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Old 10-08-2009, 16:27   #16
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Not mentioned so far: don't forget to include in your calc's the 5 to 6 gallons you'll use for flushing every time you run it. If your unit does 6 gal/hr, that's an hour's worth of running time that will essentially be tossed overboard.

I've known people who use the same flush water over and over, but that doesn't seem wise to me. After all, if the point is to rid the system of contaminants, then why put the contaminants right back in? Tellie, what do you think of this practice?

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Old 10-08-2009, 16:38   #17
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tellie's service is beyond expectations, Spectra's watermaker sounds below expectation. Probably the first thing to do is to take all the things they make "to protect you from yourself" off of it. I believe that would eliminate your first two calls. (salinity probe and transducer) Transducer for what? When it comes down to it, a WM is just a pump, a membrane, a needle valve and a gauge right?
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Old 10-08-2009, 16:55   #18
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When it comes down to it, a WM is just a pump, a membrane, a needle valve and a gauge right?
Yep.

And an airplane is a wing, a fuselage, and some motors.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:34   #19
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Bigger is not always better, neither is too small much good. Running very short periods of time is not good for a watermaker, so you have to have a balance. That balance is determined by several factors.
Thanks, Tellie.
I do understand running very short periods of time and also running, say, less than weekly is not good for the watermaker. My question is, can the watermaker be run too long too frequently. For example if you run a watermaker 24/7 will the expected total fresh water produced before it needs replacing or major repair be significantly less than if it was run 3 hours once every 3 days.

Once I determine the appropriate run time and run frequency to optimize the useful lifetime fresh water production of a watermaker I will then be able to select the appropriate watermaker capacity to best fit my other objectives.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:51   #20
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Originally Posted by Intentional Drifter View Post
Not mentioned so far: don't forget to include in your calc's the 5 to 6 gallons you'll use for flushing every time you run it. If your unit does 6 gal/hr, that's an hour's worth of running time that will essentially be tossed overboard.

I've known people who use the same flush water over and over, but that doesn't seem wise to me. After all, if the point is to rid the system of contaminants, then why put the contaminants right back in? Tellie, what do you think of this practice?

ID

Hi ID,

I don't like the practice at all for the reason you stated. I have met people that do exactly that as well. It's penny wise pound foolish and the effort to do so seems more of a hassle than it's worth. There are certain givens when you own a watermaker and one is that you have to account for making enough water for you and a fresh water flush. You just can't really get around it if you want to take proper care of your unit.
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Old 11-08-2009, 10:54   #21
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"And an airplane is a wing, a fuselage, and some motors"
OK, I forgot the Pressure relief valve.... ;>)
Seriously, my Catamaran came with a 1.5 HP AC water maker with a control box the size of two large shoe boxes. It had a lot of nice colorful indicator lamps etc. It always said the water was not to spec. I removed the whole unit, put the pump on one engine and got the system down to a PSI gauge, needle valve, relief valve and of course a membrane. worked great and never told me the water wasn't right either!!
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Old 11-08-2009, 11:30   #22
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Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
tellie's service is beyond expectations, Spectra's watermaker sounds below expectation. Probably the first thing to do is to take all the things they make "to protect you from yourself" off of it. I believe that would eliminate your first two calls. (salinity probe and transducer) Transducer for what? When it comes down to it, a WM is just a pump, a membrane, a needle valve and a gauge right?

