Mr. Gee’s Murder Mystery Finally Solved? Weekly Update 23 Jan 2022 XPM78-01 Möbius

Yes, the infamous “Mr. Gee murder mystery series” trying to find and eliminate the oil pressure killer has been continued but hopefully now finally resolved. 

This could take awhile so you may want to wait till you can settle into a comfy seat with your favorite beverage before you continue.  Just sayin’ ……………….

PXL_20220117_081409341As some of you may recall, last September I left all of you and poor Mr. Gee literally hanging in the Engine Room and have only just now been able to pick up the story as the hung for the mystery oil pressure killer picks up for what I sincerely hope is the LAST chapter in this far too long running series.  I will be VERY happy when I can leave all the mystery writing to the true professional author onboard, my beautiful Bride who goes by the pen name Christine Kling.

The Mystery Begins:

If this is new or too long ago for you, the quick summary is that during the first sea trial taking XPM78-01 Möbius out to sea for the first time last April, the oil pressure in the Gardner 6LXB main (and only) engine, suddenly dropped from its normal 35PSI down to almost 20 and so we limped back to port at very slow speed. 
IMG_1517After much investigation and …..
PXL_20210605_153850575……… stripping poor Mr. Gee completely naked, it was determined that the hired test Captain did not have the experience he claimed running of a boat with a CPP Controllable Pitch Propeller.


PXL_20210604_130037242For reasons that will remain another mystery, soon after clearing the entrance to the port and without any notice, the Captain decided to perform a WOT or Wide Open Throttle test and pushed both throttle and pitch levers to their limits and overstressed the brand new engine, damaging the main crankshaft bearings as painfully evident here on these two connecting rod bearings and ……
PXL_20210611_091026272……. here on the respective ConRod journals on the crankshaft, and other parts.
Once I had assessed the full extent of the damage, I contacted always super supportive and helpful Michael Harrison and his team at Gardner Marine Diesel and ordered a new crankshaft, bearings, gaskets and all the other parts needed to fully rebuild Mr. Gee a second time. 
PXL_20210602_080110347Knowing how long it takes to get things shipped to us here in Turkey I sent that order in very quickly and was pleasantly surprised when this crate full of all the new parts and new crankshaft showed up in late May (2021)

Mr. Gee Rebuild #2

PXL_20210627_112912815I completed that second rebuild back in June 2021 and
PXL_20210702_110538770Mr. Gee started up first crank as usual and oil pressure was spot on factory specs @ 35PSI. 
PXL_20210713_135007017.MPThe last week of June we took Möbius out for a day trip to test everything out and have a chance for us to get to know all these new systems as well as some time to practice docking and slow speed maneuvering.  All went well, oil pressure stayed steady at 35PSI and so we headed out for a short overnight test run and our first chance to use all the anchoring equipment.  It felt SOOOOO good to be at anchor again after all these years being landlubbers and these two short sea trials clocked about 10 hours on the engine including taking it up to full load multiple times with no problem. 

In this shot we’re doing 9 knots at 1500 RPM

C7E2F0C3-4CE5-49D2-B1FC-B8A653F1868FBeginning of July our two Granddaughters, Blair (in Red) and Brynn (in Green) and their Mum & Dad flew over for a month long visit.

PXL_20210713_151543384After a few days introducing them to live onboard Möbius, we took them out to the same anchorage for Brynn’s 7th birthday which was very special for all of us.  They all loved being on the boat so they decided to join us in moving Möbius up to our new Port in Finike which is about 80 nautical miles West from where we were in Antalya.  We decided to anchor again on the way up in what the Granddaughters called “Mermaid Cove” which was a spectacular little cove with sheer rock cliffs for about 300 degrees around us and all was well with the world.


Next morning the girls helped me take up the anchor and we headed on to Finike.  Alas, our good fortune was not to continue as the next day on the leg up to Finike the oil pressure again started to drop.  It was different this time, dropping very slowly but it continued to drop as we made our way to Finike.  Fortunately the Gardner 6LXB engines have an adjustable relief valve that allows you to set the oil pressure correctly after a rebuild so I was able to adjust the oil pressure relief valve to keep the oil pressure up at or above 35 PSI to ensure that no damage occurred, but I had to do this several times as the oil pressure continued to drop so clearly the dastardly “oil pressure killer” was still at large and needed to be apprehended and given a life sentence with NO parole!

PXL_20210603_155138408Fortunately I had designed the Engine Room with a full size hatch for the roof and reinforced this so that by putting steel beams across I could lift Mr. Gee up into the air with chain blocks and suspend him about 1 meter above the engine beds using multiple loops of Dyneema line.  Having already done this once back in May for the 2nd rebuild, it didn’t take me to long to remove everything neccessary to separate Mr. Gee from the Nogva CPP servo gearbox and hoist him up high enough so I could remove the cast AL oil sump/pan to get at the main bearings, crankshaft and main lube oil pipework.

It only took me a couple of days to remove the crankshaft but I spent most of August & September with my Sherlock hat on going to every length possible to flush out and find the root cause of the dropping oil pressure and fix it once and for all.  I consulted with literally the world’s experts on Gardner engines as well as my personal list of diesel engine experts from all my years working as a HD mechanic, reading and researching every manual, online forums and doing lots of experiments on the various engine parts I came to suspect and finally found the guilty party, and I will walk you through my detective work below. 

Third Time’s the Charm?!

And so began the rebuild #3 and what is hopefully the last of this murder mystery series.  Given all that had happened, I was in no mood to take any prisoners nor any chances so I decided to rebuild the entire “bottom end” with all new parts. 

PXL_20210916_115322754So I built a super sturdy wood crate and sent the second crankshaft back to Gardner Marine Diesel in England to be reground with all new bearing surfaces as well ordering all new main and con rod bearings, new oil pump, new oil cooler and a long list of other parts.  I was able to get that all packed up and shipped off to Gardner at the end of September just before we flew over to Florida for our long overdue Gramma and Grampa time in the USA and Canada.  We were gone for almost two months so I had hoped that the newly reground crankshaft and new parts would be waiting for me when I returned but Murphy and the vagaries of shipping things In/Out of Turkey conspired against me and it did not arrive until last week.  (mid Jan 2022) and Rebuild #3 began.

Finding the Serial Oil Pressure Killer

OK, with that as a quick overview of the chronology of this murder mystery, let’s get back to the story of how I eventually tracked down the elusive serial Oil Pressure Killer.

