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Old 26-01-2011, 07:34   #1
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Watermakers Intimidate Me



We have a Sea Recovery watermaker installed by a PO and have never used it. Since we hold 200 gallons of water we have not needed the watermaker, and so I haven't attacked it yet. There are too many other things to do, including sailing of course. But I think it's time I find out if this thing works. I have no idea where the membranes are, and if I did I'm sure they are long gone.

I cleaned out the lazarette and took this picture. It's a lot of "stuff". So Tellie (and others), where would you start? I have the membrane vessel assembly and it's not shown here. It's two tubes.

I'm not at the boat now, but I have a lot of pictures. Obviously, I don't want to buy membranes until I know that the system is worth saving. What's the first thing I should do?
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Old 26-01-2011, 08:03   #2
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Get the manual and read it. We also hold 200 gallons of water and we USE our watermaker often as we cruise. We take showers, make ice, and cook knowing our water is safe to use (this is comforting when you're a full-time cruiser). We do not put any water in our tanks that has not come from our watermaker. Of course, being full-time cruisers our application may be different than your's if you do not cruiser for more than a week or so. We find our watermaker to be flawless and only takes minimal service. If the membrance has been pickled you should be safe, but you should have the tester to check the parts-per-million after running the watermaker for about 5 minutes (then check). But defiantly read the manual.
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Old 26-01-2011, 10:06   #3
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But defiantly read the manual.
I am always defiant
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Old 26-01-2011, 10:51   #4
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This is interesting to me because I am currently speccing out new water tanks. I have been persuaded that for the usual reasons we should acquire a small watermaker, because local supplies are often suspect, expensive, both or unavailable.

I am replacing two unbaffled 100 gallon SS tanks with four 50 gallon HDPE tanks that, instead of sitting under the side decks, will sit on the frames and stringers. The idea is that I will have a manifold to draw water from any tank, and also to fill tanks individually. The tanks are split into four because 50 gallons of tank is easily fit in the space allowed, and will not require baffling. It's also what I can reasonably maneuver in the space allowed. Lastly, if one "goes bad", I presumably have three in reserve, as I want to generally keep them filled for ballast and trim purposes.

How to do this? Tanks will be filled by watermaker and/or "municipal" water, where appropriate, and rainwater for washing, washdown and toilet purposes. Yep, freshwater toilet, but only on demand. One out of four flushes should kill off the beasties.

So ideally, I want a small watermaker, as I don't expect to use a lot, but "slow but steady" is the method I can use given my bigger than usual solar array and wind gen set. Or I can just make water while motoring, which I want to otherwise minimalize.
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Old 26-01-2011, 11:44   #5
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Originally Posted by PamlicoTraveler View Post


We have a Sea Recovery watermaker installed by a PO and have never used it. Since we hold 200 gallons of water we have not needed the watermaker, and so I haven't attacked it yet. There are too many other things to do, including sailing of course. But I think it's time I find out if this thing works. I have no idea where the membranes are, and if I did I'm sure they are long gone.

I cleaned out the lazarette and took this picture. It's a lot of "stuff". So Tellie (and others), where would you start? I have the membrane vessel assembly and it's not shown here. It's two tubes.

I'm not at the boat now, but I have a lot of pictures. Obviously, I don't want to buy membranes until I know that the system is worth saving. What's the first thing I should do?
First the best advice is the one Aparrotwind gave. Get the manual and read it first. In the meantime I'd like to know what the red tag on the pressure relief valve knob says. Most likely an indication of if and when the unit was pickled. If so that is a step very few owners or mechanics do and will clue you into that this is probably a well maintained system. Remember if you start to run this system and intend to let it sit for more than a week or two that you should be ready to fresh water flush it regularly or re-store the system (THIS IS WHERE THE MANUAL COMES IN REAL HANDY) But if you're anxious, first make sure you change out all the pre-flters (blue housings) make sure the thru hull valve is open. Open the pressure relief valve (you do not want to run this system under pressure yet. Damage to the membranes will occur if they are pressurized with storage solution in the system) Locate the brine discharge. It should lead to a thru hull fitting just above the waterline outside the boat. Sometimes people install a valve on this thru hull, make sure it is open if there is one. Flip the breaker that feeds the watermaker. The system should light up on the board shown. Locate the start button and the off button, also be ready to shut off the breaker if things go funny and the off switch does not work. Open the red cap on the CAT pump and make sure the oil level is correct. Start the system (with the pressure relief valve open) The system should start running and the Baldor motor shown should be turning the CAT pump. If all sounds normal ad there are no leaks and the pressure gage is in the lower psi levels (80psi or lower) go check the brine discharge thru hull and check to see if there is water flowing over board. If it is let the system run like this for about 30 minutes to flush out the storage solution. After it has run for 30 minutes, slowly and I mean slowly start to close off the pressure relief valve knob clockwise. Watch the pressure gage. When it hits 200psi stop and wait a few moments and observe the system for leaks raise the pressure about 100psi in increments and observe and listen. If you can get the system up to about 800psi you're doing good. I believe that system monitors the TDS readings and will show a red or green light. If red the TDS is too high and the unit is sending the product water overboard. If green it will divert it to your tanks. Green is GOOD. I can't se in your pic but there might b a flush button. If there is after you have shut down the system push it and the system will give itself a fresh water flush. If you can get this far there is a very good chance you're in business. The other issue you might encounter is the salinity probe does not work. This is common in systems that have sat for long periods of time. Of course the two membranes may be shot. But these things are worth replacing in relation to the value of this watermaker. If you don't have the manual contact Sea Recovery and they'll get you one. Good Luck and let us know how it works out.
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Old 26-01-2011, 11:55   #6
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Perfect....That's what I was hoping for Tellie.... a little coaching. I have looked at the manual but there is alot there and itsoesn't address the whole recommisioning process.

