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Old 29-07-2020, 18:41   #1
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Spectra 380C recommission questions

I am recommissioning a Spectra 380C. The unit was installed in 2000, and saw regular use until 2008. I believe it saw very little use since, and it hasn't been used at all for the three years I've owned the boat.

I was surprised to discover how much of the system is still working. I followed Spectra's Unknown Condition Startup instructions, and was shocked that the water was neither discolored nor smelled bad. I ran it for half an hour unpressurized to purge the system of SC-1. I didn't want to pressurize the system as neither the pressure gauge nor flow meter were working. I found small leaks where each J tube is connected to the end caps of the Clark pump. I pressurized to do a freshwater flush from the tank using a charcoal filter, and the Clark pump ran smoothly and symmetrically. An experienced friend with the same unit observed this and said it seemed to be working great. I've been flushing every five days for about a month.

Yesterday I installed a new gauge and meter and opened the thruhull to make a first attempt at making water. I inadvertently ran the system with the intake valve closed at first, so I depressurized, re-primed, pressurized, and tried again. The Clark pump quickly became asymmetrical, product water stopped flowing, and pressure rose to 125 psi at which point the feed pumps cut out. Research suggested a broken Reversing Valve Spool. I removed and disassembled the Valve Block, and found one of the original three piece Reversing Valve Spools, broken in the usual place.

Some questions:
1. I know these original three piece Reversing Valve Spools have a tendency to break, but the timing is worrisome. Did I cause it when I ran the system pressurized and dry? Is it possible there's something so wrong with the membrane that it caused the failure? I have a spare membrane — should I just install it? This one may be 20 years old, but all of the advice I see suggests replacement as a last resort. Is there anything else I should investigate before I put a replacement Valve Spool back in place?

2. Given the presence of the three piece Reversing Valve Spool, it seems likely that this Clark Pump has never received the factory rebuild treatment. I am presently cruising Mexico and shipping is hard, so that's not going to happen now. It also looks really clean. The annular rings show no sign of scoring, and even the o-rings look good. (See photos). I obviously need to order a new Valve Spool (I know you can screw them together for a temporary fix, but it may be years, so we'll replace). Are there other upgraded parts I should definitely order at the same time? I know many of the stainless steel elbows were replaced with nickel-bronze — how critical is that? Any advice on the importance of the various Clark Pump upgrades over the years would be appreciated. I think I'm game for doing the upgrade myself.

3. Any advice on where to order Spectra parts for fast, reliable shipping to Mexico? I worked with Seatech in San Diego on my last parts order and it got here, but shipping was expensive and it took a long time because they had to get parts from Spectra before they shipped them to me.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Looking forward to your thoughts!


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Old 30-07-2020, 07:09   #2
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

I've done one or two of these before.



Replace the spool valve with a new one piece, don't waste your time with the old one. Also change out both annular rings with the new "PEEK" rings. On an older pump like this it is quite possible that you will also need to replace all four of the annular ring O-rings. If they are white they must be replaced with black. If The annular O-rings are white then so are are the four check valve O-rings and they must be replaced as well. You will also need to pull both cylinders to inspect for any scoring as well. Here's the most important thing. scrap the Nickle bronze fittings and re-install the old SS fittings. It looks like the four straight fittings on both "J" tubes are SS. If it is just the two 90 degree fittings that are nickle bronze, replace them with SS. Looking at the annular rings and spool valve I would say this pump is in very good condition for it's age. The flow meter and pressure gauge are most important to properly analyze the Clark pump. You can't just hear it sounding good, that means nothing. The fact that your feed pump went up to 125psi indicates that the feed pump is working good producing flow and pressures. Test each pump by running them alone and block of the brine discharge line if both quickly rise to 125psi and shut off then they are both good. The high pressure could certainly be from the broken spool valve and/or a clogged membrane. Lets' get the Clark pump back up and running first before you tackle the membrane. If there is no scoring in the cylinders here is my list of things you'll need to get your pump back up and running symmetrically.
1) New annular rings X2
2) New one piece spool valve
3) Replacement 90 degree SS fittings if you don't still have the old ones
4) Annular ring O-rings X4
5) Check valve O-rings X4
6) Thin necked 13/16" open end wrench (This makes tightening down the high pressure fittings much easier and gives the fitting more space to tighten down)
7) If the cylinders are scored then a honing tool and two new pistons.


I'll bet that's about all you'll need to get this back to spec. Let me know if I can help with any advice along the way.
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Old 30-07-2020, 08:14   #3
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Tellie, thanks so much for your fast and comprehensive response, I really appreciate it.

I'll add new annular rings to my order, along with new O-rings.

I have all the original SS hardware and it sounds like you don't think the nickel bronze is better, so I'll stick with what I've got there.

I haven't dismantled the rest of the pump, which I'll need to do to check for scoring. It sounds like I should do that.

