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View Full Version : Best replacement for a Rain Bird 7-A


Paliskin
07-28-2008, 06:35 PM
I found this forum when search for information about a Rain bird RC 7-A at a customers house. I am a handyman with little experience with irrigation systems. The thread I was reading was a discussion about the amps required to close the values of an old RC 7-A system, a gentleman called "bicmudpuppy" seemed to be the most knowledgeable about this particular system.

Here's my question, what is the best / cheapest / easiest to understand controller to replace this thing with? The customer is a very nice 75 yr old lady. Any suggestions?

Wet_Boots
07-28-2008, 06:41 PM
How many zones is the system? These controllers are very repairable.

Mike Leary
07-28-2008, 07:18 PM
a gentleman called "bicmudpuppy" seemed to be the most knowledgeable about this particular system.

He's back on the forum, send him a brisket & he'll take care of you.

bicmudpuppy
07-28-2008, 07:55 PM
An RC-7 COULD be replaced with almost anything. I'm not sure where to begin asking the "right" questions. If it is operating a batch of still functioning old thermal dynamic valves....................... Who still makes a mechanical that will provide 1.5-2 amps / zone in a resi controller? I don't honestly know of a "good" answer. W/o looking, I *think* the irritrol total control will meet that criteria, BUT I wouldn't want the average homeowner trying to operate it. If it is a "newer" Rainbird system they just wanted to install a good bullet proof controller on, almost any modern controller would suffice. Your level of expertise and your customers level of computer/gadget literacy would be the only concerns. Is the old controller truly "dead"? or is just part of it not operational? I would bet you could still find a NIB RC-7 on ebay at a decent price.

Paliskin
07-28-2008, 09:24 PM
One zone has been off for "a few years" according to the owner, the values appear to be working okay, except for one zone seems to stay on a long time after it has cycled past it (zone two) I figured it was related to the slow opening and closing discussed in the other forum.

I have down loaded the instruction manual from the rain bird site, earlier today when I took off the face panel it appears that several different insects have been calling the place home over the years, there are a couple of wires that are off, I thought maybe that is why zone two is acting funny, figured tomorrow I will carefully brush out the housing and try to reconnect the wires and check the contacts, I am not an electrician either, don't own a multimeter nor know how they operate.

Is there such thing as a "simple controller"? most of my customers are 65 and up, like I said I do handy man services, basic plumbing, carpentry, electricity and repairs, seems they are always asking for help with their irrigation system controllers, most of the units are old discontinued systems like this (last one was a weathermatic RM series), usually I just try to find the operators manual on the web and print it off and give it to them. But since you all seem real knowledgeable about the subject, I thought I would ask.

To me in a perfect world the replacement system could either be ran on the timer system or just have on / off buttons for each zone, and a Master on / off switch to shut the whole thing off if it starts going crazy (i.e when they start pushing buttons and turning dials then can't remember what they pushed and turned and just want the crazy thing to turn off)

DanaMac
07-28-2008, 09:32 PM
Couple things - first off all the Texas guys will ride you hard on this. Since you are from TX, you're supposed to be licensed to work on a sprinkler system. I don't think you are due to the question being asked.

It is tough to get older folks to change to a newer digital controller. If you can repair the RC or replace it (tough to find as they have been discontinued) it will be much easier for this homeowner.

irrig8r
07-28-2008, 09:33 PM
I had hoped that the Rainbird ESP-M would be the answer for some of my older clients.

The manual operation is pretty simple, almost as simple as an RC.

One nice feature compared to some of the other newer controllers is a large easy to read display.

Most of my customers who do their own scheduling seem to prefer the Irritrol RainDial though...

Waterit
07-29-2008, 12:37 AM
Try one of these:

115668

Paliskin
07-29-2008, 06:50 AM
Well if anyone from Texas wants to come over with their certification and work on this system for what I am charging (in other words for FREE) I will gladly hand them the tools. Like I said before I do not claim to be an expert or have much experience with these things. I am just trying to help the lady out.

Wet_Boots
07-29-2008, 08:04 AM
Do you even know the existing controller is faulty?

bicmudpuppy
07-29-2008, 06:43 PM
One zone has been off for "a few years" according to the owner, the values appear to be working okay, except for one zone seems to stay on a long time after it has cycled past it (zone two) I figured it was related to the slow opening and closing discussed in the other forum.


That slow opening/closing would be classic for a thermal hydraulic valve and IF that is the case, you could be in trouble finding an adequate replacement.

bicmudpuppy
07-29-2008, 06:45 PM
On a different note, have you discussed the lady paying to have a qualified technician come out? PM me and I will be glad to drop you a name or two. FIMCO might make the trip and his rates would be fair.

And I'm not implying anyone else's aren't, I am just sticking to what and who I actually know.

Wet_Boots
07-29-2008, 07:00 PM
If you replace a timer that doesn't need replacing, your prices don't matter. Get the system properly diagnosed and serviced, and leave the RC-7 in place. No senior will want to lose an electro-mechanical controller. Trust us on this.

FIMCO-MEISTER
07-30-2008, 06:29 AM
If you replace a timer that doesn't need replacing, your prices don't matter. Get the system properly diagnosed and serviced, and leave the RC-7 in place. No senior will want to lose an electro-mechanical controller. Trust us on this.

I have a couple of RC-7s in my garage just for seniors. Fort Worth is a long drive for me though. I'd get homesick.

fourfree
08-23-2008, 12:56 AM
but I am having a similar issue.

I have a Hayes mechanical controller, circa January 1969. It is now giving me problems. The reset switch is not working so I have jumped it, the relay and timer work, but the zones are not kicking on automatically and even manually, they are not kicking on consistently.

Here's the problem - I would love to replace this relic with a modern timer, but my valves are just as old and spread out throughout the yard. I have 7 zones. I measured the total amperage draw through the system, using a clamp meter, with all zones on - 3.5 amps. Each zone individually drew between 1.0A and 1.6A (some valves are newer) total with the master valve.

I called Rainbird specification support and they told me none of their current products would work, but the RC-7 would. Of course, functionally, it isn't any better than what I currently have (when it was working).

Does anyone out there know of any programmable controller that can handle the high current draw of the older valves? :confused::dizzy::confused:

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 04:43 AM
Is there any need to have more than one zone on at a time? 1.6 amps is a lot of draw. You can often find an indoor version of the RC controller on eBay (one there now) but you need to replace the wallwart with a more powerful one, and replace the original fuse with a larger one.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-23-2008, 06:33 AM
Is there any need to have more than one zone on at a time? 1.6 amps is a lot of draw. You can often find an indoor version of the RC controller on eBay (one there now) but you need to replace the wallwart with a more powerful one, and replace the original fuse with a larger one.

Going up in rated fuse size can turn your timer into a fire hazard. Shoot boot why don't you tell him to wrap his fuse in aluminum foil.

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 08:54 AM
Going up in rated fuse size can turn your timer into a fire hazard. Shoot boot why don't you tell him to wrap his fuse in aluminum foil.Have you noticed that there are two different switch assemblies on the RC clocks? One for a RC-7C, and another for a RC-7Bi? Not me. That switch can take more than an amp, so pull the fuse and replace it with a larger one, or maybe a slo-blo type. But the existing 20 VA wallwart will not feed a valve that draws 1.6 amps, so find a 40 VA wallwart as a minimum.

By the way, all irrigation controllers employ class 2 transformers, which contain an internal fuse. They aren't there for show, so if someone puts a 10 amp fuse in an RC-7Bi, and a valve shorts out, the wallwart fuse will blow. No burning up (as per UL requirements)

Kiril
08-23-2008, 08:56 AM
What type of valves?

Shawn Perkins
08-23-2008, 09:36 AM
Give me a call Monday and i will come out and dianoice it for you
Yes i do have a texas licensed.

Shawn Perkins
Planet Green Irrigation
214-695-4098

Kiril
08-23-2008, 09:40 AM
Give me a call Monday and i will come out and dianoice it for you
Yes i do have a texas licensed.

Hopefully that is not a License to spell.

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 09:53 AM
Uh-oh, Leary's been sharing his curmudgeon pills....

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-23-2008, 10:01 AM
Have you noticed that there are two different switch assemblies on the RC clocks? One for a RC-7C, and another for a RC-7Bi? Not me. That switch can take more than an amp, so pull the fuse and replace it with a larger one, or maybe a slo-blo type. But the existing 20 VA wallwart will not feed a valve that draws 1.6 amps, so find a 40 VA wallwart as a minimum.

By the way, all irrigation controllers employ class 2 transformers, which contain an internal fuse. They aren't there for show, so if someone puts a 10 amp fuse in an RC-7Bi, and a valve shorts out, the wallwart fuse will blow. No burning up (as per UL requirements)

That may be fine and dandy for someone who safely knows the warnings he can ignore but suggesting to somebody to ignore the rated fuse size of a timer is bad advice.

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 10:10 AM
That may be fine and dandy for someone who safely knows the warnings he can ignore but suggesting to somebody to ignore the rated fuse size of a timer is bad advice.Yeah, but can you find a controller that doesn't use a UL-listed class 2 step-down transformer? They don't burn up.

I have some very-old plug-in stepdown transformers that actually have a fuseholder built in, so one could replace the fuse if it blows. Those would probably become a hazard if the wrong fuse was installed, not that I'd try it.

Kiril
08-23-2008, 10:12 AM
I'm with Fimco on this one. Suggesting ways to bypass the safety measures of a device is bad advice.

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 10:16 AM
Odds are, that it would be cheaper in the long run to replace all the valves now, and then use a simple clock, like a SRC-900i

But first - WE WANT PHOTOS!!!

Waterit
08-23-2008, 10:32 AM
Odds are, that it would be cheaper in the long run to replace all the valves now, and then use a simple clock, like a SRC-900i

But first - WE WANT PHOTOS!!!

And increased use of spellcheck!

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 10:58 AM
Screw spellcheck - I like to riff on the gaffes.

Shawn Perkins
08-23-2008, 11:20 AM
Hopefully that is not a License to spell.

Maybe you should try to help more and not worry about other peoples
spelling. I am sure you have better things to do :rolleyes:

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 11:33 AM
Maybe you should try to help more and not worry about other peoples
spelling. I am sure you have better things to do :rolleyes:Not really. He ran out of magnets. :)

irrig8r
08-23-2008, 12:36 PM
Maybe you should try to help more and not worry about other peoples
spelling. I am sure you have better things to do :rolleyes:

And maybe you should work on your spelling, especially if you want to be understood, because this forum uses the written word as a communication device.

DanaMac
08-23-2008, 12:41 PM
And maybe you should work on your spelling, especially if you want to be understood, because this forum uses the written word as a communication device.

Uh oh. Another p*****g match in the irrigation forum. They should just shut us down completely. :laugh:

fourfree
08-23-2008, 12:43 PM
but this will be a BIG job - I'm on a steep hill in the front yard and it goes even higher in the back. The valves are all over, and some are buried deep 2-3 feet down, although the worst offender is right next to the house. The main loop pipe is a 1 1/4 line buried up to 4 feet down.

There are other issues too - old Champion AVB with a float that gets cocked and the gasket gets stuck, old brass spray heads that I like because they put out a lot of water for a short distance but don't like that they pour water if they don't pop all the way and the golf course-sized "Safe Lawn" impact head that shoots 80ft with no adjustment but is only doing a 90 degree rotation because I don't want to water the hottub and deck!

The main issue is that the watering needs have completely changed from when it was installed - the yard was almost all grass with big ugly yews and burning bushes against the house in front and 16ft monster junipers with 90ft black walnuts in back. The soil has alternating layers of clay and sand. I would like the whole system redone, but without ripping through the perennial beds and hardscape.

Here are some pictures:
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo32/31/98/c7ac4911407d.jpg
Front yard - the picture is deceiving - 16ft grade change between street & front door
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo18/b3/c6/d1691c9bede6.jpg
Controller cover
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo09/f8/b7/6c95628f56dc.jpg
panel
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo03/5b/5b/58e0ad8cb337.jpg
inside controller
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo21/98/91/8fdff13bdb17.jpg
almost 40 years . . .
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo03/7e/92/638d46ed1d14.jpg
Champion AVB and zone 6 valve
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo30/59/81/fa073333f1ee.jpg
main loop settling/leaking under driveway

any good Detroit-area folks want to take a crack at this?

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-23-2008, 01:08 PM
Great pics... really. That Hays controller is a doozy. I have one customer with one.

QUESTION FOR THE FORUM

I haven't installed one in ages but didn't the RAINDIAL go to a 3 amp slo blow fuse?

I have a RC 7 in the garage that might suffice for you needs. I need to check to make sure it works first.

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 01:20 PM
You might be looking at four figures, to be brutally honest. Problem number one is the lack of backflow protection. The AVB you showed is, and always was, entirely meaningless. If the property slopes uphill from it, then you are probably looking at using an RPZ to come into code compliance.

One inch copper exiting the house? Additional photos are needed of the water meter, and of the zone valves.

By the way, the controller is a Batrow, and it's toast, in the long run, as it depends upon an obsolete stepping relay to function.

DanaMac
08-23-2008, 01:23 PM
By the way, the controller is a Batrow, and it's toast, in the long run, as it depends upon an obsolete stepping relay to function.

I had one of those in my pile of controllers a few years ago. Only one I've seen.

Fourfree - not a big problem, but if you post more pics, can you resize them to about 600x400? Maybe a little bigger if needed.

fourfree
08-23-2008, 05:50 PM
You might be looking at four figures, to be brutally honest. Problem number one is the lack of backflow protection. The AVB you showed is, and always was, entirely meaningless. If the property slopes uphill from it, then you are probably looking at using an RPZ to come into code compliance.

One inch copper exiting the house? Additional photos are needed of the water meter, and of the zone valves.

By the way, the controller is a Batrow, and it's toast, in the long run, as it depends upon an obsolete stepping relay to function.

