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Thread: Espar heater in Glacier Craft boats

  1. #21
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    Inline water filter is a good fix but only temporary if you getting a lot of water in the fuel tank.
    The leak need to be fixed if you want to have a warm cabin on those cold night. Once the leak is fixed and all the water is drain from the tank by using a suction hose. Why a suction hose and not the fuel line? If the fuel pick-up tube went all the way down to the bottom using the fuel line would not be a problem. On the other hand if the pick-up is above the bottom of the tank you will continue to have problems. The proper way to install a pick-up tube is close to the bottom of the tank with out cutting off the fuel.

  2. #22
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    To see if you have water in the tank and no ability to easily get to the filter then use the fuel line from the fuel pump to the heater. I would not use this method to drain the tank. I bought a 12v electric siphon and drained my 12 gallon diesel tank. Then drained the last 1/2 gallon of water/fuel from my fuel pick-up, which is at the bottom of the tank. Bay Weld did a good job and put a ball valve on the pick-up so that once disconnected from the system I could slowly open the valve and drain the rest of the water/fuel into a container.

    Learning curve for me and BW as the gaskets that they used for the fill cap were barely the right size and over a season and half they shrunk just enough to not make a good enough seal. We got bigger gaskets and no issues this past season. Also, a maintenance item is to check 'em and put oil or petroleum jelly on them to keep the pliable over a longer period of time.

    Diesel fuel tank pick-up.jpg Diesel fuel-water.jpg

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebbtide View Post
    Thanks for all the good ideas! I think when the heater does its roaring/burping it is spitting out fuel/water mix through the exhaust. So it stands to reason the copper line could have a fuel water mix drip out. Will definitely put a meter on it next time the problem occurs. Usually only run it 2-4 hours so I don't think it is timing out. The fuel line is filtered. The filter is under the floor, of course. Any way to check for water in the tank without ripping up the floor?
    If you want to borrow my electric siphon you can. Without it there was no way I was getting even a drop out of the tank and using the ball valve to get a cup at a time out when there was 12 gallons would not have been fun.

  4. #24
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    I may take you up on that offer 1S1K. First I want to investigate the voltage issues which does not require pulling the floor up. When I do pull it up it will get another inline filter above the floor, the tank drained, and an inspection of the fuel fill gasket.


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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1S1K View Post
    My experience is to keep your diagnosis simple to begin with. I would start with water in the fuel before getting complicated with voltage etc.
    I agree with 1S1K, start simple, remove any water from the fuel tank before temping to troubleshooting the low voltage problem.

    Troubleshooting a low voltage problem in a boat with several electrical systems, can be a real challenge even for a experience marine electrician. The problem may not be the heater wiring but a difference system drawing down the voltage causing the Espar error code.

  6. #26
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    I have spent more time on troubleshooting and maintenance of the Espar heaters and Wallace oven then all other problems combined. Typically I had to replace the Espar inline filter multiple times a season. In the end, the root cause was mainly water in the tank and sediment in the tank. I pulled the pickup line out of the tank and used an engine oil manual siphon pump to remove all kerosene and water. I cut about a 1/4" off of the pickup tube as it was sitting very close to the bottom. To prevent more water from getting in the tank I made a small wood plate that fits over the deck mount fuel cap for when I am not boating, I also put a clamshell over the fuel tank vent. I use kerosene which is cleaner but more expensive.
    Also the rate of fuel flow if too low will cause the Espar to not run, as I could see fuel moving in the line I made the wrong assumption which caused lots of extra hours troubleshooting.

    My wife likes a consistently warm boat. I can sit at the Cordova Harbor with shorepower for days and the Espar never misses a beat. It will be idle during the day and then ramp up for a cold night again and again. I have not changed the inline filter since making the changes.

    My boat has a large battery bank so I have not had a problem with low voltage as a problem for the Espar to start. Hope this helps.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1S1K View Post
    In-line filter sight bowl. After one start cycle top is fuel. Bottom is water. Heater would run decent at rest and in driveway cause fuel was on top. But get under way and water and fuel mixed and flame out.

    .Attachment 91041
    That looks like a great little unit, is that part of the filter or just a sight bowl????
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  8. #28
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    So I am still working the Espar issue. Spent a lot of time in the boat on land doing some upgrading. Heater has worked flawless. Fired first time every morning. Ran all day without a hiccup. Used all the fuel in the tank and have refilled it twice. Voltage could still be an issue as the boat was plugged in most of the time. Doubt it was water in the tank as it ran all the way to empty. My latest theory is the trouble experienced over the summer was due to some sort of vapor lock. Thoughts?
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  9. #29
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    Thoughts?

    I don't blame you for not wanting to pull up the floorboards or try to figure out if there is a problem with the electrical system. If you have nothing better to do waiting to go fishing wouldn’t you rather be working on the boat instead of watching tv?

