This was a repeat of our installation of a Dickinson Newport drip feed diesel heater on our Maxi (click here for details). We did make a couple of changes this time however.
Keeping the boat dry during winter months is always a problem. We had had excellent results with the Dickinson Newport on the Maxi and could think of no reason not to install one on the 41. When we bought our 41 she had a Reflex diesel heater which was lovely from a heating perspective but unfortunately it had been installed in one of the 2 sea berths in the saloon. Warm is nice but having no position for the off duty crew on a long passage is unacceptable.
Our Reflex heater was a rather large unit compared to the Newport, she was hooked up to radiators in the forepeak, the aft cabin and the at head, all of which were fed by gravity (i.e. there was no electric pumps required to operate them). The down side was that the feed and return hoses were quite large and cut through all stowage areas. Also the Reflex was placed at the aft end of the starboard settee in the saloon, thereby invalidating the berth as a sea berth when underway. The Reflex worked excellently and so our first priority was simply to relocate the heater and regain the starboard sea berth. The problem was that due to the size of the Reflex there were not many possible locations for it. One possible location was where we ended up putting the Dickinson – aft of the compression post in the saloon. The Reflex heater would have fit there but running the heating lines from it to the radiators would have been impossible. That would have left us with a heater only and so we decided that we were better off selling the Reflex and installing the Dickinson Newport.
We had been very impressed with the performance of the Reflex and it’s water heating coil so we ordered the same on our Dickinson. We have now installed the heater but not the water heating coil. The heater can run with the coil unconnected without issue. Should we decide to connect the hot water in the future the coil is in place as Dickinson does not retrofit heating coils into Newport heaters, it must be ordered at purchase time.
Another change this time was that instead of having a dedicated tank for the heater, we decided to connect it to the day tank. Of course the HR 41 was not built with a day tank for the engine so we had to install one ourselves (click here for details). We ran synthetic rubber fuel lines from the day tank up to the heater with the last 2 meters being copper tubing. When we installed the heater on the Maxi one of the most difficult things was getting the fuel lines joined and leak proof – it was the same this time. As we fit the heater in Europe, Dickinson kindly sent us a couple of fittings by mail that were more suitable for the European market. That helped but we still needed someone with the tools and skills to flange the copper tubing. Our search for such people lead us to hydraulic fitters who it seems can join any piece of hose to any other piece of hose or tubing. Once we had them on the project things went much more smoothly. We also used Hylomar Universal Blue sealant to ensure there were no diesel leaks from joints.
We have a shutoff immediately at the tank and then one inline immediately under the heater. The heater has it’s own flow adjustment although Dickinson advises not to depend on it as your only means of shutting off the flow of fuel.
On the Maxi we put a stainless steel shield behind the heater and had fire proof material inside it. We found out through operation that the backing never got warm although it did look good. This time we had a backing made up of satin finish stainless sheet which we stood about 50mm off the bulkhead. It also never gets warm and should it do so, the air behind the sheet will be able to rise and move away. Although the backing sheet is not necessary we think it sets off the heater nicely.
Once we had things connected the heater fired up first time without problem. It has been as reliable, efficient and dependable as the one on our Maxi.
- be prepared to fit copper tubing as Dickinson recommends that synthetic hose not be used in the immediate vicinity of the heater
- hydraulic specialists make the job of the compression fittings much more pleasant
- for bending copper tube, order one of the bending springs available from a pipe fitting supplier. For less than the cost of a single meter of copper the bending spring will allow you to create bends without the copper tube kinking. We paid for quite a few meters of copper before we found these items. There are one to fit inside and ones to fit outside, ours fit over the outside.
- the water heating coils are only available as a factory installed option and so must be specified at order time, operating them without water hose connection does not cause problems
- the heater is as reliable and enjoyable as the heater on the Maxi
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