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When there is a load on the motor and it is surging this is an indication of not enough water getting to the front of the pump.
Check the water flowing inside the tub going from the jet opposite the suction cover.
Sounds to me like you may be getting cavitation because the pump is pulling in too many air bubbles from the jet.
Close the air control and/or move the direction of the eyeball from pointing at the suction cover and see if that helps.
Surging is caused when the pump doesn't have enough water to push to the jets. this is usually a problem caused by air being drawn into the suction of the pump. take a look at the jet(s) facing the suction cover. I have seen cases where the water with the air mixed in causing bubbles gets sucked into the suction of the tub and causes the surging because the pump is pulling in too much air. try rotating the nozzle of the jet facing the suction away from it. point it another way. turn the air control knob closed and see if that is the problem. the only other issue that could cause this 'surging' problem is a leak in the suction line and could be the source of the water you see under the tub.
if your pump is surging then you do not have enough water in the bathtub or you have a jet that is blowing air into the suction fitting. this happens a lot when a jet faces the suction and the air control is wide open. the suction pulls in too much air and causes the pump cavitation (surging). Try pointing the jet opposite the suction cover upwards and see if that doesn't solve the problem.
i don't have a solution for the manual however, the pump needs to be installed such that the bottom of the suction line going into the pump is 1/2" higher than the bottom of the suction elbow (coming out of the tub) thereby providing the pump with a flooded suction. This will provide the pump enough water to start pumping to the jets.
I recommend that you consider spray painting the gold hardware with brushed nickel rusteoleum paint. IF you decide to go this route you must lightly abrade the gold surface with emery cloth then prime with rusteoleum primer, let that dry and the final coat will be the brushed nickel. I have done this and it turned out excellent. I get compliments on it.
Regarding your other issues, you will be happiest with white water parts. That being said, it is likely that locally procured parts might fit. I would get one set of parts and try them.
You will likely find the model number etc. on a plate in the mechanical compartment of the spa.
First step is to remove the old hardware so you have something to compare it to. THere are two types/sizes of tub faucets on the market for deck mounted applications. If yours is mounted on the tub deck then it is a deck mounted application.
The faucet spread (distance between the threaded nipples on the bottom of the faucet) is going to be something close to 8" or it will be of variable distance. If the two handles and the spout are connected via hose then they are of variable length.
Bring the old faucet into the hardware store and compare it so you know you are getting the correct one. It is not hard but also not fun to have to adjust the holes in the tub deck to accommodate a different size.
AS for the suction.....I am assuming that you are referring to the inlet part o the pumping system and all of the equipment behind the tub. I always recommend that you use parts from the same manufacturer. It is extremely helpful to call them with all of the numbers you have to get a list of acceptable replacement parts.