New Build Barging
New Build Barging.co.uk Including Replica Dutch Barges, River Barge, Broad Beam and Wide Beam narrowboat style barges
- Equipment On Board -
When it comes to fitting out a barge, there are many different equipment options available, and seemingly almost as many different views amongst boaters. Many of the options available are affected by the amount of time the barge will be away from it's mooring (cruising) and whether the mooring will have shore hook up (230v power supply). If you wish to cruise the
canal network your barge will have to meet Boat Safety Scheme standards, which could also affect the type of equipment installed. It is assumed that most new build barge buyers will want to do some fairly frequent cruising and have shore power to their main mooring, thus will be looking for as fully flexible system as possible. The following equipment is based on this assumption. (click heading to go directly to topic):- Many topics updated, and an an additional page added for updates to specific equipment after 5 years use here UK
Engine Boat Speed
Electrics Inverter 230v charger 12 /24v Electrics 230v Electrics Generator Batteries Alternator Controllers Galvanic Isolator Solar Panels
Heating Room Heating Water Heating
Barge Exterior Anodes Windows Collapsible Wheelhouse Exterior Cabin Painting Hull Painting Anchor & Winch Bow Thruster
Insulation Lining out Kitchen / Galley Water Interior lighting Toilets Lounge Furniture Bedrooms Engine Room
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Nearly all barge engines are diesel. Some barge builders will have their own preferred engine manufacturer, others will have a preferred small choice, some will install any engine manufacture. Probably best to go along with the builder choice, they will already have some experience installing the engine, and some experience on reliability. The last thing a barge builder would want is customer complaints over engine problems, so he will be looking for a reliable engine, and will likely know more about suitable engines than the customer (always exceptions).
Nearly all in the trade agree that the best type of engine for a barge is a 'normally aspirated' (not turbo charged) one…. Normally aspirated are better for low revving 'canal' cruising. Turbo charged are ideal for high revving (high speed) motor cruisers. We found this single consistent comment from most of the engine suppliers.
Nearly all barge engines are water-cooled, some have skin-cooling tanks, which are sealed and filled with antifreeze to avoid winter draining down. Sometimes this can be referred to as keel cooling, but keel cooling really refers to cooling pipes that run outside the hull. Others have fresh water-cooling, which takes in canal or river water via heat exchanger. The later is probably the most efficient, but can cause problems along many shallow UK canals when mud and litter are sucked into the filters, causing them to block. With keel cooling, the pipes can get damaged on underwater obstructions. The most common solution on new canal barges is skin cooling, as it is worry free cruising. The risk is that the cooling tank surfaces are insufficient in size, this should be calculated by the engine manufacturer. Some of the larger engines may require an unmanageable size tank thus necessitating an alternative cooling system.
Many modern engines are now supplied with two alternators. One to charge up the engine battery, the other (normally larger) to charge up the house / cabin batteries. This makes it nice and simple, but in order to fully charge the batteries an alternator controller is still required, and many of these controllers are capable of providing split charging facilities to two and even three battery banks (see alternator controllers section). It may therefore be worth considering one large alternator, especially if deciding on 24v as 170 amp (4Kw) alternators are widely available and will provide much more power than a commonly supplied twin 90 amp 12v system (each supplying just 1Kw).
Although the engine may be supplied and fitted by the boat manufacturer it is still a good idea to establish what you require on the engine, and specify this when ordering. Most engine manufacturers attend the larger ( London , Southampton , IWA and Crick) boat shows, and this gives an excellent opportunity to discuss your potential requirements with them (and compare them to the competition). We specified Elessina's Perkins engine to be supplied with 1 x 24v 170amp alternator plus 1 x 24v 50amp alternator and a 230v 3.5Kw Electrolux travel power alternator / generator. We also requested that it be supplied with a deluxe instrument panel (including oil, temperature & pressure gauges) plus calorifier valves (making it much easier to connect a calorifier to the engine at a later date, during fit-out) and that a mechanical sump drain pump be fitted (making engine oil changes much easier and quicker).
Engine exhausts are either 'wet' or 'dry'. Many 'experts' have differing opinions on which system is best. Generally wet exhausts are cheaper to install, smaller, easier run and quieter, but have the potential problem of blocked filters necessitating the installation of alarms because if a filter blocks, or the inlet, or impeller disintegrates (and these do occur) the exhaust rubber can melt & catch fire. It should not happen., but it can and many installations have multiple alarms in the system to detect potential faults. Dry exhausts are large, hot, more expensive, but trouble / maintenance free. Most are noisier than wet exhaust systems. Probably the quietest dry exhaust available is a 'hospital type'. A hospital type dry exhaust has a larger diameter muffled silencer, often used on generators installed in hospitals. If you want a maintenance free, quiet exhaust, specify a hospital type (at an extra cost of around £300).
Engine size will somewhat depend on 1) The amount you wish to pay, 2) The maximum speed you wish to travel - The faster you wish to go, the larger the engine size. 3) Your acceptable fuel consumption restraints - the smaller the engine the more economical it will be to run.... So the larger the engine the thirstier, under utilized, more expensive it will be, but the power will be there when needed. The smaller the engine the more fuel miserly, working to capacity, quiet, less expensive it will be, but under powered in an emergency. A compromise has to be found, which will likely depend on what waterways you intend to travel, eg tidal or non tidal.
Elessina has a Perkins M92 (92hp) engine., with a hospital type silencer. Why Perkins? Listening to installed barge engines, they seem to be the quietest around, most of the new barge users we have talked to have Perkins and have no complaints. Spares seem widely available throughout Europe and beyond. Our other considerations were Beta (we had a Beta on our narrowboat, with no complaints, but Beta did not have an engine in the 90hp region) and John Deer. Piper Boats also recommended Perkins and has fitted a number of their engines, so we opted for Perkins. Not the cheapest, but then you often have to pay a little more to get something better. But we are no engine experts!.
We did considered the larger 132hp 6 cylinder Perkins engine, but this would necessitate a larger engine room and wheel house (with around 2 feet of lost living space) and an extra cost of around £2,000 (£1000 each for engine and wheelhouse)…. In effect we would have to increase the boat size by 2 feet, at another cost. The benefits did not seem to be worthwhile, especially when I checked out the theoretical boat speed and fuel usage
Somebody kindly gave me a formula for roughly calculating boat speed through water:-
V = S * square root of L --- or--- V=SÖL
S = 10.665 / (D/P) ^(1/3)
Where S = the speed to waterline length ratio (max value 1.3)
D = displacement in lb (tons * 2200)
P = engine shaft HP at the propeller
V = barge speed in knots
L = waterline length in ft
From this I have calculated max speed of a 60ft, 22.5-ton barge at 9.36 knots. With the larger 130hp Perkins the maximum speed would be 10.63 knots, but would consume around 6 gal per hour (at max revs) compared to around 1 gal per hour normal cruising speed with 92hp engine. Not sure how accurate it is, but I used the formula to calculate the maximum speed of our narrowboat and it worked out at at 6 knots, which is about right. Elessina has a top speed of 9 Knots, so the formula has proved to be very accurate.
The formula is on an excel sheet, simply input displacement, engine hp at prop and waterline length to establish estimated maximum boat speed, you can download the excel file here Files\db spec.xls then click on the speed tab. Some other useful barge file are also on the excel sheet
The type of Electrical equipment and controls on board is full of compromises. If you want to be able to run any electrical equipment at the same time as all other equipment (eg washing machine, tumble dryer, microwave, kettle, vacuum cleaner, iron, hair dryer etc) all together, either with electric shore hook up or without, you could end up spending a fortune on some very complicated equipment. Compromise eg. discipline those on board to only use one or two of the 'high power' domestic appliances at a time and the cost comes tumbling down.
