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Old 02-12-2005, 14:09   #1
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Bilge Pump Replacement

Both of the electric bilge pumps on my (new to me) '86 Shannon 43 are shot. I pumped out the greasy bilge yesterday with a hand pump and then fished out a mess of wires, a small Rule pump just hanging in the bilge, a float switch that was floating (literally) and another, larger Rule pump in the bottom of the bilge. Both were connected to the same hose with a Y and one leg of the Y had a flo-check valve.

Looking at the specs for new Shannons, I see that they now come with a non-submerged Whale Gulper 220 and float switch only. The Gulper is mounted high and dry (I'm not sure where).

I've read a couple of articles about bilge pumps that recommend a small submerged pump controlled by a float switch and a larger, secondary pump (automatically or manually controlled) mounted just above the primary pump's float switch.

Could you pump a little wisdom my way?
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Old 02-12-2005, 14:57   #2
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Yeah, read this article.

http://www.yachtsurvey.com/bilge_pumps.htm
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Old 02-12-2005, 16:50   #3
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Excellent article CSY. I have just skimmed over it for now. But I would like to comment on one point. Rule pumps. What have others found with these pumps. I have to say personaly, I don't think much of them. I have not had issues with failure, it's just that they are pathetic pumpers. I have been slowly changing over to Attwood. The Attwood have far exceeded the head capacity and volume at that head height than the Rule.
As for Rule float switches, now this has been an issue. They don't seem all that relaible at all. It's too early to see how the Attwood float switches will last.
Whenever I have had a bildge pump failure, it has alwasy been the float switch. I have two switches. One as the float switch and one as a high water alarm indicator. I am going to make up a circuit to allow the high water alarm switch to activate the pump as well as a back up. I have a pump in each hull compartment and then one huge 3000GPH pump set high. If any compartment floods, it should be taken care of by the next, but if the water level reaches a very high level, the big mother comes into play.. Of course, this is all reliant on enough battery power being available to operate the electrical pumping system. Back up goes to two "armstrong" model hand pumps.
I have an electrical panel (you will see it in the photo gallery) that has the LED indicators for each bildge section and a switch that allows me to turn a pump Manual/on-off/Automatic. The two LED's give me a highwater alarm and pump activated indication.
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Old 02-12-2005, 18:20   #4
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I gave up on the Rule Switches. I have never had one last more than a year. No idea why, but that is my experience.
Wheels, I am wondering about your idea to attach the bilge alarm to the pump. I believe this would mean that you could not shut off the alarm without shutting off the pump. Assuming your alarm is audible, not just an LED, that would be problem for me. In a situation where the higher pump comes on, it would most likey be serious, and tense. An alarm sounding in the background would add greatly to the tension. Maybe I am reading too much into this, but that is my take on it.
My system is fairly basic, with 2 Shurflo automatic pumps hard wired in the lowest bilge, and a Jabsco mounted high with a hose p/u. The Jabsco is manual on and off, and a bilge alarm is mounted at the p/u for the Jabsco. I will be installing an engine driven pump at some point, and a switch in the cockpit for the Jabsco. Reasoning? If the alarm goes off while the boat is unattended, the pump can be activated without breaking into the boat. (all bilge pumps bypass the battery switch.) If it is necessary to use an additional pump, a broken hatch will be amongst the least of my worries.
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Old 02-12-2005, 18:55   #5
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Kai Nui once whispered in the wind:

Wheels, I am wondering about your idea to attach the bilge alarm to the pump. I believe this would mean that you could not shut off the alarm without shutting off the pump. Assuming your alarm is audible, not just an LED, that would be problem for me. In a situation where the higher pump comes on, it would most likey be serious, and tense. An alarm sounding in the background would add greatly to the tension.
Just add a cutout switch on the alarm. Just leave it on all the time except to stop the alarm. Hide it away so it doesn't get shut off by an unknowing party.
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Old 02-12-2005, 19:57   #6
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I whole heartidly agree with Alan on the rule switches they are VERY unreliable. I put in 4 new rule pumps and 4 new rule switches 8 months ago. I have had 4 failures in the switches. I have taken two of them out and will replace the finale two in the next few months. These things were $30 EACH! They should last longer than a few months.

