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Old 06-08-2014, 05:54   #1
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Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

Yesterday someone was taking a shower, and the aft gray water pump starting sounding different. I pulled up the sole plate, and shower water was spraying out of the vent holes of the Whale Gulper 220 pump. I understood immediately that the diaphragm was shot.

Thank God I had the overhaul kit for this pump (I have two of these pumps on board). Finding it was another story since I laid it in years ago, when I did my first spares inventory.

So today I overhauled the pump, and what a pleasure it is to work on something which is well engineered. It's all plastic so cheap to make, but engineered with thought and care so that -- it doesn't break. Which it never has; actually neither of them has. When I took it off, it was evident that it had never been touched since my boat was built 13 years ago. How many thousands of liters of nasty gray water has that pump handled? I have been living aboard since April, and generally live aboard 3 or 4 months a year, and the boat's washing machine discharges through that gray water system, too. And it Just Works.

I wish more stuff on board was like that.


And note to other cruisers: For God's sake, have spares for all your pumps on board. The Gulper 220 is one of the most common gray water pumps, and is still made and sold. Whale sell the overhaul kit for cheap money, and so it's not a burden for chandleries to keep them in stock. But can you buy one when you need it? There is not one to be found in the entire Stockholm area, one of the world's most intense sailing areas. Ordering it drop-shipped takes three days. Imagine three days living on board without a gray water pump. On our boat it's not strictly speaking the end of Western Civilization, since I have two of these pumps -- the forward part of the boat has a separate gray water system. So I could swap it out -- worst consequence would be that I would have to share my heads with the crew for a couple of days. But many boats have only one gray water pump.
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Old 06-08-2014, 21:27   #2
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

Have to agree! The whale gulper pump is one of the best installations we did and it has run error free for many years.
AND
yes as liveaboards we have spares for every pump aboard and many more spares besides - we need to be self sufficient when ocean crossing and miles from land.

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Old 06-08-2014, 21:59   #3
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

we have a half dozen (3 in bilge service and 3 in sump); great pumps, easy to maintain... hard to beat...
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:11   #4
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

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. . . as liveaboards we have spares for every pump aboard and many more spares besides - we need to be self sufficient when ocean crossing and miles from land.

Sapient Sue
Having adequate spares when crossing oceans is pretty clear.

My point was that even on a coastal cruise not far from cities with big sailboat populations, you can't count on getting a common spare part for a common pump in time to avoid a huge hassle.
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Old 07-08-2014, 01:29   #5
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

I've got one which pumps the galley sink. Brilliant bit of kit. When the shower pump fails, guess what I'll be fitting.
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Old 07-08-2014, 04:22   #6
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

If you get the nitril refit kit, or buy the nitril model.from Northern Tools, it will also pump diesel.
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Old 07-08-2014, 07:38   #7
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

Good information, thanks guys. I've never used one but I've sold a bunch and now that I think of it, I don't think any have been returned. Must be a pretty good pump.
Whale 12 Volt Gulper 220 Shower Drain & Waste Water Pump - BD1552
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:10   #8
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

Quote:
Originally Posted by hpeer View Post
If you get the nitril refit kit, or buy the nitril model.from Northern Tools, it will also pump diesel.
Great tip and source lead!

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Originally Posted by HopCar View Post
Good information, thanks guys. I've never used one but I've sold a bunch and now that I think of it, I don't think any have been returned. Must be a pretty good pump.
Whale 12 Volt Gulper 220 Shower Drain & Waste Water Pump - BD1552
HoppertunisticCar to the rescue!

PS: Have a bunch, and couldn't agree more, great pump...
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:20   #9
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

Happy, I never miss a chance to post a link! Actually this kind of thread is useful to me as I can't try everything I sell my self. Now I know I can recommend the Whale Gulper.
Thanks for reposting the link. Your check is in the mail.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:49   #10
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

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Happy, I never miss a chance to post a link! Actually this kind of thread is useful to me as I can't try everything I sell my self. Now I know I can recommend the Whale Gulper.
Thanks for reposting the link. Your check is in the mail.
Good man... That's what I like 'bout ya... !

