Category Archives: Mechanical

Starter motor

Taking down the sails and getting ready to enter harbour only to find that something (discharged batteries?) prevents the starter motor from turning over at the usual pace is a somewhat tiring experience. In our case, the problem wasn’t discharged batteries but one of the brushes in the starter motor that had gotten stuck in its holder. Luckily, we had an extra brush holder complete with brushes on board; it took a bit more than an hour to change and the holder with brushes cost about USD 15.

On old holder (right), one brush was stuck.
On Anna, removing the starter motor is a 10 minute job due to easy access.

New thru hulls

Anna has ten thru hulls

  1. Engine cooling in
  2. Galley sink out
  3. Cockpit drain port out
  4. Cockpit drain starboard out + bilge pump out
  5. Aft head out
  6. Aft head in
  7. Aft head sink out
  8. Forward head in
  9. Forward head out
  10. Forward head sink out

Of these, we changed seven to bronze in 2010. The remaining three were 316 stainless steel and fairly new when we bought Anna. Although we were concerned about crevice corrosion, it was not until we noticed pitting 3-4 mm deep forming on the flange of one of these thru hulls combined with rusty seepage from the ball valve that we decided to swap the three for bronze.


Rusty seepage due to some previous owner fitting a 37mm hose to a 32mm hose adapter. Outside flange of thru hull also showed some 3-4mm deep pits.


Simple tool for pulling out old thru hull


New bronze fittings. Now with the correct diameter hose adapter.


Wind vane

After our post,, about the wind vane we put together for Anna, we have received a few requests for a little more info. So here’s a little video of the thing.


Basically, our misgivings about mounting the vane under the mizzen boom – supposedly made worse by relocating our two solar panels to the stern – were proven to be unfounded. However, we have so far not managed to get the vane to work with less than 2 knots boat speed, but maybe that is not to be expected. Light and fluky winds are not even easy for a human helmsman.

Apart from the obvious benefit of freeing the helmsman from the tiller, or wheel in our case, the main benefit of the wind vane is the substantial saving in power consumption when comparing with an autopilot. With the wind vane, we are self-sufficient as far as electricity goes with our two 54W solar panels – as long as it’s sunny…

Kerosene smell

After googling and some trial & error we have settled for the following treatment of the kerosene (Jet A1 fuel) which we use for our POD/GeHÃ¥ kerosene heater as well as lamps.

  • Add approx 1 kilogram of powdered limestone to 10 liters of kerosene. Shake and let settle for about 4-5 days. Siphon kerosene out of container so you don’t get the limestone sediment.
  • Mix 1 deciliter of isopropyl alcohol with a few drops of some essential oil (eg lemongrass oil).
  • Add the alcohol/oil mix to 10 liters of kerosene (1:100)

If the smell of the kerosene gets annoying (from spilling a little or messing with the burner…), leave a bowl with a little white vinegar overnight close to the source of the smell.
It is a little bit of work to treat the kerosene as above, but at a 70% cost saving compared to ‘lamp oil’, we feel it’s worth it.


A great web site on kerosene items is:

Compass bubble

On Anna, we have a pedestal compass, marked “Henry Browne & Sons, Barking & London, Sestrel, 17854IV”. Late 2014, a bubble, about 40mm in diameter, suddenly appeared in the compass. A small bubble is not a big deal, but this was sufficiently large to make me worry about possible condensation in the air space. Also, filling a compass is done in a matter of minutes, right?

After researching what to fill the compass with I tried to find Isopar (M or L); no luck. So I settled for petroleum paraffin (C10C13), which is sold as lamp oil. The often recommended baby oil is not suitable (and in any case more expensive) as it starts to go opaque below approc -15 degrees C; it’s not often that it gets that cold in southern Sweden, but it happens.

Looking back, this is how the work went:

  1. Remove bow thruster control panel (to get to the screws holding the ‘steel cage’).
  2. Remove steel cage surrounding compass (to get the compass out of the pedestal).
  3. Remove compass.
  4. Clean and epoxy holes in pedestal for steel cage (had started to work loose).
  5. Drill new holes in epoxy, once hardened.
  6. Sand and varnish teak trim surrounding compass.
  7. Remove old varnish on steel cage and polish.
  8. Scrape, sand, prime and paint compass cover.
  9. Polish out scratches from compass dome.
  10. Make gaskets to fit between steel cage and pedestal. Hopefully prevents it from working loose in the future.
  11. Solder new red diode onto compass night light cable.
  12. Fill compass.
  13. Refit compass, steel cage and bow thruster control panel.

Again, never think about how much work it will take to fix something on the boat. Just do it!

No, baby oil is not a good idea, at least not in Scandinavia. After half an hour in the freezer, it went from clear to slush.

No, baby oil is not a good idea, at least not in Scandinavia.


The oil was simply poured into the hole.


Might as well touch up the varnish on the teak trim. Steel cage can be seen bottom left.


And better scrape off that loose paint on the cover.


