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    Fairies Hill

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  1. Definitely a good point! I feel the same - got to do something under house arrest.
  2. Thanks, this is good advice. Trust me, I've thought about the risks, and heard advice ranging from the equivalent of "as long as the scorching isn't too bad" to "you must obey the standards as an absolute minimum". I was going to build CaSi panels, tiled on two sides of the stove and up the wall, and completely clear a good space around where the flue passes through the roof - three times the flue diameter is the supposed minimum but it's those minima we keep arguing about. I spotted the steel tray solution in an earlier thread, as illustrated by @Ally, and I'm going to try to get one made - that should solve the "massive hearth area" part of the problem. I'm considering asking about adding back and side plates integral to the tray, like Chas Hardern has done on his current Thorin, so I'll just have to insulation board line behind them and leave an air gap, and build something to protect the wall panelling from the radiant heat from the flue (also should be three times the flue diameter to anything combustible, supposedly).
  3. Second time I've been accused of overthinking it on here. Same answer: I'm afraid I do sometimes, sorry. I'm definitely not seeking more control, but I do like consistency and logic and clarity in the application of what rules there are, though. Vagueness and rules of thumb about what's safe around a very hot box full of burning fuel is not consistency, logic and clarity. The BSS position on stoves seems to be "a specific part of our mission is protect others from boat fires but we're not going to require anyone to do anything in order to fulfil that." I'm not sure why I'm the only person who thinks that's a contradiction.
  4. As it happens, I included that document and another version of it in my original post, and believe me, I've studied it thoroughly. I agree about the cemented joint too - my previous experience with fire cement is that it only takes some slight movement or vibration to make it crumble.
  5. I did look them up, but it was a few months ago now. I'm not arguing with the point that they don't "require" anything, they just "advise" some things - I get that completely. I'm pointing out that protecting other waterways users from boat fires is part of their specific remit, and they can't do that by controlling how close the burning boat is to other users, so the only way they have to fulfil that part of their remit is by minimising the chance of boat fires occurring at all. In that context, I'm just suggesting that it's odd that this area of things is merely advisory when it seems to be at the heart of what the BSS is trying to achieve. They're not going to fail me because I've got a dodgy stove installation that might kill me, no. They ought to fail me because I've got a dodgy stove installation that might kill someone else on the boat moored alongside, though, and they have to assume that there will be a boat alongside and it will be occupied because they have no way of knowing that there isn't or it won't be. That's what I meant.
  6. I think this is no different from managing any kind of risk: it's not binary, it's a matter of degree. The advised minimum dimensions for a stove installation are really those which it is reckoned would genuinely minimise the risk of setting fire to something that's not supposed to be burning. Not meeting those minima does not mean you're going to set fire to your boat, as the thousands of non-compliant installations practically demonstrate - this is @Tracy D'arth's point, I think. It does mean, though, that each compromise below those minima does increase the risk: that bit of trim or panel that's only 10cm rather than 20cm away gets rather warm, and it's not going to make it burst into flames but it's representative of increased risk. And I have seen some terrifying examples in pictures: curtains hanging only centimetres away, for example. The smaller your hearth, the higher the chance that the next time you open the door and that bit of coal rolls out, it'll roll off the hearth. The closer your flue to that unprotected bit of wooden panelling, the higher the chance that on that particularly cold night when you really stoked up the stove, the panel that's just got hot before will start to smoulder this time. The BSS aims to protect waterways users not from themselves, but from others' misfortune or folly, so the inspector eyes up the risks and takes a punt on it being ok.
  7. Aha, now this is getting to the nitty gritty of it. I didn't appreciate that distinction about BSS's remit and aim, no, but I don't quite agree with your interpretation of that statement you've quoted. The inspector doesn't know where a boat is going to be when it catches fire/blows up/emits effluent, so they surely have to assume that every boat has an equal chance of being near and hence endangering other users when it does. I completely understand your example about ventilators - poor ventilation does not endanger those not on board - but isn't a direct potential cause of fire like a stove a different matter because a mishap with it does directly put other users at risk? In other words, it's directly in pursuit of the stated aim to protect other users to ensure that stoves are installed safely and won't cause boat fires. BSS can't control where we moor, how close our boat is to other people, so the only way it has to "minimise the risk of boat fires" doing harm to those not on board is to minimise the risk of there being boat fires at all, which surely means minimising the risk of things that might set fire to the boat actually doing so. Looked at like that, isn't it odd that safe installation of fire-risk appliances is only "advisory"? "Safe" having therefore to be defined in some way, like with some minimum standards.
  8. Yes, there are indeed. Safe design of the installation is one thing; knowing how to manage a really, really hot metal box of blazing fuel safely is something else altogether. Setting fire to things is a bit of a lost art and the rapid growth in popularity of setting fire to things over the past few years has no doubt led to some people with no clue causing all sorts of mishaps.
