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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 09-03-2006
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Bilge Pump Failed, 6" Water over floor, what now?

I spent a year trying to get my yanmar engine running with no help from my dealer and was looking forward to spending the holiday sailing. 6 weeks after making sure the engine was top notch, today I go to the boat and there is 6" of water over the O'Days 302 floors. I hand pumped out, now what do I do?

The floors, the bad bilge pump or float, maybe electrical. How would you suggest we get our floating wonder back online? A bit of information, I think there may be some area to improve the current electrical system as we keep killing batteries, about 1 a year and there are about 10 seperate terminals running direct to the batteries. I was told only three wires to the batteries directly, the two hot leads and the common ground. Everything else should go through some junction or fuse block.

I am looking for your ideas and suggestions. I am ok with doing electrical work on the boat, I do low voltage in real life, but not that boat mechanical. A great friend had to get my yanmar back to life. Your opinions and web address directions would be appreciated.

Paul and Gina
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Old 09-03-2006
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How are you killing the batteries? Do you have a dedicated starting battery and the ability to isolate it from your house bank? Was your bilge pump defective or did it not have power because of dead batteries?
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Old 09-03-2006
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Paul and Gina,

My sympathies. Been there.

The questions you are asking get to issues rather more complex than can be addressed here. Without knowing the specifics of your boat's systems, I'd hesitate to make any suggestions about the bilge pump setup, your electrical system, etc.

However, you're right to be alarmed about how your boat is wired (with so many wires running to the battery), about killing batteries, about the bilge pump not working, etc. It would seem that the solution to your problems will likely involve multiple steps to improve your electrical and mechanical setup.

I'd suggest that you consider getting a copy of the "bible" on these matters: Nigel Calder's "Boat Owners Mechanical and Electrical Manual....etc.". His new version is out, costs about $40, and is worth every penny. You'll use it as a reference for the rest of your boat-owning days.

If you later have specific questions, someone here may be able to help you.

Bill
S/V Born Free
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Old 09-03-2006
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The batteries and proper wiring are an issue in themselves. Actually, you don't even want three cables direct to the batteries. You install one high amperage fuse ON each battery, and the positive cables go to those. Those fuses are designed to save your boat from a "crowbar short", i.e. a massive short that otherwise could set the electrical system on fire with the full power of the batteries. Those two positive cables go to your battery switch, then to the distribution panel (fuses or breakers) and everything else gets connected there. WIth the arguable exception of the bilge pump, which many people run straight to the battery.

Your first priority after pumping out the boat, is probably to find out why it flooded. Whether you took rain in through an open port, or a cockpit drain got blocked and it ran in the companionway, or you've got a leak below the waterline. You need to find out what that was and fix it.

After you fix it, you'll need to fix or replace the bilge pump. Since bilge pumps and float switches are notorious for failing, I'd suggest TWO of each, separate. And a counter or hour meter on them, so you can tell if the bilge has been cycling while you are not there. That could have killed your battery if nothing else is wrong.

On thing at a time, first dry out the boat and see what else the water may have damaged. You'll need to dry it out VERY THOROUGHLY, using fans, dessicant buckets, or goldenrods (heaters) to prevent the moisture in the floor and fittings from causing a mildew infestation. Possibly a mildecide to help make sure that doesn't happen.

Good luck.
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Old 09-03-2006
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More information

Three are two batteries and I replace one of them every year, usually the number 1 battery. I belive this is the primary hooked to the charging system. The float failed and also the bilge pump impellar failed. I took it home and tested, while it ran, it did not pump water. It was a Mayfair Combo 22702 model. It is at least 6 years old as that is how long I had the boat.

I am seriously thinking about rewiring the mail switch panel as reading some of the links here about crimping, etc. I know the main feeds are not correct. Plus I have seen some of the new boat wiring and would feel much better if our boat wired out to a terminal field than how it is now.

Besides the bible, (the boat wiring bible, sorry christians) where on the web can I see sample pictures of a correct wiring plan. I would like to add more power for laptops and maybe a system to run AC off shore. ( not required,).

Problem one is the current bilge situation and also how do I now get everything dry, mold safe and back to livable situation.
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Old 09-03-2006
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"Three are two batteries and I replace one of them every year,"
Given a proper electrical system, with the batteries and charger and regulator all properly matched, even a Sam's Club deep cycle battery should last 4-5 years. Replacing one every year means something is very wrong.
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Old 09-04-2006
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I'm not much of an electrician, but I have heard you should replace the batteries as a set, if you replace just one, the weakest battery will tend to discharge the stronger batterries, resulting a lower voltage suituation than desired.
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Old 09-04-2006
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"but I have heard you should replace the batteries as a set, if you replace just one, the weakest battery will tend to discharge the stronger batterries, "
That's for incorrect installations, like batteries in parallel. Another good reason to use two banks, with a proper charge sensor that deals with them separately.
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Besides the "bible" another source is on the West Marine website in their product advisory section.There are wiring diagrams advice on batteries isolating systems and charging systems. Batteries for starting and batteries for house loads should be different; the former should have high cranking amps, similiar to your cars batteries and the latter a deep cell high amp hour capacity battery. In order for this system to work you must be able to isolate the starting battery from the house loads in order to avoid two dead batteries. This can be accomplished in a number of ways and the West Advisory discusses these options. In your first post you indicated the batteries were dead so you will need to dicover what is running the batteries down and repair that problem. Also note that you shorten the life expectency of your batteries signifigantly whenever you take them below 50% charge. You must have a proper charging system as well and keep the batteries fully charged. This will help the longevity of your batteries as well.
Redundancy is or should be a boating mantra and it is excellent advice to have two bilge pumps. Typically, the foat of the second one is mounted higher than the primary so it only would be used in the event of failure of the first with some sort of alarm to indicate that it has been on.
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Old 09-04-2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hellosailor
"but I have heard you should replace the batteries as a set, if you replace just one, the weakest battery will tend to discharge the stronger batterries, "
That's for incorrect installations, like batteries in parallel. Another good reason to use two banks, with a proper charge sensor that deals with them separately.
Hellosailor-

I don't know about you, but on most boats, the larger house battery bank setup consists of batteries in parallel, as a single battery is not large enough to handle the load of the house side battery bank by itself.

I would be highly hesistant to call a proper house bank installation, with multiple batteries in parallel "incorrect".

And in the case of such an installation, it generally is wise to replace the batteries as a group, or you do risk the weakest from discharging and shortening the life of the stronger batteries.
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