1987 MK 1 Catalina 34 Dual Tank Propane Locker

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NOTE - Before doing any projects, I highly recommend that you first go through the “Critical Upgrades” list and verify that your boat has all of the applicable items addressed. There is a link on the Message Board (copied here) entitled “CRITICAL UPGRADES – DO THESE OR ELSE!!!” that will take you to them. It is a good way to both learn your boat and make sure it is safe.

Original Propane System Description

I purchased my Catalina 34 in April 2015. She is a 1987 MK1, hull #493.

My original propane system consisted of a single 4# (~ 1 gal) steel tank mounted in a vented Seward brand locker ~ 13” x 13” x 12 1/4” that provided propane to the galley stove only. It was the typical white plastic and blue top with upper and lower ¾” vent bosses and integral mounting feet (which were cracked) molded into it. The top was closed tight by 4 SST latches and a foam gasket. It contained the tank, a regulator and gauge connected directly to the tank, a solenoid activated by a 5 Amp circuit breaker on the Main Distribution Panel, two short hoses connecting everything together.

The locker was mounted on the wood cover above the steering radial inside the aft lazarette. The propane hose from the galley stove connected to the locker via externally threaded bulkhead fittings. The solenoid wires exited the locker through a hole drilled into a plastic fitting with silicone used as the sealant around the wires. Two ¾” male thread/hose barb elbows connected the locker upper and lower vents to two thru hulls in the transom with ¾” hoses.


I am refitting my C34 for future short and extended cruising. I will use propane for the galley stove, and the small Magma grill I have mounted on the stern rail. Some questions I need to answer are should I have a tank and several disposable 1# bottles? What size tank? Where do I store the bottles? Are disposable 1# bottles the best way to provide propane to the grill?

For tank sizing, Don Casey’s rule of thumb is that 1# of propane will last 1 person 1 week cooking three meals a day.

After several iterations I decided to use an 11# low profile tank for the galley and add a 5# propane tank dedicated to the grill. I chose to use powder coated steel propane tanks manufactured by Manchester. I went with powder coated steel instead of aluminum because I couldn’t find a low profile (short) 10 or 11# aluminum tank, the powder coated steel tanks are much cheaper. I have strength concerns with the neck area on the fiberglass propane tanks so did not consider them at all.

FYI: My original tank was powder coated steel, and after 30 years in the sealed propane locker it still looked fine, so expect these to last at least as long as their certification.

This write up provides a summary of the propane system upgrade I did with photos, plus a parts list. I've numbered the photos to help with connecting the text to the associated photo. This was not a very complicated project. The most difficult step was matching the hull mating surface of the support structures to the hull. There was lots of trial and error. As a final note, every boat is different. The routing, methods, and hose lengths I used may not work on your boat. Good luck and I hope you find this write up helpful.

Before Photos

The following photos show the boat before the propane system upgrade to help give you a perspective of my starting point. The text description for each group of photos is above them.

Photo (1) is the original propane locker mounted on the wood cover above the steering radial. It provides great access to the tank, gauge, and regulator. Being in the center of the lazarette opening blocks access for additional storage space. Photo (2) shows the externally threaded bulkhead fitting on the starboard side of the propane locker that the hose to the galley stove connects to.

=(1)=Original Location (resized).jpg

=(2)=Galley Hose Threads (resized).jpg

Photo (3) shows a crack in the mounting foot of the locker, and you can see one of the four SST latches used to clamp the top to the locker. Also shown are the Manual Bilge Pump and Emergency Rudder Handles mounted to the top of the wood radial cover. These will be relocated to the aft vertical 2 x 6 when the locker is relocated in the new design. Photo (4) shows the upper and lower ¾” vent elbows and hoses.