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Old 28-11-2018, 08:31   #16
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by cal40john View Post
One friend ran aground and cracked the hull just outside of our group's destination. Came in saying I'm sinking the bilge pump is not keeping up with the inflow. Got to work with buckets and a portable bilge pump and the situation was under control. Seemed the low leak rate should have easily been handled by any bilge pump, so I offered to troubleshoot his.

After a few minutes of opening sole hatches and peering about with a flashlight, I said to him I see no hoses, no wiring, absolutely nothing in your bilge most certainly no bilge pump. His reply was the bilge had always been bone dry in the year he had owned it. Also when he bought the boat he had tested the bilge pump by turning on the switch, the light on the switch came on so the assumption was the pump was working.

Another friend I was helping, we were for some reason using the manual pump to empty the bilge. It wasn't working, I took it apart and found a zip tie tail in the check valve. Pumped for awhile and it stopped again, found another. Did this several times.

My boat took me awhile to find that the small diaphragm pump was installed backwards. (It was the dry the bilge pump, not so much an emergency pump.)
I also had a manual pump that worked but you had to pump like crazy to get primed, the rubber check valve was a little warped from age.

My zip tie friend found me letting water into the boat, which I do every couple of years, to test the pumps. He asked why would I do that?

Why do people never test emergency pumps?
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Old 28-11-2018, 08:31   #17
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

If there is metal under the paint, could the bump be caused by corrosion or failure of substructure after it's being manufactured? Sand it down and get on with your life.
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Old 28-11-2018, 08:34   #18
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by Stardreamer View Post
So not only is the pump out of warranty, likewise the life of the sailor is out of warranty...apparently. WHAT A CROCK! These pumps should be held to the highest standard. In the production process, that a 'bump' of paint would cause a seal failure in the functioning of the pump, WHALE should be screaming for you to return it immediately with NO QUESTIONS ASKED. As far as I can see, this is liability on steroids. This is not an age problem; it is a negligence problem on their behalf.
Agreed, and should be reported to USCG. That could result in a re-call or at least a warning by Whale to routinely test/inspect these pumps, and might just save someone's boat or life! The pump should have been periodically tested by the owner (and will likely be in the future!) and yes, it's an easy repair, but that does not excuse Whale from shoddy manufacturing/quality control, especially of a device relied on to potentially save lives. Obviously Whale does not test every pump before it goes out the door. Even a quick, simple vacuum test would have caught this problem.
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Old 28-11-2018, 08:54   #19
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by Wallaby View Post
You're 40 miles offshore, water sloshing in the bilge, no 12v pump(s) for some reason (in my case, electrical fault), so you start pumping the manual pump...


The pump was a Whale Gusher 10, Mk3. It was fitted to a 50 ft. sailboat built in 2001-2. I suspect the pump was never used or tested until the above emergency. When it was needed, the Whale failed! It did not draw water after prolonged pumping. The vessel was never in danger of sinking--there is a 4,000 gph pump out of the 'slosh zone,' and two portable 4,000 gph pumps onboard.


In preparing for another offshore voyage, I installed a new hose and disassembled the pump, with a rebuild kit in hand. The pump appeared to be in as new condition. There was no debris, no sign of salt damage, all rubber looked to be in excellent condition etc. Then, I noticed that excess factory-applied paint caused a lump to form where one of the flapper valves seats. The valve will never obtain a complete seal with a lump. (see photo)



Given that a manual pump is the last resort to save a vessel, such a flaw in manufacturing/quality control is problematic to say the least, especially for a pump with a list price of $338. I contacted the manufacturer despite an expired warranty period. I was duly informed:



"... The issue is not relevant to our current production, which is due to its age which is also the overriding factor in this warranty case. We do consider out of warranty cases and quite often support products regarding expired warranty periods, but no matter the issue we cannot support a warranty claim that is well over 10 years past it’s limit..."

