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Old 15-07-2013, 23:23   #1
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Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Hello sailors,

I have had a recent engine maintenance. According to the mechanic (referred by a trustworthy friend of mine who has been using his services for years) this looked to be the only maintenance since years. Boat is a 1999 Catalina 320 and engine is a 27 HP Yanmar (3GM30F). This probably was true as the previous owners did not seem to do much maintenance. Engine was only at 200 hours but I use the boat a lot more than the previous owners so I want the systems to be in good condition.

Essentially we replaced all the hoses, changed oil and coolant (it still had the green coolant in it, replaced with a pink/red one, forgot the name), belts, etc. There were cracks on the raw water intake hose, that was replaced too. There are also cracks on the exhaust hose between the muffler and mixing elbow. That was identified during the pre-purchase survey. He left it untouched, apparently it is not terrible. I will be changing that myself, ordered the spares from Defender. That's my learning experience.

Now, he mentioned two more potential things to be done: Changing the fuel filter to a Racor 500 and changing the raw water filter to a Groco. Whatever I have are still the originals. He quoted close to $750 for labor and units for both, which is more than I am willing to pay, considering what I have paid for the maintenance and all other things since I bought the boat.

Now, I have a few questions:
  • Do I really need to change those, is this change warranted?
  • How complex is it to change these? I assume changing the fuel filter is more complex than changing the water filter? Should I dare to do this myself? (I am an engineer by training and I can learn things but I am not very mechanically hands-on and I don't know much about diesel engines)
  • The mechanic quotes $224.39 for Racor 500 and $172.00 for Groco Water Strainer. I searched these on Defender and it comes back with many different options, I wasn't sure which ones he referred. For Groco I see ARG-P, ARG-S, SA, etc, series at different heights, which one should I choose? Also there are very different types for Racor 500 at different price levels, which one to choose? (This assumes I go with the installation myself)
Any advice will be appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Tenedos
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Old 16-07-2013, 07:31   #2
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The filters for your diesel are important. $750 to safeguard it isn't such a bad investment. I don't think it'd be too too difficult to replace these yourself assuming you do your homework and don't mind getting a little dirty. I think it'd also be a good opportunity to acquaint yourself with the filters, which is something you're going to want if/when something goes wrong with them while you're on the water. If nothing else, watch over his shoulder while he installs them. People in the industry love that. ;D
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Old 16-07-2013, 08:57   #3
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Tenedos,
The prices quoted for the filters sound reasonable (guessing since we don't know the specific models recommended). So you're not going to save a lot of money spec'ing it out yourself. I assume the mechanic quoted those prices to get the $350 of installation labor. A good mechanic should be able to install both of these in about 4 hours. If that is the mechanic's estimate, then he is charging $90/hour - high, but not unreasonable.
The basic question is why does the mechanic recommend these changes? What would be replaced? Groco and Racor are the standards for most engine installations (at least in the US). So he is recommending good choices.
If the existing fuel filter is a CAV unit, then I would want to replace it with a Racor as the CAVs (at least the ones I'm familiar with) are a PITA to change cartridges and changing the Racor cartridge is very easy. That usually means the Racor gets changed more often - a good thing. You can also get the Racor cartridges pretty much anywhere in the US and Europe.
Assuming there is a compelling reason for the changes (e.g., parts not available or failure emminent) I think you could certainly do the plumbing (Groco) yourself. Not that much different than home plumbing. Either the Groco ARG or SA or good choices.
For the fuel filter installation you may want let the mechanic do it. You can do it, but a screw-up here is a little more significant.
However, if there is no compelling reason for the change, I would stay with what you have. You will learn a lot about these systems as you use the boat and will be able to sort out what you can do and what you don't want to do in the future.

John
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Old 16-07-2013, 09:45   #4
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Tenedos,
The prices quoted for the filters sound reasonable (guessing since we don't know the specific models recommended). So you're not going to save a lot of money spec'ing it out yourself. I assume the mechanic quoted those prices to get the $350 of installation labor. A good mechanic should be able to install both of these in about 4 hours. If that is the mechanic's estimate, then he is charging $90/hour - high, but not unreasonable.
The basic question is why does the mechanic recommend these changes? What would be replaced? Groco and Racor are the standards for most engine installations (at least in the US). So he is recommending good choices.
If the existing fuel filter is a CAV unit, then I would want to replace it with a Racor as the CAVs (at least the ones I'm familiar with) are a PITA to change cartridges and changing the Racor cartridge is very easy. That usually means the Racor gets changed more often - a good thing. You can also get the Racor cartridges pretty much anywhere in the US and Europe.
Assuming there is a compelling reason for the changes (e.g., parts not available or failure emminent) I think you could certainly do the plumbing (Groco) yourself. Not that much different than home plumbing. Either the Groco ARG or SA or good choices.
For the fuel filter installation you may want let the mechanic do it. You can do it, but a screw-up here is a little more significant.
However, if there is no compelling reason for the change, I would stay with what you have. You will learn a lot about these systems as you use the boat and will be able to sort out what you can do and what you don't want to do in the future.

