Cruisers Forum
 


Join CruisersForum Today

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Rate Thread Display Modes
Old 27-05-2018, 09:36   #1
Registered User

Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: New England
Boat: lagoon 380 s2
Posts: 551
Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Not sure I should be in the Lagoon forum for this question....

Background: Was moving boat from winter place to summer place. About 70mi. Checked it out a week ago, tightened up everything, no water anywhere. Came back a week later to move. About 3 mi out, sails up, engines on, doing 8kts, I figured, lets check things out again. Port hull bilge, nothing. Stb hull, holy crap, bilge is filled! Not a little, but the whole bilge, which on my cat is the false keels.

Automatic pump is not on! I have a switch on the panel that will turn on the bilge, fortunately, it clears it in about 10 minutes. It doesn't seem like any water is coming in from any seacocks, so we continue on.

There is some residual water in the bilge that the pump can't suck out, see pics, there is a strainer that prevents the hose from being right on the bottom.

I have had issues in the past where I hear a beeping noise (when the bilge pump comes on, it beeps at the panel and light goes on) for about 20 secs. This is because the water sloshes forward when the bow goes down, raises the float switch and then goes off when the water drains back when the bow lifts into the next wave. It seems like I can sort of lock the switch down into a detent by pressing it forward, but not sure? I don't think this should be the case.

Anyway, the switch did not come automatically, I stuck a coat hanger down and cleared away a ton of crap.

Later I flipped switch back and forth with a hanger, and was able to get it come on, but still not sure it is working reliably, which I need it to!

I want to replace it, but can't reach it! Need some advice as how to get to this, so maybe this is lagoon specific? See pics. switch is the bottom of false keep accessed thru about 1' sq hole. Also, assuming on wiring, the 2 red wires going into the pump, one is going to manual switch, other is going to float switch?

Finally, what I am pretty sure caused the leak was that I had not retightened the hose clamps on the water intake for the head. Hose was on the barbs on seacock, but not tightened. I think a week ago I had pumped toilet about 100 plus strokes to flush out antifeeze and check its working. Plus going 8 kts for 30 minutes didn't help. Anyway, after tightening them, I did not see anymore water in the bilge for the next 40 mi.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	20180526_091427.jpg
Views:	143
Size:	401.2 KB
ID:	170595   Click image for larger version

Name:	20180526_091502.jpg
Views:	140
Size:	372.5 KB
ID:	170596  

Click image for larger version

Name:	20180526_091632.jpg
Views:	123
Size:	401.4 KB
ID:	170597  
__________________

jbinbi is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 09:44   #2
Registered User
 
careka's Avatar

Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: Egersund,Norway
Boat: Lagoon380 Comfort#637
Posts: 710
Images: 2
Send a message via Skype™ to careka
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

do put it in the Lagoon groupe.
__________________

careka is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 14:48   #3
Senior Cruiser

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: May 2013
Location: Oregon to Alaska
Boat: Wheeler Shipyard 83' ex USCG
Posts: 1,943
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

I have a 83' wood boat with 5 water tight bulkheads and 6 separate bilge areas. So with this boat and a lifetime on or near the water, I've used dozens of pumps and switches. The only type of bilge switch I trust now is the vertical tube. I haven't seen a big difference in brands. The flipper type float hasn't worked well since they took out the mercury. I won't buy the pumps with a built in switch because the sensor always fails. Usually within a year. (Except for Lovett, but are hard to find.)
This switch is about $150 on ebay.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	float-switch.jpg
Views:	129
Size:	127.6 KB
ID:	170626  
Attached Images
 
Lepke is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 16:08   #4
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2014
Location: Mexico
Boat: Passport 40
Posts: 168
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Go with a water witch, attach it to a hose or something you can bring up in case you need to clean it (the maintenance it might need if very oily). Thats it. It jut works.

https://waterwitchinc.com
gaucho is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 16:47   #5
Registered User
 
Suijin's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Annapolis MD; currently in Oriental NC
Boat: Valiant 40
Posts: 3,434
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

My bilge sump is very deep, can't even reach to the bottom of it lying on my stomach on the cabin sole. The float switch is on a fiberglass batten that extends down into the bilge, with a fastener and base up near the sole. To service/clean the switch I just unscrew the fastener and pull the batten up. That looks like what you need.

Flapper (i.e. Rule) float switches are crap. Get rid of it. Even the super switches suck. If you can't have confidence in a well maintained float switch, then what's the point?

