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Old 02-01-2011, 06:25   #31
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Just an added thought. When storing in freezing temperatures, from what I have been told the bioside will not keep it from freezing and may be damaged.
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:34   #32
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BTW many thanks for your help!
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Old 02-01-2011, 06:36   #33
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It is great that Gary tok the time to share his years of experience with the Power Survivor water makers and making his ebook available at no charge to the cruising community.

I have been attracted to the 40E model for some time and it is very encouraging to hear members speak of their endurance, simplicity and reliability, all traits that have me interested in this brand.

My desire is to be able to make water year round on the Hudson River (Sometimes within a marina) and would be interested in learning what type of prefiltration could be utilized to protect the units membrane when your source water is coming from an urbanized environment with wide and varied types of pollutants. Also if it is possible to set the watermaker to operate in this environment does the cost of prefiltration become very costly making daily operation impractical?
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Old 02-01-2011, 07:31   #34
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The pre filter kit that they offer is basically an EXTRA filter housing, plumbed in after the standard 30 micron one. It has a very fine 5 micron filter. Because of the extra resistance, the raw water intake hose has a "March pump" to help push the water through these two filters. These little pumps are amaxingly low power and reliable. They have an impellor in a round housing that is sealed away from the motor. It is not shaft driven at all! On the other side of a wall, is a magnetic drive, so there are no seals to eventually fail. (very clever stuff!)

With this kit, I have used my watermaker in anchorages with 2' or 3' visability. The filters can be backflushed... every other day if necessary. (every other week was max for us).

To back flush the pre filters... at sea, some folks drag them behind the boat, with opening forward, and the other end plugged.

On shore, as in your application, any clean, non chlorinated water source poured down the middle of the filter, with other end plugged, will do. It can even be filtered rain or sea water, but must be particulate free.

If it was chlorinated water, you would probably be OK if you final flushed them in non chlorinated, or alternated filters and let these completely dry.

These filters last at least a month, sometimes 6 months... IF you flush them when product water production gets low.

The issue of other contaminates... If there was "occasional" oil residue on the surface only, and if your raw water pickup was quite low, you might get away with it. If the petrolium products are emulsafied in, and a regular occurance, it will definetly ruin the membrane.

If the bacteria count is an absolute cespool, that's not good either, however, many people use these where they wince when they have to get in the water to scrub the bottom. I never did it, but some folks used these in closed anchorages like Boot Key Harbor, Marathon, FL.

So regarding pre filtration... mud & silt is just more filter backflushing. On the other hand, petrolium products, chemicals, bacteria, etc... It is a matter of how much, how often, where in the water level it is, and how lucky you are.

Mark
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Old 02-01-2011, 09:50   #35
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From the information I received is that the only difference between the 40 and 80 is that the 80 uses 2 -40 membranes and the pump is the same
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Old 02-01-2011, 10:35   #36
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I believe that you have that correct... Also, the 40-E is a one piece, (motor, pump, and housing), where in the 80, the membrane housing is a seperate piece from the motor and pump. It might give more mounting options?
(But, double check me about this). M.
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Old 13-01-2011, 15:59   #37
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Thanks Gary

Wonderful to have access to this vital information.

We were anchored in La Cruz when our membrane went out and we were able to get one sent to us in that very small village. You helped us get it going again. Many thanks for your help and knowledge.

Very sorry to here about Ishi and hope you are doing ok in Shell Beach.

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Old 13-01-2011, 19:26   #38
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Reply to questions

To all:

There have certainly been a lot of posts to this thread since I last found the time to respond. Most of the questions are good ones, and have been asked before in other venues. Let me suggest that my thoughts on almost all of them can be found on my 40E website and in my book, which is also available on that website. If you already have a watermaker, or are considering purchasing one, please take the time to visit those sources. You'll get much more detailed comments there than I could possibly post here. But, I'll make a few succinct, and hopefully helpful, remarks to some specific topics here:

1.) To JATAIT (23-12-2010): The advice you mention from the manual is something I added when I rewrote the manuals after Katadyn bought Recovery Engineering from Proctor & Gamble. It was a caution primarily aimed at sailors doing long-distance, open-water voyages, and depending completely on their watermaker(s) for water supply. I think GordMay's reply to you (31-12-2010) was pretty accurate.

2.) To HIGHSEAS (26-12-2010)
Quote:
Originally Posted by highseas View Post
...The output of the thing is completely absurd.If I had a bigger engine I would get an engine driven watermaker,which makes 20 gallons per hour!WAWOM!
It has not been "absurd" for thousands of cruisers. It all depends on your needs. One of the biggest mistakes new cruisers can make is failing to accurately assess what their water consumption needs will be. Obviously, you were not satisfied that the output of the Katadyn watermakers would meet your own needs. I'm sorry you apparently didn't estimate those needs before your purchase. Hopefully that will be a good object lesson for others.

