Making water!

The new water make is almost installed!  It has been lot of work getting all the components arranged around the boat in the most efficient manner, but I think I have a good solution.  It did require me to move the old refrigeration system on the boat though.  When I installed my current refrigeration system, an Adler Barbour Super Cold Machine, I mounted the compressor on the bulkhead just aft of the propane locker on my Pretorien 35.  This was a good spot since this device requires basically no routine maintenance and that area is quite large, but hard to gain access to.Sadly, this is also was the spot that I wanted to mount the Spectra’s Clark pump and RO Membrane.  This is really only half of the entire system, but by far the largest single component, measuring about 12″x12″x28″.  The other spot I had in mind was just below propane on the bulkhead that is the back wall of the aft cabin.  Sadly because of the hull form, this spot is only about 20″ wide.  So I ended up moving the refrigeration to this spot, since it is only about 12″x12″x12″ and luckily since it was close enough I didn’t even have to move any of the electrical or the refrigerant lines going to the evaporator.

Super Cold Machine and Spectra Clark Pump/Membrane housingAs you can see, I added a piece of marine ply to the back of the propane locker and then sealed off where the propane hoses and a few cables escape from the locker.  I had to do this because the pump mount itself was larger than the locker, so I had to affix this to the locker, and then attach the pump to the board.

In this picture, you can see the new home of the refrigeration system below the propane locker, the water maker parts in the center, and also the antenna tuner for the SSB as well as the exhaust for the Webasto heater I have installed, as well as the drain for the propane locker.   All in all, I am pretty happy with use of space on the boat.  Wauquiez and/or Holman and Pye were pretty good at giving us access to all the various nooks and crannys of the boat for storage with the exception of this one area.  The only thing in this area that I would ever have to get at outside of equipment failure is the small rotary valve on the top of the Clark Pump, which is black box in the top middle, and that is only when preparing the system for storage or using it after it has been stored.  Note:  I am going to install and  plastic shield made of some thin UHMW polyethylene underneath the water maker equipment to divert any possible leaks into the bilge and not onto the refrigeration system or the heater which is out of frame.

The other half of the system is installed underneath the galley sink.  This is part that you need to have access to for regular use.

Spectra Feed Pump, filters, and plumbing As you see, there is a ton of stuff going on here.  Piko has both hot and cold, pressure and non pressure water on her, coming from the two factory tanks.  Not everything has all of the above, as hot water only is on the pressure side, but there is both pressure and manually pumped fresh water in both the galley and in the head, as well as a manual salt water pump in the galley for dishes.  I really had the boat setup for not needing a water maker and I wanted to keep all of this since we will not be using the pressure water basically at all while making passage.  In the middle of the photo you can see my water manifold.  The bottom two 1/4″ valves control whether the port and starboard tank is feeding the system, and the top valve was designed for a third tank, which we are not plumbing and had been usurped for the fresh water intake for the water makers fresh water flush after use.  You can also see the freshwater pump in the bottom left, as well as the charcoal filter we have on the cold water in the galley for drinking.  The large filter you see is the 5 micron filter on the seawater side of the clark pump.  This is the primary filter we will have to be changing while using them system.Spectra feed pump, accumulator, raw water strainer

Here you can see feed pump on the right, the dedicated charcoal filter for the fresh water flush on the left, the raw water strainer, accumulator and the through hull on the bottom.

Chlorine kills RO membranes, and since there is chlorine in some residential water, and some people use it to clean their tanks, it is really important that you use good filter here so you are not accidentally killing your membrane when you are flushing it in an attempt to keep it healthy!

You can also see the installed two way valve that is not connected to anything, which is what you use to test the water each time you start the machine up before you connect the product water output to your tank.  Sadly, I ordered the tubing and fittings I need to connect the product water from the back of the boat to here, and although I received a delivery confirmation from UPS, there was no box on the porch, so now I am going through the claims process with UPS.

Even without that though, I was able to connect the pressure gauge to the few inches of tubing I had coming out of the accumulator, and fire up the unit.

Luckily, everything worked!  For buying a system, sight unseen from across the country, especially one that the previous owner openly declared he didn’t know much about and that it was not decommissioned before he removed it from his boat, I was happy it even turned on!  I immediately saw a few drips here and there and tightened various hose clamps, and then the pressure started to raise.  I then heard the usual ‘thump’ that a clark pump makes.

Most water makers use a very high pressure pump that takes seawater and brings it up to the ~800-1000 psi that is needed to push the water through the membrane.  The spectra takes a different and more energy efficient approach by using a more standard pump, albeit on steroids to take the seawater up to about 65-80 psi, and then it runs it through something called a hydraulic intensifier which ‘amplifies’ this pressure to the same range that is required for membrane to work.  You can see a cool little diagram of how this works stolen from their site.

Clark pump diagramThe one leak I have not been able to fix is at one of the high pressure hoses connecting the clark pump to membrane housing, which I am getting from spectra, but out side of that, my system is running at about 65 psi on the feed water side which is right at spec, and the clark pump is switching every 5 seconds, and the best part yet, I am getting fresh water out of the system!  I have a small portable TDS meter, which measures total dissolved solids (hence the TDS) and I am getting water at around 100 parts/million, which is really good!  Usually when a membrane was not stored properly before shutdown, it gets damaged and I was pretty sure at a minimum I was going to have to replace it.  Guess I was just lucky!  We will still be testing it more once it is fully installed before I get my comfort level up.  I still have to install the gauges, which be on the little shelf about the galley cabinets.

I also want to give a special thanks to J.T. Halden at Halden Marine Services (954) 515-7077, who is  a Spectra rep in Florida.  He answered a question I posted on the cruisers forum website, and while being on the opposite side of the country, has spent a good amount of time answering questions and just being really helpful getting this installed.  He even offered to take a look at the unit in florida before I bought it!  So if you happen to be in that neck of the woods, I cannot recommend him highly enough!

Categories: Geeky and Techy, S/V Piko, Trip Preparation, Upgraded Systems | Tags: | Leave a comment

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