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Old 10-11-2007, 05:36   #16
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A follow up regarding the Dickinson heater:

Well, the jury is in on Dickinson heaters. Bottom line?

I wouldn't buy one.

I don't know if any of you on here that wrote about these heaters live on board full time and use it as you primary heat source, as I do, but the heater is more of a toy than a real heater.

First, they are weak. They don't put out a ton of heat, so when you come home, you have to wait a good hour or two for the place to come up to a comfortable temperature. All the while, you have to babysit the heater and fiddle with the flame to be sure you are getting the max heat out and not creating smoke inside that will blacken out the little window you use to look at the flame. If you smoke out your window, you need to stop the stove, let it cool, clean the window and then start the 2 hour process all over again. WASTE OF TIME

Second, the heater behaves very erratically. When you buy a new jug of diesel from a different gas station, the heater must be re- callibrated using an inconveniently located screw the size of a screw on a set of eyeglasses. This must be done every time you switch brands of fuel. More frustrtingly, even if you go out of your way to get the same fuel each time, the heater still behaves erratically. There seems to be a large difference in the flow rate of the heater based on the temperature of the room it is heating.

For instance: If it is 80 degrees in the room (after 3-4 hours of heating), the heater will flare up and smoke the flame viewing window up on setting number 3. If it is 40 degrees in the room (as it is while I shiver and write this review - due to the stove operating poorly), a setting of 5 won't even get you a full flame. Why is this? My suspicion is that the diesel fuel's viscosity changes in the various temperature ranges. Not a very handy feature in a heater.

Last night, I awoke to smoke and a glowing red heater. I had went to sleep with the unit on 3, as it was cold in here. This produced a small flame. As the room heated up over the hours, the flame (due to the lowering viscosity of the diesel?) got larger and larger and larger until it overheated the stove. A variable flame intensity is not a good feature on a heater - espeically when that flame varied with the ambient heat fo the room!

So all in all, I'm displeased with the stove. I spend more time running it than I used to a wood stove. Also, since diesel is now $3.50/gal, if you factor in the money it takes to feed the thing, cutting wood is probably a similar amount of hours in total.

Wood stoves are far better - but I couldn't have one in my "land boat" due to carrying the fuel.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to good liveaboard heaters that will throw good heat (20K BTU?), can run without electricity and maybe have a cook top? Oh, and if I don't have to spend 3 hours a day running it it might be a nice feature as well.
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Old 10-11-2007, 06:30   #17
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Wood stoves are far better - but I couldn't have one in my "land boat" due to carrying the fuel.
Hi Sean, do you mean storing the wood on the "land boat"?
By the way did you have the Little Cod or the Sardine stove on the last boat?
Paul
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Old 10-11-2007, 08:55   #18
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Sean, We have lived aboard for over 15 years and the Dickinson has been mounted and in use in some pretty cold climates for at least 10 years. We have experienced none of the problems you encountered and ours in plumbed into the main fuel tank with an electric assist pump. In ten years we have never made any adjustments except to turn the darn thing down once the cabin is warmed up. We usually strip down to tee shirts and skivvies even with freezing temperatures outside because it gets so warm. And that is with the setting on 1. Sorry it did not work out for you but we have found it to be a fine piece of equipment. BTW, thought you sold the boat a while back and the weather has been fairly benign so why the post now?
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Old 10-11-2007, 09:17   #19
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Sean,

Have you talked to Dickinson? I have found them to be very responsive and engaged.
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Old 10-11-2007, 11:22   #20
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Alaskan

I've lived in the PNW with my Alaskan for years and love it. When I first started using it, I had a lot of trouble. Turns out I had the deflector in UPSIDE DOWN.

I also leave my fan on at about half so that wind doesn't cause backdraft.

The fuel line needs to be unobstructed and the carbon needs to be vacuumed out of the pot periodically.

Mine works great. And I love having the little window so the flame is visible.

Best of all it is SILENT. Unlike the jet engine sound of some other heaters. Please don't run one of those where other people are enjoying the peace of being on the water.
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Old 10-11-2007, 13:27   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Morgan Paul View Post
Hi Sean, do you mean storing the wood on the "land boat"?
By the way did you have the Little Cod or the Sardine stove on the last boat?
Paul

Yes, Paul. I can't store wood on here, due to the much lighter nature of these vehicles vs. a boat. Not only would I end up over GVW, but I would also suffer badly with fuel economy.