I have not had any issues with the rule pumps. I have the rule 2000 models. I have not had any issues with them, or their ability to move water. As a test I opened up a water hose on each of them, they cycle on about 50% of the time. Thats enough capacity to handle the failure of any one of my through-hulls with just one pump.

Keith
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Old 02-12-2005, 20:04   #7
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Rule bilge pump float switch reliability

I agree with the aforementioned potential problem with Rule float switches. These swtches should be quite reliable when the loads are quite small (less than a 5 Amp draw). Therefore, if they are used to switch a relay that, in turn, switches on the bilge pump (use a 25A rated contact or more) then you will realize an improved reliability.

I believe that the Rule people never utilized an engineer who really knows how to switch inductive loads. Jabsco actually had this problem years ago as well with automatic fresh water pumps.

The switch should outlast the pump motor.
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Old 02-12-2005, 20:35   #8
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Quote:
My system is fairly basic, with 2 Shurflo automatic pumps hard wired in the lowest bilge, and a Jabsco mounted high with a hose p/u. The Jabsco is manual on and off, and a bilge alarm is mounted at the p/u for the Jabsco.
Now we're gettin' somewhere. Why 2 Shurflos instead of 1 at the lowest point in the bilge? I guess they both feed into a Y and run simultaneously? And the Jabsco, is it plumbed into the same discharge hose?

What if I use a diaphram pump (like a Jabsco) with a hose p/u for the lowest part of the bilge controlled by a switch (float or solid-state) mounted as low as possible so that most of the water is removed? I'd also wire this pump to my auto/manual panel switch. I could then install a high-capicity automatic pump higher in the bilge as a secondary.

From what I understand, diaphram pumps are generally lower capacity than impeller pumps, but don't mind being run dry. It seems that diaphram pumps would be better suited for pumping the bilge dry. Maybe cost and power consumption is the issue?
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Old 02-12-2005, 23:02   #9
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Sorry, I never really answered your original questions.
Firstly, I have no idea why the two pumps, but I suspect someone was trying to do a clever idea, but may not realise it could be a disarster. I would remove the two pumps and fit one good capactiy unit. The idea of a Y and presumably a non-return valve could be a disarster wainting to happen. You would need a valve on the outlet of each pump for a starter. If one valve ever stuck open for some reason, then the water is going to take the path of least resistance and go straight back to the bildge via the other non working pump. I use Non-return valves so as to avoid a syphon. But it has to be realised a certain amount of restriction is caused by these valves.
The idea of the diaphragm pumps is that they ( the pump) can be mounted above water and the pump will suck up and will also suck to a very low level. They don't tend to be a high flowing pump. A good centrifugal pump will move a greater quantity of water hands down. Suction pumps will also tolerate a bit of rubbish. The smallest piece of rubbish in the submersables will often stop them from working.
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Old 03-12-2005, 00:05   #10
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Lightbulb bilge swiches

I use a pressure switch connected to relay to switch the pump on and off.Made my own pressure chamber from 75mm pvc pipe put a waste water end cap on stand vertical in the bilge open end down,attach a small tube between the end cap and pressure switch ,as the water rises the pessure to the switch increases and closes at a preset level and will open when the water drops down to a preset level.Never have to worry about debris clogging the switch,have used this system for 20 years no problems.Greg
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Old 03-12-2005, 05:50   #11
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Kirby, our boats are about the same size; here's what we chose to do:

Primary bilge pump: Jabsco ITT 12V diaphram, because it is easily rebuilt, is supported internationally, can pass all kinds of crud, can be run dry, and is very reliable. The pick-up for this is at the bottom of the deep bilge box; actually, I made a long, perforated PVC pick-up tube that lies flat along the bottom of the bilge with a 'U' to which the Jabsco's suction (pick-up) hose is connected. This pump's wiring goes to the conventional 'On-Off-Manual' switch with the 'Manual' side spring-loaded. I wired in a Morse lighted buzzer right at the switch, in series. When the pump activates, you know it even if in the cockpit with the engine running. OTOH when e.g. I'm flushing the bilge out using this pump, I can easily bypass the nuisance of the alarm by just unplugging it. No siphon break needed.

