A few months back, having spent a lot of time researching products from the various marine air conditioner manufacturers, I decided Flagship Marine appeared to offer the best quality for a fair price. There are other manufacturers whose products appear to offer better short-term bang for the buck (i.e. low initial price) but I concluded that if anything ever went wrong with those units they’re basically throw-aways. Flagship uses top notch parts and they’re serviceable with parts you can buy at your local HVAC supplier. So I ordered a 9kBTU unit for the V-berth, 12kBTU for the aft stateroom, and 16kBTU for the salon. Both the V-berth unit and the one in the aft stateroom will be ducted to contribute to salon/galley cooling, since the salon is what tends to get hottest on these boats. I also went with 220v units with integral heater coils rather than reverse cycle heat. Where we keep the boat, reverse cycle only works for a couple of months of the year, and with my 42′ Commander and previous 52′ Constellation, we schlep oil-filled radiant heaters on board during the winter. With these integral heat coils, we should be plenty warm in fall and winter without annoying radiator heaters.
The 9kBTU unit is apparently not commonly ordered, so they had to make that one up special. Flagship also indicated that they were swapping out the standard compressor on the 18kBTU unit, so there was a bit of a production delay there. None of that bothered me, given how much time it will take before the boat’s ready to splash. Six weeks after ordering, a large box appeared on my doorstep.
Pretty little things, and well packaged, too!
Getting the 9kBTU unit up the ladder and into the V-berth wasn’t too bad
The AC shelf in the V-berth
The ducting will go something like this
Flagship recommended MSI Products for ducting and outlet grills. The diverters are slick. Inside the Y is a rigid flap that you can adjust with detents into the circular dots you see in the pic above, directing more air in the direction of the longer run that will have more resistance.
Unfortunately, it was around this time I found a couple of niggling points on this AC unit.
The problem areas on the top side are the raw water inlet and the blower outlet
Insufficient clearance for double-wall raw water hose
The raw water inlet is oriented very close to that little capillary tube. I’m using Shields 200 Series no wire water hose, which is a proper, double-walled hose. I’ve used the single-walled hose before, but it always reminds me of garden hose. I’ve never had a problem with the 100 Series, single-wall hose failing, but for this boat I don’t want to have any problems, and I’d prefer to use the higher quality hose. Flagship responded on this issue and indicated that they spec these out for single-wall hose and indicated it’s OK to gently push the capillary tube out of the way. But I can’t install the 200 Series hose on this inlet without snipping the wire ties and relocating the capillary tube, which is up against the stainless evaporator housing. It’s not a big problem, but the copper water inlet has plenty of room on the other side. Leaving an extra 1/8″~3/16″ gap at the factory would have avoided the issue.
No place to put 2 of the 4 plenum mounting screws
The two screw holes at the top of the blower outlet in the pic above are easy to access. But the lower two have…issues. The one on the left sits directly on the stainless evaporator housing. Now, maybe I can drill into it without hitting any vital parts, but without partially disassembling the unit it’d be a blind drill…very risky! On the right side, the hole is directly over the copper heat exchanger tube. There’s actually just enough space between the two that if a bolt had been installed before the unit was assembled and tacked in place, there wouldn’t be an issue. Flagship’s response here was that they’d discuss this with the production line, and that drilling a hole in a different spot on the right side should suffice. But I’m not keen on having to drill holes in brand new equipment that’s powder coated for corrosion protection. Sure, I can apply touch up paint, but these things aren’t cheap…so the work-arounds I’ll have to do are just a bit disappointing. But Flagship did commit to addressing these issues on the factory floor, so I give them credit for that.
The final niggle: bolt heads on the underside protrude
The Flagship installation/instruction manual doesn’t mention that rubber isolators are required to install their air conditioners. But the round heads for the carriage bolts that secure the compressor to the base stick out on the bottom side, so you’ve got to elevate them somehow. You can’t mount them directly to the plywood. The AC units in my other Chris Crafts all attached directly. Now, in retrospect, I can imagine some potential benefits to mounting these on rubber, but since they don’t supply the isolators and since the manual didn’t mention them I hadn’t gone looking for them. If I was ready to head out on a cruise once these were installed, it’d be frustrating to have to wait while I located isolators to finish the install.
I don’t want to give the impression that Flagship’s product is inferior with these few observations I’ve made. They’re very nice and with the exception of these few niggling points they appear to be very robust. The fact that they can be repaired with off-the-shelf parts could be a big help one day, and I like the idea of integral heater coils. And I’m also glad to hear the company raised the issues with the production floor. I suspect that once the units are fired up and working, I’ll have completely forgotten about these niggling points.
OH! And another thing! I mentioned a couple of times that I was having trouble finding one of my 2″ Schedule 80, straight-threaded raw water stand pipes for my Cummins main propulsion engines. I’d gone through the boat stem to stern several times, and rummaged through my garage (which is packed full of all sorts of stuff) trying to find the thing. I’d about given up hope when, over recent weeks when the temps were way below freezing, I decided to organize my garage, sell some compressors and other redundant tools on Craigslist, when I found the long-lost stand pipe!
GOTCHA, ya little bugger!
Now that I’ve got both of them, I can weld them in and finish the raw water supply installation. Then, the only remaining engine system I need to finish is the engine room fuel lines!
Next up in our 1969 Chris Craft Roamer 46 Refit: Salon Entryway Panels