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Project Log:  Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Now that all the major pre-launch items were behind me, I could focus on the heating system, commissioning of which I'd put off till the more important items were complete.

The first step towards this end was to fill the system with water to check for leaks and flush out any foreign particles.  During installation, I'd included a drain valve at the low point of the system, and I could use this same valve to fill the system.  The valve featured a garden hose thread, but unhelpfully it was a male thread, so I couldn't connect it directly to a normal hose.

Fortunately, I had some various adapter parts on hand, and by butchering the female end of a host I'd planned to replace anyway, I could make up a length of custom hose with two female ends that would adapt to the drain/fill valve, and to which I could connect a hose from the water supply.


I filled the system with water according to the instructions, till the expansion tank (the highest point of the system) was filled about 1/4 full.  I checked throughout the system, examining all the hose connections and other areas to look for leaks (none).  I did have to tighten a couple of the bleed valves, which apparently hadn't been tight at the onset and as delivered. 

Then, satisfied with the initial filling and finding no leaks, I drained the system back through the hose and into a bucket so I could measure the capacity of the heating system; this was important so that later, I could determine how much antifreeze to add to end up with a 60/40 coolant mix.  The total capacity was 2.6 gallons, which meant later I'd use a gallon of antifreeze to make the proper mixture.  But there were additional steps to go through before then.

With the test and flush complete, I refilled the system with plain water, this time till the expansion tank was about half full (or where I could feel it with my finger inside the cap since I couldn't see in there).  Then, I went around the system and opened the bleed valves:  one was located at each of the two fan heaters, and also on the system's combination engine/boiler heat exchanger in the engine room.  At each valve, I released trapped air till water ran clearly before shutting the valve.

Next, it was time to power up the system and prime the fuel system, for which there was a little button built into the so-called Surewire Board (the main wiring control board for the system) that would operate the fuel pump.  This worked, and I let it do its thing as directed.  In this photo, one can see two little green lights in the center of the board, just to the right of the upper terminal block:  these show power on, and the fuel pump running (the lower light).

Later, I went to start up the system and run it with its temporary pure water fill.  Here, however, I ran into a problem:  the system wouldn't start up as expected.  I wasn't sure what was wrong, as I'd found power to operate the fuel pump, but something wasn't right, obviously.

Tracing out the issue, I eventually identified that I'd mis-wired a single wire to the wrong terminal on the main switch up in the console.  It was very clear on my diagram what I was supposed to have done, yet for who knows why I'd not done it that way.  This simple fix was made complicated (natch) by difficult access:  the switch was high up in the console and only accessible from inside.  So I had to partially dismantle things, undo wire ties, etc. to finally gain the access I needed to double check the wires and move the one that needed it, after which the system powered up as expected.

I ran a relatively short test, allowing the boiler to heat up and circulate water through the system for several minutes, but with the boat indoors, I had to limit testing time somewhat, lest I expel too much exhaust into the shop (even with the doors wide open).

This short video shows the system up and running.  The exhaust shot was very early in the test, and the exhaust didn't remain this visible throughout.

Direct Link

Happy with the successful--at least eventually so--test, I shut down and looked forward to truly wrapping things up next time.  Now I had to let the system cool, before I could check the water level, drain the required 1.05 gallons, and add in the special low-silicate antifreeze to make the proper coolant solution.

Total Time Today:  6 Hours

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