I wouldn't advise anyone to start taking things off of a Spectra watermaker to make it more simple. Unless you just really like my company on your boat. Things can get complicated after that. The two transducers are part of the electronic system that tells the owner of the condition of the pre-filters by reading a vacuum across two filters. Cheechako what you describe is a simple basic watermaker. Spectra makes a couple of units that fit that bill as well. Although you won't find a needle valve on any of them. On a modern cruising boat today you'll find all kinds of electronic gadgets. Most of which are not absolutely essential. But yet they are there. A lot of people just like the convenience of a partially or fully automated boat and don't want to be bothered by running around manually operating all of their boats systems. As my wife likes to quote "Boys and their Toys" But, most admirals want only to push a "RUN" button when it comes to making their water. There are some that will to be sure, but in my experience most gals just don't want that Blue job of manually operating a watermaker.
PS Thanks for the compliment.
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:43   #23
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Originally Posted by gosstyla View Post
Thanks, Tellie.
I do understand running very short periods of time and also running, say, less than weekly is not good for the watermaker. My question is, can the watermaker be run too long too frequently. For example if you run a watermaker 24/7 will the expected total fresh water produced before it needs replacing or major repair be significantly less than if it was run 3 hours once every 3 days.

Once I determine the appropriate run time and run frequency to optimize the useful lifetime fresh water production of a watermaker I will then be able to select the appropriate watermaker capacity to best fit my other objectives.
That's a good question and a tough one to answer because of the many variables. But I'll try. I guess the best way is try to think of the finite life of a boat based watermaker. That's an unknown number again because of many variables. I don't know of anyone that runs a boat watermaker 24/7 though I know some people that hardly run them at all. If you were to theoretically start a brand new watermaker and let it run constantly 24/7 in a controlled environment until it just finally gave up the ghost. In my opinion it would probably give you more serviceable hours because it wasn't exposed to the marine environment for the same time period a normally operated watermaker would be. Eliminate the controlled environment and re-apply real world variables and how can the two be compared? But that could be said about any boat system. Also how do you want to define useful lifetime of a watermaker? There are many components to a watermaker. Some will give out sooner than other components. Just because a membrane or the high pressure pump fails does not mean that the watermaker has met it's demise. I will say this, that if you take reasonable care of a boat based watermaker the membrane can last eight years, I've seen a few even older ones that were still working when they were replaced. I still keep a few really old watermakers, that look like they saw service on the African Queen, working that only need some minor repairs now and then. If you take into consideration land based units you might get a better idea. We have some in the islands that are based on the boat type units that have been run practically 24/7 for over a year before we have to shut them down for a good maintenance go through. Usually you find these in bars and restaurants, some hotels. I don't know if I'm answering the question you are asking or not but if you are concerned about reliability. The longevity of a watermaker really lies with the owner. Take care of it with the proper maintenance and it should service you well for years to come. Like a diesel engine the worse thing you can do is let them sit for long periods of time with no attention.
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Old 11-08-2009, 13:53   #24
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Yea Tellie, I am over simplifying it. Bottom line though is that the system must reach at least an acceptable level of problem free use, if my GPS required 3 contacts with the manufacturer in my first month or two of use.... I guess wouldnt have it long! I view the water maker as allowing me to avoid taking the dingy into town with 5 gal jugs and ferrying water back and forth. Manually setting the pressure felt like a small price to pay...vs... talking with the manufacturer , diagnosing a bunch of colored lights and probably paying through the nose for replacement sensors etc....
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Old 11-08-2009, 14:54   #25
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Yea Tellie, I am over simplifying it. Bottom line though is that the system must reach at least an acceptable level of problem free use, if my GPS required 3 contacts with the manufacturer in my first month or two of use.... I guess wouldnt have it long! I view the water maker as allowing me to avoid taking the dingy into town with 5 gal jugs and ferrying water back and forth. Manually setting the pressure felt like a small price to pay...vs... talking with the manufacturer , diagnosing a bunch of colored lights and probably paying through the nose for replacement sensors etc....
To further the line of thought on your analogy. If your new GPS failed three times in the first month or two you would be swearing off that GPS and other models like it and using a sextant for it's inability to fail electronically. In a sense you'd be right but in practicality it doesn't make common sense. The fact of the matter is that most watermakers don't have the failure rate you seem to think is implied. Their acceptable level of problem free use is evident by the tens of thousands of trouble free units out there and the fact that the major players have been around for some time now. I like mechanical simplicity as much as you and the feeling of satisfaction I get by knowing how to operate all my boats systems and why they operate the way they do. But there are thousands of others that are not at all interested in that part of boating. Where does that leave them? As long as there are enough people that want all the bells and whistles, there will always be bell and whistle manufacturers.
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Old 11-08-2009, 15:16   #26
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comparison...

