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Thread: Engine freezing?? 😨

  1. #1
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Engine freezing?? 😨

    Many of us in the Pacific Northwest are in a bit of a deep freeze while our boats are still in the water. Can't believe I was sailing two weeks ago, and now she's covered with snow!
    As I sail year round, I don't winterize the engine and plumbing. Air temperatures are dropping to minus 6 at night. The water temp is about 6 degrees celsius, 43 degrees Fahrenheit, which warms the hull somewhat. I have two of those caframo stor dry silver fans for ventilation and they put off some warmth, and I have a small ceramic heater with a thermostat to add some heat from time to time.
    My question: I know that salt water has a lower freeze temp than fresh water, about - 2 degrees. At colder temps the raw water in the engine will begin to freeze, but at what temps does the engine freeze so solid that it risks cracking the block or causing similar serious damage?
    Thanks, Frank

  2. #2
    Contributing Member III
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    It's the water lines, hot water heater and engine heat exchanger that could freeze first.
    We have those problems in North Carolina.

    On Sketcher, we always drain the hot water heater and lines. Run antifreeze through the engine heat exchanger.

  3. #3
    Curator of Broken Parts toddster's Avatar
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    I wonder just how cold the engine spaces of a boat that is floating in PNW sea water can get? Uncomfortable, but perhaps not damaging cold. Maybe cockpit drains, fully above the waterline, are the most vulnerable to freezing.

    I think that damage potential is a matter of both time and temperature. In the engine room, probably heat exchangers are the most vulnerable, followed by exhaust systems, pumps, and the block. Assumptions and an experience or two. I start worrying about systems around the farm getting damaged when overnight temps start dipping below about 20F. (-7 C)

    Since I also sail in the winter (usually) I might need to "winterize" several times. I have an inexpensive Tee fitting (barb/barb/garden hose w/ cap) near the intake through hull. A 4-foot garden hose is stored beneath it in the bilge. It is very easy to unscrew the cap on the Tee, attach the hose, and push the starter button to suck up a gallon or so of antifreeze mix into the engine and all attached systems. Takes less than 5 minutes, including mixing the solution. When freezing temperatures are expected, I leave a small oil-filled heater running in the cabin.

    Fitting looks like this: https://www.sprinklerwarehouse.com/D...s-p/15-034.htm But that's the $1 solution. You could get fancy and put in a valve with permanent hose so it might double as a backup bilge pump.

    That said, a few years ago, I was out of the country when an unexpected deep-freeze occurred, and was unable to prepare in any way. The boat sat at around 10 - 15 F for a week before I returned and nothing bad happened.
    s/v arcturus E29 #134

  4. #4
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Thanks for your reply. Most of the water lines are low down on the hull, so I think they would be somewhat protected by warmth coming thru the hull from the water which is currently about 6 degrees Celsius. The heat exchanger and water heater would be more vulnerable to cold temp coming down from the cockpit fibreglass. But at what temps would they really be at risk of freezing so solid that they might crack or cause similar problems?
    Frank

  5. #5
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Thanks for your reply, Toddster. That's reassuring. I sail a few times per week in the winter, so winterizing isn't very practical, and we don't usually get this cold in Nanaimo, BC.
    We were away for two weeks of babysitting, but will be home again tonight, so I'll check on our boat soon. Hopefully she'll be fine.
    And maybe I can even go sailing next week. ☺️
    Frank

  6. #6
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    I have worried less and less about that cold in Virginia (hampton roads area). Have had some good cold snaps over the several years I've owned my boat. And no worries. I do put antifreeze in through the strainer in late december through january just in case. I have had ice all around the boat, but it never stays cold long enough to do damage. I do keep a west marine heater that pops on at 38 degrees though, and I leave the engine cover off and lockers open.
    Southpaw, E-27
    Yanmar 2qm15

  7. #7
    Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm Sati's Avatar
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    I got one of those $10 thermometer / moisture readers and it will tell me the historic high/low for both temperature and humidity % inside the boat for the last 24 hours. With the little Caframo space heater, the boat hasn't gotten below 40 with the heater at the lowest setting.