Ultra Jr. Pump Switch to operate the Jabsco because it is highly thought of, is electrically sealed at the float switch, with the wiring long enough to get the connection point well out of even a deep bilge. Mine has worked faultlessly for many years now, including a few times when the bilge has been an abosolute mess. I like the little LED which tells me the switch is energized. Shop for your switch separately from your pump; as you can tell from the Rule switch comments (with which I agree), a good pump mfgr. many not be a good switch mfgr.

Elevated (perhaps 1') high-capacity Rule 4000 gph pump, with its own integral switch, own discharge line and siphon break. This is mounted 1/3 up the deep bilge and the drill is that, when the (Jabsco) bilge alarm sounds, Step #1 is to throw the breaker than energizes this hicap pump, then begin looking for the problem. I could leave this breaker on full-time but don't because the hicap pump is always cycling its integral switch to look for the presence of water and I don't want to wear it out. If I had a 2nd Ultra Jr. switch wired to a hicap pump without integral switch, I would leave the breaker on.

Whale Titan manual bilge pump, again with its own pick-up and discharge lines (no siphon break needed).

The article Dag offered us is thorough but I do notice it offers the typical logic that the bigger the boat, the larger (and more numerous) the bilge pumps, when in reality the opposite logic seems reasonable. The smaller the hull volume, the less time one has to troubleshoot flooding. I would do something similar to the above arrangement even on a small boat.

Jack
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Old 03-12-2005, 06:05   #12
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I agree (/w Jack) that the “Ultra Pumpswitch” may be the best available float switch. I‘ve NEVER had a problem with them (installed dozens).

Ultra PumpSwitches:
http://www.tef-gel.com/pumpswitchinformation.htm
http://www.tef-gel.com/typical_insta...pumpswitch.htm

by

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Tel: 407-845-1086 ~ Fax: 407-844-8566 ~ Toll Free 1-800-433-2628
Email: rolandorortega@yahoo.com


See also:

Choosing and Installing Bilge Pumps: http://www.uaf.edu/seagrant/boatkeeper/bilge-pumps.pdf

20 Electric Bilge Pumps Tested:
http://www.powerboat-reports.com/sample/bilge.html
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Old 03-12-2005, 18:27   #13
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Kirby, to answer your question, and address the concern raised by Wheels, the two pumps in the lower bilge are on seperate switches. Strictly on or off, with a built in float switch. They are routed into a Y valve, and out the same thru hull. The reason I set it up this way is access. If one fails, I can switch to the other pump until I am able to replace the failed pump. My bilge is 5' deep. The shaft runs down the center, and I can not fit between the shaft and the hull, so the only way to access the pumps is to pull them up with a boat hook. (no they are not secured, they just sit on the bottom). As I have mentioned in earlier threads, I have had to bail before, so I believe in redundancy. Back up systems in place and functional.
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Old 03-12-2005, 19:14   #14
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Thanks, guys. Based on all the suggestions, I'm leaning toward a diaphram pump as my primary (mounted high and dry) with a pickup in the bottom of the bilge. I'm still undecided about mechanical or solid-state switches. As a backup, I'll probably use an automatic high-flo Rule or Attwood mounted a few inches above the primary switch. OK so far, but here's a problem - I currently only have a single 3/4" discharge hose plumbed to the bilge (except for the approx. 1-1/4" discharge hose for the manual Whale Gusher pump). Can I get by just tapping into one of these hoses? I don't really want to drill another hole in my hull. Of course that means using check valves and all the problems associated with them. But with only 1 discharge hose, I'll have this issue no matter what type of pumps I choose.
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Old 03-12-2005, 19:52   #15
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I have my secondary pump plumbed into the manual discharge hose, with 2 check valves. I have not had a problem with it. With the 1-1/4" discharge, it should not restrict the flow at all. When I install the engine driven pump, I intend to install another y-valve, and run a second pickup to a hose fitting in the cockpit, and the output hose to the cockpit. This will allow me to have a high volume pump for the bilge if I need it, and also, using a pickup hose led overboard, I can use it as a deck wash, or even fire hose.
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