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Old 26-08-2017, 04:33   #1
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bilge on/auto

Good Morning,

I'm rewiring everything in a old westerly 1956 kingfisher that had minimal electrical. I'm making my schematic and buying the last of my electrical components. Most bilge switches have auto, off and on selections. I dont like the idea of this choice. Am I wrong in thinking that auto should remain on at all times through the float switch and only a manual on should be available to crew ? I see someone inadvertently bumping the (auto/ off / on) type switch to off position leaving the boat vulnerable while no one is aboard. My question is one of curiosity why would they design this three position switch it should be either on or auto not off. Apparently I'm not thinking properly or missing something as almost every switch I see has a off in the middle.

Bob
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Old 26-08-2017, 05:52   #2
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Re: bilge on/auto

Bob,

Your thinking is pretty accurate. Most would like the ability to turn off a device (for several reasons) thus the center off position. Might want to consider a toggle switch guard that tends to force the switch into the auto position, but can be flipped out of the way to turn the switch off or manual on.


https://www.delcity.net/store/Toggle...BoCDHAQAvD_BwE
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Old 26-08-2017, 06:28   #3
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Re: bilge on/auto

My float switch and pickup are on different sides of the center line, when healed to starboard the switch is submerged and the pickup is dry thus the off position.
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Old 26-08-2017, 06:38   #4
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Re: bilge on/auto

The PO of my boat installed an aircraft-type switch with a protective cover: you have to intentionally lift the cover to switch to off or manual, closing the cover forces the switch to the automatic position.
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Old 26-08-2017, 06:39   #5
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Re: bilge on/auto

Which I now see is pretty much what Frankly said.
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Old 26-08-2017, 07:08   #6
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Re: bilge on/auto

Here's an argument for leaving it in the off position:
  1. If you're not on-board and have a significant water leak, your battery will run down and the pump won't help
  2. If the water leak is slow and the pump keeps up, it will only mask the problem.
  3. If you're on board and the pump is quiet, you may not hear it and it will mask the problem. Better to check the bilges on a regular basis and pump out manually.
I normally leave my pump off. If I found a leak, I'd turn it to auto to give me time to find and fix it.



A pump cycle counter would help mitigate #2 and #3 above.
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Old 26-08-2017, 07:13   #7
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Re: bilge on/auto

The PO also had an answer to numbers 2 and 3 - installed an audible alarm on the bilge pump with another switch to shut it off when desired. I leave it off because I can hear the pump when I'm on the boat, and don't want to drive the neighbors crazy if it cycles in the marina.

As for number 1, it sounds like the logic is to leave the pump off so the battery won't drain but the boat will sink faster. Not sure what the right answer is.
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Old 26-08-2017, 08:16   #8
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Re: bilge on/auto

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Originally Posted by AnglaisInHull View Post
As for number 1, it sounds like the logic is to leave the pump off so the battery won't drain but the boat will sink faster. Not sure what the right answer is.
Not really. The logic is that it probably won't help, but if it makes you feel better you can leave it on auto. I certainly see many boats with bilge pumps cycling with no one on-board.

My point was that an argument can be made for leaving the switch in the off position.
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Old 26-08-2017, 08:22   #9
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Re: bilge on/auto

My float switch got stuck once (permanently) and it was nice to be able to turn the pump off and on manually until I could replace the switch.
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Old 28-08-2017, 15:02   #10
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Re: bilge on/auto

I like to use on-on switches. Wired thru either a easily accessible fuse (pull the fuse) or thru a breaker. I like Push Pull breakers (pull off) hard to shut off by accident. This was the setup Hinckley used for years on their boats. With this setup no worry about shutting the pump off at the switch just shut off the circuit protection if you need to work on it etc.

As far as how useful a pump can be in auto mode. I used to work at a marina. Dock sinkers were almost always boats with their auto bilge shut off. I rarely saw a boat with a functioning auto bilge and a shore power connection or solar sink. Most common reason was from heavy rains. Leaves would clog cockpit drains when boats were left they would swamp and start sinking. Or sometimes they just had really bad deck leaks. Honestly I would always leave the auto on (properly fused etc).
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Old 28-08-2017, 15:23   #11
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Re: bilge on/auto

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Originally Posted by Last Call View Post
Good Morning,

I'm rewiring everything in a old westerly 1956 kingfisher that had minimal electrical. I'm making my schematic and buying the last of my electrical components. Most bilge switches have auto, off and on selections. I dont like the idea of this choice. Am I wrong in thinking that auto should remain on at all times through the float switch and only a manual on should be available to crew ? I see someone inadvertently bumping the (auto/ off / on) type switch to off position leaving the boat vulnerable while no one is aboard. My question is one of curiosity why would they design this three position switch it should be either on or auto not off. Apparently I'm not thinking properly or missing something as almost every switch I see has a off in the middle.

Bob
Left my switch in the off position this spring by mistake. Next spring it will, be changed to a switch with no off, only on and auto.
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Old 30-08-2017, 08:54   #12
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Re: bilge on/auto

Colin A #10: +1

ON-ON with no center OFF will eliminate the problem of inadvertently leaving the pump OFF. The typical momentary RUN switch on production boats {(ON)-OFF-ON} ties up one crew member keeping the pump running if the float switch has failed.

If in AUTO and water is rising, the breech is too large for the pump, the pump switch is inop, or the pump has failed. The inop pump switch problem is eliminated by switching the selector switch to RUN providing a parallel path from panel to pump. The operator is then free to find the source of the leak and slow/stop it. Most bilge pumps are inadequately sized and installed to handle a substantial watertight integrity failure. The only way to survive is to find the failure and reduce or eliminate the ingress of seawater.
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Old 30-08-2017, 09:31   #13
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Re: bilge on/auto

Use the standard setup. There may be times when you want to turn it off. Add the bilge pump indicator light. Could be a a godsend. Before I added an indicator, I was sailing along and something just seemed like the motion of the boat wasnt right. I went down and lifted the bilge cover. The water was right up to the bottom of the floor! ......and that is how I learned not to put a flapper valve in the pump outlet hose because I was being anal about that little bit of water that kept returning to the bilge after the pump shut off.
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Old 30-08-2017, 11:13   #14
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Re: bilge on/auto

You might carefully mount the pump switch where it will not get bumped. If I was redoing mine, which does get bumped, I might go inside a cabinet or other well out of the way location.
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Old 30-08-2017, 11:27   #15
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Re: bilge on/auto

Leave the switch off. When you return to your boat and it has sunk....then you know you had a significant leak! Aye...
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