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Old 22-06-2016, 16:14   #1
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Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Given the availability of surplus Survivor 35 manual water makers on ebay for $200 or thereabouts, I started thinking if it would be possible to convert it to electric power (in either case, most likely a new membrane for $350 would be needed anyway).

The first idea was to fit the electric motor/gear from the Survivor 40E to the Survivor 35. While the motor and the gear would be compatible, this would likely be hard to do. Katadyne support says, they deliberately designed the 40E motor mount not to be backwards compatible with the 35 and further, pointed out that a replacement 40E motor/gear retails for over $1600 which defeats the purpose. I am still not convinced it is impossible so wanted to pose the question in the forum. I have since learned that the 40E motor is made by Leeson, while the 35 Powersurvivor (the original powered version of the 35) was made by Bison. I cannot find the exact same motor (possibly it is a custom OEM version but similar models cost around $300. Still, we would need a piston gearbox and I have no idea where to source this from.

The second idea is to find a plastic power washer pump to pressurize the water but these seem to be way too powerful for such a small device. We need some approx. 0.5 gpm @ 900 psi, 12V @ 4 amps, while the smallest power washer pumps I find are 1.5 gpm at 1600 psi, with 5 times the current. In this case, it would make sense to just build a water maker from scratch, possibly designed to use lower cost membranes than the Katadyne's.

The third idea, is to make a device that moves the manual handle. I am imagining a larger pulley around 10 in, belt driven by a suitable electric motor, that has a pin that attaches to the handle. The large pulley would need to make approximately 30-40 rpms with suitable torque. Any ideas here?

BTW, this is just a fun project. I do not need a water maker but thought it could be an interesting project to think about. If someone has a Power Survivor 35 water maker and is willing to share pictures/specifications/gearbox ratios, that would be great.

Thank you,
Pizzazz
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Old 22-06-2016, 16:19   #2
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

I researched the same idea. According to Katdyne, the parts where the motor would attach to drive the pump are plastic in the 35 but metal on the 40 and would not take the force.
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Old 22-06-2016, 16:31   #3
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

There is an early model 40 that I think could work. It might not be worth the effort. Be advised, there is a $300 bearing inside that models gearbox. Then there are the stupid filters that are unique and cost a fortune. I sold a complete working system with bad filters for $100, so don't spend much on your project.
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Old 22-06-2016, 18:43   #4
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Save your money and buy a Spectra.

You can thank me later.

I two boats over 30 years, I've owned a PowerSurvivor 35, a PowerSurvivor 80 and now a Spectra 180 upgraded to a 200.
There is NO COMPARISON !
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Old 22-06-2016, 19:24   #5
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Thank you for the comments. I agree with @senormechanico that Specra is the way to go. When I go cruising in a few years time I would definitely get a Spectra. It is just that I cannot justify the investment today since I spend a lot of time at marinas and at work .

If it cannot be done for less than $1000, I will just give up the project or just keep the manual Survivor 35 for emergency use only. Thank you for the tip on filters. I thought you could use any 30/5 micron filter not necessarily the Katadyne ones. Is there a reason why you can't just use a generic filter?

So, it seems that the third idea is the only workable one, to create a reciprocating drive to move the handle. I have found a suitable 12V motor for $110, now need to come up with the pulley mechanism including a 50:1 speed reduction. Any thoughts on that?
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Old 23-06-2016, 12:38   #6
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

So, your boat in general isn't a big enough hole to throw money into?

Forget a 50:1 belt drive, it would be a nightmare of Rube Goldberg proportions, with multiple belts, sheaves and jackshafts. Not to mention the "suitable motor" probably isn't. If you're really determined (OCD, perhaps?) to pursue this with a moderate chance of success, you'll want a linear actuator, along the lines of a tiller pilot drive. The Raymarine Type 1 would be a good candidate.
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Old 23-06-2016, 17:16   #7
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Alright, here is what I researched on the project so far. Just sharing with the group in case there is some interest from other people to do the conversion as well.

