Sunday, December 23, 2012

Water Maker Rebuild


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When we bought Discovery it had a water maker that was constructed out of Village Marine (VM) parts. It's what they sell as a 'bare bones' system. They sell you all the parts in a box and you install it to fit in your boat as opposed to a system that comes all assembled in a frame and you just connect the water, electricity, and control panel and off you go. It's the difference between having a water maker 'appliance' , the pre-assembled unit, and having a piece of equipment that takes a little more work. We like our water maker, it has provided us with 6 years of good service producing over 30 gallons of water per hour and Linda has learned to keep it humming along for all that time, but it has been showing it's age. We have rebuilt the high pressure pump, replaced some valves, and tried to chase and fix leaks as they occur but water production is falling, the membranes are getting old and need replacement.

VM membranes are 38" long in 40" vessels (the tubes holding the membranes) and VM wants $500 each (we have 2) to purchase new membranes. The end caps are made of some sort of plastic and are cracking where the fittings screw into the caps. Screwing brass high pressure fittings into plastic just isn't going to last too long and I don't know why they do that. So now that it's time to replace the membranes we decided to replace the vessels also with ones with metal end caps and to use industry standard 40" membranes, not the VM 38" shorties.  Plus you can get the standard 40" membranes made by DOW for $187 each, not $500 that VM charges for their 38" models.

We looked around and decided to buy all the parts from Cruise RO Water and Power. Rich and Charlie use industry standard parts, know what they’re doing, and don't try to rip you off on the price. We got the parts from Charlie in Escondido and put them in ourselves. The new membranes fit exactly where the old ones were and with the new vessel, metal end caps, and two new hoses there are no leaks! A first for our system. And with the true 40" membranes we're getting 40 gallons per hour water production.  An increase of 8 gallons per hour over the old system.

Village Marine seems to be like many high end marine suppliers. They take what should be industry standard parts and systems and customize them not to improve them but to lock you into buying their overpriced parts and service. A water maker is actually a simple system and can be made with widely available parts. There is no need to buy a non industry standard system. If you are a weekend warrior with deep pockets and don't care to learn how to assemble and maintain your boat systems then go ahead and buy a high priced system and when something goes wrong pick up the phone and call the supplier for service. If you are a serious cruiser on a budget, spend some time learning your systems and buy simple items that you can service and get parts for anywhere.

Just because we own a Nordhavn doesn't mean we own a bank.

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