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Old 24-10-2010, 10:41   #1
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Kerosene vs Diesel for Sigmar Cabin Heater

On the advice of the PO we have been using kerosene in our sigmar up here in the cool NW. Before we cast off for the first time in mid September, we had our first "treasure" hunt in Blaine. I wrongly ASSumed it would be readily available, first stop ACE hardware, 10.00usd per gallon, Yikes! Then the locals had their fun and we were sent about town from place to place that used to sell kerosene. I had no idea it was this scarce. We ended up 30 miles inland at a general store which sold in bulk for about 3.00/gal.
Our supply is low and even though we still have the truck for now and can again hunt it down, that won't be possible when we shove off for Alaska next summer.

I think I know the answer but here goes;
Should we go ahead and switch to diesel and get it over with and how do you know the grade of the diesel you get when out and about cruising?
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Old 24-10-2010, 11:44   #2
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Yup, kerosene is choice number three when it comes to heating...
As for grade of diesel - it comes in two varieties, No. 1 for bunker fuel and large furnaces, and No. 2 for truck, car, and boat engines. If you can run it in your engine, it should work for your heating (actually a bit of an advantage as you can draw from your on board vessel fuel tank with the usual precations about not running out).
I helped a fellow take his Tayana 37 down to Mexico once and we stopped at a remote place to get fuel. The owner asked (in his imperfect Spanish) if the fuel was "No. 2"; the dock operator responded that his fuel was "primo". They argued about this for about a half an hour while the rest of us had to go hide so they couldn't see our laughter. The fuel was, of course, "primo (good quality) No. 2". The arguement then descended to how many dollars it cost for a gallon, with the poor operator responding that he didn't know as he sold it for pesos per liter. We could hardly get off the dock after that our sides hurt so much...

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Old 26-10-2010, 11:29   #3
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ok would like more input, please. As I read thru threads the kerosene is used for lamps, cooking stoves. Is it available in other parts of the world, Canada? and how much of a difference will we notice as far as suet build up go.
Is everyone using diesel in their stoves, cooking and otherwise, or just the ones with autos.
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Old 26-10-2010, 12:26   #4
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Lived on my boat year around for 9 years in Valdez, AK. Heated the boat with a Sigmar heater (1700 I think) for 7 of those. It went 24/7 during the heating season burning #2 out of the main tank. Cleaned it once a season. Heating season in Valdez is 7-8 months.

Kerosene was available in Valdez and Sitka in 5 gallon cans from the fuel docks in both towns. The last time I bought it was in Sitka last spring(I use it in my cook stove). It was $38.
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Old 26-10-2010, 12:50   #5
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My 2 cents: I do not know the Sigmar products or the "preciseness" of their burners... I have used a Dickinson stove for the past 4-5 yrs on a full-time liveaboard basis burning kerosene (with a valve calibrated by Dickinson for kerosene). Yes, kerosene costs more but in my opinion it is "worth" it in terms of cleaner burning. I let the stove burn 24/7 in the winter time (i.e., it is on, burning, for at least 4 months straight). With kerosene, I do not feel the need to clean the stove during the heating season. I have burned diesel (#2, see below) at times and notice an immediate difference in the amount of soot accumulation and the ambient smell. My brother is a commercial fisherman in Alaska and he too has a Dickinson that he feeds off his boat's main tank so he burns #2 and laughs at me for paying the premium for kerosene. But I've seen the soot build up in his stove...To be fair, I have not swapped out valves to adjust for the greater viscosity of diesel. I HAVE blended the two which brings me to:

The computer controlled home heating devices by Toyo (and by Monitor) are ubiquitous in Alaska in my experience. Originally designed to burn kerosene, they have been modified to accept #1 diesel (but #2 is strictly discouraged) in view of the lack of widespread availability of kerosene in the home heating oil market. #1 is one step closer to kerosene (in price and in characteristics) and ought to be available throughout your planned cruise (if not at the fuel docks, then from the home heating oil suppliers). I suppose that when I blend kerosene and #2, I'm ending up pretty close to #1.

YMMV
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Old 26-10-2010, 13:10   #6
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My $0.02 / experience:

Diesel and propane are the two most commonly available fuel sources in the world in my experience. Kerosene is less and less popular primarily because propane has simply replaced it for cooking use and electricity has replaced most oil lamps.

