Saturday 22 July 2017

Fitting An Asian Gas Cylinder

We had to bite the bullet and get a local Malaysian gas cylinder. We did not need to get a gas refill during our travels from Thursday Island Australia through Indonesia to Puteri Harbour Malaysia. We were at the end of the third cylinder when we got into port. The three 4.5Kg bottles we carried had lasted well and I think we got a lot of mileage from our supply due to eating out a lot. In our travels through Indonesia once we started to run low we made a few enquiries and found that we could not get our gas bottles filled. I can understand that, there just isn’t the infrastructure to have local suppliers fill bottles. The cylinders are filled at a central location and then are shipped to supply depots all over the country.

 In Malaysia we were able to get our three cylinders filled. The marina must have had a contact and the cylinders were returned full the next day. However we were one of the lucky ones able to get a fill, others who turned in their cylinders for a fill the next day found that refills were no longer available. It wasn’t until we got to Langkawi we or any of the fleet were able to get our next refill, however this didn’t last long. It turns out the refills we were getting were not sanctioned by the Government and during our stay the refill station was shutdown.

14 Kg Cylinder strapped to the rail
We were back at square one, but not to worry we were off to Thailand and we were told refills are available. We left Thailand with all our bottles full and we didn’t give gas much of a thought as we sailed the Malaccan Strait back to Puteri Harbour. Back in Puteri Harbour we found refills were certainly no longer available. So it was time to work out what we were going to do to get a gas supply for our trip back home. Going down the cylinder - cylinder equalisation route wasn’t an option because we could not get a fitting that didn’t incorporate a regulator for the local cylinder.

 We enquired about a local bottle, as it turns out there is a 14 Kg cylinder available and that’s it, unless you get the 100 Kg cylinder. So we ordered a cylinder, five metres of gas hose and a regulator for the local Malaysian cylinder. It turned up the next day, and there it was sitting on deck and looking very large. We couldn’t get it into our gas locker. The only thing to do was to store it on deck and after a lot of trial and error it found a home on the side rail out of the way. Should it develop a small leak it won’t be a problem being outside as it can vent over-board.

The next thing to consider is how to plumb in the new cylinder regulator hose. This was a reasonably simple process, I removed an unused cable gland from above where the gas locker is located. I needed to enlarge the hole slightly but the new hose went through easily and then I simply drilled a hole in the gas locker wall. Once the new hose was run through the gas locker wall I sealed the hose to make the locker gas tight again. This hole will be patched once we are using our standard cylinder in the locker.

Flared copper pipe fitting unscrewed from the solenoid.
Regulator showing type and pressures.
 Plumbing in the hose was straight forward, I removed the flared fitting from the gas solenoid body and installed a 3/8” barbed hose fitting using several wraps of plumbers tape on the threads. Once the hose was connected and the hose clamps tightened up it was time to test the system for leaks. The system was pressurised by connecting the regulator to the top of the bottle and the knob was tightened. A mixture of dishwashing liquid and water was put into a spray bottle. With a simple spray on the parts to be tested we looked for any bubbles. Every joint fitting and the hose was tested from the gas bottle to the solenoid in the gas locker. We were looking good and no bubbles were found during the pressure test. We then lit up the gas burner on the stove top. The new gas burns hotter than the standard Australian LPG so we just turn the flame down so we don’t burn things to the side of the pots. A successful and an easy fix.

 We set this up at Puteri Harbour Marina, we used Flying Colours Marine Solutions to source and deliver the parts. The all up cost for the lot was RM230 ($75 AU roughly).

Simple knob to lock on regulator.
 If you are traveling Indonesia you could do something similar. We priced the regulators and depending on the quality and length of hose they can cost anywhere from 100,000 IDR to 200,000 IDR ($10-$20 AU). Regulators are available at most hardware shops and we have even found them in supermarkets and where gas exchange refills are for sale. A small gas bottle to purchase out right to start with was 280,000 IDR ($28 AU) however I am sure the larger bottle could be double this, the prices quoted are for bottles filled with gas. We will know how much the large bottles cost in the near future when we will have to source a full bottle in Indonesia.

 It appears we have really become cruisers where function and necessity are more important than aesthetics. Does anyone want a Malaysian cylinder, we now need an Indonesian cylinder and have been told the regulator is the same.

As a side note when you do get a cylinder ask for spare rubber ring seals for the connection of the regulator. Store these away incase you get a cylinder with a damaged seal, this did happen to us. Always check the connection with soapy water, e.g. dishwashing liquid and water in a spray bottle. Keep the spray bottle handy and do it weekly just to be sure.