Frost Protection options with our Canal Boat

This is going to be our first winter with a canal boat, and I have been looking at how we can protect the boat against freezing.

I had a few options:-

  • I could drain all the water out of the boat, i.e. the water tank and the heating system. But we intend to visit the boat over the winter as a jumping off spot for visiting relations.
  • We do have mains power, so I could place some oil filled radiators in the boat, they would need an anti frost setting. This looks like a viable and popular option, but we have to prepay for electricity and I have no idea how much we would need.
  • The boat is fitted with a very effective diesel powered heating system, with radiators around the boat. At present, the control system is very primitive, with just an on/off switch, we have used it a few times. I would need to fit a frost thermostat to make it effective.

After much studying and asking questions on Facebook and the online forums, I decided to go with the third option and use the built-in diesel heater. We have a large diesel tank, so this I hope will last the winter.

Eberspacher Heater Switch
Eberspacher Heater Switch

Our boat is fitted with an Eberspächer D4W Hydronic water heater which heats the radiators and provides hot water when required, which in the summer is not often. It is controlled by a simple pull switch.

I then tried to source a 12v frost thermostat, from what I could see a 12v Honeywell frost thermostat part no 4111263a would do the trick. The prices of these seem to vary from each supplier, but in the end I selected PB Auto Electrics as the price and delivery seemed reasonable.

But when it arrived, it was the T4360 240v frost thermostat, A quick check with PB Auto Electrics and, they confirmed it was exactly the same device, I wish I had known before it would have made finding one a lot simpler.

NOTE: This type of thermostat is a very simple device, that uses a bimetallic strip as a switch when temperature changes see here for a more detailed explanation.

My plan was to fit the thermostat is parallel with the current switch, so I could still use the switch when needed, the frost thermostat could then operate independently when the internal temperature of the boat gets too low.

To install the thermostat, I made some extension leads from the switch to the new thermostat and mounted it on an internal wall near the control panel.

The switch had two wires attached, a yellow wire and a red wire. The red wire has 12V supply from the heater, and the yellow goes back to the heater to trigger it to start.

Inside Thermostat
Inside Thermostat

Inside the thermostat, I extended the red wire to terminal 1 and the yellow to terminal 3.

When you remove the cover of  the frost thermostat it revels a wheel with the temperatures marked on it, it is pretty much a normal  thermostat with a cover that stops adjustment.  To test the setup changed the setting to  above and below the current temperature.

Everything worked as expected, so I finally set it to between 3 and 4 degrees.

Before I left, I did take a photo of our fuel gauge, so I can see roughly how much diesel we use.

Next I will add  a frost protection switch, so I can isolate this in case of problems, I could have done this with the current switch, but I expect to add a normal thermostat later which will work with the switch or replace it.

 

The Avon Ring Travelogue – Part 1 to Stratford-upon-Avon

26th July – A Late start today, a few jobs needed doing before we left Droitwich Spa Marina, first of which was a coffee and cake at Muffin Break, then some shopping in Waitrose.

Everything packed away in the cupboards and fridge, and we are off for a pump out and refuel. Oddly, after all this time, this is the first pump out we have done by ourselves, all be it with a little bit of helpful instruction, we are now truly boat owners.

It is now 2pm and we are heading to the last three locks on the Droitwich Canal and up onto the Birmingham and Worcester. Our plan was to get to Stoke Prior and try the Boat and Railway Inn, as this had been recommended by fellow Droitwich Spa Marina moorers Gillian and Steve (Hope I have the names right).

The beer and food was good with a table available by the canal.

27th July – Today was a much earlier start at 7:30am as we wanted to complete the Tardebigge Lock flight. It is a tough set of locks but we have completed it a few times before so we know what to expect, but before we got to there we had the six Stoke locks to complete.

Most of the locks went without much problem until we reach lock 52 where a canal boat had become grounded at the edge of the pound. Lucky for us there was enough water for us to get into the empty lock and then once we had exited the lock we released the water into the pound and they made their escape.

