Victor on our equipment

Published: Sunday, 17 January 2016

LET'S break the trend this week and concentrate on equipment for our boats, giving you our own experience of the equipment we have used and how it fared.

It all depends on usage of the boat of course, but in our case we use it every week with a night and a day, come hail or high water, and two fortnight cruises at the beginning and end of the boating season, calculating around 72 days a year, as of course there are weeks when a visit is not possible.


Being the middle of winter I'll start with a rather important subject—heating. Though many of you boaters rely on a solid fuel stove for heating, there are many who prefer a few hot water radiators, either coupled to the stove, or more efficiently powered by a diesel heater.

We have had experience of two diesel heaters in our two boats, an Eberspächer Hydronic in the first one but a Mikuni MX40 (pictured) in our present narrowboat. With a very good reason for the change—the Eberspächer needed two major, and costly, repairs in its first three years and was totally unreliable, often failing to start even with fully charged batteries and though only driving three radiators and heating water.

We had had enough, so it was a Mikuni for our present boat that has had one repair that wasn't costly, and just three services over its 14 years with the last one requiring a cracked combustion chamber needing replacing. It has been most reliable driving four radiators and heating hot water, and costing nowhere near as much in repairs as the Eberspächer.

A great advantage of the Mikuni is that all its components are accessible, plus it has a system of lights that shows if a problem occurs and what the problem is, whereas the Eberspächer is packed into a steel casing and had no warning system whatsoever when it stopped.


Inverters are of course a must in a narrowboat when needing mains power if away from a mains hook-up.

We have found them very useful for various things, and find a 300 watts model for say an electric blanket and 'light' electricals such as a television, DVD etc and charging tablets and mobiles is quite sufficient,  as we don't use high power equipment such as a microwave.

Over the 20 years or so we have experimented with many, but by far the worse was a rather expensive 300 watts Victron Energy that would not drive a pre-digital television properly, but only with strange colours (pictured). A much cheaper replacement 300 watts did it fine and is still in use many years later.

The television was less than 100 watts. It rather put me off that company's product, especially after learning from another boater that his rather expensive Victron Energy set-up kept having to go back to his boat builder for attention.


Using the boat weekly, and none of us being drinkers we tend to watch television come the evenings, and not wanting to be stuck with what is being offered, we brought recorded programs from home to entertain us.

In the days of video recorders and players this was no problem, but certainly was at the demise of this medium, resulting in our recording on a hard disk machine then transferring it to the boat for the cruises. But you will of course see the problem—it was just too much hassle moving the equipment every week from home and reinstalling it in the boat should we wish to view a series.

So to Amazon to discover a £14 Digital Terrestrial Receiver that records onto a tiny SD card or USB stick!  The solution, with one at home and another on the boat.

But what a performance to get it to work, my Chinese not being up go scratch. After a few failures perseverance had the better of it, helped by more instructions in English from the supplier. So another 14 quid was spent for one for the boat, and hey! presto! we are in business.

Simply recording at home onto a SD card, taking the card to the boat and playing, with no loss in quality—problem solved.

Should you be interested simply search for a DV3 T. But it is not straight forward be warned! The recording process is weird and wonderful, but can be mastered!