The Oil Pressure Killing Begins:  April 2021

PXL_20210604_130037242For reference, let me briefly go back and review what had happened the first time the Oil Pressure Killer struck on that first sea trials back in April 2021.  As you recall, the oil pressure had dropped very quickly to 20 PSI and after tearing poor Mr. Gee completely apart this is what the crankshaft bearings looked like.


PXL_20210611_091026272Yikes!  With less than 4 hours total run time on the new engine, that loss of oil pressure was catastrophic and had completely worn away the protective lining of the bearings and severely scored the crankshaft journals.
Main or Con Rod Tri Metal bearing structureThis is how the Gardner main and connecting rod bearings are constructed, which is pretty much the same as most diesel engines and so you can see that the loss of oil pressure along with the huge loads when both throttle and pitch levers were pushed past their max positions, both the overlay and Nickel layers had been completely worn away.
PXL_20210610_065334238Here is a shot of all seven of the main crankshaft bearing shells after the disastrous sudden loss of oil pressure on that first sea trial run.  You can see how the bearings are completely worn out after less than 4 hours running since they were new. 

For reference, main bearings should last for several hundred thousand miles on average diesel engines and much longer on Gardner engines.  When I removed the bearings on the original engine which had been running in a working tug boat for over 46 years, they had just barely started to show a wee bit of copper.
With this much wear on all these Main and Con Rod bearings, the consensus conclusion was that the rapid wear allowed oil to leak out the sides of each bearing lowering the oil pressure which led to more wear which led to more loss of pressure and that cycle continued till I stopped the engine. 

The next step was clear if a bit painful; completely rebuild the engine again!  I had been in almost daily contact with Michael and his team at Gardner Marine Diesel and he soon had a new shipment on its way to me with a freshly ground replacement crankshaft, new Main & Con Rod bearings, all gaskets, seals and everything I needed to do Rebuild #2.  That crate finally arrived in May and as per the outline above, I completed that second rebuild at the end of June 2021, just in time for the arrival of our Granddaughters and family.

The Oil Pressure Killer strikes again!  July 2021

You’ve read about the fateful trip moving Möbius over to Finike Marina in July when  the oil pressure started to drop again.  This time there was no overloading and the pressure had stayed steady 35 PSI for the first 13 hours or so of engine run time but it then began to drop off again.  Slowly this time, but steadily dropping.  Fortunately I was monitoring this all very closely and was aware of the decline as soon as it happened and this time I was able to use the Oil Pressure Relief Valve to keep adjusting the oil pressure to make up for the loss and keep the oil pressure at 35 PSI and avoid damaging the engine.  However, clearly there was a major problem and I immediately knew yet another rebuild was in my future!

PXL_20210719_024855169.MPI didn’t want to spoil the long awaited time with Lia, Brian, Brynn and Blair, so we didn’t say anything about it and rented a van to take us on a two week driving tour of Turkey.  As per this shot, a good time was had by all.
PXL_20210719_020257698Perhaps the most memorable stop on our driving tour was the three days we spent in Kapadokya where at dawn we all went on a 90 minute hot air balloon ride.
PXL_20210719_023536970Seeing the sunrise over the surrealistic topography below was beyond words and only one of several other awemazing adventures we had together in July.

Tracking Down the Killer

We dropped off the family at an airport outside of Kapadokya and we drove the 9 hours back to Finike where Möbius and Mr. Gee were patiently awaiting for me to pick up where I had left off with the unsolved mystery.  We now return to those two months of intense detective work in August and September and how I managed to finally track down the elusive serial Oil Pressure killer.
Gardner 6LXB crankshaft photo from manualI soon had Mr. Gee suspended yet again from the Engine Room overhead hatch and it didn’t take me too long to get the crankshaft out so the investigation could begin in earnest.

PXL_20210810_123753659 Good news was that as you can see here, the bearings were not worn and the crankshaft journals were also untouched.  Bad news was that clearly the loss of oil pressure was NOT due to wear on the bearings, so they were off the hook as the guilty party. 
Wanting to leave nothing to chance and double check EVERY thing, I took the time to physically measure the gap on each of the Main and Con Rod bearings so that I would know eXactly what the clearance is and confirm for sure that all the bearings were still like new. 


Plastiguage illustrationI’ve done this many times rebuilding engines over the years and is done using an ingeniously simple product called “Plastigauge” which is a special string like pliable plastic material which you lay along the bearing journal and then reassemble the bearing cap, torque it down fully and then carefully remove the bearing cap to reveal the compressed bit of Plastigauge.  There is then a scale you use to measure the width of the flattened Plastigauge strip  which tells you the exact size of the gap or clearance.

It is a simple, though time consuming process but gives you a direct measurement of the bearing clearance. 

PXL_20210817_100439704~2Here is what the compressed Plastigauge looked like on Con Rod #3

Plastigaugewhich works out to be 0.05mm or 0.00197”.  Gardner specifications for clearance when brand new is 0.0015-0.0020 which is again good news and bad news at the same time!

Good news the bearings and crank were still in like new condition.

Bad news is that the serial killer is still at large!

When faced with conundrums like this I go back to basics and start sketching out, both on paper and in my head, how a system works from beginning to end.  So back to the drawing board I went.

Simple is Good Right?

Part of what makes Gardner engines so famously long lasting and sought after is their simplicity and the lubrication system is a perfect example. KISS and simple is good right?  It definately is but in a case like this it is also very puzzling when you are trying to figure out how it is possible that oil pressure is escaping somewhere in such a very basic and “simple” lubrication system?!?! 

Copper Lube pipes aft leftFor example, unlike modern engines where the lubrication system is mostly all internal and hidden, Gardner engines have most of their lubrication system flowing through beautiful copper pipes such as those you see here, which are all mounted on the exterior of the engine.  This makes it very easy to check and obvious to see if there are any seals leaking there.

More Good/Bad news; all dry, clean and fully sealed.  No leaks here.

Drat!

OK, so no oil leaks in any of the external pipes and no bearing wear so no leaks there. 

No oil was exiting the engine and the oil level stayed the same so the oil pressure had to be leaking out internally but how and where?

The only internal connections in the 6LXB lubrication system which are hidden from view is the lubrication pipework that carries pressurized oil to each of the Main bearings along the length of the crankshaft, so that’s where I next aimed my investigative attention and microscope.