I have a Water Witch and am very happy with it, but have not had it in service long enough to know how reliable/durable it is. Reports are that the 20amp version is much more reliable than the 10amp version.

The Ultra switch gets the best overall points for reliability but they are pricy. Without a doubt, if my Water Witch fails I'll go straight to the Ultra.
Suijin is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 16:56   #6
Senior Cruiser
 
Steadman Uhlich's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Crewing All of 2018 Available Globally
Boat: OPB = Available as Crew in 2018
Posts: 5,693
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
My bilge sump is very deep, can't even reach to the bottom of it lying on my stomach on the cabin sole. The float switch is on a fiberglass batten that extends down into the bilge, with a fastener and base up near the sole. To service/clean the switch I just unscrew the fastener and pull the batten up. That looks like what you need.

Flapper (i.e. Rule) float switches are crap. Get rid of it. Even the super switches suck. If you can't have confidence in a well maintained float switch, then what's the point?

I have a Water Witch and am very happy with it, but have not had it in service long enough to know how reliable/durable it is. Reports are that the 20amp version is much more reliable than the 10amp version.

The Ultra switch gets the best overall points for reliability but they are pricy. Without a doubt, if my Water Witch fails I'll go straight to the Ultra.


I just came off a voyage on a full keel 53 foot boat (draft 7.5 feet) that had a very large and very deep engine room and bilge, so deep there would be great difficulty reaching the bilge pump at the bottom.

The owner had his bilge pump Water Witch attached to the bottom of a 6-7 foot ( I think) long, 1/2 inch diameter stainless pipe, mounted to the side of the bilge "well" so he could pull up the Water Witch to clean it or service it. The switch was on some small stainless platform or plate at the bottom end of the pipe.
__________________
Ahoy All Sailors! Need experienced crew for a passage or delivery in Atlantic, Pacific, Caribbean, Med, PNW, ICW, coastal or across an ocean anytime in 2018? I am available on 24hr notice. See my CF Profile "About Me" page for details. Happy to lend a hand!
Steadman Uhlich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 17:12   #7
Registered User
 
Simi 60's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Australia
Boat: Milkraft 60 ex trawler
Posts: 791
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Our primary bilge switch is mounted well above water height and is activated by a PVC tube with a ball float on the bottom pushing up through another PVC tube and lifting the still dry float switch.

That one is a "rule" and has lasted forever as it remains dry.
The 3 additional pumps have "sure bail" floats as recommended by several working trawler owners and sparkies who have and work on boats.

Other side of the world to lepke, but I do like the look of, but have never seen, that tube switch here.
Simi 60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 27-05-2018, 17:22   #8
Registered User

Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 2,089
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Another vote for replacing it with an Ultra on a long stick that screws to the hatch frame. Unscrew the screw and pull it up to clean and check. Be very careful that switch wire splices are secured to the stick far above the bilge water. Classic place to create galvanic corrosion.
CarlF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 09:00   #9
Registered User

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Cruising, now in USVIs
Boat: Taswell 43
Posts: 319
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Our bilge is deep and narrow-to make the bilge pumps accessable I made a 1/2" PVC pipe "tree" and mounted the primary and backup bilge pumps, the high water alarm, and the 2 bilge pump switches on that "tree". I gave up on the float switches several years ago, and have used the electronic type ever since. We've had the best luck with the "Quick" switch. And they work in water, or oily water equally well. We pull it once every year or 2 to clean, replace as needed, and then reinstall----works good! I would not trust a float switch ever!
sailcrazy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 09:30   #10
Registered User

Join Date: Jun 2015
Posts: 1,533
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Quote: "The owner had his bilge pump Water Witch attached to the bottom of a 6-7 foot ( I think) long, 1/2 inch diameter stainless pipe, mounted to the side of the bilge "well" so he could pull up the Water Witch to clean it or service it. The switch was on some small stainless platform or plate at the bottom end of the pipe."

Exactly! In my puny 30-footer, the pump AND switch (a grotty Rule flipper switch) both sit on an identical arrangement, though a "roll yer own" built of wood. Cheap, simple and convenient. The whole issue can be lifted out for cleaning of it and the bilge generally.

When aboard, I inspect the bilge as part of the daily general inspection routine and I verify by means of a stick with a hook on it that the flipper works. Provided that this is done - and logged - and shows no ingress of water, the risk of a leak while she is unattended, is, IMO, very, very little.

