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Under Construction - Last Updated December 12, 2003

Insulation of a Espar 35 120,000 BTU Marine Hydronic Furnace


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Follow this complex quest from inception to operational step by step

On December 12, 2003 at 17:00 hours EST the boiler came to life for the first time.Even after only 3 minutes of operation the amount of heat it is capable of delivering is outright awsome.

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When I first planned to return to living aboard my boat year round the primary concern was strength and warm. The following is the end solution to this criteria. After much research the only marine grade furnace made specifically for Arctic like conditions was the ESPAR 35 Hydronic unit. The next step was the installer whom would have to be a fully licensed gas fitter with a bit for challenging projects.

Pat Mcgillivray a long time marine heating and gas fitter has specialized in marine applications on a custom basis. Join us as he finds a way to shoehorn the Espar into the confined spaces available on a 40 foot steel trawler.

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Pat is almost finished installing the furnace, and am I ever glad he is around because this a is well into EXPERT "gas burner tech" territory . What a game, no matter how slow it goes I give him credit. Trying to put central heating like this in a 41' boat is extremely difficult. Then add the fact that everywhere you turn around is 3/16" steel.

There is a lot of progress since Chris joined as “fitters helper”. Chris is very good, and thinks things out before he tackles them on his own. Usually he has at least one plausible solution for a problem by the time he discusses it. Overall things progress steadily. in a day to day process.

Finally after 3 days of trying they got the exhaust fitted after another 2 hour battle with the remains of the Lister. The Lister is non-functioning get home engine of 1945 "D" Day technology.. Perhaps it was  good choice in 1971 but today  the  engines 2,500 lbs weight and massive size  that only  produces 18 horsepower, when it was working, is a waste of time. Its  exhaust was the first option considered in the Espar install, but on inspection it proved to be 100% rotten.  Next they had to deal with the asbestos removal because all the old exhaust vent loops were deeply covered in a  3 to 4' wrapping of asbestos.

The intake passage is also 3" diameter passages with very exact tolerances and lengths in order for the ESPAR to work right. To run the air intake ESPAR allows a distance of ..... feet of supplied intake duct. However the installer need to be pretty good on math as the "brain" senses intake pressure within it's fail safe protocols.

To archive the correct tuning there is a desired length to free air of ...... feet. The fitter must calculate other factors which effect the air flow such as restrictions in the passage as each change in flow creates a corresponding pressure effect. A 80 degree elbow adds the equivalent of another 5' length to the intake pressure which must be exact. If the Espar "brain"  computer monitors everything, automatically   shuts down if something is not right.

If any of this sounds familiar let us know. We will bring you more of the quest for a warm Canadian winter vessel. For further information on vessel heating and consultation or to purchase a custom system for your boat, let us know.


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The engine room is set below the pilot house and has roughly 6V of headroom and extends full width to the exterior hull aft of the fuel tanks, and obstructed by fuel tanks to the forward half.

Power requirement for the 2004 refit have drastically decreased the amount of space available below deck aboard making the entire project a huge jig saw puzzle.

General space usage in the engine room is allocated with 16 deep cycle 6V banks of batteries made up of: 2 group 31a for engine/generator starting, a Xantrex 12 VDC 60 AMP charger, Heart 24 VDC charger/5K inverter, the generator and charging systems.

 
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Seen here on the aft deck just prior to installation the is the ESPAR boiler and Pat's fabricated distribution manifolds.

 
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The heart of the Espar is the Oil fired burner which amazingly produces 120,000 BTU burning 0.75 gallons of diesel an hour when engaged.

 
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Seen closer in this image the "turbulator" is a careful sculpted plate that swirls the atomized fuel into the burn chamber effectively greatly increasing the efficiency

 
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With the starboard side of the primary engine full, only the port offered available space to install the ESPAR and its distribution systems

Of course, any and everything on a boat is difficult to get to and the only practical location on board this boat was a special lesson in awkwardness.The final resting place for the ESPAR is tucked at the absolute aft end of the engine room on the port side the available nook was guarded by the now extinct Lister "get home" or "pup" engine.

 
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The first step was removing as much of the Lister engine and it's accessories as was possible to make space to work. Pat spent days in the hole with a saws all and other tools cutting and clawing back the required in square inches of volume to fit everything.

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After several days of demolition followed by fabrication the Espar was mounted in position. You can see the remains of the Lister exhaust just behind the Espar, against the hull.

 
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As with every insulation there are always inspectors. Beetle Pat's cat is very particular when people go cutting into the surroundings is not quite positive he likes the changes. However knowing cats and their little "warm button" portion of cat brain he will be OK once it starts to make heat.

 
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PICTURE
Air Returns

 
 
Close up of fitting
 
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Now this is not heating but part of the overall livability. The new high intensity mini spot lights are in and the chopping block counter has a new and bright working atmosphere.

 
 
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In order for the glycol solution to circulate correctly the flow must be delivered equally to each of the registers. This is accomplished by constructing a custom manifold from copper for both inlet and outlet legs of the system.

 
   
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