My diesel heater burns through ~4 gallons in a week, keeping the boat at about 80 degrees F. A small 12v fan aimed at the heater really helps to distribute the warm air around the boat. It's pretty rare that we need to run the heater that much except in the winter (or when drying the boat out from the rain). Carrying that much diesel isn't a problem because the engine uses it too, so it's a common fuel that's available everywhere and used for multiple purposes onboard.

We use K1 kerosene onboard for our lamps, and in that case a two gallon container will last for quite a long time.

In short, if you want to fight with reality and run an alchemy experiment you can stay off the beaten path with kerosene for more than lighting but the less you rely on it (from a quantity prospective) and the more you flip to to commonly available fuels, the easier your life will be.

I'm in no way making arguments for or against any particular fuels but that what's easy to pick up often means the difference between enjoying your weekend versus hunting down some mysterious fluids of unknown quality in random locations.

From a boating prospective, it would be better if everyone used natural gas. Less chance of blowing up, etc. But it's a moot argument because it's too much of a pain in the rear to find the stuff.
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Old 26-10-2010, 13:29   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rebel heart View Post
My $0.02 / experience:

In short, if you want to fight with reality and run an alchemy experiment
Just to clarify: I wasn't suggesting "an alchemy experiment" when I mentioned my (almost accidental) experiences with mixed kerosene and #2. What I was trying to do was illustrate that perhaps #1 would be a fine compromise for the OP. #1 is widely available in Southeast Alaska (again, relevant to the OP...) and probably doesn't require any re-calibration of the OP's burner yet would give some notable benefits over #2.
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Old 26-10-2010, 13:45   #8
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I heat with diesel but have kerosene lamps. I've currently got three grades on board! I haven't found it difficult to get kero but to get a good price and quality match takes knowing the store to go to. Lots of people use kerosene so prehaps asking around when cruising might help and shopping in areas with some population. Most of the places you are going to cruise in BC aren't going to have a large population base, one of its charms, so if you run out of kerosene and are stopping at Lund you'll have to take what you get.
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Old 26-10-2010, 14:47   #9
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Originally Posted by Anomaly View Post
Just to clarify: I wasn't suggesting "an alchemy experiment" when I mentioned my (almost accidental) experiences with mixed kerosene and #2. What I was trying to do was illustrate that perhaps #1 would be a fine compromise for the OP. #1 is widely available in Southeast Alaska (again, relevant to the OP...) and probably doesn't require any re-calibration of the OP's burner yet would give some notable benefits over #2.
Absolutely and wasn't trying to be a jerk at all. Even with kerosene that I use in lamps you have to know a decent amount about the grades of kerosene, so I mean it only in the sense that there's a lot of attention that needs to be paid rather than the "set it and forget it" fuels like propane and #2 diesel.
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Old 28-10-2010, 20:48   #10
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Just got back in internet range up here on the CA US border.

Appreciate the comments, looks like kerosene might be to tuff to come by. Will start studying options for diesel heat. Right now just taking the morning chill off and some evening heat. Haven't seen the 30's F yet.

Cannot/will not pay 10.00usd a gallon s o better if a diesel solution on convenience and price.
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Old 28-10-2010, 21:29   #11
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Kerosene, pure mineral spirits, parafin (in Europe), and paint thinner: SAME STUFF
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Old 29-10-2010, 00:21   #12
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Kerosene, pure mineral spirits, parafin (in Europe), and paint thinner: SAME STUFF
On the list of bad advice to give people this is way up there. Paint thinner and mineral spirits are NOT the same things as kerosene and parafin. Please don't put them in your kerosene lamp.
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Old 29-10-2010, 00:24   #13
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Originally Posted by SailFastTri View Post
Kerosene, pure mineral spirits, parafin (in Europe), and paint thinner: SAME STUFF
They're really not and they have much different profiles. Just because they all burn doesn't mean they have the same flash points or treat the wicks the same. As an example, you won't find any reputable sources saying to use mineral spirits in a flat wick lantern although it's the preferred in the metal-forced-air style.

KEROSENE FUEL PRIMER
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Old 29-10-2010, 06:38   #14
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See International Fuel Names:
International Fuel Names
http : //fuel.papo-art.com/
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Old 29-10-2010, 11:40   #15
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Those are good links, appreciate it.
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