TP
TrentePieds is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 10:23   #11
Registered User
 
S/V Alchemy's Avatar

Join Date: May 2008
Location: Toronto
Boat: Custom 41' Steel Pilothouse Cutter
Posts: 4,728
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

The consensus remains that the rocker-type float switches are garbage and alternatives exist. I like the PVC "tree" idea, because I also like "staged" pumps.
__________________
Can't sleep? Read www.alchemy2009.blogspot.com for fast relief. Can't read? Avoid www.volumesofsalt.blogspot.com, because it's just personal reviews of sea books.
S/V Alchemy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 10:45   #12
Registered User

Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 2,089
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

I have put my upper and lower pumps on two separate stick/trees as there are a lot of hoses and wires associated with the two pumps. Pulling them out together would be challenging.

My higher pump is a 3700GPH monster on a 1 1/2" hose. Because it is six inches higher neither it or it's switch normally gets wet so it rarely needs checking.

Also, connect a loud alarm to your upper pump. If it's running, you want to know.
CarlF is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 10:55   #13
Registered User
 
Simi 60's Avatar

Join Date: Jun 2016
Location: Australia
Boat: Milkraft 60 ex trawler
Posts: 791
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Quote:
Originally Posted by S/V Alchemy View Post
The consensus remains that the rocker-type float switches are garbage and alternatives exist. I like the PVC "tree" idea, because I also like "staged" pumps.
Some types are better than others.
The trick is not to get them wet.

If you have a tree or stick as some describe to lift them out of the water for cleaning you can do as i described earlier and not have them in the water at all.
Quote:
. Our primary bilge switch is mounted well above water height and is activated by a PVC tube with a ball float on the bottom pushing up through another PVC tube and lifting the still dry float switch.

No water or crap around float switch and wires - no problems
Simi 60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 12:33   #14
Moderator
 
a64pilot's Avatar

Cruisers Forum Supporter

Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: Albany Ga.
Boat: Island Packet 38
Posts: 19,168
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Quote:
Originally Posted by CarlF View Post

Also, connect a loud alarm to your upper pump. If it's running, you want to know.

We were sitting around eating supper the other day, when our high water alarm - secondary bilge pump went off.
Our primary switch was off, I guess maybe the wife knocked it off cleaning and it had been off for no telling how long.
a64pilot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 28-05-2018, 13:46   #15
Registered User

Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Queensland, Australia
Boat: None at present--between vessels. Ex Piver Loadstar 12.5 metres
Posts: 522
Re: Float Switch replacement for bilge pump

Sometimes there is a place where one can mount a switch completely out of the bilge and its poor electrical environment, and just have a plastic rod with clearance all around it guided within a PVC tube. The plastic rod (can be epoxy saturated wood) is connected to a float. The float from a toilet cistern is ideal. Mount it in the same way as do some fuel gauges on large diesel tanks. Nothing electrical is within, everything is above fuel or water level, nothing is able to cause a spark, and nothing like moisture or condensed spilled fuel to contaminate the switch contacts.

Having said all that, the flapper switches used on most bilge pumps need to be exercised a lot to be reliable--which exercise they do not usually get in a bilge. I used the cheaper Rule ones in my shower sump--and got years of service from them, because they were used every day at least once, and frequently during each shower..

I agree that a mercury relay is the best switch of all, 100% reliable, and still available from electrical suppliers as a switch, but you will need use the home-made float and rod and mount the relay out of the bilge. The bilge is NO place for switches anyway--no matter how easily they can be mounted there. The only things I like in a bilge that are electrical in any way are the inevitable submersible sealed pumps--and gas detector sensors.
__________________

Mike Banks is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
bilge, bilge pump, loa, men

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Rule Bilge Pump Float Switch Problems Sailorman1249 Product or Service Reviews & Evaluations 153 23-05-2018 15:23
float switch far away from pump... should I use the neg side for the float switch? felipe Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 13 02-02-2014 13:20
440: Heads Bilge float switch replacement YOLLATA Lagoon Catamarans 3 29-09-2013 14:45
Bilge Pump Wiring w/ Float and 3-Way Switch reash Electrical: Batteries, Generators & Solar 7 28-07-2009 08:56
Bilge Pump Float Switch Arrangement markpj23 Plumbing Systems and Fixtures 9 08-02-2008 08:04



Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 01:52.


Google+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Social Knowledge Networks
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

ShowCase vBulletin Plugins by Drive Thru Online, Inc.