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Old 07-05-2014, 10:36   #1
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Location: Ventura, CA
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Seperate engine bilge from rest

Something i've been thinking about is that on my Tri in the center hull the bilge is connected stern to bow meaning that any and all drips of water (or floods) all flow downwards towards approximately the center of the boat. Which to say the least is very annoying when working anywhere on the engine. If I happen to spill anything while changing the coolant, oil, etc it all runs straight down and settles towards the middle of the boat leaving me to pull nearly every bilge board in the boat, the water tank and a dozen other pieces to get it out and clean it up.

I've been considering that maybe I should block off this free flow of water just infront of the engine so that it is all contained in the engine compartment. I can think of three advantages of this: gunk, oil and grease does not leave the engine compartment AND if there is a leak forward of any type it will not get the opportunity to flood the engine or the batteries leaving me with working bilge pumps and engine, AND finally if the seacock for the engine were to leak, break, etc I believe that since the water would be contained there and with the bouyancy of the rest of the boat that it would only allow the boat and engine compartment to flood up to about the water line which would actually keep the engine mostly dry (submerged to about the oil pan) as well as the batteries etc.

Any negative side? Since there is already a bulkhead there I was simply going to just fill in the small holes that allow water flow through with epoxy and microbaloons.

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Old 07-05-2014, 12:35   #2
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Re: Seperate engine bilge from rest

Only negative I can think of, and it's pretty minor, is that you need two bilge pumps (which is actually good as you have redundancy) and some secure way of them exiting the boat without feeding back to each other. I think there maybe rules on this that vary from country to country, I think I remember reading how in some places you were not allowed to have a bilge pump in the engine compartment due to the chance of pumping oily water out, but I might be wrong.

In our case I have a bilge pump in the engine bay and another for the forward bilges. I have been glad of it as a small mishap involving doing too many jobs at once and forgetting to tighten a hose clamp did NOT end up gunging up our whole bilge, just the area under the engine. In that case I was simply able to fill the area under the engine with fresh water and industrial detergent, scrub like mad, then pump it all into a big jerry can as the total volume of liquid required to clean it was quite small.


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Old 07-05-2014, 12:56   #3
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Re: Seperate engine bilge from rest

Natew, a large number of cats are designed/constructed that way. Mine has separate bilges/bilge pumps and bulkheads well above the waterline that isolate the engine compartments from the rest of the boat. Unfortunately, some cable runs and hoses from the water heater were passed through without proper sealing; this, of course, defeats the purpose. I made the effort to properly seal/re-route anything which would allow water to pass from the engine compartments into the rest of the boat. Extremely important, not just in order to stop any oil/diesel spills from entering the bilge area for the rest of the boat, but also in case the seals for one of the saildrives ever failed.

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Old 09-05-2014, 05:08   #4
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Re: Seperate engine bilge from rest

GILow in post# 2 above is probably onto something. I was boarded by the US coastguard a few years back and after somewhat casual inspection of my Contessa 32 ,he became very serious and inquired as to if I had a separate separate bilge for my engine compartment or just one for the entire craft (my Contessa has 2 separate ) , before I could reply he was called up on deck to respond to some emergency and the inspection was terminated .
I have always wondered as to what he was fishing for since this boarding was in local waters with my wife aboard and we were just moving the boat a few miles.
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Old 12-05-2014, 10:56   #5
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Re: Seperate engine bilge from rest

Thanks.. I do vaguely recall seeing somewhere, either in a class, book, or on some marina or uscg documentation something about fitting float switches in bilge areas that may have oil contamination in them but cannot for the life of me find it. I suppose it does make sense they do not want a oil leak or a fuel leak resulting in the pumping of gallons and gallons of oil or fuel ovarboard. So my guess would be that I would have to fit a manually switched bilge pump in the new area and only have float switches in the rest of the boat.
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bilge, engine

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