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Converting to hybrid power... engine replacement etc?


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Anyone got one of those Fisher Panda diesel generator / electric motor arrangements?

 

After another season of being deafened by the roaring sound, choked by the diesel fumes, and underwhelmed by the lack of any sort of power when needed, I again find myself thinking evil thoughts about the Lister SR2 under our large cruiserstern deck.  It's been utterly reliable for 15 years of our ownership (and the 60 years onboard prior to that) - but having a quieter, cleaner option would be very attractive. 

 

I just wonder what the costs are - are they still so expensive as to make it un-economical? 

 

Is running a diesel generator to power an electric motor a pointless exercise? 

 

Far cheaper to look into a replacement diesel engine/gearbox and run a hospital silencer etc...?

 

Just pondering.... 

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46 minutes ago, TandC said:

After another season of being deafened by the roaring sound, choked by the diesel fumes, and underwhelmed by the lack of any sort of power when needed, I again find myself thinking evil thoughts about the Lister SR2 under our large cruiserstern deck. 

 

What you need here is a different boat!

 

Nice trad boat with a centre engine room containing something sensible like a Gardner 2LW with roof exit exhaust solves all three of these problems.  

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SR2s are bomb proof and will happily run for years even if badly neglected. But I can agree they are noisy and smoky! To some extent those issues could be mitigated by a proper overhaul and fitting a decent silencer. And the performance issue may just be a matter of a getting the right sized prop. 

That said, a brand new Beta may not cost a lot more.

Any form of electric propulsion is going to cost a lot more, even if you are a tinkerer and willing to experiment with second hand components, home built control system etc. And at the end of the day you still need a diesel engine in the system somewhere until there are charging points every few miles along the canal.

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8 hours ago, TandC said:

Anyone got one of those Fisher Panda diesel generator / electric motor arrangements?

 

After another season of being deafened by the roaring sound, choked by the diesel fumes, and underwhelmed by the lack of any sort of power when needed, I again find myself thinking evil thoughts about the Lister SR2 under our large cruiserstern deck.  It's been utterly reliable for 15 years of our ownership (and the 60 years onboard prior to that) - but having a quieter, cleaner option would be very attractive. 

 

I just wonder what the costs are - are they still so expensive as to make it un-economical? 

 

Is running a diesel generator to power an electric motor a pointless exercise? 

 

Far cheaper to look into a replacement diesel engine/gearbox and run a hospital silencer etc...?

 

Just pondering.... 

 

I met a guy with a very nice looking purpose built hybrid a while ago and he was very happy with it, once he had ironed out the teething issues.  But the installation is shockingly expensive, I'd say for most of us prohibitively expensive.  Only makes sense if you are going to live full time on the boat for several years.

 

You also need to find space for all the extra batteries.

 

It's a bit like considering replacing your gas/oil boiler at home for a heat pump.  When you look at the installation costs I suspect most of us would just go for replacing like with like.

 

I'd just get a nice shiny Beta or Barrus and give your ears a treat.

 

 

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10 hours ago, TandC said:

Anyone got one of those Fisher Panda diesel generator / electric motor arrangements?


I have, and like it, but agree with all the other points above. If you mainly want something quieter, there are much less expensive, less involved, more simply maintained alternatives. 
 

We designed our shell around the batteries etc, and have a big Fischer Panda dc gen. TBH my main motivation was my engineering design background and the fact that I wanted to try it all out (this was 15 years ago). I just like things like that, so the extra expense for me was funding a hobby more than anything else. 
 

That said, we are still very happy with it. Aside from the propulsion, it’s quite nice having a battery that can run inverters for a whole day (including for oven, hob, kettle etc), and if we’re not cruising then running the very quiet gen for 1/2 hour a day is all we need to top up the battery. 
 

In short, I’d say unless you are really sold on the benefits and / or like the technical aspects, the cost probably isn’t worth it. 

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I have a serial electric boat I have lots of solar so genny runs very little, I did it for the same reasons as yourself  noise and fumes! The cheaper license is a bonus 😊.