Key issue is that I thought the membranes were in the assembly. When I took it apart recently they weren't in there and I don't know where they are. I am fine buying new membranes if the whole system seems to work. Is it OK to run all of these steps as you mentioned with no membranes in the assembly just to see if it works?

The red tag says Pickled - probably 2005. But I don't know where the membranes are, so I guess it won't matter.

Also, there is a small pump at the bottom that from what I read in the manual is a booster pump. Do I turn it on at the same time as the other pump?

The boat is at the Boatyard for about another week. When we get back I am going to go through the steps you mentioned.
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Old 26-01-2011, 11:57   #7
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Your a star Tellie

Is that a Sterling inverter I can see top right?
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Old 26-01-2011, 11:59   #8
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Is that a Sterling inverter I can see top right?
No it's a Freedom... Installed it a year or so ago.
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Old 26-01-2011, 12:07   #9
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Originally Posted by PamlicoTraveler View Post
Perfect....That's what I was hoping for Tellie.... a little coaching. I have looked at the manual but there is alot there and itsoesn't address the whole recommisioning process.

Key issue is that I thought the membranes were in the assembly. When I took it apart recently they weren't in there and I don't know where they are. I am fine buying new membranes if the whole system seems to work. Is it OK to run all of these steps as you mentioned with no membranes in the assembly just to see if it works?

The red tag says Pickled - probably 2005. But I don't know where the membranes are, so I guess it won't matter.

Also, there is a small pump at the bottom that from what I read in the manual is a booster pump. Do I turn it on at the same time as the other pump?

The boat is at the Boatyard for about another week. When we get back I am going to go through the steps you mentioned.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say you you don' see the membranes. Did you open up the end caps on the two membrane vessels? Very odd that the membranes were removed. If they were then you need to get new ones replaced to properly test the system. If they are missing then at the least you can only really test the system for the boost pump and the high pressure Cat pump running and pressure. But if you get that far I'd replace the membranes.
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Old 26-01-2011, 12:09   #10
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Your a star Tellie

Is that a Sterling inverter I can see top right?

Thank you Anjou. But give me a few posts and I'll ruin my reputation once again
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Old 26-01-2011, 12:33   #11
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I'm not sure exactly what you mean when you say you you don' see the membranes. Did you open up the end caps on the two membrane vessels? Very odd that the membranes were removed. If they were then you need to get new ones replaced to properly test the system. If they are missing then at the least you can only really test the system for the boost pump and the high pressure Cat pump running and pressure. But if you get that far I'd replace the membranes.

Yeah, that's what I thought. They were not in the tubes when I opened the endcaps. Would they maybe have taken them out to store them in the pickling solution? I was expecting them to be in the tubes - I assumed they were. I have no problem buying new ones though if the thing works.
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Old 26-01-2011, 12:51   #12
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Yeah, that's what I thought. They were not in the tubes when I opened the endcaps. Would they maybe have taken them out to store them in the pickling solution? I was expecting them to be in the tubes - I assumed they were. I have no problem buying new ones though if the thing works.

OK I understand.

No they are probably long gone. Membranes are normally stored inside the watermaker where they are best protected. Storing them outside is very rare for these small membranes.
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Old 26-01-2011, 12:56   #13
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Watermakers

There's not much to a watermaker.
Get the technician in to start it up for you, and explain the system.
You need to run the machine on a regular basis, even if you just dump the water overboard.
The water in the membranes must be kept fresh and Never allow them to dry out.
If need be instal storage chemical which has to be changed out very six months.
The technician will explain all of this to you. They are great machines, use them.
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Old 26-01-2011, 13:07   #14
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Being intimidate by a watermaker is nothing new. Makes me chuckle because I can relate.

I've been 36 years in industrial water treatment. Try pushing the button for the first time on a 200 MGD (million gallon per day) desalination plant.

You'll get over it.
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Old 26-01-2011, 13:18   #15
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I thought I would jump in here because we have a water maker and use it all the time.

But Lealea's water tank is 6o liters and the water maker is a Power Survivor 40E So I have nothing to say.
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