Gardner also produced phenomenally illustrated and detailed manuals which I have gathered up over the years and have now become intimately familiar with every page!  For example, this coloured illustration below from one of my manuals, shows how the oil circulates through the lubrication system in a 6LXB.

Gardner 6LXB LUBRICATION System colored diagramThe Brown lines shows the path of the pressurized oil as it leaves the oil pump in the lower right corner, running up through external copper pipes to the Oil Pressure Relief Valve (upper right), through the oil filter and then back down another external copper pipe which delivers the oil into …..
PXL_20220120_160640603…. the bolted on cast iron fitting on far Left here, which connects up to all the steel pipes and cast iron T fittings bolted to each Main Bearing cap.


PXL_20220120_143224631Here is what that pipework system looks like this when unbolted and removed from the engine.

If you refer back to the coloured diagram above, this set of pipework is shown in the Brown horizontal lines along the bottom of the crankshaft.


Gardner 6LXB crankshaft main bearings showing oil tubesAs is common on most diesel engines, once pressurized oil is delivered to the crankshaft main bearings, there are passageways drilled inside the crankshaft which allow pressurized oil to then travel out to each Con Rod bearing, then up through the Con Rod itself to lubricate the piston or Gudgeon pin and then the oil falls by gravity back into the oil sump where the cycle continues. 

All as shown in the coloured illustration above.

The Search Intensifies

Trying to keep this a bit shorter than War & Peace, I am leaving out many days filled with investigating every millimeter of Mr. Gee’s lubrication system.  I continued discussing this with the team at Gardner, my dear friend Greg who has the best mind and experience with diesel engines I know as well as many others (thanks!) via Email, voice and video calls and sending them probably more than 100 photos I had been taking throughout my sleuthy searching. 

As each part of the lubrication system from pipes to pumps, filters to seals, was fully explored, tested and put under the microscope they all checked out fully and were scratched off of my list of possible suspects.  The only remaining possibility was a leak internally that was bleeding off the pressurized oil and letting it drain back into the oil pan.

I took a bit of a scientific approach of using the evidence I had collected throughout the whole experience during each of the rebuilds, sea trial data, research in manuals and online and then coming up with LOTS of different tests to gather more data. 

PXL_20210615_082521250Like this setup I created to pressure test all the oil tubes inside the crankshaft for any leaks due to cracks or otherwise.  I filled each tube with engine oil, heated it to about 75C to replicate even hot engine oil operating temperatures and then pressurized to over 100PSI with this bicycle pump setup.

More Good/Bad news as all tests showed no leaks.  Double drat!

Having eliminated every other seeming possible suspect, that oil pipework kept coming up as the only remaining suspect and yet it too seemed to be so simple and robust.  The experts at Gardner have rebuilt thousands of XLB’s over the years and never had any problems remotely similar but the more I went around and around the more I became convinced that the leaks had to be somewhere in that seemingly simple pipework on the Main Bearings so I rolled up my sleeves and spent the next few weeks maniacally devoted to finding where and then why the oil pressure was escaping inside Mr. Gee and inside my little brain.

Even though Gardner and others kept taking it off the list, I kept coming back to that lube oil pipework as the prime, and in my mind now, only possible suspect and let me show you what I eventually discovered as I dug into this.

PXL_20210810_144534193Each of those cast iron fittings bolts to one of the 7 Main Bearing caps and there is a small donut shaped rubber O-ring that keeps this connection fully sealed.

 

Pressure Test 2One of my tests along the way had been this setup where I bolted each of these cast iron fittings to their respective Main Bearing Caps with one of the steel pipes inserted into its O-ring sealed hole in the fitting and the other end of the pipe capped off.  I fabricated a threaded adaptor that I could insert into the oil hole in the Cap and pressurized this with my bicycle pump to test for leaks and they all seemed to hold but I was still not sure so I kept looking closer and closer ……………………
PXL_20210820_102330897At first glance, all looked well with those rubber O-rings but lets look closer …….
PXL_20210905_082200864Hmmmm ……
PXL_20210810_144623941…….. something’s not right here, let’s look closer …..
PXL_20210812_131857546……. what’s going on here?  Looks like this O-ring has been getting squished or pinched? 

OK says Holmes, we need to quite literally put this under the microscope.


I’m going to take some “literary liberty” to again condense down what was more than a week’s worth of truly microscopic investigation, more Emails, more phone calls and more testing but here’s the quick recap.

As Christine will quickly confirm with a roll of her eyes, I’m a bit of pack rat when it comes to engine and boat parts and this case shows why.  I had kept all the O-rings, bearings and other parts from all the previous rebuilds so I was able to now dig them up and put all of them under the microscope and here is what I found.
PXL_20210903_074918882These are the O-rings from the very first time I rebuilt Mr. Gee in 2020 and were in the engine when the first sudden loss of oil pressure occurred after only 2 hours of run time.  You will notice that there is the same deformation of these O-rings that I noted above.
PXL_20210903_080022710Here is the set of O-rings that were new when installed in the 2nd rebuild and then experienced the second slower drop in oil pressure in June 2021after about 13 hours of run time.
PXL_20210905_093708015Here is one of those O-rings as seen through my 10x magnification lens. 

Yikes!  Do we have flesh eating bacteria’s evil twin on a rubber diet?

Eureka!  I think we’ve found the Oil Pressure Killer!
PXL_20210905_093634714Well, sort of.  This seemed to clearly be WHERE the oil was most likely escaping and causing the drop in oil pressure.  This evidence seemed to support the evidence of how the oil pressure stayed at 35 PSI for the first few hours and then slowly began to drop as these O-rings wore away more and more, letting more and more pressure escape.  But the real question became WHY was this wear happening???

More calls and Emails ensued with Gardner who deserve medals of honour for service SO above and beyond any reasonable expectations which led them to contact the factory that makes these O-rings to see if there was any chance of a bad batch of rubber or any other explanation for this catastrophic wear and failure.  I measured and tested all the O-rings on my end including many of the new ones I had in my Gardner parts department and they all came through with flying colours for all their dimensions, hardness, etc.  The manufacturer confirmed that there had been no change in the rubber formula nor any recalls or other examples of any problems and GMD checked their records which showed that they had rebuilt more than 100 6LXB’s using these same batches of O-rings before and after both my batches and they were all running fine with no reports of any loss of oil pressure, so they were all as perplexed as I was.