I had the Little Cod on my boat and could not have loved it more. It put out REAL heat... "MAN'S heat"... ha ha ha. (Not meant to be sexist... just an expression used jokingly) This Dickenson is like a little toy in comparison. Kind of like using a couple candles to heat your boat.

I know the Cod was rated at 26,000 BTUs or something and this Lofoten is rated at 16,000, so that is a lot of the problem. I'm heating a similar size space. The Cod would sweat you out when it was zero degrees Farenheight. I was on the cruisers forum typing away with a t shirt and shorts. Now... it's only down to 20 degrees farenheight and I dare not take off my sweats and long sleeve shirt. The Cod was probably overkill, but it was nice to have that extra heat to warm the place up if you had been away.

I digress... I shouldn't compare the two. that's not fair. They are not exactly in the same league due to differing BTU ratings.

A couple people have suggested that you do not want a yellow flame in the Dickinson. I have found the exact opposite in use (and I might be wrong). I have found that if I have the little blue flame on level one (of air and fuel mix), I get almost no heat out of the unit... it behaves something like a little candle, making less heat than the burner of my propane cook top.

In order to get a mostly blue flame on higher settings, it is necessary to increase the air flow. When this is done, much of the heat escapes up the chimney in that case, which is highly inefficient.

When I take down the level of air flow a bit, but have the fuel supply fairly high, it produces a nice, clean lemon-yellow flame that is anywhere from 1 inch to 4 inches tall (based on fuel flow setting). When I do this, I get much MUCH more heat out of the unit. This is because my damper is partially closed, creating a slower flow of air through the unit, which allows the hotter air to give up more of its heat before it exits the stove and subsequently, the chimney.

In any case, unless the temperature of the room is between 65 and 80 degrees, I get erratic flows of diesel to the burner as the room varies in temperature - slower fuel flow when colder and faster fuel flow until it reaches about 60-65 degrees, at which time the fuel flow remains constant up through 80 degrees (the max I've had the room).

Does anyone have this problem with the fuel flow?

Question: How often do you all clean out the soot from the burner? I have been keeping it pretty clean, but haven't noticed any degraded performance at all from it being dirty.

Have you all really never had to calibrate the unit to account for different brands of fuel? This might be compounded by the fact that I'm on land with the heater, going from various gas station to gas station, not drawing off a 50 or 100 gallon tank.

Oh yeah... and the Dickenson customer service is absolutely excellent. No doubt about that. Very personal, very helpful and friendly.
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Old 10-11-2007, 13:34   #22
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Originally Posted by svanr View Post
I've lived in the PNW with my Alaskan for years and love it. When I first started using it, I had a lot of trouble. Turns out I had the deflector in UPSIDE DOWN.

I also leave my fan on at about half so that wind doesn't cause backdraft.

The fuel line needs to be unobstructed and the carbon needs to be vacuumed out of the pot periodically.

Mine works great. And I love having the little window so the flame is visible.

Best of all it is SILENT. Unlike the jet engine sound of some other heaters. Please don't run one of those where other people are enjoying the peace of being on the water.
I couldn't agree more with most of this. I was a little unsure of how to place the superheater/deflector into the burner the first time too, so I can see how you did that. Luckily, there was a drawing in my instructions that helped.

I don't use my fan, other than lighting, since I have a HUGE draft from a 7 foot chimney. I have to ratchet that draft down and have had no issues with backdrafts at all, even in 60mph gusts last week from TS Noel.

I have the exact specification fuel setup laid out in the installation manual (inline filter, 4 feet of head pressure to top of line, copper at the bottom, the works). I clean out the pot probably once a week, and seem to have *more* trouble with a clean pot than when it's got some carbon in the botom.

I also agree very much about the sound of the other "jet engine" diesel heaters. That is one of the main reasons I didn't get one of those, aside from the fact that they seem to break often due to all the moving parts (Dickenson has no moving parts other than the optional fan). Also, the Dickinson uses no electricity unless you start the optional fan. Last good thing about the Dickinson: We can cook on it like we used to with the Little Cod. Espar? Not so much.
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Old 07-09-2008, 12:33   #23
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Whats the best way to clean out all the sootballs, in the whole system, left by the po? Also does anyone have the # of the guy at dickinson to talk to?
thanks
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