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Old 03-21-2017, 12:51 PM   #1
whiplash willy
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Default DIY Spotless Water Filtration

I wanted to share details on a DIY Spotless Water system I built for my 2016 WRX. I am a hobbyist/enthusiast detailer. I have always been OCD about my car's finish, and keeping looking as good as possible, for as long as I can.

I have always had issues with water spots when washing my car. I don't have particularly hard water at my house, and always take precautions to not wash in direct sunlight, rinse well, and dry as soon as I can, however I always end up with water spots all over my car. After the water spot issues I had with my last new car, (2013 4runner) I decided to do some research and figure out how to keep my 2016 WRX Spot Free.

Initially I was looking into Sediment and Water Softner Filtration kits. They cost around $100, which is pricey, but it seemed doable. After digging deeper, it turns out, while these help, they still won't produce a spot free finish. Reducing sediment helps, but the softner just converts the calcium and magnesium in hard water into sodium. While this helps, there is still minerals in the water that will form water spots on your paint.

What I have found is the only real way to get a true spot free rinse, is to use De-ionized (or DI) water. The problem with this, is that it is typically too expensive to initially purchase a true DI system, and to maintain it. A DI filtration system uses cation and anion resins to remove ions from the water, and produce ZERO TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) water. 0 TDS water is 100% pure with nothing in it. It therefore can completely dry on your car in the sun, and leave nothing behind. It is the minerals and solids in water that leave behind water spots when water evaporates.


There is a company that produces a prosumer DI Filtration system specifically for washing/rinsing cars, that works very well, CR Spotless. However, it is incredibly expensive. The cheapest system is $300, and the most expensive is $450. That is not all, the replacement cartridges are $80 for the smaller systems and $135 for the larger systems! If money isn't an issue, then this is a great solution, however for most, it is very cost prohibitive.

After looking at the CR Spotless System, https://crspotless.com/ I figured I could build a similar, and just effective system, for a fraction of the price!

After breaking down the CR Spotless system, I found that it really is just two 10" or 20" filter housings, using refillable filter cartridges, with Mixed Bed DI Resin. The size of the system determines how many GPM you can produce of 0 TDS water. Water needs a certain amount of contact time with the DI resin to become 0 TDS water. The more resin you have in your filtration system, the more GPM of 0 TDS water you can produce. Using a dual 10"h x 4.5"w filtration system, can produce 2.0 GPM of 0 TDS water. Using a Dual 20"h x 4.5"w filtration system can produce 2.5 GPM of 0 TDS water. This is a limitation as most hose nozzles produce more then that. To get around this, you can use a reducer or a hose nozzle that restricts the flow. Personally, I use a 1.3gpm electric pressure washer, so I am able to use the smaller system, and since I am only using 1.3gpm, my resin lasts longer. How long the resin lasts really depends on how hard your water is, and what you restrict your output to.

To build the system (I will post part details and links in the next post) I used 2 Pentek Big Blue Filter Housings, linked in tandem. These are the best of the best filter housings. They also take the 4.5" wide filters, compared to the standard 2.5" filters, so they can be filled with more resin, and provide more contact time and GPM output. They are a little more expensive, but at about $30 each, it isn't too bad. I connected the housings with PVC adapters and brass Male and female hose fittings. I used refillable filter cartridges, and ended up filling them with Resintech MBD-30 Nuclear Grade Mixed Bed DI Resin. This is slightly different then the Resintech MAG-MB Mixed Bed DI Resin that CR Spotless uses, but basically performs the same function. It is more geared towards Aquarium DI water, but works the same. I with with the MBD-30 because it can be found on Amazon in a smallish amount (5lbs) for a reasonable price ($40). I am only able to find the MAG-MB resin in quantity of 1 cubic feet for $280.

I also put in an inline TDS Monitor, same as CR Spotless uses, with probes before and after the filters, so I can see the incoming, and outgoing water quality.

Here is a picture of my setup. It is ugly but very effective.




While I did spend more money on this then I should have, buying different connectors/adapters that ultimately didn't work out, knowing what I know now, I could put together this system for $150, including the first batch of resin. So for less then $175 for the setup, and $40 to refill the resin, this system is very doable, especially when compared to the $299 setup and $80 refill cost of the CR Spotless system. I could have made it even cheaper if I didn't include the TDS Monitor!
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Last edited by whiplash willy; 04-04-2018 at 11:19 AM.
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Old 03-21-2017, 01:00 PM   #2
whiplash willy
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Using CR Spotless as a reference to build/use/maintain the system is a great resource.

