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Old 01-19-2021, 07:24 PM   #1
slowbutsteady's Avatar
City: Everett
Vessel Name: Makeleah
Vessel Model: 34' 1981 CHB Tri Cabin
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 10
1981 Vintage Espar d3l heater

Hi folks,

I bought a 1981 33 CHB in november and found the old diesel heater onboard nonfunctional.

The heater is old - its the original espar d3l model from the 80's.

Im always one to try to fix the original item rather than jump to replacing it but Im wondering if I should just buy a similar brand new espar/airtronic d4 and hope that it mounts to the existing ducting without too much trouble.

what Ive tried:
- I replaced all the fuses - the one in the 12v power supply line and in the control unit

- I checked the diesel fuel feed/filter and confirmed no blockages (that I can see)

- I replaced the original glow plug with a new old stock I managed to find from a UK distributor.

I can turn the fan on for ventilation but when I turn the dial to full heat and set the thermostat I hear a click and there is a brief 12v power draw for about 3 seconds then another click and then nothing, no fan, no flame, no fuel pump activation.

Should I even be trying to save such an old unit? The old glow plug was horrendously rusty when I pulled it out.

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Old 01-19-2021, 09:07 PM   #2
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City: NW Washington State
Vessel Name: Kingfisher
Vessel Model: 37' converted gillnetter/crabber
Join Date: Oct 2017
Posts: 439
A friend recently went through this exact scenario with his ancient Espar. After spending too much time and money on trying to revive it, he replaced it with a Chinese-made model that was a direct drop-in replacement.
Anson & Donna

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. ~The Dalai Lama
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Old 01-19-2021, 09:33 PM   #3
slowbutsteady's Avatar
City: Everett
Vessel Name: Makeleah
Vessel Model: 34' 1981 CHB Tri Cabin
Join Date: Nov 2020
Posts: 10
Thanks - that was going to be my next question. The chinese units are like 150 bucks wheras the espar d4 is just shy of 1k.

Ive even heard that the newer espar units require just as much fiddling and am seriously considering the chinese knock off. Has your friend voiced any safety concerns? Thats the only hesitation I have
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Old 01-20-2021, 02:29 AM   #4
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City: Between Oregon and Alaska
Vessel Name: Charlie Harper
Vessel Model: Wheeler Shipyard 83'
Join Date: Jun 2016
Posts: 2,537
I've got 2 Chinese heaters. They seem to be as exact copies as the Chinese can make them. There a Youtube guy that did a bunch of exhaustive videos of the heaters:
John McK 47
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Old 01-20-2021, 07:35 AM   #5
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Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 22,336
To get operating the Espar need full voltage to get started , the glow plug and its resistance coil take big amps.

Check the voltage when starting , a battery charger may not provide 12,5 v during the start cycle.

The cheap china copy sounds like a good deal compared with the effort of replacing the fuel nozzle buried in the Espar.
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Old 01-20-2021, 09:10 AM   #6
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City: Groton, CT
Vessel Name: Datenight
Vessel Model: North Pacific 45
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 851
We had an old D4 I think on the green boat. I think I spent more time in maintenance than use.

I would go with the Chinese model. From what I've read they are better.

North Pacific 45
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Old 01-20-2021, 11:34 AM   #7
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City: Dewatto
Vessel Name: CHiTON
Vessel Model: Tung Hwa Clipper 30
Join Date: Jan 2020
Posts: 563
I had a Webasto on one boat and an Espar on the other. When the old Webasto acted up, I saw that the electrical control board was no longer available and the glow plug was $175. A complete new Chinese heater was $150. It works a little better than my $700 Espar. Just watch the accessory package that comes with the heater. They all vary. The muffler and 10 liter fuel tank accessories are worthless. The ductwork may allow you to install an additional heat register. The less resistance in the intake and hot air, the better these work.

Ignore the comments that these are "Chinese knockoffs." Any patents that Espar/Webasto etc. had on this concept are long expired. It's like claiming that Yokohama tires are a Jap knockoff of Goodyear tires. Charles Goodyear's patent expired a century ago. Get over it. It's capitalism and we're getting beaten fair and square on this one.
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