Category Archives: plumbing

Bildge float switches

My Hunter 340 came (to me) with a Rule bilge pump, it is the kind that automatically fires every 7 minutes. If there is no resistance on the pump, indicating no water to pump out, it shuts down. So far this season (May – September) the pump has fired 70,000 times according to the counter at the Nav station.

While I appreciate the security of a pump that is always checking, I can’t imagine it is doing anything but slowly, unnecessarily wearing the pump out. It also makes a racket that I’ve gotten used to. Given I’ve got solar panels I don’t worry about the battery drain either, but that could be an issue for some owners.

My bilge is dry, the only moisture coming from the fridge drain or the odd bit of rain water from accidentally left open ports. If there is a bit of water in the bilge, the pump makes a splashing-gurgling noise that echoes in the empty chamber – it is a good indicator that I need to sponge the bilge dry!

A friend stayed on the boat and remarked that my boat sounds like Star Wars, full of strange mechanical noises in the night, startling him awake as he drifted to sleep. The bilge pump whirrs, the fridge breathes like Darth Vader and the old water pump would hammer for half a second every half an hour or so. The pump is gone, the fridge stays so this leaves me wondering about the whirr in the bilge.

Hinged

Quick web research reveals that the floating hinged (ball bearing or a tube of mercury) types (Rule, Seasense, Seaflo ) are generally only good for a couple of years at best. These also tend to foul on debris.  Given my bilge access is beneath the dining table, there is a frequent stream of cheerios, crumbs and craft bits like string, paper and beads falling into the finger holes in floor/hatch, I would like something that can’t be easily fouled.

Current Sense

I looked into the electronic current sensor types, the most popular brand being the Water Witch. The drawback seems to be that the sensors stop reading if the water is contaminated oil or grease. The sensors use the conductivity of bilge water to pass current between two electronic probes, if oily, the sensors don’t receive the current.

Also, Water Witch seems to have hit and miss user reviews despite their claims that they are used on US and Canadian coast guard vessels.

Finally, there are physical switches in enclosures. The leader of this segment appears to be Ultra Saftey Systems,  Aqualarm appears to be a cheaper knock-off of Ultra.
the benefit of these is they should not foul from debris and are less prone to firing from boat motion.
ultra-sr

It’s the little things

I’m a big believer in details, perhaps it’s my training as a goldsmith or a pixel perfect developer, but if there’s a speck or a design flaw it will bug me. Having a white boat is a lesson in finding serenity, I swear there is someone out there laughing at all the scrubbing boat owners do.

Having a brand new high-pressure water pump with a faulty shut-off sensor (the backstory) gave me the perfect opportunity to fashion a wash-down pump. A bit of hose, a few clips and away we go!

With 40 psi and 17 liters/min the cleaning possibilities are endless!

Fridge

The fridge door/lid always made a screech when opened and the gas strut was very stiff. I found a bunch of gas struts on the sale table at Princess Auto for $4 each and they seem to be close to the right size. I only noticed when I removed the old one that there is a manufacture’s sticker and model number.

fridge_strutI only noticed the brackets were not in the same plane when I put on the new strut.  I relocated the brackets to get the door to shut, but also the bottom bracket needed to come over by 3/4″ to line up.
The bottom bush was drilled out to fit on the existing stainless post and luckily the top fitting works!

 

A tale of three pumps

Shurflo_20881. SHURFlo 2088-422

  • 3.5 GPM open flow, 45 PSI Demand Switch
  • Self priming up to 12 feet
  • Can run dry without damage
  • One way check valve prevents reverse flow

The first pump died after 15 seasons. It sounded like a jack-hammer but was a reliable crew member on our boat,  sort of like Relic on The Beachcombers. Part of my bedtime ritual was turning the breaker off so as not to be awoken but sporadic bursts of pump.

This pump was made in the USA in 1999 and judging by the date, I’d say it was the original freshwater pump.  It started weeping at the end of last (2014) season and I ignored it. At the end of this season, shortly after finishing out trip to the 1000 Islands, it quit (almost exactly like the fridge did last year). Upon inspection the inner sealed-bearing failed and flooded the electric motor. Rust-brown water trickled out of the motor case, it was done.

Continue reading A tale of three pumps

Winterizing – glycol

Every fall I re-research which liquid to pour into my boats many freshwater systems. I find I keep coming back to  the blog by Practical Sailor author Drew Faye, Sail Delmarva.

I particularly like the fact he has researched his opinions and they are based on fact. So here are his winterizing suggestions:

  • Pump out the potable water tank. Vacuum out the remains with a shop vac.
  •   Add a shut-off valve and tee just down stream of the tank and upstream of the pressure pump. Add a second valve on the tee’s side branch and a length of 1/2-inch ID hose. Suck a 30% propylene glycol antifreeze mixture into all of the lines using the pressure pump, opening the taps one at a time (hot and cold) and letting them run; the clear water goes down the drain until it’s as pink as the feed (you can recycle some of this by boosting it with with concentrate). When finished, remove the suction hose from the antifreeze container and blow out the lines with the pump by letting it run dry for just 20 seconds per tap (the glycol lubricates the pump, so it will not be damaged in a minute). If you have a tank water heater you should drain it and bypass. I have an instant heater and the above works well.

Continue reading Winterizing – glycol

Saga of the leaking tap.

I installed a salvaged Scandvik shower mixer, part #10466 in the hot hole in the bathroom counter when I replaced the taps. It was fine until I winterized the boat last fall and wondered why there was pink on the counter and dripping out of the facet.

Scandvik shower mixerI opened the cartridge and found that there is a o-ring that sits atop the upper ceramic disc that appeared to have been pinched. How this happened I don’t know. Perhaps it swelled from the alcohol in the antifreeze?

After searching the internet and finding the model #, then contacting Scandvik I received a parts diagram and a quote for $30 USD plus shipping for a new Continue reading Saga of the leaking tap.