We decided we wanted the capability of being able to use any normal domestic appliance whether on shore electric hook up or whilst cruising, but have accepted that we will have to be careful on how many appliances we use at a time. We also decided to cook (oven and hob) with gas and use a gas kettle - with whistle - and have not missed the electric kettle at all.
To this end we calculated how much power (watts) would be consumed when:-
Not using any high power appliances (the minimum requirement)
800 watt hours per day
The maximum daily usage (one wash cycle, vac, iron, hair dryer etc)
3,200 wh / day
The daily average consumption over a week (2 wash cycles, weeks vac etc).
1,400 wh / day
Total 'all on' power consumption (if all appliances were turned on together)
A great deal of pre-planning is necessary prior to buying boat electrical equipment. First decide on cooking appliance (gas, electric or diesel), then how disciplined you can be with the use of high power appliances, and how often you will be without any shore power. These factors will influence generator size, inverter size and battery size / quantity.
Based on the above calculated power consumption figures, we decided to install:-
· Victron Phoenix Multiplus 24/3000/70 combi installed (around £1,500)
· 12 x 2v 920ahr traction batteries installed.
· 150w solar power generator at around £700
260W installed May 08 (£1000)
· 3.5Kw TravelPower 230v ac alternator on engine
Fisher Panda 4Kw Generator installed Jan 09
· Victron BMV 501 Battery Monitor installed (around £200)
We have to accept that we can not turn all appliances on at one time (8.5Kw all on!!!). Without shore power we are limited to running appliances up to around 2.5Kw without generator, and around 6Kw with Electrolux alternator / generator running (6Kw is the generator plus inverter rating).
Our aim was to keep the electrics as simple as possible. There are times when we will be moored up for days (maybe weeks) at a time without shore power (hook up) and without wishing to run the engine. But we are mindful when using heavy power appliances, by not using the vacuum cleaner, washing machine, iron and hair dryer all at the same time!. In general we have to restrict use of these appliances to one or two at a time. This saved considerable investment cost, and enables a simpler electrical system to be installed. The simpler the better (as far as I am concerned) as there is less to go wrong.
Feb 09. We have found that we do not need a generator during the cruising season when cruising an average of one hour per day. Our batteries and solar panels give us around 7 days on a mooring without power (but then we have to cruise 7 hours to charge up batteries). We run the washing machine when cruising. So we only need the generator when not cruising and on a mooring for a week or so. We use the generator primary to charge up the batteries (gas cooking, no air con.) The battery charger takes around 2Kw (70a at 24v) so we still have 2Kw spare for other use (washing machine or vac or hair dryer etc.) when the generator is on, so a 4Kw generator for us is plenty. With generator on through the Victron Multi plus we have around 7Kw available if needed, more for very short periods of time.
In order to run 230v appliances, from the batteries, an inverter is needed (an inverter increases the 12v or 24v battery voltage to 240v, the exact opposite of a transformer, which reduces voltage). A large inverter (2kw plus) is required to run heavy power appliances (washing machine, iron, hair dryer, etc.). The inverter must also be of a 'true sine wave' type and not quasi or square – very important if you wish to run washing machines, computers etc. - many are not. Some shore line hook up often restrict power, sometime to only 4amp (1Kw), so in order to run heavy power appliances, the inverter must also be able to supplement the incoming power requirements. Some inverters do this, so 1Kw of shore power plus a 2.5Kw inverter will give 3.5Kw max available power. So we are looking at inverters above 2Kw, which when connected to a restricted (low power) hook up, and / or generator can automatically supplement power from the batteries when needed and charge up batteries when there is a surplus of power. The Victron Phoenix Multiplus can do this and looks impressive, but there are four others worth looking at:-
- Victron Phoenix Multiplus 12/2500/120 (2.5Kw inverter with charger) around £1,750
- Mastervolt Dakar Combi 12/2500/100 (2.5Kw inverter with charger) around £1850
- Sterling CU123000 3.0Kw Combi at around £1,500 (due out soon)
- Studer Compact HPC 2512 (2.5Kw inverter with charger) around £1,700
PowerMaster Combi SL Series (
12v & 24v inverter with charger,
& 3000w = £
All five inverters are capable of providing around 3Kw power for short periods at a time (around 30mins) and up to 6Kw maximum for a few seconds. Inverters generally are around 90% efficient (which means a 1000w appliance may be taking around 1,100w from the battery), and use power even on standby. If there is an agent local to you stocking one of the above, then this could be the deciding factor to look for. Installation costs are not included in the above costs.
Elessina has a Victron Phoenix Multiplus 24/3000/70 combi installed. This was the only system we could find that supplements power from the batteries, and it works very well. With 16amp shore power we can have a 9amp (2.2Kw) electric heater plus 10a (2.5Kw) electric kettle, plus 2a (500w) electric drill and work lights with no problem. The extra power is simply taken out of the battery, then when we are using less than 16a (kettle off) the unit recharges the battery, all automatically. And if the shore supply fails (which ours often does for 5 mins or so), we can continue using power tools etc. The switch over to battery is automatic, apart from a different indicator light on the muliplus, you would not know the shore supply had failed.
Our Victron Multiplus is now 5 years old (2009). A marvellous piece of kit. It failed during 2009, Victron / Energy Solutions supplied a new one (later model), free of charge within a couple of weeks.
For more information on Combi inverters, including detailed specification comparisons between the 5 listed above click here
The established advise amongst boaters was to have a separate 230v battery charger, not a combined unit with inverter. Based or the fact that if the combined unit fails you will have no charging or inverter facilities. But over the last couple of years more and more combined units are coming on the market, and getting good reports, so we have decided to install a combined unit on Elessina. With a 12v system you should look towards a 100amp to 200 amp battery charging system, with 24v look between 50amp to 100amp. A stand alone charger will cost around £500. The more battery capacity you have and the quicker you wish to charge the batteries the larger the charger amps rating needs to be (and the higher the cost). Most of the combined 2Kw plus units have a build in charger between 100a and 200a (12v) and 50a and 100a (24v), generally the last unit of the Inverter Combis gives the charge rating eg Victron Multi Plus 24/2500/70 has a 70a charger.
Elessina's battery charger is built into the phoenix multiplus unit, 70amp at 24v.
12v appliances are cheaper and more widely available than 24v, but the longer the boat, the more the justification to go with a 24v system becomes. 45ft to 65ft probably being the difficult judgmental area. Running with 24v enables smaller diameter cables (half size) to be installed and reduces volt drop issues through the cables. Some large diameter cables are inevitable to some appliances (fridge, freezer, bow thrusters, anchor winch etc.) and generally a 24v system on a 60ft barge seems more logical, and most who have 12v / 24v knowledge recommend 24v. Having said that, most narrowboats (even 70ft ones) have 12v systems. After many decision changes we decided in the end go with 24v, the deciding factor simply being that nearly all the electrical experts believe 24v is best, and the engine manufacture also advised on 24v.
Consider 12v or 24v electrics for:-
- Room Lighting
- Navigation lights
- Navigation equipment
- Exterior horn
- Main drinking water pump
- Waste / Shower drain pumps
- Toilet pump
- Heating pumps (if required)
- Radio / CD player
- Possibly tv / pc
- Bow Thruster
- Anchor Winch
The primary reason for having a 12v / 24v fridge / freezer is to enable the inverter to be 'off' most of the time. Once an inverter is on, even if it is not supplying power it uses power, an added drain. So the idea is to minimise inverter 'on' time as much as possible. When the inverter in on 'standby' its power drain is around 6w. For the same reason it may be worth looking at 12v / 24v lighting and TVs, or possibly a normal TV with it's own small inverter. Many barge owners opt for 230v fridge freezers, run through the inverter when off shore power, but I suspect that most of these barges are hooked up to shore power most of the time, and have very large generators (around 10Kw) to cater for their needs when cruising. That said, 12 /24v appliances are very much more expensive than 230v appliances and normally give more problems and do not last as long as 230v.
