Interesting Wilkins Double Check...

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Critical Care, Jun 10, 2005.

  1. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    I just got a preview of the Wilkins 350 three-quarter and one-inch double check valve assembly and found it to be something worth thinking about. Apparently this device took a couple of years to pass the USC inspection.

    First of all, from end to end, the 1” DCVA is only 12 ¼ inches in length. The ¾” DCVA is 11” in length. I’ve been using the 1” 950 XLT DCVAs and they’re 14 ¾”, which can be tight in a standard valve box, especially when you add unions and other stuff to the line.

    This 350 has the two check valves in a modular type of assembly that can be easily removed by unscrewing four screws. The rep told me that they plan on having a winterizing blowout stub attachment that would attach to the DCVA where the check valve module is. That is a different approach and something I haven’t thought of. It looks as if this little guy could surely simplify installs, and by removing the check valve module when winterizing that would pretty well eliminate any need of having to blow air through the checks to get water out.

    wilkins 350.jpg
  2. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    You probably won't get too much response from this here on Lawnsite. Most contractors in other states don't used DCVAs very much, like we do here in OR.

    I've been seeing these too at local irrigation supply stores. I saw one on display the other day at U.P. They're cute. But one problem is that it's only 3/4". We almost always use 1". And I think I heard the 1" version isn't nearly as small.

    Second, I wonder how good a plastic check valve can possibly last as long as the traditional metal ones do.

    It is intriguing though. I love the fact that if it ever fails, you just take off a few screws and change out the top of it. What a simple repair that would be!!!

    We had to replace a DCVA for a customer the other day because it failed the annual backflow test. To dig it up and replace it took us 3.5 hours. At $65 per man hour, plus materials, it was like a $350.00 bill to the customer. If it had been one of these, the cost would have been probably $100.
  3. DanaMac

    DanaMac LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 13,156

    Most areas don't allow DCVs for irrigation. We can't here, but I know of a few that are installed. But no residentials get checked or inspected here either.
  4. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,781

    What brand DC that you couldn't rebuild it? They allow DC's in many areas here (state accepts them, local purveyors sometimes require upgrading) and TX allows DC's for sure. That Wilkins looks a lot like the "new" (ain't new anymore, but geez I miss the 805) 850's from Febco, which look a lot like a Watts, which is like using four letter words in my book. The Febco 850 is easier to rebuild than the Watts 007. Every time I rebuild a 007, I find myself holding my breath until the cage comes out in one piece to rebuild. I think I break about 1 cage in every 3 or 4 I have to open up. I charge a flat $60 to rebuild a 1" DC that fails at testing. I find this markup to be phenomenal, but "fair" because the market allows it to be less than most of my competition (but then the only guys really repairing backflows are mostly I'd like to get paid like that).
  5. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,841

    I don't know of any brand (except this one) where you can remove 4 or 6 screws, take off a small 5" section of plastic, and screw a new one back on in 5 minutes. There's nothing like this.

    I guess you could rebuild DCVAs or something. But I don't understand that point to that. Might as well just replace it.

    Here in OR, DCVAs are always at least 2' deep . So the real pain is in digging them up and removing them. And by the time they fail, they are usually old, rusty, and the hole is full of wet, nasty clay and spiders and slugs. I suppose I could dig one up, cut it out, replace it with a "rebuilt" one and save the customer $40. But I don't really see the point. I think most people are happy to just have a new one. And nobody here - nobody - rebuilds DCVAs. So they homeowners don't even know that's an option.

    Not to mention I got better things to do with what little time I have than tearing apart DCVAs at night and repairing them.
  6. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Jim, the 1" Wilkins 350 is just a little more than an inch longer than the 3/4" 350. About a foot in length.

    I was also wondering about how well the plastic (?) checks would hold up, but there are some types of plastics and rubber that do very well. I believe that the cover for the checks is actually a hardened type of rubber...

    Hey, it ain't no fun having to dig up and replace a DCVA. That generally takes a bit of digging as well as pulling out the whole valve box too. Guess that's when you really start thinking about putting unions on these devices... as they want you to do out here in our area. Your 3.5 hour job would have been nothing more than a few minutes. But regardless of the PITA DCVA jobs that come up every now and then, I'd rather deal with these devices and install them versus AVBs. Personally, I see a lot of AVB installs that sure look to be nothing more than kludged together pvc rinky-dink eyesores.
  7. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,781

    The Watts 007 has a cover plate held on w/ 4 bolts. Inside are two plastic cages w/ o-rings that contain the checks. The rubber kit for a 007 is less than $10.00 my cost. It takes less than 30 min to dis-assemble and re-assemble the device w/ new rubber. If I break a cage, the full check (the part that breaks is identical ck#1 and ck#2) costs closer to $20.
    The Febco 805 has top loaded checks that can be removed in pit. The device needs to be turned 90 degrees to allow the y shaped checks to both be horizontal instead of one up and the other down. The rubber kit is again less than $10 and I've never had to remove an 805 to repair it. Again repair time is less than 30 min.
    The Wilkins 950xl is the same check style as the 805 except both checks are pointed up. In a pinch, the rubber kit for a 950 is almost identical to an 805 and the 950 will pass w/ febco rubber installed. The Wilkins rubber kit is closer to $12 if memory serves.

    So, I ask again what type of DC you are spending 3 hours replacing? I get $40 for the kit and $20 for a half hour labor. And the profit on the kit alone is adequate. AND a couple of years ago on a HOA w/ 60 devices, I failed 32........previous guy was haning paper on the reports. I rebuilt all 32 in 3 days and other misc. repairs. The brass doesn't go bad. Rarely, a spring breaks. It is still cheaper than spending hours to dig and replace unless you are in an area where basement installs are common. RPZ's are almost cheaper than the parts kit, but even when the new device is cheaper, it is more time efficient to swap the parts instead of cutting, and re-fitting the new device.
  8. sildoc

    sildoc LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,925

    Whats the cost compared to the regular Wilkins 950xlta? I am planning irrgation for my new house and have been looking at DCVs and other parts. Just shy from Or. LCB license so not lookng at cost effectiveness. Looking at keeping it simple for a irrgation system I will have for a while.
    I don't know about You Critical or Lewis but hate to spend time in my own yard fixing something that should not need to take 3 hrs.
    5 minutes sounds good even if it only lasts 5 years at a pop.
  9. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,781

    The cost of any DC seems to be driven by market. Here, purchasing out of the KC metro, sometimes a Watts 007 is cheaper, and sometimes a Febco 850 is cheaper. If the Watts is cheaper, it will be at a plumbing supply. The best Febco price will be from an irrigation dealer. The Wilkins 950 priced at about $7 more than a Febco 850 for 1" devices last week. The prices quoted were $10 higher than I have been paying for the Watts 007, so a 007 it is this time.
  10. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,654

    Sildoc, I can't tell you what the price is since I didn't hear. I get quite a bit of my irrigation supplies at Horizon and the price on their Watts and Wilkins are pretty much the same. Don't think they carry Febco... United Pipe has some 1" 950XLTs for $55, which is a good deal. I also got a case of Rainbird 5004s there for $132, but other things can be expensive.

    I agree Sildoc, I'd rather not have to come back and spend major time repairing something which could be avoided in the first place. When I put in my own irrigation system I really hadn't learned a whole lot, and though everything has worked fine for a number of years, if I had to do it over I would surely do things differently. When the inspectors around here began to tell us that they were pushing for unions on the DCVAs, at first I thought "Oh come on! What a bunch of crappola!" But I suppose if you consider what could be a three hour repair... maybe it's not a bad idea.

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