hmmm.... I think my comparison would be more along the line of: if my GPS with the autopilot, chartplotter, radar, depth sounder, ais and laptop all linked to it was unreliable, I would back off to the basic GPS, not forego GPS entirely! Nuff said I guess. Anyway, you sound like a great guy to have in the maintenance pool!
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Old 11-08-2009, 16:19   #27
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"And an airplane is a wing, a fuselage, and some motors"
OK, I forgot the Pressure relief valve.... ;>)
Seriously, my Catamaran came with a 1.5 HP AC water maker with a control box the size of two large shoe boxes. It had a lot of nice colorful indicator lamps etc. It always said the water was not to spec. I removed the whole unit, put the pump on one engine and got the system down to a PSI gauge, needle valve, relief valve and of course a membrane. worked great and never told me the water wasn't right either!!

I gotcha.

Just messin around.

Everyone draws lines on what is onboard and the allowable complexity of them.
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Old 12-08-2009, 09:51   #28
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Take care of it with the proper maintenance and it should service you well for years to come. Like a diesel engine the worse thing you can do is let them sit for long periods of time with no attention.
Thanks Tellie.
I believe you are saying just about what I was thinking. After you get past the too short run times and infrequent use the MTBF will probably stay relatively constant regardless if you are running 24/7, 5hr every 4 or 5 days, or anything in between.

Therefore, for my purposes, I can ignore "capacity" when selecting the watermaker and concentrate on the other specs that are important to me. Any of the Spectra watermakers will more than meet my capacity requirements just by adjusting run time slightly.

Thanks again.
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Old 13-08-2009, 11:47   #29
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On the issue of complexity,
Sure the more complex a system is the more chance of failure, but then the greater the reward as well.
Take a computer for instance. No one would argue that the early computers, which were far less complex than todays, are better. In fact they are not.
Take society as well. Are system like we have in the US is far more complex then say, North Korea or China. (although China is really complex in itself due to the hugh amont of people, territory, languages spoken... etc. ) but who would want to go there....
Or airplanes. Or cars. I love my built in nav, safety features, etc.
So I would guess with a water maker. Sure a more complex system is .. well more complex and more likely to fail. But with regular maintenance it should not, no? And the benefit of complexity is more satifisfaction with the unit itself. Although at a increased price.
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Old 13-08-2009, 15:32   #30
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Our Catalina 300 model Spectra Watermaker is the second most useful piece of equipment we installed to prepare our boat for cruising. (The number one most useful is the chart plotter.) It has a nominal capacity of 12 GPH so with just the wife and myself aboard, we typically run it 4 hours every 3 days to keep our tanks topped up. On a sunny day we can make water without discharging the battery, powering the watermaker with our solar panels. The MPC 5000 Controller takes almost all the work out of running the system. It even flushes the unit automatically every 5 days when not used.

Since our unit was installed in March 2005, the only significant problem with it was a blown high pressure fitting on the inlet to the membrane chamber about a month after we started cruising. Replacing that fitting resolved the problem. A few months ago another fitting started leaking but was easily stopped by tightening it with a wrench.

Therapy, I strongly encourage you to go to the Spectra web site and download the operation bulletins found there (http://www.spectrawatermakers.com/su..._BULLETINS.pdf). They contain a wealth of information not in the Owner's Manual that can enhance operation and extend the lifetime of your unit. One specific example concerns filter replacement: If you read only the manual, you'll run your system until you get an alarm telling you to change one of the filters. Operation bulletin OP-2, however, recommends changing filters after each use, especially in warm water.
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