We have 24v fridge and freezer, this enables us to turn off the inverter when cruising and not on shore power. Very please we have this capability, as turning off the inverter reduces our nominal current drain by around a third, which is quite significant over a 24hr period.
In order to run normal domestic 'high power' appliances a 230v distribution system is required, connected to the inverter / hook up / Generator. The 230v 'high power' appliances normally on board are:-
- Washing Machine / Tumble Dryer
Also High Power, but non essential (if gas cooking) include:-
- Electric Kettle
Medium Power appliances include:-
TV / Video / DVD
Elessina has a 4 way 230v distribution system 1)Port side, 2)starboard side, 3)Utility area, 4)rear cabin
Batteries and Battery Banks
Most barges will have two or three battery banks on board and possibly four. Each battery bank consists of between one and possibly 12 or even more batteries. One 'bank' is used to start the engine, another for normal 'household / cabin' appliances which is also connected to the inverter, and a third bank is sometimes installed for the bow thruster and anchor winch. Car batteries are no good for the 'house / cabin' battery supply, 'house' batteries are normally standard leisure type 12v (semi traction) batteries around the 100 amp size. These are widely available from camping & caravan shops at around £75 for 100amp sizes. Better (more expensive) batteries are available and will likely last longer, these include carbon fibre and gel batteries. Two volt (2v) traction batteries are generally considered to be the best (and most expensive).
Elessina has 12 x 2v 920ahr traction batteries. They weigh a ton (actually around 800Kg). Most experts advise that they should be good for around 15 years. In theory they hold 22Kwh of power, hopefully we will get around 9Kwh of available power from them. To date we have not run them down yet, as we are on shore power most of the time.
Feb 09. Still not run them down to 50%, probably more like 6Kw power available before 50% is reached. 50% is when a battery is considered flat.
The normal alternator supplied with the engine will likely use car derived components, and be suitable for charging car type batteries. This is ok for the engine starter battery, but not very efficient for the house / cabin batteries. Battery capacity and life expectancy is reduced with inefficient charging, to overcome this a regulator or battery management system is needed (Acorn, Sterling , Adverc, X-Alt, SmartGauge etc). These encourage the alternator to charge at relatively high voltage and then cycle repeated high, low, medium charge pulses to avoid battery damage (often referred to as 3 or 4 step charging) they charge up to around 95% capacity (instead of only around 80%) and can give 1 1/2 times the available power to a battery bank. This means that you will be able to get around 50amp hours out of each 110amp hour battery, instead of just 33 amp hours. It does not (unfortunately) mean that you get 165 amp hours from each 110amp hour battery! Many of the controllers will also split charge to 2, 3 or even 4 battery banks, so that separate battery banks can be charged from the same alternator. Some can connect two alternators together, to give a larger, quicker charge rate. They cost around £150 plus fitting.
The other advantages of alternator charge controllers are that they enable faster charging of batteries when away from a convenient mains supply and place a greater load on the engine which helps prevents engine ‘bore glaze’. Indeed if diode splitters are used to distribute power between battery banks, an alternator controller must be fitted. Buyers are advised to choose controllers with a ‘soft start’ facility to avoid sudden loads on drive belts.
Most barges without regular 230v shore or generator power (eg. if unable to regularly use a 230v multi stage mains battery charger) should have an alternator charge controller installed. If you have two alternators then probably best to get a controller that can combine the output of both, as this will quicken charging if only one battery bank is low (which is normally the case eg. your domestic battery bank).
We have not fitted an alternator controller. We have regular shore supply and 230v generator, so can 'multi-step' charge the batteries via our 230v battery charger / combi-inverter. However when we start to do a lot of cruising and find shore power less regular we might fit one.
Some Alternator controller web sites:-
The Acorn / Kestrel http://www.acornengineer.co.uk/kestrel_alt_controller.php
We now cruise extensively, but have not found we need an alternator controller....yet!!
You will need to know your battery state of charge, this can be achieved by simple volt metres, but battery monitoring system are available to give a more accurate indication and other useful battery / power information. These are available for around £150.
Elessina has a Victron BMV 501 Battery Monitor installed, tells us all we need to know. A little bit more expensive (around £200) than some of the others, but it is very good and does all we need, and you can plug a laptop pc into it to get even more info (for an extra cost!!).
An essential piece of kit if cruising / often on battery power.
A galvanic isolator or an isolation transformer needs to be fitted in the main electrical circuit (around £150). These units prevent hull corrosion due to small electrical current leaks. The leakage can come via the mains (poor hook ups) or from incorrectly wired DC, (starter motors etc). Without one a small current leak will quickly dissolve all the boat anodes then start on boat hull. And the leak cannot be seen, often the first indication is the erosion of the anodes. Some people say the transformer solution is best, but they are heavy and hum.
Elessina has a 16amp Victron isolation transformer installed. This means we have no hard wire / direct connection between boat and shore power, as the current passes through a small air gap (induction?) within the transformer. It makes a very slight humming noise, but installed in the engine room it can not be normally be heard.
Solar panel chargers are getting better and more popular. Since one of the largest current draws will be the fridge & freezer, which will be worse when it is hot (when the sun is out – when the solar panels work best!!!), it can make sense to cover this current draw with solar panels. A 150w solar panel will just about offset the fridge current draw on a reasonably sunny day, but will cost around £600. Most reports we have from users are very favourable towards solar, but not so much towards wind generators (difficult to permanently install on a barge that frequently goes under low bridges, and many have noise and durability issues!!).
Feb 09. We instslled 2 x Kyocera 130W 12V panels and a 15amp Steca PR1515 controller, wired up to give 24v. Installed May 2008. We have installed them in a single frame, that enables us to slightly tilt them (20 deg) to (manually) follow the sun. This helps, and often gives 20% more power than when flat. The Kyocera panels are Polycrystalline, which are around half the size of Amorphous panels, but slightly more expensive. With the controller and battery monitor I have taken some data over the cruising months.
Most barges that cruise have a built in water-cooled diesel generator. Some make do without, relying on boat engine alternators to generate power and charge up batteries, but running a large 90hp engine just to charge up the batteries is very inefficient and can do long term damage to the engine as most engines do not like to be run without load for long periods at a time (they were not designed for this). A few have portable 'Honda' type petrol generators, which are very quite and small, but need to be 'toped up' with petrol, which can be very dangerous and not environmentally friendly if spilled into the canal. Also some insurances will become invalid if petrol is on board.
A water-cooled diesel generator is expensive, costing from around £5,000 for a 4Kw unit up to £12,000 for a 10Kw unit. Size will depend on your power requirements. If intending to cook electric and wish to be able to turn on any appliance at any time then you are looking at 10Kw plus. If cooking with gas or diesel and can be disciplined to use only a couple of high power appliance at once, then a 3 or 4 Kw generator should suffice, especially if coupled together with a 2.5Kw inverter giving around 6Kw available power. Another advantage of a water-cooled diesel generator is that it can be connected to the hot water calorifier and produce domestic hot water as a by-product, which is ideal in summer if on a mooring without shore power and not cruising.
An alternative solution is to mount a 230v alternator on your main engine. A 3.5Kw unit costs around £2,000. It has the advantage of taking up less space in the engine room, lower installation cost and reduced maintenance. But the engine has to be running for it to work. However it is likely to do less long-term engine damage when run on a mooring as the 230v alternator will provide the load that engines need.
Most generators are 230v ac, but 12v and 24v dc units are available.
