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Old 01-26-2015, 12:08 PM   #1
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Lofoten Diesel heater

so, have one of the Dickinson heaters (actually 2, but issue is with this model). The heater ran fine last year, but seems tot be having some kind of issue this year... trying to figure out what is causing it.

I start with a clean burner, no carbon. light it, adjust it and have a beautiful yellow dancing flame.. puts out lots of heat with setting just over 1. Makes it all nice and toasty.. but by morning the flame is lower, not putting out as much heat and when I cool and check it, there is considerable carbon built up on the base of the burner ring. Almost to the point of completely scabbing over the open circle.

Often when it starts acting up, the flame is "pulsing" where it is a low flame with an almost regular pulse of flare up for a second then back down to low flame. The flames are nice and yellow at this point, but they are a bit low in the burner ring and there is often some blue flames around the ring.

I have cleaned it completely of carbon... verified all fuel flows as good and proper rate... replaced the fuel pump... cleaned it again... played with the air flow.. played with the barometric damper... cleaned it again... used smaller pieces of paper to light it.. used bigger pieces of paper to light it...

occasionally it will run good the whole weekend.. but then goes back to acting up.... as soon as it does I can guarantee that the there is a bunch of carbon on the burner ring base and around the bottom of the burner bowl...

I love using the heater.. it makes good heat (when running right) and helps keeps the humidity down. Any ideas? Has anyone ever seen this "pulsing" effect before?????
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Old 01-26-2015, 02:53 PM   #2
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Don't know about pulsing, but I was always under the impression that yellow-blue was the color of flame most desirable. Orange is obviously bad, but just yellow resulted in carbon build up for me, too. Blue-yellow was the cleanest and made for very little carbon. Ours needed to be on a minimum setting of 2-3 in order to burn cleaner. Once, when I tried setting it to 1 overnight, it was not burning very clean by morning...
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Old 01-27-2015, 09:06 AM   #3
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Sounds like there is gropsh in the fuel delivery device.

It is a float device and not at all complex to clean.

I would purchase a second unit and install it , If cleaning it worrys you.

Simply return the used one to Dickinson for cleaning.

Many folks will use a gravity feed tank and since water and junk collect at the bottom,,,

If you have a lift pump setup , be sure the pump is working , not plugged with crap.

A final thought , as an experiment run the unit at above 1/2 and see what happens (besides loads of heat).
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Old 01-27-2015, 01:44 PM   #4
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just found a notice on the Dickinson site.. apparently there is a known issue with low sulpher diesel.... which is exactly what I filled with just a few days before this all started being a problem..... so, at the risk of being wrong, I think I can presume it is a fuel issue...

now to figure out the answer.. they talk about a baffle to help increase burn temps, but no mention on how to get one
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Old 01-27-2015, 04:05 PM   #5
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As for low suphur fuel I have to question that. I have had a Dickinson for 30 yrs now and the last 15 it has been getting low suphur fuel as that is all that has been available. No trouble as long as basic mtce. and cleaning periodially is done.

The only time I have had trouble like you describe is from the following:

-low fuel delivery from clogging inline filter or junk in the tank plugging the line

-If you do not have a filter then FF may be dead on as the trash may have gummed up the oil control valve.

-Puffing is indicative of too cool a burn, lack of fuel, or lack of air from a poor draft.

- Carbon buildup in fuel delivery port at base of burner which throttles fuel to the burner. This port MUST be kept clear. There is a plug in the tee that should be removed and the carbon reamed out from time to time. I also use a screwdriver from the burner side to do this . Low fire burning will increase this buildup rate. I got caught this last summer when I forgot about that little detail. Unless you do a lot of low heat burning this should only need attention once or twice a year.

-Burner air holes need to be poked out periodically or they may restrict air entry. There are about 30 holes around the burner pot in several layers.

-Fan may need to be used. I found many years ago that the continuous use of the fan made a huge difference in clean burning. Run at a low level, you do not want a blowtorch.


This next bit is for later once you sort out the current problem.
-when you look through the sight glass, you should be able to see through, the flame should be pulsing above the top ring. If not then the burner fuel setting is too low, the burner too cool, and not burning cleanly and will soot the interior and stack.

I use a small amount of alcohol in the burner pot to start. Put in ~2 ounces from a flip top squeeze bottle , then light half a paper towel and drop it in ensuring the alcohol catches, shut the lid and quickly turn on the fan for a positive air supply of the lack of draft will use the oxygen in the pot and then go out. Also of course turn on the fuel. As the alcohol burns the diesel takes its place and heats the pot for a good burn. The alcohol burns much more readily than cold diesel for easier, cleaner start with a whole lot less puffing out. The flip top bottle is easy to control and aim and almost foolproof since you do not want to spill any.

Something to consider. Behind the stove face and door assembly, at least on mine, is a small plate below the oven. It needs to be removed and the carbon buildup scraped out. . When i first did mine, someone told me as it was not in the manual, I had a lot. If heavy enough it can cause trouble, a fire, so if you didn't know about it then take a look. I made a tiny rake out of scraps and pulled the stuff into a pan held below the opening. Buildup is slow and not every bit has to be removed, just any heavy accumulation.

I periodically turn my stove up quite a bit so it gets really hot to clear out the interior. Good burning will show a whitish colour on the bricks and the sight glass will be dead clear.

We ALLWAYS prop the doors, both, open unless using the oven. The burner cover door , if you have one, should also be left open to keep the oil control valve cooler.

