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Old 20-01-2016, 10:36   #16
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I think the old ones were mercury switches, and will last until you break them, the float floods or the wires eventually fatigue and break, so they may well last a very long time.
I don't know when mercury switches were stopped, they used to be very common in thermostats, home switches etc.
I think I will see if I can get the manufacturers name and model number off of it so I can check it out. It may be 15-20 years old.

The PO had the boat a long time .......
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Old 20-01-2016, 10:56   #17
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

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Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
I'm trying to remember what mine are called, I got them from Hopcar, and am very pleased with them.
I'd advise to not save money on either the pump or the switch, that is a pretty important system.

This one Ultra Pump Switch SR.

Yeah I know awfully expensive, but has been trouble free and from what I hear will remain that way for years.
I recommend multiple bilge pumps with alternate technology activation.

Technologies include:
a) Float switch
b) Conductance / capacitance switch
c) Pump load switch
d) Many others

The best plan is to have a small pump that can pick up water close to the bilge bottom for incidental leakage, and then larger pumps with alarm for a more catastrophic leak. A good rule of thumb is 1000 GPH for every 8 feet of boat.

Note that a 2" hole, 1 foot below the waterline, will let in 5 times more water than you can pump with a typical manual pump, and the average person can operate a manual pump to capacity for about 15 minutes.

The old adage that the most effective bilge pump is a frightened man with a bucket has only some truth. Yes, adrenalin has an impact on strength on endurance, to a point.

A bilge pump monitor is also a great idea to get activation frequency and duration.

When the boat is resting idle.

a) Duration constant, Frequency constant = stuffing box (or other constant leak).
b) Duration up, Frequency constant = partial blockage
c) Duration constant, frequency up = conditional leakage, most likely rain

Full Disclosure: I sell and install bilge pumps professionally. This post is offered as free advice and not intended to solicit business.

Ramblin Rod
Marine Service Provider
About Sheen Marine
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Old 20-01-2016, 11:59   #18
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I second A64's recommendation of the Ultra Pump Switch.
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:06   #19
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I am also researching for a Malo 39 that also has relatively deep bilge, so I'm interested in this thread. I agree with others that it is not worth trying to be cheap. Mechanical or electronic seems to be the main choice. Johnson Ultima gets good comments for electronic and Nigel Calder recommends Wema as a mechanical. Wema look reliable and well built and I am tempted to go this route. As it is not unusual to have two bilge pumps, perhaps two different bilge switches is an option.
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:09   #20
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I suggest avoiding mercury filled switches. Aside from the issue that the glass bulbs are fragile they often seem to become contaminated and operate erratically. I think the latter is due to arcing when they break relatively high currents.
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:16   #21
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Having tried many switches over several decades on my own boats, and having worked on many other types on client's boats, I am convinced there's only one reliable switch on the market today: The Ultra switches, Jr and Senior. Yep, they cost a bundle, but if you want rock solid performance, that's the way to go.

Over a 10-year period I tried several brands of electronic switches on two boats. They all failed, some in the open and some in the partially-closed position. They are definitely not foolproof, and a bit of oil in the bilge can throw them into a tizzy.

Float switches are a bad joke. All of them. Stay away!

Understand that many boaters of the "my bilges are always dry" variety haven't a clue as to whether their bilge pump switches work or not. I've seen lots of them which don't.

Bill
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:27   #22
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Not trying to be a smart butt, but the Ultra switch, is a float switch. What is different is the switching mechanism, and that the float is in a plastic tube with small holes in it. I assume this keeps the switch from cycling from water sloshing about and protects it from debris , but those little holes are what make me think it will need cleaning every now and again, so if it is a bear to access, maybe it's not the best for you?
Mine I mounted on aluminum flat bar, so mine are real easy to access, actually the pump is mounted on the same bar, so pull two screws that mount the bar to a cross member, and pull both the pump and switch up.
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:32   #23
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

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Hi Allan,

After having 5 boats over the years, I have given up on mechanical float switches and gone to solid state- which continue to remain reliable.

Several solid state offerings have already been suggested in this thread.

Another to be aware of is from CruzPro. They offer a solid state [probe style] switch, but the main part is their controller. They also make many other gauges and devices worth knowing about. Great company to do business with.