Having worked out all our anticipated power requirements (max power limited at any one time around 2.5kw, but average for each days use around 1500 watts) it indicates we need a generator only in the region of around 3kw. On an average day, without running the engine, I have calculated that the generator will have to run around 1 hour to recharge the batteries. Less if the generator is switched on when using the heavy power users (washing m/c etc)
A very important factor (for most people) in generator selection is noise. Most people will wish for it to be as quite as possible. Few manufacturers state noise outputs, and those that do often do not state how far away the readings were taken (eg 50db at 7m). Most users report that the slow revving (1500rpm) AC generators are much more pleasing on the ear than the lower cost 3,000 rpm generators, and will last twice as long.
We did look at 12v / 24v dc generators. In theory these would have provided our requirements and offer many benefits over AC generators (all you really need is to charge up the batteries as the batteries have sufficient power to run all appliances, including the washer dryer). But they are not very popular amongst boaters and feel we needed more recommendations from users before committing ourselves to one. All the dc manufacturers claim them to be simpler, cheaper and quieter. The generator can be set to automatically switch on when the battery charge level drops to a set amount (50%), then switch off when it reaches a set amount (90%), which would prolong battery life expectancy.
Some of the 'claimed' benefits of dc (12v or 24v) generators (as opposed to 230v)traditional AC generators):-
· Up to 70% less running time · Up to 90% fuel saving · Extended battery life · Quieter, cheaper, last longer, simpler.
Some available 12v / 24v marine Generators:-
· Beta Marine 160amp (or 90a 24v) dc generator £2,576 (not auto) · Fischer PanderAGT-DDC 180 & 280amp models at around £6,000 · HFL DC Traveller H1D12 90 & 140 amp models at around £4,000 · WhisperGen combined water heater (boiler) & 12v 750w output at around £12,000
With a 12v generator it seems that it would only need to be run twice per day for around half an hour to give us all the power we need. Also an air conditioner unit can be added for around £1,500 which uses 12v power. I do feel this could be a good alternative, but could not get sufficient experienced users feed back.
5 years on, and dc generators still not a popular option, and still very little feedback from users.
We decided to have a 230v 3.5Kw Electrolux Travel Power alternator fitted to the engine. At around £2,000 it is one of the cheapest solutions available (excluding petrol). The boat engine noise is comparable to that of a cocooned diesel generator, so noise is not an issue, our engine room is a little smaller than average so not having a generator frees up a little more space, maintenance should be less (no generator oil changes etc) and 3.5Kw is sufficient for our needs. 230v Electrolux alternators are recently becoming very popular on narrowboats, who do not have the room for generators, so they are 'tried and tested. The down side is the engine fuel consumption will be much worse than that of a generator. In 2005 I wrote "I think it will be the end of 2007 before we can say whether we chose correctly, by then we will either be looking at installing a water cooled generator to replace the Electrolux (£2000 wasted) or be saying that the Electrolux is great, and saved us over £2000. Time will tell."
The Electrolux Travel Power has not been as successful as we had hoped, the engine needs to be running fairly fast and it seems to reduce power quickly, probably because of the conflicting power output of the alternator..... so we do not gain much power when it is on. We tried a 2Kw Honda look-alike suitcase generator, despite being advertised as super smooth power output, it was not good enough to power the Victron inverter (only a Honda is likely to do this) and fiddling about with petrol and finding a suitable dry location where it could be run was never easy, so now (2008) looking at a 4Kw diesel, water cooled generator.
Feb 2009 TravelPower removed and a Fisher Panda 4Kw diesel generator installed.
There are a number of different types of heater units available that can be installed on barges, ranging from around £500 to £4,000. Although wood burning stoves is an option, it is fairly rare (unlike on narrowboats). Most barges have diesel fired heater units, because diesel is one of the safest fuels to have on board and the boat engine is diesel. With large diesel storage tanks already available for the main engine, it makes a lot of sense to install a diesel heating system. Gas is an alternative, but poses higher safety issues and would have to be room sealed to meet Boat Safety Scheme standards, and regularly transporting and changing over gas cylinders in winter is no fun.
For a 60ft barge with good insulation a heater unit of just under 10Kw output should prove more than adequate. For our 60ft barge, with 25mm foam spray insulation, I have calculated that we need around 7.5Kw of heat to keep the barge at a temperature of 21 deg, when -2 deg outside (a temperature difference of 23 deg). Generally the temperature in the UK is only lower than -2 deg during cold winter nights, during which time a room temperature of 21 deg is not required. With 50mm insulation we only need around 7Kw. To be on the cautious side, a 10Kw unit would be ideal.
Compact Forced Combustion Boilers. Many narrowboats and yachts install small neat compact 'forced combustion' diesel hot water systems manufactured by the likes of Mikuni, Webasto and Eberspaecher etc. These units are available around the 10Kw size so are more than adequate for the job based on output. But concerns have been expressed on their suitability for continual running during cold winter months. They use an electric pump to circulate water that consumes fairly large quantities of electricity and can be relatively noisy, particularly from outside the boat, also some reports suggest that they have only been designed for around 3,000hr service life and that the units have to be returned for service and service / repairs can be expensive. If used on a timer (often supplied) and run for an hour or so each morning and evening 3,000hrs will be good for around 4 years, but keep it on all the time and it will last just one winter. Possibly they are more suitable for leisure boats, not for constant live aboard during English winter. They are priced around £1,500, some barges have them to supplement other forms of heating. Few have them as the main heating source.
Drip feed boilers like the Kabola E range are quite popular. They look a little like wall mounted household boilers and are around the same size. The Kabola E7 boiler, has an output of 7.1Kw (greater is available eg E10 etc), and can be used to heat conventional hot water radiators and a water cylinder (calorifier) on a gravity system, thus (also) avoiding the need for (power hungry) electric pumps. Around the same price as the Mikuni Webasto or Eberspaecher systems, but really needs to be installed in the engine room. But this seems not such a good idea as daily checks on its operation / controls are needed. There appears no way of having any form of controls remote, so any time it is too hot or cold a trip into the engine room is required, which is not so ideal.
Pressure Jet Boilers are getting more popular (Kabola B series, Somy and Bubbles) and are the most efficient is use. They are also similar to household central heating boilers, and have remote timer & thermostatic control capabilities, and use an electric pump to circulate the water. Well worth considering if electric pumping power is not of primary concern (the pump can be quite power thirsty, but when on shore power, which is likely most of the time in winter, this is not a problem). Many larger barges have normal domestic oil fired boilers installed, and this is often considered the best (cheapest and most reliable) route, if space is available.
Diesel Stoves. The other option is a natural draught diesel marine stove heater (Bubbles, Kabola Old English, Lockgate etc). These stoves are now available with flame effect burners and can provide a pleasing focal point in the lounge area, especially with carved wood fire surround. They are available with or without a back boiler, with back boiler they can supply sufficient heat to warm the barge via hot water radiators and domestic hot water via calorifier tank. Also with thoughtful planning, the hot water radiators can be gravity fed, avoiding the need of (power hungry) water circulation pumps, but gravity feed systems can be problematic if not designed correctly and they are a little on the slow side in heating up water in the radiators. The main draw back with this type of heater is a) lack of timer and thermostatic controls and b) unable to provide hot water in summer (without having the fire on).
We feel we can live with the two concerns with the Bubbles / Old English stoves. The lack of timer and thermostatic controls is not such a big issue, because the (manual) controls are easy to hand, at the side of the stove in the saloon area. Too hot, turn it down, to cold, turn it up. The main issue with this is having hot water in the summer. Whilst cruising, with the engine running this is no problem with a calorifier is installed. Also it is no problem if on electric hook up as an emersion heater (in the calorifier) can be used. It is also possible to use the waste hot water from a 230v ac generator through the calorifier. Failing that a smaller Webasto type unit (around £1,000) could be installed, primarily for summer hot water.