PXL_20210905_081758942So it was back to scientific mode for me.  I took some brand new O-rings and ran several experiments where I would install them in their cast iron fittings and torque them down to their respective Main Bearing Caps.  I tried some assembled #2 dry, #3 with some with a light coating of engine oil as is normal and #1 coated with the Gardner “WellSeal” gasket compound in order to test if there was some kind of a chemical reaction going on. 
PXL_20210905_090827961I left these overnight and then disassembled them the next day and at first glance as in the photo above, it looked like all the O-rings were fine and that there was no difference between tests 1 to 3.  But the microscopic view showed otherwise and I could see that even these brand new O-rings were somehow being “pinched” and split just by being assembled and torqued down to factory settings.  I repeated this experiment three more times with the same results every time so I could not yet explain why this was happening, I could at least replicate the problem and see that the O-rings were being pinched and sliced open upon assembly and then being worn away more and more as the pressurized oil began to flow through and around them.


Another flurry of Emails, photos and calls with Gardner who could only join me in disbelief and mystery.  However, true to form, Michael very diligently had a new batch of O-rings made up to even tighter tolerances and shipped those to me.  As soon as these arrived I tested them the same as I had all the other new O-rings from the previous rebuilds by bolting to their MB Caps on my workbench as shown above and and was DELIIGHTED to find that when I disassembled them the next day, they all came out unscathed with no pinching or splitting.  Whew!!!

PXL_20210916_115319044.MPBy now it was mid September and the clock was ticking in my ear because we were flying out for the Nauti Grandparents North American 2021 tour on October 5th.  While the root cause or “killer” was yet to be apprehended I knew that I could not just replace the O-rings with more new ones and put the engine back together for a third time so I made the call to replace the whole bottom end and lube oil system with all new parts and start over from scratch.  I put in the order with Michael at GMD for all new bearings, gaskets, oil pump, pressure relief valve and so on and then crated up the 2nd crankshaft to send it back to Gardner to have all the journals machined. 
That second crankshaft I had just removed was still in new condition having been freshly ground before it was sent to me back in May and the bearings were all still in like new condition but I simply had to completely eliminate every possible source of leakage so I bit this very expensive and time consuming bullet and put it all behind me so I could move on with getting Mr. Gee back up and running permanently.

Killer Hiding in Plain Sight?

While it did feel good to have found WHERE the oil pressure was leaking out causing the dropping oil pressure, I HAD to figure out WHY this was happening so I could fix the root problem and be confident that Mr. Gee would have perfect oil pressure from now on.  Our lives quite literally depend on Mr. Gee in many situations so this is not mere curiosity on my part!

After many more sleepless nights going over and over every possible explanation for the loss of oil pressure, the splitting O-rings, and coming up with every possible theory as to WHY those O-rings were being so rapidly worn away, I again went back to basics and started testing and re-testing every possibility.  In particular I tried to make NO assumptions and check EVERY detail and sure enough one of those assumptions turned out to be the key bit of evidence that led me to the true culprit.

PXL_20220120_121222151Remember those simple cast iron fittings and how the O-rings seal them?  The mating surfaces of the fitting and the Main Bearing Cap are flat with a square groove cut into the fitting where the O-ring sits.  The O-ring is thicker than the depth of that groove so that when you bolt the fitting down onto the Cap, the O-ring squishes and seals the oil flowing through from being able to escape. 
PXL_20210909_162853161Reasonable to assume that those two mating surfaces are flat right?  No need to check for that! 

Well I just happened to check and sure enough the surface of all those fittings was NOT flat

PXL_20210909_162917056.MPIt will have to remain a mystery as to why this happened but it turned out that those cast iron fittings that bolt to the Main Bearing Caps were warped.  Bowed would be more accurate as even when they were fully torqued down tight as they are here, there was a gap in the middle section where the O-rings sit.  In further testing these gaps ranged from 0.3-0.5mm or 0.012-0.02” whereas they should be touching and sealing themselves.
Why is this such a big deal that there is gap between these two metal surfaces? 

Well, with the metal surfaces not touching around where the O-ring seals, and with the O-rings being split open for whatever reason, once the oil started flowing under pressure it penetrated the interior of the rubber O-ring and began to erode away the rubber much like a river erodes its banks.  The more surface area this erosion exposed the faster the rubber wore away until the seal was breached and oil could now flow out.  With the metal mating surfaces not touching there was nothing to stop the pressurized oil from flowing out so once the leak began it increased rapidly and down went the oil pressure.


PXL_20220120_110745509In this shot you can clearly see how bowed or arched this surface is.  I have started to file the mating surfaces of these warped or bowed fittings to make them flat again.  After a few passes over the file you can see the shiny outer ends of the fitting have been filed away because the middle area is still low. 

I decided to flatten these fittings by hand with a file rather than milling them as I needed to get these surfaces completely flat so they would mate and seal perfectly when bolted to their Main Bearing Caps but I wanted to remove as little metal as possible so as keep the pressure on the O-rings when these are bolted down, to be the same as new.
PXL_20220120_110625435Here is the fully flattened fitting on the Left while the Right one is just getting started.
PXL_20220120_121222151All lube oil pipework fittings now perfectly flat and ready for another lifetime of fully sealed operation!
PXL_20220120_125457212And call  me paranoid if you prefer but I will refer to this as taking more of a “belt and suspenders” approach to ensuring these fittings  stay completely sealed by using a bit of Ultra Black gasket maker on the outer surfaces for an additional seal.  Probably unnecessary as the O-ring will do all the sealing now and the new batch of O-rings are not being split open when assembled, but doesn’t hurt to have this added sealant and additional peace of mind for me.
PXL_20220120_160620953With the new crankshaft now back in place and the Main Bearing Caps all torqued down tight, it was easy to bolt on the now flat fittings and put the lube oil pipework back in place.
PXL_20220120_160640603The whole bottom end has now been replaced with all new and some improved parts so time for one last double check.
PXL_20220122_132948823At last I could carefully drag the 50kg/110lb cast AL sump back into the Engine Room, put on a layer of gasket maker on the outer flanges and lift it up onto the bottom of the crankcase.
PXL_20220122_151835052I threaded some web straps underneath either end of the sump and ran them up to 6:1 blocks above the engine to lift the heavy sump up and line it up with the studs around the crankcase and then torque all 68 nuts down in stages.