The response speaks for itself! Whale stands by its current products only. Such a response is surprising given the tendency of US Courts to impose strict liability in product liability--for safety items like emergency bilge bumps, the response is mind-boggling.

I hope this does not sound harsh... but it is.


You consider the sump pump to be vital safety gear... and you never tested it? Ever? I always tested manual pumps annually, even if that meant pouring freshwater into the bilge. It could have failed for reasons totally unrelated to the pump.

Yes, Whale could have caught this with QC, BUT a pump is NEVER considered to be installed until it is tested, thus this pump was never fully installed. Period.



(I did refinery work for 35 years and I've been involved with a lot of pump installations)
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Old 28-11-2018, 09:03   #20
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

Perhaps I missed something, but isn't it possible that between the date of manufacture and when the OP disassembled the pump a previous somebody woked on it and performed the sloppy paintjob? Frankly I find it tedious reading/hearing the litany of allegations of sloppy/irresponsible practices by manufacturers. For the most part no business is going to be so slipshod, as they'd soon be bereft of customers.
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Old 28-11-2018, 09:26   #21
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by LoudMusic View Post
Has anyone installed special valving to use other pumps for emergency draining the bilge? Such as a Y-valve to change the air conditioner pump, shower drain pump, engine raw water pump, to draw from the bilge?

If you're in the situation where "MUST REMOVE WATER FROM BILGE OR DIE TRYING" seems like you'd want all the available pumps working on the problem.
Thanks: an emergency valve connected to the raw water intake hose between the strainer and the pump makes a lot of sense.
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Old 28-11-2018, 09:32   #22
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by ferrailleur View Post
Thanks: an emergency valve connected to the raw water intake hose between the strainer and the pump makes a lot of sense.
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Old 28-11-2018, 09:34   #23
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

I appreciate the harsh comment--I deserve it, particularly after I'd checked the other bilge pumps and completely omitted the manual pump. I am not trying to avoid my responsibility in this. It's been a learning experience in any number of ways, which is why I posted in the first place.

One: I often say 'you get what you inspect, not what you expect.' I expect things to work; and I make certain they do work, yet I missed this pump, perhaps because it's out of the way, I didn't install it, and I never used until there was a sloshing sound in the bilge. Seriously, I check the bilge every 6-8 hours while I'm offshore, and there is a high water alarm.

BTW, it's not just me. This boat was surveyed twice, and the bilge pump wasn't reported. The last survey was for insurance and to 'make sure the vessel is safe for an offshore voyage.' The reason for the latter, the more eyes the better.

Two: The pump constitutes a life-threatening critical manufacturing defect. Yes, it should've been detected a long while ago, but that doesn't change the basic issue of quality control. We're not talking about something that would easily go unnoticed, or the result of deterioration. Clearly, the manufacturer didn't test it. Neither did the installer. Or the previous owner. Or me!! The pump just sat there waiting for an emergency. It's a bit like a fire extinguisher, but Kidde did a massive recall.


Three: I think there's a bigger issue. We have a role in ensuring manufacturers work to improve their products and accept responsibility when they do not.


Regarding the engine-based raw-water from the bilge discussion, this is a good idea but needs to be done very carefully, and I doubt it will move enough water to justify doing. It's also based on the engine running.

FYI, I integrated it into an engine fresh-water-flush system since sitting salt water is a big destroyer of engines.
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Old 28-11-2018, 09:37   #24
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

The manual pump on my (then) newly-acquired 40 year old boat didn’t work. Investigation revealed that it had been installed with the output hose kinked against the underside of the cockpit bench. I just find it amazing that these things never get tested or maintained.
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Old 28-11-2018, 09:47   #25
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

I have any number of devices intended for emergency use aboard my boat. I also have quite a few spare or replacement parts as well as complete standby components. Few of these will see regular use inside of their warranty period. I make it a practice to test each one while their warranty is still in effect for obvious reasons.
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Old 28-11-2018, 10:46   #26
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by Sailmonkey View Post
+1

I fill the bilge every few months to check all the pumps.

