Installing a boiler stove on a boat

So, the stove. 
You may have noticed I’ve been procrastinating on writing this post for quite some time… Truth to tell, it was probably the most painful project we have completed so far. Not least because so much was riding on it – having barely survived our first winter with the temperamental 25 year old diesel-guzzling monster boiler we inherited (rusted chimney and all), a good new multifuel stove installation was always going to be essential this time around – especially as our little bun was due deep in the darkest depths of January. 

First, we had to insulate the hull behind where the stove would go, as we wouldn’t have such easy access once the new stove and its gravity fed system went in. 

 The silver bubble wrap that was there (and still is throughout Most of the boat – HOW DID THEY SURVIVE?!)

  

 Exposing bare hull beneath the bubble wrap

The waterline. This freaked the Owl out to such an extent that he destroyed his hands on a particularly aggressive wire brush and oxide mission to achieve this:

  

Pretty hunh? Still fricking freezing though. Also note the late night lighting. Last winter was fun in so many ways! 

    The celotex going in between the ribs, panel by panel

 All the saloon walls propped up in our bedroom. Note the baby basket and surrounding mess – next post: our new bedroom / nursery shelves!

Cue: much cursing as the Owl mastered the dark art of spray foam and got it all over the floor in the process (no photos here as I was too busy being annoyed…)

Our next ‘interesting’ (read: MAD) decision was to make the tiles for the hearth. We made them, but they took about two months longer than anticipated (squeezing in evenings and weekends around full time jobs and being pregnant) and didn’t all turn out amazingly (sadly I’m even worse at glazing than I thought I was).  

  The Owl, helping out one Saturday afternoon.

  Checking how many tiles fit on a top loader kiln shelf 

The start of the process: cutting and finishing new tiles

   Some trial layouts at the greenware stage 

Still, we got there, and found these great tilers on Check-a-Trade to come and install them. They thought the tiles were so great that one of them subsequently went and did an introductory pottery class at my old studio, Turning Earth in Hoxton! So that made me happy. 

   
   
Sadly there is no check-a-trade for boats. God, how I wish there was.  Instead, of the 16 boat yards we emailed last summer about installing the superduper-all-singing-all-dancing stove we’d chosen, only two got back to us. And only one of them wanted to do it.  And they rinsed us.

I still don’t know where we went wrong here, and I’ve been chewing over it for months now. We probably shouldn’t have bought the stove until we’d found an installer who knew what they were doing, and we should have allowed a (now standard for all our outsourced boat work) 3 month contingency for any setbacks, delays and let downs. 

The stove we chose is a Charnwood Cove 2B (model: Cove, size: 2, B = with a back boiler). 

Here it is on its plinth at Christmas, awaiting insulation and installation:

   

The Charnwood Cove 2B is, according to the lovely and knowledgable guy at the Kings Worthy foundry whose idea it was in the first place*, the “Rolls Royce of stoves” – which unfortunately meant that having bought it, we couldn’t find anyone who knew how to install it on a boat. 

Not that that stopped the guys we ended up with giving it a go. Normally you’d find a load of local corgi(?) registered installation engineers and pick one. But because we live on a boat, house rules do not apply and these guys wouldn’t touch it – we needed someone who could install it to the BSSC standard instead. 
So to cut a long story short, a installation job that started in October was finally completed in the first week of January to dubious standard, and destroyed all that remained of our renovation budget.  Suffice it to say we did not part on the best of terms with our contractors – BUT at least we got it installed, it’s still working despite a few frustrating hiccups that we think we’ve mostly mastered, and the boat was toasty and warm by the time I went into labour.  

Look, here it is!  And this makes us so happy it makes up for all the preceding hullabaloo: 

  Note: my beautiful new Christmas coal scuttle and fire irons 

So, we got there eventually, and we love it – it’s transformed our home in winter into a cosy den we don’t want to leave.  And it’s such a great, dry heat that our port lights don’t drop condensation any more, even in the depths of winter when we’re drying washable nappies on the rack overnight. 

#winningatlife

* NB: We didn’t buy it from him – on his recommendation – so I believe him,and will forever think kindly of him.

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One thought on “Installing a boiler stove on a boat

  1. Looks so fantastic Anna! I think this might be my favourite part of your project yet šŸ™‚

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