Cost wise it wasn't expensive but it takes time to collect all the kit together for the conversion and you need to be competent to do it

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22 hours ago, MtB said:

 

What you need here is a different boat!

 

Nice trad boat with a centre engine room containing something sensible like a Gardner 2LW with roof exit exhaust solves all three of these problems.  

Now I know why you have a persistent cough in some of your replies!😎

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At the Crick show there was 3 methods on show to convert a normal set up to hybrid set up.

 

Remove the original engine and gear box, replace with a brand new engine and generator +electric motor.

 

Add an electric motor/generator on a lay shaft above the gearbox driving a toothed belt to the propshaft.  This allows the drive to be direct from the engine generating electricity, to the batteries', or disconnect the main engine, allowing the batteries to power the electric motor.

 

Sound proof generator, electric motor.

 

All need much larger battery banks to be added, if an acceptable electric range is to be achieved.

Diesel power is still needed to generate electricity, some systems were claiming a short running time 1-2 hrs to recharge the batteries, other were 8-10 hrs, but it really depends on how many batteries you have.  The sound proof generator system had 17 batteries, but this system, would start up automatically when the batteries need charging. ( is this using diesel directly for propulsion?)

 

Bod

 

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The battery/space issue can be addressed to some extent by using lithium batteries, but I don't think they are popular in these installations owing to the relatively high cost.  If you were retro fitting though It might be worth looking at.

 

I don't think there are too many examples of narrowboats where these systems have been installed retrospectively but I'm told that JD boat services at Gailey have recently done one using the Hybrid Marine system, if anyone is seriously interested. 

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49 minutes ago, Neil2 said:

The battery/space issue can be addressed to some extent by using lithium batteries, but I don't think they are popular in these installations owing to the relatively high cost.  If you were retro fitting though It might be worth looking at.

 

I don't think there are too many examples of narrowboats where these systems have been installed retrospectively but I'm told that JD boat services at Gailey have recently done one using the Hybrid Marine system, if anyone is seriously interested. 

 

Link here to the Hybrid Marine web page describing their narrowboat system:

https://hybrid-marine.co.uk/index.php/products/narrowboat

 

 

 

Well worth reading IMO.

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All good comments.  The hybrid marine system has an appeal - but is unlikely really feasible or economical.  I'd be interested to find out their costs... 

 

The main issue at present really is the noise - making the cruising experience less of a chore.   I've done everything to try and soundproof the engine, the bay, the deckboards, etc and it's a game of diminishing returns.  So if we are really serious, it's probably most likely to look at replacement engines - and that's probably up to £10k with fitting i guess. 

 

The other issue is weight - we'd need to replace with a system weighing no more than, or the same as, a Lister SR2 with 440amphrs of batteries...  anything more than that would mean doing a fair amount of work with the fitout to access the existing ballast and removing etc.   

 

So, as we all know... we'll stick our fingers in our ears and get on with the bloody Lister!!

 

 

 

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Sounds to me as though your boat just needs a water cooled engine. 

 

Given the cost of one, plus docking the boat and adding a skin tank, my suggestion that you just buy a different boat is a serious one. Selling the one you have and buying another boat with a quieter water-cooled engine seems to me the path of least resistance.

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48 minutes ago, TandC said:

All good comments.  The hybrid marine system has an appeal - but is unlikely really feasible or economical.  I'd be interested to find out their costs... 

 

The main issue at present really is the noise - making the cruising experience less of a chore.   I've done everything to try and soundproof the engine, the bay, the deckboards, etc and it's a game of diminishing returns.  So if we are really serious, it's probably most likely to look at replacement engines - and that's probably up to £10k with fitting i guess. 

 

The other issue is weight - we'd need to replace with a system weighing no more than, or the same as, a Lister SR2 with 440amphrs of batteries...  anything more than that would mean doing a fair amount of work with the fitout to access the existing ballast and removing etc.   

