About a month had gone by, and Ava and I had returned to the PNW after some traveling to visit my family in the Midwest. Contrary to my belief, it had actually gotten colder in Seattle. My little space heater was now working full time and could hardly keep the boat temp above 60. It was time to revisit that Diesel heater.
If you recall I had left the project installed but not in working order. Ava and I went sailing through a gale to Port Townsend and while we made excellent time (averaged 7 kts!) we were nearly frozen to the bone upset that we had to rely on my little propane Mr. Buddy Heater. I now had a bit of inspiration, I once again revisited the diesel heater.
The first step to troubleshooting was to download the calibration procedure from the Dickinson website (find it here) and check to see if my valve was set properly.
The calibration can be tested by removing the copper pipe from the bottom of the valve assembly and allowing the diesel to drip directly into a measuring cup. Dickinson calls for the valve to fill 1 tsp over 50 seconds on setting 1.
Simple enough right? Wait! I don’t have measuring spoons. Just before my drive was diminished, I had and idea. To google!
As we may or may not know, silverware was originally designed to measure, you guessed it, the teaspoon and the tablespoon. It turns out, a normal spoon is approximately 1 Tbsp and a dessert spoon is approximately 1 tsp. Oh the magic of google. Unfortunately, in my minimalism I do not have any dessert spoons, so I would have to use a regular spoon.
Since there are 3 tsp in 1 Tbsp, I have two options, either eyeball what 1/3 of the spoon looks like, or wait 150 seconds and the full spoon should be full of diesel. (note: be sure to clean the spoon afterwards thoroughly). I chose to eyeball at the 50 sec mark. The less opportunity for diesel to spill in my cabin the better.
After all of this, I was able to determine my valve assembly was calibrated nearly perfectly, the plug must be further down the line.
I proceeded to the next step in the process, the copper pipe that connects the burner pot to the valve assembly. What do you know, it was completely plugged.
I should have spent the extra time when cleaning out the stove prior to installation to clean the pipe too, but it was cold when I was cleaning, and I lost motivation very quickly. So simple, yet so frustrating.
After sacrificing half of a spiral bound notebook’s spiral, I was able to use the wire to clean out the pipe to reinstall. A few minutes later, I had it all back together.
I opened the valve to setting 1 and waited, sure enough there was enough fuel to prime the stove in 5 minutes. I lit the pool of diesel, and we were off. It took about 5 minutes to preheat enough to vaporize the diesel, but the stove was working properly.
The stove now works, and I am no longer spending the occasional evening aboard in a puffy coat.
The Newport heater also happens to come with a built in 12v fan to force air into the burner pot. This allows the user to better control the burn. I like this feature, as the old sig 180 had limited burn range before inefficient combustion. I basically had to run it full blast or nothing (quite the waste of fuel).
I was eager to see what this fan could do! I wired it up and switched it on. Nothing.
I immediately assumed the switch had failed. A few minutes with the handy dandy Fluke multi-meter, and I found the culprit.
The motor, after sitting in a marine environment for x years, had seized. The local Dickinson dealer proceeded to drop my jaw when they told me the replacement was $85!
Crafty as I am, and after my newfound knowledge of electric motors from the Manta Drive, I disassembled the tiny little fan motor and found out what was wrong. It turned out that one of the bushings had corroded after being in the environment for so long.
After a bit of fine sandpaper and a dab of winch lube, I had the motor was spinning free once again. The best part, I still had that $85 in my pocket!
It turns out the fan really helps get the burner lit, and aids in combustion of the flame. Something was still up though, the flame seemed to hesitate every now and then.
Oh well, it works, and I am now sweating in my t-shirt aboardin these cold nights.
We had some guests over, and decided to go out for an evening sail. Everything started out great. Light breeze coming from the sound, a nice slowsail towards downtown.
The wind was nearly directly behind us. It was pleasant. As we came about to circle around the lake, I see smoke! Saing to windward caused a back-draft that killed the flame in the burner pot! This would not do for distance sailing.
Still not happy, I have some ideas on how to make my setup better.
Follow along for Dickinson Heat Part 3 – I add a barometric damper and fiberglass a pad for the chimney to sit on.