Old but not out...

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts -

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.

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