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Old 12-02-2017, 13:16   #1
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Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

Hello Everybody, we have a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme watermaker that we have been using without issue for the last four years here in the Caribbean. We have pickled it three times now, when we go home for hurricane season. Since unpickeling/flushing it in November the watermaker's performance has been going steadily downhill.



The symptoms (as reported by me) is low feed pump pressure (50-55psi with both pumps running, less than 45-50psi on each pump separately) and low product output (barely 10gph with both pumps running, barely 8gph for each pump separately. The symptoms (as reported by my husband) low voltage (11.9v) while the boat showed 12.7v available and bubbles in the output side of raw water strainer.



My husband has been diligently researching on the internet for a clue to our problem but is at a loss. He did run a check individually on each feed pump by closing the brine discharge and both came up to 125psi. With no clue as to the problem or the solution he is now going to replace the pump head on one of the feed pumps.



Help, PLEASE!!!
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Old 12-02-2017, 14:33   #2
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

I am not a Spectra technician, although I do own one.
Bubbles in the output of the raw water strainer doesn't sound normal to me.
Air leak into line when under suction from the pump due to a restriction?
Is the thruhull fully open and not restricted by barnacles etc?

The membrane might be getting clogged also, but I'm bugged by the bubbles.
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Old 12-02-2017, 14:35   #3
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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Originally Posted by SmartMove View Post
Hello Everybody, we have a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme watermaker that we have been using without issue for the last four years here in the Caribbean. We have pickled it three times now, when we go home for hurricane season. Since unpickeling/flushing it in November the watermaker's performance has been going steadily downhill.



The symptoms (as reported by me) is low feed pump pressure (50-55psi with both pumps running, less than 45-50psi on each pump separately) and low product output (barely 10gph with both pumps running, barely 8gph for each pump separately. The symptoms (as reported by my husband) low voltage (11.9v) while the boat showed 12.7v available and bubbles in the output side of raw water strainer.



My husband has been diligently researching on the internet for a clue to our problem but is at a loss. He did run a check individually on each feed pump by closing the brine discharge and both came up to 125psi. With no clue as to the problem or the solution he is now going to replace the pump head on one of the feed pumps.



Help, PLEASE!!!

The first two issues are 1) The bubbles in the output side of raw water strainer. Probably either a loose hose clamp or the out put fitting need to be removed and re-taped with Teflon tape to stop the air ingress leaking. The Clark pump is a hydraulic pump, air going into the pump is going to be com[pressed and much like an hydraulic auto pilot, air does not do well for the pumps performance. 2) Low voltage. Spectras are voltage sensitive. Getting anything lower than 12.5V at the systems terminal strip is going to start to effect production. Voltage readings should be done at the terminals. Reading voltages from the ships meter isn't good enough. You need to determine what the voltage is at the power source and at the terminals as well. A large drop in voltage between the power source and the systems terminals may indicate supply wires that are too small, or bad fittings that may have corroded. These two things alone can drop off about 3-4 gallons an hour of production. 8gph each pump alone is a good number. 10gph together is an indication the system can't get to proper higher pressures. This would either be tired pump heads or possibly the Clark pump. Usually, if the Clark pump is operating symmetrically this is an fair indication the the Clark pump is probably fine. Fix the air ingress and voltage issue first and let us know after that before moving forward.

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Old 12-02-2017, 16:29   #4
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

I assume you will be at the Miami Show next week Tellie?
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Old 12-02-2017, 16:50   #5
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
The first two issues are 1) The bubbles in the output side of raw water strainer. Probably either a loose hose clamp or the out put fitting need to be removed and re-taped with Teflon tape to stop the air ingress leaking. The Clark pump is a hydraulic pump, air going into the pump is going to be com[pressed and much like an hydraulic auto pilot, air does not do well for the pumps performance. 2) Low voltage. Spectras are voltage sensitive. Getting anything lower than 12.5V at the systems terminal strip is going to start to effect production. Voltage readings should be done at the terminals. Reading voltages from the ships meter isn't good enough. You need to determine what the voltage is at the power source and at the terminals as well. A large drop in voltage between the power source and the systems terminals may indicate supply wires that are too small, or bad fittings that may have corroded. These two things alone can drop off about 3-4 gallons an hour of production. 8gph each pump alone is a good number. 10gph together is an indication the system can't get to proper higher pressures. This would either be tired pump heads or possibly the Clark pump. Usually, if the Clark pump is operating symmetrically this is an fair indication the the Clark pump is probably fine. Fix the air ingress and voltage issue first and let us know after that before moving forward.