It will probably take a couple weeks for my parts to get here - I didn't re-pickle the membrane and that's a long time for it to go without a flush. I thought about field repairing the old spool to be able to do flushes while I'm waiting — would you bother to do that?

Thanks again!
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Old 30-07-2020, 14:34   #4
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Yes we should flush this again until we can make repairs. I'd just make the fast in field repair of the the broken spool valve. The pump may not make any pressures but it will still allow for a fresh water flush. The system doesn't need to have a functioning Clark pump, it just needs to be plumbed in so the feed pumps can flush the system properly. We will need to pull this pump further apart before you make any parts order in case there is something else. As always, there is always something else once we start taking it apart. But again, looking at the picks of the top block assembly, I have great confidence that this will be an easy re-build for you in the field. We can get you any of these parts no problem. Yes as well on the SS fittings. Nickle, bronze, and SS, immersed in salt water is always going to be a problem, I don't care what anyone else says about that.
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Old 31-07-2020, 17:08   #5
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

I pulled the rest of the pump apart today. It looks super clean to me, no scoring at all in the cylinders or shaft as far as I can see. Take a look at the photos and let me know if there's anything else it would be useful to see.

Can I bypass the Clark pump entirely to do the flush? Just connect the membrane to the feed pump, reusing the plumbing that would normally go to the Clark pump?

Thanks again, JT!










Bigger images here:
https://jameshome.com/shot/spectra380/
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:07   #6
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

This does look in good shape. Is there "any" scoring visible inside either cylinder? Use a piece of wood and push the pistons all the way down and dry out the inside of the cylinder really good. If it's wet it's harder to see the scoring. Anything that catches your finger nail even slightly needs to be addressed. But from what I can see from the pics they look good. The hidden issue is the O-rings. In one pich you can see that the Check valve O-rings are white. These need to be replaced with black. This also tells us that the annular ring O-rings are also white. Thgese must be replaced as well so you have to remove the exisiting annular rings to get to them. You will see as you try to remove them that they will break and even crumble. The four annular ring ones are very important to change out. If anyone of these crack and fail the pump will be asymmetrical. The one end cap is leaking from the hp SS fitting. t looks like it just needs to be removed and re-sealed. But look very carefully with a strong light. Any cracking emanating from where the SS fitting is threaded means the end cap is cracked and must be replaced. These cracks most of the time just look like very thin hairs, it's all it takes. The piston rod looks good as well. There are two lip seals for tyhe rod. The only way to tell if the lip seals are good is when the pump is back together and working. You then remove the small bronzed Allen head plug while the system is running. If you see a small drop or two of water coming out during operation then your fine. If the water streams out r you hear excessive squealing then the lip seals need replacing. The reason this 20+ year old pump is in the excellent condition it is in, is because of the all SS fittings. This is for all those who have Spectras with the Nickle bronze fittings, it would be very wise to change these out to all SS fittings. This pump and the above pictures prove this out every time. We carry all these fittings as well.
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Old 01-08-2020, 10:39   #7
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Excuse me for butting in as I certainly don’t have the Knowledge Tellie has, but has it been several years since the membrane was pickled?
I wonder how many years a membrane can sit pickled and still be good?
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Old 01-08-2020, 11:00   #8
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

tellie: I'll look the tubes and the end cap over with more light and magnification today. New peek annular rings and their companion o-rings and new check valve o-rings are already on my parts order list, as is the ring removal tool so I don't mess up the inside of the housing trying to get them out. I'll send you a PM with more order details — thanks so much for helping me get this sorted out.

a64pilot: Happy to have more input. From what I can tell, membrane life is kind of mysterious. All of the advice I've seen is get the pump working well and make the call on the membrane after that. My assumption is that it needs replacing and I have a new one ready to go.
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Old 12-08-2020, 07:08   #9
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Tellie, in the 2017 rebuild manual, Spectra indicates that older end caps made of PET (2006-2009) will be replaced with newer ones made from Delrin. Then they also specify that stainless fittings in these end caps must be replaced with nickel-bronze, as the stainless reacts with Delrin and you'll get crevice corrosion, which could damage the end caps.

The same manual indicates that if you remove and clean the stainless fittings every two years, you'll be fine. It says the same about the fittings that go into the block, where they also indicate these will be replaced by nickel-bronze.

In rebuilding many of these pumps, I would have expected your experience, and therefore recommendations, to be the same as Spectra's. Can you explain in more detail your recommendation for sticking with stainless?
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Old 12-08-2020, 19:49   #10
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frode View Post
Tellie, in the 2017 rebuild manual, Spectra indicates that older end caps made of PET (2006-2009) will be replaced with newer ones made from Delrin. Then they also specify that stainless fittings in these end caps must be replaced with nickel-bronze, as the stainless reacts with Delrin and you'll get crevice corrosion, which could damage the end caps.