FAQ:
https://crspotless.com/spotless-water-faqs/

Instruction Manual:
https://crspotless.com/library/CRSpo...structions.pdf

here is the nozzle the CS Spotless includes with the system:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

They say you need to use it on the fan setting to keep the GPM low enough for the system to continuously put out DI water. One thing I learned is that the reason you want to have more, or bigger filters with DI resin, isn't so you don't have to change the resin as often. It is because the water needs a certain amount of contact time to become 0 TDS. The more and/or larger filters you have, the more contact time your water will have with the DI Resin, which means you will be able to produce a higher GPM flow, the more resin your system has. I use this setup with a 1.3 GPM Karcher electric Pressure washer, and have had no issues continuously producing 0 TDS water. Those who need a higher GPM rate, can use the 20" Housings, but they may become hard to deal with (heavy). If you wanted to put a sediment filter ahead of this system, it may help extend the life of your DI Resin, because cleaner water won't exhaust the resin as quickly. It isn't necessary though.

*Prices may have changed since I put this list together*

2x Pentek 150469 3/4" #10 Big Blue Filter Housing
$31.26 ea
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2x Filter Housing Bracket for Big Blue Housings
$12.62 ea
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

HM Digital DM-1 In-Line Dual TDS Monitor
$31.74
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2x 10" x 4.5" Refillable Water Filter Cartridge
$8.14 ea
https://www.freshwatersystems.com/p-...cartridge.aspx

Resintech MBD-30 Nuclear Grade Mixed Bed DI Resin, 5LB
$48.90
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

*Note This type of resin can also be used for DI car washes, but what CS Spotless uses is MAG MB Resin. Also, 5lbs was enough to completely fill 1 filter cartridge, and 90% of the other. I have used my system filled like this several times, and it produces 0 TDS water no problem.
https://www.resintech.com/products/i...ixed-bed/magmb

Fittings

*Note: For the fittings to connect the 2 filter housings, I used the NPT to PVC adapters, and connected them with PVC pipe & PVC Glue. This way, I could thread the fittings into the housings all the way, then connect the housings and adjust them so they lined up

*Note: For the inlet and outlet piping/fittings, I used the NPT to PVC Adapters to thread into the filter housings, then connected them to the 3/4 in. x 3/4 in. x 1/2 in Tees with PVC Pipe. I then used PCV Pipe to connect the PVC to NPT Female PVC Fittings, which the Brass hose adapters connect to. For the TDS Probes, I use a NPT Male to 1/8 NPT Female Hex bushing, to screw into the PVC Tee, and connect the John Guest to 1/8 NPT Male fitting into that, for the TDS Probe. I used Teflon tape on all threaded connections.

Dixon BA776 Brass Fitting, Adapter, 3/4" GHT Male x 3/4" NPTF Male
$4.28
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Dixon 504-1212 Brass Fitting, Adapter, GHT Female Swivel x 3/4" NPTF Male
$8.79
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

2x John Guest Male Connector NPTF Polypro - 1/4 x 1/8 NPTF
$0.96 ea
https://www.freshwatersystems.com/p-...x-18-nptf.aspx

2x 3/4 in. Schedule 40 PVC Female Adapter
$.50 ea
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DURA-3-4-...atalogId=10053

3/4 in. x 10 ft. PVC Schedule 40 Plain-End Pipe
$2.86
http://www.homedepot.com/p/JM-eagle-...atalogId=10053

4x 3/4 in. Schedule 40 PVC Male Adapter
$0.37 ea
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DURA-3-4-...atalogId=10053

2x 3/4 in. x 3/4 in. x 1/2 in. Schedule 40 PVC Reducing Tee
$0.98 ea
http://www.homedepot.com/p/DURA-3-4-...atalogId=10053

2x 1/2 in. x 1/8 in. Lead-Free Brass MIP x FIP Hex Bushing
$4.18 ea
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Sioux-Chi...atalogId=10053

I'll post a review shortly.
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Old 03-23-2017, 02:18 PM   #3
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Very good write up - thank you. I ended up picking up a CR system at Costco with two 20" canisters for $250 so I'm happy about that, but would have built my own like you did if the costco deal didn't pop up for me.

