Chandlery December 2007 Issue

Bringing Back the Chill

Port-O-Flush makes routine flushing easy.

In May of this year, we reported on a product called Barnacle Buster from Trac Ecological. Although the product’s principal purpose is to combat marine growth and mineral deposits in cooling systems, it is also billed as an eco-friendly hull cleaner that will safely remove barnacles. At that time, we tested only its ability to remove hull barnacles. It was not as potent as other products we’ve tried, but effective and more pleasant to work with.

Port-O-Flush Jr.
The Port-O-Flush Jr., complete with hoses and adapters, packs into its 5-gallon bucket with lid.

Recently, we tested a companion product from Trac Ecological, the Port-O-Flush Junior. This portable flushing kit features a 120-volt impellor-type pump mounted at the bottom of a 5-gallon bucket that is fitted with both inlet and outlet valves. The pump draws approximately 1 amp and has a maximum flow rate of 5 gallons per minute. It comes with two 10-foot-long, 5/8-inch nylon-reinforced hoses with fittings and two pairs NPT nylon male adapters (½-inch and ¾-inch thread).

Barnacle Buster is suitable for flushing all onboard water-cooled machinery, including diesel engines, refrigerators, and air conditioners. Trac Ecological also sells a descaler that can be used to de-scale black water, marine toilet, and other freshwater plumbing systems.

We tested the product on the Cruise-Air air conditioning system of a 45-foot charter powerboat run by Captain Rick Beriault (www.neverbetteryachting.com), who is also an avid sailor. Beriault said he has to flush the raw-water circuit frequently to keep it operating efficiently, a common complaint in warm waters such as Florida.

 

Installation

For flushing, the Port-O-Flush’s inlet and outlet ports are plumbed with the inlet and outlet of the cooling circuit, so that the cleaning solution is repeatedly cycled through the circuit. Beriault’s AC circuit has a male NPT-thread flush port on the inlet side, so hooking up that side was easy. A longer, reinforced garden hose, hose clamps, and a nylon male-to-male garden hose adapter (all purchased at a local hardware store) were used to plumb into the cooling circuit’s outlet hose, which was removed from its seacock.

Buster Concentrate
The Buster Concentrate (far left) can be mixed to regulate strength.

Testers poured the recommend concentration of Barnacle Buster Concentrate into the 5-gallon bucket and then circulated the solution for three hours as recommended. Flow had obviously improved after flushing, and some shell growth did collect in the bottom of the bucket. It was impossible to tell how much growth was dissolved, but the solution has already proven effective at dissolving calcium carbonate in our hull test. We will continue to use the product for routine flushing of Beriault’s boat and

Practical Sailor’s test boats, and monitor its effectiveness.

Bottom Line:

Anyone who is somewhat handy could build their own flushing system like the Port-0-Flush Junior, likely for less money. Trac has simply done the job for us. The company has excellent technical support, and its website features clear instructions for flushing a wide range of onboard machinery. We did not test the company’s eco-friendly claims, but Trac has been involved in large EPA-approved commercial projects that required direct flushing into the marine environment. It is important to follow the directions. Improper use of even "harmless" cleaners in machine cooling circuits can cause serious harm. Barnacle Buster will dissolve zincs, so those need to be removed prior to flushing. The Concentrate costs $75 per gallon and the Port-O-Flush costs $358; both are available at www.trac-online.com.

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