HaldenMarineService@yahoo.com
(954) 515-7077


We will check it all out in the morning and report back. Thanks!
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Old 13-02-2017, 04:55   #6
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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I assume you will be at the Miami Show next week Tellie?

Yep, will be there as usual. Are you coming this year?
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Old 13-02-2017, 06:39   #7
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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Yep, will be there as usual. Are you coming this year?
Since I can't find someone else as ugly and smart ass looking for punishment as me...ya...I'll be there.


Lets find time to grab a beer or dinner....
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Old 13-02-2017, 09:00   #8
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

Rich - It was good to meet you at the Seattle show. Nice to put a face to a name!
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Old 13-02-2017, 15:39   #9
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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Since I can't find someone else as ugly and smart ass looking for punishment as me...ya...I'll be there.


Lets find time to grab a beer or dinner....

OK, that's sounds great.

By the way, who says you're a smart ass?????....OK everybody, but you're still my Pal.
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Old 14-02-2017, 16:00   #10
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

I have the same Cape Horn Extreme, which I installed and as full time cruisers/live aboard have used extensively (Pacific Mexico/Central America and now Caribbean (point being average sea water temp 80 degrees F+). I experienced exactly the same behavior as you described. I took, meaning I went to Spectra in Marin County, and we went through the entire pump (I had previously replaced some internal O-rings when the Clark Pump began leaking from its main body which was straight forward (go on line and look at the plethora of detailed troubleshooting, maintenance and repair bulletins - they are well written and easy to follow). Bottom line...absolutely nothing wrong with pump. Conclusion, time to replace the Shurflo pump heads. I too had checked the 125psi functionality-it was good on each pump. BTW, my product volume was down to <10GPH w/both pumps operating, and, my water PPM ~550 and climbing. So, I replaced the pump heads, and still had low(re) than the ideal 80-90 psi stroke pressure. Spectra told me to ensure that the Accumulator pressure was still at 60psi; it was low. So I pumped it up with a bicycle pump to 60psi, and my system immediately began functioning properly.
Some takeaways: 1) as other posts have, be certain voltage at each Shurflo Pump is 12.5V-the pumps will not produce the required water VOLUME (independent of output pressure) if the voltage is down. 2) Re your "bubbling" raw water intake filter (I assume you mean the clear one with the mesh stainless steel screen. Does your thru Hull for the water maker also provide sea water to other appliances (such as a head). Mine does, and it is IMPERATIVE that their be no leaks, meaning locations where air can be entrained into the system...when I was having my issues, the product volume sight gauge always had bubbles. If the system sucks in air, it simply will NOT work as prescribed. Also, does your raw water intake have a "scoop" on the Hull to force water into the system when underway. Another (initial) error on my installation, which BTW can lead to shorter Surflo pump Head life. 3) Confirm the Accumulator is at 60psi.4) the Shurflo pump heads seem to have about a 6-8 year, with steady use, lifetime.
My system is again and instantly performing as prescribed (product volume and PPM) after replacing pump heads and resetting the Accumulator pressure. Cheers Bo
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Old 20-02-2017, 05:48   #11
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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Originally Posted by NirvanaBob View Post
I have the same Cape Horn Extreme, which I installed and as full time cruisers/live aboard have used extensively (Pacific Mexico/Central America and now Caribbean (point being average sea water temp 80 degrees F+). I experienced exactly the same behavior as you described. I took, meaning I went to Spectra in Marin County, and we went through the entire pump (I had previously replaced some internal O-rings when the Clark Pump began leaking from its main body which was straight forward (go on line and look at the plethora of detailed troubleshooting, maintenance and repair bulletins - they are well written and easy to follow). Bottom line...absolutely nothing wrong with pump. Conclusion, time to replace the Shurflo pump heads. I too had checked the 125psi functionality-it was good on each pump. BTW, my product volume was down to <10GPH w/both pumps operating, and, my water PPM ~550 and climbing. So, I replaced the pump heads, and still had low(re) than the ideal 80-90 psi stroke pressure. Spectra told me to ensure that the Accumulator pressure was still at 60psi; it was low. So I pumped it up with a bicycle pump to 60psi, and my system immediately began functioning properly.

