Quick Tech: How RCJS/Watcon Rebuilds a Solas Pump


Improving your personal watercraft’s ability to convert combustion into motion and into thrust is the equation that has propelled the whole of the aftermarket. Increasing engine efficiency by maximizing intake and exhaust flow, increasing internal quench and burn efficacy and magnifying the engine’s ability to convert that reciprocal process into useable torque and applicable horsepower is essential to PWC performance.

Equally weighted in this endeavor is the jet pump. Reducing reciprocal drag and heat via friction is only the beginning. Prop and pump hydrodynamics are imperative to the pump’s overall ability to convert engine power into applied thrust. Although modern personal watercraft benefit from a quarter century of manufacturer experience, there is always room for improvement, and the aftermarket has been all too happily to step in.

High performance pump and prop manufacturer Solas has established a great name for itself in its near 30 years of business. Providing customers with a durable and affordable product that dramatically wakens previously unearthed power from their craft, Solas has propelled dozens of racers to championships since their beginnings in 1986. Of course, recreational riders have come to trust Solas for their props and pumps too.


If you like this “after” picture, wait until you see what it started as.

But time has a manner of wearing down even stone, and Solas’ pumps are not immune to the toils of use and age. That is why John Zigler of Rock County Jet Ski and Watcon.com, has been handily refurbishing Solas pumps for years. Whether repairing walk-in customers’ pumps, or offering ready-to-install refurbished pumps, RCJS/www.watcon.com sell Solas pumps turned on a lathe and ready to build right out of the box.

Likewise, RCJS/www.watcon.com offers their jet pump building services for people requiring their old pump or shaft rebuilt. “We also have new shafts in stock,” Zigler told The Watercraft Journal. “We also have bearing kits, Skat-Trak, Solas, and Impros Hooker Impellers. We would be happy to help.” Surely, RCJS/www.watcon.com has been instrumental in getting recreational and professional riders out on the water both locally and nationwide.

This day, Ziegler walked us through how RCJS resurrects a Solas pump, from a discolored and potentially locked-up state to as-new (if not better than new) condition. It takes Zigler a few hours to get the job done right, and he won’t allow anything less to leave his workbench.

Step One: “The old pump assembly is usually always sealed too tight to hand-crank anything loose, therefore its almost always necessary to heat up to remove the old shaft assembly. After heating bearings, and removing them from the shaft, discard all of the old seals and bearings. It’s important to never reuse the old parts. Trying to save a few dollars here could result in catastrophic failure later.”

Step 2: “Here at RCJS/Watcon.com, we mount and turn every pump in the lathe. There’s no better way to true up the bearing area, open it up, and reduce ‘press’,” Zigler explained.


Step 3: “After being cleaned, prepped and turned on the lathe, each pump is cleaned again of any machining debris and measured to make sure it is now within our spec.”


Step 4: “Next, clean and inspect shaft. Prior to installation, we literally freeze the shaft. It makes the next steps significantly easier.”

Step 5 & 6: “Once you wash the new bearings with an acetone detergent like brake cleaner, to get off any oil. Next, heat the bearings evenly, installing warm bearings on the cold shaft by hand. Under no circumstances should you press or hammer on the bearings.”

Step 7 & 8: “Pack both bearings with grease. I use waterproof marine grade wheel bearing grease. Next, pack and fill the area between bearings with grease. Once properly filled and coated, freeze the whole assembly.”

Step 9: “Now, using a hammer and a piece of tube (or a large socket, as shown), install the front seals. Once done, again fill with grease.”

Step 10: “You need to heat pump housing evenly, front and back, being careful around seals. This will help expand the pump housing itself for the installation of the shaft and bearing assembly.”


Step 11: Now you can install the cold shaft and bearing assembly into warm pump (again, by hand). Do not force, use a press or hammer. If it does not go in easily, start again by cooling the shaft and re-heat housing. It’s time consuming but is the right way to do it.”


Step 12: “With the shaft and bearing assembly installed in the pump, pack the rear cone with grease and install.”


Step 13: “Finally, we install the impeller. Now, install the assembly into your ski, using caution to check pump, drive, and mid-shaft alignment,” Zigler instructed. “You are now done, go out and ride!”

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Kevin Shaw

Editor-in-Chief – kevin.shaw@shawgroupmedia.com Kevin Shaw is a decade-long powersports and automotive journalist whose love for things that go too fast has led him to launching The Watercraft Journal. Almost always found with stained hands and dirt under his fingernails, Kevin has an eye for the technical while keeping a eye out for beautiful photography and a great story.

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