3.) ToPETE7 (31-12-2010):
.
Quote:
..if you do some maths, the 40, 80 and 160 all use about the same amount of amp hours to produce a given volume of water. The only thing that changes is the time it takes.
That's correct. RO technology has been around for quite a few years and is pretty well understood. Comparing different brands will reveal that they all have similar ratios of water output per power in; except one brand, that is, that revels in advertising "1 gal. per 1 amp"! Besides using an incorrect technical unit (they surely meant "1 amp-hour"!) in their advertisements, which has always irritated me to no end, their claim is highly suspect. Take it with a grain of salt before forking over multiple $K for a watermaker making such claims. 'Nuff said.

4.) To MARK JOHNSON (02-01-2011):
Quote:
Long before the seals HAVE to be replaced, the unit will drip occasionally. This is normal.
I'm afraid I'll have to take issue with this statement. I'm assuming that you're using a model 35, based on how many years you've had it. In any case, none of the models should leak. That is not normal and would indicate a probable seal fault. The 35, if overpressured, will exude water from its relief valve. The design of that relief valve, in my opinion, is not very good (one of the few faults I have concerning the 35). If you detect a leak, find out where it's coming from and fix it. Unfortunately, the small o-ring in the 35 relief valve assembly is not included in the repair seal kit for that model, but it should be easy to find locally.

I think a lot of owners were misled by statements in the original manual for the 40E, which said that a leak was possible and normal. Unfortunately that original manual was written by the then product manager for Recovery Engineering, who knew next to nothing about the technical aspects of the product he was trying to document, and certainly had never used one for any significant period of time, if at all. When I rewrote the manuals a few years later, I removed that incorrect statement. If it leaks, find it and fix it!

Quote:
With the "silt reduction kit" which is ultra fine pre filtration, assisted with a booster pump, you can use it even in water that is not clear at all...
That's correct, as far as it goes. However, you can achieve the same results by simply replacing the standard 30-micron filter with a 20- or a 5-micron, when deemed necessary. I don't recommend buying the Silt Reduction Kit itself for the following reasons: (1) it's terribly expensive, (2) the booster pump is seldom necessary to get adequate flow through the watermaker, (3) the booster pump (a March brand) is a good pump, but it's a centrifugal pump and must be carefully mounted below the waterline to ensure positive input pressure and (4) with a 3000-hour rated lifetime, which is considerably less than the lifetime of the watermaker, it's just one more thing to go wrong. It's a great income generator for the company which I decided long ago is a waste of money for the watermaker owner.

Meanwhile, thanks for your post. Your experiences were overall quite valuable.

5.) To BADSANTA (02-01-2011):

Quote:
When storing in freezing temperatures, from what I have been told the bioside will not keep it from freezing and may be damaged.
Basically, I believe you're right, although I've had no experience with these watermakers in cold environments. My lady and I made a pact that we would never venture above (or below) 40-degrees latitude, and we never did (hi hi). However, my background as a chemistry major for a few college years leads me to believe that the biocide salt would probably have some effect as a mild antifreeze, like salt and the glycols. But I certainly wouldn't want to depend on that without further information.

6.) To CBURGER (02-01-2011):
Quote:
what type of prefiltration could be utilized to protect the units membrane when your source water is coming from an urbanized environment with wide and varied types of pollutants.
That's a tough question to answer because of the wide range of pollutants that could be present in such sources, along with the fact that those pollutants might change from one time to the next. So, even if you were to get a professional analysis, there's no guarantee whatsoever that the analysis would still be valid a week later.

FYI, Katadyn confirms that their watermakers can be safely used to process freshwater, although I understand that some of the other brands recommend against this. I tested this for about six months while on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Yes, I was able to produce potable water, but the ppm count rose gradually over that period of time and I had to replace the membrane at the end, when it had risen to over 750 ppm. Lord knows what was in that river water, but it sure didn't look very good.

A new membrane should test in the ~250-300 range, and I normally recommend to start thinking about replacing the membrane when the ppm count consistently reaches above 500. However, the ppm count is an elusive factor and can vary considerably depending on such things as voltage, temperature of input water, condition of the membrane and, of course, quality of intake water.

Quote:
From the information I received is that the only difference between the 40 and 80 is that the 80 uses 2 -40 membranes and the pump is the same
Close, but not quite right. The models 35, 40E and 80E all use the same membrane element, and the 80E uses two of those elements. The 160E uses one different, larger membrane. The 160E pump is simply a scaled-up version of the 80E and looks almost identical. The 35 and the 40E pump bodies are each quite different. The 40E has a stainless steel pump body, while the 35 is made of ABS plastic. Both the 40E and 35 look completely different from the 80E and 160E.

7.) To RAMBLIN': Thanks for the kind words. When we were last in La Cruz (early 2010), they had finished the new marina. The old days of landing your dinghy on the beach in front of Dos Felipe's are long gone.