The same manual indicates that if you remove and clean the stainless fittings every two years, you'll be fine. It says the same about the fittings that go into the block, where they also indicate these will be replaced by nickel-bronze.

In rebuilding many of these pumps, I would have expected your experience, and therefore recommendations, to be the same as Spectra's. Can you explain in more detail your recommendation for sticking with stainless?



Oooh, a really good gotcha question. Love them.


My first reaction is always, "If Spectra says one thing and I say another, listen to me not Spectra" But I'm old, cantankerous, and been around too long, so I get away with it. Much to their consternation at times.

But seriously, it really is a great question. In all fairness I do part ways with Spectra in a few things like this so I understand the apprehension. Here's a simple Jr.High school chemistry question, Stainless steel, Bronze and Nickle all mechanically tied together immersed in salt water, what do you have? Hint, it's why we use zincs on our boats as well.

I have seen this SS crevice corrosion on the Clark pumps more than you'll see the same on the membrane end caps. There are two NB fittings on the membrane vessel and six on the Clark pump. The thing is, it's very rare to see this at all, and if it does happen it takes years to happen. Usually there are issues with the Clark pump being installed too close to a battery bank that is having issues as well were I see this crevice corrosion.

SS fittings do not have the internal corrosion issue that the bronze nickle fittings do. I have rebuilt 20 year old Clark pumps with all original SS fittings that look as good as the day they were built. I have seen Clark pumps destroyed within two years due to the damage from corroding NB fittings. These are after the prefilter and when this corrosion starts to flake off it gets into the cylinders and pistons plus a host of other moving parts inside the Clark pump and scores these parts thus losing compression and requiring a re-build of the pump. Crevice corrosion from SS fittings on the plastic parts of the Clark pump is again, rare. But when it does happen it is restricted to the particular part the SS fitting is threaded into. These parts are far less expensive to replace than a whole Clark pump re-build. End caps are about $70. A complete Clark pump rebuild due to internal scoring damage can easily get to be north of $1,000. The most expensive part on the Clark pump that could suffer SS crevice corrosion is the center block, a $500 part.

Though it's rare, we don't always see eye to eye on a few issues. I love all the folks out at Spectra, I know them all well, seen many come and go during my time. I have made many life long friends with many of them. They are always wanting to service their customers the best they can as do I.

So whose advice do you take? The factory advice or that old cantankerous guy on CF? Maybe to better help you in making that decision. The old cantankerous guy has installed over a thousand Spectras, has over 8,000 customer base, averages over a thousand service calls a year, fixes on average a Clark pump a week. Then ask my dear friends at Spectra how many boats they have ever stepped foot on. Just don't tell them I put you up to it.
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Old 12-08-2020, 20:36   #11
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tellie View Post
If Spectra says one thing and I say another...
I have carefully read just about every single post you've made on this forum, and have never found an indication of a hidden agenda. Anyone who devotes so much effort to helping others, for free, earns a lot of respect in my book. So, if there's a discrepancy, I know who I'll listen to.

Thanks for the thorough response!

My Clark pump had the NB fittings and I replaced them with SS, not because I thought they were bad, or I knew any of this at that time, but because I wanted flexible connections between the pump and the pressure vessel, for installation purposes, and that required JIC flare.
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Old 13-08-2020, 03:36   #12
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Re: Spectra 380C recommission questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frode View Post
I have carefully read just about every single post you've made on this forum, and have never found an indication of a hidden agenda. Anyone who devotes so much effort to helping others, for free, earns a lot of respect in my book. So, if there's a discrepancy, I know who I'll listen to.

Thanks for the thorough response!

My Clark pump had the NB fittings and I replaced them with SS, not because I thought they were bad, or I knew any of this at that time, but because I wanted flexible connections between the pump and the pressure vessel, for installation purposes, and that required JIC flare.



All SS fittings along with the flexible high pressure tubing like you have now is the best way to go.



Full disclosure/confession here. I suppose there is a hidden agenda in my posts. Most people, not all, here know I'm a distributor for Spectra. I learned long ago that in a business that is largely a word of mouth business, free advice is the best advertising you can get. Cruisers Forum has been more than gracious to me over the years in allowing me this platform to give this advice. It's been a wonderful experience here on CF. I've been able to meet many CF members personally on their boats, at the boat shows, and have talked to many on the phone. I got into this business on a whim when my wife said she would not step foot back on our boat without a watermaker. Long story short, after building my own watermakers (Have you seen the price on those commercial ones? My Lord!) I was invited to Spectra years ago to see what they had. 20 years later I'm still at it. We have been the largest Spectra distributor for many years straight. This is in no small part to due to Cruisers Forum. For that I will always be grateful beyond measure. Thanks again CF.
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