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Old 13-01-2013, 09:10   #1
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My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

I have been using my Dickinson heater for a little over three months now and would like to update the Cruisers Forum members about my final thoughts on the equipment. There has been a significant learning curve that at the end of I have kind of settled into a love/ hate relationship with the heater. The following are my personal observations.
1. Dickinson/ or their vendors never indicated that the heater would not cleanly burn ultra low sulpher diesel, (The only type typically available in the united states) and knowing full well that they are having problems with this type of fuel continue to sell the equipment, the result of this was dirty filthy unburnt diesel all over the outside and inside of the boat, causing untold hours of cleanup as well as low heat output of the stove.
2. Poor customer service on the part of the company. As a result of my postings on CF about the heater I was contacted by Dickinson with the suggestion that their special baffle should be retrofitted and this should burn the low sulpher diesel more completely and take care of the terrible sooting problems I was experiencing. As part of the discussion the company also promised to include the carburetor adjustment nut that needed to be replaced. In the end it took over three weeks to get me the baffle and the nut has never been sent along. One would have thought if the company knows that the stoves require this special baffle to burn ULS Diesel that it would be included with the initial purchase and not wait until the customer goes through all the headaches and damage and considering all the headaches I had shouldn’t of been so cheap and sent the baffle off priority mail. Also never a follow up call to see if the problem was resolved.
3. After the purchase of the heater and as a result of having to burn the ultra low sulpher diesel in the states Dickinson is now indicating that I have to run the assist fan continuously in addition to using the new baffle. This was never indicated in any of their initial advertisements and my entire reason for purchasing the unit was to be able to run it with no power draw while cruising. In addition I have to run a twelve volt cabin fan to better circulate warm air and remove cold spots. The cost of running the two fans now has to be calculated into the overall cost of running the heater.
4. Flimsy equipment: evidently Dickinson in an effort to cut cost of manufacturing their products has used lower quality components. I have friends that have older models of the same heater and they are much different, the nice cast iron top, sail boat appliqué are no longer included and the assist fan makes all kinds of strange sounds on lower settings that causes the stove to vibrate and sound really cheap.
5. Stove box is not airtight and regularly causes smoke to enter the cabin upon startup. It has been so bad that the entire interior of the vessel has a thin film of black soot all over it and will require untold hours of cleaning in the spring to make right again.. Additionally I have become convinced that no matter how cleanly I get the equipment burning that a certain amount of exhaust is venting into the cabin, I often have a headache and sore throat when using the heater.
6. Expensive to run: I have kept a very accurate log of diesel consumption and have calculated that the heater uses way more diesel than advertised, on the low to medium settings I have figured I am burning 4 gallons over a 24 hour period a full gallon more than advertised on the high setting. With the price of fuel in my area at 4 dollars plus this puts my monthly heat cost at over $600.00. Considering that we are experiencing the warmest winter on record and I am on a little 32’ boat, that figure is astronomical.
7. The plus of the Newport is it throws of a very dry heat and takes any dampness right out of the air, as a matter of fact I can hang my wet shower towels near the unit and they are dry in no time at all. At the conclusion of my very expensive and disappointing experiment with the Dickinson Newport heater I have become convinced that this type of equipment is not for the casual or average user and requires constant attention and vigilance to be used properly. It has become clear that while tied to the dock electric is the way to go from a cost, cleanliness and ease of use factors. I will be retiring the Newport with the idea of using it again if we experience a power failure or for cold weather cruising away from shore power.
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Old 13-01-2013, 09:31   #2
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

I have a friend who bought one 2-3 years ago. He has had good luck with it after he removed the barometric flaper thing and straight piped the exhaust. I think a straight run exhaust, no bends, at least 5' or 6' is somewhat important for performance. After seeing it in action it made me disapointed with the Sig cozy cabin propane heater I just installed. His diesel idles all day, pumps out heat and the interior is super clean. Do you run the barometric flapper?
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Old 13-01-2013, 11:13   #3
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

I bought the bigger Dickinson Newport propane and love the dry heat and clean burning it gives us. It's been 15F lately and it keeps our Gemini 105Mc at about 68F and that's great or us When my neighbor uses his diesel heater we smell it really bad, yuck.
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Old 13-01-2013, 11:37   #4
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

Quote:
Originally Posted by webejammin View Post
I bought the bigger Dickinson Newport propane and love the dry heat and clean burning it gives us. It's been 15F lately and it keeps our Gemini 105Mc at about 68F and that's great or us When my neighbor uses his diesel heater we smell it really bad, yuck.

