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Old 27-09-2015, 14:10   #1
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Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

I know, I know, I shouldn't probably even think about it. But basically I have an encapsulated full keel, and for whatever reason right underneath my engine it is hollow, it might even be all the way to the base of the keel, there are some hoses and the manual bilge pump that came with the boat in the pit, and it has a a handle in the cockpit connected to the hoses down there. I believe its called a whale gusher, and also an electric bilge pump is there although I cannont see it. How they ever got it there I do not know. Have it never breaks!

Well, when I first bought the boat the electric bilge, which is set to automatic, never came on, but I hadn't taken the boat out, I was getting it set up, now once I do take it out, that pump comes on from time to time.

It's hard to say when, like it just came on now, and pumped just a little bit, when I last sailed the day before yesterday. It often pumps, it seems, a couple hours after a sail.

Where is the water coming from? I assume this is normal?

I'm a pretty clean guy, so I clean and thoroughly hose down the boat after every sail, so water could be coming in there even though I don't SEE it, or what about the propeller shaft? I am unfamiliar with them, this is my first. And I'm trying to take really nice care of everything, while at the same time learning. Is my stuffing box leaking? Is that normal?. I don't want to leave the boat for a couple weeks and have the bilge pump fail and there to be any problems.
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Old 27-09-2015, 14:52   #2
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

Don't take any water in your bilge for granted. You need to figure out where it is coming from.

First, is it salt water or fresh? A small leak anywhere in your fresh water system could enter the bilge. Not good but it won't sink your boat.

If it is salt water first check the packing gland where your prop shaft exits the hull. Is it a drip less seal? It may need adjustment. It should not drip. If it is a traditional packing gland it should drip one or two drops per minute while the engine is running. This is to lubricate/cool the packing while the shaft turns. When the engine is not running it should not leak at all.

Other places to check are raw water intake, raw water pump, exhaust elbow and wet muffler. Also check every through hull for leaks at hose barbs, hose clamps, hoses.

The first rule of boating is,"keep the water on the outside." Figure out where it is coming from and stop it.


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Old 27-09-2015, 18:59   #3
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

Ok, I've identified it. I just got back from a sail in which I did maybe a half hour of motoring and arriving into the slip I shined a flashlight behind my engine and the prop shaft, where it exits the boat, is drip a drop of water every one second. I'll keep an eye on it to see if it slows down.

Could it be that my feathering propeller isn't feathering and this causes it to spin the shaft because I sail in neutral and it drips while sailing to lubricte it and it takes a while to seal back up?
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Old 27-09-2015, 19:30   #4
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

There's a packing nut on your shaft seal. You can tighten or loosen it to control how much water drips. Don't go too tight, or you'll burn/score your shaft. You can buy an adjustable packing nut wrench, but a good size set of channel lock pliers also works. Some of the newer Teflon impregnated packing will allow you to keep the stuffing box a little tighter (drier) by providing built in lubrication. I personally prefer traditional packing over mechanical seals. Failure is less abrupt. A lot of others prefer the dryness of mechanical seals.

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Old 27-09-2015, 20:17   #5
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

Now I'm worried. The bilge pump just kicked on, I watched how much it pumped out and after being at the dock for an hour, about a half cup, or a cup, it hasn't stopped dripping yet, but it has slowed. Please tell me this is normal, and I can tighten this with a wrench like you were saying.

Is there a way to identify which kind I have? I had a new engine and propeller professionally installed at last haul out for,what difference that would make, I don't know if they change the part that the propeller shaft comes through, I'm guessing not. But they would have made sure it was ship shape.

I'm supposed to be going out of town tomorrow or the next day, I don't want to leave with a drippy boat.

But on the bright side, as I go through my boat, learning it, and working on it, asking a lot of questions on this forum like I have, I'm really learning my boat well, it's not so much a mystery like it was. Maybe this is how I learn what a packing gland, or a stuffing box is. Because all I know is it is what allows the shaft to exit the boat and keeps the water out, like a through hull for my propelle shaft
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Old 27-09-2015, 21:00   #6
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

No need to worry just yet I think.

Sounds like a traditional stuffing box, not dripless.

They don't stop dripping emmediatey upon docking and you say it has already reduced some. It may stop in a few hours I suspect.

I still need to adjust mine some more since replacing the stuffing at the last haulout in the spring. Been dripping continuously for months now, but I live on the boat.
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Old 27-09-2015, 21:36   #7
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

North just give her a quarter turn tightening and call it good for now you get down my way I can give the boat a once over if you like.
Shoot me a pm for contact info where are you now? the John Wayne marina is a good place in sequim.
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Old 27-09-2015, 23:29   #8
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

Ok cool. See? Tomorrow I'll get in there and give her a quarter turn and learn about stuffing boxes.

