August 18, 2012

Today was a work day on Ceilydh.  I ventured forth by train to Bunnings, the local big box hardware store (hint for cruisers coming to Ausralia - buy your masking tape, paint and varnish in Fiji; it's crazy expensive here). Also found time to visit the nearby Auto Parts store which don't stock the outboard sparkplugs I needed.

I didn't check the bus schedule until I was done shopping - and found that the bus only returns to the big city every hour.  Sigh.  At least I had a book.  I took the bus because it was closer and I had big backpack full of project supplies.

Today's project was "Disassemble part of the Heater".  Our boat has a diesel drip pot heater in one hull. It starts out burning liquid diesel but within say 10 minutes it's hot enough that the diesel turns to vapour and burns very cleanly with a blue/orange flame.  This heater doesn't use any electricity unlike the popular Espar/Webasto types, nor does it have fancy circuit boards that decide that the heater needs maintenance NOW on a cold night. A developmentally delayed monkey with a screwdriver could work on it. It's so simple I laugh. But it puts out the heat really well.  Unfortunately it's down in Maia's port hull.  So her hull gets warm, the upper main saloon gets really toasty (like 25C if you don't turn it down), but our starboard hull is cold. 

So when I installed it, I fitted a small hot water tank in the heater's fire chamber, ran some radiator hoses to the starboard hull, and fitted a small motorcycle radiator I found at a junk  used sailing gear shop, a tiny 12V pump, and a computer fan to blow through the radiator.  This setup was all in the interest of saving electricity since it would often run overnight or around 12 hours. 

But the radiator was expecting 50 mph motorcycle wind to get rid of heat, the large but weak computer fan was barely able to push air through the radiator, and well, very little heat got transferred.  It was good for warming a small area near your feet when cooking but that was about it.

Our favorite thing in bed was to put your hand on the nearby very hot hose (incoming or outgoing it didn't matter, both hoses were stinking hot) and then place them on each other's back.  Momentary bliss.

It would have been better to buy an expensive MSR radiator/fan for this setup, but they draw at least 2-3 amps. My homebrew setup only was about 0.5 amps.  So today's project was rip it all out.  I'll use an overhead fan in the salon and pump the superheated air near the roof down into that hull.  Uses less electrictiy and probably is more effective.

I forgot how convoluted this installation had been - and of course the boat was empty when I did it.  About 2/3 of Maia's bookshelves had to be emptied before the hoses could be removed (don't worry kid, I put them back tidier than before).

But it's another 10 lbs off the boat.  From L-R: expansion tank, air vent valve, 12V pump, big computer fan, little radiator, and a bunch of hose clamps and fittings. And about 45' of 5/8" hose.

I'm saving the 16 hose clamps that this job took.  Hose clamps are like donuts - you can never have enough.


rob said...

If you can fit one atop the drip heater, an "ecofan" is a great and painless upgrade to circulate the hot air from the heater. best of all, they use no electricity, they run off of the heat generated. we have one atop our faball heater and it makes a big difference.

Behan said...

"Hose clamps are like donuts..." -cruiser after my own heart!