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post #1 of 15 Old 08-19-2013 Thread Starter
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Bilge questions

Two issues. First I spilled oil into the bilge on a recent Atomic 4 oil change. What is the best way to clean up this mess? Second the bilge pump works great except for one thing. When it comes on automatically, it pumps the bilge almost dry except after it shuts off the water in the hose drains back into the bilge setting off a perpetual running of the pump until I work the supplemental manual bilge pump to get the excess out. If I am away, the pump can run every minute forever just filling and draining the hose running to stern. Any ideas on how to fix this?
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post #2 of 15 Old 08-19-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

For your first question, I keep oil-absorbent pads of all kinds on our boat. Any auto parts store sells them. And marine stores, of course. When oil gets into the bilge I use however many I need to soak it all up.

You do NOT want to have your bilge pump pump out that oil and leave a sheen around your boat or a trail as you're sailing. HUGE fines if caught. And yes, I have known the CG to follow an oil sheen and fine the boater at the end of the trail.

Nothing to offer for your second question, sorry.

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post #3 of 15 Old 08-19-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

buy one of these:

Ultra Switch - Ultra safety systems - Home page


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Last edited by eherlihy; 08-20-2013 at 08:04 AM. Reason: S Net's auto link to store is a PITA!
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post #4 of 15 Old 08-19-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

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Originally Posted by rbyham View Post
Any ideas on how to fix this?
You can switch to a smaller diameter hose from the pump to the seacock. It is the water stored in the hose running back, so a smaller hose = less water.

Depending on the size of the pump and the size of the hose, this could have some obvious drawbacks.

One of the gurus (Nigel Calder maybe?) recommends two pumps: the smallest you can find with a small hose to get around this problem and be your "normal" pump, and then a large pump with a large hose to move water in case you need it. The downside of this is two through-hulls.

Pacific Seacraft 34 #142

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post #5 of 15 Old 08-20-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

Donna answered your question on how to get rid of the oil.
RainDog gave you the correct answer to the pump cycling problem.

The only thing I can add is don't put a check valve in the pump discharge thinking this will prevent the cycling. It won't. It just slows it down and can cause blockages.

If preventing the discharge of oil is a concern, there are bilge pump switches that will not turn on in oil. Rule makes pumps with these built in. I think Johnson and Water Witch also make one . These switches can have other problems but if oil is common in your bilge, they're probably a good idea.
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post #6 of 15 Old 08-20-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

Agree with both...The pads float ontop of the water and absorb oil but not water...

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post #7 of 15 Old 08-20-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

I was taught at an RYA course that disposable nappies work just the same to contain oil spillages but are much cheaper. Obviously, they might come handy if my porta potti breaks down again
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post #8 of 15 Old 08-20-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

You could relocate the pump switch higher up if it is located outside of the pump. You could also relocate the pump higher up.
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post #9 of 15 Old 08-20-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

The Ultra Pump Switch that I pointed to above (or tried to, until the SN Store hijacked my link - see how Pump in this post is linked to the SN store?) switches on at one level, and stays on, until the water at a slightly lower level. I just edited my post above so that you can now see the URL to which I actually tried to point you.

Another issue that can cause this is to have too long of a run between the vented loop, and the switch. You may be able to shorten this run, and fix the problem that way.

Finally, verify that the vent in your vented loop is actually venting. Insects can build nests in there, and goop can collect in there, in which case you are siphoning water back into the bilge, until the pump kicks on.


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post #10 of 15 Old 08-20-2013
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Re: Bilge questions

eherlihy, I'm not sure what your point is concerning the USS Bilge Switch.

"switches on at one level, and stays on, until the water at a slightly lower level."
That's what all bilge pump switches do. The range is typically about 2 inches.

Pump cycling is caused when the water in the discharge hose flows back into the bilge and raises the float switch high enough to turn the pump back on. It can happen with any bilge pump switch.
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