So the coldest snap of the year and on Monday morning we (or rather Rachel) woke up to a cold house and cold water out of the hot tap.... our oil fired boiler had broken down.
So I went onto Myboilerservice.com and was able to book an engineer for the next day, which was not too bad based on the time of year. I did a bit of reading around and the type of heater on my boiler is a standard fit on a lot around the globe - a Riello RDB. The internet hive minds consensus was to investigate the photocell first as this can be a common cause of the type of lockout failure I was experiencing.
I was not confident enough to remove the sensor, not being able to pull it out without forcing ... so I left it for the engineer and lit the fire here at the cottage and put the Rayburn on 24/7. Apart from having to strip wash it was quite comfortable and not dissimilar to being on the boat. We could not decant to the boat as the engine is still in bits.
Anyhow the engineer arrived in a snow storm and as the boiler is an outside unit I worked with him by holding my fishing umbrella over the workspace. This did allow me to get a workshop on the workings of the furnace aspect of the burner. He basically tested the oil flow (good) then cleaned the photocell (was dirty but wiped it clean) Replaced the nozzle, nope Tried the fuel pump, no difference, replaced the solenoid - no difference so rounded back on the photocell ! Good news (not) was it was the only part he did not have on his van.
After a few phone calls we found a merchant who had three on the shelves but closed in a hour and as the snow was coming thick and fast I opted for another no boiler night. Skip to today and I drove to Stoke to find the three on the shelves were not the correct type. More calls and I find one on the shelves of a merchant in Crewe !
Long story short, this is my boiler in the 'putting back together' stage and pleased to report my learned skills from Peter the engineer got me back up and running. As a belt and braces approach I have ordered a second photocell on the basis this is the part that fails the most.
I also sorted a small leak on a pipe while I was at it.
Ok, so whats all this go to do with boating. Well simply put 'power' draw for this type of system. A lot of smaller scale Webasto wet boilers are fitted to boats. I can see on my home boiler there is a fan to supercharge the flame and a large capacitor to no doubt provide a decent ignition source for the oil. On my home boiler its not an issue as I have a direct connection to the grid... but as we know on a boat all this comes from the batteries - or a hook up if marina dwelling.
If you are a cruising boat then it has to be the batteries and I can only assume such systems have a half decent power draw. I have a 'no power' stove with thermo cycling circulation and have in the past considered a Webasto or the like but I like KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) so my learning is if I was to have an oil heating system it would be of the drip type and with a gravity fed supply (no pump)
However I need a working engine first then some batteries so this post is really a record of my woes and how having secondary systems is always useful !