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Old 25-02-2015, 12:36   #1
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Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

I have always loved Whale diaphragm pumps for their simplicity and ease of servicing.

My manual bilge pump -- a Whale Gusher #10 Mk. 3 -- stopped working last year. I didn't consider it an urgent problem as I have three more electric pumps on board.

Today, buying a diaphragm for a Whale Gulper 220 gray water pump (the diaphragm, frustratingly, lasted for less than a year), I noticed that Joliffe's in Cowes, which in the past I have unfairly denigrated for not keeping a useful inventory of chandlery, has service kits for every kind of pump, apparently, ever made, and I bought the kit for my Gusher.

Well, I pulled the Gusher apart, and was surprised to find that the problem was not the diaphragm at all, but that the flapper valve seats are made out of aluminum, finished with some kind of yellow paint. The alu is corroding and shedding the paint, creating a surface not smooth enough for the valve to seal against . Wow, what a bogus design.


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I presume that there's nothing I can do with this except sand it smooth and repaint it with zinc chromate primer.

And expect the problem to repeat itself in that environment before too long.

Or is there some other way to deal with this? Grateful for any tips.
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Old 25-02-2015, 13:03   #2
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Hi Dockhead,
You might get a copy of this part in stainless steel if you have a workshop with laser cutting etc. nearby. Or you could make a copy yourself with glass and epoxy. The part seems to be flat, which makes copying it easy as you only need a one-sided mould which you could easily make from plaster. Just remember to protect it with gelcoat on the surface.
Martin
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Old 25-02-2015, 13:37   #3
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

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Originally Posted by tomcat1 View Post
Hi Dockhead,
You might get a copy of this part in stainless steel if you have a workshop with laser cutting etc. nearby. Or you could make a copy yourself with glass and epoxy. The part seems to be flat, which makes copying it easy as you only need a one-sided mould which you could easily make from plaster. Just remember to protect it with gelcoat on the surface.
Martin
Make a custom-machined part for a $200 bilge pump? Ba! Would be easier just to replace it with something better made. Couldn't they have just designed it properly in the first place?
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Old 25-02-2015, 13:51   #4
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Like with a Whale Titan. Bigger pump - more GPM - and well made with heavy plastic and rubber. Mine is over ten years old and I use it fairly often as my electric bilge pump is intentionally mounted about 6 inches above the bottom of the deep bilge.
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Old 25-02-2015, 13:57   #5
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
Like with a Whale Titan. Bigger pump - more GPM - and well made with heavy plastic and rubber. Mine is over ten years old and I use it fairly often as my electric bilge pump is intentionally mounted about 6 inches above the bottom of the deep bilge.
That's the model I have. Mine quit working and I took it apart and found a sliver of wood from somewhere fell into the bilge, got sucked through the pump and then got stuck halfway through the aft flapper, stopping it from making a good seal on the frame. Easy to fix though.
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Old 25-02-2015, 14:16   #6
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

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That's the model I have. Mine quit working and I took it apart and found a sliver of wood from somewhere fell into the bilge, got sucked through the pump and then got stuck halfway through the aft flapper, stopping it from making a good seal on the frame. Easy to fix though.
Being among the cheapest people you may ever meet, I built my own strainer. A foot long section of 2" pvc pipe. Spent an hour drilling many many many holes all over it with a 1/4" drill - looked like it had been used as a target at a machine gun range. Cemented a pvc cap on one end. On the other end I cemented a 90 degree elbow and then a foot long length of 2" pvc pipe. The strainer sits at the bottom of the deep bilge. The bilge pump hose is just inserted into the vertical pvc pipe. Been working ten years now.