If you want to go even further and recharge the resin yourself, check out this good article (like you found, it is geared to aquarium audience, but same stuff/process): http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/20...nftt/index.php

Thanks again for your post!
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Old 03-23-2017, 03:06 PM   #4
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Lucky ColdSoda, I'm looking right now and its $430
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Old 03-23-2017, 03:21 PM   #5
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excellent write up! I tried the (2) inline filters of sediment and softener with terrible results. It cost me around $100 to build. For the extra $70 with an electric monitor to know when to change the filters, I think, is key. Like most water softener/purification products, the initial purchase price is not the issue, its the maintenance cost of the filters. So again, great job on keeping those costs down too. If my TDS was not the horrific 450-550 ppm, and I didn't have to go through filters every 3 weeks, I would try this.

For myself, I have switched over to rinseless washing. I can buy 2 gallons of DI water at any grocery store/Target for $2. 2 gallons of waterless washing gets me 6 washes (3 weeks) for a large van and the Subaru.
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Old 03-23-2017, 06:48 PM   #6
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Thank you for this writeup!
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnite8 View Post
Lucky ColdSoda, I'm looking right now and its $430
I know it was lucky.. the store isn't giong to carry them anymore so they were at clearance pricing... I got the second to last one and a fellow enthusiast got the last one. pic for proof:

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Old 03-24-2017, 11:03 AM   #8
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Wow, awesome work.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:29 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdSoda View Post
Very good write up - thank you. I ended up picking up a CR system at Costco with two 20" canisters for $250 so I'm happy about that, but would have built my own like you did if the costco deal didn't pop up for me.

If you want to go even further and recharge the resin yourself, check out this good article (like you found, it is geared to aquarium audience, but same stuff/process): http://www.reefkeeping.com/issues/20...nftt/index.php

Thanks again for your post!
That is a crazy good deal! I was looking into that link you posted about recharging the resin. They mention using RO water, which I don't have access to. Do you know if Distilled or DI water would work in its place?

Also, here is a video of my filters in action. It shows the ~30ppm incoming water, and the 0ppm outgoing water.


I have been using my DI filter for about the last 8 months, washing my car every other week. I use it for both the wash and rinse, and rinse very well to ensure no soap is left over. During the summer months, I washed my car in the 80*F heat, in direct sunlight, which is typically a NO-NO, but I have yet to have any water spot issues. I don't have a great way to monitor the life of the resin, but removing the filter cartridge lids, it seems like it is getting close to be exhausted. The life expectancy of the resin really depends on the quality of the incoming water. You can also increase the life of the resin by putting a 3rd sediment filter in front of them, but I haven't gone that far yet.

Here is a video of my DI Filter/pressure washer in action. The beading/water sheeting is because of my Optimum Gloss Coat ceramic coating.


Also, thanks guys for the positive comments! Hopefully my write up will help you guys put together your own DI system! Technically, using this system correctly, you can leave your car to air dry, as long as you have removed all of the soap during the rinse. I am too anal, and still dry my car though, but I am not as paranoid about washing it in the heat, or doing a perfect drying job.

Last edited by whiplash willy; 03-24-2017 at 11:46 AM.
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Old 03-24-2017, 11:42 AM   #10
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Also, just to show that no matter what lengths you go to, to ensure something stays nice, some jerk will just ruin all of your hard work for you!

So my office's parking lot has sprinklers, but they are on a timer, and only run at 6-6:30am. Last summer in the middle of a 90*F day, the maitenance people decided it woudl be a good time to test the sprinklers, and turned them on. My car got soaked with City water and was left to dry all day in the sun. When I got off, I came out to this:




Basically the entire Hood, Roof, trunk and Driverside was covered in bad waterspouts. After the initial wash, the spots were no longer white, but they had etched my coating. I wanted to try and remove them without polishing, so my coating would stay intact. I tried a Clay Bar, Distilled Vinegar, and Optimum's water spot remover, all without any results. I gave it once last shot with Carpro's water spot remover, and that completely removed the spots, and kept my coating intact! When it was all said and done, I probably spent 5-6 hours removing those spots!

It is hard to capture the water spot etching on camera, but I took a video where you can see them. They were much more visable in person. The Carpro water spot remover completely removed these.


