Heater

In preparation for living aboard we realised that northerly European winters required either a diesel heater or an electric heater which in turn implied a shore based power source.
Note: We repeated the installation of a Dickinson Newport drip feed diesel heater on our second Maringret (click here for details).

Querying other boats, traipsing the internet and browsing our chandlery catalogues yielded the Dickinson Newport. One nice aspect of this heater is the flame window which provides a psychological warming factor when it’s cold and wet outside. Consumption on minimum setting is about 1 litre of diesel per six hours. We mounted the 35 litre tank on the forward side of the forward bulkhead, immediately under the deck and as far to starboard as possible. This allows it to feed the stove by gravity feed (which removes the need for an electric pump) and still not interfere with the use of the starboard half of the forepeak v-berth. The heater has an electric fan built in to force a draft through but we have never connected this up.

There are lots of floor mounting models and stoves available but fewer that are bulkhead mounting which was needed for the Maxi 95 saloon. The heating capacity of the heater is more than ample for the saloon.

Installation was quite straight forward, the heater is through bolted to the forward bulkhead, a hole must be cut through the deck (a template is supplied for all cutting operations), sealed with epoxy and then the through-deck fitting installed. The most complex part was running the fuel feed line from the tank to the heater as we chose to do this though the storage lockers under the berths in order to keep the fuel line out of sight and out of trouble.

  • Although there are advantages to having a separate tank, being able to pump between the heater tank and the engine’s main fuel tank has advantages. We didn’t pursue this mainly because of the complexity of running the fuel lines through or around the head.
  • One secret to effective use of such heaters is to maximize the air flow across the heated surfaces. We bought a small electric fan which moves just enough air from the top of the exhaust flue so that a draft bring up cooler air from the floor level which is turn heated. For the same fuel consumption the heat is much more effectively used.
  • Our heater seems to run better and start more easily once there is some soot in it. Other owners have said that after cleaning the heaters are harder to operate until the internal soot level reaches a certain point.

Our first Newport unit (which we purchased in Canada where they are made) had a slow drip from the fitting where the fuel line entered the heater casing. We phoned Canada to report this and they arranged for a replacement heater to be sent to us. In the end we decided with them to arrange for the Norwegian representative to deliver a replacement unit to us as that was more convenient for us than to use the Swedish dealer (we installed the heater while we were rebuilding the galley in Sweden). It would be nice if all manufacturers gave such excellent service.

We have used our heater as low as -17 Centigrade without problem. The Maxi 95 is not very well insulated and our Newport fuel setting was about 1/2 open to cope with -17.

As we refill our propane bottles for the stove, search out the local filling station, the myriad of fittings on bottles (which seem to change with each and every country) and compare it to the simplicity of locating diesel, we are glad we specified diesel as the fuel on our heater.

  • Dickinson Marine
  • the October 2001 issue of Cruising World had an article on heaters.
  • the February 1997 issue of Practical Boat Owner had an article on various heaters
  • the September 1995 of Practical Boat Owner had an an article on installing the Dickinson Newport diesel heater.

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