Saturday, 5 January 2013

Mucking around in the garden shed

This morning there was someone ferreting around in our garden shed.

I’m not sure what the fat, grey haired old bugger found interesting about our domestic battery bank however I received quite a surprise when he turned around and I realised he was wearing an older version of my face!

OK….. I’ll get a little more serious now! Smile

Apart from the usual engine compartment checks (more on that later) I needed to collect some measurements and data about the domestic battery bank.  Accessing the cells to check the electrolyte is proving to be difficult as there is very little clearance between the caps and the underside of the stern deck.

I’ve already “shopped around” the UK for an automatic, or semi-automatic watering system but at £200+ they are too expensive.  The net has now been case wider and a potential overseas supplier asked for some measurements from inside the battery cell along with a detailed description of the type of battery cap.

Whilst down there it seemed a good idea to check everything else.  The Hurricane heater was roaring away and I could see into the burning chamber via the small window.  No leaks and it’s cutting in and out to maintain the inside of Waiouru at a steady 24°C.

Hurricane heater with the Sterling PDAR to the right

The calorifier connections all looked fine so I went on to check the alternator belts and the engine fluids.  There is a tiny amount of water in the bilge along with faint signs of it on the baseplate either side of the engine rails.  My assumption is it’s all condensation.  Some of the bilge paint has peeled off the swim on the starboard side exposing primer.  I’ll have to clean the area in the summer when it’s warmer and reapply some bilge paint.

We’ve been off 240v shore-power for over two weeks and been running the engine in neutral each morning for 3-3½ hours to re-charge the batteries.  With our daily usage they haven’t fallen below 62%.  However Nick suggested we might start to damage the cylinder bores if we continual run the engine in neutral.  I suspect it’s a bit early for that to occur but as we have tested batteries, alternators, Sterling PDAR and SmartBank Advanced systems we might as well return to being connected to the shore-power.  We’ll continue to use the Hurricane heater or the Refleks diesel stove to keep Waiouru warm. 

After spending time heating Waiouru with either the Hurricane or the Refleks our subjective opinion is the Refleks is the most economical method of heating Waiouru when it’s very cold.  However it can make Waiouru too hot; even on its lowest setting; when the temperature isn’t that low.  The thermostat control on the Hurricane means it probably uses less diesel than the Refleks in milder weather.  Unlike the Refleks it also heats the hot water and keeps all the clothing in the wardrobes and drawers warm and dry.  However we appear to get more condensation when using the Hurricane so I assume the Refleks is radiating a drier heat.  We’re also convinced the Ecofan on the Refleks stove is distributing the heat around Waiouru.

Finally, the two 19mm spanners ordered from FFX arrived.  At £1.98 each I thought they were a bargain, but was concerned the quality might not be very good.  Well my fears were unfounded and I’m quite pleased with them.

There’s no manufacturers name but they will suffice for tensioning the alternator belts.

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