The most practical way is to devise a system to move the manual handle at approx. 35 cycles per minute. It is not as nice as having a rotary to linear gearbox but I cannot find any off the shelf gearboxes and my understanding is that the original gearbox was custom designed, so we put this idea aside. The other benefit of working on the handle vs. attaching a gearbox is that one avoids all the issues with the plastic support not being strong enough to support a more powerful motor/gear. Now, there are two ways to move the handle.

Option one is to use a DC gear motor with a crank that attaches via a slider to the handle. It will work and will be very efficient. The most suitable motor I found is the Bison 011-190-5049, 12V, 4.7 amps that retails for around $400. I believe it is very similar to if not exactly the same as the original motor. The challenge here would be to mount the watermaker and the motor crank in the same plane. The motor will turn the handle at 36 cycles per minute at full load which is close to the original spec of 2 cycles per second.

Option two is to use a linear actuator, the most cost effective solution is PA-04 from Progressive Automations, which has a speed of 2.8" per second. If it is attached to a suitable place in the handle the rated speed would be enough to give the desired cycles per second. The linear actuator retails for $149. While cheaper, this solution has many drawbacks: the duty cycle for the actuator is 20%, while I will operate it at close to 100%; a circuit would need to be devised to reverse the voltage every two seconds; it uses ACME screws which are less efficient than ball screws, so the overall system efficiency will be lower. The actuator is rated at 12A max current (i.e. three times more powerful than needed), so it will have enough power to overcome these deficiencies. The motor though may wear out faster. By the way, in terms of efficiency, it is just amazing how good the Spectra Clark pumps and system design are. Those water makers produce fresh water at a little over an amp per gallon which is just 30% higher than the theoretical minimum. My system will probable be 4x less efficient when it works. Hats off to Spectra.

I am pretty sure that both options will work, it is just that option one will cost more. Yet, the target cost of the system ($200 for the second hand water maker, $350 for a new membrane and $400 for the motor + $100 for the crank and support is right around my target cost. Plus, you still have the full manual option for emergencies.

I will report once I have the system operational.

Pizzazz

p.s. I understand that this is now a hobby project and not really a boat project.
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Old 23-06-2016, 17:31   #8
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

If I remember correctly, Katadyn and its predecessors had a program where you sent in your Power Survivor 35, and some money, and back came a 40. This was a very useful upgrade, which I did. I was under the impression that they used the old motor and membrane and just swapped out the other parts. I vaguely remember doing something similar myself, but it's been a long while and maybe that was the "early" 40 that someone mentioned. But the Spectra, which I now have, is a much more efficient product.
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Old 24-06-2016, 00:38   #9
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Maybe a heavy windsscreenwipermotor?
I had one working a manual automatic bilge pump.
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Old 24-06-2016, 03:24   #10
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

If it's just a muck about project, have a look at chain drive reductions they are easy to fabricate and you can make pretty well any sized sprocket you need using just hand tools and a drill press. I believe the power losses are much less than with V belts. another option is toothed belts like the timing belts from a car. My DIY wheel drive autopilot drive uses both chain reduction and toothed belts, the tooth belt and one of the chain sprockets were also fabricated from alloy mainly using a drill press.


The timing belts I use are those with a semicircular tooth form although there is no reason you could not make them for the trapezoidal tooth form with correctly spaced drilled holes.


I have a 12V Katadyne E40 at the moment however whilst it is a handy gadget to have when one sails around a mostly empty and fairly dry continent It does not make a lot of water and I have it mainly for survival purposes.


I have considered a project using a hydraulic linear drive for the pump with pressure recovery with a vane power pump on the main engine to supply power fluid and since I like mucking about with these types of projects may get around to it one day.


As one who has done a considerable amount of equipment design work professionally I will say that it is generally better to seek out a generic off-the-shelf component and design around it than try to salvage proprietary technology. If the gadget works and you use it a fair bit one usually redesigns the proprietary stuff out anyway because replacement parts are either unavailable or very expensive.
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Old 24-06-2016, 04:53   #11
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Several years ago I had a customer show me his 35manual survivor basically bolted, hose clamped, and rubber banded to a step master type of exercise machine sold on late night TV. It actually, kinda, sometimes, worked. He said it was a twofer machine. He got a bit of fresh water and his wife had great looking legs.

I agree with Brewgyver and it is worth repeating a few times...