John
Hi John,
I owned a '99 320 for 12 years--great boat! If the Racor is original equipment, you definitely do not need to change it out. It is a 200 series and it is more than adequate. I'm not even sure if a 500 would fit. Just change the filter annually. As for the Groco, that's your choice. It's a much better strainer than the nylon one that came with the boat, but I know of literally hundreds of owners, including me who have had absolutely no issues with the original. Again, space may be an issue with the Groco. If you haven't already, I would encourage you to join the 320 forum--great resource for all things related to the boat!
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Old 16-07-2013, 09:56   #5
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Thanks John. Per the mechanic, parts are not available for either of my existing units. I asked if we could change the status of the fuel filter but he said it wouldn't be possible without damaging it. I am not sure if it is a CAV unit but the mechanic made a similar comment to yours about changing the the cartridge on it. He charges $100 per hour and estimates 2.5 hours for both. Haven't verified but sounds like engine mechanics around here (SF Bay Area) charge in the order of $120-130 per hour. Again, not confirmed.

Sounds like I can go with the raw water filter myself, I will think about it. Need to do some more diffing on differences between ARG and SA models. ARGs are better priced but probably at a quality disadvantage.
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Old 16-07-2013, 10:11   #6
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Tenedos, 'just an added word about the choice of filter baskets for the Groco - ARG 1000. There are three available: PS-76B (Plastic), S-76B (Monel), and SS-76B (304 Sainless). I've been disappointed with the performance of the metal baskets due to the bottoms of the baskets falling out by corrosion. I would highly recommend the plastic filter basket, PS-76B.

Please note: I'm advocating a plastic filter basket, not a plastic filter body!
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Old 16-07-2013, 10:36   #7
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

We really need to know what is in there now. Is there a sea strainer at all? if so plastic?
Ditto for a fuel filter... is there anything other than the engine mounted on in the boat? You dont have to have an expensive Racor as your primary filter. I doesnt sound like you are planning on rounding the world in the boat...? There are inexpensive spin on types that are much easier to service for the occasional user etc. and these are adequate for truckers who run continuously.
These items are readily instaleld yourself, but they always take longer than you think, and something that doesnt work out always comes up! Items that looks small in the store....become huge when you try to fit them in the boat!
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Old 16-07-2013, 14:05   #8
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cheechako View Post
We really need to know what is in there now. Is there a sea strainer at all? if so plastic?
Ditto for a fuel filter... is there anything other than the engine mounted on in the boat? You dont have to have an expensive Racor as your primary filter. I doesnt sound like you are planning on rounding the world in the boat...? There are inexpensive spin on types that are much easier to service for the occasional user etc. and these are adequate for truckers who run continuously.
These items are readily instaleld yourself, but they always take longer than you think, and something that doesnt work out always comes up! Items that looks small in the store....become huge when you try to fit them in the boat!
There is already a strainer, it is a plastic thing and a metal filter inside. I cleaned it, it doesn't look anything sophisticated. I don't know the model or anything like that but according to the mechanic, it is old and finding spares is not an option.

There is also a fuel filter, another plastic looking unit. I don't know the model for that either.

I will take photos of both of the units next time I visit the boat (in the next two days or so) and post here. I think experienced cruisers will know what they are, they just didn't mean much to me.

In terms of my sailing style, I am not looking at sailing around the world (at least not yet, the reason I bought the boat was to learn about maintaining it, and I am learning! Yay!). At this point, I am mostly a day sailor around SF Bay and at certain point I would like to take the boat down and up the California coast, maybe down to LA and up to Drake's Bay. I would like to make sure I have an engine that won't leave me stranded somewhere. Feeling comfortable on the boat is important to me.
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Old 16-07-2013, 17:34   #9
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Cool... pics will help. and your instincts are good.... not fun getting stranded with no wind.
I am a littel nervous with anything plastic below the waterline (except the hull!). A ssea strainer doesnt have to be that big, so maybe finding a bronze one would be good. make sure the seacock to that plastic strainer is in working condition.
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Old 16-07-2013, 18:15   #10
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

My boat engine has two Racor 500 filters before going to the engine mounted fuel filter. It does seem to work pretty good.

