… for the Max from your sailing!

Article submitted by Darrel Walters – Maxi 38+ ‘Carpe Diem’

I wanted to put pen to paper and let others know there is a life after Ardic Heating systems.

People who own Maxi’s yachts know all to well that Ardic are no more and that there is only one company left in the Uk that you can get Ardic Spares from. I called them a week or so ago because my fan blower in my Ardic heater was making funny noises. I did back in 2009 replace said fan so I was quite surprised to think it was on its way out again after, well lets be honest know more than 100 hours worth of work. The water pump was also making noises, So asking the company for a price for both parts came to around £600.00 I know full well the parts are not worth that and I hate it when I feel I am held to ransom because of the supply and demand of said products drive the price instead of the true value.

This sort of price, you start to think if it may be worth just upgrading the whole system to something newer. Getting some prices from said company, about upgrading the diesel heater and the water heater to a dual element system, updating the blower for one more efficient and your not seeing much change out of around £4K.

Not really happy about the options available I did a bit of research into different makes. I tried calling Eberspecher in the UK only to find they don’t have a technical department. Tried a few other manufactures and again not much success.

I eventually got in contact with a company called Mikuni on the south coast and spoke to a guy called Steve Elliot. after a long chat and a few days later. It was agreed that I would purchase his own 5KW water heater and swap it for the Ardic heater. In the kit all the parts came that was needed to swap out the old and interface with the new.

Now I am no expert, but I undone the heater pipe of the side of the water heater in the engine bay and drained the coolant into a bucket. I undone the header tank and opened the vent valve in the pipe by the Ardic heater and drained enough of the coolant so taking of the pipes of the existing Ardic heater meant no coolant would be going all over the place.

I took the wooden cabinets out by the side of the aft double berth to expose the exhaust pipe. and the back of the wardrobe to expose the rest of the exhaust pipe.

Back in 2009 when I replaced the blower in the old heater, the old exhaust had some damage to it so I made temporary repairs back then, but now it would be better to rip that repair out and do a better job.

The exhaust that comes with the new heater is a lot smaller and comes with a silencer. I also bought from Steve some ventilation pipe to cover the exhaust like they did with the old exhaust.

Now I am no expert and Steve did recommend that I got a reducer made. But I went on and carried out the modification from fitting the smaller exhaust into the bigger exhaust.

I did not cut the smaller exhaust but fed it into the bigger exhaust, The bigger exhaust I cut the end into stripes.

I then wrapped heat insulation around the small exhaust and rammed it into the bigger exhaust making somewhat a better seal between the two. I managed to push this seal down by about an inch inside the larger exhaust, then filled the void left with heat resistant filler. With a Jubilee clip I clamped the stripes of the bigger exhaust around the smaller exhaust then used more filler to smoother the joint. Then I wrapped the joint with more isolation before sliding the ventilation pipe over the joint and using cable ties to hold it all together behind the carpentry.

The silencer sat at an angle behind the wardrobe, Steve included some step off clamps that I used to fix the silencer to the hull.

The bracket that holds the heater come with rubber mounting feet and does a great job of insulating the heater from the bracket to stop the resonance of the heater being heard through the aft cabin. (you will hear the heater in operation but no more than the old Ardic, just a different tone)

Wiring was very straight forward, simply connect the red and black wire (power) from the old Ardic heater to the new heater. The controller that comes with the new heater I left in the closet, but you could wire it out where ever you want it to be. Connecting the pipes was a doodle, as Steve included some 22 to 16 mm reducers. The diesel pump was straight forward and connected to the existing diesel flow easily. I have yet to mount the diesel pump and it is just resting on the back of the heater. when fixed to the side of the locker, you can hear it clicking away, So I need to rethink this or come up with a better bracket.

I have wired up the old heat exchanger fan motor to the output of the new heater, so when the heater gets up to around 50 degrees it switches the fan on like the old Ardic did. The new heater heats the whole system and engine in a round 1/2 an hour. when the whole system is up to temperature the new heater reduces its output to around 1.5 Kw and just warms the whole boat just nice on a chilly night. If you increase the speed of the heat exchanger blowers it calls for more heat the the heater up-rates back to 5KW.

I have used the old ardic thermostat to switch on the new heater by using the existing cables, But I think I need to rethink this a little.

I am also going to put a three way valve in the output from the engine. So I can isolate the engine from the system if I don’t want to heat up that lump of metal. This is straight forward and can be done with an electric valve that when you run the engine the engine heats the whole system and when you switch the engine of the flow from the heater by passes the engine. But as yet I have not found a cost effective electric valve. so may go manual.

Does it work ?, YES! it does very well, I am very happy, it produces the same amount of noise as the old Ardic, miles more efficient than the Ardic both on power consumption and diesel.

And the cost at the time of print was £700.00 + Vat (2013) for the heater, I have spent about £30.00 on bits and pieces and two evening’s of stripping the boat out and fitting it all back together.

So if your Ardic is giving up the ghost and you want to change give Steve a call at Mikuni Heating http://www.mikuniheating.com telephone 02380 528777, steve.elliott@mikuniheating.com

If you want to chat with me pop an email over darrel@locksonline.co.uk or visit my site should my email have changed by IT http://www.locksonline.co.uk

This is a true alternative that does not cost the earth, it works well, and I can recommend Steve as a top guy for customer service, and value for money.

I have attached a photo of the installation, the grey box in the   back is where I have jointed the loom, I did cut the loom down as it comes in very long lengths and rejoined everything in the grey box, fuses and relays are in this box, nice and tidy out of the way.

 Hydro 5 heater