The oven heater control handle we always leave down unless using the oven. Unnecessary use does not heat the cabin any faster but will contribute to more sooting of the below the oven cavity.
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Old 01-28-2015, 01:09 PM   #6
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some more experimenting and last night was interesting.. increased air flow more than we used to have to do and suddenly we got *warm*.... even turned down on fuel flow it got almost too hot in the stateroom to sleep comfortably.

went back to the Dickinson site and one line of the "low sulpher" notice mentions using more air and possibly having to leave the fan on at all times... which is interesting since the user manual says the fan is not made for constant use and should only be used when needed for higher burn temps. Used to run at 1-2 on fuel setting with no fan needed all last winter.

Will see if higher air flow solves the issue. It was nice to have it running good again like it used to... but it was WARM!
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Old 01-29-2015, 11:31 PM   #7
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Which fan do you have? The tiny Canon motor unit or the big black motor that is about 2.5" diam and 3" long.

My tiny Canon fan motor runs any time the stove runs and i've used it like that for nearly 20 yrs. Same fan motor. There is the four speed rotary switch which adjust the speed and once the stove is fired I think I set the fan for second from slowest and that's good.

It needs a drop or two of oil on the bearing nearest the actual blade, once or twice a season. It may not have been intended for continuous use 24/7/365 but for yours and my typical use, over the weekend or three or four days, even a week they work just fine.
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Old 01-30-2015, 09:06 AM   #8
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When needing a fan on board , but not much the 24V computer fans run at 12V seem to be silent and very long lasting.
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:42 AM   #9
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IF you have combustion hassles with the local fuel, adding a couple of gallons (5%of tank size) of kerosene frequently helps.

With no toad taxes , it can some times cost no more than diesel.

This is also a tip for Espar and Webasto style units that suffer starting hassles.
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Old 02-01-2015, 07:44 AM   #10
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When needing a fan on board , but not much the 24V computer fans run at 12V seem to be silent and very long lasting.
That's a good idea. Thanks.
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Old 02-01-2015, 11:31 PM   #11
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Yes, it is.
Thank you from here too.
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Old 02-03-2015, 08:28 AM   #12
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One hassle with DC computer fans is they are not reversible.

We have over sized Dorades and use a 6 inch GRP down pipe thru the deck.

On top and bottom of each pipe is a plastic removable deck plate .

Should the Dorade be swept away , hopefully the plates will be water tight enough to keep the interior dry.

In winter with both plates , insulation can be pushed into the pipe for a warmer interior.

In summer we have 3 deck plate centers extra to use inside for venting..

These are cut to fit the fans after the fans are trimmed to round, and hot glued to a matching hole cut into the deck plate

A 12V unit to push air in , regardless of slight noise , a 24V to push and mounted upside down a 24 to suck air out.

The voltage draw is so low an earphone plug and socket allow instant replacement.

In warm climes , with frequent rain showers and little wind,,24v sucking the hot air from the boat all day works best, with almost no electric draw.
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Old 05-22-2015, 08:40 AM   #13
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I too had this same issue with my Loforten. It turned out that the rubber bellows in the fuel pump was rotted just enough to make the fuel flow erratic, thus the weird burning. If you have the Walboro style pump, you can get these replacement bellows from Dickinson and they are wicked cheap, and easy to replace. I spent quite a few winter days onboard my boat this past year, and with temps in the teens, the stove could keep the cabin temperature in the high 80's. I cant say enough good things about this stove. My fan is a bit noisy, but I appreciate the suggestions of upgrading to a 12V computer fan. I'm definitely going to try that.
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Old 05-23-2015, 06:40 AM   #14
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"upgrading to a 12V computer fan."

It might blow far too hard , if so just get the 24V unit.

Most of these draw quite well with zero help , so not much is required.

Simplest way to cure a pump hassle is a small gravity tank.
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Old 01-29-2016, 04:46 PM   #15
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Which fan do you have? The tiny Canon motor unit or the big black motor that is about 2.5" diam and 3" long.

My tiny Canon fan motor runs any time the stove runs and i've used it like that for nearly 20 yrs. Same fan motor. There is the four speed rotary switch which adjust the speed and once the stove is fired I think I set the fan for second from slowest and that's good.

It needs a drop or two of oil on the bearing nearest the actual blade, once or twice a season. It may not have been intended for continuous use 24/7/365 but for yours and my typical use, over the weekend or three or four days, even a week they work just fine.
I have the little cannon fan. The negative motor pin just broke off flush with the back of the motor. Bugger! Don't think I can solder it. New fan from Dickinson is $100, which is about $90 dollars more than it is worth.

Anyone ever replace this fan with a computer muffin fan? Not really sure just how hot it gets back there...
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Old 01-31-2016, 01:49 AM   #16
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Darn pins.
No mine is still going. I have reached in where the fan is when the stove is operating and it was warm. Long enough ago I don't clearly remember but I think I pulled back right quick.

I don't think the fan would have to be mounted tight to the opening. Maybe several pieces of small threaded rod used and bolted to the hole perimeter to act like studs to mount the muffin fan on. Usually those muffin fans have 4 holes, one at each corner.

Another project.
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Old 01-31-2016, 01:13 PM   #17
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fix the fan?

If this is the one you're talking about, why not pry back the 2-3 tabs holding the plastic back cover on, then you'll see the "tab" is crimped on a wire. Simply pull out the tab part, and solder on another wire through the hole to extend it to what you need. Then put the back cover together and bend the tabs back down around the back cover.

or pay $90 for a new one.

Lots of "robotics" places have small motors similar to that one. Get the mounting stud sizes and shaft dimensions and look around the web.
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Old 02-01-2016, 10:53 AM   #18
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Oh, I took it apart. (I take everything apart!) Honestly my soldering skills and iron are substandard. But instead of repairing, I found out that many HO trains use the same iron core motor. Got one on the way for $15.

It is a primitive and noisy fan design. Thought a muffin fan might have been an upgrade, but I think it might see too high of temperature.

Thanks for the suggestion.
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