Barge Technical

Posted by nigelorrmail on August 9, 2013 at 12:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Technical details of M.S. "Waterman"

  I am the proud owners of Waterman which is a 14.9m X 4.1m waterboat built in 1927. She originally had a large concrete tank in her hold to carry fresh water to customers in the Dordrecht & Rotterdam area. Her Bolnes engine is now taking it easy in a museum at the university of Eindhoven and she now sports a 5 cylinder Kromhout .   This page describes what systems we have put on board and how we came about deciding on them.  When we bought her, "Waterman" was already fitted out for family cruising but lacked some of the home comforts that we expected of a floating home.


The main engine is a Kromhout 5 cyl TS117 that drives 3:1 hydraulically operated gearbox. The engine is water cooled from the canal through a heat exchanger. The engine was built in about 1950. The exhaust is water cooled which keeps noise levels down. The fuel tank has a capacity of about 1200 litres.

Mains electrics & hot water

As with most boats, the electrics were not up to scratch so the old  24 volt generator was thrown out and a new  220 V, 6 KVA ,1500 rpm water-cooled one put in it’s place. We chose a Westerbeke and bought a soundproof box in which to to install it. Being a small barge, we anticipated using the wheelhouse as living quarters so the generator needed to be quiet as it would be directly below our "lounge". This was also why we chose a 1500 rpm generator rather than the 3000 rpm which has a higher pitch of noise. 660 Amp hours of batteries,  a 2.5KW (that can briefly peak at 5KW) inverter & a 50 Amp charger were installed with a really useful AC distribution box. This automatically switches the 220 volt supply between shore, generator and inverter dependent on which of the three power sources are present. All the kit was Mastervolt and supplied by Energy Solutions. Energy Solutions also had a calorifier made up to my specification that stores about 150 litres of water and has two immersions and two indirect copper coils in it. This gives us multiple ways to heat water.  Of the two immersions, one is 1 KW and one is 3kw.  We use the smaller one when on shore power and the big one when using the generator.

There is a shorepower connector on the back deck.

When under way in the summer about an hour of cruising is enough to get a tank full of piping hot water from the engine cooling system diverted through one of the calorifier coils. The control for this is by means of two thermostats and a standard central heating motorised zone valve.  The engine water water does not flow through the calorifier till the engine is up to heat and cuts out when told to do so by the calorifier thermostat. The height of the calorifier was decided upon so that no extra pump would be needed to pump round the engine cooling water.

The second calorifier coil can be fed from one of two sources. In the winter  we run a Somy boiler for the central heating and hot water using a normal household configuration. In the summer when we are stopped for a few days and do not want to run main engine or generator then we use the solar heating panel. This is a heat exchanger on the roof that measures about 1 square metre.  It is capable of generating about 700 watts of energy in good sunlight in the South.

All these methods of heating water mean that I have been able to remove the Valliant gas heater. I hate gas on boats having had the misfortune to see two horrific accidents with it. The only appliance we have running of gas is the hob.

Battery charging

  During our first season I also found I was using the generator a lot for charging the batteries even though cruising most days. This was because the engine was fitted with a 18 Amp dynamo that was not man enough to charge the 660 Amp Hours of service batteries, plus topping up the engine batteries. The Kromhout main engine runs at about 700 rpm when cruising the Midi and I did not have much room to swing a gigantic pulley on my crankshaft so I went back to Paul for an "Energy Solution". The result was a 90 Amp alternator that works well at 2000 rpm requiring me to only have a 3:1 ratio on pulley sizes. I fitted the pulley and alternator during the winter keeping the original dynamo in place. It works a treat and we now chug at snails pace round the Midi bends with 70 Amps going into the service batteries. Three hours of cruising is plenty to get the hot water tank up to temperature and the batteries fully charged. This is in spite of running a 240v domestic fridge and freezer off the inverter .

A large bank of service batteries are fine when all is working right. When things go wrong and one cell on one battery is dragging the others down it is difficult to diagnose. To assist in this we have installed isolation switches across each pair of the three pairs of batteries. This allows isolation of each pair of batteries without removing cables.

In 2015 I have istalled 800 watt solar panels on the wheelhouse roof. It was a fun learning curve to get them to perform at their optimum but I am now satisfied with them.

Cooling and air conditioning

We have installed air conditioning in one, well insulated, bedroom. We decided not to put full air con in as the power requirement can be enormous. Instead we have install a single unit in one cabin that uses about 5A. This way we can run of most shore power overnight without tripping breakers. We've also used computer cooling fans on a wooden board that can be put in a opening porthole and used to draw in cool air after sunset.

Nothing really beats good insulation and this is an essential prerequisite before you start thinking anything like air conditioning. We have build an awning over the cabin roof. It is low enough to be able to cruise with it in place. This shades large areas of the boat and is large enough to have a table and chairs or two hammocks under it. Side curtains can be fitted to give shade when the sun is low in the evening.

We have upgraded the insulation in the starboard cabin to the same standard as we had already achieved in the port cabin.


Clothes Washing & drying

We have a Hotpoint washing machine and tumble drier.  The washing machine was my one disappointment as I was planning on being able to run it via the inverter whilst under way. The theory being that, once the batteries were back in shape, the 90 amp alternator could be used to drive the inverter without  lowering the charge in the service batteries significantly. This works fine for all the other electric bits on the boat like the microwave and the conventional oven etc. but the original Philco washing machine did not like the inverter in spite of the apparent matching of inverter power to washing machine demands. This meant that to run the washing machine we needed either good shore power or the generator running.  The problem appeared to be the spin cycle when the machine takes too large an inductive load. When the Philco broke down I changed it for the Hotpoint and this works fine on the inverter. It was bought in England where the washing machine have both a hot and a cold inlet pipe. That way we could use our calorifier stored hot water without having to use power to heat more.

There is a full size tumble dryer on board and air rotating "parasol" clothes line can be fitted on the foredeck.


Toilet and washing & water tank

There is a large kitchen sink and then basins in each of the three cabin. The shower and toilet and a fourth washbasin are in a separate cabin. The shower has a thermostatic mixer and a 70 sq cm tray. The toilet is a Microphor and uses fresh water flushing. Waste is flushed into a black tank by compressed air. A float switch alarm is fitted to the tank.   We have taken to using a product called Eparcyl in the holding tank. This is really for septic  tanks to break down solids and stop build up of a crust.  We use it because it cuts down smells. The vent for the black tank is fitted with a carbon filter.

The fresh water tank is about 1 tonne capacity. Two water pumps are used to pressurise the system. We have fitted "Hi & Lo" float switches on our water tank. This gives us an audible alarm to warn us that either the tank is now full or that we have only about two days of water left.

TV and Hifi

Satellite TV is received through a Sky minidish and a digibox to a small flat screen TV. Sound is fed through an audio system and can be run through wireless headphones . There is a CD player and radio onboard. There is an "Aux" connector and cable for connecting via a headphonbe connector if you bring music on your smart phone or player.


 We feel we have cracked most of the problems of being civilized afloat but still I want to have a play with refrigeration that can use the surplus power we have whilst cruising.


Cooking and dining

In the dining area there is a 70cm four burner gas hob running of two13kg propane bottle. There is a combined microwave, conventional oven and grill. We have installed a learge 240v fridge with a good size freezer compartment above.

Electric kettle and toaster are available. There is a barbeque on board. As well as the fixed dinette in the kitchen area there is one small and one large folding table on board and six stacking chairs. Al fresco dining can be on the cabin roof in the shade, on the back deck or you can decamp onto the bank.