And those holes are starting to get bigger, making the steel cage a bit loose. Better expoxy them. And those non-matching screws have to be fixed.


And the new epoxy-PU paint on the dome cover doesn’t want to harden, so it goes in the oven.


This stuff, Xerapol plastic polish, bought from, works great to polish out minor scratches


And a new diode, instead of the old and burnt-out bulb, gets soldered onto the night light cable (the cable should be twisted to prevent interference with the compass). Almost done now…

New heater #2, installation

After finding out that the heater brand “Planar”, manufactured in Russia, are being sold at less than half the price of similar German heaters, I decided to replace our old Webasto. I found a complete kit of the model 44D-12-GP-TM available from , including a spare glow plug and freight, for only SEK 6,000. Delivery was prompt and trouble-free.

Installation was straight forward, except;
1. I replaced first three meters of heating duct (was 80mm, now 100mm). All the heating ducts have previously been insulated as it improves heating markedly.
2. Old heater had a pump lifting from the main fuel tank. New heater has a dedicated fuel tank (7 litres) – although this can be supplied from the main tank with a separate lift pump in the future. I decided for this solution so as to ensure clean fuel for the heater.
3. Connections for combustion air and exhaust are 26 and 24mm respectively, significantly smaller than the old heater, meaning that new reductions have to be made.

The heater started on the second attempt (after the fuel line had been primed…) and worked as expected.


The Planar is rougly the same size as the old Webasto, so coudl be fitted in the same location. Exhaust connection is still temporary, awaiting welding of 80-24 mm reduction. Some tidying up still left to be done…


Although manufactured in Russia, the heater is sold by Autoterm in the Czech Republic and carries a CE marking.



After installation, I was happy to confirm that the Planar actually consumed slightly less electricity than stated in the data sheet.

Heater alternatives

Prior to installing the kerosene heater (which heats the aft cabin and aft head only), we looked into


#1. Replacing our current Webasto HL3003 with a new forced air diesel heater
Benefits: Reduced draw on battery (approx 20-25% less at max setting). Reduced fuel consumption (approx 25% less at max setting). More control over settings (our current heater is either off or on full power). Can be fitted into our existing system of ducts. No new chimney needed. Uses same fuel as engine. Can be used while sailing/heeling.
Disadvantages: Cost (especially Webasto and Eberspächer, wheras Planar is less expensive). Does not supply hot tap water. Still draws about 10-60 W, depending on heat setting. Some noise.

#2. Changing to water heater
Benefits: Reduced draw on battery (approx. -50%), Reduced fuel consumption (approx -30%). Can be hooked into our hot tap water supply. No new chimney needed. Uses same fuel as engine. Can be used while sailing/heeling.
Disadvantages: Cost. Requires new distribution system + convectors. Still draws about 10-40 W.

#3. Kerosene heater (brand: POD)
Benefits: No, or minimal (1.2 W), draw on battery. Uses same fuel as lamps (we use our kerosene lamps every evening because we like them; it’s the brass, open fire thing). Almost silent. Cheap fuel (about 20% cheaper than diesel). Can be used while sailing/heeling.
Disadvantages: Smell (though not a lot, assuming that you set the wick at the proper level). Requires new chimney and new distribution system. Does not supply hot tap water.

#4. Propane/Butane heater (brand: Truma)
Benefits: Uses same fuel as cooker/oven. Can be used while sailing/heeling.
Disadvantages: Very expensive fuel (about 3 times the price of kerosene/diesel) – which is why we did not look into this further. Requires new gas installation.

#5. Diesel heater (brand: Glembring and Refleks)
Benefits: No, or minimal (1.2 W), draw on battery. Uses same fuel as engine. Almost silent.
Disadvantages: Requires new chimney and new distribution system. Does not supply hot tap water. Can not be used while sailing due to heeling.

In the end, how you weigh the different pros and cons depends on how you use the boat. For us, the wish to be able to anchor for a week in winter with no engine running required to produce electricity is an important aspect (we have a 12 V 400 A battery bank). In the end, that, combined with the cost of the Webasto and Eberspächer products, is what made us settle for the POD heater. Only later did we find the Planar brand heaters, which are about 50-70% cheaper than similar Webasto/Eberspächer, although the Planar heaters draw about 13-25% more amps, depending on the setting.

For us, even with the advantageous price of the Planar, replacing our forced air diesel heater would not have achieved the goal (no, or minimal, battery draw). But we are definitely considering the Planar for the future since it barely costs more than servicing a Webasto/Eberspächer.

When at anchor, and even more so when sailing, it is sufficient to heat the aft cabin and head (volume approx equivalent to a 25ft boat). The salon is difficult to heat when sailing, since crew passing up and down the companionway result in most heat being lost. Also, we rarely have people staying in the forepeak, nor use the forward head. Consequently, our basic heating requirement is about 1 kW. However, the possibility of occasionally heating the salon while at anchor, and even the forepeak, has some value and requires an additional 1 kW, which is the minimum setting on the new forced air heaters.