Newport Dickinson Heat Part 3

Hopefully the last part in the series. After our chilly evening sail, I realized that I had some improvements to make.

The plan:

  1. Add Barometric damper to “dampen” the wind gusts coming down the chimney pipe.
  2. Fiberglass a pad for the chimney top to sit on that is level with the deck.
  3. Cut chimney pipe to fit with the damper in place.

The first step was to run out and pick up a barometric damper.

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These are not cheap coming in at bout $60! Let’s face it though, sailing here in the PNW without heat on-board is pretty miserable and that $60 seems trivial when you are cold and wet. Also, when we depart in September it will be nice to have warm dry heat en route to San Francisco.

The next step was to glass a chimney pad. This was probably the most time consuming portion of the whole install. I have never tried to make odd shapes out of fiberglass before, so there was a bit of learning involved here, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard.

I started by measuring the deck fitting (7″ in diameter) and searching for a bucket with rounded bottom edges to use as a mould for my epoxy. It turns out that the pain mixing buckets were perfect, 7.5″ in diameter, and the edges were nice and rounded.

I waited for a nice dry morning and went out with a piece of paper that I had previously wrapped around the bucket to size and drew the deck curvature onto the paper. I then scribed that shape onto the bucket and cut it with scissors. The resulting shape was test fit to the deck curvature and I used a level to check to see how well it fit.

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The photo above shows me test fitting after I glassed over the bucket. It turned out that the deck fitting was too short to reach the disctance of the new pad, so I had to trim 1.5″ off using my dremel. I then mixed up some thickened epoxy filler and epoxied the mould into place. I then cut several small pieces of fiberglass and glassed the pad into place on deck.

The end result came out pretty well. Its structurally sound and after a bit of sanding and paint, you won’t be able to tell it wasn’t original!

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I then used the dremel to cut the chimney pipe and the guard to fit below the damper. Here is a look from the interior.

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Newport Dickinson Heat Part 2

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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.

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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.

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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.