Whew!  A long time to get back to this point and now I just have to hope that I have indeed gotten to the bottom of this “murder” mystery and found and eliminated the serial Oil Pressure Killer.
I will leave it at that for this week and be back again next week as I put Mr. Gee back together and back to “bed” on his engine mounts.  Now that I’ve had several practice runs I should be able to put him all back together fairly quickly and put those new seals to the test when Mr. Gee finally comes alive again and I can start putting on some hours and loads to confirm for sure that this latest mystery has been solved.

If you’ve made it this far, my congratulations for your perseverance and patience.  Hope you enjoyed this murder mystery but as I said at the beginning, I’m looking forward to there just being ONE murder mystery author onboard Möbius, and I can go back to being her trusty crew.

Be sure to put any questions, comments or suggestions in the “Join the Discussion” box below and hope you will be back for more next week.


– Detective Wayne



Happy Birthday Wayne!

Happy Birthday Wayne!

Christine here, guys. Yes, I know. Wayne did not have time to write a blog on Sunday, and it was my fault.

You see, Sunday, January 23rd was Wayne’s birthday. It’s really hard to figure out what to get him for his birthday. At this point in our lives, we don’t really need more stuff, so we decided recently to try to simply give each other experiences.

My first plan (which sadly got thwarted) was a pretty good one, I thought. On one of my daily walks, I came upon this banner strung up between a couple of trees. What were the odds? They were going to have Turkish Camel Wrestling in the next town over on January 23, Wayne’s birthday.

IMG 0370

Camels were used as an important form of transportation in this Antalya region where we live for over 1000 years and up until about 50 years ago. They were important in the Ottoman Empire and a big part of the Turkish culture. Today, they have these festivals where they dress up the animals in these fantastic costumes and they have them “wrestle.” Essentially, they try to get the males to do what they might do in the wild, which is to fight over a female, so they parade a female camel (who is in heat) before a pair of males which makes them start foaming at the mouth, and then they go into the ring and “fight” for the female. Usually, after a bit of jostling, the loser runs away. I think it sounds fascinating and I am dying to go before we leave Turkey!  If you are interested in seeing a video of a camel wrestling event click here.

However, the whole event got cancelled due to the weather getting down to freezing. With nowhere to house the camels locally overnight, the event has been postponed. So, there I was with a rented car for Wayne’s birthday, and I needed to do a fast change of plans.

IMG 0423

I understand that people who have to commute to work, don’t think that driving is much fun, but when you don’t own a car, having one for a day does become a sort of a treat. And I know Wayne loves to drive, especially on curving mountain roads, and we had ourselves a little standard 5-speed diesel Citroen.

Map2

We also were out of coffee and a few other more exotic provisions, so a trip to the “Big City” of Antalya was in order. I opened Google maps. Our route is highlighted in orange above. We normally drive to town on the route called the D400 which more or less follows the coastline and that is the way we came home (more or less). However, I noticed this tiny curvy road inland, and while I was a bit worried about how high it might take us given the snow level on the mountains, I decided we’d give it a go. Finike Marina is at the bottom where we started out, then we went up through the town of Kumluca and into the mountains. We came out at Antalya and drove back mostly on the D400 with a side trip to Adrasan and Karakoaz before returning home to the marina. It totaled about 275 kilometers.

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I took this photo of the marina here the last time we had a gorgeous cold, clear day. Since then we had another rainy few days and the snowline had crept lower. Just so you understand my concerns about how high we might get without chains or snow tires.

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The storms we get here can be pretty fierce and the temperatures lately have been slipping closer to freezing even here on the coast. The snow is creeping lower and lower down the mountains.

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The last time we took our intrepid sea dogs with us on a curvy coastal road, our darling Yorkshire Terror, Barney, suffered a bout of motion sickness (he who has crossed the equator and sailed to New Zealand) and puked all over the back seat of the last rental car, so we decided this would be an Adults Only trip.

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So on Sunday, we closed the door on the pups assuring their safety inside the boat and climbed into the car for our drive up into the mountains. The weather was spectacular to start with a clear and cloud-less blue sky.

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The tallest peaks of the Taurus Mountain range were off to our left as he wove our way over this pass through the lower mountains. Sometimes the road got so narrow, there was only space for one car. When we started out that morning down at sea level, the temperature had been about 6C.

Lots of people have a stereotype in their minds when they think of Turkey. They think about camels and desert. Turkey also has amazing mountains and pine forests.

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As we climbed upwards closer and closer to the lower snowy peaks, the trees grew taller and the temperature started slowly dropping.

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I was actually surprised at the number of villages we passed, and the many small farms that dotted the mountains. The cows scrambled up and down the mountains almost like goats, but they generally seemed to prefer walking on the road.

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As we climbed higher, we got closer and closer to the snow. After passing through the village of Altinyaka, there were signs posted saying you had to have snow tires to go any further. Ha! We don’t need no snow tires. We have a Canadian driver!

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Or so I thought until I started to see how much snow was down close to our road. 

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And I checked the car’s thermometer.

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I always get nervous when I start seeing the banded sticks on the sides of the road that will measure the depth of the snow, and show drivers where the road is in the drifts. Fortunately, we never got that high, but I was able to access my iPhone’s altimeter through the iNavX app.

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We topped out around 4,267 feet.

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Then we started the descent down the other side into the city of Antalya, our old stomping ground. 

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It was goats and sheep crossing the road on the way down. 

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We got a nice bird’s eye view looking down on the port of Antalya. The Free Zone where MÖBIUS was built is on the left side of the harbor, opposite the cruise ship that appears to be parked due to the pandemic.

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I took the birthday boy to Starbucks for his birthday piece of chocolate brownie cheesecake for which he had to fight an armada of sparrows (and his wife) to get a few bites in.

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After a nice grocery and wine run, we hopped back into the car and started the drive back home to Finike. 

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The sun was warm, the Mediterranean was the usual gorgeous blue, and the drive along the coast was almost as much fun as the mountain drive.

Sorry to all who were anticipating a Wayne blog, but he deserved to take a day off from all the boat projects.  I promise he will be back soon with more tales of our travails of getting MÖBIUS ready to go to sea.

Fair winds!

