Alcohol cooker. Fire aboard!

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  • 22 May 2020 12:37
    Reply # 8986262 on 8959664

    My Compass stove looked to be better made that the one Jan has. 

    However, after Jan let me know of his problems. I carefully tested it. The fuel cans are not as high as on the Origo. When I turned it out it kept burning. The cans do not contact the top as the springs are designed for the higher cans and are not as strong as on the Origo - I think. The risk is that the whole area under the 'damping plates' gets hot, full of meths vapour and burns - as happened to Jan. In my case, there was no leak on the cans - but the risk still exists.

    I have communicated with Compass, and it's on it's way back via UPS! 

    My impression is that Compass - who seem to be a responsible company - will sort out the problems. I hope so.

    My own attempts at a meths burner have not been successful so far - poor combustion or fire in the garden!). 



     

  • 17 May 2020 12:50
    Reply # 8974513 on 8959664

    Well Annie, bright sunlight isn't something we have to worry about much in Ireland!

    Many thanks to David for his extinguisher testing, we'll definitely carry a squeezy bottle of water alongside our Origo and Trangia cookers from now on.  I just have to not get mixed up with the bottle of ethanol I have for virus zapping!

    I was thinking of lighting up the compass stove (outdoors!) and watching what goes wrong and trying out the Tyler Extinguisher but I'm inclined to leave that stove untouched in case anybody needs it for forensics or something. Compass have not responded to a detailed email even though we are doing them a big favour by highlighting the faults and not threatening legal action in any way. 

    Plus, we're way too busy, we are allowed to go sailing from tomorrow! You have to stay within the 5km travel restriction and return to from where you left. From early June we'll be able to go up to 20km.

  • 17 May 2020 02:22
    Reply # 8974059 on 8959664

    I think the most dangerous - indeed, probably the only dangerous - aspect of an alcohol stove is the fact that the flame is pretty much invisible in bright light.  And of course, something like an Origo is silent, too.  It's one of those things that one needs to hammer into the brain, until it is lurking in the subconscious, so that whenever you use the cooker in daylight, there is a little nagging voice saying 'just double check that it has gone out'.  A little COD helps here :-)

  • 16 May 2020 13:40
    Reply # 8972821 on 8965366
    I wrote:

    An (untried) idea for an inexpensive  DIY extinguisher that would have enough capacity to deal with a small, nuisance alcohol fire, though not a large, dangerous one: a 300ml or 500ml water spray bottle as used for gardening, hairdressing and cleaning products. There are some cylindrical types that could live in a spring clip in the galley.

    My "fire extinguisher" arrived in today's post, and I tried it out. I poured 50ml of alcohol into a metal tray and set it alight. The flames were vigorous enough to have caused a lot of concern if they'd been in a boat's galley. It took 150ml of water to extinguish the fire in 40 seconds, and it appeared to work by diluting the alcohol rather than extinguishing the flames directly. It seemed that a jet of water was better than a conical spray, and the process was safe and mess-free. I think this has gained itself a place in Weaverbird's galley.
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  • 13 May 2020 09:00
    Reply # 8965366 on 8959664

    An (untried) idea for an inexpensive  DIY extinguisher that would have enough capacity to deal with a small, nuisance alcohol fire, though not a large, dangerous one: a 300ml or 500ml water spray bottle as used for gardening, hairdressing and cleaning products. There are some cylindrical types that could live in a spring clip in the galley.

    Last modified: 13 May 2020 12:42 | Anonymous member
  • 12 May 2020 18:57
    Reply # 8963950 on 8959664

    It very nearly went overboard but my recycling-conscience just stopped me!

    Arne, thanks for your suggestions and while I nearly always fix things and make them last (The Westerly22 is 56 years old and our other boat was built in 1880!), not in this case. It's a faulty, dangerous product and should probably have a full product recall.

