Today was forecast to be the dullest and wettest day of the next wee while.  It seemed like a good day to get on with some indoor jobs I’d been lining up.  I have been trying to find a better place for the TV, and hatched a plan which involves replacing the radiator with a wider and lower one, which I’d had delivered to the marina.

I thought I knew what else was needed, but wanted to take the skirting board off to check.  One of the screws that holds the skirting board on is hidden behind the dinette.  We’ve never demolished that before, but I knew the simple instructions.  Remove everything that comes off to reduce the weight and then lift it out.  It was as easy as that.

Inside a narrowboat with built-in furniture in disarray.
Dinette Upturned

I tipped the unit on its end to make some more floor space.  For the first time we could see the sixteen little rollers that allow this section to slide in and out.  With Clare’s help I extracted the skirting board, then put the dinette back together.

Inside a narrowboat with built-in furniture in disarray.
Wheels under the Dinette

Most of the things I needed could be ordered from a DIY retailer nearby.  On the way there, I saw that another local plumbing retailer was available.  On the way back I popped in there for the missing item.  Clare had come with me on the part of the route along the canal and then went to buy bread.  We met up again for the return, by which time we were both ready for lunch.

By the time lunch was finished, I’d realised that the pipes behind the skirting board were not the size I’d expected (22mm instead of 15mm).  So I needed another trip to both retailers to swap for the right bits.  While I was coming back, the rain started.  My plan to shop in the morning was clearly a good one – buying the wrong things, less so.

Clare helped me drain the system.  This was a bit messy, but we managed it without needing to run the bilge bump, and it wasn’t too long before the old radiator was off the wall.

A blank wall where a radiator used to be. Various tools litter the floor.
There Was the Radiator – Gone

I spent a long time convincing myself that I was going to cut the pipes in the right places.  Push-fit plumbing makes many jobs easy, but I didn’t want to have to go for spares in the rain again.  A maxim I have found useful is “measure twice, cut once”.  I figured it would do no harm to measure three or four times for each of the two cuts.

With the pipes in the right place I had a look at the brackets for the radiator.  I couldn’t make sense of how I was supposed to fit them.  After some head-scratching, we concluded that the brackets, if not the entire radiator are intended for portrait, not landscape mode.  That’s not what I ordered!

Inside a narrowboat.  A radiator sits on the floor along a blank wall.
Radiator Near its Intended Location

By fitting the valves on to the pipes, I would at least able to get the rest of the heating working – or so I thought.  We were forced to have Pimm’s to free up a lemonade bottle for use as a funnel to refill the header tank.  When I turned the system on, it made a louder noise than usual, and then turned itself off.  There was nothing for it but to have dinner!

I found the manual for the Eberspacher heater.  This is the bit of kit in our engine room that heats our radiators and (some of) our hot water.  The manual said the bulge on top in the middle was a Vent Screw.  Nowhere in the manual did it say anything else about it.  I decided to clamber in to the engine compartment and have a look.

An Eberspacher heating unit in the engine room of a narrowboat.
Eberspacher Under the Stern Deck

Once I’d folded myself in to the right place, I was able to open the screw.  It made a reassuring gentle hiss for a while, and then my fingers got wet.  I closed the screw, and was pleased to find that my fingers didn’t smell of diesel – I must have been venting the right thing.  The header tank level had gone down a little too, so I tried turning the heating on.  Success!

So now we need to organise to get the right radiator.  We will be warm enough for now with what we still have.