Chandlery March 2001 Issue

Propane Cylinder Holder

Propane brings a lot of amenities to a boat—not the least of which is on-deck grilling—but can be difficult to store, especially on smaller vessels. Because propane (or liquid petroleum gas, LPG) is heavier than air and will settle in bilges or at the bottom of any storage area, keeping cylinders below or in cockpit lockers is not a good idea. If the cylinder leaks, an explosion is possible.

The Propane Holster's vent
lets leaking gas escape.

Boat owners Stuart and Georgette Swan were faced with this problem several years ago. After dismantling his grill for stowage, Swan noticed that the 16.4-ounce propane cylinder was leaking—with an audible hiss. He encountered the same problem with several subsequent cylinders, so he began to ponder a better means of storage than stuffing them in the lazarette. His solution was the Original Cape Cod Propane Holster, and a neat solution it is.

The Propane Holster is simply a length of regular PVC tubing, capped on both ends but with vents in the bottom cap to allow any leaking LPG to dissipate into the atmosphere. It attaches to a stanchion, ladder or other structure by means of two built-in stainless steel bolts.

The holster comes in two versions. The Nobska is made of 3”-diameter tubing and holds two 14.1-ounce bottles (one on top of the other); the Brant Point consists of 4”-diameter tubing and stacks two 16.4-ounce bottles. The Nobska and Brant Point cost $34.95 and $39.95, respectively, plus shipping.

The holsters present a definite advantage over another storage method—a bag that attaches to a rail. The bag tends to swing around in the wind or when a boat is under way, rattling the bottles as well. (Stuart Swan Marine Corp., P.O. Box 44 Chatham, MA 02633; 781/235-2225.)


Wonder Bar
Ever crawl into bed at 2 a.m. after a good night of fishing and wake up your wife because you couldn't get the smell of fish off your hands?

Well honey, here's some good news.

The Wonder Bar is an ovoid-shaped metal “stone” designed to remove fish odors and other pungent smells from your skin without soap or abrasives or even water. It weighs 1 ounce, costs $11.95 retail, and sounded a little too good to be true when we heard about it.

Developer Ed Wydareny of 5K Enterprises, who has just entered the sportfishing market after years of selling in the housewares industry, said the combination of metal alloys in the bar “has a great attraction for the acid that causes the odor.” He says it works on other hard-to-remove organic odors, such as garlic and onions. Unfortunately for the boater, he says, it does not remove petrochemical smells, such as gasoline.

To remove odors from your fingers or hands, rub the Wonder Bar over your skin, being careful to hit every spot. “It works on a direct-touch basis,” Wydareny says. You don’t need to rinse off with water, although the bar itself must be washed off after each use. We found it easiest to do both at the same time, and the instructions suggest that you clean your hands and bar under cool water.

Does it work? It did for us. With just a bit of rubbing, we were successful in several attempts to remove fishy salmon and tuna odors from our hands. It worked reasonably well on garlic and onions, as well.

The only slight hint of remaining odor might come from under your fingernails, or a watch or ring. Because it’s hollow and light, the Wonder Bar also floats (it won’t rust). 5K also makes a solid and flat oval version called Wash-A-Way that stores more readily in a flat drawer but is a little more difficult to use than the soap bar-shaped Wonder version. This version doesn’t float but has a hole and can be hung from a lanyard.

The Wonder Bar comes with a lifetime guarantee and is, in our opinion, something well worth keeping in your tackle box or galley drawer. (5K Enterprises, 999 Route 910, Allison Park, PA 15101; 888/757-2800.)


Beautiful Block
When collecting fiddle blocks for a review, Practical Sailor decided to get an old-fashioned wood/bronze version to contrast with the latest marvels.

In one of the calls, something went wrong. When speaking to a Massachusetts maker of traditional gear, somebody misspoke or misunderstood, and the Pert Lowell Company sent along a cheek block. The old company, famous among those who like traditional boats and gear, does not stock a fiddle block.

So out the window went the devilishly clever photo.

