07 April 2021

Heater project: The last post?

Well we hope so!

One might expect that the final post would simply be recording the successful installation of the controller in the saloon. But one would be wrong.

The engineer aka electician extends the wiring, and there is another exercise of pushing things through the lockers in shed and head to bring the wires through into the saloon. After a bit of discussion we agree on the best location for the controller, and here it is, looking very neat.

Then we finally get out of the pen and head down the Channel a few days before Easter. Although we have beautiful sunny weather and barely need the heater, we turn it on to take the chill off the boat in the mornings and to continue to test the system out.

The engineer has some concerns about the engine, and when we pull the companionway steps out to look at the engine, we see a bright green streak of coolant. At first we hope it is old, but no, it's fresh and keeps coming. The engineer eventually tracks it back to its source. This time it isn't a hose clamp. One of the carefully constructed manifold assemblies is leaking. It appears that the engineer had to take this particular valve assembly apart after first putting it together, in order to change the way the individual fittings were arranged. When he reassembled it, he omitted the Loxeal sealant (liquid equivalent of plumber's tape) on one of the metal joints, and it is leaking very slightly. 

The good news is that we've now diagnosed the problem. The bad news is that fixing the problem requires (you guessed it) clearing of the shed shelves again and one of the shed lockers, removal of the newly constructed aluminium cage, disconnection of the hot-water system from the heater, drainng the coolant fluid out of those connecting hoses... The engineer has another day cooped up in the shed doing all that before he can get the manifold out, take it apart and seal the joint properly. And then the process has to be reversed. At least this time he can put double hose clamps on every hose as they are refitted. With the hoses in place, we pour the coolant back in and top it up. Finally the engineer can put back the cage, the shed shelves and their contents.

So have we put everything back in the shed and tidied up for the very last time? You might think so, but you'd be wrong again. Two days after we return from the Channel, we are having the engine serviced. To give easy access to all the side hatches of the engine compartment, a number of large objects have to be moved around or removed from the shed, and the doors of the head, shed and guest cabin  removed. But once Tim the nice bloke from Spectrum, finishes, everything will go back for the last time. Really.

We placed the order for the heating system in January, started with the drilling of the hole in the scuppers for the exhaust pipe on about 9 Feb. The project has extended over about 2 months, longer than almost any other project.


24 March 2021

Heater project: keeping on keeping on.

 Another week passes, progress continues, but slowly...

  • Plumbing - coolant has been added and we are watching nervously for any sign of green liquid under the cabin sole or in the bilge. Nothing yet. Fingers crossed.
  • Fuel - as noted last week, all done
  • Electrical - controller not yet installed, although the extension of the cabling has been done.
  • Exhaust - New length of pipe arrives - now need to catch up with Alan Perkins and ask him to make good his offer of putting a long thread on it.
  • Shed final arrangement. The aluminium mesh arrives and is cut and fitted into the space in front of the burner.  Engineer decides that it needs framing - yet another trip to Bunnings for some aluminium edging. Another day's work and the mesh is framed up, and is fitted neatly in place. Engineer is now thinking about a way to fix the back corner firmly in place. Once that's done, we could put the shelf back, and then all the stuff currently in the guest cabin could return to the shed, hopefully for the last time.

It's a beautiful thing

Later... the engineer decided he could face another day in the shed after all. Cage is now fixed, shelf is back in place, the things that reside on the shelves are back, the guest cabin is free of stuff that doesn't belong there. Hooray!

Full frontal of the cage, showing the fixing bolt at the back, and the silver tape protecting the cut edges of the cage and the panel - cut to make space for the exhaust pipe,

Just the wiring of the controller to go...

17 March 2021

Heater project: still going

One week and a day since the system started working. The engineer is still disappearing into the shed on a regular basis. Things are still coming out of the shed, being put back, then coming out again.