You should ensure that sufficient size diesel tanks are installed at time of shell fabrication. A good idea would be to have sufficient size to enable 1,000 litre to be delivered at a time as bulk buying is likely to be more economical. Heating during winter months will likely consume around 10 gallons (50 litres) per week (more on a larger / poorly insulated barge). You may need a small (50gal) auxiliary tank to 'gravity feed' your heater. A small pump is often fitted between the two to transfer diesel from main tank to auxiliary. With the demise of red diesel for propulsion use on boats, a separate tank should be installed, just for heating and generator use (as red diesel will still be allowed, but must not be connected or transferable to engine. Some 'diesel' heaters can be adapted (new valves) to use paraffin, this might be a good alternative if red diesel availability disappears from canal side marinas.
Our choice on Elessina?. With these options we decided to install a diesel Bubbles stove in the lounge. It is a 5kW unit, with flame effect. We use it extensively, and the flame effect is great. It is a little slow in heating up the boat (around 6 hours from 3 deg to 20 deg), but once heated it will keep it cosy for ever. Lighting it is a little fiddly (takes around 2 minutes and I always get a little soot on my hands, on two occasions (when very cold) it did not light 1st time, but lit 2nd no problem), but much easier than a wood burning stove. After running continuously for around 6 weeks it needs a de-coke, and door glass clean. This entails turning the stove off until cold, then removing / scraping deposits of coal / coke from inside the stove. A little messy, takes around 15 minutes in total. I do not think we have ever needed to have the stove on max for any more than around an hour, apart from when heating up boat from cold. It's output is very good, it looks good and so far (3 years on) has proved 100% reliable.
An excellent piece of kit, simple and reliable.
We have also installed a 5.2Kw 24v Webasto Thermotop 50 kit (around £1,000). It is connected to 4 hot water radiators, 2 towel rails and hot water calorifier. This supplements our 5Kw Bubbles stove heater (so we will have 10Kw of heat available in total). We decided on the Webasto unit because it 'appears' to have fewer durability concerns than the others, needs no annual service, has ceramic long life glow pins lasting 10 times longer than traditional glow plugs still used by some manufacturers and has a low electrical power consumption plus 2 year warranty. We had some initial trouble, and it was eventually returned to the manufacturer for repair under warranty, but now running very well. Glad we chose the 5Kw version and not the 10Kw as it heats up all the rads to piping hot (just about touchable) after not much more than an hour. Very impressive output for it's very compact size. Because we have the Bubbles stove on pretty much all the time, we do not use the Webasto much, but it's timer functions are useful, and it is there when we need it. As for reliability, we shall have to wait and see.
Because the Bubbles stove is so good, we have not used the Webasto much.
With the installation of a calorifier on board, many options become available when wanting domestic hot water. A calorifier is am insulated copper (sometime stainless steel) tank that is used to heat up water. It works, and sometimes looks, very similar to the normal household domestic hot water cylinders, but is more heavily constructed due to higher pressure (engine) water connections. The calorifier should be as large as possible (12 gal minimum), well insulated, ideally vertical mounted (not horizontal) with a two heating coils and immersion heater. Location may dictate size and horizontal installation (horizontal is less efficient as heat rises and take off point is best at top of tank, which is difficult if horizontal). Two heating coils should be specified, one for the engine cooling water to pass through, the other for central heating boiler connections. This way you will automatically get (free) hot water whenever the boat engine is run for 30 mins and longer. Likewise when the heating boiler is on. Some manufacturers now do a third heating coil option, which could be connected to the generator cooling water supply. An immersion heater should be fitted, to facilitate hot water when on shore power or generator. Some people fit two immersion heaters, and use the second one when sufficient power is available.
Elessina's hot water calorifier is installed in the engine room. No connection to the bubbles stove, so we have three different ways of getting hot water 1) whenever we run the engine, 2) via 240v emersion heater and 3) when we run the Webasto central heating sytem.
4) we run the generator
Anodes are fitted to the barge hull, under the water, to help protect the steel hull from corrosion. They are sacrificial and therefore need to be periodically replaced when they have eroded away, which on average is around every 3 years. The idea is that any corrosion will occur first to the anodes and not the steel hull. On a 60ft barge 6 or 8 will be required, depending on anode size (3 or 4 each side, spaced equally apart).
Many advise zinc anodes for salt water, aluminium for brackish (mixture fresh and salt) and aluminium or magnesium for fresh (canal) water. Some suppliers do not sell magnesium anodes (eg Vetus) and advise against there use, as they can cause paint damage when in brackish or salt waters. Anodes can be welded directly on to the hull, but unless you have welding equipment, best to get the barge builder fit bolt on type, because when they have eroded away new ones can simply be bolted on. Around £150 including connection kit. You should also fit a galvanic isolator or an isolation transformer in the main electrical circuit to prevent hull corrosion due to small electrical current leaks. See electrics section.
Some experienced boaters do not believe anodes are worth fitting on fresh water barges, having seen the results on many boats after a few years they report that the anodes only protect a very small area, and as such would need many anodes to cover the entire boat. But most people fit them, we have installed 8 x 4.5Kg zinc bolt on's.
After 3 years in salt water, the zinc anodes had eroded away by about 50% (good). We replaced all anodes with magnesium ones, as we are now in fresh water. The only steelwork to suffer from rust over 3 years was the rudder, which did not have any anodes fitted (it now has!).
The traditional Dutch barge window have an arched / curved top. Most of the 'narrowboat' window suppliers do a Dutch Barge range of windows in various sizes. They are available single or double glazed, various colours / finishes including anodized gold. Some of the suppliers have recently introduced a powder coated gold finish, which they say is more durable and less prone to condensation than gold anodised, others are not so convinced.
If you do not like the screws showing on the outside of the windows, specify ‘insert’, a black plastic bead is supplied which wraps around the outside, covering up all the screw heads, at small extra cost. Alternatively go for clamp in type, they have the advantage of no external screws at all (clamped in) and arguably offer better security (as window can only be removed from inside), however they generally cost more and are much more difficult to replace, especially if the internal wood lining cover up the clamp devices.
For a live aboard, double glazed windows are worth considering, not so much for insulation properties but to prevent condensation. The three main suppliers are Severn Yacht Marine (Wifwerfen Windows), Caldwells and Channel glaze. They all do matching portholes and escape hatches
Elessina has double glazed Severn Yacht Marine (Wifwerfen Windows). They look good, no problems at all. Wifwerfen were recently taken over by 'Percy Lane Products', they continue to make boat windows from the same premises.
5 years on, no problems, still looking good, glad we had double glazed windows.
Many of the UK canals have low bridges, even the upper River Thames is only 7'-6" (2.3m) at Osney Bridge , so a collapsible (folding) wheelhouse is essential if you intend to cruise the UK canals. The measurement between water line and upper most part of a boat is called the air draft. There are some canals with less than 6'-6" air drafts, many have a 7'-6" limitation, but air draft with wheel house up will be around 8'-6".
Most wheelhouses are around 7 feet wide by 7 feet long, bigger is an option, but the larger it is the more difficult and time consuming it will be to fold. Some have hinged roof, others have lowering roofs, but the majority have (manual) lift off roof sections, often constructed from aluminium for lightness. A 7 ft wheelhouse will typically have 3 lift off roof sections, that can easily be removed with two people. The front, rear and sides then fold down giving the low air draft clearance. A well-designed collapsible wheelhouse should be 'collapsible' in around 5 minutes with two people. Wheelhouse framework is normally constructed from hard wood (Mahogany or Iroko are the most common), many have double-glazed windows to minimise condensation. Most have a radiator in the wheelhouse to give some warmth when cold.
Costs for collapsible wheelhouse range from around £5,000 to £9,500, fitted.