The 4" cheek block, mounted on a piece of oak with a flawed corner, sat on a desk and attracted admiring comments. It has a polished bronze sheave on a bronze axle. The four bronze screws have polished heads—with the slots aligned, of course.

In an accompanying note, Ralph F. Johnson, Jr., whose father-in-law, Percival “Pert” Lowell died in 1991, said of the mounting, “We thought it might travel better.” It’s more likely that the crafty Johnson knew full well that the cheek block combined with the imposing chunk of oak was visually irresistible to those who like wood and choice workmanship.

In fact, the writer bought the mounted block ($63) purely for its beauty…sort of like an acquaintance who, with not the slightest intention of acquiring a horse, so admired leatherwork that he bought a fancy western saddle.

Pert Lowell makes copper-riveted or brass-screw fastened oak mast hoops, belaying pins, deadeyes, parrel beads, cleats, bullseyes and single, double and triple blocks, as well as traditional bronze gear—goosenecks, rudder hangers, tangs, bow chocks—and, of course, custom wood boats.

Most of the wood pieces are made of black locust, a very hard wood from a tree with leaves so small you needn’t rake them up. The locust tree is kin to the biblical carob and the acacia. Black locust (it isn’t black at all) was used for ship treenails, pronounced “trunnels,” which were pins, usually tapered, to fasten planks. Oak and teak treenails were okay, but locust was best.

To top off all this extraneous erudition, Ralph Johnson made up a fiddle block and sent it along quicker than this report could be completed. Shown in the photo, it is made of the above-mentioned locust affixed with copper pins, has bronze sheaves on bronze axles with cover plates, all held by a thick bronze strap that runs all the way down to the bottom end. Being handmade, it’s dear: $150. Pert Lowell will make practically anything you like. (Pert Lowell, Lane’s End, Newbury, MA 01951, 978/462-7409, fax 978/465-01064, e-mail


Armada MightyBrite™
It’s a powder that comes in an ordinary white plastic container with a label that says, “Cloth/Vinyl Cleaner & Brightener Removes Mildew and Stains.” It’s said to be non-toxic and biodegradable. Just dissolve 4 ounces of MightyBrite powder in a gallon of water and soak your mildewed or stained fabric. Results are noticeable in a half-hour, but four or more hours finishes the job.

So confident of MightyBrite is Armada’s president, Stacey Crown, that in the letter accompanying the sample she sent to PS she wrote, “I know you’ve probably heard this before, but before you throw this package in your ‘snake oil’ file, please remember that we specialize in finding real solutions for old problems. There is nothing more exciting than having the only product on the market that actually works to solve frustrating dilemmas; mold and mildew being near the top, right above teak. I’m happy to say that we’ve done it again.”

Crown sent along several fabric samples—the usual “before” and “after” variety. Of course, the “after” sample is bright yellow, the “before” dark and dingy. Okay, we thought, they’ve got a colorfast bleach. Mildew is easy to remove with chlorine, and you can use Clorox on anything white. Splatters of Clorox, however, leave white blotches on your green shirt, so be forewarned. Back to the colorfast variety. But Armada doesn’t use bleach of any type or harmful acids. The actual ingredients are proprietary, and work by oxidation.

So we weren’t exactly bowled over by the fabric specimens or the generic package. But Crown’s challenge not to throw the stuff in our “snake oil” file gave us pause.

More vexing than mildew is a water stain. They’re a devil to remove. Years ago we wrote about our efforts to remove water stains from the newly reupholstered cushions on our 1975 C&C 33 test boat. Nothing worked, from magic cleaners to home potions.

The C&C 33 is history, but in our closet is a handsome white vest that has gone unworn for years because of a nasty brown water stain on the front. We have kept it all this time in the hopes that one day a cure would be found, sort of like the millionaire who pays for the cryogenic storage of his diseased body in the hope that in a hundred years he can be thawed and performed upon.

Well, we soaked the vest overnight in a bucket of MightyBrite and whaddya know, it worked! We’re happy. It works on mildew, too—we tried it on some old signal flags. Price is $13.00 for 8 ounces from BoatUS. (Armada Coatings, PO Box 879, Havre de Grace, MD 21078; 800/336-9320.

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