manifold:

The last item I needed to remove was the Gas Valve which also had one screw that was bonded to the unit. But, I was able to pry it up easy enough and remove the valve.

I was amazed at the amount of crumbs located underneath the valve. But, I guess after over a quarter century of cooking things will accumulate:

 A quick vacuum took care of most of it. With the burners and manifold finally removed from the stove:

I was able to do a quick check to see if the  Coleman PowerPack 1-Burner Stove I planned to use from now for cooking would fit on top of the now partially dismantled stove:

Success! I was also able to close the sliding counter over it. So now all I need to do is a good cleanup of the remaining grime and then move onto the oven area of the stove to see what I can remove there.

Friday, April 11, 2014

RETHINKING PROPANE USE ON BOARD: Dismantling the Stove Part One

When I discovered some nasty corrosion on the twenty seven year old Seaward Hillerange Model 3122 stove I starting looking into repairing it.

 As the cost of the parts to refurbish the stove rose and since it was already over  two decades old.  I began to seriously rethink the use of propane on board. I did an experiment last season using a Coleman single burner unit and one pound propane canisters for all my cooking on board. This worked out well so I abandoned the idea of refurbishing the Hillerange stove altogether.  But, since it is already installed and nicely gimballed I thought I could still use parts of it as a base for my new cooking system.

So now that the winter has finally ended one of my first tasks on board is to start removing some of the corroded components of the stove. After over two decades of cooking and having the cast iron piping and stainless steel metal and screws in contact with one another created some dissimilar metal issues. It looked like it might be tough to remove them.  It seemed to me the prudent thing to do would be to spray the attachment screws and flanges with a generous spray of  PB Blaster   .

 I let this soak for a while and then just to help thinks along took a small wire brush and brushed the screws and flanges areas with it to scrap away whatever rust I could:

This was followed by another soaking of some more PB Blaster onto the scrubbed areas. I'll let these areas soak in for a few days and then come back and try and remove the burners and gas valves. Hopefully, the blaster will have done it's job by then.

Monday, April 07, 2014

CHOICES: Batteries

I was looking around for some specs for battery terminal torque specs and came upon this chart at the MK Battery site:

I'm about to start my seventh season with the four 8A4D AGM batteries that make up my 48 volt electric propulsion bank. Somehow I instinctively used them in a way that should provide over a thousand life cycle charges.  I typically revert to Hybrid mode using the Honda 2000i generator once the battery bank has dropped to 70 to 80% from 100% full charge.  Turns out that looks like a good point to have a good charge life cycle for the bank.  So far so god. I still think I made the right decision in going with AGM batteries over the Lithium Ion batteries that were still fairly new back in 2008 when I did the conversion. The cost and availability were factors I considered. Today I think I would still go with the AGM's as they seem to be holding up well. I'll do some more in depth battery testing in a few weeks to see how well.    The following video is and example of my modus operandi using electric propulsion and when I operate in hybrid mode on an unusually windless day heading down the Hudson River:

Friday, April 04, 2014


"Never get off the boat!" are the words spoken by the patrol boats cook in the movie  Apocalypse Now. Always good advice.  The following video shows why. It was taken during the recent Clipper Race and shows how difficult it can be to get a person back on board even with a number of crew available to help. Imagine how difficult it would be with one or two people on board: