Staying cool on a sailboat in Texas summers is no easy task. We needed some fans to keep air moving around the boat. I spent hours, seriously hours looking up different fans for a boat. We went to the local West Marine to try the various fans that they had on display there. I read countless reviews of fans on the web. Some were less expensive than others, some moved air better than others, some were quieter than others. No fan covered all bases perfectly. Like everything else, there would be trade-offs. The one thing that I felt was most important was longevity and reliability. We finally settled on the Caframo Ultimate 747. It’s small, comes with a suction cup mount, moves a ton of air, and isn’t the most expensive fan that is made. It got fairly good reviews across the web. We purchased three of them. At around $55 a piece, it’s a pretty hefty price tag for a plastic fan with a small 12 volt DC motor. I felt it would be worth it as long as they lasted around 2 or so years.
We got about 6 months out of 2 of them. 1 is still running, but it is beginning to exhibit signs of wearing out.
The first sign that something was wrong was that they started making a horrible grinding noise. This was intermittent. I figured that maybe a bearing was wearing out. I did some more reading on the web and found a few people that said to lubricate the motor shaft and it made them run much quieter. I tried this with some T-9 Boeshield. It worked, sort of. It would last for a day or so then the grinding noise would return. The second sign that something was going more seriously wrong was a fine black powder that was beginning to coat the outside of the fans where the motor shaft exits the fan housing. I knew it was only a matter of time.
We were able to exchange one of the fans at the local West Marine under their generous return/exchange program. West Marine may not have the least expensive prices around, but part of what you are paying for is the ability to easily, and I mean easily, return items. We haven’t returned many things, but each time we have it has been hassle and question free. That makes it a pleasure to purchase things from them.
The other 2 fans were purchased from on on-line retailer. Caframo doesn’t really have the details of how their warranty works on their web site. You must first register the product, I presume, to get anything more than “1 year warranty covering manufacturing defects and workmanship.” I decided to take the second non-operational fan apart and see what could be done about it. Almost everything these days is assembled from parts made in China. This fan is no exception. The part number on the motor was RS-555SH-20120. Quick search on the web yielded some DC motors that were very similar and cost around $6 each. I’ll order 2 and see how they work.
I also decided to attempt to build my own fan. Parts are on order for that.
I think if Caframo were to use a better motor in the 747, it would be a winner. I just can’t abide paying $55 for a fan that has the potential of only lasting 6 months.