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The Norfolk Broads Forum / Broads Boat Owners Q & A / What freezes up on a boat?
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Posted By Discussion Topic: What freezes up on a boat?

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jamesbagnall
Feb-10-2006 @ 6:11 PM                           Permalink
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Hi all.

We have left our new boat for a couple of weeks, and understand that some rather cold weather might be on the way.

I know new boat owners are perhaps rather over cautious, but what do we need to do to protect the boat during very cold spells?

The owner of our moorings told us that we were going completely over the top by draining the hot & cold water system before leaving our boat last week and leaving an oil heater on 'frost' setting on the shore power. In fact it made him laugh - particularly after I asked him the air draft of our boat - which also made him laugh as we loaded everything including the kitchen sink aboard!!

I completely trust his experience of having a hire fleet for some thirty odd years - he said that he had never had a boat freeze up on him during that time.

However, being on the overcautious side, should we do any of the following:

- Use antifreeze in the cooling system on the engine (it doesn't currently appear to have any in the sealed cooling loop) - will we do any damage by introducing antifreeze at this point?
- How do we stop the 'raw' water cooling system from freezing? Is it acceptable to break one of the pipes at a junction and backfill with antifreeze? Or could this potentially cause problems too? The only problem I can think of is the pumping several litres of antifreeze out via the raw water system next time we start the engine (and the obvious environmental issues that creates).

Any experienced boat owners give me their opinion?

The last two things in the world I want to do is either do some damage by introducing antifreeze and conversly, do some frost damage by not....

Best wishes,

James.

roya
Feb-10-2006 @ 6:32 PM                           Permalink
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James the only (thing)i know to freeze on a boat is
Gill,
But thermals cured that,
Listen to the boat yard mate.

roya

A Day without a smile is a wasted day

robinw
Feb-10-2006 @ 6:51 PM                           Permalink
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Hi James, we drain the cold water tank and all the water system normally in November we then take bottles of water when we spend a weekend on the boat, we also put antifreez in the cooling system just as you would in your car, and close the raw water inlet valve off, putting a note over the ignition switch to remind you, we have done this all the years we have had the boat and not had any problems, we keep the boat afloat all winter as it seems better for our boat being wooden.

Robin.

Love, you forgot to say we have an in board engine which has an enclosed cooling system as opposed to an outboard which is cooled by raw water only. Happy boating James Suew

This message was edited by suew on Feb-10-06 @ 6:27 PM

Phil
Feb-10-2006 @ 7:27 PM                           Permalink
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James

We do exactly the same as Robin

The only time I have had any trouble was when I forgot to drain off the Instant water heater we had on our old boat, the coiled pipe burst and I had to have it repaired - not many boats now have this on the Broads due to the BSS

We leave anti freeze in the engine all the time, as you would your car engine

Another thing we do is to ensure our fuel tank is full, this prevents water in the diesel due to condensation

Phil

VetChugger
Feb-10-2006 @ 7:39 PM                           Permalink
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I go a step further with my boat partly because the engine is at the rear and only separated from the iutside world by a thin sheet of GRP! I mix a 50/50 antifreeze in a bucket, disconnect the rsw water inlet hose and turn the engine over to fill the system. The watre freezes over regularly where I am and I see no special reasons of dispensation for the water in the cooling system. Also, when I think of the cost of a Bowman heat exchanger this small labour is cheap!

Trevor

steve
Feb-10-2006 @ 8:30 PM                           Permalink
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hi all ,
when i winterise our boat i do these things ,
1st , drain pipes and water tanks ,
2nd antifreeze the engine ,
3rd fill up diesel tank ,& change diesel filters
4th oil change and filter change ,
5th , turn of water inlet stop cock ,and toilet inlet stop cocks ,
6, disconnet gas bottles and take home ,
hopefully this should prevent freezing over the winter and also engine ready for the next season ,
this has worked for us for a few years now .
cheers

steve and vicky

jamesbagnall
Feb-10-2006 @ 8:49 PM                           Permalink
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Thanks all for the advice - very useful thanks.

I think the only 'extra' I'll do to the work I've already carried out therefore, is introduce bucket of 50:50 water antifreeze to the rws as I agree that this is worth the effort for the risk of damaging the heat exchanger (mines a Bowman too).

What about the environmental impact of dumping a couple of litres of antifreeze into the river though - anyone see this as a problem, or does the junk that industry in the area (Cantley/Norwich etc) possibly pump into the Yare, and the tidal effect negate this?

I did also notice that we also have a 'Jabsco Accumulator' as part of the cold water system - something I've not seen before. I assume it is a pressure vessel to stop the common problem of the water pump cycling at night etc. when the system drops a little bit of pressure?

As I have drained the water system, does this require any bleeding/priming at all?

Best wishes,

James.

billmaxted
Feb-11-2006 @ 8:26 AM                           Permalink
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I can confirm over the years I have had pipe freeze on the domestic water system three times so it's not every year you have to worry but if you are on the yard you are around when the cold snap sets in. It's a good idea to leave the taps open in case there is any water trapped in them and make sure that the hot tank is properly drained remove a pipe close at hand. Any sealed system should have a strong dose of antifreeze because that water also circulated through the hot water tank as well of course.

I really don't think that squirting a couple of litres of antifreeze out of the exhaust is going to make any difference it will be dispersed almost immediately.

'You may only be going from Loddon to Reedham Ferry but I still don't think that the power lead you have connected will be long enough' Bill...

This message was edited by billmaxted on Feb-11-06 @ 7:26 AM

parahandy
Feb-11-2006 @ 8:34 PM                           Permalink
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hi james
i do basically the same as steve & vicky with one added extra i went to b,q & got some loft insulation the one that comes sealed in foil, so you dont get covered in fibreglass. then just wrap it round the engine bay only takes minutes.
and i have never had a problem

best wishes jim & sue

back to work already your'e joking

Jonboat
Feb-12-2006 @ 5:48 PM                           Permalink
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Just a minor point - "anti-freeze" is best left in the engine circuit all year round, as it is the anti-corrosion properties that you really need, plain water inside the engine will quickly cause corrosion to form which can cause all sorts of problems down the line. Blocked waterways, holed liners, erroded waterways at gasket faces, furred up heads etc.

Also, if mixed at too high a concentration, ie above what is recommended by the maker, then its cooling properties are degraded. The stuff I used last time recommended 25% concentration to cover down to -20 degrees, which should cover it in a boat. In a car, the air whistling through the radiator on a freezing cold day can quickly produce a wind-chill below even this temperature, so 33% is recommended.

All modern watercooled motorcycles must have 50% concentration, mainly for the anti-corrosion properties, being all-alloy construction engines.

On a different (similar) note, there is a product called "water-wetter" which when added to the cooling system, reduces the running temperature by around 10 degrees, useful if you have marginal cooling. Also stops air bubbles forming on the inside surfaces of the engine, which is where the corrosion starts, especially on the liners. I have seen these air-bubbles form a rust nubble which then eats through the liner wall, ending up with a pin-hole and then water in the liner, and also a highly pressurised cooling system. Expensive repair.

<`))))<      >'{{{{{{><

Jonboat.  A bad days fishing is better than a good day at work !

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