Elessina came complete with a collapsible wheelhouse. The Wheelhouse roof is supported off a hydraulically controlled front screen. The roof slides forward then lowers onto the front cabin roof, giving 6'- 9" air draft. With roof up air draft is 9'-9". Double glazed side windows have to be removed and the rear window folds down flat.
We have installed a radiator in the wheelhouse, with seating for six people, and we use this as our 'conservatory' room, and spend a lot of time there watching the world (and water) go by. Very relaxing. There are only a few days in the middle of winter where we find it to cold to have lunch there.
Most 'sailaways' only come supplied with one coat of primer, and will quickly start to rust if further coats are not applied soon after delivery (primer is not weatherproof for any length of time and should be covered up as soon as possible, and a further 3 coats of primer is recommended in addition to undercoat). Having had a (narrowboat) sailaway before we would not take delivery with just one coat again (we found painting to be a very time consuming laborious job, and one which we did not enjoy, probably because our primary focus was on the interior fit-out, but with the exterior corroding away quickly soon after delivery, painting became a necessity, slowing down interior progress). So as a result from 'lesson learned' Elessina was supplied fully painted.
There are many proprietary yacht paints on the market, some people use normal household paints, but having used and liked International Yacht paints on our narrowboat we specified the same again for Elessina. We have found that by going over any paint damage to the boat once per year with a 'car type' one coat corrosion inhibitor / primer (Hammerite Kurust or similar), then applying one coat International Toplac paint to the area (on the same day), the repaired areas are virtually invisible and last at least three years with no problem. This extends the appearance and length of the paint finish, possibly to 5 years. I do not think this would be possible with a 2 pack enamel paint finish, which is much more expensive. International and their Toplac gloss is not the cheapest, but we are happy with it, and so many boats I see become quite shabby very quickly with other paint finishes.
Elessina is finished with International Toplac paint above the hull.
Still looking good after 5 years. We touch up scratches and chips once per year, and this keeps her looking good.
Most barge hulls have a bituminous or coal tar coating on their hulls (often referred to as blacking), some new barges have a two pack epoxy coating. Bitumen based coating are probably the most common, as they are cheap, effective and easy to apply. The main drawback of bitumen is that it turns to a dull greyish colour over a period of time, and only looks black when wet, in spite of cleaning and is susceptible to damage from oil scum at the water line. Generally the hull needs painting every 3 years. Flat bottomed barge and narrowboat underside is normally left unpainted, this is because paint would scrape off very easily over shallow canal bottoms, there is less oxygen 24" under the water and they are normally made of thick (12mm) steel. A pre requisite of Two pack epoxy paint application is that the hull must be sand or grit blasted, which can considerably add to the expense. No paint will protect against the inevitable solid contact with concrete wharfs and lock sides etc. So many just apply the quickest, cheapest protection available.
We used Conventional International Intertuff on our narrowboat. After 3 years we had no problems, (except the dulling in colour and solid contact knocks) and is probably good for another year with a little touch up. But International does two 'better' products, Premium Intertuff 549 and High Performance Interzone 954. They have 3-5 years and 5-10 years service life, as opposed to only their advised 1-2 years for conventional Intertuff. This makes it appear that their High performance will last 5 times as long as their conventional product. It can only be sprayed on (one coat) and is much more expensive, but maybe the application will be cheaper. Conventional Intertuff can be applied over the high performance at a later date when needed. Maybe worth the additional cost, but nothing will protect against the inevitable occasional solid contacts with concrete wharfs etc.
A reputable paint manufacturer quotes “In most aspects a two pack paint system is superior to a single pack product, such as Black Bitumen. However, in situations of severe abrasion where hull plates are subjected to movement from impact damage, a soft product such as Black Bitumen is a more practical option.”…. so if you are confident that you will keep clear of lock sides, wharfs other boats etc. go for two pack, if not go for bitumen!!!!.
Elessina has 3 coats of Comastic black on hull sides and chines..
Hull re-blacked with Comastic after 3 years in salt water. The comastic had done a great job protecting the hull, with no rust visible, except on the waterline of the rudder. Click here for more info on slipping
This is quite a costly, but essential, item. An electric winch (or windlass) costs around £1000, anchor £200 and galvanised chain around £250 plus batteries / charging facilities. We have been advised that a 1.5Kw winch is required?. We do not believe we will use the anchor a great deal, as most of our cruising will be along canals. However since we are moored along the tidal River Medway an anchor is essential, if only for emergency use. Lofrans seem to be the main manufacturer of windlasses (Italian I believe), they have a good selection available and seem to offer good value compared to others around. The horizontal windlasses looks more barge type.
12mm (1/2") chain seems to be the correct size, it weighs around 90Kg per 30m (200lb per 100ft) so total weight including anchor will be around 250lb, which is around 1/10 of a Lofrans 1200w windlass maximum pull capability (1100Kg, 2420 lb). 1200w seems sufficient, but best to seek expert advise for anchor types / suitability. The cable size to a 1200W motor is considerable, likely around 50mm2 on a 60 ft barge, greater on a longer barge. The other alternative is a manual winch, but these only seem to be available for up to 10 mm chain size.
A bow thruster is starting to be considered as almost a mandatory fit to new barges (some say they are marriage savers!). Certainly a tube should be fitted in the hull, to allow for later installation. With a bow thruster installed you can control the sideways movement of the bow of the boat, which can be very handy on windy days when you are very close to expensive glass fibre cruisers! But then barge poles can also be effective. Most bow thrusters installed are 12v / 24v electric, but hydraulic units are available. Electric bow thrusters are cheaper (around £2,000 plus fitting) but because of their high power (5Kw plus) they can only be used for short periods at a time, nominally around 4 minutes in an hour, and likely 4 minutes use will also flatten the battery which will take longer than one hour to recharge. The alternative hydraulic units are much better in this respect, but will need hydraulic equipment (pump tanks etc) installed, which when added together will likely be around £3,000 plus fitting. Hydraulic cables will also have to be run from engine area to the bow. A weed hatch is advised, to be able to get access to the bow thruster blades to clear weed etc. Some barge fabricators do not fit this as standard.
Electric bow thrusters normally have their own battery(s) installed close to the bow thruster with a separate charge facility from engine and 230v charger. However with 24v it may be possible to run the bow thruster off the house / cabin batteries, with (very) large diameter cables (depending on how far away the batteries are from the bow thruster). We are looking into these possibilities. If possible it will save separate charging to battery in the bow and make available more power enabling longer bow thrusters run times. With a 5Kw bow thruster, calculations show we will need a 65mm2 cable in order to keep volt drop down to the absolute minimum of 10%.
According to the Vetus catalogue calculations, Elessina needs a Bow thruster around 90Kgf, suitable up to force 5 winds and 152Kgf for winds up to force 6. So we are looking at the 95Kgf, 5.4Kw version, connected to '24v house' battery bank in engine room, some 15m from the bow thruster. The Vetus 160Kgf bow thrusters is 7Kw, and would require a minimum cable size of 130mm2 , which if supplied from the 'house' battery bank in the engine room is, in my opinion, not feasible, and therefore would need separate batteries at the bow. A force 5 wind is a fairly strong wind, so I see the Vetus 95Kgf version suitable for us, after all, many people do without any form of bow thrusters, and we will still have a boat pole!!. Vetus use force 5 in their example.... Force 5 wind = 9m/s = 20 miles / hr. However your choice of bow thruster size may be dictated by the pre-installed tube size.
Elessina has a 160Kgf 7kW Vetus 24v bow thruster installed. We installed 2 x 2 x90mm2 cable (giving 180mm2 total) feed and return from the main house batteries to the bow thruster. The cables cost around £400, but the alternative was a separate battery(s) and separate charging system, which would cost close on £400. Because we have the large battery power (12 x 2v x 920ahr) and large charging facilities, we decided to go this route. It works very well, only needing a couple of seconds running to move the bow in either direction.
