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Old 25-09-2013, 21:14   #1
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Diesel heater questions

Hi, this is my first post. I tried to ask this on sailnet but I guess nobody knew anything about it. Maybe this is a better forum for this question.

First off I'm kind of a newb. I've sailed some but nothing extensive. In any case I'm having a small 28' sailboat deigned for me which will hopefully get built next year sometime. The designer asked me to make a list of the stuff I wanted and so I've been trying to do some research. I've made the preliminary determination that I want a diesel or Kerosene heater. I'm talking about the drip kind that doesn't take any power (or at most a 12 volt fan). The ones I know of are Dickerson, Sig Marine, Refleks, Glembring and Taylors. Someone at Taylors told me I shouldn't use theirs while sailing so that's out. I've done enough reading to understand some of the issues with the flue length, backdraft problems etc. I realize there is some overhead to starting these but since I'll be mainly in Russia, I don't really want something I have no chance of being able to fix on my own. On the up side since the boat is being designed from the ground up the heater will be in the plans so I should be able to accommodate a good installation.

What I would like to know is, does anyone have any real experience with any of these. The main thing I was wondering is how much can the boat heel before the heater has problems, however I would also be interested in any comments comparing the different models or comments on general usage.

Also I've preliminarily decided on a Tailors 30 cooker, but I'd be interested in any comments about them or similar alternatives. Propane is off my list for safety reasons. Thanks in advance.
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Old 25-09-2013, 22:14   #2
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Re: Diesel heater questions

привет

So why not use a diesel cooker to heat the cabin . See DickinsonMarine.com - Marine Stoves The Dickinson has a vent flue, which would allow you to cook and heat the cabin. That saves the price of a diesel heater. I seem to recall Hal Roth used a diesel stove for dual purposes.

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Old 25-09-2013, 23:20   #3
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Re: Diesel heater questions

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привет

So why not use a diesel cooker to heat the cabin . See DickinsonMarine.com - Marine Stoves The Dickinson has a vent flue, which would allow you to cook and heat the cabin. That saves the price of a diesel heater. I seem to recall Hal Roth used a diesel stove for dual purposes.

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Привет! Thanks for the reply. I did think of that actually and normally it would be a great idea, however the problem is my boat will be SMALL. Only 7.5' beam! It has to be somewhat trailerable, go up rivers, duck under bridges and fit though my gate. In combination with that I also wanted it to have a bit more classic looking styling hence the custom design. (I can post a preliminary drawings if anyone is interested)

It would be hard for me to fit even the Dickerson Bristol model in. The Taylors 30 has only 11" of depth and gimbals to boot. I kind of have a separate spot reserved for the heater and the Dickerson Alaska is on my list. There is also the Newport but I figure if I mount it down low I'll be able to have a longer flue so the floor heater might work better.

One other problem is (from what I read) the Dickerson stoves put out a lot of heat when cooking (hence you can use them for a heater too) but surprisingly here in Southern Russia it gets quite hot during the summer. In fact it almost feels like the topics at times because it can rain heavily and then the sun will come out. You can even swim in the black sea as it can get up to 80 deg. In any case if I want to cook during he summer I'm thinking that might be another issue with having a combined heater/cooker. Admittedly I don't actually know how much the Taylors will heat up the boat however.
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Old 26-09-2013, 00:01   #4
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Re: Diesel heater questions

When I moved that oil metering valve from the athwart position it was in when I got the boat to the fore/aft position as stated in the manual on a Dickenson Antarctic the flame height was relatively unaffected by 15-20 degrees of heel. My big problem was back drafting under sail. The Antarctic sits on the cabin sole, so had a 4-5 foot chimney, straight no bends, and the automatic damper with a Charlie Noble on deck. You'd think that would work. Having a dodger which creates a vacuum at the companionway probably worked against me a lot.

Oil metering valve mounted athwart the flame would go from too little to too much on opposite tacks.

A friend added an intake that led to the same area on deck as the exhaust for his Newport and it still back drafted when the wind went over somewhere around 20-25.

Since I had spent many years sailing a friends Cal 34 with a surplus army diesel heater with no problems and push button control (similar to Espar/Webasto), the Antarctic came off my boat and I went Webasto.

Sounds like you have a good reason to stay drip pot, I just don't like fussing with them.
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Old 26-09-2013, 00:19   #5
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Re: Diesel heater questions

I have owned several of the drip pot type heaters over the years and had good luck with them. They can certainly have backdraft problems depending on location and height of the flue however in some models you can add a fan that is built in and stops back drafting in certain conditions as well as aids in the start and preheating stage. They make a lot of sense on a 28 footer as they take little to no power and really give a good dry heat plus you get the mini fireplace feel as you can watch the burning flame thru the little clear window as you slowly get smashed after a wet cold sail.
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Old 26-09-2013, 00:26   #6
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Re: Diesel heater questions

Thanks John. That's the kind of info I need. I'm curious did you have the 12 volt fan installed? I've read some people use it all the time especially in windy conditions. I guess I should also go for the H top too. It get's super windy around here sometimes. In fact I've heard the port of Novorossiysk closes down for a few weeks each year because of high winds.
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Old 26-09-2013, 07:16   #7
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Re: Diesel heater questions

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Originally Posted by Gnollrunner View Post

One other problem is (from what I read) the Dickerson stoves put out a lot of heat when cooking (hence you can use them for a heater too) but surprisingly here in Southern Russia it gets quite hot during the summer. In fact it almost feels like the topics at times because it can rain heavily and then the sun will come out. You can even swim in the black sea as it can get up to 80 deg. In any case if I want to cook during he summer I'm thinking that might be another issue with having a combined heater/cooker. Admittedly I don't actually know how much the Taylors will heat up the boat however.