I'm pleased to have been able to help you. That's what I enjoyed doing most.
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Old 14-01-2011, 05:25   #39
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ISHIPACO... Very good information indeed. THANKS! However, I still stand by my original statements above. I said:

"Long before the seals HAVE to be replaced, the unit will drip occasionally, this is normal".

(Note that I put all caps on the word HAVE, and did not say the word need).

I was not inferring in any way that it is "normal" for the unit to leak... I was saying that when it DOES start to drip one or two drops every couple of hours of use, it is obviously due for replacement of the seals, BUT can be put off for years if necessary. As long as it is just an occasional drip, (like 2 or 3 drops / hr), it is a small problem.

So, to rephrase... "It IS normal for the unit to occasionally drip, WHEN the seals are due for replacement, but that replacement could be put off for years, if it is only a few drops per hour."

Regardless of semantics, I suggest that EVERYONE mount the unit where it can drip into the bilge, or a flat pan or something. It can be bone dry one day, but a different water temp during the next use, or salinity / silt etc., and there may be a drop or two under the unit on the next use. (Don't store your paper charts under any watermaker)!

My unit is a 40-E. It started it's life as a Power Survivor 35, and in '97 was factory converted to the SS pump body 40-E. The "only" original parts are the electric motor, and the membrane, so the pump and housing / etc. is a '97. Our ORIGINAL 21 year old membrane was recently tested, and is still fine!

The silt reduction kit IS terribly over priced, but a very good idea nonetheless. You need not get their version... IF you want to save money, the single "extra" filter housing can be bought from Lowes for $19, and a March booster pump can be bought cheaper on line. (Our March pump is 14 years old, and we might very well get 10 more years from it).

The problem is, that IF you really need the silt reduction kit, it is more cost and labor effective to have duel filters. The 30 micron first, then the 5 micron filter for the really fine stuff. This way the more frequent filter service can be done to the first filter only, which to a degree, slows the clogging of the second filter, (requiring less frequent service of the 5 micron filter)

Without the March pump, The watermaker alone is hard pressed to suck water through the now, "super fine" 5 micron filtration system, cutting down on water production efficiency. In spite of it's price and energy consumption, The pump pays for itself many times over.

Remember... The point here is to protect the MUCH more expensive watermaker, which you have chosen to use in water that it was nor originally intended to be used in. IF one chooses to do this, the silt reduction addition is money well spent! I doubt that my watermaker's membrane would've lasted 21 years without it...

BTW... I agree that the factory instruction books, especially those put out by Recovery Engineering, were full of errors. Thanks much for all of this VERY useful information, and your efforts at correcting mis-information.

M.
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Old 14-01-2011, 06:30   #40
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IF someone is looking for a good deal on the manual model... In the above mentioned "factory conversion" to my 40-E, done in '97, I ended up with a MANUAL survivor 35, (It would be excellent for emergencies or ones ditch kit).

It has been in a consignment shop, is in perfect condition, and has never been exposed to extreme temps, or UVs.

I'm just asking $200 for it! It needs a seal kit replacement for peace of mind, and has no membrane... (We've been using the original membrane in our converted 40-E)

Defender has good prices on the membrane & kit. With $200 for my basic pump & housing unit, including a membrane, and seal kit... One's total investment would be a couple of hours work and $600 something.

This is for a hand watermaker that retails for over $2,000! It's a good deal for the right person. I'm willing to guarantee that the insides are serviceable...

Mark
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Old 14-01-2011, 13:44   #41
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Exclamation

To MARK JOHNSON

Anecdotal experiences from people who have owned a watermaker for a long time is always worth considering. My congratulations on your having used your membrane for 21 years and still having it in good condition. That's a record, by a long shot, in my experience, and can only be attributed to exceptional maintenance habits on your part. However, I'm curious to know how you assess the quality of your product water. Do you use a TDS meter, rely on a taste test, or something else? I would be truly amazed to learn that you're still getting product water under 500 ppm from a 21-year-old membrane, even if it hasn't been used on a regular daily basis..

My comments and suggestions, on the other hand, are based on encounters with hundreds of users over 14 years, and I can attest to the fact that few of them have been as conscientious as you seem to have been. If what you've been doing has worked for you, which it appears it has, keep on doing it. However, for the benefit of the more typical users, I'd like to add a few more comments in order to clear up any "semantic" difficulties.

You stated:

Quote:
It IS normal for the unit to occasionally drip, WHEN the seals are due for replacement, but that replacement could be put off for years, if it is only a few drops per hour.
It is true that a minor leak will often not significantly affect the volume or quality of product output. This is especially true if the leak is coming from a low pressure point, such as around the piston shaft. There are exceptions, however, that should be noted.

First, a common source of leaks in the old 35 was from the six small manifold o-rings. This was often the case with units that had not been run for a long period of time; e.g., a couple of years. I've noticed that, in such cases, the seals seem to lose their resiliency and can fail to seal well. Since the manifold seals are used at several high-pressure points, a relatively small amount of leakage can sometimes cause substantial reduction in the internal pressures required to produce good quality water.

