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Old 01-01-2007, 19:27   #1
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Bilge pumps

We are hoping to buy an electric bilge pump sometime this year. What size capacity wise would suit a 34 ft boat? Are there any pitfalls with these products, any brands less reliable than others - actually any info on electric bilge pumps would be good (our knowledge is about zero). Thanks.
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Old 01-01-2007, 19:56   #2
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Well, I hava a 33 foot boat and I have 3 electric pumps, and one manual, plus spare electric and manual pumps onboard, plus parts and overhaul kits, etc.

The primary is a 2000 GPH Rule with a Ultra Junior automatic switch and a 3 pay panel.

Back-up is a 3,700 GPH Rule with another Ultra Junior switch and a selector panel for auto, off or manual, same thing as the primary.

The third electric pump is a small "sump-pump" with a push-button switch so I can empty the last few liters into the head. (Hate to have brackish water sloshing around in the bilge forever causing odors, etc: Happiness is a dusty bilge)

The primary non-electric is a Whale Gusher 10. I use it once a month pumping soap and fresh water through.
Let salt water sit in that cast alu housing and it will corrode to pieces..
Also have another manual pump that can be used for bilge, dink or whatever.

All the pumps are used with fresh water every 2 or 3 weeks as I empty my water tank into the bilge after each "cruise". They get the excercise and hopefully it prevents corrosion.

I designed my system based on this article:
ALL ABOUT BILGE PUMPS - Boats, Yachts Maintenance and Troubleshooting

There was some initial fine tuning with the one-way valves and siphoon breakers and such, but finally got it going good.
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Old 01-01-2007, 20:18   #3
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As you can tell the CSY man wants to be sure the water gets out of the boat. I had a situation a year ago where the bilge pump failed then the hand bilge pump failed. This left a bucket for the evening. Always best to be extra protected when it come to keeping the water out of the boat. It's the second rule of boating. The first rule being "don't hit anything".

To the point of your question. You can't go wrong with a bigger pump and there should at least be a backup and I can't say a third backup isn't a bad idea as I was there when two failed. If the last resort is a bucket you best have one on hand!

For a manual backup I would choose a Whale Gusher.
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Old 01-01-2007, 20:29   #4
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Bilge pumps

I like to keep one of these (from West Marine) aboard, too. They move a surprising amount of water.

WEST MARINE Manual Bilge Pumps Easy-to-use manual pumps stow almost anywhereEasy to use hand bilge pumps have no-pinch handles and a removable foot-valve for easy cleaning. Convenie... From $21.99 USD
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Old 01-01-2007, 20:29   #5
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Yeah, I like back-ups to my back up.

Boat have sunk because pumps could not keep up with the water due to a missing prop shaft, or a compromised hose, sea-cock or whatever.

With big pumps ya are buying time if ya also have the rest of the gear needed, like a big battery bank to run the pumps for a few hours while ya fix the problem or get help.

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I like to keep one of these (from West Marine) aboard, too. They move a surprising amount of water.
Yup, got one of those too, but with a different name.
(West Marine are-a-putting their label on everything these days, from rubber boats, to charts, to chairs, and now pumps...)
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Old 01-01-2007, 20:31   #6
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Thank you CSY Man and Pblais for you informative replies. It appears we have much to learn . Currently on board we have 2 non-functioning Whale gushes (to be repaired soon as) and (you will be pleased to know Pblais) 2 plastic buckets.
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Old 01-01-2007, 20:34   #7
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Sounds like you are on the right track. This stuff is important when you find out the hard way. My new boat needs a new clamp on the Gusher. It pays to check them out on a regular basis. I need to tend to it ASAP.
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Old 01-01-2007, 23:27   #8
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From experience, I strongly recommend an extra piece of outlet hose long enough to reach from your biggest bilge pump to a portlight, or hatch. I had an exciting (my wife has a more colorful description) exprerience with a plugged outlet hose. We spent about 16 hours bailing with a 5 gallon bucket in rough seas. Redundancy is a must, but you will need redundancy for all parts of a system as critical as a bilge pump.
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Old 02-01-2007, 00:47   #9
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Insurance?

Your insurance company may require an automatic bilge pump.
It may be worth working out an arrangement such that on your (regular?) visits to the boat you empty the bilge so that the automatic bilge pump never fires in anger. There have been reports of the switches failing.
I inherited an old 1" rule pump with the boat and ended setting it up with a Whale switch. It removes a remarkable amount of water quite quickly.
The other trap that I encountered is that standard practice seems to be to have the bilge pump discharge outlet about 6" above the waterline so that if the boat settles or heels it could flood. Some sort of anti syphon/one way valve may be desirable. I have looped the discharge line well up above the waterline and ultimately I will put some sort of sump just below the deck.
I use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to remove the last drops of water from the bilge. Its surprising what can be found down there.
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Old 02-01-2007, 01:19   #10
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See the excellent article,
“All About Bilge Pumps” ~ by David Pascoe
ALL ABOUT BILGE PUMPS - Boats, Yachts Maintenance and Troubleshooting

Wherein he suggests the following minimums:
27 - 35 Ft Boat - 3 pumps - Total Capacity 3500 - 4500 GPH
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Old 02-01-2007, 09:55   #11
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Thank you all so much - all posts and material referred to will be printed out and studied thoroughly.
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Old 02-01-2007, 12:09   #12
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The winter issue of BoatWorks (lovely fractional rig sloop with red sails on the cover) tested a bunch of electric bilge pumps.

They liked the Whale SuperSub 500 and the Attwood Tsunami T-800 best, but said they all worked.

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Old 02-01-2007, 12:12   #13
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Aloha all,

The magazine Boat Works has a good article about bilge pump comparisons. Its in the Winter 2006/2007 issue.

My last old wooden boat had only two hand pumps, one that could be operated from the cockpit and one that you could operate down below in the cabin. Neither required electricity and would not drain your batteries. The disadvantage of course was that while you are not aboard your boat is not protected and while in use your arms get tired. Good exercise though. Buckets are good but getting them up the companionway without spilling them is a bit of a pain. Long arms help.

I'm fitting my current boat with two electrics and one hand pump.

JohnL
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Old 02-01-2007, 13:13   #14
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Those gray hand pumps ARE damn faithful. And your Gushers, once given a little attention for proper plumbing and perhaps the rebuild kit, should never let you down.

Electrics, on the other hand, are disposable equipment. They can and will fail and if you have the time and money for it, I'd suggest installing two, each as large as you can, because the ratings are over-optimistic and with two of them there's a real chance you'll have at least one that works when you need it. The pumps and switches both fail disturbingly often, even with the best of installation and waterproofing.

The catch-22 for using a large pump is that the larger the discharge hose (a good thing for pumping) the more water will run back into the bilge as the pump shuts. The best way I've heard to avoid that, is to install the main bilge pump switch a bit above the bilge bottom, and then install a small "finishing pump" that is there only to get the last quarter inch out of the bilge. Small capacity, small discharge hose, so it doesn't let much slop back in. (Or, a good sponge.<G>)
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Old 02-01-2007, 16:14   #15
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i really like the 2 pump plus back up and a smaller pump as a final cleanout pump. I used this setup on a trawler I had with great results and a dry bilge most of the time. Other then when I went a ground due to large waves in low water. that put them all to work for just over a hour.

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