Re: Raw Water Manifold Failure - A54

Ben and Gayle Super Maramu #347

I had same issue on my SM.  I sprung a leak while sailing - a small but persistent pin hole leak in manifold base between nipples.  I applied old standby - JB Weld - as temporary fix. When I arrived at Martinique, I had new one fabricated from stainless steel.  A local machine shop copied the original.  Several other SM owners did same. Boat was 14 years old at that time.  

Ben Driver
Formerly SM 347

On Aug 27, 2020, at 5:54 AM, Jamie Wendell <mysticshadow54@...> wrote:

I want to report a serious issue regarding the raw-water manifold that feeds the refrigerator, anchor wash, AC, and watermaker pumps on my A54. As I was servicing the sea chest strainer and cleaning out the clogged hoses, the nipple connection feeding the refrigerator pump broke off from the manifold. It actually appears to have been cracked already and was essentially sucking in some air with the cooling water. You can tell that when you hear a slight gurgling sound at the discharge thru-hull - initially I thought it was a pump problem related to insufficient cooling water through the main system strainer. Luckily I was on board at the time - if not, seawater may have poured into the engine room relying on only the automatic bilge pump to keep the water out. If the water ingress had been more than the bilge pump could discharge, the boat might have sunk (a very scary thought!).

I removed the manifold - no easy task, as it is buried behind the hoses, wires, and the cockpit scupper. The manifold appears to be made of bronze, but there was some external corrosion evident at the joint between the refrigerator connection and the main manifold tubing. It is likely that the corrosion is far worse inside the manifold, and that is hard to see when there is a lot of muck building up in the tubing. Very probably, the other nipples have similar corrosion issues inside.

So, I am now in the process of trying to replace the seawater manifold. I have 2 options: the first is to replace in kind, either custom built in a local fab shop or ordered through Amel; the second is to build one out of bronze fittings, pipe, and hose sections. I am not sure if any local shops can work with bronze, but I am investigating that possibility first. I am certain that Amel had these things built specifically for the A54 and maybe the SM or even the A55 - I am not sure if it is common to all models, but I question whether Amel could still source a replacement. The advantage to an in-kind replacement is that it would be a drop-in and also be smaller and lighter. The advantage to a manifold built from fittings is that I can install shut-off valves for each feed circuit, allowing me to isolate if there is a problem with one of the systems and retain the other systems in operation while I service the failed system. I like that concept the best, as many times I have to work on one of the feeders, while having to shut down everything to do it via the main in-line valve. By the way, that valve also looks suspect to me and I will be replacing it.

So, I am passing on my experience to the group as a reminder to check this manifold on a periodic basis. It is hard to see internal corrosion, but it is clear that even bronze will eventually fail. Phantom is now 13 years old, so maybe I was due for replacement. Has anyone else had this failure, and if so, what was your best solution to replace? Has anyone attempted to source from Amel?

Jamie Wendell
Phantom, A54 #44

Join to automatically receive all group messages.