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Onne’s New Goose: Replacing the Marine Hot Water Heater

From the day Onne van der Wal bought his used 1986 Grand Banks 32, he told his wife Tenley that the hot water tank was probably on its last legs. Every time he opened the faucet, the water smelled, and the first cup of water was brown. He used the boiler all summer, but on the last day of the season it stopped working. Talk about perfect timing.

Onne did some research and while talking to Bill Waterson, the head of the New England Grand Banks Owner’s Association, who owns a Grand Banks 32 of the same vintage, Waterson told him that the same hot water tanks are still being made by the original company. Onne placed a call to Raritan Engineering in Millville, New Jersey, and they shipped him a new one.

That made the project what Onne likes to call “plug and play.” But he did see a couple of potential obstacles. One of the big D cells sat right in front of the water tank. “I thought, 'how do I pick up a heavy D cell alone and take it out?'” he says. But he spotted an opportunity to slide the battery forward and that gave him the room to slide the old tank right by it. He was also concerned that he would have to widen the engine hatch access. “I was worried the tank wouldn’t come out of the hatch,” he says, “but it slid right out.”

When he received the new tank, Onne could see that it was virtually identical to the old one. The new tank came with just female connections, so he took all the fittings off the old tank and when he saw they were in good condition he put new tape on them and reused them. “The original Grand Banks stuff was done so well,” Onne says. “It was so easy to take it apart and the fittings were so good. Why would I replace them?”

Before he installed the new tank, and while he had the opportunity, he put a coat of Jamestown Distributors TotalBoat paint down. The dimensions on the new tank were almost exactly the same as the old one, and there was enough slack in the pipes coming from the engine to connect them.

“I have not tested it yet because the boat is out of the water,” Onne says. “But it was actually a very easy project. Nothing complicated.”

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