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Old 18-10-2008, 07:21   #1
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bilge pump dilemma

The bilge in my Vancouver 27 is tiny. In fact, I would have to pull the engine if I wanted to access the submersible electric bilge pump (the manual secondary pump is not a problem). That seems pretty ridiculous to me and to everyone I have explained my situation.

The engine is pulled as I speak, so I want to rectify the situation. Most pumps that are cheap are those that sit in the bilge. There are costly diaphragm pumps made by Jabsco that don't have to sit in the bilge.

If you know of a reasonably priced 12-volt pump that can sit 4-6 feet from the bilge I would be grateful to hear about it.
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Old 18-10-2008, 08:54   #2
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When I think about bilge pumps, I don't like the word cheap. I like the word RELIABLE.

I have two bilges in the main cabin on board Exit Only (catamaran) and two bilges in the engine rooms. The engine rooms have the cheap bilge pumps and every couple of years I have to replace them. The bilges in the main cabin have float switches with the expensive diaphragm bilge pumps located remote.

Exit Only is now 14 years old, and I am still using the origional 12 volt Jabsco remote mounted diaphragm bilge pumps for the main bilges. Every couple of years I have to change the float switch, but the Jabsco pump goes on forever (so far).

Another advantage of the "Expensive" Jabsco bilge pump is that it is very loud, and when it goes off, I instantly know that there is water in the main bilges, and I know whether it is port or starboard. These pumps are an awesome water alarm that lets me know that I need to check the bilges for a leaking hose or other source of water.

The bilge pumps in the engine room are the cheap silent type. I don't hear them when they go off, and so I don't have the alarm function that tells me there is water in the engine room bilges.

The superior reliability and loud noise (water alarm function) made by the Jabsco pump easily offsets the expense of the diaphragm pump.

If you are selling the boat in the next six months, go with the cheap pumps. If you are "keeping the boat forever", then invest in the more expensive and reliable diaphragm pump.
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Old 18-10-2008, 10:12   #3
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Jim--

You are no more likely to get a satisfactory answer to your dilemma here than you did on the SSCA Board. However, one alternative that I have not seen mentioned is the possibility of mounting your bilge pump on an L-Shaped bracket attached to a handle that can be locked in place but, when released, will allow you to lift the pump up for cleaning or repair near the front of the engine. We did that with a Rule Automatic Bilge Pump in our former, smaller yacht--a Cal 2-29--and it worked very well. Take a look at:

http://www.defender.com/product.jsp?path=-1|51|299222|84462|315207&id=139828

Also--as advised on the SSCA site, you need an oil catchment under the engine to collect oil/fuel drips. Make a drip pan out of a plastic dish-washing tub and throw a couple of oil cloths of diaper liners in it to prevent oil reaching the bilge.

FWIW...

s/v HyLyte
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Old 19-10-2008, 07:03   #4
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Ha svHyLyte, you caught me multiple posting, but thanks for the suggestions.

I have to admit that I shouldn't have stressed cheap, because I agree with Maxingout that cost should not be my main concern.

I like the idea of an improved oil catchment system, that I can reach down and service by hand, but not sure about the idea of a mobile pump, since even reaching the pump by hand would be difficult with the engine in place unless I mounted the pump about a foot from the bottom of the bilge.

I think I just want a good quality pump that is high and dry and far from the bilge. The more I think about it, the more I think a reliable solution is something that I would happily pay for.

Funny, though, the worse thing about the Jabsco diaphragm pumps that I see in Defender and West Marine catalogs that I have, and on various websites, is that they look so ancient, like antiques that would be endless problems that I could leave for my children. Maybe that's unfair.
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Old 19-10-2008, 07:33   #5
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IMO, the most reliable diaphram pumps available today, for a modest price, are those with the name FLOJET. Note that these are NOT Shureflo pumps, but Flojet. ITT acquired them in the past year or two, and raised the prices of course, but so far they haven't toyed with the design.

You can find one online for $80-100. Well worth the price. These pumps run reliably for many years.

You can fit a hose to the pump, run it under your engine, with a pickup fitting at the end. The FloJets come with an appropriate bilge pump filter, which you need to keep clean (easy).

You'll need a bilge pump switch of some sort. The best ones are very expensive, but for your situation you might want to try one of the float switches or even the electronic ones. Don't skimp on the switch...it's important.

You'll also need an electric switch to control the pump. You can buy one already made up, or make one yourself with a SPDT (single pole double throw) toggle switch to choose manual or automatic operation.

An in-line fuse completes the package. Wire this directly to your house battery, not through a panel or battery switch.

Add a hose leading from the pump to the discharge point, being careful to build in a vented loop or other anti-siphon device, and you're done.

Mount the FloJet where you can easily get at it, and out of the way of bilge water splashing around. It will last a long time.

