Dolphin Getting Stuck on Drains - (Partial) Solution

MarkTX

Bronze Supporter
Nov 15, 2015
342
Cypress, TX
My Dolphin Z5 worked fine for 4-5 months then started getting stuck on our drains. There is a thread from 2016-ish where I detailed cleaning parts and replacing parts one by one, but nothing helped. Now (after 4 years!) I have discovered a solution that does not completely solve the problem but makes it livable.

So...I had the idea that if the Dolphin was a little less heavy underwater, there would be less friction when it passed over a drain cover, and the problem might be solved. I commandeered one of our smaller-diameter pool noodles, cut off three 8-inch long pieces, and lashed them neatly in parallel with the the robot's handle. Threw the robot in the pool, and... it didn't sink at all. LOL it just floated around. As it turns out, very little noodle is needed to make these things float. I ended up using just one piece of noodle about 4-5 inches in length. The robot's buoyancy is now such that the robot floats when turned off, and "sinks" to the bottom when turned on (the jet of water helps push it down). But did it help?

RESULTS
Does the robot still get stuck? Of course it does! But not as often :) And here is the very best, unanticipated, unintended part: When the cleaning cycle is over, the motor turns off and the ROBOT FREES ITSELF by floating up to the surface! And the next day it can begin again. If you are fortunate enough to have a remote control, turning it off and back on that way works too. And needless to say, the Dolphin has no trouble climbing the walls now at all (although that worked pretty well before). I suppose a better solution would be to get one of those 4WD models, and I may do that if this one ever wears out, but for now we're good.
 
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ajw22

Gold Supporter
TFP Guide
Jul 21, 2013
24,754
Northern NJ
Pool Size
35000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Pentair Intellichlor IC-60
Nice hack! :goodjob:
 

santacruzpool

Gold Supporter
Feb 24, 2015
779
Santa Cruz, CA
Funny, but just last weekend I was looking at the handle and thinking I should add some foam to make it float a bit to see if my unit would climb a bit better/faster, but I hadn't thought about that stopping it from being parked on my drain covers for days...
 

markayash

Gold Supporter
Mar 21, 2016
2,953
Atlanta Ga
I think my issue is the height of the drain lifts the wheels off the ground..If the traction paddles ( cool sounding name ) were a little thicker it would work :)
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,286
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
I just added some pool noodles to the M500. It climbs much better now. I have it set where is it just barely has negative buoyancy.
 

Katodude

Silver Supporter
Aug 22, 2017
1,286
West Palm Beach/Florida
Pool Size
15000
Surface
Plaster
Chlorine
Salt Water Generator
SWG Type
Hayward Aqua Rite (T-15)
Here is a picture. I am thinking about removing the one on the cross bar and increasing the size of the two on the arms. It seems like it will push it higher out of the water to better scrub the tile line.
 

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santacruzpool

Gold Supporter
Feb 24, 2015
779
Santa Cruz, CA
I just added some foam to my Dolphin, I have been watching it run for a bit (and since I am watching it of course it won't drive over the drains).
IMG_20200414_163442340_HDR.jpg

I took off the replacement jet diverter Maytronics sent me and now it is setup like it was when I bought it.

It is climbing better, but time will tell if it stops it from getting stuck...

Thanks for the idea! (y)
 
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MarkTX

Bronze Supporter
Nov 15, 2015
342
Cypress, TX
This quarantine has me minding my robot it seems. I think I finally found a solution. This has been working for a week straight and our robot has not gotten stuck once. Whereas it used to take about 5 minutes. And this is AFTER I removed the foam! Full disclosure, I cannot run the Dolphin and our pool pump/drain at the same time; the robot still got stuck that way from the suction. But with the pump off, or in between pump times, this has been flawless!

Turning the robot over, I noticed a definite scuffed up pattern in a few distinct spots on the bottom from it sitting and spinning on the drain covers. I had to view the robot at just the right angle to see the scuffs, they are easy to overlook. So I took a chance and ordered a 10" x 12" sheet of self-adhesive Teflon from Amazon. Here is a link:
Amazon.com: Teflon (PTFE) sheet Size 10" x 12", 0.03" (1/32") thick, with 3M 300LSE industrial-strength self-adhesive backing [TEFLON10x12-3M-r02]: Industrial & Scientific

I'm an engineer and was planning to get all precise and cut the Teflon just right to match the bottom, but in the end I got impatient and went to town with an ordinary pair of scissors and an Exacto knife to start the holes. Here is my handiwork, you can see it's not fancy. I simply felt where the cutouts needed to be with my finger and drew them with a sharpie (had not removed the adhesive backing at this point - just held the sheet in place by hand). There was just enough of a bulge through the Teflon to feel where I needed to cut.

skidplate.jpg

From googling I learned 3M recommends heat around 150 F - 170 F for the best adhesion, so I applied the Teflon and hit it with a hair dryer for about 5 minutes. Let it cool and threw it in the pool. The skid plate works like a champ! I am so happy to have my robot back : ) Hopefully it lasts.

Just FYI I neglected to take pictures of the scuff marks before I applied the Teflon, but they were in the areas marked in red

skidplate2.jpg
 

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MarkTX

Bronze Supporter
Nov 15, 2015
342
Cypress, TX
Just a follow up on the Teflon here, for anyone experiencing similar issues. Our Dolphin has worked great all summer! I don't even bother turning off the pump to run the robot anymore. The robot has gotten stuck on a drain cover maybe 5-6 times in the last 3-4 months. I haven't really been counting because it is no longer an issue. So at around $25 and some time, the Teflon skid plate has been a good thing.
 
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