BTW, I bought the spare diaphragm/valve set for the Titan at the same time I bought the pump. Ten years later it's still in it's original unopened package.
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Old 25-02-2015, 14:22   #7
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

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Originally Posted by onestepcsy37 View Post
Being among the cheapest people you may ever meet, I built my own strainer. A foot long section of 2" pvc pipe. Spent an hour drilling many many many holes all over it with a 1/4" drill - looked like it had been used as a target at a machine gun range. Cemented a pvc cap on one end. On the other end I cemented a 90 degree elbow and then a foot long length of 2" pvc pipe. The strainer sits at the bottom of the deep bilge. The bilge pump hose is just inserted into the vertical pvc pipe. Been working ten years now...
That was the problem. The strainer, was a piece of screen that was secured over the end of the hose with a hose clamp. Seemed like an okay way to do it. But, it wasn't stainless and had rusted out some, and somehow, this sliver of wood, made it through. I did redo it after that, with a more robust strainer I made myself out of plumbing parts, but I'm not sure the strainer I have now would have stopped it either, although I think it would have.
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Old 25-02-2015, 15:11   #8
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
I have always loved Whale diaphragm pumps for their simplicity and ease of servicing.

My manual bilge pump -- a Whale Gusher #10 Mk. 3 -- stopped working last year. I didn't consider it an urgent problem as I have three more electric pumps on board.

Today, buying a diaphragm for a Whale Gulper 220 gray water pump (the diaphragm, frustratingly, lasted for less than a year), I noticed that Joliffe's in Cowes, which in the past I have unfairly denigrated for not keeping a useful inventory of chandlery, has service kits for every kind of pump, apparently, ever made, and I bought the kit for my Gusher.

Well, I pulled the Gusher apart, and was surprised to find that the problem was not the diaphragm at all, but that the flapper valve seats are made out of aluminum, finished with some kind of yellow paint. The alu is corroding and shedding the paint, creating a surface not smooth enough for the valve to seal against . Wow, what a bogus design.


Attachment 97908


I presume that there's nothing I can do with this except sand it smooth and repaint it with zinc chromate primer.

And expect the problem to repeat itself in that environment before too long.

Or is there some other way to deal with this? Grateful for any tips.
Contact the manufacturer and complain.
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Old 25-02-2015, 15:21   #9
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Make a replacment from 1/4'' G10 epoxy ,would be fairly easy with a dremel.
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Old 25-02-2015, 16:08   #10
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Dockhead, has Whale been cheaping out on that part? Or could it be a counterfeit pump? Or cheapo replacement part in the past?


Dummp why you guys are using strainers on bilge pumps, sailors have always use strum boxes for that.(G) Strainers are best left in the galley.
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Old 25-02-2015, 16:19   #11
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Whale now manufactures the Henderson Mark 5.
Originally Munster Simms.

An excellent long lasting plastic pump.

Blockages can be cleared without tools.



Beware crappy imitations !
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Old 25-02-2015, 16:21   #12
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Get a nice smooth piece of black plastic of the correct thickness..plenty to choose from. Use the old part as a template and cut out with a fine blade band saw. Use a sharp new drill bit for any holes. No corrosion. No big expenses. If it works okay, problem solved.
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Old 25-02-2015, 17:14   #13
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

In the spirit of poor design, this is National Engineers' Week in the U.S.

My engineer friends blame their marketing depts. for their poor designs.
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Old 25-02-2015, 18:02   #14
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

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Originally Posted by hellosailor View Post
Dummp why you guys are using strainers on bilge pumps, sailors have always use strum boxes for that.(G) Strainers are best left in the galley.
You probably glossed over the first sentence in my post...

"Being among the cheapest people you may ever meet, I built my own strainer."
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Old 25-02-2015, 18:41   #15
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Re: Poor Design of Whale Bilge Pump

Another instance of poor design in the Whale Titan: To inspect or clean the flapper valves requires removing two bolts. The nuts for these bolts fit into recesses to hold them from turning -- until you get the bolts halfway out, then you have to use two hands. Furthermore, neither the bolts or the nuts are captive, so can easily fall into the bilge, especially if you have a major leak and are working fast under pressure. Then you can't put the pump back together at all.

Even if you don't drop anything, getting the bolts back in is no easier of course.

I complained to Whale about this, which I consider dangerous in an emergency, and got a blank look via email. "Like it's our fault?" Aren't those guys in the business of helping with emergencies?

Fair winds,
Jack
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