Highly recommended, especially along narrow rivers and canals.
In order to fix wooden roof and side panels to the steel structure of the barge, wooden battens are installed across the roof, around window frames and down barge sides. After the battens are installed, thermal insulation needs to be installed between the battens. Depending on batten and frame thickness, probably 2" (50mm) thick insulation can be applied. This Insulation needs to be applied to all the hull and cabin sides, roof and end bulkheads. It can be applied to underside of floor, but this is unusual and could be counterproductive as heat loss downwards is not so great and under floor areas (bilges) need some ventilation.
There are basically four different types of insulation. Polyurethane spray foam, Polystyrene foam, Rockwool and a fairly recent product to the marine industry called 3M Thinsulate. Insulation is measured in 'U' values, the smaller the number the more effective the insulation. Polyurethane spray foam has the lowest 'U' value at around 0.2, Rockwool is around 0.38 and Polystyrene around 0.4. A 1" (25mm) thick layer of Polyurethane spray foam will stop around 87% of heat loss, a 2" layer increases this to 93%. Polystyrene and Rockwool needs to be 2" (50mm) thick to stop 87% of heat loss, 4" will achieve 93%. Not sure how
3M Thinsulate compares, but I think it's U value is between
Polyurethane spray foam and
Spray (Polyurethane) Foam.
Until recently unquestionably the most effective, but costly, insulation material available. It has higher insulation values than other materials and creeps into awkward crevices. Even more importantly it also acts as a vapour barrier preventing condensation forming and steel rusting from within the inside. Excellent insulation properties, warmth in winter, cool in summer, with good sound deadening properties. Most polyurethane spray foam is rated at class 1 fire resistance, which is the highest rating below class 0, which is totally non flammable. It will not burn, but can smoulder / smoke.
Because of the expensive equipment needed for the spraying, specialist companies normally do this job. There are a few around, often advertising in the monthly narrowboat canal magazines and DBA's Blue Flag..
Rockwool has the advantage of being completely non flammable, but like polystyrene because it comes in sheet form, it is difficult to press into corners and hold tightly against steel sides which allows condensation and rust to form. Thus it is important to paint behind the insulation. It is one of the most widely used insulators. Provides an adequate level of thermal insulation and is reasonably cheap. Unfortunately Rockwool creates unpleasant shards of glass fibre, due to this masks and gloves need to be worn. It also holds water; and if condensation forms on the steel which the rockwool is up against it disintegrates and a within a few years if the lining is removed you are likely to find a mouldy sludge underneath, and no insulation!!
Expanded Polystyrene and
Expanded Polystyrene is a lightweight insulator, but inferior performance. Extremely brittle and cannot be applied to curved surfaces without creating air pockets, where moisture can form. This material has also been known to absorb water. Electric cables need conduit, as polystyrene reacts with the cables insulation. :
Styrofoam is slightly stronger than expanded polystyrene, but 35mm+ required for it to be as effective as necessary. Similar in appearance. Still cannot be fixed to curved surfaces without creating air pockets.
Thinsulate Acoustic Insulation is the innovative acoustic control material from 3M. It can be fixed to any surface, flat or curved. Only 25mm thick so minimal space is wasted due to insulation. Provides thermal and acoustic insulation, and can be installed with no gloves and masks. No noxious gasses released, and Thinsulate simply disappears in a fire. Hydrophobic, so it will not hold water or be affected by it. Condensation will not get the chance to form, as Thinsulate is bonded directly to the steel using a safe, waterbased adhesive called Fastbod 49. Because it is lightweight, flexible and easy to install, and offers excellent sound absorbtion and insulation properties it is fast becoming a direct competitor to spray foam in the Narrowboat/Steel boat building industry, with an increasing number of large builders going over to using Thinsulate for insulating their boats. And it can be DIY installed (unlike spray foam). See 3M
web page for more details
Elessina came supplied fully battened and spray foamed, saving us an organisational job. The
spray foam insulation is great. But if starting starting again, and especially if we wished to do the insulation ourselves, I would give some serious consideration to 3M Thinsulate which was not so readily available / known when we had ours spray foamed.
Most barges are lined out in the same way as narrowboats, generally veneered plywood with hard wood trims covering the joins. Tongue and groove is not a popular option amongst boat builders any more, even though it was once the recognised 'traditional' method. Because of the size associated with a barge, there is no reason to have all rooms lined out the same. If it is a DIY fit-out, there is little economies of scale to be realized with one lining throughout. After all, most houses have different decorations in each room.
We lined out our narrowboat in pine tongue and groove, and it looks very effective, but it can look a little heavy, especially with dark / hard wood furniture, which we will have a lot more of in our barge
We wanted Elessina to have a 'traditional' interior, but want to keep it as light as possible, even white. Most of the interior is plywood, painted off-white, trimmed with Iroko wood. We are lining out room by room, enabling us to have different material in different rooms. We wish to make the lounge kitchen and bathroom as 'homely like' as possible and have installed a feature fireplace along the front wall of the lounge, and feel this is best against a plain off-white wall with iroko hardwood trims. Although not traditional it looks effective, gives a brighter cleaner look and is simple and cost effective. To some extent, we will use this as our base line design. We have a 'birch' theme in the galley, gloss white doors in the bathroom, beech in the master bedroom and warm cherry in the saloon.
A full size kitchen, equal to many house kitchens, can easily be installed in a barge 50ft plus. Equipped with full size sinks, cookers, microwaves, fridge, freezers, washing machines, even dishwashers. Most barge manufacturers will make the units from scratch. This is not necessary in a DIY fit-out, and normal B&Q / MFI units look equally at home.
On Elessina have made the galley as much like a normal home kitchen as possible. A 'L' shape design is planned, with sink under window. We have used B&Q flat pack units with birch wood doors. We feel it has worked out very well and looks very impressive (better than some professional boat builders!). The carcasses have been cut back / angled to suit, but this is no major problem. Some may say that chipboard should not be used in a 'wet' boat, but the way I see it, if the inside gets wet, there are bigger problems than exploded chipboard veneer on the kitchen units!!!!!. A stainless steel gas oven has been installed, with gas hob. This will be the only gas equipment on board, and we have installed gas and carbon monoxide detectors as a safety precaution. We have looked at electric and diesel cookers / hobs, but decided to keep with gas. The diesel cookers available are too yachty, not homely. Both oven and hob have flame failure devices fitted (essential safety requirement on any boat), it cuts off the gas supply if the flame is blown out.
Our gas supply to the hob and oven can be isolated at a touch of a button from adjacent to the oven. This is done via an electronic solenoid valve. The valve is located just after the gas bottle in the gas locker (outside the boat). Prior to turning the hob or oven 'on' we press the button to open the valve, after cooking we press the button to close the valve (there is a small LED light below the button indicating whether valve is on or off). This ensures there is no live gas on board except during cooking (we have no other gas appliances). Also the gas alarm with it's 2 sensor heads located under the oven automatically close the valve if gas is sensed. The valve is also automatically closed if there is no power supply to the valve (but can be manually opened in case of low battery power etc.) . Over 2 years we have had some false alarms, often when the batteries are charging or we are vacuum cleaning, or an exterior smell wafts in. The Pilot gas alarm system (complete with solenoid valve a 2 sensors) is around £200.
Fridge & Freezer are both 24v (Shoreline), as our research concluded they use less energy than an equivalent 230v unit when run through an inverter. Shoreline do a combined model, whose current draw specification (amps/hour) is impressive, however it is to tall to stand under the gunnels, so separate 100 litre fridge (with small freezer compartment) and 100 litre freezer taking 260wh and 360wh average power per day have been installed. Higher expense outlay than normal 230v, but in our opinion likely worth it long term. Looking at Specifications in a mail order catalogue a typical 'A' class 130 litre fridge consumes 3 times the power of Shorelines 130 litre fridge, and an 'A' class 100 litre freezer consumes twice the power. If these were run through an inverter they would consume even more power, so a 24v shoreline fridge is definitely more efficient!. We also ran our own test on the fridge over a 4 day period and found it to be even more efficient (by 25%) than the manufacturers claim. It has been running constantly now for 6 months with no problems at all.
