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  • Ballast Solenoid Upgrade - Distribution

    • Year: 2007 Brand: Centurion Model / Trim: Lightning C-4 Cost: $0-$249 Ballast Modifications: Other DIY or Professional Install: I installed it

    I purchased a used 2007 Centurion Lightning C4 two years ago, my first V-Drive, and was quite excited to get out surfing behind it utilizing a much better layout and increased ballast capacity than my previous Svfara 609 Direct Drive.   I'm not an overly mechanical guy, but have been inspired and informed by the great community here on Wake Garage to learn and try repairs and upgrades.  Thanks to everyone who has posted on here and shared what they've learned!  I'm happy to help contribute to the community with my recent upgrade project. 

    I first upgraded the ballast capacity by switching out the stock tanks to 500lb ballast bags and then built a suck-gate based on the directions posted here on Wake Garage.  However I found that the factory ballast solenoids were not operating as intended - I had leakage when I turned on any of the system and couldn't control where the water went.  As a result, filling took 3 times longer because I ended up filling up all of the ballast system and then having to pump out zones I hadn't intended on filling.   It was frustrating and a pain.     I wanted to upgrade the system, but didn't have the cash or interest to do a full upgrade by removing the solenoids and adding two additional reversible pumps. I was surprised to see that there weren't a lot of posted projects posted to inspire an affordable solution.  As such, I'm happy to provide this project outline and inspiration for those in a situation similar to me. 

    Shown here were the original solenoids removed with a 1" intake and a 3/4" output - these are similar to what you'd use in your backyard irrigation system.   I think that the water pressure from previously upgraded Jabsco pump was too much for these and as a result forced water through even when it wasn't energized to be open.


    Removing the solenoids was pretty straight forward, but I did determine that I had to first remove the inline filter and then remove them one by one based on the space.  I also marked the electrical connection and corresponding hose using zip ties to keep track of things.  If I was doing it again, I'd probably remove the 90 joint off the solenoid first. to make it easier to then remove the solenoid.  


    A friend of mine suggested I look at using a 12v Normally Closed 3/4" Solenoids which I sourced off of Amazon.ca for $35 each.   These have a brass gate that remains closed unless energized and is designed to be used for a number of water, air, and gas applications.   I figured they'd be ideal for my needs and if they only last a few seasons due to the price, they were affordable enough to replace in the future.


    Installation was quite easy.   I picked up some 1" to 3/4" PVC connections as well as 3/4"  threaded to hose connection along with some Teflon tape ($19) at my local irrigation store.  As it turns out there's not specific polarity needs for these so it was easy to connect to the existing wiring using some 16g crimp connections. 


    I screwed the solenoids back in and wired them back to the existing wiring.   Everything went in pretty smoothly, but I did find getting the hoses to connect was a bit of a challenge as these solenoids were a bit smaller than the originals and as a result the hoses were just barely long enough.  


    All in all it was a pretty easy project and I'm glad to say that it now controls the water direction as expected.  My test fill times for each bag have improved as I have better direct flow rates now.  I'm hoping to get out on the water this week for the first surf of the season and see how it all works. 


    Total Materials:

    3 - 12v Normal Closed Solenoids from Amazon.ca for $35 each

    6 - misc. PVC connections from local sprinkler store for $19

    6 - 16 gauge crimp connectors  (existing home inventory)

    6 - coloured zip ties (existing home inventory)

    Tools Required:

    - Wire striping tool (14 to 24AWG)

    - Wire snipers

    - Plumbers pliers (didn't end up needing them to loosen the original solenoids)

    Total Project Time:

    45 minutes for a still learning boat guy!


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