 

So, as we all know... we'll stick our fingers in our ears and get on with the bloody Lister!!

 

 

 

My system is way lighter than the engine it replaced, the motor and gearbox can be picked up wit one hand. The batteries 30 them arnt that heavy and the generator 2 people can lift it.

The stern went up 1 inch when it was all finished 

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1 hour ago, TandC said:

All good comments.  The hybrid marine system has an appeal - but is unlikely really feasible or economical.  I'd be interested to find out their costs... 

 

The main issue at present really is the noise - making the cruising experience less of a chore.   I've done everything to try and soundproof the engine, the bay, the deckboards, etc and it's a game of diminishing returns.  So if we are really serious, it's probably most likely to look at replacement engines - and that's probably up to £10k with fitting i guess. 

 

The other issue is weight - we'd need to replace with a system weighing no more than, or the same as, a Lister SR2 with 440amphrs of batteries...  anything more than that would mean doing a fair amount of work with the fitout to access the existing ballast and removing etc.   

 

So, as we all know... we'll stick our fingers in our ears and get on with the bloody Lister!!

 

If it’s only the noise, getting a modern water cooled engine is surely the best option for this boat. Our boat has a Beta 43 with hospital silencer. Of course it’s on flexible mountings. And despite being a “modern trad” with engine right at the back, it is very quiet at the helm. The exhaust is barely audible and we sometimes get asked if it’s an electric boat. We often take fishermen by surprise. 
 

I am routinely astonished by how noisy many boats are - I can’t imagine how they stand it! And an SR2 is at the opposite end of the scale from ours, with no water jacket to absorb noise, probably solid engine mounts to spread the vibration, a direct path from the core of the engine to the outside (air cooling) and minimal silencing.

 

All that said, as MTB says it’s not going to be a trivial retrofit and swapping the whole boat out would be much easier.

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5 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

If it’s only the noise, getting a modern water cooled engine is surely the best option for this boat. Our boat has a Beta 43 with hospital silencer. Of course it’s on flexible mountings. And despite being a “modern trad” with engine right at the back, it is very quiet at the helm. The exhaust is barely audible and we sometimes get asked if it’s an electric boat. We often take fishermen by surprise. 
 

I am routinely astonished by how noisy many boats are - I can’t imagine how they stand it! And an SR2 is at the opposite end of the scale from ours, with no water jacket to absorb noise, probably solid engine mounts to spread the vibration, a direct path from the core of the engine to the outside (air cooling) and minimal silencing.

 

All that said, as MTB says it’s not going to be a trivial retrofit and swapping the whole boat out would be much easier.

 

As one of the legions of older guys (yes, it is mostly guys) suffering from tinnitus I too am ultra sensitive to noisy boats and it baffles me why so many are prepared to put up with it.  

 

I remember looking at a boat for sale many years ago that had an SR3 in the back cabin with nothing to act as a sound barrier.  It must have been purgatory when under way.  I did ask the broker to fire it up, as I retreated to a safe distance... but the starter battery was flat, probably just as well.

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HybridMarine just replied very promptly to my "how long is a piece of string" question around conversion costs:  They quote around £30,000, depending on the battery choices potentially more...  and that is without installation. 

 

So - how much to convert to a  modern water-cooled engine, with hospital silencer....?    10 - 15k?   

 

The boat is our liveaboard, has been for 15 years so it'd be a wrench to part with it - and getting a new boat, with all the work associated with getting it to our fit-out requirements etc is no small task and would be v. expensive.   Hence me considering swapping the engine - although it does seem ridiculous. 

 

I expect we shall just soldier on!

 

 

 

 

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7 minutes ago, TandC said:

HybridMarine just replied very promptly to my "how long is a piece of string" question around conversion costs:  They quote around £30,000, depending on the battery choices potentially more...  and that is without installation. 

 

So - how much to convert to a  modern water-cooled engine, with hospital silencer....?    10 - 15k?   

