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Old 23-06-2016, 17:53   #1
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Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

We've got a Spectra Catalina 300 with an MPC-500 Mkii installed. It was professionally installed by a Spectra authorized re-seller in 2011 in New England. It's worked well for years, so we can likely assume a reasonable and proper install.

Last Septemberish it started acting oddly, throwing out High Pressure warnings. We've had problems with Pressure warnings before and bad senders. I couldn't get a spare easily in Fiji, so after doing all the stand checks - water input lines clear, no kinks, etc. and even going so far as to clean the membrane, we decided it was the sender. So I over rode the alarms and made water for our last month or so in Fiji before leaving for NZ. Pressure readings were running 130-150psi.

In NZ the water was too murky for watermaking most of the time, so we replaced the carbon filter and lived off dock water. We ran it a few times when we moved to more remote locations with more clear water.

All throughout, except for high pressure readings, it made good water. Decent salinity (~250-350ppm, checked with it's own and an external TDS meter), decent volume 11-12 GPM. But for most of our time in NZ we left it on the five day cleaning cycle and didn't use it.

Back in the tropics now, and I'm seeing a few odd things, and I don't like how it's working.

1) I replaced the pressure sender (the EL-SSR-150 one). It turns out I'd brain farted and had not one, but TWO of those in my nav station I'd not filed properly in the spare parts places. Pressure readings are unchanged.

2) It IS making water, around 10ish GPM with decent PPS. But the filter cartridge is not filling, and the pressure readings are coming in very high - 175 PSI and climbing. So I'm not running it at all.

Bring output volume is quite good. The intake line is clear, at least to the filter. In a training incident the "close the through hull" step was done after the "remove the filter for cleaning" step...plenty of water flow there.

I've gone through some of the Trouble Shooting steps for pressure readings and the numbers look poor, I've still got to finish that testing.

But more importantly, the water filter is not completely filling. It used to fill the filter completely, but the water on intake now is only going halfway up the filter canister.

That seems like a wonky boost pump to me. But I'm supposed to get Bad Prefilter warnings and the like for that, no?

Any insight into this mess would be appreciated. (Hey Tellie!!)

Thanks.
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Old 23-06-2016, 18:18   #2
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

So now it's not making product water at all...
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Old 23-06-2016, 18:50   #3
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

If it is not making water at all then this is one of those times it would be better to call me so I can work with you over the phone, with you at the watermaker itself, to figure out what's going on. I can probably figure out in 10-15 minutes on the phone what's happening. The higher than normal pressure can be several things, but to guess here without going through a few basic tests would be just that, guessing. Give me a shout on the phone any time and we'll figure it out and report back on the forum.


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Old 23-06-2016, 21:02   #4
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

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Originally Posted by Evenstar View Post
So now it's not making product water at all...
So this problem was diagnosed with "Operator is a Freaking Moron" because I forget I'd opened the pressure relief valve to test the sensors.

With ALL sensor offsets removed from the system, pressure levels are spot normal.

It's producing 11.1 GPM right now with a 380 PPM.

The only thing that is still odd and alarming is that the Pre-filter is only 3/4 full.
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Old 24-06-2016, 03:07   #5
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

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Originally Posted by Evenstar View Post
So this problem was diagnosed with "Operator is a Freaking Moron" because I forget I'd opened the pressure relief valve to test the sensors.

With ALL sensor offsets removed from the system, pressure levels are spot normal.

It's producing 11.1 GPM right now with a 380 PPM.

The only thing that is still odd and alarming is that the Pre-filter is only 3/4 full.

Yeah, the pressure relief valve needs to be closed.
The pre-filter is fine. It is quite normal for the pre-filter to have a pocket of air at the top so don't worry at all. 11.1 gpm is a bit low for a Catalina. If you are reading this from the control board it may be just an adjustment issue. The only true test is to direct the product tube into a measured container and time how long it takes to make a gallon of water. Do this two or three times to be as accurate as possible. Also, check the voltage at the watermakers terminal after it has been running for 10-15 minutes. First check it without a genset, engine, or solar input. Then check it with either a genset or engine running. Watch your gph and PPM readings on the control panel as well during both tests.