Bill
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Old 19-10-2008, 09:00   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimbim View Post
Ha svHyLyte, you caught me multiple posting, but thanks for the suggestions.

I have to admit that I shouldn't have stressed cheap, because I agree with Maxingout that cost should not be my main concern.

I like the idea of an improved oil catchment system, that I can reach down and service by hand, but not sure about the idea of a mobile pump, since even reaching the pump by hand would be difficult with the engine in place unless I mounted the pump about a foot from the bottom of the bilge.

I think I just want a good quality pump that is high and dry and far from the bilge. The more I think about it, the more I think a reliable solution is something that I would happily pay for.

Funny, though, the worse thing about the Jabsco diaphragm pumps that I see in Defender and West Marine catalogs that I have, and on various websites, is that they look so ancient, like antiques that would be endless problems that I could leave for my children. Maybe that's unfair.
When you mentioned a pump up high, it reminds me of my situation. As the boat came to me it had a 6 gpm diaphragm pump. I believe this was done as getting to the bottom of the bilge is not very easy on my boat. I was not happy with just a low flow electric pump, so I added another higher capacity centrifugal pump in an area of the bilge that is accessable but is much higher (on top of the ballast). So I have a small pump that is good at getting the bilge as dry as possible and a higher capacity pump with a float switch and an alarm that will never see water unless there is a leak. It's easily accessable to clear, and it is easy to test the float switch.

John
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Old 20-10-2008, 03:35   #7
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For the pumps and/or strum boxes that are located in hard-to-reach parts of the bilge, you might consider attaching a metal or plastic support to stabilize the pump, etc. and allow for easy removal for repair. I used a band of aluminum that was 3/4" wide and about 4-feet long, bent into an L-shape to mount a little plastic base (made from a plastic cutting board) on which was mounted my bilge pump, water level sensor, and strum box for the Jabsco pump. I screwed the aluminum in place at a point higher up in the bilge where I can easily remove the entire assembly for servicing, etc. Those deep bilges are a bastard to work in unless you plan ahead with something that allows for removal of bilge apparatus.

Good luck with your efforts, Mate!
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Old 20-10-2008, 03:45   #8
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David Pascoe (Marine Surveyor) has some excellent on-line articles, including:

“Bilge Water Blues”
Solving the Problem of Leftover Bilge Water

Bilge Water Blues: Boat Maintenance/Repairs


“All About Bilge Pumps”
Boats, Yachts: All About Bilge Pumps - Those Essential Devices for Keeping Your Boat Off the Bottom

Including:

Page 1
:
Boats, Yachts: All About Bilge Pumps - Those Essential Devices for Keeping Your Boat Off the Bottom
* Introduction
* What Makes for an Adequate System?


Page 2
:
All About Bilge Pumps - Those Essential Devices for Keeping Your Boat Off the Bottom
* Evaluate the Number of Compartments
* Determining the Number of Pumps
* Outboards and Stern Drives
* Capacity of Pumps
* What Brand?


Page 3
:
Boat, Yachs: All About Bilge Pumps - Pump Installation,
* Pump Installation
* Float Switches
* Open Versus Covered Switches
* Doing It the Right Way
* The Discharge Outlet


Page 4
:
Boats, Yachts: All About Bilge Pumps - Those Essential Devices for Keeping Your Boat Off the Bottom
* Emergency Pumps - Who Should Have Them and Why
* Battery Power
* Wiring Pumps
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Old 20-10-2008, 05:00   #9
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The type and capacity of the bilge pump depends on what you are up against.

My boat is basically dry except for the occasional drip from the dripless shaft fitting. This is easy to deal with but if you let it go even a drip over time can accumulate.

The other "intrusions of water are when I fiddle about with the engine pumps or do and oil change and decide to wash the bilge or when I clean the shower sump filter.

My solution for emergencies is large capacity hand operated pumps (2 gushers I think they're called) and diverter to use the shower sump pump in the main bilge. I can also divert the deckwash pump for bilge duty.

If you have a breach the best way to go is a high volume gasolene operated pump or perhaps 12v which of course depends on batts etc.

I have a small Rule with a timed on every few minutes in the engine and it is basically dry. It won't handle any large infusion of water. There is a hand operated gusher to dry the engine bilge from the cockpit - never used in 22 years.

My bilges are isolated except for limber holes near the top. so I would need several bilge pumps to cover them all and when you consider your boat heel, you need to place pick up on port and starboard otherwise you can drain the water on the lee side. This depends on the shape of your bilge too. Mine is fairily flat, but it take little heel to move all the water our of reach of a CL pick up. The engine room has a V under the prop shaft and that is where the pick up is located. It works.