Instead of postage and administration costs reducing a mailed check amount... Why not just write down a HopBuck credit for Happy... He has a LOT of things on his refit need list...

Let's make that 2 HopBucks....

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Old 07-08-2014, 11:29   #11
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

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Having adequate spares when crossing oceans is pretty clear.

My point was that even on a coastal cruise not far from cities with big sailboat populations, you can't count on getting a common spare part for a common pump in time to avoid a huge hassle.
Words to live by. Too many otherwise fine boats are more or less incapacitated or just stuck in port for weeks until some "it's this or a bucket" part comes in. There are people who spend $5K on a bulletproof staysail they rarely use who won't carry spare pump kits for items used several times a day. I think it's because humans since WWII haven't had to live next to their outputs and we've forgotten how problematic that can be.
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Old 07-08-2014, 19:21   #12
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

Thanks Happy! Two HopBucks it is. Uh oh, I see where this is going.
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Old 11-08-2014, 10:13   #13
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Let me 2nd or is it 7th the praise.

I installed on on the previous boat in about 1998? And it is still going strong last I heard.

I am running the gulper ic version all over the new boat. The capacitive float works great, let's see, one combined forward shower and sink. One in the galley sinks. One for aft shower, one for aft sink. One in the main bilge. Planning one for each ac unit (I am a fanatic about dry bilges)

So seven of them with five installed.

Live aboard use.
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Old 30-08-2014, 04:56   #14
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Re: Whale Gulper 220 -- In Praise of Stuff which Just Works

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Originally Posted by botanybay View Post
Let me 2nd or is it 7th the praise.

I installed on on the previous boat in about 1998? And it is still going strong last I heard.

I am running the gulper ic version all over the new boat. The capacitive float works great, let's see, one combined forward shower and sink. One in the galley sinks. One for aft shower, one for aft sink. One in the main bilge. Planning one for each ac unit (I am a fanatic about dry bilges)

So seven of them with five installed.

Live aboard use.
I wasn't aware of what the "ic" version was so I just looked it up. What a useful concept! I'm not going to do it right away, but eventually it will allow me to get rid of a couple of thru-hulls below the water line as I combine the shower outlets with the sink outlets. I currently have 5 gulper 220's aboard, 2 of them for the shower sumps (3 others for bilge pumps), but they are on a switch that requires the user to remember to turn it off when sump is dry. Guests have a tendency to forget that step but the pump is loud enough so my wife or myself hear it and turn it off. Still, it would be sort of nice to make it automatic, at least in the guest cabin.

I think that most people intend to have appropriate spares aboard so it's not being excessively "snug" with their money that causes them to not have the parts they need on short notice. If you're a liveaboard, you have more time to think about it but many a part time coastal sailor just doesn't have the time to think about the possible consequences to his lifestyle that a simple shower sump or galley pump failure might cause. Of course, for those of us with half a dozen or so of these identical pumps aboard, but an aversion to carrying too many spares for everything on the boat, it's a pretty simple matter to temporarily swap out one less needed pump for the other, at least until you can make it to the chandlery for a replacement.

They are very reliable, but still, I've had to buy two rebuild kits this summer alone. First, the aft shower sump had gradually developed a problem of not emptying and the problem was that the little rubber flapper wasn't making a good enough seal, it seemed fatigued. When I installed the rebuild kit, I noticed that the intake flap wasn't black rubber and was made of something that's stiffer so will probably keep making that necessary seal for a longer lifespan. This seems like a big upgrade from the original all black rubber flapper. More recently, one of my bilge pumps stopped pumping even though I could hear the pump running. I took it apart and found a splinter of wood lodged in the intake flapper valve. I removed the splinter but it still won't pull water out of the bilge about 6' below it even with the outlet disconnected so I'm ordering another rebuild kit from Defender today. Fortunately, they are VERY easy (and inexpensive) to replace the plastic parts that tend to get worn or fatigued and cause problems.
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