Christine

In Floor Heating Revisited Weekly Update 16 Jan 2022 XPM78-01 Möbius

In last week’s “Toasty Tootsies” post I went over the way our In Floor Heating system works and concluded my explanation with what I thought was a rhetorical question;

“Brilliantly simple don’t you think??!!

Well, based on the number of comments and Emails I received, while our In Floor Heating system might indeed be “Brilliantly Simple” my explanation was NOT!  Therefore, let me try and mend this by revisiting our In Floor Heating and do my best to improve my explanation of how this Open Direct type of system works.  If I’m successful I think that most of you will come to agree with my assessment that this Open Direct system is indeed “Brilliantly Simple”! 

But you will be the judge of that and so Please do add your comments as to how well this second attempt helps you to understand how our In Floor and Domestic Hot Water systems work and don’t hesitate to add your additional questions and things that still don’t make sense to you.

OK, here is my second attempt to show how this all works;

Deeper Dive into our Open Direct System;

One of the Emails I received, (thanks Benjamin), asked the following set of questions that included many of the points of confusion others sent me so I thought I’d use this to frame this expanded explanation of the Open Direct system I used to design our In Floor Heating or IFH and Domestic Hot Water or DHW System.

Benjamin wrote:

If I understood your installation diagram correctly, you run the drinking water through the same pipes as the water for the underfloor heating. Drinking water and “heating water” are identical, or not installed separately. First of all, this is economical because you one water circuit less. But I have a question about summer operation: drinking water and heating are usually installed separately, because in summer mode

  1. you want to avoid hot water flowing through the heating system, and
  2. the water should not stand still in parts of the circuit for a longer period of time to prevent the formation of legionella.

You can probably avoid point a. with valves that separate the entire heating circuit from the drinking water circuit in summer. But if the heating circuit is not flushed for several months during summer operation, legionella can form and then be flushed into the drinking water circuit when the heating system is put into operation. How do you avoid this? Is the underfloor heating completely drained during summer operation modus?

Thank you very much for further information!

First, let me try to resolve some common sources of misunderstanding that Benjamin and many of you mentioned;

I should have emphasized more how the various parts of our overall water systems are separated from each other.  In last week’s post I mostly left out the Cold or “drinking” water system so it needs to be understood that this has its own set of plumbing and ALL the water we drink and cook with comes directly from the water tanks to the cold water taps/showers onboard.  All the water in our water tanks comes directly from the onboard watermaker so it is as clean and close to pure H2O as is possible.

One of the things that seems to confuse many people at first is to understand that there are only TWO conditions that causes water to FLOW in a plumbing system:

  1. The regular water pressure in the system causes water to flow IF and ONLY IF water is being REMOVED from the system.
  2. There is a continuous circulation loop with its own PUMP that causes water to flow round and round through the CIRCULATION loop.

When neither 1 or 2 is true, there is NO FLOW of water through the plumbing. 

The Hot/Warm systems are the ones based on the Open/Direct system on Möbius and this has TWO different but interconnected systems:

  1. The In Floor Heating Mode which provides WARM water to heat floors when wanted.
  2. The DHW Domestic Hot Water Mode which provides HOT water to all the sinks and showers at all times.

I have modified the following illustrations from last week’s post to show a clearer picture of how these two systems work.


Open Direct HEATING Mode illustrationWhen no Hot water tap is open there is NO Cold water entering the system.  However, when one of  the In Floor thermostats turns on a Zone Circulation Pump, warm water then flows out of the Calorifier, through the in floor PEX tubing and back into the Calorifier.  This is a continuous loop so warm water is flowing through the floor tubing anytime the circulation pump is running.

Open Direct DHW Mode illustrationThe DHW system always takes priority so whenever a Hot water tap is opened, the system works like this in DHW Mode.  When any HOT water outlet at a sink or shower is opened, the regular pressure in the Cold water system which runs about 60 PSI, causes Cold water to enter and flow through the PEX tubing in the floors to refill the hot water that has been removed from the Calorifier.
Open Direct with DHW Circulation Loop schematicWhen the Hot water tap is closed the system automatically reverts back to In Floor Heating Mode and the Circulation Pump causes Warm water to circulate though the floor and keep it toasty warm.
To answer another question I received and as should now make sense, we do not actually “drink” water going through the DHW or In Floor Heating, though there would be no problems if we did.

It can initially be a bit confusing because when Hot water is consumed (taken out of the Calorifier by turning on the hot water at a sink or shower) and the system is in DHW mode as per above, it is necessary to replace the water that has been removed from the Calorifier so Cold “drinking water” does enter the DHW system.  This is exactly the same as in ANY home or other setup with a Water Heater or Calorifier; when Hot water is taken out, it must be replaced with water from the Cold water supply.

In operation this works extremely well and does so automatically by design.  Anytime Hot water is wanted, the Open Direct system ensures that this takes priority and Hot water flows from the Calorifier to the tap or shower as long as it is open.  As soon as you close that tap and are no longer needing Hot water, the system reverts to In Floor Heating Mode.

Summer vs Winter:

The difference between Summer and Winter is that in Summer/hot weather when the In Floor Heating is turned off, the IFH Circulation pumps never turn on so no water is flowing through the floor UNTIL a Hot Water tap is opened.  Said another way, the ONLY time water is flowing through the floor PEX is when the system is in DHW Mode because a Hot water tap has been turned on.  The rest of the time, there is NO water flowing through the floor tubes. 

This turns out to be part of the “brilliance” of this type of system in my opinion because the design ensures that the In Floor Heating automatically adapts to whatever the weather is.  HOT water ONLY flows through the floors when it is needed and the circulation pumps turn on in colder weather.  NO hot water flows through the floors in warmer weather because the circulation pumps never turn on.

This sets up the ideal system as it ensures that the water in the PEX tubing is always being refreshed and is never standing still for any length of time.

Better yet, in hot weather, when you are using DHW and there is water flowing through the floor tubes, it is absorbing some of the heat in the room or from sun shining on the floors and so that by the time the water gets to the Calorifier, it is now a bit warmer so you save energy in the Calorifier because the replacement water has already been warmed up and does not take as much energy to heat up to whatever temperature you have sent the Calorifier to maintain.

Once this all makes sense I think you too will see just how “brilliantly simple” this Open Direct system is.  It is completely automatic, no valves or switches to change, no need to drain the system or do anything else other than keep using everything on the boat/house as you always have.