Last edited by whiplash willy; 04-04-2018 at 11:22 AM. Reason: Updated Pics
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:21 PM   #11
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Can this be used with a pressure washer? Have the filtered water go into the pressure washer
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:55 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnite8 View Post
Can this be used with a pressure washer? Have the filtered water go into the pressure washer
Yes you can use it with a pressure washer, that is how I use it. My pressure washer is 1.3gpm, so it uses less water, and also uses less resin.
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Old 03-24-2017, 02:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnite8 View Post
Can this be used with a pressure washer? Have the filtered water go into the pressure washer
That's actually the preferred method. You don't want to flow more than the system can filter to get down to 0ppm TDS. CR recommends 2.5 GPM or less (as OP posted I believe). Most pressure washers output between 1-2GPM depending on nozzle/psi setting you use. Using a hose can potentially flow at a higher rate than the resin can filter, defeating the purpose of using a DI filter.
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Old 03-25-2017, 04:13 AM   #14
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Great setup! I had a similar run-in with water spots and took a nearly identical video

It's in the first post here:

Paulsen93's 2015 DGM CVT WRX
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Old 03-31-2017, 12:08 AM   #15
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Just a quick bit of info to add as an alternative to the probe/tee method OP used. I've found a way to slim down the number of parts needed and its all screwing together, no PVC cutting or gluing.

This will work for adding a TDS monitor to a CR spotless system (that's what I'm doing), or for a full DIY job. I've found the probe laying horizontal produces the most reliable readings.

I sourced all items at the local home depot this afternoon. If you're monitoring input and output TDS (like OP is doing) you'll need 2 of everything listed below. I have a CR spotless that already monitors TDS output, so I am only adding a probe to the input, so then you'd only need 1 of everything. Use plenty of teflon tape to avoid leaks. If I were to do it again, I'd probably get a 2" riser instead of the short one I got (first item listed below). I just loaded it up with teflon and its fine as it, fwiw.

3/4" NPT PVC riser. Goes into the filter housing.
3/4" Threaded NPT tee. Screws onto the threaded part listed above
3/4" to 1/2" NPT reducer (threading inside and out). Goes into top of tee.
1/2" NPT to 1/4" push fit fitting (for TDS probe). Goes into the reducer.
3/4" NPT to Garden Hose thread (CR Spotless includes this adapter for input and output with their kit. If you DIY, you'll need this)

note: this is a list of parts needed from the housing to the hose, but you'll still need to reference OP's list of parts to connect the two housings together if you're doing the full DIY job.

Parts:


p.s. the water on the ground in the pic below is not leaking, its from moving the unit and spilling some out before screwing the hose on.


Finished product working as it should (yes that really does say 667 TDS, phoenix water sucks bals)


Thanks for posting this Willy - gave me inspiration to get this done myself!

Last edited by ColdSoda; 03-31-2017 at 12:16 AM.
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdSoda View Post
Just a quick bit of info to add as an alternative to the probe/tee method OP used. I've found a way to slim down the number of parts needed and its all screwing together, no PVC cutting or gluing.

This will work for adding a TDS monitor to a CR spotless system (that's what I'm doing), or for a full DIY job. I've found the probe laying horizontal produces the most reliable readings.

I sourced all items at the local home depot this afternoon. If you're monitoring input and output TDS (like OP is doing) you'll need 2 of everything listed below. I have a CR spotless that already monitors TDS output, so I am only adding a probe to the input, so then you'd only need 1 of everything. Use plenty of teflon tape to avoid leaks. If I were to do it again, I'd probably get a 2" riser instead of the short one I got (first item listed below). I just loaded it up with teflon and its fine as it, fwiw.

3/4" NPT PVC riser. Goes into the filter housing.
3/4" Threaded NPT tee. Screws onto the threaded part listed above
3/4" to 1/2" NPT reducer (threading inside and out). Goes into top of tee.
1/2" NPT to 1/4" push fit fitting (for TDS probe). Goes into the reducer.
3/4" NPT to Garden Hose thread (CR Spotless includes this adapter for input and output with their kit. If you DIY, you'll need this)

note: this is a list of parts needed from the housing to the hose, but you'll still need to reference OP's list of parts to connect the two housings together if you're doing the full DIY job.

Thanks for posting this Willy - gave me inspiration to get this done myself!
No problem! I didn't realize the CR system only monitored the output. I was always curious where stock TDS probe was inserted, and how. Could post a pic of where it is mounted if you don't mind.

I have always meant to adjust the orientation of my probes for better readings, I just never got around to it. I will have to do that sometime.