Some takeaways: 1) as other posts have, be certain voltage at each Shurflo Pump is 12.5V-the pumps will not produce the required water VOLUME (independent of output pressure) if the voltage is down. 2) Re your "bubbling" raw water intake filter (I assume you mean the clear one with the mesh stainless steel screen. Does your thru Hull for the water maker also provide sea water to other appliances (such as a head). Mine does, and it is IMPERATIVE that their be no leaks, meaning locations where air can be entrained into the system...when I was having my issues, the product volume sight gauge always had bubbles. If the system sucks in air, it simply will NOT work as prescribed. Also, does your raw water intake have a "scoop" on the Hull to force water into the system when underway. Another (initial) error on my installation, which BTW can lead to shorter Surflo pump Head life. 3) Confirm the Accumulator is at 60psi.4) the Shurflo pump heads seem to have about a 6-8 year, with steady use, lifetime.

My system is again and instantly performing as prescribed (product volume and PPM) after replacing pump heads and resetting the Accumulator pressure. Cheers Bo


Thanks Bob! We are back to trouble shooting today (have had guests aboard taking our time away).

We had one spare pump head aboard and replaced our A pump even though it had been in use less than 4 years. It didn't change anything. Our salinity is now climbing as well. Will check the accumulator pressure next.

Thanks again!
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Old 28-02-2017, 23:03   #12
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

My Spectra looks like the Cape Horn Extreme, however the pumps are together and a 20 and 5 micron filter in series. I may actually have something called an Land Based 400.

I purchased from another vessel and they claimed maintained, but never can be sure. Very very low product output prompted me to do a chemical wash.

#1 While recirculating fresh water I began to apply heat and no chemicals yet. When water was just barely tepid, about 100 F the Clark started a very loud squeal.

#2 I introduced citric acid first. Pressure to the Clark Pump zoomed from 50 psig to 100 psig and product water flow increased.

#3 Continuing heating and several hours with the acid the squeal reduced.

#4 Next flushed fresh water and started a base treatment. Heat applied. Squeal completely gone and pressure dropped back down to 50 psig.

#5 Neutralized base with flush and acid. Left overnight slightly acidic.

#6 Day two ran more fresh water and diluted acid. Noticed water discharge slightly foamy and slightly yellow.

#7 After two hours of recirculating fresh water measured following:
....Product flowrate 13.6 gph
....Discharge 11.25 GPM
....Pressure cycles between 40-50 psig
....Clark pump no strange noises and seems balanced
....Accumulator pressure not measured.

#8 Flushed out fresh water and ran recirculating salt water with product added back to input. The reason to run recirculating saltwater was to eliminate filter clogging which clogs very quickly in my bay. (Tropics Philippines). Test results
.....Product flowrate 0.75 gph
.....Discharge rate 2.15 GPM
.....Pressure to Clark pump cycles between 55-60 psig

Special Note: On the Clark pump there is a very small leak coming from high pressure port.

Question #1) Can anyone confirm to me this is just a screwed in fitting on the high pressure port with no O-ring and just Teflon tape. I don't want to take apart and make leak worse if I can't put it back together.

Question #2) The discharge flow seems to be within range and pressure low. My trouble shooting guide points towards a worn Clark Pump. Thoughts?
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Old 01-03-2017, 02:46   #13
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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My Spectra looks like the Cape Horn Extreme, however the pumps are together and a 20 and 5 micron filter in series. I may actually have something called an Land Based 400. Land based systems don't use the two feed pumps you have but the Clark pump is similar.

I purchased from another vessel and they claimed maintained, but never can be sure. Very very low product output prompted me to do a chemical wash. Ahh, the sins of the previous owners. Who really knows.

#1 While recirculating fresh water I began to apply heat and no chemicals yet. When water was just barely tepid, about 100 F the Clark started a very loud squeal. The main seals don't like hot water.

#2 I introduced citric acid first. Pressure to the Clark Pump zoomed from 50 psig to 100 psig and product water flow increased. The feed pumps rising to 100psi using fresh water indicates a blockage in either the Clark pump or more likely the membrane.

#3 Continuing heating and several hours with the acid the squeal reduced.

#4 Next flushed fresh water and started a base treatment. Heat applied. Squeal completely gone and pressure dropped back down to 50 psig. It's a lot easier for the Clark pump and feed pumps to operate using fresh water. The 50psi seems a slight bit high for fresh water still indicating a blockage. Again, the seals don't like hot water and if the pressure is reduced the squealing will tend to go away.