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Old 24-06-2016, 04:09   #6
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
Yeah, the pressure relief valve needs to be closed.
The pre-filter is fine. It is quite normal for the pre-filter to have a pocket of air at the top so don't worry at all. 11.1 gpm is a bit low for a Catalina. If you are reading this from the control board it may be just an adjustment issue. The only true test is to direct the product tube into a measured container and time how long it takes to make a gallon of water. Do this two or three times to be as accurate as possible. Also, check the voltage at the watermakers terminal after it has been running for 10-15 minutes. First check it without a genset, engine, or solar input. Then check it with either a genset or engine running. Watch your gph and PPM readings on the control panel as well during both tests.


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Thanks.It's been running since I last posted - about eigh hours now. At present it's at 13.4 GPH, salinity is 272, and the prefilter is full.

Something IS different, as the pre-filter used to fill in seconds after starting, not an hour or more. After the rinse/store cycle it is full, so it's full when I push "Auto Run".

It seems that my attempts to follow the instructions to test the pressure senders sorted the pressure errors out.

The "Output Offset" had a weird number in it - it was something like "&8" or the like. I think it supports only two digits. But somehow the offset was set to over 100. When I tried to bring the pressure reading with the pressure relief valve open to 114.7 PSI I literally had to push the down button about 100+ times.

Beats me how it got that high. Gremlims, I guess. I set both offsets to zero, started it up and nary an error.
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Old 24-06-2016, 04:20   #7
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

Good job. Those are great numbers for that unit
Again, don't sweat the pre-filter air pocket, this is quite common and nothing is wrong.

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Old 24-06-2016, 06:34   #8
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

Re weird offsets. I had the memory in a control board get scrambled once. Apparently due to a nearby lightening strike. It didn't know whether it was a water maker or a toaster oven. Fortunately, the board was not physically damaged and restoring default settings resolved the problem.
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Old 24-06-2016, 09:09   #9
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

All of which is why I much prefer the simplest manual Spectra, with no computerized controls, or automatic flushes, or anything. I live aboard, and it's up to me, but way less fault prone.
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Old 24-06-2016, 14:34   #10
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

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Originally Posted by contrail View Post
All of which is why I much prefer the simplest manual Spectra, with no computerized controls, or automatic flushes, or anything. I live aboard, and it's up to me, but way less fault prone.
I live aboard too. Given that lifestyle, I rarely remember what day of the week it is or the exact date, though I usually have a firm grasp on the month and can get within 2-3 days of the actual date if pressed. It's gotten worse since we crossed the Date Line.

Operating under those conditions, the five day flush cycle is priceless as far as preserving the integrity of the system is concerned. There is no way I'd ever remember the last time I used it to worry about cleaning and preservation.
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Old 06-10-2016, 23:03   #11
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Re: Spectra Catalina 300 - High Pressure & Feed Issues

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
Yeah, the pressure relief valve needs to be closed.
The pre-filter is fine. It is quite normal for the pre-filter to have a pocket of air at the top so don't worry at all. 11.1 gpm is a bit low for a Catalina. If you are reading this from the control board it may be just an adjustment issue. The only true test is to direct the product tube into a measured container and time how long it takes to make a gallon of water. Do this two or three times to be as accurate as possible. Also, check the voltage at the watermakers terminal after it has been running for 10-15 minutes. First check it without a genset, engine, or solar input. Then check it with either a genset or engine running. Watch your gph and PPM readings on the control panel as well during both tests.


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I am working my Spectra 300 at the moment, I believe it's a gen 1 unit (almost 10 years old, and it has the extra filters that gen 2 doesn't have).

I didn't use it for a while (lack of blue water!), so now I am just testing it before it totally stops working. Hence I use a bucket of marina tap water, into the service line. I don't even bother to add salt, I just want to see the system working.

Almost all is good, I get 14 GPH, but there are two things:

1) Pressure reads "00 PSI" despite system working normally, probably the sensors

2) A drop per minute or so, comes out from the unit where the product line connects. I can't see from where, the drops come out at the underside of the housing itself.

It says "Do not accept any leaks" because of that high pressure, but these drops don't come from the cylinder or the main units of the Clark Pump/Membrane Module.

Since I prefer to be safe side, I shut the system down while it was still pumping the product overboard - do I need to be concerned about the drops and the 00 PSI?

Thank you.
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