Trust me, it does take a while to figure this type of system out.  It is one of those things where it is very simple but ONLY after you understand it!  To begin with, it can be VERY confusing!  My suggestion, and what I used to do a lot of, is to draw out a schematic for yourself and trace the flow of water in the different scenarios from summer to winter and from In Floor Heat Mode to DHW mode and I think you will quickly see how it works. 

Hope this helps and if it still doesn’t make sense just send me additional questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below to let me know what’s confusing or not making sense and I will do my best to answer them all as quickly as possible or in next week’s post.

Thanks for your patience with this not always so clear ex teacher!

-Wayne

Toasty Tootsies! XPM78-01 Möbius Update 10 Jan 2022

Welcome to this first Möbius Update post of 2022!  I hope you have 2022 off to a great start already as we work to do the same here aboard the Good Ship Möbius.  I am slowly warming up to getting back to weekly blog posts here so thanks very much for your patience in waiting for this first one of the new year.  I’ve been warming up particularly well now that I have the in floor heating all working which I think may well be Captain Christine’s favorite feature so far. 

PXL_20220109_142643818And apparently she’s not the only one as Ruby & Barney have discovered how well the in floor heating heats up their little doggie beds.

With the weather getting colder since our return at the beginning of December from our 2 months back in Canada and the USA, I’ve been mostly working on getting all the Domestic Hot Water or DHW systems fully operational and all the various bugs worked out.  I’ve received a number of questions about how our DHW system works and what components we have installed and a lot of interest in the in-floor heating system we’ve installed and that’s what Ill do my best to cover here in this week’s update.

Domestic Hot Water System

Our DHW system is pretty straight forward so let me cover that first.

There are just three basic components of the DHW System:
Kabola KB45 front view photoKabola KB45 Ecoline Combi diesel fired water heater/boiler

IsoTemp Basic 75L photoIsoTemp 75L Calorifier

with 3 internal heat exchangers
Jabsco 24V circulation pump

Hot Water circulation Loop that runs around the circumference of the boat


PXL_20220110_133823995The Kabola is the primary heating source for the whole DHW system as it is eXtremely efficient, quiet and very trouble free.

Ours is the “Combi” model which means that it has two separate heating loops inside.  The primary loop heats up the water in the IsoTherm Calorifier which holds all the DHW for the boat and the other loop heats up the fluid going to the four air handlers which can heat the air in each cabin if needed.
Kabola Combi back view outlets labelledThis view of the back of the Kabola shows the primary boiler loop Supply/Return connections at #1 & #2 and then the secondary loop flows in/out of #5 & 6.  The Primary loop has a built in circulation pump that constantly circulates the antifreeze/water fluid and a thermostat turns the burner on/off to keep the fluid at whatever temperature you set.

The secondary “Combi” loop has an external circulation pump that is part of the Webasto AirCon/Heating system.


PXL_20210313_130820596I’ve removed the front of the burner to show you how the internal heat exchangers work.  The large black tank you see on the Left contains all the antifreeze/water fluid and the diesel burner is inside the Grey tube on the Right. 

The larger diameter tubes/holes on the top are the secondary loop and the larger number on the bottom are the primary heating loop.
IMG_20210422_150228The Kabola is super simple to operate, just turn it on, set the thermostat to be whatever degrees you want the internal fluid inside the boiler to maintain and then pretty much forget it.  When the fluid temp goes down the burner automatically fires up, heats the water a bit past the set temp and then shuts off.  Could not be simpler or more efficient.
Now let’s follow where the heated fluid as it leaves the Kabola and flows over to the heat exchanger loop inside the Calorifier.


 IsoTemp Basic cut awayThis cutaway view shows how our IsoTherm Calorifier is similarly multi purposed with three different sources of heat to keep our DHW nice and hot.  There are two loops of SS pipes on the bottom here, one which has the fluid from the Kabola flowing in/out of it and the other loop a similar antifreeze/water fluid flowing through from the Gardner engine’s “cooling” system.  The top most loop is a 240V electric heating element that we can use if needed.


All SS construction and the outside never even gets warm so the heavy insulation has been working very well and the Kabola does not need to fire up very often to keep the water nice and hot all the time. 


IsoTemp In-Out connections labelledTurning the Calorifier above around and looking at the outside this sketch shows the three pairs of In/Out connections; one for the hot fluid from the Kabola, one for the hot fluid from the Gardner (when it is running) and then the Cold Fresh Water In and DHW Out.
PXL_20211217_103835692The end of the Calorifier in the illustration above is under my hand and if you look closely (click to enlarge any photo) you can see a Yellow ring labelled “Engine Water” on the far Right and a White ring on the Left labelled “Kabola White”  On the top Right the Red Label marks where the Hot Water comes out through the black wrapped insulated pipes which are split into one line going to the DHW loop and the other with the bottom Left Mixing Valve going to the In Floor Heating loops.
PXL_20210523_111132337Closer view of the adjustable Mixing Valve which controls the temperature of the water going out to the In Floor Heating system which wants warm not Hot water, usually about 55C/131F whereas the DHW runs about 65C/150F.
Open Direct with DHW Circulation Loop schematicTo make sure there is always hot water ready to come out of each sink and shower, the DHW flows around the whole boat in a continuous loop of insulated pipe.  In this schematic the DHW loop is on the Right hand side and the In/Out to the In Floor Heating is on the Left.

I will get back to the In Floor Heating a bit later below but the key point to keep in mind is that the In Floor Heating is all part of the same DHW system.
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To keep the DHW flowing through the hot water loop feeding each tap and shower, this magnetically coupled impeller pump is very small, about the size of your fist and is highly efficiency with very low power consumption and absolutely silent.

We now have very hot water readily available at every tap and shower onboard and we are both eXtremely pleased with how well the whole DHW system has been working.



In-Floor Heating or IFH

Winters here in southern Turkey are rather mild compared to many locations with lows down to 8C/46F a few nights and day time highs as much as 20C/68F but winter is also when we get rainy days and so  can get chilly and so the real star of our DHW system the past while has been having nice warm floors throughout the boat to keep us toasty warm.

It has taken me some time to get it all adjusted and working properly but it is now running flawlessly and silently so let me walk you through how this system works.