So, your boat in general isn't a big enough hole to throw money into?
So, your boat in general isn't a big enough hole to throw money into?
So, your boat in general isn't a big enough hole to throw money into?
So, your boat in general isn't a big enough hole to throw money into?


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Old 02-07-2016, 02:32   #12
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

I am pleased to report on the conversion of the manual Survivor 35 watermaker to electric drive. I used a windshield wiper motor and the mechanism from a reciprocating saw to convert to linear drive. I am now working on v2 which will have cosmetic improvements. If anyone is interested I would be happy to share details.

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Old 02-07-2016, 06:21   #13
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pizzazz View Post
I am pleased to report on the conversion of the manual Survivor 35 watermaker to electric drive. I used a windshield wiper motor and the mechanism from a reciprocating saw to convert to linear drive. I am now working on v2 which will have cosmetic improvements. If anyone is interested I would be happy to share details.

Sent from my MotoE2(4G-LTE) using Cruisers Sailing Forum mobile app

I'd love to see some pictures on your progress.


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Old 25-07-2016, 08:27   #14
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

Dears,

Here is a picture of my current powered Survivor 35 watermaker setup. I use a windshield wiper motor, a Dewalt 385 reciprocating saw drive and a few other parts. I could write a complete guide how to build one if there is interest. My observations so far:

1. The Survivor 35 is a great little watermaker that can be had very inexpensively on ebay for $150-200. It is a complete set-up except for the mechanical drive. The units sold on ebay are over 20 years old but they do produce quality water out of the box (I get about 250 ppm on the supplied membrane).

2. It seems to be a well designed product but it is plastic and it will have failure points. For example, mine started leaking a little bit from the piston after about 10 hours. The manual says it is expected. Still, for the price, it is a great product.

3. The proposed drive set-up is robust but I am not sure how long it will last. Expected failure points are the windshield wiper motor (it is rated at 6 amps vs. the original at 4 amps but it does get quite hot), certain non-stainless steel connecting bits and the motor coupling adapter (currently made of aluminium but stainless would be better). These items are easy to fix, for example the geared motor is $59 on Amazon.com. The entire operation is a little wet (leaks, cleaning, etc.) so make sure you mount it in a place where the water drains to the bilge and the motor is above the rest of the system.

4. It makes between 1.1 and 1.5 gph depending on the speed. I currently adjust the speed to the pressure (keeping the needle in the orange zone). May be I should adjust to output volume as recommended in this forum.

Regards,
Pizzazz
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Old 25-07-2016, 08:52   #15
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Re: Possible to convert Survivor 35 to electric power?

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Originally Posted by Pizzazz View Post
Dears,

Here is a picture of my current powered Survivor 35 watermaker setup. I use a windshield wiper motor, a Dewalt 385 reciprocating saw drive and a few other parts. I could write a complete guide how to build one if there is interest. My observations so far:

1. The Survivor 35 is a great little watermaker that can be had very inexpensively on ebay for $150-200. It is a complete set-up except for the mechanical drive. The units sold on ebay are over 20 years old but they do produce quality water out of the box (I get about 250 ppm on the supplied membrane).

2. It seems to be a well designed product but it is plastic and it will have failure points. For example, mine started leaking a little bit from the piston after about 10 hours. The manual says it is expected. Still, for the price, it is a great product.

3. The proposed drive set-up is robust but I am not sure how long it will last. Expected failure points are the windshield wiper motor (it is rated at 6 amps vs. the original at 4 amps but it does get quite hot), certain non-stainless steel connecting bits and the motor coupling adapter (currently made of aluminium but stainless would be better). These items are easy to fix, for example the geared motor is $59 on Amazon.com. The entire operation is a little wet (leaks, cleaning, etc.) so make sure you mount it in a place where the water drains to the bilge and the motor is above the rest of the system.

4. It makes between 1.1 and 1.5 gph depending on the speed. I currently adjust the speed to the pressure (keeping the needle in the orange zone). May be I should adjust to output volume as recommended in this forum.

Regards,
Pizzazz
Great, I have to admit, it looks a lot better engineered than I was imaging in my mind. Send me a few more pics a different angles and I'll show the boys at Katadyn.

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