    I think Compass just got it wrong and ended up with a copy that looks like the Origo3000 but the subtle differences are catastrophic. The tanks are not as high and the springs are not as strong and the "tin-can" seal is not as well executed and the fibre and mesh have too much space above them and the plastic knobs are cheap rubbish and the welding is atrocious. 

    Rest assured we normally have fire-blankets and extinguishers near the Origo3000 in our van and in the boat. In this case we were lucky there was an old extinguisher aboard for this pre-season picnic!

    No reply from Compass for two days now. I'll email a different address tomorrow.

    Pictures:

    7mm clearance on Compass24 tank which is about 45mm deep.

    1mm clearance on Origo tank which is about 51mm deep.

    Tin-can can rim of Origo which is tight and might even have a black sealant inside.

    Much rounder rolled rim of Compass tank.

    Compass tank held vertically, dripping ethanol.  

     

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  • 12 May 2020 16:38
    Reply # 8963607 on 8963355
    Anonymous wrote:

    Jan,

     The joint between the can part of the canister and its lid is of the machine fold type (..don’t know the Eng. term), just as on most tin cans. If you have a leak there, I bet a thin string of good putty will sort it out. After all, there is no pressure on it.

    Just a thought.

    Arne

    Arne, if you mean epoxy putty, I'm not sure that's a good idea.  Ethanol will attack most common kinds of epoxy over time and this is worse at elevated temperatures. 

    If they used ceramic packing inside the containers, it might be possible to silver solder the joint, if you were first careful to get all the ethanol out.  Assuming Jan hasn't already pitched the stove as far overboard as he could throw it :-) 

  • 12 May 2020 15:08
    Reply # 8963355 on 8959664
    Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Jan,

    now I went out to my Ingeborg  to have a closer look at her Origo 3000 stove. This stove works well.

    The first photo shows the general setup of the stove. The combination of the fire blanket and my simple water can system (5 x 5 litre, all in all) should help me to put out any alcohol fire. I always take the canister out in the cockpit to fill them, and wipe off any spills before installing them again. No leaks noted. The joint between the can part of the canister and its lid is of the machine fold type (..don’t know the Eng. term), just as on most tin cans. If you have a leak there, I bet a thin string of good (edit: ethanol-resistant) putty will sort it out. After all, there is no pressure on it.

    The next photo shows the opened stove with the right canister lifted out. Check that the heat control shield closes well when the heat knob has been set to ‘0’, as on that photo.

    On the third photo, the heat knob is set to ‘2’, that is about half open. Note the crossed leaf springs under the canister. In case your not-original canister is lower than the original, could it be an idea to bend those leaf springs a bit more upwards to ensure they will press the canister up against the opening of the burner? Better avoid any gaps there.

     

    Just a thought.

    Arne



    Last modified: 12 May 2020 17:40 | Anonymous member (Administrator)
  • 12 May 2020 11:02
    Reply # 8962891 on 8959664

    I've been on a boat which had an alcohol stove fire. The skipper was an ex-fireman as it happens, and his response was to announce "Typical bloody fireman, I took the extinguisher ashore for servicing and forgot to bring it back"  whereupon he coolly reached into the flames, lifted the burning stove out and carried it out the back of the cockpit, took aim and - hesitated. "Too good to waste", he said, "pass me a towel". After the fire was extinguished, the bulkhead and deckhead was charred and there were the fumes of burnt paint etc, and I was standing there, pretty shocked and a bit paralysed actually, there was no dinghy or life raft on board.

    But here is the point to this story - worth repeating: his next instruction was "Right, open the hatch for ventilation and get outside in cockpit. Now."

    Last modified: 12 May 2020 11:09 | Anonymous member
  • 12 May 2020 10:48
    Reply # 8962882 on 8959664

    I have to admit to doing something stupid with Origo, and managed to spill and set alight a pool of alcohol below the stove.  It was put out with water, damp cloths if I recall.  Surprisingly did no damage, except to my pride.  
    if it had been petrol or similar I doubt whether the boat would have survived.

    Last modified: 12 May 2020 10:49 | Anonymous member
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