Also, I had a quick question for you on that DI Resin recharge article you posted. It says to use RO water, do you know if DI water can be used in its place?
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Old 03-31-2017, 01:52 PM   #17
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Here is a link of a DIY system someone created after seeing my setup.

http://imgur.com/a/4ZhOM



Its a pretty clean setup/install!
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Old 03-31-2017, 05:48 PM   #18
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I like the way you set your equipment up.
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Old 04-01-2017, 12:13 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiplash willy View Post
No problem! I didn't realize the CR system only monitored the output. I was always curious where stock TDS probe was inserted, and how. Could post a pic of where it is mounted if you don't mind.

I have always meant to adjust the orientation of my probes for better readings, I just never got around to it. I will have to do that sometime.

Also, I had a quick question for you on that DI Resin recharge article you posted. It says to use RO water, do you know if DI water can be used in its place?
Sorry I forgot to reply to that question from before. I think you'll be good using DI water for the process, should accomplish the same result.

Here's a pic of the CR spotless probe location.



Quote:
Originally Posted by whiplash willy View Post
Here is a link of a DIY system someone created after seeing my setup.

http://imgur.com/a/4ZhOM



Its a pretty clean setup/install!
Funny enough...I bought the same exact pressure washer to use for my setup as this one you posted a picture of. I didn't get the full wall mount kit, just the actual power washer the BE P1515EPN. I didn't get the wall mount model as I wanted to spend money on the attachments and accessories instead and build my own wall mount/shelf for the unit, but the actual pressure washing unit (pump/motor) is the same.
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Old 04-05-2017, 06:37 PM   #20
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@ColdSoda, thanks for the pic of the probe! If I were to do my setup again, I think I would have drilled/tapped the filter housing Caps for the probes, instead of using all of those adapters. It would have made for a much cleaner and simpler setup.

I won't worry about using RO water then for the resin recharge. Thanks for your insight!
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Old 04-14-2017, 01:22 AM   #21
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OK here's my setup... for now... I'm going to use it like this for a while and see if I want to make any more changes later. This 650 TDS tap water sucks... can only filter 125 gallons or so before I use all the resin on the two 20" filters... going to rely a bit more on the optum no rinse method for maintenance washes and only use pressure washer for heavy cleaning!

still working on making it look nicer, but at least its functional.
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Old 04-15-2017, 10:12 AM   #22
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When you guys got your TDS meters what did you use to calibrate it? The Resintek fill is right around $200 from Amazon.ca, can I get a cartridge from Pentek or something similar to Resintek on Amazon?
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Old 04-17-2017, 12:35 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ColdSoda View Post
OK here's my setup... for now... I'm going to use it like this for a while and see if I want to make any more changes later. This 650 TDS tap water sucks... can only filter 125 gallons or so before I use all the resin on the two 20" filters... going to rely a bit more on the optum no rinse method for maintenance washes and only use pressure washer for heavy cleaning!

still working on making it look nicer, but at least its functional.
That is a very clean install/nice setup! Also, how do you like the Optimum No Rinse Wash? I have heard great things about it, and have been thinking of trying it for light washes, but I have always wondered how well it worked.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aledrinker View Post
When you guys got your TDS meters what did you use to calibrate it? The Resintek fill is right around $200 from Amazon.ca, can I get a cartridge from Pentek or something similar to Resintek on Amazon?
I never calibrated mine, I didn't know it was necessary.
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Old 04-20-2017, 09:29 PM   #24
ColdSoda
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiplash willy View Post
That is a very clean install/nice setup! Also, how do you like the Optimum No Rinse Wash? I have heard great things about it, and have been thinking of trying it for light washes, but I have always wondered how well it worked.
[...]
I like the ONR method. I use 1 gallon of distilled water ($0.88) and 1/2 oz (15ml) of ONR (thats the dilution they recommend on the bottle). I use one "Rag Company Creature Edgeless" in the bucket and another dry one to wipe dry after each section. I get a LOT of dust out here in the desert and this has been the only method thats worked for cleaning without using much water and not installing scratches on the paint.

For a very detailed ONR test/review or more info, I'd recommend you check out the "forensic detailing channel" on youtube. Jon can be a bit long-winded, but the content is good.
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Old 04-21-2017, 11:13 AM   #25
kschafer2598
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Location: Frederick, MD
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Awesome work, never thought I'd learn so much about water spots!
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