    I was still paranoid, so I also got a Goldenrod brand dehumidifier - it's just a tube of aluminum that heats up ever so slightly to keep the air around it heated. It sits in the engine compartment next to the heat exchanger / intake hoses, behind the engine. I am now not as paranoid. Or maybe just as paranoid, but not as anxious.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Geoff W.
    s/v "Delightful"
    1987 E32-3
    Hull #712

  8. #8
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    Hi Geoff, thanks for your reply. Do you know how much actual heat those rods produce? I would guess maybe a couple of degrees warmer in the boat with them, but I'm not sure.
    Frank

  9. #9
    Makes Up For It With Enthusiasm Sati's Avatar
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    The 3' long one is supposed to be able to "protect" up to 600 cubic feet. It gets warm, bordering on hot, but not so hot I can't hold it in my bare hand. A cursory search tells me up to 150F. I don't think it could do my whole boat, but I think it's perfect for the engine compartment.
    Geoff W.
    s/v "Delightful"
    1987 E32-3
    Hull #712

  10. #10
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    That's great! Thanks! 😊
    Frank

  11. #11
    Advanced Beginner bgary's Avatar
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    I put a small DeLonghi (sp?) ceramic heater on Makana. Cost about $50, IIRC, from Home Depot. I have it on the countertop in the galley and plugged into the AC outlet.

    I selected the one I bought because it has a "freeze-guard" setting, basically it comes on anytime the ambient temp is below 45F, and automagically pivots back and forth to spread warm air around the space until the temp is above 45F. It has proven to work very well.... every time I've checked on the boat, the interior temp has been 45F. I have an infrared thermometer (okay, okay, I like gadgets) and out of curiosity checked the surface temps of the engine block, the heat exchanger, etc.... all were right at 45F. So the thing appears to do a pretty good job. At least while the AC on the dock keeps working.

    I've noticed that even when the surface of the water in the marina is a (thin) sheet of ice, the temp below the waterline remains well above freezing. Since my water tanks, water-lines and bilge water are all, well, below the waterline, their temp seems to be modulated by the surrounding water temp and stay above freezing. At least so far.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Bruce
    "Makana" (ex-Thelonious)
    1985 Ericson 32-III #604
    Makana blog: here

  12. #12
    1984 Ericson 30+, Nanaimo, BC
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    That looks like a very nice little heater! 👍
    Frank

  13. #13
    Senior Moderator Loren Beach's Avatar
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    With the forecast looking very cold at the end of last week, I put about 3 quarts of pink "rv" antifreeze into the raw water system of our engine. Shut it down when some pink water showed up in the exhaust.
    Whole chore takes about 15 minutes, and most of the time is waiting for the engine to warm up a bit, first.
    http://www.ericsonyachts.org/infoexc...and-Antifreeze

    I probably did not really need to do this, but the river temp. is now 39 degrees, and I do not want to risk any part of our new diesel engine.
    Last edited by Loren Beach; 02-12-2019 at 05:22 PM.
    1988 Olson 34 #8
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    Betamarine 25 (new 2018)
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  14. #14
    Principal Partner
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    Just a quick little reminder for those of us who use a portable electric heater to keep the cabin above freezing. Be sure that the heater turns back on automatically after a power outage. There are a lot of them that have to be manually restarted because they forget their settings. Simpler is better!
    Bob Morrison
    1987 E-34 Hull #15
    "Terra Nova"

  15. #15
    Sustaining Member
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    we used to keep our car batteries warm at night is sub-zero weather with a "trouble" light with a 60 watt light bulb (not a CFL or LED!). Amazing how warm they get and the always come on after a power outage! Just be sure that is not touching anything flammable... put one in the engine compartment, it will keep things warm.
    Art
    Crew
    E32-3 "Aces Dream"
    Hull #661

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