  9. Someone who's behind those recommended design parameters that I and Alan drew attention to, which are presented as minima, must have indulged in massively risk-averse overkill. Is that why basically almost everyone just ignores them? Everyone, BSS inspectors and insurance investigators included, quietly agrees they are ridiculous? That was what my original question was asking. How do we reconcile the apparently-conflicting recommended minimum standards for good practice with what people actually do, what BSS inspectors are apparently happy to pass (despite allegedly working to the same set of standards), and what is genuinely safe and reasonably practicable? What do insurance companies think? As Alan said, wouldn't they look askance at any claim for fire damage caused by a stove installation that did not meet the recommended minimum standards? In their litiginous minds, that is how they would think, isn't it? It certainly is when it comes to domestic claims: oh, your house burned down because of faulty wiring in your kitchen, and you did it yourself? Sorry mate, no pounds for you. Would they not be pressurising for BSS inspectors who had approved non-compliant installations that had caused problems to be penalised? I don't know, perhaps they do. Or perhaps everything is as it appears, and no-one pays any attention to these standards and they just apply anecdotal rules of thumb instead.
  10. I agree, Alan. I was looking at a thread on Facebook earlier in which people were comparing tiles, and there were pictures of dozens of different boat stove installations, only one of which to my eye looked remotely compliant with what you correctly describe as best practice. Bearing in mind that the discourse was about tiles, not stove installation practices, I think it counts as a fair random sample of the latter. I'm interested in something safe and my boat, my choice is to be toasty warm whilst not setting fire to the thing or having to make any insurance claim; or, for that matter, to not burn to death in a fire. Judging by the number of installations with wood trims, panels and fabrics within centimeters of x00deg c stoves and flues, a lot of people are perhaps not appreciating how much risk they're taking.
  11. I've read quite a lot of threads and seen a lot of pictures online of people's stove installations. I know this is a topic that's been discussed at length, but I remain puzzled about what's going on when it comes to the BSS. I sought advice from a surveyor who just said "dunno, I'd have to see it" - not a response that filled me with confidence or that was in fact helpful when I'm trying to design something with dimensions that I can be confident will pass an inspection. Some stove suppliers publish advice such as this (PDF) and this (PDF), which purports to be based on official regulations but is, as far as I can tell, advisory unless the boat is a new build. The essential recommendation is that there should be 225mm of hearth in front, 150mm to any unprotected side, fireproof panels made of 25mm CaSi board (I suppose vermiculite would work as well) protecting any combustible materials, a gap of 45mm between stove and panels and, for a single-walled flue, at least three times the flue's diameter to any combustible material. This implies a 650mm square hearth (approximately) with 35mm panels (if tiled) plus 10mm air gaps and something that goes all the way up the wall to the roof. On a boat that's only 6ft-something wide inside, that's a lot of space. Needless to say, very few of the pictures I've seen of people's actual installations are anything like this. Typically a stove is crammed into the corner next to steps (let's not open the box of whether that's a good place or not), with a hearth of maybe 50-100mm in front and a few tiles behind it, with no apparent fireproof protection either behind the flue or even sometimes between the stove and a wood-panelled wall or frighteningly adjacent curtain. A bloke I met at Ellesmere last year said "they just look for scorch marks and if there aren't any, you're fine". No wonder there are boat fires. You don't hear a continuous flow of stories about people failing their BSS the first time after fitting their new stove, so it appears the surveyors indeed aren't fussed about the recommendations and essentially do "just look for scorch marks". I want a safe installation of what is genuinely a hazardous piece of equipment, but I don't want to take up unnecessary space and I don't want to be the only fool who actually follows the recommendations to the letter (or rather, number) when no one else is bothered. Anyone care to spell out how it actually works?
  12. Fair comment. It was just a bit of fun.
  13. No doubt! I was just inserting some historical trivia... Let's guess at an hour to get through the tunnel and two hours to disperse the train and assemble the next. I reckon they could do two or three runs a day, maximum, of 30 boats, so that'd be an average of 45 boats a day each way.
  14. Funnily enough, I was just reading last night about the electric tug that used to operate through Harecastle tunnel. I've read in several places that it was powered from overhead lines, but this book said that, upon introduction in 1914, it had an "accumulator butty" with a battery of 115 chloride cells which took a week to charge. During charging, I suppose it was simply back to legging through, unless there was more than one tug or at least more than one accumulator butty. Anyway, the wires were installed in 1931 - apparently the sparking could get quite exciting. This lasted until 1953 when the tug was discontinued and fans were installed to improve ventilation enough to allow self-propelled boats to navigate through. Interestingly, the tug had two 15hp motors with no propellor losses because it hauled itself along a cable picked up from the bed of the canal, with up to 30 boats towed behind it. Adds a new perspective to our discussions about power, eh? (Narrow Boats by Tom Chaplin, 1989 ed., ISBN 0-905483-71-5, pp. 34-5.)
  15. 100% convinced, thank you for this.
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