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Old 14-05-2010, 19:54   #1
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PUR / Katadyn Watermaker Help from an Ex-Cruiser

I and my lady cruised in our 34' Aloha sloop, S/V Ishi, for over fourteen years (1995-2009), with more than 60,000 nm under the keel. Last fall we finally moved ashore in Shell Beach CA after mooring Ishi at Port San Luis. Unfortunately, our boat was completely destroyed early last January as a result of a horrific storm and a failed mooring. We're now irretrievably land-locked.

For thirteen years, I was the "cruising evangelist" for PUR and Katadyn watermakers. I gave free seminars and free help, troubleshooting and repairs for my fellow cruisers everywhere we travelled. I was well known in Mexico, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Bonaire, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Venezuela and several other locations.

I'd like to continue to offer my help to anyone with questions or problems concerning a PUR or Katadyn watermaker. I want to emphasize that my help is free and that I am not a rep, vendor or advertiser for Katadyn. I am not paid by them, nor do I expect any remuneration from anybody. Also, I do not endorse any brand of watermaker and do not sell anything.

If you have questions about any PUR or Katadyn watermaker, I offer two possible solutions:

First, you can visit a website I've created (Katadyn and PUR Watermakers: Installation, Maintenance and Troubleshooting) that has extensive information on the installation, use & maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of these watermakers. You can also find there a 1-hour video demonstrating complete disassembly and rebuild of the PowerSurvivor 40E model, as well as PDF versions of my book, "How to Survive with a PowerSurvivor Watermaker" and the official Katadyn manual for the 40E, which I wrote. Finally, my book (written in 1998) has the best, most thorough information and repair instructions to be found anywhere for the legacy PUR PowerSurvivor 35 watermakers.

Secondly, if you can't find answers to your questions on that website, you can email me at:

powersurvivorhelp <at> ishipaco <dot> com

and I will try to assist you.

It's a pleasure to find a site where I can continue my association with real cruisers and the help I enjoy giving free, just one cruiser to another.
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Old 15-05-2010, 02:26   #2
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Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Gary.

Sorry to learn of the loss of “Ishi”.

Anyone with a PUR or Katadyn Watermaker should know that Gary is not only an evangelist, but the Guru on these watermakers.

See also ➥ Troubleshooting PowerSurvivor 35
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Old 18-05-2010, 05:03   #3
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Welcome to the forum and, as Gord said, so sorry to hear of the loss of Ishi. As the owner of a Pur40E I was, of course, already aware of you by reputation - thanks so much as you have made the experience of ownership/maintenance so much easier than it would have otherwise been.

Brad
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Old 12-06-2010, 15:13   #4
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Aloha and welcome aboard!
Sad about your boat. I hope you can fully recover.
regards,
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Old 15-12-2010, 08:10   #5
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Dear ishipaco
thanks very much for your speedy reply. we are needing electrical brushes . woudl you have any ideas where we coudl find some in St Lucia or are there any automotive ones we could use??? thanks guru as they say
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Old 15-12-2010, 08:35   #6
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Well, I'll ask first!

I'm thinking of installing a 40E on our boat because I don't like hauling water around. Are there any "protips" you can tell me that I would want to figure out before I order the thing and have it sitting here staring at me? I went to the store and sized one: much bigger than I thought, although still quite small considering what they're accomplishing. Also, is there a boiled down maintenance protocol you could recommend, or some guiding tips on how to get the most life from one of those units? Thanks!
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Old 15-12-2010, 09:33   #7
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Your website, sir, is awesome. Exactly what I was looking for.
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Old 15-12-2010, 09:36   #8
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Rebel Heart, Ishipaco's material (links above) really is the 'bible'. Straightforward material from the voice of experience.

Brad
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Old 15-12-2010, 17:54   #9
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Hola Gringo41:

You didn't mention what device you need new motor brushes for, but I'll assume it was a 40E watermaker. Here's what I can tell you.

