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Old 07-01-2024, 07:51   #1
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Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

I am cruising in Mexico with a 1-year-old Spectra 200C. Output dropped and I diagnosed asymmetrical pressures, indicating an issue with the annular rings. I took the front block apart and sure enough there were scratches (mainly on one ring) and crud embedded in the spool valve. I ordered new rings and a new spool valve from the nearest Spectra dealer and they will take 1 week to arrive.

At the time I thought I must have let some crud into the system during a filter change. However, now that I research more, I realize the crud is corrosion from the nickel bronze fittings, and the one fitting I saw (brine inlet to the front block) did indeed look very corroded inside.

Does anybody know -- am I going to have the same issue quickly pop up again due to the corrosion in my fittings? Is there a recommended way to clean inside the fittings? (Soak in vinegar or something like that?) I am trying to leave to go offshore and I need to be able to trust my watermaker.

Sounds like some people switch to stainless fittings, but Spectra has a reason for not using them... anyway they are likely not available at my current location and shipping would be slow and expensive.
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Old 09-01-2024, 11:18   #2
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

If anybody else reads this in the future, I contacted Spectra tech support and they recommended cleaning my bronze fittings and replacing them (with bronze) if they seem very bad. They did admit that they are switching back to stainless, but they were unwilling to send me stainless fittings, either free or for charge, I am not sure why. He offered to sell me new bronze fittings. (At substantially higher price than Tellie's stainless fittings...)

I then contacted Halden Marine in Florida (Tellie) and was able to order a set of stainless fittings through a San Diego parcel forwarder to my current location cruising in Puerto Vallarta. Halden Marine advised that if I don't change to stainless, my new annular rings could be ruined quickly. I am hoping these new parts will give me the decade or so of trouble-free service I was expecting when I spent $$$ on my brand new Spectra, just over 1 year ago...!
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Old 09-01-2024, 12:05   #3
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

Quote:
They did admit that they are switching back to stainless
Wow, first I've heard of this, ABOUT TIME!!!
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Old 20-02-2024, 09:01   #4
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

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Originally Posted by themorb View Post
I am hoping these new parts will give me the decade or so of trouble-free service I was expecting
Well, it was not to be. Less than one month later my brand new annular rings are scored to the point of reducing pressure and output to less than half. Spectra is sending me new annular rings and spool for free this time, since I paid a month ago and the unit is still less than 1 year into full time service

The theory is that there was some gunk from the bronze fittings left over inside the membrane housing which worked its way out... Hopefully it is all gone this time.

If anybody has any other ideas please let me know because I am sick of taking this thing apart!!!
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Old 20-02-2024, 11:56   #5
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

I didn't re-read the whole thread, but make sure you have good + clean filtration on the inlet. On my system I use a 20 micron then a 5 micron canister filters. I can't hazard a guess at what the cause of your failure is, but easy to imagine it being either contaminated water, or lack of water (running dry (?)).
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Old 20-02-2024, 14:06   #6
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

If anyone's interested in custom Stainless annular rings, or other custom stainless parts. I know a very capable machinist in Canada who will ship anywhere you want them.

https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ra-278611.html

E-mail Eddie_Arsenault@yahoo.ca for more info. He built the ones I'm using. Spectra said they'd tried them before, but they use plastic to save on cost... Of course they do. The same reason they're using Bronze instead of Stainless...

My watermaker's been working well ever since I switched the fittings to Stainless, and cleaned out the membrane housing and clark pump of all the crap from the bronze, and installed the Stainless rings.

It's been two years since I had my issues. It was so bad, I had to change the rings every three months, and I had put the unit up for sale!

Cheers.
Paul.
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Old 20-02-2024, 19:09   #7
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

Thanks Paul, I will email to inquire about availability of stainless rings and see if I can get them shipped to my current location in Mexico before we depart for Hawaii.

How many times did you change your rings before you got the stainless ones made? I was thinking I must have missed some bronze crud the first time and hopefully a 2nd fix would be the last...

...which makes me wonder, if you flushed out your bronze crap multiple times and I am pretty sure I did a good flush myself -- what is causing the rings to wear?

Maybe we are using our watermaker too much: 3-5 hours per day, every day. But I checked the parts diagrams and Spectra's largest Newport 1000 has the exact same annular rings as our Ventura 200. So a larger unit would have the same volume of water flowing through, just at a higher velocity.

Next idea: we aren't flushing enough. But we have the electronic version which automatically flushes after every run (every day). Also, it sounds like some people don't bother flushing at all if they run their system every day.

The only other thing I can think of is silt in the water that is <5 microns and getting past the filters. I will admit we have occasionally run our watermaker in marinas and up long bays that do not have much tidal flush. But I found this when I was researching which watermaker to buy: http://www.thetwocaptains.com/engine...er_OpNotes.pdf and read the section about "no problems running a Spectra in a marina" so I haven't been concerned. And we do change our prefilters often.

Very frustrating as many people claim to have had no issues running Spectras for 5 or even 10 years. I am wondering if there has been a change of materials recently, in the rings or the bronze fittings.
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Old 21-02-2024, 04:40   #8
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

We changed our rings at least 3 times. It was a very frustrating time. Our best friends have a Spectra, from 2003, and have never had to open it up. They're using the same pumps and same membrane. They're only making water 4 months a year, but that's still a heck of a lot better than what we managed to get.

We do use our watermaker in "less than perfect" water, but are diligent about cleaning the filter after every use. But when we had to order new rings in the Bahamas, then again upon our return, I realized it's nothing to do with the incoming water.