You can create reliability with multiple back up systems.
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Old 20-10-2008, 06:57   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
When you mentioned a pump up high, it reminds me of my situation. As the boat came to me it had a 6 gpm diaphragm pump. I believe this was done as getting to the bottom of the bilge is not very easy on my boat. I was not happy with just a low flow electric pump, so I added another higher capacity centrifugal pump in an area of the bilge that is accessable but is much higher (on top of the ballast). So I have a small pump that is good at getting the bilge as dry as possible and a higher capacity pump with a float switch and an alarm that will never see water unless there is a leak. It's easily accessable to clear, and it is easy to test the float switch.

John
John,

Interesting to read your post. I have the same setup on my newbuild. I have a sump in the keel, between my water and fuel tanks. I use a JABSCO diaphragm pump to keep the bilge sump dry. I have a larger capacity centrifugal pump (Rule 1200 gph) placed about a foot higher for when there is serious trouble. Both pumps are operated with a float switch. I consider adding a cycle counter for the diaphragm pump, so I can see how many times the pump has been running. This enables me to find out if there is a small leak somewhere, which otherwise would go undetected, as I will not always be around to hear the pump come in.

Andreas
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Old 20-10-2008, 08:03   #11
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You'll need a bilge pump switch of some sort. The best ones are very expensive, but for your situation you might want to try one of the float switches or even the electronic ones. Don't skimp on the switch...it's important.

You'll also need an electric switch to control the pump. You can buy one already made up, or make one yourself with a SPDT (single pole double throw) toggle switch to choose manual or automatic operation.
Thanks for the suggestions, Bill. Electrical is one of my many weak areas, and admit I'm confused. All these switches. I suppose the first switch you refer to is for automatic on/off. Not really interested in automatic operation. I'll quickly realize I am taking on water in my little boat.

The second on/off switch... why can't I operate it from the electric panel. Seems to work fine for my current pump?
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Old 20-10-2008, 08:10   #12
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Originally Posted by jimbim View Post
Ha svHyLyte, you caught me multiple posting, but thanks for the suggestions.

I have to admit that I shouldn't have stressed cheap, because I agree with Maxingout that cost should not be my main concern.

I like the idea of an improved oil catchment system, that I can reach down and service by hand, but not sure about the idea of a mobile pump, since even reaching the pump by hand would be difficult with the engine in place unless I mounted the pump about a foot from the bottom of the bilge.

I think I just want a good quality pump that is high and dry and far from the bilge. The more I think about it, the more I think a reliable solution is something that I would happily pay for.

Funny, though, the worse thing about the Jabsco diaphragm pumps that I see in Defender and West Marine catalogs that I have, and on various websites, is that they look so ancient, like antiques that would be endless problems that I could leave for my children. Maybe that's unfair.

I don't know about your comment being 'unfair'. It is however totally in-correct, based on my 30 years of trying to keep my bilges pumped. My experiences with RULE 'sit in the bilge' type pumps is that they are totally un-reliable because the smallest piece of debri will prevent them from pumping. After numerous instances where I'd turn the RULE on, have it NOT pump. I'd reach down pull it out of the bilge and clean the impeller intake and it would work. As an emergency guard against flooding while I'm absent it's NOT. I finally yanked my last RULE and insatlled a Jabsco high in a cockpit locker. I also took the opportumity to install a 'smart' switch that knows the difference between water and diesel/oil and will not pump the latter overboard. All problems solved. Yea, it wasn't cheap. Two things that cheap should be the last conseration are bilge pumps and ground tackle.
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Old 21-10-2008, 07:34   #13
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Randy, appreciate if you could tell me which Jabsco you installed and which switch you choose.
cheers and thanks for the input.
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Old 21-10-2008, 08:28   #14
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Jim--

After looking at some snaps of the engine installation in the Vancouver 27 I can appreciate your problem. Aboard our boat we have a relatively small diaphragm bilge pump that is pretty bullet proof and may be all you need given your really tiny bilge. Have a look at 34600 Diaphragm Bilge Pump > Electric Diaphragm Pumps > Bilge Pumping Systems > Jabsco - ITT


This pump will discharge roughly 600+ gallons an hour. Although we do carry spares for the pump--in particular the diaphragm--ours has lasted many years without fail. Just ensure you have a good large strum box on the end of your pick-up hose (I made mine from a 1-1/2" dia x 12" piece of PVC Pipe drilled full of 1/8" holes). As an emergency pump you might also carry a larger 3000 GPH Rule Pump mounted on a piece of starboard with a length of flex hose to reach the cockpit and alligator clips on the wiring that you can attach to your battery. (To avoid blockage simply wrap the base with a length of nylon screening.)

FWIW...

s/v HyLyte
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Old 22-10-2008, 05:54   #15
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Thanks for the suggestions HyLyte. Will look into them and follow the links. Trying to picture how the Rule emergency solution will work and where I can store it!

I have written Northshore, the new builder of Vancouver yachts, and they say not all 27s were built the same, and some had better bilge access than others. Regardless, mine did not come with an electric pumps, just a manual, so that might explain why the designer felt bilge access could be less than routine.
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