The motor and drive assembly has rarely caused any problems. I usually recommend checking the motor brushes after 5000 hours of use! Over the history of both the PUR and Katadyn versions of the 40E, several different motors have been used. Some have external caps for brush inspection, while others have internal brushes, which necessitate partial disassembly of the motor.

During all of our years cruising, I was impressed with how common (and how good) electric motor service shops were in the third world. I think some of those guys, if they had to, could fabricate new brushes out of old hard pencil leads glued together with superglue (hi hi).

If your motor has brush caps, I suggest you simply remove the old brushes and take them to a local electric motor shop. Check on your local VHF net to see if you can get a recommendation on where to go from a cruiser with good local knowledge. With the actual brushes to inspect, I'm reasonably certain a local shop can meet your needs.

If your brushes are not accessible externally, and you don't feel competent to disassemble the motor to get at them, I suggest you take the motor itself into the shop and let them do the dirty work. Again, I suspect they will be able to help you. Unlike the U.S., the cost of replacing motor brushes should be reasonable.

If you take your motor to a shop and the brushes have indeed worn badly enough to require replacement, it would be a good idea to have the shop also clean and check the commutator for carbon dust and wear.

I would be interested in knowing if (1) you need brushes for a watermaker and (2) how have you determined that you need new brushes? As I mentioned, the motor brushes, in my experience, have very long lives. In fact, I've never once had to replace brushes on a unit, or advise an owner to do do.

Good luck.
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Old 15-12-2010, 19:50   #10
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Hi Gary,

Great to have a watermaker expert on board and your offer of support is most generous. Looked at your website and it does indeed seem to be the source for all things Katadyn but one question. The web site seems to focus mainly on the 40E. Any particular reason? What about the 80E or 160E?

I did a quick look at the models and one thing I noticed, based on published specs it looks like the 80E would yield the most water per amp, something of interest to most cruisers.

Thanks
Skip

PS

Really sorry to hear about you losing your boat. Been there and it was one of the lowest points in my life. At least I was able to salvage.
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Old 15-12-2010, 20:43   #11
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Missing 80E & 160E info

Hola Skipmac:

Thanks for the compliments. Your question is a good one. Here's what happened.

The 40E webpage and video was first created and distributed as a free CD. I never got real positive feedback on its utility from my main contacts at Katadyn North America. I believe this was due to my inclusion of some critical remarks I made. Despite my suggestion that they do so, they have never posted a reference to the CD or, later, to my website on their website. Since the loss of our boat and moving landside, I have had almost no contact with the company.

I was able to do the CD (and website) on the 40E because I actually had and used one on our boat. I suggested to the company people that I would be glad to do something similar for the 80E, but I would need them to send me one for the filming. They never went for that. Again, my insistence on telling the WHOLE story about these devices, warts and all, never sat well with the company. But, we shouldn't find that too surprising from a PR-conscious corporation, should we?

I had plans to next do a companion CD on the PowerSurvivor 35, since there are still many of them around, although the company quit selling them when the 40E was introduced. Since I also had a 35 installed on our boat, this seemed like an obvious--and doable--task. However, the loss of our boat also meant the loss of our 35 so, again, I had nothing to work with.

Although a video for the 80E, like the one I created for the 40E, would be useful, it's simply not in the works for the foregoing reasons. However, I have included a very thorough treatment on servicing the 80E in my original Watermaker Book, which is available from a link on my website. I took the pictures for the book during a visit to KNA (then still Recovery Engineering). I think you'll find it is still the best source available anywhere on how to disassemble and repair the 80E.

The 160E is simply a scaled-up version of the 80E. In fact, almost all the service parts for the 160E are identical to those used in the 80E. The only significant difference are the poppet valves, which are significantly larger. I didn't include a separate section on the 160E in my book because the directions for working on it are identical to those for the 80E.

My book originally began as a discussion of only the 35. As I finished it, Recovery Engineering first introduced the 40E, 80E and 160E (the so-called "Endurance" models). I postponed publication of my book in order to include info on those new models. My book, I believe, is still the best source of info on the 35 available.

Fair winds and happy cruising.