I inspected my rings last month, and they're in "new" condition. I didn't remove the shuttle, which I suppose I should have to make a complete report. My intent was not to make a report, it was to fix an assymetry in production, which turned out to be a small piece of "something" partially blocking an orifice in the lower pump half.

It should be noted, I went so far as to replace my clark pump for a Spectra rebuilt one, the rebuilt one is different inside than the old one was, to my chagrin. I suppose it's an older style.

I really tried everything to stop that darn thing from burning out the rings. Once I replaced the pump, and used a pipe cleaner in the remaining stainless tubes, and replaced the membrane, and cleaned the housing very well; I installed the stainless fittings and rings, and it's all been good since then.

I haven't recommended Spectra since then. The customer service was moderately helpful, but denied there were any other incidences of bronze corrosion, and that I was the only one in the world that had this issue. Bollox.

Clean everything very well, all the pipes and the clark pump itself, and be sure to dump the bronze crap.

Cheers, and good luck.
Paul.
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Old 21-02-2024, 05:58   #9
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

2003 that is TWENTY YEARS!!! Somewhere I read a bulletin that Spectra used to use stainless fittings and switched because after "a few years" they could get crevice corrosion from water trapped in the threads, expand, and split the black plastic blocks. And the tech that I spoke to did admit that Spectra was "starting to switch back to stainless" but would not give me specifics.

I would be very curious to know which year they switched to bronze. And if your friends' 2003 unit has stainless fittings!
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Old 21-02-2024, 08:04   #10
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

I just checked with him. They are all stainless!
Paul.
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Old 21-02-2024, 08:18   #11
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

I just got off the phone with him, and his unit is a 2013. My apologies.

Cheers.
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Old 21-02-2024, 19:18   #12
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

Quote:
Originally Posted by themorb View Post
Thanks Paul, I will email to inquire about availability of stainless rings and see if I can get them shipped to my current location in Mexico before we depart for Hawaii.

How many times did you change your rings before you got the stainless ones made? I was thinking I must have missed some bronze crud the first time and hopefully a 2nd fix would be the last...

...which makes me wonder, if you flushed out your bronze crap multiple times and I am pretty sure I did a good flush myself -- what is causing the rings to wear?

Maybe we are using our watermaker too much: 3-5 hours per day, every day. But I checked the parts diagrams and Spectra's largest Newport 1000 has the exact same annular rings as our Ventura 200. So a larger unit would have the same volume of water flowing through, just at a higher velocity.

Next idea: we aren't flushing enough. But we have the electronic version which automatically flushes after every run (every day). Also, it sounds like some people don't bother flushing at all if they run their system every day.

The only other thing I can think of is silt in the water that is <5 microns and getting past the filters. I will admit we have occasionally run our watermaker in marinas and up long bays that do not have much tidal flush. But I found this when I was researching which watermaker to buy: http://www.thetwocaptains.com/engine...er_OpNotes.pdf and read the section about "no problems running a Spectra in a marina" so I haven't been concerned. And we do change our prefilters often.

Very frustrating as many people claim to have had no issues running Spectras for 5 or even 10 years. I am wondering if there has been a change of materials recently, in the rings or the bronze fittings.
We have similar experience with bronze fittings scoring the annular rings, also in the Sea of Cortez. We typically run the watermaker every 2 days and religiously did the 3 minute flush. 3rd season rebuilt the Clark pump, replaced all the bronze fittings with Spectra bronze fittings. On the flush, I did the recommended salinity test and the brine discharge drops to below 1000 after about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes; my 3 minute flush was plenty. The bronze fittings rot out a spew metal bits into the recirculating valve and the high-pressure chambers. We are on our 2nd year with the rebuild. I plan on replacing the bronze fittings with stainless.

Out of curiosity, what would the cost for the stainless annular ring from your machinist friend? I might be interested in this replacement too.

We have the same experience and Spectra is of no help - just spend big $$$ buying replacment parts.....

Don
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Old 22-02-2024, 03:17   #13
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

I've just talked to Eddie, and the Annular rings sell for $150 CAD, which at the moment is $112 USD.

Add shipping to that, of course.

Cheers.
Paul.
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Old 22-02-2024, 03:53   #14
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

They're a 50% premium over the plastic ones. Well worth it for a rugged unit.
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Old 26-02-2024, 16:34   #15
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Re: Spectra annular rings / nickel bronze fittings

My "free" rings and spool arrived from Spectra today. I took the membrane vessel apart and found a fair bit of sludge in there. I did not open the Clark pump itself but I ran fresh water through it for a few minutes and it runs clean.

It is back together and producing water, but the flow is low and the pressure is high: 6.5 GPH and 102 psi. It should be 8+ GPH and 80-90 psi. Not sure what is up with that... maybe the membrane is clogged up with sludge inside and I need one of those chemical cleaners?

I have ordered some stainless steel annular rings from GRIT's contact Eddie, and will keep them on hand as my next replacements... assuming these PEEK plastic rings wear out again......

I also happened to meet the user Frode in the marina here and admired his beautiful DIY/Spectra system with a VFD AC motor running a Procon pump, nearly silently, into a 10% Spectra Clark pump with stainless fittings and a generic 40" membrane producing 16 GPH. He says he runs it all the time in the marina with no problems. Maybe a bit of efficiency loss using his inverter and VFD to 3-phase motor but the silence was amazing compared to my Shurflo pump. And double the output!
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