As with the DHW system above, the In Floor Heating or IFH is a very simple system with the following main components:

Azel i-Link In Floor Heating control system sp83packageD508FAn Azel I-Link controller with three thermostats for each IFH zone on the boat, one in each cabin and one in the SuperSalon.
PEX Manifold Radiant Floor Heating Set 3 Loop System Stainless SteelA pair of SS manifolds, top Red one where the Warm water (about 50C/122F coming in at the top and then the Returning slightly cooler water exiting out the bottom Blue manifold.
Taco 3 speed circulation pump photoEach of the I-Link thermostats controls one of these Taco 3 speed 1/25HP circulation pumps which circulates the fresh DHW water from the Calorifier through the PEX tubing that runs in loops underneath all our floors as needed to keep our tootsies nice and warm.
Master Cabin In-Floor Heating PEX layout B&WWe worked out these serpentine patterns of PEX tubing in each of the three Zones to provide an even distribution of heat wherever there were bare floors and not under the built in furniture.  This is in the Master Cabin; Head/shower lower Left, bed center Right.
IMG_20200131_121507This is how the PEX tubing was laid down before the 10mm marine plywood floors were installed.  Serpentine grooves were cut into the foam with a router.
IMG_20200131_164746Foil tape was set into the groove in the foam and then the 15mm PEX tubing was press fit into the groove.
IMG_20200723_175142Here is how it looked in the forward end of the SuperSalon.

Let’s take a minute to walk through a brief explanation of how the In Floor Heating system works.


Open Direct with DHW Circulation Loop schematicFor our IFH system I decided to use what is called the “Open Direct” style as it is incredibly simple and efficient.  OPEN in this case refers to the fact that the IFH system is “open” to the same DHW that we use onboard for sinks and showers.  A “closed” system would be like the loops of antifreeze/water that the Kabola uses to heat up the water in the Calorifier.

DIRECT refers to the fact that the fresh warm water flowing through the PEX tubing is heating the floors directly, not through a heat exchanger like those in the Calorifier.
Open Direct schematicThis simple schematic adds the details of how the IFH portion of our DHW system works.  Warm water coming out of the Calorifier via the mixing valve is pumped on demand through the PEX tubing in the floors by the Taco circulation pumps. 
Part of the simple brilliance of an Open Direct system is that the DHW always takes precedence so anytime you turn on a hot water tap or the shower, hot water is diverted to them until shut of when the warm water returns to circulate through the floors as needed.  Huh?  How does THAT work you ask?  The following two illustrations should help make sense of this very simple but initially a bit confusing system works.


Open Direct HEATING Mode illustrationThis is In Floor Heating Mode that happens whenever the thermostat for this IFH Zone turns the circulation pump ON and warm DHW is pumped through the under floor PEX tubing in that zone and then returned back to the Calorifier (Water Heater).  Keep in mind that even though the whole DHW system is pressurized to about 4 Bar/60 PSI in this mode the ONLY way water flows is IF the circulation pump is running.
Even though it is available, Cold water cannot enter the system when the pump comes on unless someone is taking hot water out of the system by taking a shower, doing dishes, etc..


Open Direct DHW Mode illustrationWhen a Hot water tap is opened then the pressure drops and the system reverts to this DHW Mode and Hot water flows out of the Calorifier (Water Heater) to the HW tap and Cold water flows into the system to replace it.

The cold water goes through heating tubes within the floor on its way to the water heater. This flow pattern provides limited free cooling and other benefits. Stagnation is prevented and
priority is given to the domestic hot water use over the space heating use. A small amount of free cooling is realized in the summer.


Note that NO additional equipment, parts or power is needed to make these two modes work automatically. 

Brilliantly simple don’t you think??!!

PEX Manifold Radiant Floor Heating Set 3 Loop System Stainless SteelI found these beautiful SS manifolds on Amazon for a great price and they made the whole plumbing of the system very straightforward to install and control.  Red handled ball valve top Left is where the warm water from the Calorifier flows INTO the system and is made available to each of the three Red Flow Control Meters/Valves and into the PEX fittings on the bottom. 

Cooler water from each continuous PEX loop flows into the bottom three fittings, each with the White capped control valve and then OUT the Blue ball valve and back to the Calorifier.
PEX manifold Red Flow metersEach continuous loop of PEX in a zone has one of these Red Flow Meters that you adjust to get the correct flow rate, which is about 1-1.5 L/min for our zones.
PEX manifold temp gauges HOTEach ball valve has a temp gauge so you can check the differential of the water temp coming IN and how much it drops going OUT.  Ideal is about 50C/122F coming in and 40C/104 going OUT and you adjust this via the Mixing Valve on the Calorifier.
In Floor heating manifolds   pumps installedHere is what the whole IFH manifold looks like when assembled and installed with the three Taco circulation pumps. 

These Taco pumps are pretty much bullet proof and are miserly power consumers as they are very small 1/25HP AC motors.
Taco pumps 3 speed switchThe Taco pumps are absolutely silent and can be run at one of three speed settings to get you the flow you want.  They are also dead quiet and you can only tell they are running by watching the flow meters.
Azel i-Link In Floor Heating control system sp83packageD508FThis Azel I-Link controller is the brains of the IFH system and takes its orders from one of the three thermostats conveniently located in each Zone.
Azel thermostat photo with labelsEach thermostat is very easy to adjust and provides a full set of information of room temp, floor temp, when the “heating mode” or pumps are on, etc..
PXL_20220110_133752081Here is what one looks like in operation today.  Room temp is 22.3C/72F, Set Point is 24C, floor temp is 49C.
IMG_20200129_182654Each Zone has one of these little temperature sensors installed which connects to the thermostat of that Zone so it and the controller knows when to turn the circulation pump Off/On.
IMG_20200505_104911The main control box of the I-Link system is carefully tucked away into a small alcove in the Ship’s Office where it is well protected but easily viewed by opening the cupboard door.  Red lights on the far Right indicate when one of the 3 zones is working (pump on).

And that is it!  Just like the Kabola boiler, this is a “set it and forget it” system and has been working flawlessly and very easy to adjust as we learned what temps we liked in each zone.


You have to experience it to understand just how fabulous Toasty Tootsies are when the weather turns colder outside!

And that’s a wrap for this week, the first blog and Möbius Update of 2022 is done and dusted! 

Hope you enjoyed it and please be sure to tell me if you did or didn’t and add any other questions in the “Join the Discussion” box below.

I’ll do my best to be back again next weekend with another Möbius Update for you and thanks again for your patience in waiting for this one to go live.

-Wayne