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Old 01-05-2014, 08:16   #1
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Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson Heaters

While it is true that my Dickinson Newport diesel heater helped to keep me warm while living aboard during the longest and coldest winter in New York history I have come to the conclusion its not worth the pain anymore to utilize the Newport to heat my boat. No matter what I have done including barometric damper, special ULSD baffle, preheating burner pot with wood alcohol (Critical) as well as running the boost fan continually and getting the unit to burn as perfectly as possible the unit still creates a horrible black soot that when it comes in contact with any surface leaves a permanent black stain. Yesterday we had a significant rain event and I returned to the boat to find that water was working its way inside the flu cap and washing black soot out of the joints of the chimney and on to the top of the stove and the blanket below the heater.

Last year while still learning more about how to use the unit from the company it was indicated that the use of ultra low sulpher diesel, (the only type available in the U.S.) may not properly combust and cause sooting.
The beautiful Herreshoff type interior was covered with this crap and it has taken untold precious time cleaning every square inch of the cabin with paper towels.

So after doing everything right to get the unit burning cleanly this year when I go over to the white Formica and run my finger across the surface, low and behold there is indication of soot on the previously cleaned surfaces. No here's the rub over the past two winters I had started to experience difficulties with my vocal cords, voice would start to crack and finally got so bad that wouldn't be able to talk. Considering that I had pollups on my vocal cords some years back and the symptoms were the same I went to see a medical specialist and they drove a camera down through my nose into my throat to look at my voice box, (really a fun time). The result of this was the Dr. couldn't see a problem, however the symptoms persisted. Then it dawned on me that diesel is an irritant and that it can't be any good breathing the soot that's in my small enclosed cabin for months at a time and started to notice a direct correlation to the condition and heater use. Once the heater was stopped being used
the problems with the throat have slowly gone away. Very disappointed with this equipment and have come to the conclusion that it is very old technology that was initially used on commercial fishing vessels of old and has no place on the modern sailing yacht. My health and the condition of the boat are too important and with diesel at $4.50 per gallon this winter next year I will be using electric as my primary heat source.
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Old 01-05-2014, 08:29   #2
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

After reading your post and numerous other threads about heaters I will use electric myself.

Yes I have seen reports from some very happy users of various diesel, kerosene or other fuel based heating systems but have seen a lot more posts like yours. Of course there will always come the reply from someone that has the same model and says all you have to do is x,y.z and it will work perfectly but still you have to address:

- installation issues like clearance, vents, holes in the deck, etc, etc, etc
- smoke, soot and smell.
- annoying your neighbors with smoke, soot and smell.
- CO risk

Probably a few more but that seems like enough for me.
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:45   #3
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

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Originally Posted by skipmac View Post
After reading your post and numerous other threads about heaters I will use electric myself.

Yes I have seen reports from some very happy users of various diesel, kerosene or other fuel based heating systems but have seen a lot more posts like yours. Of course there will always come the reply from someone that has the same model and says all you have to do is x,y.z and it will work perfectly but still you have to address:

- installation issues like clearance, vents, holes in the deck, etc, etc, etc
- smoke, soot and smell.
- annoying your neighbors with smoke, soot and smell.
- CO risk

Probably a few more but that seems like enough for me.
I have invested much time, money and effort on this system and did everything to get the unit to burn clean, currently have it running well but still gives off soot to the cabin top and boat interior, my problem is that Dickinson knows these heaters are problematic with the ultra low sulpher diesel and continues to sell them. As a result of my negative rantings last year about the heater Dickinson has added information indicating that this fuel type may not work well in their products, however this information came a day late and a dollar short for me, had I known in advance I wouldn't have purchased the heater in the first place.
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:51   #4
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

My goal is to get out of heater country, but have you tried a fuel additive for your stove? Granted it would then need a separate tank maybe.
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:55   #5
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

I know the forced air diesel heaters burn super clean, lower maintenence if you use Kerosene instead, wonder if that would be a solution for the drip style?
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:58   #6
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

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Originally Posted by sailorboy1 View Post
My goal is to get out of heater country, but have you tried a fuel additive for your stove? Granted it would then need a separate tank maybe.
I am thinking about the same thing, worst winter in NY that I can ever remember, as of last evening I am still running electric heat.