  • Plumbing - all done, nothing outstanding in construction, but we have yet to put coolant into the fluid in the system..
  • Fuel - all  done.
  • Electrical - connections have been tidied up and wires encased in cable protectors. The master on-off switch which was loose in a cupboard is now mounted on the bulkhead above the shore power charger in the shed. However there are still a collection of wires attached to the new controller hanging out of the shed cupboard. The controller needs to be relocated, but another length of wire is required to complete that exercise.
  • Exhaust - Friend Alan Perkins has offered to put a long thread on to a piece of pipe so that the engineer can fasten the exhaust using the technique he originally planned, of nuts tightened on the threaded pipe above and below the deck. Another piece of pipe has been ordered, is on its way. The thread cutting and re-fitting might not be completed on this trip.
  • Shed final arrangement. Shelves have been cut down to accommodate the burner and header tank. The engineer wants to put an alumnium screen between the end of the shelf and the heater apparatus to prevent things on the shelf from making contact with the burner. The aluminium mesh has been ordered, also on way.
One day, it WILL be 100% done...

09 March 2021

Heater project: heat at last!

We plan our sailing trip with Steve and Chrissy to take in Cygnet, arriving there the Tuesday after the long weekend. The engineer leaves a message for Dieselheat on Monday night, and they reply on Tuesday morning when we are all still in bed, enjoying a lie-in. We rapidly arise, dress, remove everything from the shed for the umpteenth time, and then the captain goes ashoare in the dinghy to collect Juan from Dieselheat.

He's very interested to see the final installation, and in no time he has the whole system working. We have a celebratory coffee before taking Juan back, then organising ourselves to go ashore and into Cygnet for lunch. Steve and Peter walk up to Dieselheat to purchase a controller of our own, which means we can now reset the system if we ever need to. 

When things cool down in the evening, we turn the system on and yes! we have heat. We also still have a tiny leak, but Steve goes to work on the hose clamps and it's fixed. As he says, his "tight" is different from the engineer's "tight".

Captain and mate celebrate the completion of the project with hot showers before bed.

04 March 2021

Heater project: halted

We start Thursday with topping up the fluid and checking for leaks (again), but when we try to start the heater for about the third time, we are shut out. We need the guys from Dieselheat to come and reset something with a special code before we can try again. And of course, they are busy today and tomorrow.

Having an enforced halt is probably a Good Thing, as we need to tidy up the boat and restore it to some kind of normal before the arrival of our guests Steve and Chrissy, builders and original owners of Nahani.

03 March 2021

Heater project: still only 95% complete

Leaks! We spend the day filling up the system and finding leaks, leaks and more leaks. If the engineer knew at the beginning what he now knows, he would have put two hose clamps on every hose. As it is, he tightens clamp after clamp, but still water trickles down the shed floor, and we have a bit of a leak under the chart table as well. Eventually he decides to move the entire unit in the shed, so that the hoses are under less pressure and the clamps are easier to get at.

There is a major interrupt late afternoon when he has a long Zoom meeting. By the end of the day, we reach the point where water is circulating through the system, hoses are getting warm, and the leaks seem finally to have stopped. But it's after 8pm before the engineer agrees to stop and eat dinner. After dinner he starts to get ready for bed, removes his trousers, but then decides to have one more go at topping up the fluid. He won't let me take a picture of him sitting in the shed, looking weary in his socks and jocks. So no pictures in this blog entry.

Time to call it a night, and try it out again in the morning. Weather is cold and windy, so the heater will be really welcome when it finally functions.

02 March 2021

Heater project: final tasks

Hopefully for the last time, the drawers are removed from the chart table. This time everything on the chart table has to move as well, so that the engineer (now wearing his electrician hat rather than his plumber's boots) can connect up switches and wires to the fans in the outlet registers (heat exchangers).
Here's a picture of what now lurks behind and under the chart table drawers.
The sweeping loops of PEX hose behind the chart table drawers....

...going down to the bypass manifold,
from which the black hoses go to the outlet register.
By evening, all the electrical connections are completed and checked, and we're ready to turn on the diesel, fill the pipes with fluid and test the whole system. The mate suggests that things like seats and drawers are not replaced until after the water has been put in, just in case we have any leaks. The engineer is confident, but agrees that this is a sensible precaution. A hose is rigged from the deck through the lazarette and into the back of the shed. The mate goes up on deck with bucket, jug and funnel, and starts pouring water in. After a couple of litres it becomes apparent we have a leak somewhere in the connections near the burner. The search for the cause is postponed until after dinner, when the engineer turns back into plumber modus operandi and goes back to tightening hose clamps everywhere. We decide not to retest until the morning, when it will be easier to see if there is any water still escaping.