Here's the pics of the master valve and water meter.
https://www.t-mobilepictures.com/myalbum/photos/photo11/27/9f/0f59978b2ae5.jpg
The master is a Hays Marfaid 1 1/4" valve 3110-642F, rated at 7W, 150PSI, which means it could draw up to .3A at 24V. The backflow has not been an issue, the AVB is in the front of the house, next to the garage (the master is in the laundry room on the other side of the wall - the main level is on a slab with the copper pipes buried in it) and the total grade rise in the back of the house is about 5ft (vs 16ft in the front).

Waterit
08-23-2008, 06:09 PM
Please work on your pics some - we love pics, but not ones that leave us cross-eyed.:nono:

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 06:10 PM
You got old-fashioned "pretend" backflow prevention. Step one is to pretend the electric valves work perfectly 24/7. Then you pretend the AVB in front is a foot higher in elevation than anything downstream of it. In olden days, plumbing inspectors would even sign off on such stuff.

But these aren't olden days, and you need the real thing (nothing is 'grandfathered') for backflow prevention. Your water meter size isn't apparent from the photo, but it might be as small as a 5/8-inch (with 3/4-inch threads) You get an RPZ, and you cover every possible base. Some states have plumbing codes that allow the cheaper DCVA device, which also takes away less water pressure. It's this pressure loss that makes the updating run into money. If the existing AVB is in a secluded corner, you can add some vertical pipe, and top it with a pressure vacuum breaker, located at an elevation higher than anything downstream of it.

I would not be surprised if you could get low-power solenoid coils for the Marfad valves. Hays is still in business, although they don't pay much attention to the sprinkler market any more.

By the way, use a website like Imageshack to reduce your photos to something like 640 x 480, since you are posting photos that are very much not internet-friendly.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-23-2008, 09:03 PM
You got old-fashioned "pretend" backflow prevention. Step one is to pretend the electric valves work perfectly 24/7. Then you pretend the AVB in front is a foot higher in elevation than anything downstream of it. In olden days, plumbing inspectors would even sign off on such stuff.

But these aren't olden days, and you need the real thing (nothing is 'grandfathered') for backflow prevention. Your water meter size isn't apparent from the photo, but it might be as small as a 5/8-inch (with 3/4-inch threads) You get an RPZ, and you cover every possible base. Some states have plumbing codes that allow the cheaper DCVA device, which also takes away less water pressure. It's this pressure loss that makes the updating run into money. If the existing AVB is in a secluded corner, you can add some vertical pipe, and top it with a pressure vacuum breaker, located at an elevation higher than anything downstream of it.

I would not be surprised if you could get low-power solenoid coils for the Marfad valves. Hays is still in business, although they don't pay much attention to the sprinkler market any more.

By the way, use a website like Imageshack to reduce your photos to something like 640 x 480, since you are posting photos that are very much not internet-friendly.

I'd take that pretend bckflw any day over below grade dcva. At least in our area the avb gets serviced from time to time.

bicmudpuppy
08-23-2008, 09:19 PM
I'd take that pretend bckflw any day over below grade dcva. At least in our area the avb gets serviced from time to time.

What about some of those below grade AVB's I've seen in the Dallas metro? w/o MV's no less LOL

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 09:23 PM
I'd take that pretend bckflw any day over below grade dcva. At least in our area the avb gets serviced from time to time.Yeah, but when the master valve is stuck open, you got nothing. The cheapest remedy would be to yank the AVB, add enough vertical pipe to clear the highest head's elevation, and top it with a PVB. As much as it should be pressurized 24/7, a PVB would still protect in a mainline location.

Mike Leary
08-23-2008, 09:56 PM
In our area, the DCVA and RPBA get serviced yearly. The purveyor and the contractor
keep historical records and KNOW when to replace the checks and springs + the tester
must be good enough to know if it's the ball valves failing. At that point, you're sure
proud you put in unions.

FIMCO-MEISTER
08-23-2008, 10:07 PM
Yeah, but when the master valve is stuck open, you got nothing. The cheapest remedy would be to yank the AVB, add enough vertical pipe to clear the highest head's elevation, and top it with a PVB. As much as it should be pressurized 24/7, a PVB would still protect in a mainline location.

That has nothing to do with the guys problem. Can't he just put a dcva in his basement, eliminate the 3a master valve and the avb all together? I'm assuming he does winterizing. What are your codes?

Wet_Boots
08-23-2008, 10:27 PM
That has nothing to do with the guys problem. Can't he just put a dcva in his basement, eliminate the 3a master valve and the avb all together? I'm assuming he does winterizing. What are your codes?I won't use DCVA's because I know they can be outlawed in a moment, as soon as a regional code is applied.

With lines and valves buried as deeply as described, this system is a hair from being trashed altogether. Strictly hobby time for a homeowner, and come selling time, the bad plumbing will likely get flagged for correction.