Sunday, 18 February 2018

Some Progress Made A Little While back

(Boat Flamingo - posted by Alan)

General arrangement looking forward.
Back in the early part of last summer we went to the boats to investigate a number of issues we knew we were ignoring on "Flamingo".  High up that list was that we knew that somewhere in the mess of plumbing and tanks that the previous owner had installed under our main bed at the front of the boat was a leak.  We had chosen to keep this part of the circuit isolated unless we tried to use the hot water tanks, but each time we opened up the taps joining the rest of the boat plumbing to it, there was intermittent running of the water pump when there should not have been.

Header tank (top) and expansion vessel (red)
The leak quickly narrowed down to the fact that one of two hot water tanks he had installed had a hole in it.  It was obvious he had known this, because he had stripped the foam insulation off the tank, and attempted a bodged repair that has not worked.  As soon as we stripped the replacement lagging he had hidden it with off, we could see water jetting out of the tank!

Further inspection showed the hot water tanks used, (there were two), were not proper boat calorifiers able to stand the pressures found in a boats pumped system, but were simple domestic types only tested to a much lower pressure, (almost certainly contributing to the original failure).  These were tested to 1.4 bar, whereas the pressure they need to withstand is more than double that figure.

New calorifier made to order and delivered next day!
So with the tanks declared useless, and all the plumbing around them a complete rats nest of different pipe and connector types, with about 5 times more joints than should have been necessary, a decision was taken to scrap the lot.  It was only removed by partial destruction of the bed, which had been constructed over the top using nails, making it impossible to access the plumbing and tanks and remove them without use of both jemmy bars and a sledge hammer!

Copper pipe is to boiler and radiators, domestic hot water in plastic.
Reluctantly we decided the space available was too small and cramped to fit any single proper marine calorifier that was likely to be useful, and (importantly!) to allow access to it afterwards.  So we decided a new  hot water tank would have to be relocated to the bathroom - disappointing, as it would take up very good storage space, wheres the space freed up under the bed is not really much use for day to day storage.

Our stove has a large back boiler connected to pipes that both heat the water tank and also several radiators throughout the boat - this all had to be drained down of course, making the stove unusable  However we thought we would have no issue getting a new installation in before we needed to have heating available in the winter.

Then our son Michael broke his ankle spectacularly, and we were hardly able to get near the boat for several months.  We were rapidly facing the possibility the boat would be uninhabitable in the winter months.   However we finally managed to get on board for several short stays of only 2 or 3 full days at a time, and, having ordered up a custom made marine calorifier, I set about reinstating everything in a new location, including relocating a radiator in the bathroom, and adding a new one in the bedroom.  By some mercy much of this went into November, but it was just about mild enough that we could survive a few days without heat.  Finally it was back together enough to refill, (thankfully there were no leaks!), and to try out.  It works, and now produces hot water very much better than the appalling arrangements we were forced to rip out.

Looking backwards - radiator is reused, but relocated.
This was a job I had hoped to avoid for a year or two, and having to do it now has stopped us doing other things.  However once we found unsuitable cylinders had been used by the last owner, we really had no other option.   Much of our efforts have not been on renovation or refit of the boat as it was before the last owner acquired it.  Far too much in fact has been it reversing the stuff that he did to it - it really would have been far easier to take on the boat that he bought at the start of his 7 year ownership, rather than have to deal with the "improvements" he believed he had made to it!

Finally I regret not having taken pictures of the original arrangements, hemmed in by a bed constructed over the top in a way that could not be taken apart and which allowed almost no access to sort out problems.  It was a maze of pipework and joints almost beyond belief, and I should have kept some record of it.  Instead I filled up quite a bit of space at Northampton recycling centre, with no permanent record of what was in the void we now have - so the opportunity for "before" and "after" pictures has been lost.