Marsolve: Marine Descaler


An old product is being introduced to a new market. Marsolve has been used for years to treat and clean steam boilers and other water cooled or operated equipment in land-based industry. It has now ventured out into the marine market, with claims that it will dissolve deposits of water scale, lime and rust.

Marsolve is an aqueous organic salt solution. It is a biodegradable, non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable solvent when used within its operating limits. And for those with environmental concerns, there is no waste disposal problem-its biodegradable in any concentration and can be flushed down regular sewer systems.

As for health considerations, there are no special ventilation or respiratory requirements during use, but eye protection and gloves are recommended. (Eye or skin contact requires rinsing with copious amounts of water.)

Marsolve can be used, without negative reaction, with most metals that are found in heat exchange water systems. The exceptions are aluminum, magnesium, and some alloys of stainless steel. For these metals, don’t use concentrated solutions of Marsolve. Instead, use a 2:1 solution of water and Marsolve for a short period. A concentrated solution will dissolve about 2 lbs. of calcium carbonate scale per gallon while at 70F. Marsolve has an operating range of from 0F to 180F, but its best used between 70-80.

Most cleaning jobs can be accomplished in two hours or less. Flushing the part or system thoroughly with freshwater finishes the job.

Marsolve costs $24.95 per gallon and is available from its sole distributor, Robert Louis Associates, in 1-, 5-, 30-, and 55-gallon non-returnable containers. Shelf life is about five years.

We decided to test Marsolve on an old Chris Craft oil cooler that used sea water to cool the engines lubricating oil supply. The coolers internals were encrusted with scale. We circulated a 100% solution of Marsolve through the cooler for about 30 minutes. When we inspected the oil cooler we found that all the scale deposits were removed and the walls of the unit were cleaned right to the copper.

(Marsolve International, 11912 Spaulding School Rd., Plainfield, IL 60544; 773/665-7680.)

Gator Socket Wrench
Anyone who watches late night TV has seen those ads for tools that promise to replace all the tools in the tool box. Well, thats almost what the press release for the Gator Grip says. To quote the claims, the Gator Grip replaces both metric and standard sockets and wrenches, eliminates the need for pliers and adjustable wrenches, and grabs and turns nuts and bolts in both metric and SAE dimensions.

Well, the bottom line is that it wont replace all these tools. Youll still need them for the jobs the Gator Grip can’t do. But the Gator is handy.

The Gator Grip has 54 spring-mounted steel pins that surround and grab onto the head of a bolt or nut that has a 1/4″ to a 3/4″ (7mm to 19mm) head. And yes, it will grab onto small wing nuts, eyebolts, etc., as long as they will fit into the socket, which has about a 7/8″ inside diameter. In fact, it will be able to grab onto anything that has an edge for the pins to lock onto.

One drawback of this tool is that even though it looks like its a deep socket, its not. It has a maximum depth of only 3/8″. Another drawback is that, though the packaging seems to claim it will hold up to 100 ft.-lbs. of torque, the pins started to bend and jam onto each other at about 45 ft.-lb. (we tried it with a torque wrench). Also, though we didnt test for it, the Gator Grip may not fare well if left in a saltwater environment. The tools literature states it is made of stainless steel, but we are not sure if that refers to both the socket and the 54 spring-mounted steel pins.

The Gator Grip also comes with a Power Adapter. This is a bit that fits into a power drill and has a 3/8″ drive on one end so the Gator Grip socket can be used with a power drill.

The Gator Grip socket retails for $19.95, including power adapter. The kit, which includes the Gator Grip socket, a 3/8″ drive ratchet, power adapter, plus a carrying pouch, retails for $29.95. (Endeavor Tool Company, 320 Soundview Rd., Guilford, CT 06437; 203/453-1947.)

Banish Bilge Odors
Nine years ago, we discussed in this column the device called an ozone generator. Although new at the time in this country, ozone generators have been used for years in Europe. Extremely effective at eliminating odors, the US-made Panda ozone machines have since found their way aboard many boats, from small fishing boats to both the Mayflower II and Queen Elizabeth II.

In the years since then, the Pandas manufacturer has introduced additional models, including both large (1,000 sq. ft., $399) and small (350 sq. ft., $190) 110V/12V versions as well as a 1,400 sq. ft., 110V model that sells for $400. The prices are those offered by marine discount catalogs.