The quality and quantity of the product water in an RO system is intimately related to the rate of water flow across the membrane surfaces. A modest reduction in the rate of that flow can have dramatic effects on the internal pressures and, therefore, the output quality parameters. Reduced flow can be caused by any number of things, such as (1) low DC voltage, (2) restrictions in the intake plumbing, AND (3) seal leaks at high-pressure joints.

A more serious problem related to minor leaks occurs with the 40E. As I've explained in great detail in the info on my website, the early 40Es made by Recovery Engineering shipped with a piston shaft that had a ceramic coating on it. That coating rapidly failed in almost every case. For some reason, the stainless shaft would corrode (rust), which caused swelling and then cracking and chipping of the ceramic coating. This, of course, rapidly destroyed the shaft seals and caused seawater to leak around the shaft. Granted, this did not create any noticeable diminution of product water quality or quantity, and people tended to let it go, especially since the poorly written original manual advised that leaks were normal.

The problem here--and it also applies to the later Katadyn units if they develop a leak in this area--is that leaks, even small ones, frequently reach the nearby areas where the aluminum drive unit flange bolts to the stainless steel pump body. When that happens, electrolytic corrosion of the aluminum flange is rapid and serious. If let go for very long at all, the corrosion of the flange will require its replacement. Since the drive and motor assembly are considered, and sold, as a integral unit by the company (at least, the last time I checked), this is a repair that will cost considerably more than $1000, to say nothing of the inconvenience it will cause in remote cruising locations.

I have good images of this common problem on my website. In fact, I experienced this problem myself; the pictures I show in my video are from my own unit. My using those pictures was not applauded by the company, and I suspect is one of the reasons they never endorsed my CD. So, bottom line for the more typical users: if you develop a leak, find it and fix it!

BTW, such leaks are one of the reasons why the manual recommends an installation in which the drive shaft/piston shaft/membrane housing are horizontal. Of course, this helps minimize flow of seawater toward the drive unit, or oil from the drive unit toward the pump but, in my experience, it has not done much to prevent seawater corrosion of the drive/pump body joint.

After I discovered and reported this problem with the early 40Es, the company was slow to respond. The whole story is related on my website. To their credit, when Katadyn acquired the company, they immediately addressed the problem by (1) eliminating the ceramic coating on the piston shafts and returning to a plain SS shaft (which had a long, trouble-free history in the 35) and (2) beginning a proactive, in-the-field campaign to find and replace every defective piston shaft they could. I carried almost a hundred improved shafts with me and can't remember how many I replaced over the years--it was a lot!--all because of problems caused by "minor leaks" that weren't corrected.
= = = = = =
A few comments on the Silt Reduction Kit:

Quote:
The silt reduction kit IS terribly over priced, but a very good idea nonetheless.
Again, if you feel you really need it and can afford it, go for it! You're correct in noting that the components can be purchased at better prices elsewhere. The filter housing that Katadyn sells is an off-the-shelf unit and the March pump is, as far as I know, a well-engineered and reliable device. One related caution on buying third-party replacements: if you buy filter elements, make absolutely sure that you are buying polyester elements and not the cheaper (and therefore more attractive) paper elements. The latter tend to shed minute paper particles that can damage/plug the membrane. Also be advised that, in my experience, sales people at those stores often aren't aware of the difference and are likely to assure you that their elements will work just fine. Shop with care!

In regard to my comments about the Silt Reduction Kit, I wasn't implying that it isn't useful. I'm simply advising that it is usually not necessary and an added expense that introduces other potential problems. The main reason behind people thinking they need this package is that, by adding an additional filter housing and a finer (therefore, more restrictive) filter element, the pump is needed to ensure adequate seawater flow to the pump.

From several experiments and much experience with such installations, I haven't found that reason to be generally valid. The seawater flow through the watermaker system is miniscule: about 15 gal./hour. Compare that to the smallest sump pump I've ever seen in a marine store: about 400 gal./hr. The watermaker pump itself is a positive displacement pump and is quite adequate to provide sufficient water flow in most reasonable installations. Of course, if you have long intake runs, small hoses with lots of bends, AND prefer to use both filter housing units, you may need the extra boost, but I haven't found that to be the typical case. I would suggest that, before forking over the coin for the Kit, first purchase the extra housing, filter element and plumbing parts and test your system without a booster pump. If you find your output volume has decreased any significant amount, then is the time to consider adding a pump. In general I've found that the added current draw and additional electrical wiring, the need to mount the booster pump below the waterline and orient it correctly, the introduction of one more device that can fail, the good chance of the pump being fouled by even small bits of flotsam (after all, it's installed before the filters, and a coarse strainer installed at the thruhull is typically not sufficient), usually outweigh any advantages gained.

