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post #1 of 28 Old 05-13-2014 Thread Starter
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Raw Water pump leak

After replacing my raw water pump impeller before launch this spring I noticed we have a slow drip from the pump when it is running. I thought it was the pump cover gasket but have now discovered that it is leaking through the shafts water seal and out the air gap.

I saw compass marines excellent write up about rebuilding a pump, and ours is identical to his. It doesnt seem like too bad a project, but I would strongly prefer to wait til next winter to do it (our sailing season is short enough as it is and I want to spend it sailing not working on a pump). Is that foolish? Will the leak do any additional damage? Is it likely to get worse?

We really only use the motor to get in and out of the slip and so maybe 40 hours a year, and we leave the raw water intake closed whenever not motoring. The leak is more than a drip, but less than a torrent...maybe a quarter cup a minute or less.

The motor is a westerbeke 20Btwo.

I appreciate your thoughts.

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post #2 of 28 Old 05-13-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

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Originally Posted by fmueller View Post
After replacing my raw water pump impeller before launch this spring I noticed we have a slow drip from the pump when it is running. I thought it was the pump cover gasket but have now discovered that it is leaking through the shafts water seal and out the air gap.

I saw compass marines excellent write up about rebuilding a pump, and ours is identical to his. It doesnt seem like too bad a project, but I would strongly prefer to wait til next winter to do it (our sailing season is short enough as it is and I want to spend it sailing not working on a pump). Is that foolish? Will the leak do any additional damage? Is it likely to get worse?

We really only use the motor to get in and out of the slip and so maybe 40 hours a year, and we leave the raw water intake closed whenever not motoring. The leak is more than a drip, but less than a torrent...maybe a quarter cup a minute or less.

The motor is a westerbeke 20Btwo.

I appreciate your thoughts.

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Behind the impeller is a bearing plate under which is a lip seal that the impeller shaft passes through. The lip seal is intended to prevent raw water escaping from the impeller housing, where it is pressurized by the deflection of the impeller vanes over the cam lobe, and reaching the shaft bearings and, if the oil seal in the engine is weakened, potentially the interior of the engine itself. The weep hole in the pump is there to warn you when/if the impeller lip seal is leaking and prevent water collecting in the shaft gallery. Ignore the leak at your own peril. The inconvenience of replacing a lip seal is nothing compared to the inconvenience of replacing the pump itself and, potentially having to repair the damage that may be done to your engine. Your call...
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post #3 of 28 Old 05-13-2014 Thread Starter
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

Can I replace the lip seal without removing the pump from the engine or does this require a complete pump rebuild(bearings and oil seal too)?


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post #4 of 28 Old 05-13-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

He wants a shade tree, bubble gum and bailing wire fix good for one season.
'IF' the lip seal is the only thing worn out maybe but if not oh ****. I only know land vehicles and a water pump is a water pump but everything wears out I wouldn't take the chance.

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post #5 of 28 Old 05-13-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

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Can I replace the lip seal without removing the pump from the engine or does this require a complete pump rebuild(bearings and oil seal too)?


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It depends upon how readily you can reach the inner bearing plate and existing lip seal and how dexterous you are. I have been able to do it in a few cases but failed in others. Even if you must remove the entire pump, however, it isn't that difficult, just a bit tedious but not bad, really. Just a pain in the neck.

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Last edited by svHyLyte; 05-13-2014 at 05:27 PM. Reason: Correct typo
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post #6 of 28 Old 05-13-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

Sorry but once you get any drip, you shouldn't be using that pump - for two reasons - one, you could get salt water in the engine. Two, the salt water is destroying the internals of the pump and making it more and more likely that you can't rebuild it.

The quick fix is to buy a new pump, and then rebuild the one you have for a spare. Having a spare means your cruising plans can't get ruined by a leaking pump. I went to the lengths of installing an extra set of bronze hose adapters in my spare pump, for a quick emergency swap out if it is ever necessary. Swapping the pump is quicker than changing the impeller, or messing about with seals.

Any idea what make and model of pump you have?

I just replaced my Sherwood, which has a very short life due to poor design, with an Oberdorfer.

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Last edited by MarkSF; 05-13-2014 at 05:39 PM.
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post #7 of 28 Old 05-13-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

A quarter cup a minute is a pretty bad leak. It needs to be attended to. I wouldn't try to wait until the winter to fix it. MarkSFs suggestion of getting new pump and then rebuilding the old one as a spare is good one. You may not like the cost of a new pump however - I would guess over $500 if you get from a Westerbeke dealer.
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post #8 of 28 Old 05-13-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

Just a quick thought . . . Setting aside any leakage INTO the engine, you have to contend with that salt water affecting associated engine parts outside the engine. I went through pretty much the same problem only with a 1gm10 yanmar. Directly under the dripping pump are two oil lines, the cost of replacing these two lines was equal to or better than the cost of a new yanmar water pump.

Initially I went the rebuild route, twice, but apparently the pump was too far gone as it started leaking again half way through the season both times.

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post #9 of 28 Old 05-14-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

I've been down this road, and you can read ALL about it here; rebuilding Oberdorfer Pump. The cliff notes version is that it is far more cost and time effective to buy a new pump at Depco Pumps in Clearwater, FL.

By waiting you risk spraying seawater over your engine casing, oil pan, and motor mounts. This will lead to corrosion. You also risk possibly contaminating your engine oil with seawater, which will lead to other problems...

The free advice that I offer is to spend the $300, and buy a new pump, NOW.


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post #10 of 28 Old 05-14-2014
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Re: Raw Water pump leak

Its around $200 for a new pump...you'll spend much more time than that fixing this part...

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