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Old 22-06-2010, 05:25   #1
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Boat Heater: Diesel or Wood - Self-Made ?

with 100 F today looks strange like argument but next fall i would like to sail the cheaseapeake and North and i would like to install a heater on board.
i have a Kerosene force 10 stove for cooking.
so i'm thinking about a no propane heater.
Kerosene, diesel or wood ??
i don't know if kerosene is better than diesel, i would prefer diesel cause i have a 90 gallons tank.
and i don't like to carry jerrycan.
What about wood??
a lot of people prefer it!
but is just the charme of burning wood ore there are real benefits (less humidity??)
then, which stove do you have on board and would you change it with something different??
looking at the price of the heater on internet i'm thinking about making it by myself starting from a gas bottle (a lot of video on youtube) somebody already tried??

thanks a lot

p.s. i have a 33 insulated steel "open space" sail.

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Old 22-06-2010, 07:42   #2
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Cooking with propane is my choice. and ...My vote for heating would be for diesel fired only. Safer and cleaner than wood (But I do like the dryness of wood fires) since wood leaves chips, bark, splinters, etc. and of course the aftermath of it all... ashes and hot glowing coals that look spent. LoL
Propane is great but if you need heat for a long time, like days in a row or even weeks in a row because the weather hasn't gotten out of the 40's since the month before then propane use will keep you tied to a dock and marina packing tanks back and forth. The only problem I see with diesel is you can't accurately predict your fuel usage, since you're using it for more than just engine operation... but oh well. It's got a gauge doesn't it? Problem solved.
I saw one gentlemens diesel fired heater (home built) that used an old steam cleaner burner assembly. It was pretty efficient and hotter than the hubs of h... well you get the picture. Plumbing your heater into a duct system will provide lots of benefits as well since you could then direct the heated air to areas that are prone to moisture, condensation, and just plain cold temps like floor level cabinets, lockers, and cabins further away from the immediate area,,, something that would be much harder to do with wood heater.
Good luck... hope you keep us informed with pictures.

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Old 22-06-2010, 07:48   #3

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My vote is diesel, use kerosene in a separate holding tank
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Old 28-06-2010, 16:22   #4
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I Have debated this question too. I'm going with wood. Available almost anywhere usually free for the small amount needed. The Driest heat of all. I'm designing my own based on one we had in our house when i was young. It had forced air circulation around the stove, basically a box in a box with vents along the side and a small fan in the back. I'll us a thermal switch to turn the fan on and off. Storage of supplies (wood,paper) is the hard part to figure. I will dedicate a settee storage spce to it on our boat. "The Finely Fitted Yacht" by Ferenc Mate' has a section on this topic. I too have looked at the videos on converting a gas bottle to a stove. I like the idea of adding a water tank to them, but i think the steel is to thin for serious use year after year. I plan to use 1/4" steel minimum for the firebox and will use firebrick mortar in the bottom. A nice coal rocker would be great too. Also add a removable tray to the bottom to remove ashes. Make it with a sea rail on top and big enough space to take a tea kettle. A nice backup stove. I also have a new Force 10 kerosen stove and oven. very nice. Found on ebay. never used. I don't wish to blow myself to kingdom come, so no gas. I'll post pics when I have it done.
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Old 28-06-2010, 18:49   #5
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Just a couple of words on using propane gas bottles..Easy to find with the valva changeover and a great resource but be sure to remove the valve and purge the tank with water before cutting with any heat or spark producing method! I torch them after purging with water with no effect often. But they are only 1/8th inch material and probably not thick enough for a woodstove from my experience especially if you will be burning salty driftwood (IMHO).

I have neen considering a woodstove too for the aftcabin (I have a dickenson diesel stove in the galley) but am having a hard time justifying the storage space for wood for heat when so many btus can be stored in such a small place with diesel and the diesel storage is there already. (1 cord of hardwood 4x4x8 feet equals roughly 100 gallons of diesel in btus if I remember correctly at less than 4x4x1 foot, softwood even more space).
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