Quote:
...it is more cost and labor effective to have duel filters. The 30 micron first, then the 5 micron filter for the really fine stuff. This way the more frequent filter service can be done to the first filter only, which to a degree, slows the clogging of the second filter, (requiring less frequent service of the 5 micron filter)
This is not always the case. I've experimented with the 5-micron elements for considerable periods of time in two different places: (1) anchored in the estuary at San Blas, Mexico, and (2) in the river estuary at Bahia de Caracas, Ecuador. In both cases, the water was a rich, muddy brown color. Keep in mind that any particulate matter in the size range between 30-micron and 5-micron will not be stopped by the 30-micron element. If the preponderance of particulates in your intake supply is smaller than 30-micron, which it was in both of the situations where I used the finer element, the 5-micron element fouled up almost as quickly as if the 30-micron element hadn't been there. It all depends on what kind of stuff you're trying to remove. In such situations, eliminating the 30-micron unit improves water flow and won't add much to the maintenance problem.

In general, I don't recommend using the watermaker in situations where such fine filtration is necessary in the first place. I did it in order to test the results and because I had an ample supply of free replacement parts in the event I caused damage (which I sometimes did!). If you decide to (or have to) operate your watermaker in such an environment, realize that you will need to augment your maintenance chores in any event and, more importantly, you will need to replace seals more often and will incur accelerated wear and tear on all parts of your watermaker. Using a 5-micron filter in such situations is definitely a help, but you will still be subjecting your watermaker internals to every particle smaller than 5-micron. As an analogy, we all know that introducing sand into your intake system is not good (I've actually seen this happen!), but introducing rubbing compund will also cause damage.
= = = = =

Finally, concerning your offer of your old 35 as an emergency unit. That's a great idea and, at the price you're quoting, a pretty darn good deal. One problem: does that include the pump handle? The handles for the 35 and the 40E differ slightly in the way the linkages are implemented. If a future buyer needs to buy a new handle from Katadyn, the cost (when I last checked) was exorbitant for that simple piece of shaped aluminum tubing: something well over $100!

Anyway, as I've said before: different strokes for different folks. Congratulations on your positive experience with your watermaker.
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Old 14-01-2011, 14:05   #42
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6.) To CBURGER (02-01-2011):
That's a tough question to answer because of the wide range of pollutants that could be present in such sources, along with the fact that those pollutants might change from one time to the next. So, even if you were to get a professional analysis, there's no guarantee whatsoever that the analysis would still be valid a week later.

FYI, Katadyn confirms that their watermakers can be safely used to process freshwater, although I understand that some of the other brands recommend against this. I tested this for about six months while on the Rio Dulce in Guatemala. Yes, I was able to produce potable water, but the ppm count rose gradually over that period of time and I had to replace the membrane at the end, when it had risen to over 750 ppm. Lord knows what was in that river water, but it sure didn't look very good.


I am a bit confused is the 40E considered a reverse osmosis unit? I have a backround in water treatment from the municipal side. Cities all over the U.S. are using R.O to make potable water from rivers and streams. I had been always told that oil pollution was the enemy of the membranes and that the chemical pollutants were what the systems where designed to remove and these where flushed from the membranes during the cleaning protocols. I was under the understanding that the large RO plants deal with the oil in the source water with some type of prefiltration designed to deal with the oil. It would be nice to know if the 40e could be setup to be used "Reliably and cost effectively" inland and not just in the deep ocean.
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Old 14-01-2011, 16:49   #43
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Ishipaco, Yes the "manual" survivor that I have includes the handle, the paperwork, and the optional backflush kit. If someone buys the thing and then finds that the internals are somehow ruined, and not worth installing the seal kit, I will return their money. I'm not trying to screw anyone here. It is a good deal!

BACKGROUND...
For over 15 years I have lived aboard on three different boats that I built myself, totaling well over 2,000 nights spent on the hook. My 40 years of boatbuilding and repair have taught me a bit about "how things work". Some of my personal "opinions" are just falling back on that general experience. Working on other peoples boats, is now how I get by. You seem to have far more experience with these watermakers than I do, however.

REGARDING FINE FILTRATION PROS & CONS...
I Baja filter my diesel fuel going into the tanks, and with an OVERSIZED Racor filter housing, I use a 2 micron filter on it's way out. With our boat's WATER supply... I filter it going into the tanks, (if filled from a dock), and we always use a Seagull filter at the tap going out. Our tank water always taste great! In harbors where I dare not use the watermaker, and the shoreside supply is suspect for bacteria as well, I dinghy jugs out to the boat and use a small duplicate of the boat's pressure water pump, mounted to a portable base. It has a cigarette lighter plug for power, and quick connect hoses. I use this to pump the jug's nasty water S L O W L Y through a HIGHLY restrictive Katadyne "bacteriostatic" filter, and THEN into the tanks. (Yep, Katadyne makes / or made, a standard size filter unit that takes totally nasty, NON potable, fresh water, and makes it safe to drink.) The ceramic like filter element is made of Diomatacious Earth, and you just brush it off... Bacteria can NOT pass through it.

