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Old 05-08-2007, 14:29   #1
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Build it yourself water softener????

Anyone have any info on building a water softener for dockside water? No way am I paying $500 to $800 for a water filter to get rid of water spots when I wash the boat. A chamois works for now but I know there has to be a simple build for a unit to handle the hard water we have here at the docks in the Houston area. Most of the $500 units are no more than a PVC pipe with hose connections. It is how the inerts are constructed that I would like to know.
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Old 05-08-2007, 17:43   #2
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I don't know if it's the same or not, but while we were cruising Mexico most people who took on water from land used a ceramic filter. It was about 16 inches long and about 3 inches in diameter with a cylindrical ceramic element.
You filled your water tanks and then disassembled the filter and washed off the surface. It usually got a little slimy after a couple hundred gallons of dock water had gone through it. Supposedly it was beneficial, and at least it trapped sand. We used one for about a year, but after that we relied solely on our watermaker.

The ceramic filter (at the time) cost us about $50 USD.


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Old 05-08-2007, 18:48   #3
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Thanks, Steve but the problem is the water here in the Houston area is so full of chemicals that the water spots left on the boat will actually damage paint, plastics, etc. if left on all the time. Everyone with the large boats has cleaners that wash their boats on a regular basis and use the commercial units like Wet Spot, etc. These are just overpriced water softeners that cost more than the units used in households. There must be a way to build one of these for a decent price.
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Old 05-08-2007, 20:33   #4
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This is what is currently available on eBay:

eBay - Portable Water Softener, Parts Accessories, Skin Care items on eBay.com

Or, you could try doing a Google search.

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Old 05-08-2007, 21:58   #5
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Well, there's one sold under the Mr. Clean brand for car washing. You might be looking for something with a larger capacity, but you can buy this one at auto stores, screw it onto your hose, and when you are ready for the final rinse it switches to spray de-ionized water and a rinsing agent claiming you'll dry spotless without any toweling. This is NOT JUST WATER SOFTENING. But, there's nothing to stop you from going to Home Depot, buying a whole-house water softening cartridge, a couple of piep fittings, and trying that out too. Or finding a bulk supplier of those de-ionizing "beads" that are sold in containers for folks who want to fill their own steams irons with deionized water. (Supermarket.)
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Old 19-05-2008, 16:00   #6
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I looked at building my own and even went to a few water softener companies in my area. I found out a few things.
1. You have to have 20-25% open area above the resin bed so it will lift and unpack and unlodge any small partials that get caught in the bed. The round plastic stick type softeners don't have this and don't work great after awhile because that have to pack the resin in to avoid an open area the water will travel through because it will find the path of least resistance. Thats what the back wash cycle is for in every home system. So you need a vertical tank.
2. The PVC plastic units are not UV resistance and will degrade and crack after awhile which is what happened to most of those units on my dock. You need a fiberglass tank like a home unit. Non will protect from freezing.
3. You should have a stainless steel cover and I found only two portable softeners that have one. The water-mark and another which cost over a grand.
4.The Mr clean works for washing my motor cycle and thats about it for that.
5. A ceramic filter will not soften water. You need to exchange the calcium and magnesium ions with sodium.
The resin costs about 60 bucks for 1/2 a cubic foot. Add that to a small fiberglass tank 90 bucks, the cages and manifold 30 bucks, hose 7 bucks, and I was over 200 bucks. I wouldn't have a handle, cover (a fiber glass tank looks like crap) the brass fittings which are 7 bucks each. you should have a pre filter to keep the small particles and junk from getting into the water supply, ad another 30 bucks and my home made water softener costs me over 230 bucks and that doesn't include shipping.
Anyway, after all that I looking at buying the water-mark with the stainless cover. There are a few on my dock and they seem to like it.
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