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Make a Simple Solid Fuel Stove For Your Boat

I used to have my boat lifted out every year, but the seasons are short enough as they are . . . so for last few years she has stayed in the water on a very sheltered swinging mooring on the upper reaches of the River Fal. The heater i made up last winter makes it really snug on board no matter how cold it gets outside - if anything it's too efficient. If someone wanted to spend a bit more I suppose it could be made up with stainless steel.

I made my heater up with a 12inch length of 4x4 inch box section, with plates welded top and bottom. It's just a length of mild steel box section with a couple of brackets welded on to hold it in place. The doors are the same, mild steel, held in place with a heavy-duty steel hinge welded on. The catch is simply a bolt welded in place with a butterfly nut to hold it closed - same on the bottom door. The top door is fitted at least 2 inches down from top of heater

There are two doors both in front - one at the top to put fuel in, one at bottom to clean ashes out, with a griddle welded in a third of the way up from the bottom. The bottom door has a simple vent in it. It can be made more sophisticated but it does the job ok for me; if anything it's too efficient.

The chimney exits out of the top. I suppose total length would be around seven feet; the heater is mounted a few inches above the cabin sole and shaped to follow the contours of the side of the boat so the chimney is out of the way and makes it unlikely that anyone would grab a hold of it. The lower in the boat it can be mounted the better the draught up the chimney and the warmer the feet stay . . . It sticks about four inches out of the roof with a mushroom shaped dome on to to keep the rain out.

The draught is controlled in the bottom door by drilling a couple of holes in centre of door covered with a round plate which simply swivels on a bolt, again with a butterfly nut to hold it shut.

The chimney is a stub of 1 3/4" inch steel tube welded on which allows a stainless 2" inch tube to slip over. The 2" tube is lagged because it gets extremely hot.

None of the heater is sealed in anyway what so ever. As the chimney is always drawing no fumes escape from it, but the doors are close fitting. I was thinking of fitting some sort of baffle in the chimney to close it up tighter but was worried about it fuming so decided to leave the chimney open.

Light it with some small chopped kindling then its fed with those round boiler type nuts - lasts for ages and ever so cheap to run.

I welded it up myself and the metal I scrounged - all I bought was the stainless tube I used for the chimney and some elbows. I converted a old bronze vent to allow it to exit the cabin roof.

The only advice i can really give is - keep it simple, don't overbuild it.

It gives out masses of heat so unless you've got a bigger boat than mine - Sabre27 - definitely don't make it any bigger.

The whole thing is covered in black lead, but it still shows rust through it; don't think it's possible to stop it, but anyway its so cheap what does it matter. . .

Thanks to Michael from Cornwall for this article.

If you have made a solid fuel heater for your boat and would like to contribute to this article please get in touch.