Boost pump blues

As a manufacturing engineer I became one with the machinery I designed and maintained. No, I wasn’t a cyborg. There were other names for me but we’ll not discuss that now. The constant noise of running machinery was something I became assaulted with every day. It became a familiar rhythm. If the beat or pitch or tone changed just a hair I would hear it. “Somethings wrong”. This also happens on the boat. Recently the boost pump for the watermaker changed its tune. Upon inspection we noticed a leak had developed around the pump. Further inspection showed water and rust marks around the base of the pump. Even further inspection (removal) showed the pump was on its last legs and barely functional as it was a complete rust ball inside. Son of a bitch Jabsco!

This Jabsco Par-Max4 pump is not even 6 months old. I had to service this pump once before for an electrical problem. Now when I look at it I see the diaphragm is too short in one corner, an obvious defect and that’s where it leaked salt water. This really pissed me off because Jabsco has had shitty quality for a long time and now they’ve been purchased by another company yet they still screw up over with shoddy workmanship and inspection. I really have zero respect for the management of this firm.

So being completely pissed off I took it out on the pumps supplier, the dude who sold us the watermaker. This wasn’t really the best way to vent but you know the most time I spend on maintenance on this boat is on the watermaker. We bought this pump from him and it has failed twice. Our initial start up of the system gave us a leaking membrane housing and we ran a season at half capacity in the Bahamas. The original boost pump (Jabsco) was a different style which also leaked but just could not keep up with the high pressure pump and caused the whole system to vibrate like crazy. So, add it all up and I vented. Now even though I was pissed off I still like the service and the product. We’ve been out here for four years and making water every three days except for time on the hard and the only problem has been the boost pump because it’s made by Jabsco. So, maybe I was a little harsh because the pump was under warranty and they would just send me a new one.

The kicker on the warranty is YOU have to pay for shipping. Well, in order for the warranty to be worth anything you have to be in the USA or Mexico. Shipping to anywhere in the windward Islands will cost you more than the pump is worth depending on who you ship with and customs plus travel expenses so if you have one on the shelf at the local shop you buy it. That’s what I did, but I also had the warranty replacement shipped to my daughters house in the States so that I can bring it back with me. Ha! Now I will have a spare.

Would I buy the watermaker again if we changed boats? Yes. Overall it’s a good system and it suits our needs. Every three days we run it for an hour and get 30 gallons of fresh water. Not bad. We would not be out here without it. My water schlepping days are over and if it ever fails completely for any length of time Deb said she’s flying home until it’s fixed. No, I’m not going to pretend it’s broken 😀

So here we are, fully functional again and floating around for days on end in various anchorages on various islands. Unlike other bloggers we don’t post about what cool stuff we’re doing everyday because we’re not doing cool stuff every day. Some days we just lay around and read books, go to happy hours, play guitar or work on watermakers.


Yes, I already know to mount the pumps vertical with the motor on top. Space, I need more space!


2 thoughts on “Boost pump blues

  1. Jabsco…setting the low bar for quality control in the marine industry. Maybe that will be the new advertising meme for all thing nautical, “At least we are better than Jabsco.”


  2. That same diaphragm has given us problems in our bilge pump. It seems to be affected by petroleum products and enlarges and distorts, which causes the pump to stop pumping. Now, I know we aren't supposed to have anything but pure, clean seawater in our bilge, but that's not our reality since we have a hydraulic ram to operate the centerboard, and diesel fuel filters that need occasional maintenance. We've taken to keeping a spare diaphragm handy to change out when the old one gets sloppy. After a few days on the counter it shrinks down again and becomes the spare.


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