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ebbtide View Post
    Spoke with a fellow GC owner a couple hours ago who had trouble with his Espar. He pulled his tank and found a lot of water in the kerosine presumably coming in through the vent. I have had inconsistent performance with mine. Sometimes it works and sometimes it don't . It will usually light the night I go out but rarely the next am. Seems to start better when running on step but not every time. Just wondering if anyone else is/was having similar problems. I have the same vents he does not only on the kerosene tank but the fuel tanks too.


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    See 11-23 post from Captain Ron

    All I know is after putting clam shell over vent no more trouble. Works perfect now.

    See below when I was having trouble:
    I have spent more time on troubleshooting and maintenance of the Espar heaters and Wallace oven then all other problems combined. Typically I had to replace the Espar inline filter multiple times a season. In the end, the root cause was mainly water in the tank and sediment in the tank. I pulled the pickup line out of the tank and used an engine oil manual siphon pump to remove all kerosene and water. I cut about a 1/4" off of the pickup tube as it was sitting very close to the bottom. To prevent more water from getting in the tank I made a small wood plate that fits over the deck mount fuel cap for when I am not boating, I also put a clamshell over the fuel tank vent. I use kerosene which is cleaner but more expensive.
    Also the rate of fuel flow if too low will cause the Espar to not run, as I could see fuel moving in the line I made the wrong assumption which caused lots of extra hours troubleshooting.

  11. #31
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    My heater worked flawlessly on land too. But 5 degree angle running on step was all it took to flame out, which made it seem like maybe there needed to be a clam shell over heater exhaust vent to prevent back pressure from boat moving at 30 mph or random sea water getting into the system through the exhaust. BUT it was none of that it was water in the tank. If you are 100% certain that there is no water in your fuel system then proceed to the other areas of troubleshooting.

  12. #32
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    I see no reason why an Espar or Planar heater would flame out from the wind passing by the exhaust. Me and several people I know all crank the heater up before leaving the house and run to Whittier with no issues. It would be hard to get enough water in the exhaust while running on step unless you took one heck of a wave on the side. The pressure of the exhaust should keep most of it out unless your vent is way forward on the bow. I like those clam shells though, but only for the reason of deflecting the hot exhaust away from boats rafted up in the evening.
    I agree with 1S1K, I'm leaning towards water in the tank or a low voltage issue with not on shore power. Try running off the batteries with lights and other electronics on to simulate a trip out. Do you have a digital voltage display on the dash somewhere? That might help show you what is going on too.
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  13. #33
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    Agree with Robs advice above, in no way should it flame out due to wind or waves.
    Installing a fuel filter on any of these systems is an ounce of prevention.
    Low voltage issues throws funky codes too. Sound advice to check your power at the heater as it could be throwing a code for some erroneous issue due to low voltage.
    Does your digi controller display a code when it shuts down?
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  14. #34
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    Not really a matter of wanting to work on the boat. I love dinking with the boat. More of a matter of me and the boat being in the same town and in a position and temperature conducive to working on the heater with the heater turned off. I picked up the thermostat that gives codes off and will put that in when I troubleshoot the tank. I am also going to put an inline filter in at that point and check voltage. I like the idea of a clamshell over the exhaust and a cover over the fill. Got pictures Ron? Will be boating out of Homer this year, slip H31 if anyone is in the neighborhood drop by. Would love to meet some more forum members. Lately I have been insulating and putting in a teak and FRP headliner to get ready for the Homer Winter King Derby which I had to cancel because it was postponed.



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  15. #35
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    DSC_7584x.jpgThe clamshell is just to the right of the cleat in this picture. The Espar exhaust is further to the right. I cut a hole in the floor under the passenger seat to access the filter and pickups on the tank. I used a thin sheet of aluminum to cover the hatch. Thankfully no need to access in the last three years.

  16. #36
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    Is that clamshell bolted or welded?, aluminum or stainless? Looks like stainless and bolted to me which would make things a lot easier. I will definitely be cutting in an access too, another excellent idea.
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  17. #37
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    The clamshell is stainless steel and screw on. I put a layer on silicon between the surfaces when I put the clamshell on the boat.

  18. #38
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    If you are planning on keeping the boat for a long time I would go with the aluminum clamshell and have it welded on.

  19. #39
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    I think I have pretty much resolved the issue. Last time I was at the boat the heater acted up. Since I was in a slip I went out and blew into the fuel tank to clear the vent. Heater fired almost instantly on the next try. I have done this 2 or 3 times now with the exact same result. When I blow into the tank kerosene or a mix containing seawater and kerosene always comes out the vent. Now I just need to figure out why my vent is filling up.
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  20. #40

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    My heater and stove had the same problem. It turned out to be about 3/4 gallon of water in the tank. The water got deep enough to reach the suction. I removed all the benches, house battery system and cut a hole in the floor to get to the tank to drain it. I did this twice and it's a big job. Finally I plugged the tank and abandoned it. Put everything back in place and added a 6 gallon fuel tank in the center bench for kerosene to run both heaters. Now I know how much fuel is in the tank and no more water problems. While I had all the benches out I removed the ugly metal diamond plate floor and installed a cedar floor. Big improvement.

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