WEB Q&As

Canal Boat - - Back Cabin: Experts -

Q NO HOT WATER We can’t get any hot water, de­spite run­ning the en­gine for two hours. There is no split in the calori­fier but it doesn’t give hot water to the taps. I have re­placed the water pump be­cause the over­all water pres­sure was poor. This has not re­ally im­proved, but are the is­sues linked? Any ideas? LEARYD, via the CB web­site

A TONY REPLIES: The do­mes­tic water pump might give low pres­sure but as long as water is flow­ing from the hot taps it will not ef­fect the abil­ity of the sys­tem to pro­vide hot water. Un­less there is a valve that needs turn­ing on, the en­gine fan belt is loose/miss­ing, the en­gine ther­mo­stat is stuck open, or the en­gine cool­ing sys­tem header tank is very low on coolant, then the most likely prob­lem is an air­lock in that part of the cool­ing sys­tem that feeds the calori­fier coil.

There are two way to tackle this. As long as the pipe runs are sen­si­ble with no up­ward loops and the coolant header tank is higher than the top calori­fier coil con­nec­tion, the eas­i­est is to lo­cate the feed and re­turn pipes be­tween en­gine and calori­fier and find the high­est joint. While keep­ing the header tank full of a 25% to 50% an­tifreeze mix­ture, loosen and ma­nip­u­late the joint un­til any air in the pipes ex­its and coolant starts to weep out. Tighten the joint and test. If that does not work try it again with the en­gine run­ning at about 1200rpm.

For the sec­ond method, get a can of coolant mix­ture and a friend ready to top up the header tank as re­quired. Iden­tify and loosen the hose joint where the re­turn from the calori­fier coil con­nects to the en­gine. Start and rev the en­gine as above and pull the hose off the joint but put your thumb over the con­nec­tion on the en­gine side so no coolant leaves the en­gine. Water should gush out of the hose but there may well be air in the pipes so wait 30 sec­onds or so to be sure no more air is com­ing out of the hose. Re­fit the hose, tighten and test.

Some en­gines have a sep­a­rate ther­mo­stat con­trol­ling the calori­fier cir­cuit. In this case a ther­mo­stat jammed closed would pre­vent the calori­fier get­ting hot.

If the Pres­sure Re­lief Valve (PRV) that is usu­ally close to the calori­fier on the hot do­mes­tic water out­let is leak­ing badly, do­mes­tic water pres­sure would be re­duced and the water in the calori­fier would leak away be­fore it got hot – but the do­mes­tic water pump would run very fre­quently or all the time. Q FIT­TING SO­LAR PAN­ELS I’m tak­ing own­er­ship of a wide­beam which will even­tu­ally be­come my per­ma­nent res­i­dence. I want to have so­lar pan­els in­stalled to keep the bat­ter­ies charged while I’m out of the coun­try, but when liv­ing aboard I want them to cope with the usual liveaboard ap­pli­ances. Can you rec­om­mend a com­pany to fit the so­lar equip­ment? CHI­ANTI, via the CB web­site

A TONY REPLIES: I don’t rec­om­mend com­pa­nies un­less I have used one my­self, but I would sug­gest that you look in publi­ca­tions such as this or search on­line. Also, ask fel­low boaters for per­sonal rec­om­men­da­tions – but be aware that many will have fit­ted pan­els them­selves.

While a sin­gle 60 to 100W panel will keep the bat­ter­ies charged, to cover your elec­tri­cal needs in the win­ter will re­quire far, far more and even then may not be suf­fi­cient dur­ing long dull pe­ri­ods. At least with a wide­beam you have more roof space. It might be more cost-ef­fec­tive to ac­cept that you will have to run the en­gine ev­ery day or so at some points dur­ing the win­ter and fit fewer pan­els.

Also, in­stall an am­me­ter and SmartGauge so you can mon­i­tor your bat­ter­ies prop­erly and know when so­lar charg­ing has not been suf­fi­cient, to avoid ru­in­ing your bat­ter­ies. WHO RULES OVER FUEL SPLIT? Q Can a sup­plier of diesel dic­tate the split be­tween do­mes­tic and propul­sion (for fuel duty pur­poses)? Also will this split end when we leave the EU? STU­ART&VIV, via the CB web­site A TONY REPLIES: The sit­u­a­tion is not clear-cut. HM Rev­enue & Cus­toms are clear that it is up to the boater to de­clare the split, and all the seller has to do is to record it and iden­tify their boater. How­ever, the price you may see at a sup­plier is tech­ni­cally only an ‘of­fer to treat’ (which means to ne­go­ti­ate), so if the seller will only sell with a given split then it is a con­trac­tual mat­ter be­tween you and them: ei­ther ac­cept the terms of their con­tract or go else­where.

On the sec­ond point I think the only an­swer at the mo­ment is ‘who knows?’ I sus­pect that if and when we do even­tu­ally leave the EU, re­scind­ing the present ar­range­ments will be way down any govern­ment’s list. In my view a fu­ture govern­ment out­side the EU might be so strapped for cash that we end up pay­ing road diesel prices any­way.

You can bleed air from the pipes

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