Copy of Letter to Canal and River Trust and to Rogerio Lopes, C.E.O., Calor UK
Sudden discontinuance by Calor UK of Refill Services for their 3.9kg Propane & 4.5kg Butane Small Bottles
This is a copy of a letter sent by Ian Graham (Trailboat Designer & Builder) to the CEO of Calor UK and to Canal and River Trust.
“Canal and River Trust (CRT) National Press Office and National Communications Officer
I attach below, a copy of correspondence between myself and the C.E.O of Calor UK which is self-explanatory in my attempts to get Calor to reverse their decision to no longer supply small LPG bottles. For my sins, I am the designer, some 50 years ago, of the first Wilderness inland waterway trail-boat and each of the 400 or so vessels that we have built since, and each one carries one or more of Calor’s small gas bottles . All of my owners will be customers of yours and the implications for the safe enjoyment of your waterways are substantial.
I would be grateful if you can confirm that you are aware of the implications of Calor’s decision for the majority of your smaller boat users and that CRT. is, in company with Boat Safety, the Environment Agency, RYA. and other interested corporate bodies are already preparing to raise the urgent issues on this matter with Calor Gas especially as it appears from contacts that I have made so far , that no one has been consulted.
A short email to confirm that CRT is on the case would be much appreciated. Regards Ian Graham”
“For personal attention of Rogerio Lopes, C.E.O., Calor UK.
Dear Mr Lopes .
As the long term manufacturer of the well-established Wilderness range of glass-fibre inland waterway and canal and river trailboats, I have been alerted by a flood of distressed calls to customer’s support that your company is about to cease supply of 3.9 kg propane and 4.5kg butane cylinder refills.
We, and our associated boat fitters have produced in excess of 400 Wilderness trailboat vessels during the last 50 years and these were designed and built around your small cylinder size with tight design tolerances in their fire-retarded gas storage safety lockers: these lockers are not capable of retrospective modification to fit larger bottles.
We have contacted our usual Calor stockist who confirmed that supply is in jeopardy if you proceed with your alleged plans. They have advised that your next nearest propane bottle is the 6kg which is substantially larger. It is not possible in these moulded G.R.P. vessels to enlarge the lockers without serious structural alterations and alterations which would result in non-compliance with the standards set out in the UK Boat Safety Scheme’s safety requirements for the safe storage of L.P.G. afloat, i.e. gas storage locker bottoms being below water-line, which would result in any gas spillage accumulating in a sump inside the vessel’s hull with the associated risk of fire and explosion.
Your Company will be aware of the safety requirements for L.P.G afloat because of your extensive involvement in the formulation of marine safety standards during the 1980’s and 90’s prior to the creation of the current Boat Safety Scheme.
There is a further and equally worrying aspect of your withdrawal of the smaller bottles in that boat owners will, in the absence of an ongoing refill service, be attempting to refill, unauthorizedly, their existing small bottles with the associated risk to life and limb from such unsafe amateur practices where, in the event of an accident during these activities or subsequent in-use fire or explosion from an overfilled “amateur” bottle, your company would be indirectly liable.
There is a further social consideration of your intended withdrawal in that the timing of your proposed actions comes in the middle of a very cold UK winter and will leave not just our boat owners, but many hundreds of others, some of whom will be live-aboard users, who will have to suffer the unnecessary hardship of being without heating and cooking.
I have also received an email from one of my owners in the last few days who, realizing the impossibility of fitting larger bottles into the designated, Boat Safety-compliant, gas storage locker on his boat, setting out his ideas as to how to mount two of your proffered replacement 6kg propanes horizontally ( ! ) on the rear deck of his vessel ….. “like they do on forklift trucks” ….. and from another owner, a proposal to hang a 6kg, in service, bottle over the stern of his boat whilst storing a full spare under his dining table in the forward cabin.
In short, the ramifications for boat owners, and for that matter, owners of many caravans and motor-homes are immense and I ask your company to reconsider: I am sure that you will be receiving many objections along these lines.
I am in the process to contacting the major players in the Uk waterways scene (Canal & River Trust, Boat Safety Scheme, British Marine Federation, the R.Y.A, and the Inland Waterways Association) and from initial contact it would appear that your company has not consulted any of them, let alone any of the many active waterway user groups .
I should be grateful for an acknowledgement of receipt of this email from your office and I hope to receive further correspondence from you in the near future to the effect that your Company is willing to at least maintain refill supplies for the many thousands of small bottles in circulation.
We will of course, have to refer the problem to our local MP Michelle Donelan, to alert her to the distress that your Company’s discontinuance of refill services for these small-capacity bottles will cause to the lives of many boating and caravanning families of modest means in these very difficult times.
Sincerely Ian Graham ( Trailboat Designer & Builder)
Copy to Michelle Donelan M.P. , Houses of Parliament . Copy to Manager of Boat Safety Scheme
01380 870 141/ 07973 815 920