For the last five locks our daughter Mary decided she would have a go at locks, and she was a bit of a natural, hardly a bump on the way in. My reign as lock supremo my be fading fast.

After that she stayed in the helm for the Tardebigge Tunnel and the Shortwood Tunnel. Then we moored and I cooked a Green Thai curry from a kit we got in Waitrose.

28th July – A completely lock free day! Mary with her new found skill guided us through the Wast Hill Tunnel, the longest of the trip at 2493m, and she made it look simple.

Wast Hill Tunnel
Wast Hill Tunnel

We continued along and I nearly missed the Kings Norton Junction, we would have been in Birmingham tonight, but at the last second Sonia mentioned the sign said Stratford was a right turn.

Sonia navigated the Brandwood Tunnel, then we had some spectators, watch us at the Shirley draw bridge. They had seen it on Robbie Cummin’s TV series and the grandma had walked the children down to see it.

We paused at Dickens Heath for a bit of shopping and a coffee and toastie at Cloud Coffee, and almost made it back before the thunder, lightening and downpour kept us undercover just a few hundred yards from the mooring.

The evening was spent at the Blue Bell Cider House, not al a carte, but it is all good when you are hungry.

29th July – A late start today, but after breakfast we got away by 9:30am leaving the mooring outside the Blue Bell Cider House then under the M42 it is quite away to Lock number 2 Lapworth Top Lock.

Then they seem to come very quickly and we find ourselves at Lapworth Junction and lock 21, this is a very popular place as you have the option to go down the Lapworth link and onto the Grand Union Canal, we did that a few years ago, or as we have done stay on the Stratford Canal.

Front this point on the lock are a little more worn and delicate, with some of the paddle gears slipping and the locks leaking quite quickly. We where very luck that we saw a couple of boat returning from Stratford, so a lot of the locks where set for us.

I think I have walked almost the whole distance today, and after Lapworth junction, we finished the day just before Lock 31 and the Fleur De Lys Pub, which had been recommend to us by a passing boater earlier in the day.

30th July – Today started with breakfast at the Fleur De Lys for me, we needed to hang about and use the pubs WIFI to complete a video Dr’s appointment. I do recommend the breakfast, great sausages, the coffee could be a little more generously sized, but tasted good.

The rain was pouring as we returned to the boat, but we wanted to get moving, so we headed off into lock 31. Today I wanted to do the locks while the girls handled the boat; the locks on the Stratford were not the easiest with the gears often slipping.

After lock 33 we traversed over the mini Yarningate Aqueduct, which passes over a small stream and at just 42 feet long our boat easily straddled it.

Yarningate Aqueduct
Yarningate Aqueduct

Seven locks later we moored up just past lock 38 and dried off, we kept the engine running for a bit so we could put the wet clothes through the washing machine on the 30 minute quick cycle.

We had in mind possibly going to the local pub, The Crabmill but we where all ready for an early night.

31st July – Nice long chug to lock 39 which included traversing the Wootton Wawen Aqueduct and then another over the much longer Edstone Aqueduct as we chugged to Wilmcote Top Lock, Lock 40. Ten locks in quick succession and we had reached Lock 50, Wilmcote Bottom Lock, then we chugged into the outskirts of Stratford.

We stopped for water at Western Road Wharf, and a fellow boater told us there were spaces in the basin and also outside the Red Lion Pub, so we decided to continue into town.

Lock 52 McDonalds
Lock 52 McDonalds

While we waited for lock 52, Mary collected our lunch from the McDonald’s. I do like their coffee. On to the final push , we were only delayed at lock 55 which was leaking excessively, but a couple of very helpful CRT volunteers guided us through and when we turned the next corner there was one space left outside the Red Lion pub.

Bancroft Basin - Stratford-upon- Avon
Bancroft Basin – Stratford-upon- Avon

We did walk to the Basin, just a few hundred meters away and it had a few spaces, but as we where not sure how long we wanted to stay we remained outside the pub.

So far we have travelled over 41 miles and been through 98 locks.