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.

 

Boat work and around and about in Droitwich

We have come up to the boat for a few days, I have some boat work to complete, we are fitting a battery monitor, but more on that in a later post as I also wanted to touch up the paint from the few scrapes we have had over the summer.

Battery Monitor Display
Battery Monitor Display

While I have worked on the boat Sonia and Mary have been on a trip by train to Birmingham New Street Station and the Bull Ring Shopping centre, for both of them on the train was about £12.50 off peak return, much simpler than driving and trying to find parking.

Droitwich Lido
Droitwich Lido

They also tried the Droitwich Lido an open air pool, which is a rarity these days, when I was young we had one in Camberley, but it was very run down and soon closed, but it seems the Droitwich Lido is a bit of a find, very clean and tidy, I am sure we will be back and bringing the grand kids.

My thanks also goes to the very helpful Facebook group “Droitwich Spa Marina Friendly Forum“. A quick post as I needed a hole cutter, and within the hour I had two offers of one on loan. Thanks to the owners of NB Cedrik, it was a tool my wife was very pleased I did not have to buy.

Repainted Roof

Today we went to collect Floydtilla from Black Prince at Stoke Prior, she had been returned to them to have a problem with the roof paint fixed, from what we can see they have stripped off the old paint and reapplied the primer and yellow topcoat, it now all looks beautifully smooth.

New roof paint

We had a lovely sunny day for our trip back to Droitwich Spa Marina, the only problem was the wind whipping across the marina, which made the slab sided canal boat into a sailing pushing us sideways when we tried to approach our mooring, after two attempts going up wind and turning, we decided to reversed past out berth and tried going downwind which made things a lot simpler. We are learning all the time.

Inverter/charger Update

We had a problem with the inverter/charger when plugged into the marina mains supply. It would not switch over to charging the batteries, we had reported this to Black Prince, and they said they would sort it.

The old inverter was replaced, and we still had the same problem, back at their base they tested the old inverter, and it worked without a problem.

One possible thing that could be causing this is an over voltage on the marina supply,  the Photonic Universal 3000W unit maxing out at approx. 263V. Normal UK supply used to be 240V, but I believe in 1987 we have harmonised with the rest of Europe at 230V +/- 10%  (which therefore includes our UK 240V) with a theoretical max of 253V.

Sterling ProCombi S
Sterling ProCombi S 3500W Inverter/Charger

The next step they replaced the Photonic Universal 3000W unit  with a Sterling PCS123500 unit, this gives us a slightly higher max output to 3500W but also accepts a higher shoreline input voltage of up to 270V.

All the work in now completed, and we will see in the next few days if this has been a success. We have only had excellent service from Black Prince on any problems we have had, there will always be problems, that is to be expected. It is how well they are dealt with that makes the difference.