I do have this strainer available if you think it's the right size: http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...er-103263.html

I mounted one of these ARG Groco strainers, replacing a smaller plastic one before. One of the pictures on this post shows the size difference between my older one and the Groco. Rhapsody: Project Touchups
The final part of my project was here: Rhapsody: Seacock Project - Complete

So far, I like the new strainer. It is a bit bigger than the one I replaced but it is very solid and looks like it will last a long time. The clear plastic bowl is also pretty sturdy too.
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Old 16-07-2013, 19:40   #11
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Hi John,
I owned a '99 320 for 12 years--great boat! If the Racor is original equipment, you definitely do not need to change it out. It is a 200 series and it is more than adequate. I'm not even sure if a 500 would fit. Just change the filter annually. As for the Groco, that's your choice. It's a much better strainer than the nylon one that came with the boat, but I know of literally hundreds of owners, including me who have had absolutely no issues with the original. Again, space may be an issue with the Groco. If you haven't already, I would encourage you to join the 320 forum--great resource for all things related to the boat!
+1 on the size of the Racor! A 500 would appear to be overkill, I installed a 200 series in my Tartan 33. FWIW I purchased spare filters AND bottom piece at the same time. The last thing I wanted to do was be below in rough seas dealing with not just a filter changed, and also trying to get the bottom piece off. Second heads-up check with your owners group... I made the mistake of going to a 2 micron, it seems to be causing some problems. You may want to consider staying with the 10 micron filter.
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Old 16-07-2013, 20:56   #12
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

This is my opinion (and you can find different ones for sure) :
the fuel filtering choice depends mainly on the condition of your fuel tanks, the type of sailing, and the quality of fuel you get.
If your fuel tanks are clean and you are sure you have no water/crud in your tanks you don't necessarily need a better and more expensive fuel filtering system. Check the tanks and clean them to be safer.
If you sail/motor only in good calm weather locally the same applies. But if you encounter anything more while at sea the possible crud and water inside your tank will start to mix with the fuel and you can expect filtering problems, at the least desirable conditions.
If you always get only pure good quality fuel you are ok with lesser filtering.
I'm in the same situation as you with regards to the fuel filters and have done extensive research recently, and have decided to invest more than I first thought to the filtering system, just because I think this is important. Here are some links you might want to check out before making your decision (for more try the forum search and Google):

Which Fuel Filter

Fuel Polishing

Racor Fuel Polisher

http://www.seaskills.com/files/SeaSk...WhitePaper.pdf

Marine Diesel Fuel Contamination Problems & Solutions

I don't think it is difficult to change the items yourself, with the fuel filter just measure twice before purchasing to make sure you have enough space to install. Also you will need to bleed the engine after installation. But this is a necessary basic skill and something you should be able to do anyways.

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Old 16-07-2013, 21:53   #13
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

Ok, here are the pics. Apparently the fuel filter is Racor 15S 2 micron. I don't know what the water filter is.



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Old 16-07-2013, 21:54   #14
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

BTW, I just noticed the dent myself on the photo after taking it and verifying at home. Something to check, didn't like the look of it :-(
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Old 16-07-2013, 22:53   #15
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Re: Racor 500 and Groco Water Strainer for Catalina 320?

If you really need to change both strainer and filter, the strainer is pretty straight forward plumbing. The fuel filter a little more complicated in that you will introduce air into the system that you'll need to bleed out. If you don't know how to do it already, now is a good time to learn.

If you decide to buy these and install them your self, I would appreciate it if you would consider buying them from me.
Here is a link to the Groco ARG strainers on my website. Groco Raw Water Strainers ARG500-ARG2000

That said, I tend to agree with CaptForce about using the plastic basket. The embarrassing thing is I don't stock the ARG-P Series. I guess I'm going to order some for stock now that I've come out of the closet about plastic strainer baskets.

The advantages of the plastic strainer basket is that I think they'll last longer and they are a couple of dollars cheaper than stainless and a lot cheaper than monel.

The down side is that the openings are a little larger than the metal baskets. I don't think this is significant. The holes are still pretty small.

Just saw the pictures, get a bigger strainer. You'll be cleaning that little Sherwood every day. Put that one on your toilet intake if you don't have a strainer on it already.

Nothing wrong with a spin on Racor but if you want to go with a 500 I stock that as well: Racor Fuel Filter Water Seperators -Marine Turbine Series
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