Portable generators and CO

rbcoomer

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Apologies if this has been highlighted before, but I have been reading the MAIB report on the Arniston/Windermere incident back in 2013 (published in January this year) https://assets.digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk/media/54c75f4ce5274a15b6000027/MAIBInvReport_2_2015.pdf

My interest was mainly because of my ongoing (slow) rebuild project and planned installation of diesel heating -with obvious similar potential pitfalls. Although I bookmarked the report back in January, I've only recently found some time to read the full report as my attention turns to interior layout and location of various key items.

I have to admit however that I was somewhat alarmed to learn that the owner/installer was a Gas Safe engineer! I was even more shocked by the use of lead based solder on an exhaust system, lack of fixings to secure the portable generator/exhaust and perhaps worse, the non-working CO alarms :( Am I alone in thinking that these things should really be picked up even by an amateur, let alone someone qualified in heating/ventilation? Or is it the case of a little knowledge leading to complacency? I'm not aiming criticise, but before attempting anything like this, it would seem to me to be obvious to consider all the component parts and potential failures - and certainly seek advice on any grey areas. He 'tested' the improvised exhaust at home, but not under load (which would create more heat) and seems not to have given any thought to vibration/movement either.

The first job I did was to research the diesel heater I will use with particular attention to temperatures, installation, fixings and exhaust. Not only that, but I've looked at the ducted heat output and the temperatures attained/materials used to ensure all are well over specified. The job is still cheap as many of the parts I'm using are used/eBay etc so cost shouldn't be a factor to do something right and to a good, safe standard. My installation although of a similar nature is for heating rather than power, so I have to admit that the heat and potential for fire was my main concern given that almost everything on a GRP boat is combustible... I perhaps have an advantage in that I'm using a combustion source that is designed for the purpose and will use the correct ancillaries (exhaust fittings, fuel pump etc) but it does lead me to ponder if there is a market for affordable 'small boat' specific generators? Perhaps that's a minefield for safe installation? I did do some searching around and although found plenty, prices were notable by their absence - leading to the assumption that if you have to ask, it's almost certainly expensive! Is that part of the problem? The MAIB report highlights that DIY installation of suitcase generators in boats is potentially fairly widespread too, which worryingly suggests that this will happen again - especially given the fact that 30 CO related deaths were recorded by the BSS on inland waterways in the 20 years to February 2014.

I read the report mainly for the purposes of education and learning from/not repeating mistakes of others, but other than ensuring an air-tight bulkhead I had already covered all the other issues highlighted (along with a more suitable fuel feed). I know most tragedies are a chain of events rather than one single factor, but found the events here quite depressing. More education of recognising the signs of CO poisoning and fitting CO alarms is probably necessary in and around marinas and inland waterways, lakes etc.

With winter just around the corner (Sorry folks! :rolleyes:) I thought the issue was perhaps worthy of highlighting so that those gearing up to stay afloat during that 95%(!) of the year and using the tail end of summer to get work done, can spend a few minutes assessing their own CO precautions and addressing as required...
 

Seastoke

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great points but peeps must be fools to use a portable genny in the hold esphescialy petrol only my op
 

Racingfrank7

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This is why inland water ways cruiser ect regardless of boat type or make have to have a bsc.
A bsc includes gas lockers, pipes drains, cabin air space, diesel heaters, fuel pipes, fuel bowls, for extinguishers, genny's ect.
 

Beyondhelp

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Very interesting and technically detailed report that. Such a shame however the circumstances behind it.
 

Momac

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I thought perhaps the deaths at Windermere , and the cause, would be well known ... but it seems not.
Recently I saw a petrol generator running in the transom doorway of a motor boat - the exhaust fumes could easily have blown back inside the boat.
I do have a petrol generator but it is used only when it can stand ashore and at as sensible distance from the boat.
Also have a CO alarm in the main saloon.
 

oldgit

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The EA staff at Allington on the Medway were at one time,giving away carbon monoxide sensors to all lock users.
Easy to install.It has its batteries changed very year.
 

sailorman

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Here or thertemp ashore
The EA staff at Allington on the Medway were at one time,giving away carbon monoxide sensors to all lock users.
Easy to install.It has its batteries changed very year.
The Kidde one i have has a 10 yr warranty

41WQszsGWlL._AC_UL115_.jpg
 

Bbroomlea

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This is why inland water ways cruiser ect regardless of boat type or make have to have a bsc.
A bsc includes gas lockers, pipes drains, cabin air space, diesel heaters, fuel pipes, fuel bowls, for extinguishers, genny's ect.

A BSC would not have prevented this tragic accident happening at all. Not unless you have to test a boat every minute of every day as opposed to every 4 years. If you read the report you would know that the generator was fitted the previous year and ran ok and the year of the accident a silencer was put in line which failed. The BSC would not have prevented this happening unless the test was somewhere between the installation and the accident (12 months max).
 

Seastoke

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when we bought our boat it had a diesel blow heater fitted suppose by an engineer we could smell and breathe in some sort of fumes so ,i found he had wrapped the exhaust ib some sort of asbestos tape which was burning and giving off the fumes ,but they should not have been blown into the cabin ,but the air intake was just placed by an hold intake so it was using the hold air to warm up hence the fumes were dran in ,to solve took off tape and fitted a proper air in take .perfect but could also have been a stat
 

David2452

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Without wishing to reduce the importance of CO awareness it really is talking apples and oranges when comparing a diesel heater CO PPM with a petrol generator, a properly adjusted heater using calibrated equipment is massively under even the lowest output of a petrol generator, I regularly get them down to 60ppm which is well below the NIOSH Ceiling limit for CO of 200 PPM, no petrol engined generator can approach that number, having said that I regularly measure well ove 400 PPM on heaters that have been poorly serviced and not adjusted when they come in for service, especially when poor fuel is also a factor.
 
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