Old but not out...
QWe have just bought a boat that we believe was originally a hire boat. We’ve not used the Ellis gas boiler and no one locally seems able to look it over for us. We’re considering removing it for safety and space and have been quoted £480 for the removal; this would be a big chunk out of our budget. Could amateurs such as us safely complete the work? JANE WOOD, via email
ATONY REPLIES… The Ellis is a simple and robust boiler, albeit rather gas hungry. The burner assembly can be drawn out of the body by undoing the gas pipe, undoing the securing bolts/screws (4 or 6 I think) and pulling it out.
A good blow through all the holes in the burner with an ‘air duster’ aerosol or other form of compressed air should shift the rust flakes and dead spiders. Reassemble, test the gas joint for leaks with gas leak detection fluid and try to fire it up.
If the burner burns with a blue flame and no or very little yellow then it’s probably perfectly serviceable. It will certainly be far cheaper than fitting a new boiler that cannot be used with copper plumbing. It almost certainly circulates the water by gravity so needs no pumps or electricity. A simple and reliable system.
If you want to remove it, then, apart from the gas feed (more later), the system needs draining down, all the copper pipes disconnecting and maybe cutting back (probably two large bore copper pipes) and the four screws holding the base to the floor need removing.
That’s the easy bit. Mine had its flue welded into the roof and the ‘tin hat’ welded to that. I had to cut my flue with a hacksaw and then the boiler just lifted out. Not £480 of work, but if you want the roof made good or a flue fitting for a solid fuel stove, it’s probably a fair price, especially if it includes taking the radiators and pipework out and possibly re-piping your calorifier (if you have one) to the engine.
The gas supply needs properly capping off. Probably by changing a T for a straight compression fitting. Not only do you need to test the joints but you should also get a proper gas test done on the whole system. This also applies if you take the burner out to clean it.
Foxton Boat Services specialised in these boilers and held a stock of parts.