Say. Here is something I should know. I have a vari prop. A feathering prop. The seller said to engage the feathering to put it in reverse and then neutral. The manual says just leaving it in neutral sailing will make it feather. Which is right?

If I need to out it in reverse first, I have a button next to the throttle which engages the clutch. If I put it in reverse and then neutral do I do it with the clutch engaged or not? I'm not sure if it is feathering. I'm not experienced enough to tell. But I don't want my shaft spinning the whole sail.

Neuhall. I'm in San Francisco. But when I get back up to Washington I will stop by. I sold my second to last boat and took the new owner to its slip in John Wayne. Beautiful place. Great trip over.
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Old 28-09-2015, 00:30   #9
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

North I'm in the port orchard railway marina dad is in Tacoma just pm me when you are headed this way
On the feathering prop bit neutral will work just great it takes torque from the mains to open it up springs feather it in neutral YMMV depending on model personally I would follow the manual.
And its newhaul as in newby hauling used to have trucking company
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Old 28-09-2015, 01:15   #10
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

What do you mean it take torque from the main springs to open it up to make it feather?
I drove a truck for a time. You don't have a trucking company now?
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Old 28-09-2015, 08:57   #11
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

The torque from the engine opens it and when you put it in neutral there are springs in the hub that feather it.
It was a one man one truck and my back got messed up bad in Montana ( got knocked off my trailer when unloading Christmas trees.). Ltl hotshot operation I can't drive anymore due to back issues.
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Old 28-09-2015, 09:38   #12
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

North, it might help to know that the packing nut is held in place by a lock nut. the wrenches are different sizes. Typically you need to hold the packing nut with one wrench while loosening, or tightening, the lock nut with the other wrench. Hope that someone has not set these up really tight.
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Old 28-09-2015, 09:38   #13
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

I also have an encapsulated keel and a dripping shaft packing gland. Mine drips about once per second at the dock. When sailing, the shaft rotates (thats a whole nother thread!) and it drips more. With the engine running, its a spray coming out. So yes, my electric, automatic bilge pump comes on frequently, even though it only pumps out about a cup of water each time.

This is perfectly normal. As others have said, you just need to tighten the gland packing nut a bit. It should still drip about once every 5 seconds while running...you need some water in there, thats how it was designed. On my boat, it needs to be tightened a little every 5 years or so. It would be great to replace it with a dripless fitting. But thats a big job. IMHO, not worth the cost and expense. There are other, funner toys I would rather get. Plus, its good the bilge pump runs now and then...keeps it in good condition, and lets you know it works.

Don't forget to pour some antifreeze down there and run it through the pump after you haul out for the winter.
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Old 28-09-2015, 09:45   #14
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

Quote:
Originally Posted by hamburking View Post
I also have an encapsulated keel and a dripping shaft packing gland. Mine drips about once per second at the dock. When sailing, the shaft rotates (thats a whole nother thread!) and it drips more. With the engine running, its a spray coming out. So yes, my electric, automatic bilge pump comes on frequently, even though it only pumps out about a cup of water each time.

This is perfectly normal. As others have said, you just need to tighten the gland packing nut a bit. It should still drip about once every 5 seconds while running...you need some water in there, thats how it was designed. On my boat, it needs to be tightened a little every 5 years or so. It would be great to replace it with a dripless fitting. But thats a big job. IMHO, not worth the cost and expense. There are other, funner toys I would rather get. Plus, its good the bilge pump runs now and then...keeps it in good condition, and lets you know it works.

Don't forget to pour some antifreeze down there and run it through the pump after you haul out for the winter.
Here on the west coast of america California to here in Washington we don't haul out for winter we dress warmer and continue sailing
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Old 28-09-2015, 10:15   #15
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Re: Simple question. Bilge pump coming on

Quote:
Originally Posted by northoceanbeach View Post
Ok, I've identified it. I just got back from a sail in which I did maybe a half hour of motoring and arriving into the slip I shined a flashlight behind my engine and the prop shaft, where it exits the boat, is drip a drop of water every one second. I'll keep an eye on it to see if it slows down.
There will also be a grease nipple on the packing gland. My first step would be to grease the gland and see the result before moving to step two by tightening the gland nut. Inside the gland is some wool or similar that stops water. And as earlier posters have said it is cooled by an occasional drop of sea water coming up the shaft, But it is also cooled and lubricated by grease. The grease in the packing melts slightly, with the heat from the prop shaft rotation, and is washed away by the flow of water along the shaft, and wear at the surface of the packing material begins. This is a very slow process. But every decade or so you need to replace the packing material (and itís about the only cheap thing youíll ever buy for your boat, less than $10).
You'll likely see the result of this process because the water in your bilge will have a slight oily sheen due to having a tad of grease. There's probably also a slight trail of grease running from the stuffing box to the bilge under the motor.
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