Installing and Maintaining A Dickenson Newport Deisel Heater

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Installing the Dickinson Diesel Heater

I bet you never thought about how to heat a boat.   No?  Yes? Anyway, before moving aboard our sailboat we decided it was a must have.  After all, we’re living in a vessel surrounded by cold water, we’re talking fifty or so degrees, and the air temperature doesn’t get too high here on the Central Coast of California.  Need heat.  Need cozy. 

We decided on a Newport Dickinson Diesel Bulkhead heater. http://dickinsonmarine.com/product_cat/diesel-heaters/

It’s a great little heater with a glass door that you can see the flame. Sweet!  You do have to cut a 3″ hole in your cabin for the stovepipe to go out.  You do have to figure out how to hook up your fuel pump to your main diesel tank to fuel the stove. And number one, whatever you do, don’t forget to hook up the fan.  We forgot to hook up the fan.  We THOUGHT we hooked up the fan, but no. 

We could not for the life of us figure out why the thing bellowed out smoke and soot all over everything.  I mean, inside and out.  One of our know-it-all sailor friends told us that diesel heaters were dirty.  We were almost about ready to succumb to his insistence when I finally asked Brian, “Did you hook up the fan? Because either it’s really quiet, or it’s not on”.  Sure enough, he had overlooked that one minor (not so minor) detail. 

Problem solved!  Now we have a nice clean burning stove that keeps us all warm and dry; until last night.  Someone, (I won’t mention names) forgot to turn the fan on.  OOPS! Soot everywhere. And if you’ve never tried to clean greasy diesel soot off of a wet surface you’re a lucky sailor.

We’ve found that it is best to thoroughly clean the stove about once a week and to maintain the correct air flow and pressure to keep a bright yellow flame glowing.  If you have an orange lazy flame, it’s burning dirty and you need to make adjustments.  They can be as simple as opening an overhead vent, turning the fan up or down or and adjusting the fuel.  We’ve found that the temperature outside changes affects the amount of fuel needed. For us, warmer temps=a higher rate of fuel.  But that’s just us.  Like I said there is a learning curve.

I can’t say enough great things about the folks at Dickinson and their products.  Super great customer service….just don’t forget there is a learning curve. 

Soon we will be headed to Baja, where the water is warm and the Dickinson will be used as a table for our ice-cold margaritas. 

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