October 21, 2009

How to install a Dickinson Marine Heater - an easy guide.

Are you planning to install a Dickinson marine heater? My marine fireplace has kept my sailboat cabin warm on many stormy nights and added a bit of old world charm in the process. However, putting a source of fire on a boat can be a bit intimidating . . .so, I put up these installation directions to show how to do it safely. In this post, I'm installing the Dickinson newport solid fuel heater (i burned driftwood as I sailed north to Alaska) but the instructions I give and the accessory parts are similar to the other versions of Dickinson marine heater (the Dickinson marine diesel heater and Dickinson marine propane heater).

I initially wrote this post in 2009, but I continue to update the post so all the links are accurate. The good news is that 10 years after the install, I still had no leaks in the cabin. 

install dickinson marine fireplace
freshly installed Dickinson marine fireplace in my Newport 30 sailboat

The Dickinson marine fireplace installation

Steve and I mounted the heater unit on the starboard teak bulkhead in the main cabin with a sheet of stainless steel behind it - the stainless sheet acts as a heat guard to protect surrounding wood. This 3 inch stainless steel flue pipe fits over the stove top. I think, all told, I used 3 of these 22 inch sections of flue pipe, in order to connect my heater with the cabin ceiling. I hack-sawed them to the right length, then you can fold and squeeze one end into the reciprocal end of the other.

All the flue pipe and other fittings mentioned in this post are Dickinson brand. You may be able to get away with buying 3 or 5 inch stainless pipe from a metal shop and save some cash in that regard.

You want to run the 3 inch flue pipe up to the ceiling of your cabin in a way that allows at least 4 feet of exposed stove pipe. This serves to get the most heat out of the pipe and also to prevent the pipe from being too hot when it runs through your deck. To achieve this, I  used the 45 degree stainless steel elbows to curve the pipe to the exact spot I wanted the pipe to exit the roof. As seen in the above picture.

install dickinson marine fireplace
5 inch hole drilled through balsa core deck

To install the 3 inch flue pipe through my fiberglass deck, we first drilled out a 5 inch hole with a 5 inch circular drill piece. This gives an inch of space surrounding the flue pipe - which serves as a heat break, it keeps the hot pipe from touching your boat deck. Next we epoxied over the exposed balsa core of the fiberglass deck - to seal against rain that might sneak in (i live in Seattle..).

install dickinson marine heater
teak winch mount sanded to lay flush on deck

Then I ran the flue pipe through the deck using a 3 inch deck fitting with dress ring. This is a critical piece. There's a rubber gasket that comes with this deck fitting that also helps keep out rain. Here's the link to the deck fitting. It comes with circular steel plates to flush it up clean with the deck and ceiling surface.

 A teak winch pad was installed on the exterior of the boat, to keep the chimney top at level. There's a curve of my boat deck, so the teak winch pad counters out that slope. You can use the same 5 inch circular drill bit to take out the circle in the middle of the teak winch pad. I then sanded the teak pad until the curve was flush with my deck, thus keeping the chimney top level.

install dickinson marine heater
we drilled in holes, then coated base with 4200 marine sealant
You can find teak pads at West Marine. We ordered this one and saved a bit of cash.


Then I popped on this medieval looking clover leaf smoke cap, that keeps out the back-draft. I found this at a used boat shop.

install dickinson marine heater
clover leaf smoke cap fit on a teak winch mount

Dickinson Marine Heater

It's now 2019 and I have nothing but cozy fires to report. The only downside is you need to keep well stocked with small pieces (6-8 inch) of wood or wood pellets, or my favorite - chunks of duralog. Any type of compressed fuel log, is nice because you can just use a big screwdriver to break off baseball size chunks. This means not having to wield a hatchet in the rain while you're standing in your fiberglass cockpit at 10 pm (I've been there...)

Additional Dickinson units

You can find product spec. info and pricing for additional heater models and all the accessory parts I talk about below at the Dickinson Marine store on Amazon. Certain high quality boating stores may also carry these parts. I found everything I needed at Fisheries Supply in Seattle. Now, I'm based in San Diego and we have Marine Exchange down in Shelter Island area. If you don't have a store like that where you live, then online is probably the way to go. 

Good luck with the install and stay warm!

still keeping the cabin warm 10 years later

My dock mate just dropped off a pile of dense, chopped up burl wood. We burned these while out on anchor on a chilly evening in Mariner's Cove. You can see this dense fuel burning in the picture.

The heater still works fine. The pretty painting of a Spanish galleon on the ceramic tile has faded. But aside from that, the structure remains un-compromised.

My girlfriend and I spent the evening drinking wine and reading books on old trading ships. 

No complaints...

October 16, 2009

Huge Day for the Captains Log

that is shala in the upper left corner out sailing last summer, she is featured in the Underway section of "Latitude and Attitudes", which is the creme de la creme of the 'pirate/Jimmy Buffet' genre of sailing publications, so ya know...

my boat is finally on the express trains to complete stardom

very exciting