With both our fuel and our fresh water... In the 12 years that we lived aboard full time and cruised our boat, this level of prevention has meant that we have had "0" bad fuel related engine problems, the diesel tanks are kept clean. Our tank water has always been tasty and safe. (We even found that a couple of drops of "Roxtract" minerals in our water glass, puts that "well water bite" back into the otherwise flat tasting RO or filtered dock water.

THE SILT REDUCTION OPTION...
While I have "occasionally" used my watermaker in really silty water, 90% of it's use has been in water that was very shallow, but at least 15' to 20' visibility. In these conditions my filters last a very long time, and are just not a problem, at least not making our 3 gallons / day. (I never tried it when we were up the Rio, as you did). Also, we are on a trimaran, and even a total flooding of the main hull, (at anchor) is just an expensive inconvenience for us, as the amas will only let the hull drop in the water a bit. This makes the risk of more tubing and a small centrifugal pump below the waterline, less of an issue for us. I can see that for monohulls, it increases the risk a bit more, and changes the equation.

So, in the anchorages where we use our watermaker "normally", having the 5 micron filter, as well as the "extra" housing & pump, are just not much more of a maintenance problem for us. I just consider it taking good care of the boat. Admittedly, removing the watermaker from its mount, for seal replacement, is a really gut wrenching job for me. This is due to the "difficult to access" place where we could find to put it. Filter servicing, however, is not a problem.

You have FAR more experience than I do, using the 40-E in really bad water conditions, and I don't doubt your experience or what works for you. You also have far more seal changes under your belt, so changing them more often may not even be an issue for you any more. I find it tedious. Perhaps for you, it has become easier than the hassle of extra filter maintenance? The opposite is true for me.

Having said ALL that, I think that the smart money goes on... "Don't use the 40-E in muddy/silty conditions at all"! But...

IF one does choose to do this anyway, I think that the unit will last MUCH longer if you use the finer 5 micron filter, and that "usually" the 30 micron pre-filter before it, will make the maintenance on the finer filter much less, but perhaps not always so.

With the above "fine filtration", and without the booster pump on, MY watermaker can not get a prime, (or takes forever), after servicing of the filters. This was always true, even when new! The March booster pump solves this problem. It also makes servicing the filters easier because I can use the booster pump to fill the filter housings, rather than pre-fill the canisters to the top. (Our through hull, mesh strainer, booster pump, two filter housings, and watermaker, are all within 24 inches of each other.)

In my case, this setup works better, and since our bilge is always "dusty" dry, I want to limit the spills. Even 10 drops is too much, as it is VERY hard to reach the hull bottom here! With a normally dry bilge, I know right away if there is a problem.

Even in mostly clear water, IMHO... I feel that finer filtration of the water going through the watermakers pump, can't possibly have anything but a positive effect on the lifespan of the watermakers internal parts. For us, it is well worth the extra filter maintenance, and minor extra risk. It just makes more sense to me.

LEAKS...
This is an area where I only know about my own personal experience, not others, as you do. Ours has only leaked at the SS shaft, and the pressure relief valve, (in both cases, only a drop or two). I have always considered it "normal" for our pump. (This was also what I was told by the guys @ PUR, even after THEY tested the unit). I didn't know about the "Ceramic shafts" that were out there! I guess I got our conversion to a 40-E work, in '97, done after it was corrected.

You have the unique benefit of having compiled many peoples experiences with these units. This is priceless, and worth more than any one persons "personal experience", myself included.
I was not aware of their leaking from these "other places" being common, and it rings true that this would indicate a problem that must be fixed right away.

No, I do not have a PPM test set up. (The guys at PUR did however, and in '97 they tested it... After 7 years of sitting stored, with only a single pickling, they said it tested out fine)! This had been the 7 years we were busy building our boat.
My approach... I have drunk slightly brackish Bahama well water (long term) before, and it tasted pretty bad. I know what slightly salty water taste like. My product water "taste fresh", is as scientific as I have gotten. I only tested the amount of product water I made in an hour, as an indicator of the health of the membrane, or need to service the filters. Do most people regularly test the PPM of their product water? I have never met anyone who had such a device while out cruising with a 40-E. We tend to be on the budget end of the spectrum. Anyway, regarding very small leaks not being an immediate problem... I stand corrected.

BTW... It sounds like you live and breath these units? You certainly seem to know more about them than anyone that I've talked to. Are you retired from cruising and now have this as a side business? Are you set up with a shop for servicing these units and soliciting the work? With the previous owners, PUR, I was VERY unimpressed with the knowledge of the guys that I would get on the phone. The contradictions and illogical suggestions were disappointing to say the least. "The stories I could tell"...

While I respectfully disagree with you about the advisability of omitting the "silt reduction option" in really silty/muddy water, I am in awe of your broad base of knowledge about these units in general. Thanks for being so generous with that knowledge and sharing it with all of us.