How cold does it get there in winter? Or how cold are the water temps? Too cold for (relatively) simple reverse cycle AC/heat?

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Old 26-09-2013, 07:39   #8
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Re: Diesel heater questions

I have a Dickerson Bristol. The boat is still being built so I have not used it yet. If you go with Dickerson you will need to know if it will be facing fore and aft or beam facing. The metering valves are different depending on the orientation of the stove I think.
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Old 26-09-2013, 07:48   #9
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Re: Diesel heater questions

I really loathed our Dickinson and was glad to see it go when we sold our last boat. Their metering valves are fiddly and fragile and difficult to work on if you have any fuel flow problems.

That said, if you don't have any fuel feed issues, the stove itself operates well and puts out scads of heat at little cost. The fan is a huge plus for operating in windy environments. I don't have a better recommendation for such a small boat than a diesel drip heater; I would just take a hard look at another brand instead of Dickinson.
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Old 26-09-2013, 08:09   #10
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Re: Diesel heater questions

I have an older fab-all heater (1970's), that was on a low pressure pump but I have since converted it to a gravity tank. It does a great job. Some thoughts on mine:

- You can really increase the heat range if you have a cabin fan aimed at the heat shrouds.
- Smothering the flame with exhaust gas, causing it to go out and smoke like a fiend, happens on certain points of sail or when tacking.
- The problems with the flue vary boat to boat as it's almost entirely about the airflow around the exhaust and inlet.
- My friend told me the pressure dampener thing makes a huge difference, someone else told me they didn't work.

All things considered, it's fine.
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Old 26-09-2013, 08:33   #11
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Re: Diesel heater questions

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Originally Posted by Gnollrunner View Post
Thanks John. That's the kind of info I need. I'm curious did you have the 12 volt fan installed? I've read some people use it all the time especially in windy conditions. I guess I should also go for the H top too. It get's super windy around here sometimes. In fact I've heard the port of Novorossiysk closes down for a few weeks each year because of high winds.
Yes I had the fan. It is supposed to help on start up when the heater is cold. I didn't notice a big difference. I usually didn't use it after the heater was warmed up, but I think I remember the heater back drafting on a windy day when I had the fan running specifically to try to prevent it.

Basically IMO this is a low tech heater. It works. Those that love it dismiss the occasional back drafts, the black residue on the deck, change in fuel flow as the temperature changes, the need for a fan to distribute the heat, etc., but bottom line it works. My wife wouldn't touch it, too tricky for her to deal with.

When it is adjusted right very little residue accumulates on the deck, when wrong it's a mess.

Get a fan like this to distribute the heat without using power.
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It was funny when people were trying to talk me out of the Webasto heater. One of the arguments was I had to run large heat tubing everywhere. They were appalled when I only ran a few feet to the main cabin which blows warm air all around the cabin warming it. They said you're not heating the whole boat. These were the same people that said I should stick with the Dickenson that sits in one corner of the boat and needs a fan to effectively distribute the heat.
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Old 26-09-2013, 08:44   #12
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Re: Diesel heater questions

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Originally Posted by Gnollrunner View Post
Thanks John. That's the kind of info I need. I'm curious did you have the 12 volt fan installed? I've read some people use it all the time especially in windy conditions. I guess I should also go for the H top too. It get's super windy around here sometimes. In fact I've heard the port of Novorossiysk closes down for a few weeks each year because of high winds.
Novorossiysk is in a deep bay surrounded by quite high mountains and is subject to katabatic storms which can be very severe. Also has an amazing number of waterspouts -- I have seen dozens there myself. Are you planning to keep your boat there? I understand it's really hard to find berthing for yachts there.

You might prefer something like a Webasto Air Top heater, which won't have backdraft problems. Commonly used on trucks in Russia so shouldn't be a problem to get serviced.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:12   #13
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Re: Diesel heater questions

i didn't realize there was a cruising community in Russia.
if you don't mind, can you tell me about it?
can you bring a tall sailboat to the black sea via water?
are they friendly there to cruisers?

as for heaters, look at the dickson stoves. they not only heat, but bake, and cook too. that is what i will be getting for our yacht.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:16   #14
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Re: Diesel heater questions

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i didn't realize there was a cruising community in Russia.
if you don't mind, can you tell me about it?
can you bring a tall sailboat to the black sea via water?
are they friendly there to cruisers?

as for heaters, look at the dickson stoves. they not only heat, but bake, and cook too. that is what i will be getting for our yacht.
Russia has ports on the Pacific and Baltic and Barents Seas, as well as the Black Sea.

Certainly you can sail to Russia's Black Sea coast via the Mediterranean, Aegean, Bosphorus. They send big tankers through there with Russian oil, so I think you can manage it in a little sailboat You can also sail to St. Petersburg via the Baltic.

Yes, they are friendly to cruisers -- the people are. Extremely so. I've sailed there.

But the bureaucracy is not -- it's truly awful. You can read horror stories on Noonsite: Russia — Noonsite.
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Old 26-09-2013, 09:25   #15
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Re: Diesel heater questions

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Russia has ports on the Pacific and Baltic and Barents Seas, as well as the Black Sea.

Certainly you can sail to Russia's Black Sea coast via the Mediterranean, Aegean, Bosphorus. They send big tankers through there with Russian oil, so I think you can manage it in a little sailboat You can also sail to St. Petersburg via the Baltic.

Yes, they are friendly to cruisers -- the people are. Extremely so. I've sailed there.

But the bureaucracy is not -- it's truly awful. You can read horror stories on Noonsite: Russia — Noonsite.

thats good to know. i have Russia on my short list of countries i want to permanently move to. its hard to think that Russians are more free today then Americans.
i would like to visit first. maybe in 2016 i will consider trying the bureaucracy first hand.
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