This is more the OPs problem than whale’s.

Check your equipment!!
I agree. Every few months, I pull the fuses on the electric pumps. (I have no switches to fail and power comes straight off the battery terminals through fuses). Then I toss the slip's garden hose in the bilge, fill it to the brim, operate my Whale manual Gusher Urchin pump, and then install the fuses to the electric pumps one at a time to verify function.

I have three electric pumps at staggered levels in the bilge. At the highest level is a 2000 GPH centrifugal pump (with an alarm), the next highest is a 800 GPH centrifugal pump (with an alarm), and the lowest a Whale Gulper 320 diaphragm pump (with no alarm) that will dewater the bilge to nearly dry.

I don't fully trust centrifugal pumps because they aren't self priming. I've had these pumps fail in tests because the output hose mounting had drooped. Even if both of those centrifugal pumps fail, I still have the electric Gulper and the manual Gusher diaphragm pumps that are self priming.

Nothing's worse than a centrifugal pump whirring away stealing power from the pumps that do work while not pumping any water. I have the advantage of having an engine port in the stern, and I've routed the output hoses to dump overboard, with an air gap, in that port so I can see the water output - and eliminate three through hulls (all through hulls are inherently evil). I don't like the irony of a bilge pump through hull sinking my boat. My boat has only three through hulls: two cockpit drains and the rudder post tube. Through hull valves? Ain't got none - don't need none.


Nearly every time I've asked a skipper how many through hulls his boat has, he has paused a long time and then often couldn't tell me with certainty. This is a number that should leap off one's tongue, since every through hull is the first place to look when taking on water.
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Old 28-11-2018, 10:58   #27
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

Are you sure its not a rust bulge?
When you remove the lump you will know for sure.
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Old 28-11-2018, 11:10   #28
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Are you sure its not a rust bulge?

When you remove the lump you will know for sure.


I was thinking the same thing. It looks like corrosion under the paint and may not have been there when it was new. Doesn’t seem like you could fault Whale for that if that was the case. Let us know when you sand the paint off what the surface looked like.

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Old 28-11-2018, 11:29   #29
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

Wallaby: was the pumps primed with water, or was it above the water trying to run dry?


There is NO garenty that any pump will dry prime after a long period. Sorry. Even a single leaf or a wire tie or a fallen match will prevent that. In fact, I think that this pump will probably pump at 90% capacity just as it is, IF it were primed with water first.


Pump operation 101.
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Old 28-11-2018, 11:29   #30
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Re: A Whale of a Fail: Emergency bilge pump

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Originally Posted by LoudMusic View Post
Has anyone installed special valving to use other pumps for emergency draining the bilge? Such as a Y-valve to change the air conditioner pump, shower drain pump, engine raw water pump, to draw from the bilge?

If you're in the situation where "MUST REMOVE WATER FROM BILGE OR DIE TRYING" seems like you'd want all the available pumps working on the problem.
Our emergency pump consists of a Rule 3700, 25 feet of 2" flat plastic discharge hose (like for draining a hot tub or swimming pool) connected with a hose clamp, and two electrical clamps (mini jumper cables) that connect to any battery to power the thing.

We recently used it to empty one of our water tanks for a repair. We put the pump inside the tank, took the house up and out through the companion way, and over the side of the boat.

The rate it pumped and the amount of water it pushed through the hose is astonishing. The hose rolls up nice and flat. We keep the whole assembly stored in a large ziplock bag in a locker with instant access (not buried under a bunch of junk). One of the battery banks is directly port of the bilge under a dinette seat cushion, so it's extremely quick to set up in an emergency. God forbid.

It's also portable, so we're able to help others if need be.

We also have a regular 12 v bilge pump installed and used/tested regularly and a brand new manual Whale, which we've never used. And probably never will given how well our emergency pump works.
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