Best regards, Mark
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Old 14-01-2011, 20:23   #44
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Trivia

To MARK JOHNSON:

If all cruisers were as attentive to their onboard equipment as you seem to have been, I wouldn't have had much of a role to play. Following are some trivia that you and others may find worth reading. But, again, I want to refer interested cruisers to my website about these watermakers, where I've gone into great detail about almost all of the topics I've seen raised on this forum. Visit www(dot)katadyn(dot)ishipaco(dot)com.

I was a fulltime liveaboard in Santa Barbara for over 30 years, beginning in 1978. I worked as a marine electronics technician and hold a lifetime commercial radiotelephone operator's license with radar endorsement, as well as a general ham license. My background includes a couple of years as a chemistry and mathematics major at UCSB. My last job before leaving to cruise was running the computer science lab at Santa Barbara CC, and teaching AutoCad and computer programming there. I'm now deeply involved in website design, with a special interest in internet security issues.

While cruising, I always thought of the fleet as our "family" and felt compelled to help others whenever I could, without expecting compensation. I've always recoiled at those instances where cruisers would offer to help others "for a fee." I know it's common for expectant cruisers to consider how they might earn a living while cruising. Some people have done it, but my advice is: don't count on it! Attractive job skills include diesel mechanics, electronics and refrigeration. But, you should realize that, in soliciting jobs like that, you'll usually be steppimg on the toes of locals. To advertise your skills enough to get a reasonable amount of work, you're likely to invite some very unwanted attention from local workers. It's just not practical in most cases. My philosophy has always been: give more help than I receive. On two occasions over the years, our boat was saved from total disaster because of the quick response of other cruisers. In neither case was fiscal compensation even mentioned, but a couple bottles of good rum was never refused.

I've documented the story of my involvement with, first, Recovery Engineering and, later, Katadyn on my website and in my book, for those who might be interested. However, here are a few interesting anecdotes I always enjoy telling:

1.) You said:

Quote:
I have always considered it [leaks] "normal" for our pump. (This was also what I was told by the guys @ PUR, even after THEY tested the unit). ...With the previous owners, PUR, I was VERY unimpressed with the knowledge of the guys that I would get on the phone. The contradictions and illogical suggestions were disappointing to say the least. "The stories I could tell"
I don't doubt they might have told you that. One of the first things I used to tell my audiences at seminars was, "I don't know a single person at the factory who has ever used one of their watermakers!" It's those of us out in the wild who discover the problems and, eventually, the solutions. That lack of knowledge has not really improved since Katadyn bought the company. Shortly after that, all manufacturing and engineering was moved to Switzerland. As of my last visit, the few people remaining at KNA (Katadyn North America) were a few sales people. Their only technical staff was a fellow named Tom, who has been with the company from the very early days and really knows his stuff. (It's Tom's hands you will see holding tools in the images for servicing the model 80 in my book). I can say in all humility that, with the exception of Dick Hembree (the brilliant, original design engineer) and, possibly Tom, no one alive knows more about those watermakers then I do. As far as knowledge about actual use in the wild on real cruising boats, I suspect I have even those two beat. And, I gained much of my knowledge through interaction with real live cruisers trying to keep their real live watermakers running!

Bottom line: the product support people, despite their genuine desire to be helpful, often have no experience with the kind of day-to-day problems that can arise. A notable exception is Chris Voxland, the Operations Manager, who wears many hats and has been around long enough to have become familiar with most of the complaints that arise. In any case, I can attest to the fact that he and the rest of the customer support staff have always been willing to bend over backwards to help their customers. They're good folks.

2.) Few owners are as conscientious as you. In fact there have been some I would classify as downright idiots! A few examples:

a.) After a seminar I gave at Loreto Fest in Puerto Escondido, Baja Sur, Mexico, I had a fellow approach my boat with his model 35 watermaker, requesting my help. As he boarded, he was cussing up a storm, saying what a piece of junk that watermaker was and how he had come close to simply throwing it away. He was irate and very angry. He said he had done a seal job on it, but it continued to leak and wouldn't work. When I examined his unit, I discovered he had attempted to fix the leak by screwing a 1-1/2" self-tapping sheet-metal screw through one of the holes for the manifold fasteners! Amazed, I went ahead and disassembled his watermaker. I found that, indeed, he had attempted a seal job; he had installed several of the seals and seats backwards and had completely neglected to reinstall several others. Moral: I've found that people who least understand their equipment are the most likely to complain the loudest and blame the manufacturer for their problems.

b.) Another cruiser in Mexico complained that his 40E was not working well. Upon disassembling the unit, I found it was severely damaged and had a lot of sand in it. Trusting him, I went to great trouble to get the factory to send down a brand new watermaker. A month or two later, he brought the new unit back, with the same complaint. I was really puzzled, but was still ready to try to get him a third replacement. Then one day another cruiser stopped by the boat. He said his conscience demanded he tell me that the cruiser with the problems had been overheard bragging about how gullible I was, and that he had purposely ruined the watermaker by feeding sand into it, simply to see just how far he could push the company and how much he could get away with. For him, it was all a big joke. In fact, he retired from cruising a short while later and never had any plans to sail anymore or to use his watermaker. I guess it takes all kinds. I was chagrined, of course, but still don't regret erring on the side of generosity, even if it means having to suffer a few rare encounters with people like that.