--Gary
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Old 15-12-2010, 22:39   #12
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Welcome, Ishipaco. My sincere condolences on the loss of your vessel. I, too, hope you find the means to get another and move aboard again, if that is your desire [and your partner's]. I will be looking for a hand powered watermaker/desalinator. I know there is one out there that can be bolted down to a deck, with a lift lever/handle. I know it is not your area, but do you know of a good place to find one - or, better yet, the plans to build one? My cutter will have no engine, so a powere driven one is apparently out of the question.
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Old 16-12-2010, 00:38   #13
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Hand operated watermaker

MicheleC:

I understand your problem. I assume you've carefully assessed your needs and believe making your water with a hand-operated unit is what you want.

I can highly recommend the Katadyn Model 35. It is the old, original design by Recovery Engineering that was sold to the military for use as emergency equipment. Since the military is still using it, Katadyn still produces and supports it and offers it for sale to the public. You can see it on my website: www(dot)katadyn(dot)ishipaco(dot)com/docs/Survivor35.htm See the Katadyn website for further info.

The 35 is capable of producing (nominally) 35 gal/day. More useful for you, perhaps, is the rate of about 1.4 gal/hr. It's robust, easy to use and store, small form factor, and could easily be fastened to a deck or bulkhead. Your biggest issue will be how to plumb intake and reject water hoses.

Be advised that Katadyn also markets a much smaller hand-operated unit, the Model 06. It's output is more like a quart an hour and is not likely to be the unit you need.

In recommending the Model 35, I'm not trying to be partial to Katadyn. In fact, the 35 is the only one I personally know of to meet your needs, although I wouldn't be surprised to learn there are others. Perhaps someone on this forum can help you there. Model 35 features I like are (1) small and light, (2) built to the specs of, and used by, the military, (3) the right output volume for a reasonable hand-operated device and (4) a very long history of reliable performance.
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Old 16-12-2010, 06:45   #14
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Hi Gary,

I have been looking at the Katadyn Survivor 35 as a manual backup and also for liferaft if that need ever arises. I see a lot of military surplus units on the internet for quite low prices, many unopened in the original packages. Any experience with these? Are ten year old models the same as a new one, just as robust etc?

Also looked at cost of new membrane and rebuild kits and if that becomes necessary would eat up a big part of the savings. I guess the other question is whether a ten year old membrane if still sealed in original packing, is still good.

Another idea I had, would it be possible or practical to take a 40E or 80E and make a manual backup system to drive it? Something like remove the motor and replace it with a large handle to turn it? That would allow use of one device for regular on board use and for emergencies when power is not available.

Thanks again
Skip
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Old 16-12-2010, 15:41   #15
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Hola, skipmac:

Quote:
I have been looking at the Katadyn Survivor 35 as a manual backup and also for liferaft if that need ever arises. I see a lot of military surplus units on the internet for quite low prices, many unopened in the original packages. Any experience with these? Are ten year old models the same as a new one, just as robust etc?
I really don't know anything about military units being available as surplus. I don't see any reason why they shouldn't be a fine source.

Quote:
Also looked at cost of new membrane and rebuild kits and if that becomes necessary would eat up a big part of the savings. I guess the other question is whether a ten year old membrane if still sealed in original packing, is still good.
No one seems to really know how long the shelf life is for a new membrane. The company recommends that units stored should be biocided annually. I know of many units that have had perfectly good membranes a number of years after being properly biocided. As long as the membrane surfaces remain wetted and there is no bacterial growth, I know of no reason a membrane wouldn't stay good indefinitely. This is just my opinion, however, based totally on my observations over the years.

Quote:
Another idea I had, would it be possible or practical to take a 40E or 80E and make a manual backup system to drive it? Something like remove the motor and replace it with a large handle to turn it? That would allow use of one device for regular on board use and for emergencies when power is not available.
The 40E is already designed to be hand-operated, should the need arise. It ships with a handle you can attach. On the other hand, I don't think trying that with a model 80E would work. You would have to pump it too fast, in order to keep water flow up to rated speed through the membrane and thereby produce quality product water.

Hope this helps.
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