How do you get dry heat from propane?
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Old 13-01-2013, 11:52   #5
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

I have been around maybe 20-25 diesel Dickenson heaters in the past 30 years here in BC and never heard of the problems you are having, I don’t get it. I know of 5 boats I can think of right now that use the bulkhead mounted diesel burner as thier primary heat source, winter and summer without problems, I think you have a lemon on your boat.
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Old 13-01-2013, 11:54   #6
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

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Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
How do you get dry heat from propane?


It’s a vented stove, draws in outside air vents the combustion out of the boat, dry warmth.
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Old 13-01-2013, 19:07   #7
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

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It’s a vented stove, draws in outside air vents the combustion out of the boat, dry warmth.
Yes
And a nice fireplace window in our salon with forced air fan, My wife and I love it.
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Old 13-01-2013, 22:14   #8
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

Dear cburger, I will be looking for a heater soon and will tell you this. You need to have the vendor(s) send a rep to look at it and the complete installation too. I have never heard of a vendor that does not stand behind its product. That's sounds shoddy to me.. Please continue to let us know what progress your making with Dickinson. Also, you should be documenting and take pictures to post too as well. Best of luck! Linda
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Old 14-01-2013, 19:59   #9
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CBurger

We have a Sigmar (same as Dickinson) and it runs fine on Ultra low sulphur diesel. I prefer running it with the draft assist fan.

A good way to start the stove is to dose about 20 ccs of alcohol in and use Ainu snap start torch (benzomatic butane). No sooty paper ash buildup. I keep the alcohol in a camp stove bottle with screw spout. Very handy and quick to start. It runs on alcohol for about 2 minutes with the fan going and then I switch on the pump. Replaced the dreadful clicking pump with a silent rotary fuel pump. You need to be careful to get a low pressure pump or day tank.

Cheers and good luck tweaking.
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Old 27-04-2013, 12:59   #10
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

Ahoy there,
I am also considering which heater,s to install in my 44 center cockpit. Becouse I go onto the Boat only when the weather is nice and rarely stay overnight this has not been a pressing issue.

A Friend of mine is a fulltime Livaboarder using Diesel heaters. This is his 4th Boat since we became Friends and I can honestly say every one of his Boats reeked of Diesel fumes and he constantly fiddles arround with the burners to ceep them working. No way that I will do that to myself.

Frankly, for what the cost they should work flawlessly and certainly without smelling up the inside of our Toys.

Cheers and happy Sailing.
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Old 27-04-2013, 15:00   #11
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

Cburger,

I don’t understand your problems. You may have a heater from hell but I don’t think that represents the company or its products. It sounds to me that you are constantly flooding the heater and it never gets a chance to burn cleanly. You are using WAY more fuel than the burner can burn up!
Look around your area and visit some boats with this type of heater installed. I think operator error is much more the problem than the unit itself.
These heaters are not automatic and as such do need to be watched while they are operating. That said, my little heater needs little more than an occasional tweaking up or down on the control and remembering to pump up the tank as my system runs on a two gallon pressure tank and I sure don't fill it twice a day!
Good Luck
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Old 22-05-2013, 14:21   #12
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

I can't believe 4 gallons/day. I live on a former 83' cutter with a boiler and baseboards and only use 5 gallons a day in very cold weather. I have installed a pellet stove and added a water coil that heats the boiler. After that about 1 to 2 quarts a day + the pellets.
I am 65 and grew up around diesel stoves and used them all my life. A big - and I mean big - cooking stove idling for just heat uses less than 2 gallons in a 24 hour day.
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Old 22-05-2013, 14:37   #13
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

The answer is simple: electric at the dock, a small wood stove when underway. When I lived aboard year 'round in New England a single small ceramic heater kept our boat warm down to the 20s-30s, and we ran two heaters below that. The heating bill was modest. It can be a lot less if you build a full deck tent, which we never had. The woodstove makes a great backup for when the power goes out, and is useable on a chilly evening in Maine in the summer. Woodsmoke smells great--diesel not so much.
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Old 25-05-2013, 21:45   #14
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

You have described all of my problems....installation as per specs....company notified 1hr ago...I have a smelly soooty yacht after 2 weeks cant believe just got a $5 hot water bottle...cheaper and better......this install cost $4k NZ with tank and stainless ect gutted No come back Wow
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Old 16-11-2014, 18:31   #15
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Re: My Final Thoughts Dickinson Heater

Dickensen Adriatic in a hunting cabin.

Got water in tank, sucked it all the way to the carb. Had to take carb apart to get water out. Piss!

Found carb was full of some pinkish granular crud. Removed and now stove is working just Jim dandy. Best yet.

This is an "old" stove that had been in storage fo a long time. Aluminum cooktop. But it was brand new. I removed the plastic covers. I run it a few days a year at my hunting cabin. Maybe 30 days total use.

Disassembling the carb was not difficult, but fiddly with some small parts.
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