3.) You mentioned:

Quote:
No, I do not have a PPM test set up. (The guys at PUR did however, and in '97 they tested it... After 7 years of sitting stored, with only a single pickling, they said it tested out fine)!...I know what slightly salty water taste like. My product water "taste fresh", is as scientific as I have gotten.
There was a couple we knew quite a few years ago who got their water from their watermaker. One morning, another cruiser stopped by to have a cup of coffee and shoot the breeze. As soon as the visitor had taken the first sip, he scowled and spit out the coffee. "Are you making your coffee with seawater?" he asked in all seriousness. What happened was that the quality of their RO water had deteriorated gradually over time and they had just as gradually adapted to the taste as being "normal."

Some people can sense high-salinity product water better than others. My wife, for example, will complain long before I detect that anything is wrong. Personally, I don't really notice a salty taste until the ppm count reaches almost 1000!

Unfortunately, Recovery Engineering and, subsequently, Katadyn have never shipped a TDS meter with the 40E. Originally, the model 80 came with an electronic quality-sensing device that controlled a solenoid valve. The intent was that, upon startup of the watermaker, the sensor would detect the poor quality and not actuate the valve which, in that state, diverted the product water to a reject line. After product water quality reached an acceptable level, the solenoid would actuate and cause the product water to flow to the potable water tank. (I think I have the solenoid logic correct, but my memory is getting poorer every year.)

I complained about several problems with this system. First, using a solenoid required that it draw current the entire time the watermaker was running, which was an unnecessary use of valuable amp-hours. Secondly, there was no way to detect a problem if the electronics failed or the solenoid happened to stick in the wrong position. Third, the whole system was too complex and vulnerable. After many instances of corrosion of solenoids and other failures, the company finally abandoned the whole thing and, instead, began shipping a TDS meter with the Model 80. That was a change I applauded loudly.

Bottom line: a TDS meter is an invaluable tool for monitoring your product water quality. Test testing is, at best, a "go or no-go" technique. It's fine for typical day-to-day running tests but, to accurately monitor water quality and get a handle on the effects of different operating conditions and intake water, as well as the normal, gradual decline in membrane effectiveness, a TDS meter is the only way to go.

Katadyn can sell you a good-quality TDS meter for (as best I can remember) about $60. This is another item that can be had at less cost from third-party sources. In any case, don't buy the cheapest, Chinese-made units. They're completely unreliable.

4.) In answer to your questions, Yes, I am now a retired cruiser who's "been there, done that," and no,I do not work on watermakers anymore. Since losing our boat a year ago, I don't have any parts or even a watermaker. I created my website and am willing to share what knowledge I've acquired over the years with other cruisers. I still like to think that, overall, I've given more than I've received. I hope to be able to continue doing so well into the future, on this forum as well as on my website.

Thanks for the kind words.
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Old 15-01-2011, 04:45   #45
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Ishipaco, Wow what valuable information. I had no idea that a TDS meter could be bought for just $60! At that price, it certainly beats the "taste it" method.

We took our retirement in middle age, and are now suffering through the consequences of being back in "employment mode" at this stage of our lives. For now our "cruising" is either daysails with friends, or occasional 5 day trips out to Cape Lookout, on the NC outer Banks. For this short range cruising, we just rely on tankage, and have removed the 40-E to just store it. We do however hope to do a bit more long range cruising before giving it up. When the time comes, we will certainly do a seal replacement, buy the "ol watermaker" a new membrane, and purchase a TDS meter.

Whatever one calls it, I have always felt that, "what goes around, comes around". I have tried to live that philosophy while cruising, as well as now, by passing on useful information to my fellow cruisers. Obviously. this is where you are coming from as well. For you to have compiled THIS volume of accurate information, without hope of compensation, is generous indeed. Good work!

Sorry to hear about the recent loss of your boat... When I was 23, my first cruising boat was run down while at anchor in Key West. It had taken several years to build, and was lost just 7 months after her launching. Then it was on to the next boat project! Later, when I got married @ 35 years old, it was starting on my third boat, which would take 10 years overall.

The big loss was when Hurricane Ivan took almost all of our land stuff, including my $30,000 tool trailer which had followed us around from cruising base to cruising base. The remarkable thing and "silver lining", was that by going out in the storm, even swimming, in 150 MPH gusts, I was able to save the boat! (Pensacola, having a 13 - 15' storm surge, had about a 95% loss of all boats in this storm). It was shortly thereafter that we went on our most recent cruise.

Starting over can be difficult indeed. Thanks again for being so generous with information about these wonderful little machines. GREAT web site as well! I printed it up.

BTW, I too have been working on a book. Now, to get it published...
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