Newport is expensive to run, don't want to add more complexity or costs.
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Old 01-05-2014, 10:59   #7
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

This is part of the reason why, when it comes time to add a heater to my boat, I will be looking at propane. Of course, there are safety issues with propane, but I have always had it aboard and I am quite familiar with what the safety issues are, and how to alleviate them.

The volume of propane needed would be an issue for anyone living in a cold climate, but since I will only need heating a few nights a year, when it is particularly cold, I think it will work very well for me.
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Old 01-05-2014, 11:06   #8
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

I note from https://www.twitter.com/drakeparagon that Drake and Monique were using a wood stove in their Newfoundland/Greenland/Iceland trek up through this past winter. Wonder where they get the wood. I think that SailorBoy has the right idea though. Best (and most comfortable) solution is to avoid heater countries altogether. Either that or fork over the extra dough for the forced air diesel maybe...

Wonder if Drake and Monique are members here...
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:33   #9
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

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Originally Posted by Sailor_Hutch View Post
I note from https://www.twitter.com/drakeparagon that Drake and Monique were using a wood stove in their Newfoundland/Greenland/Iceland trek up through this past winter. Wonder where they get the wood. I think that SailorBoy has the right idea though. Best (and most comfortable) solution is to avoid heater countries altogether. Either that or fork over the extra dough for the forced air diesel maybe...

Wonder if Drake and Monique are members here...
Its my understanding that the forced air diesel heaters are expensive, complex, break down and are energy hungry?
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:47   #10
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

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Its my understanding that the forced air diesel heaters are expensive, complex, break down and are energy hungry?
Not really. A Webasto or Espar heater is no more costly than a Dickenson and is easier to install- no heat shield, no penetration through the roof, etc.

The blower does draw about 4 amps.

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Old 01-05-2014, 12:47   #11
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

Does going all electric put out enough heat for the really cold days? If it does and your at the dock anyway, that seems like the best way to go - just clean, dry heat.
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Old 01-05-2014, 12:50   #12
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

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Originally Posted by cburger View Post
Its my understanding that the forced air diesel heaters are expensive, complex, break down and are energy hungry?
Mostly true I think, but heat very well. They don't use much fuel at all but do use some electricity. The Webasto's on kerosene were mostly trouble free.
I bought a little Toyoset heater years ago. It was a permanent install forced air unit like a mini Webasto. Only a couple few hundred+ dollars. I just installed it on the main bulkhead with no hot air ducting etc and a one gallon kero tank under the floor boards. It blew lots of hot air right under the settee/table! Was great once the service guy showed me a couple tricks. 1.25" diameter stack that was double wall bringing in fresh air and ducting exhaust. It was cheap. I think they quit selling them. Little mushroom deck cap. No black soot at all.
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Old 01-05-2014, 14:15   #13
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

That is a neat looking heater. I hope it works as well as it looks.
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Old 01-05-2014, 14:37   #14
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

A mate of mine installed a new Espar (I think) forced draft diesel burner. It took him two years to get it running properly.

He's a mechanical and electrical genius, who designed and scratch-built his own very successful "Clark pump" watermaker, all but the HP pump and membranes.

He had to sail to Auckland NZ finally to get the problem diagnosed and fixed, because no joy elsewhere. I was pretty underwhelmed, but he's an easy-going guy, didn't seem to bother him.
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Old 01-05-2014, 15:00   #15
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Re: Dirty, Filthy, Dickinson heaters

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sailor_Hutch View Post
I note from https://www.twitter.com/drakeparagon that Drake and Monique were using a wood stove in their Newfoundland/Greenland/Iceland trek up through this past winter. Wonder where they get the wood. I think that SailorBoy has the right idea though. Best (and most comfortable) solution is to avoid heater countries altogether. Either that or fork over the extra dough for the forced air diesel maybe...

Wonder if Drake and Monique are members here...
I think one of their Youtube videos showed them getting scrap wood while they were in Greenland.
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