One thing I find useful in my current [last?] boat is a brief time delay [currently 15 seconds...] before the bilge pump activates. This is because my lowest bilge is a wide, flat and level bottomed well just forward of the engine... [e.g., ~2 ft x 2 ft with no smaller sump for a pump] so a small amount of water can slosh around for a while, activating the bilge pump unnecessarily- and often- without the time delay in place...

To my knowledge, both the CruzPro and Water Witch offer a time delay. There may be others offering this capability as well, and many bilge designs may not benefit from a time delay...

Edit: I should also mention our current boat came with a 20+ year old Par Hydro-Air switch connected to a 4k gal/hr pump for last [highest-water] pump. I concur with Hudson; this is an excellent switch, and the only dynamic switch I would consider installing today. Mine is located in the high bilge, and only sees water when I test it by flooding the bilge with a dock hose with the other 3 pumps [all at progressive depths] turned off after they each pass their test, and it works perfectly every time- and still looks like new for some reason...

In case this is useful.

Cheers!

Bill

Tks
I like the "controller" idea. It gives you an indication of how many times your pump runs since last "reset" check. Especially good for a boat that is unattended but also good during a voyage,etc.
Often wondered why someone hasn't produced a digital counter accessory for monitoring run time & frequency.

Cheers/ Len
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Old 20-01-2016, 12:47   #24
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
Not trying to be a smart butt, but the Ultra switch, is a float switch. What is different is the switching mechanism, and that the float is in a plastic tube with small holes in it. I assume this keeps the switch from cycling from water sloshing about and protects it from debris , but those little holes are what make me think it will need cleaning every now and again, so if it is a bear to access, maybe it's not the best for you?
Mine I mounted on aluminum flat bar, so mine are real easy to access, actually the pump is mounted on the same bar, so pull two screws that mount the bar to a cross member, and pull both the pump and switch up.
Yes, it is a float switch. But, with a difference :-)

Mine are mounted on flat aluminum bars, too, and are very easy to remove and clean.

Never had a failure, nor seen one with these switches. I have a high water alarm on one of them which came in handy once when I mistakenly shut off the bilge-pump seacock instead of the sink drain seacock I was reaching for in prep for a rough offshore passage. Scared the devil out of me!

Bill
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Old 20-01-2016, 13:00   #25
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

Quote:
Originally Posted by btrayfors View Post
Having tried many switches over several decades on my own boats, and having worked on many other types on client's boats, I am convinced there's only one reliable switch on the market today: The Ultra switches, Jr and Senior. Yep, they cost a bundle, but if you want rock solid performance, that's the way to go.

Over a 10-year period I tried several brands of electronic switches on two boats. They all failed, some in the open and some in the partially-closed position. They are definitely not foolproof, and a bit of oil in the bilge can throw them into a tizzy.

Float switches are a bad joke. All of them. Stay away!

Understand that many boaters of the "my bilges are always dry" variety haven't a clue as to whether their bilge pump switches work or not. I've seen lots of them which don't.

Bill
My experience too! Dry bilges are not a good longevity test for pumps or switches. Best to have an alarm that is tested regularly,especially in a dry bilge.
Cheers/ len
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Old 20-01-2016, 13:05   #26
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

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Originally Posted by deblen View Post
My experience too! Dry bilges are not a good longevity test for pumps or switches. Best to have an alarm that is tested regularly,especially in a dry bilge.
Cheers/ len
Yep, I agree. The bilges on my boats are never dry...always some rainwater or leakage from the stuffing box gets thru. IMHO, and I know some don't agree, this is a GOOD THING. When my bilge pump goes off, I know both the switch and the pump are working!

And, I have backups.

Bill
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Old 20-01-2016, 14:18   #27
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I've looked at Ultra also. Can you comment on the differences between Ultra and Wema. The designs looks very similar but with Ultra considerably more expensive which i would hope means a significant difference.
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Old 20-01-2016, 14:22   #28
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

My experience tells me stay away from the rule switches
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Old 20-01-2016, 14:41   #29
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

What pumps are people using along with these switches?
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Old 20-01-2016, 15:47   #30
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Re: Bilge Switch Shopping (it's overwhelming)

I have been using the Waterwitch for about 10 years with zero problems.
Highly recommend.
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