#5 Neutralized base with flush and acid. Left overnight slightly acidic.

#6 Day two ran more fresh water and diluted acid. Noticed water discharge slightly foamy and slightly yellow. Probably an old membrane.

#7 After two hours of recirculating fresh water measured following:
....Product flowrate 13.6 gph Too low for fresh water
....Discharge 11.25 GPM The two feed pumps are not capable of this much flow.
....Pressure cycles between 40-50 psig
....Clark pump no strange noises and seems balanced "Seems" and "is" are two different things. The Clark pump only makes pressure on one cylinder at a time. When the needle on the pressure gauge rises and falls this is one stroke, the very next rise and fall of the needle is the next stroke. Both gauge measurements on each stroke need to be the same. If they are this usually indicates the Clark pump is fine.
....Accumulator pressure not measured. The accumulator pressure doesn't matter to the systems product output. It is only there to soften the hammering effect caused by the Clark pump shifting.

#8 Flushed out fresh water and ran recirculating salt water with product added back to input. The reason to run recirculating saltwater was to eliminate filter clogging which clogs very quickly in my bay. (Tropics Philippines). Test results
.....Product flowrate 0.75 gph
.....Discharge rate 2.15 GPM
.....Pressure to Clark pump cycles between 55-60 psig Bad membrane.

Though it can be done, I find cleaning membrane to be a waste of time. By the time a boat based watermakers membrane shows signs of needing to be cleaned it is usually time to replace it. Most cleanings fail and if cleaning does have a positive effect on the membrane it usually is on it's last legs and will not last long.

Special Note: On the Clark pump there is a very small leak coming from high pressure port.

Question #1) Can anyone confirm to me this is just a screwed in fitting on the high pressure port with no O-ring and just Teflon tape. I don't want to take apart and make leak worse if I can't put it back together. There are two types of high pressure fittings found on Clark pumps depending on their age. Earlier models used a fitting that threaded directly into the pump and was sealed with Teflon tape. Newer models use a fitting that has a nut backed up against a washer that is backed up flush to the Clark pump. This fitting uses an O-ring to seal it.

Question #2) The discharge flow seems to be within range and pressure low. My trouble shooting guide points towards a worn Clark Pump. Thoughts?
The pump could be worn some but I'd say it's the membrane.
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Old 01-03-2017, 16:43   #14
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

Thank you Tellie I agree with conclusion I have a bad membrane.

I really didn't expect the membrane to be good since the unit was purchased from another cruiser.


Error in item 7 discharge rate was 2.19 GPM.

I have a new membrane from the old water maker that this Spectra replaced. That membrane was purchased in 2007 and came from AquaMarine. The invoice simply says 2.5" by 40" seawater membrane.
Serial no F2336086

It has been sitting pickled and never used for almost 10 years.

Will it fit?

I read where new membranes have a limited product life even when never used.

Is it worth the time to try it?
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Old 02-03-2017, 04:11   #15
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Re: Need Help With a Spectra Cape Horn Extreme Watermaker

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Thank you Tellie I agree with conclusion I have a bad membrane.

I really didn't expect the membrane to be good since the unit was purchased from another cruiser.


Error in item 7 discharge rate was 2.19 GPM.

I have a new membrane from the old water maker that this Spectra replaced. That membrane was purchased in 2007 and came from AquaMarine. The invoice simply says 2.5" by 40" seawater membrane.
Serial no F2336086

It has been sitting pickled and never used for almost 10 years.

Will it fit?

I read where new membranes have a limited product life even when never used.

Is it worth the time to try it?


It's always worth trying, but 10 years is long in the tooth and yes 2540 is the right size. Membranes on "average" have about a 5-8 year life span, I've seen them go longer and I've seen them fail sooner even with the best of maintained watermakers. The membrane is the one component of any watermaker that throws in the unknown factor of life expectancy. Even the manufacturers of membranes cannot honestly give you a time frame other than an average. I just went through a whole batch of new membranes from DOW that would not produce well and this was not the first time over the years. Then you have the handling issues of techs leaving them in their trucks cooking for two months in the Florida summers, improper handling by dropping them and tossing them around. Even the delivery personnel will just throw them off the truck. I can go on about the list of reasons membranes fail. This is more some of the reasons why some watermaker companies prefer to roll their own proprietary membranes for quality control.
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