 

The boat is our liveaboard, has been for 15 years so it'd be a wrench to part with it - and getting a new boat, with all the work associated with getting it to our fit-out requirements etc is no small task and would be v. expensive.   Hence me considering swapping the engine - although it does seem ridiculous. 

 

I expect we shall just soldier on!

 

 

 

 

It's a shame you aren't technically mechanically minded for me it was a doddle and not expensive 

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3 minutes ago, peterboat said:

It's a shame you aren't technically mechanically minded for me it was a doddle and not expensive 

I wouldn't say that I'm not...  but I am conscious of the limitations on the boat and I am not sure of the arrangements. 

 

A hybrid engine is out - too expensive. 

 

What is involved in your system?   Does it require any water-cooled components to install?  Or is it something that could be installed in an engine bay... no need for skin tank etc? 

 

How does your diesel generator perform alongside a modern water-cooled engine....   ?  

 

Is it a ridiculous idea to consider convert to a serial electric motor, when the maximum capacity would be say 660amp hours of batteries (weight/space in engine bay is the limiting factor)?

 

I'd not even be that fussed about long periods of only-electric silent running.   If the diesel generator was quiet enough, why not just use it as an alternative to achieve a quieter propulsion?  

 

I mean, if you're going to power the boat using a filthy inefficient diesel Lister engine, why not use a diesel generator to run an electric motor?   That had been my original train of thought when I opened this can of worms!!

 

 

 

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Do bear in mind peterboat has a widebeam constructed out of solar panels instead of steel plate, no diesel engine at all, 30 megawatt hours of lithium batteries and only cruises on sunny afternoons. ;) 

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haha!  

 

And then you find one of these on eBay:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Fischer-panda-agt-4000-12v-/274348225282?var=0&mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=710-53481-19255-0&campid=5338268676&toolid=10044&customid=EAIaIQobChMIvs3_oYTb8gIVc4BQBh3A4wZ3EAQYASABEgK-BPD_BwE

 

 

 

 

I guess the good thing about a Lister is that they last long enough to ensure you go deaf before they break

 

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2 minutes ago, TandC said:

haha!  

 

And then you find one of these on eBay:

 

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Fischer-panda-agt-4000-12v-/274348225282?var=0&mkevt=1&mkcid=1&mkrid=710-53481-19255-0&campid=5338268676&toolid=10044&customid=EAIaIQobChMIvs3_oYTb8gIVc4BQBh3A4wZ3EAQYASABEgK-BPD_BwE

 

 

 

 

I guess the good thing about a Lister is that they last long enough to ensure you go deaf before they break

 

 

I'm inclined to think fitting a reconditioned BMC 1.5 might be the lowest cost solution for you. I think Calcut sell them for about £6k.

 

Your air cooled Lister is noisy because it needs the air whereas with a water cooled BMC can be properly cocooned with a big quiet silencer, which will address most of your noise problems. 

 

Just checked and they only do exchange engines, so you'd need to buy a donor BMC from ebay. OTOH they charge a lot less than £6k.

 

http://www.calcuttboats.com/engines.html

 

 

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1 hour ago, nicknorman said:

f it’s only the noise, getting a modern water cooled engine is surely the best option for this boat. Our boat has a Beta 43 with hospital silencer. Of course it’s on flexible mountings. And despite being a “modern trad” with engine right at the back, it is very quiet at the helm. The exhaust is barely audible and we sometimes get asked if it’s an electric boat. We often take fishermen by surprise. 

I've had the same question asked of my boat with the same set up, Beta 43, hospital silencer and some proper sound insulation under the deck boards. If you don't have the engineering skills to DIY an electric/hybrid drive, then a water cooled engine, with a big silencer and some cocooning is the cheapest and easiest way to get a quieter boat at the moment.

Jen

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I know it may seem like a daft suggestion but here goes anyway ... ever thought about using ear defenders when cruising? At least your hearing will be protected, and you can get wireless/bluetooth ones so you can listen to the radio or whatever too ... much cheaper than a new engine ;)

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