SpeedsealLife Kit Test Update

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SpeedsealLife Kit Test Update

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In the Practical Sailor August 2010 issue’s Chandlery, we reported on the installation of a SpeedsealLife kit aboard one of our test boats, a Union 36 sloop powered by a 43-horsepower Beta Marine inboard. An improvement on the original Speedseal (PS, July 15, 2005), the SpeedsealLife is designed to extend the life of a water pump impeller, even in a run-dry situation.

The SpeedsealLife provides the rapid impeller access made famous by the original Speedseal, but it also incorporates a Teflon (PTEF) washer between the pump cover plate and a rotating brass disk that rotates with the pump impeller. In a typical water-cooled inboard engine, the seawater pump’s nitrile or neoprene impeller rubs against a stationary brass plate (the pump housing cover) and is lubricated by the water being pumped to cool the engine. In a run-dry situation, no lubrication means the impeller will be destroyed fairly quickly (2½ minutes on average) long before the engine overtemp alarm will sound.

We installed and began testing the SpeedsealLife in June 2010 and pulled it while winterizing our Chesapeake-based test boat this past winter. After two sailing seasons and 73 hours of engine use, there was no noticeable wear on the Teflon washer or the brass disc.

We then shipped both the washer and disc to the manufacturer for evaluation. The company concurred with our observations but recommended replacing both the disc and the washer every two years—a cost of $18—just to be on the safe side, so we heeded their advice.

SpeedsealLife kits—available for engines and generators, including Yanmar, Volvo, Johnson, and Beta, and Jabsco pumps—cost about $100, including shipping. Upgrade kits are also available for original Speedseal owners. According to the manufacturer, the kits come with the guarantee that any unsatisfied buyer will be given a full refund upon request.

Bottom line: The SpeedsealLife kit was easy to install and has held up well to two seasons of use. We recommend it for those looking for added engine protection.

Practical Sailor has been independently testing and reporting on marine products for serious sailors for more than 45 years. Supported entirely by subscribers, Practical Sailor accepts no advertising or any form of compensation from manufacturers whose products we test. Testing is carried out by a team of experts from a wide range of fields including marine electronics, marine safety, marine surveying, sailboat rigging, sailmaking, engineering, ocean sailing, sailboat racing, and sailboat construction and design. This diversity of expertise allows us to carry out in-depth, objective evaluation of virtually every product available to serious sailors. Practical Sailor is edited by Darrell Nicholson, a long-time liveaboard sailor and trans-Pacific cruiser with more than three decades of experience as a marine writer, photographer, boat captain, and product tester. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.

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