We have installed the fridge and freezer in the walkway between front and rear cabins. There is space for three units (including washing machine at 600mm each). We considered installing a dish washer, but with power and space limitation decided not to. The sink is under a window, so washing up will not be to bad!!.
We have installed a 24v shoreline fridge and a 24v shoreline freezer. They look like domestic under counter fridge / freezers, but have an 'integrated door' look with Shorelines door kit. Although more expensive, they use much less power than 230v appliances, and we do not have to have the inverter switched on to run them, saving more power. I have done some tests on power consumption of the fridge and it actually used less power the that stated by Shoreline.
We have installed a Hotpoint Integrated 'Super Silent washer dryer, from Screwfix. Works well, is much, much quieter than normal and looks like a normal kitchen unit when the door is closed. No condensation at all produced during 'tumble dryer' operation.
Note. It is highly recommend that CO (Carbon Monoxide) detectors are fitted in all rooms that burn fuel and one by every bed. As CO it is silent & DEADLY. They are battery run & cost around £25 from B&Q Tesco etc. We have one that gives a digital read out of the amount of carbon monoxide, with memory functions, around £40.
Fresh water on board is pumped. The same pump is used for hot and cold water. Open the tap and the pump automatically operates. Usually 12v or 24v pumps are installed, most operated by a pressure switch, which senses water pressure in the pipe system. Turn on the tap and the pressure drops, the switch contacts close and the pump operates. Depending on pump size, a number of taps can be turned on at once without noticeable loss of flow. An accumulation tank is often fitted to 'smooth out' low flow rates when a tap is only partially on. It stops the pump cycling on-off-on which otherwise puts additional wear on the pump contacts causing it to fail. Some people fit two smaller pumps, together they provide a good flow when required but have the benefit of having a ready installed standby should one fail.
Normal household copper piping can be used, but increasingly semi rigid plastic tubing with plastic push on fittings are being installed. Although there is a slight cost disadvantage, it makes the installation quicker and easier and is less prone to bursting if water freezes.
Elessina has a Whale high capacity pressure pump (18 l/min) and 12 litre accumulation tank with 'Speedfit' plastic 15mm pipe.
Whale pump replaced after 3 years use (leaking water from pump body). Replaced with a Jabasco ParMax3 (13.2 litres/minute) pump, which we have found much quieter than the Whale, and flow not significantly less (adequate).
Lighting can be 12v / 24v or 230v, or a mixture of both. Our plan for Elessina is for a predominantly 24v (or 12v) lighting system. We have 12v lighting on our narrowboat and find it satisfactory. We have 12v lighting in our kitchen at home and like it. Indeed low voltage lighting is getting very popular in houses where 230v has always been the norm. If we were on shore hook up all of the time then 230v could arguably be deemed the best system. But I do not see that we will have hook up facilities all of the time, in which case we would have to use 230v lighting through the inverter / battery, which would be rather inefficient and drain batteries quicker. We will have some 230v table lights, connected to the 230v ring main sockets, that can be used when on hook up.... Maybe we will have a couple of 230v lights as well as 24v.
Elessina has around 30 gold flush fitting down lights in the ceiling, all 24v with G4 type halogen bulbs. Each light has it's own (very small) built in micro-switch, they are wired up in banks connected to a light switch, one bank for galley, another for lounge, bathroom, rear cabin etc. We often turn off some of the saloon down lighters in the evening, even when on Shore power, as it seems more cosy with just a few lights, but other times all are needed. So we are pleased to have each down lighter switchable.
We have replaced some (12) of the 24v halogen bulbs with LED bulbs. The LED's consume 1w (halogens 10w), but cost around £10 each instead of around £2.50. However when on battery power the savings are considerable.
On barges around 60ft plus, two bathrooms are pretty much the norm. Barge bathrooms can be very much as nice as house bathrooms, with full size shower enclosures or baths. Indeed, all normal house style fittings and fixtures. The only real noticeable exception is the toilet itself. This generally is a purpose made 'boat' unit with inbuilt pumps and controls. But some 'look' like a normal loo, but with push button electric flush controls instead of handle. If fresh water supplies and waste tank size were not a problem, a normal loo could be installed with a 230v macerator pump unit. But if fresh water is from your boat tank, it will be limited, and if you are on inland waterways where waste must be collected in a tank and not discharged overboard you will want one of the 'boat' loos which use much less water. Lee Sanitation have a good range of toilets and produce a good catalogue that describes necessary accessories, connection etc. A boat toilet with pumps etc costs around £400. Unfortunately they are easily blocked by foreign articles. The waste tank (installed during shell build) should be of adequate size. We were advised to allow 50 gallons per week per couple. So a 200 gallon tank may only last around 2 weeks if there are 4 people on board.
Elessina has 2 electric macerator toilets, one in the rear cabin bathroom, and one in the main cabin bathroom. Both are Sanimarin (C48 and C35) with tri-flush (1.2l eco, 2.8l normal and empty only) capabilities. Both are connected to 3 way valves, enabling then to be flushed to tank or sea. Each has it's own sea valve, but both are connected to a single 1000 litre tank. We have been using the smaller Sanimarin C35 for a few months now, now problems, so we decided to buy the larger C48 unit for the main bathroom. Both look like normal loos, but with a built in electronic push button for flushing. Push once for normal auto flush, twice for auto economy flush, hold to empty only. With care (lots of empty only flushes) our 1,000 litre tank is good for around 6 to 8 weeks weeks before needing to be emptied.
Most barges have 'loose' lounge furniture with normal household sofa and chairs etc. Most have build in cupboards which when installed under the gunnels (sides) offer better usage of space.
Elessina's Lounge furniture is loose, conventional 'home style' furniture. We have a 3 seat leather sofa and 2-seat leather sofa., plus a captains type swivel chair There is a flame effect Bubbles diesel fire as a focal point, with hardwood wood surround. We have made the lounge as light and airy as possible and have a 5 foot x 3 foot double glazed roof hatch, which we also (primarily) use to get large items into / out of the boat (eg washing machine, sofa etc.). Roof and upper side wall cladding is plywood painted off-white with hard wood Iroko trim.
Most 60 foot barges will have two double bedrooms. Normally the master bedroom will be of modern house size with ample wardrobe space and cupboards. Proper 'household' doors are fitted, some will have on-suit bathrooms. Most will have standard full double size beds, many will have king size beds, with access to both sides (unlike narrowboat beds).
Most 'new' barge engine rooms are under the wheelhouse floor, likely around 7 feet long x 7 feet wide x 5 feet high, depending on engine and wheelhouse size. As well as the main engine the generator, inverter, batteries and calorifier are also normally installed here. Access is normally through a lifting hatch in the floor of the wheel house, but some also have access from the main cabin by lifting up the stairs and crawling through a low door way. Spraying the steel sides around the engine room with spray foam will help deaden sound and eliminate condensation. Installing some rubber sound deadening material to the underside of the floor will further reduce noise emissions.
Elessina's engine room is accessed via a 6ft high door off the walkway which connects the front cabin to rear cabin. We also have 6ft+ headroom in 1/3 of the engine room, around 5ft in other areas. This makes access very easy. Wonderful. No more climbing up and down steps through lifting hatch. Why don't all boat builders provide this??.
For latest details of our own equipment changes, modification and failures see Equipmentupdates
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E-mail Ian Last updated 02 February 2012