Ozone generators may be controversial because extreme concentrations of ozone are said to be a respiratory irritant and some critics claim ozone may shorten somewhat the life of natural rubber. However, there is no question about their amazing ability to eliminate odors of any kind…and to prevent mold and mildew. We use Pandas both on the boat and at home. (Several years ago, we tried a very small, inexpensive ozone generator that plugged into a 12V cigarette lighter outlet. It seemed to have some effect in a car, but didnt seem to do much in larger areas.)

The newest Panda is called a Bilge Buster. Operating on either 110V or 12V, it is meant to be mounted on a bulkhead, overhead, in a locker or an engine room (its Coast Guard-approved ignition-protected). Its maintenance-free, self-cleaning, has no moving parts to wear out and has an LED power-on indicator. If run continuously, it will lay in the bilge a blanket of ozone, which is heavier than air, and preclude odors from rising into the cabin. Obviously, it should be located so that it doesn’t get immersed in bilge water, which may be difficult to do.

As explained by Quantums managing director, Henry W. Rossi: This new model, producing low-level ozone, will oxidize odors, exclude them from the boats living space and, because the ozone remains in the bilge, expose those aboard to neither an ozone odor nor any risk whatsoever.

The compact Bilge Buster comes in two sizes, both less than the size of a paperback book, and weighs a pound and a half. The 12V model for a 25′ boat draws 750 mA and lists for $235; the 35′ boat size draws 1,000 mA and is $345. (Quantum Electronics Corp., 205 Hallene Rd., Warwick, RI 02886, 800/966-5575.)

Cruising Coast & Islands
You may know the name of Tom Neale from the pages of Cruising World magazine, where Tom writes the monthly On Watch column. Because your editor here at Practical Sailor was the first writer of that column and so named it, we have more than a passing interest in Tom. He, his wife, Mel, and children all live aboard, Tom and Mel for 19 years. Mostly they ply up and down the East Coast and Bahamas. In recent summers, theyve dropped Chez Nous hook in Newport Harbor so Tom can make a physical appearance in the offices of Cruising World. These land forays usually don’t set too well with Tom as he gets a little antsy when off the boat more than about 30 minutes. Move ashore? Never! he cries. Not even for burial. Just roll me over the side!

Late last summer Tom and Mel coasted up to our Viva in their aluminum tender/workboat, and handed us a subscription form to their new publication, Cruising Coast and Islands. Its a six-times-a-year newsletter devoted to the Eastern Seaboard and Bahamas. His come-on immediately got our attention:

Not cruising to Antarctica? Not cruising around the Horn this summer? Want to read about your kind of cruising? This newsletter will come to you from a boat underway.

This isn’t about crossing oceans or being macho. It is about achievable cruising under sail and power along the East Coast and in the islands. What you read wont be filtered through land-locked offices. It will come from where its happening. It will tell it like it is. It will be fun. And it will be for you.

We have the first issue in hand. It includes a look at obscene appendages that choke the afterdecks of todays cruisers (radar arches, wind generators, outboard motors, solar panels, grills, etc.), a guide to the Berry Islands of the Bahamas, where and when to jump outside the ICW by Intracoastal Waterway Chartbook author John Kettlewell, a recipe page that reveals the secrets of Key Lime pie, and the latest poop on anchoring regulations in various communities.

If Toms mating call resonates with your lust to wander, give Cruising Coast and Islands a try.

Cost of a subscription is $19.95. (Cruising Coast and Islands, PO Box 161, Gwynn, VA 23066; 877/277-4628.)

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on sailboats and sailing gear for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising. Its independent tests are carried out by experienced sailors and marine industry professionals dedicated to providing objective evaluation and reporting about boats, gear, and the skills required to cross oceans. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser who has been director of Belvoir Media Group's marine division since 2005. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license, has logged tens of thousands of miles in three oceans, and has skippered everything from pilot boats to day charter cats. His weekly blog Inside Practical Sailor offers an inside look at current research and gear tests at Practical Sailor, while his award-winning column,"Rhumb Lines," tracks boating trends and reflects upon the sailing life. He sails a Sparkman & Stephens-designed Yankee 30 out of St. Petersburg, Florida.


  1. Hello,
    Great article on how to descale a heat exchanger using Marsolve. I tried to find some. It appears that the company may be out of business. Is there a substitute descaler that works well?
    thanks Kent riedling


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here