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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 08-24-2007
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Red face Bilge Pump Switches

So we are out sailing today in the best conditions of the year of so far - 15 to 20 knots fairly steady, minimal chop no swells and lots of sunshine. Heeling a bit - not dipping the rail but maybe 30 degrees at times.

All of sudden - I hear the automatic biulge pump. Not a great sound. No panic but was certainly a bit concerned. Went down to investigate.

No water - bilge is bone dry and pump is running on air. Finally track it down to the switch - a Whale Rule white plastic automatic float switch that has mercury in it. Mounted athwartships in the bilge. Unscrewed it and tilted it back and forth. Bilge pump went on and wouldn't go off - so obviously the switch is pooched. Not a big deal - get a new one.

So I am taking the lazy way first and asking her....wondering if ayone knows of a switch that doesn't have mercury in it, or if there is one that they have found to be particularly durable ???
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Old 08-24-2007
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They're all pretty lousy, even the expensive ones.

I've had very good success over the years with electronic solid state sensors, though. Bought two SensaSwitches a year ago, and they've been fine. You do have to keep them reasonably clean, though, because grease buildup will cause them to remain in the ON position. Still, they're pretty robust, not too expensive, and seem to work well.

http://www.interwesternsales.com/pro...2=8558&l1=8555

Click on the Technical Description at the bottom of the page for details. Don't remember where I bought them....somewhere on line.

Virtually all the switches with moving parts are useless. Either the wires break down from continuous flexing or the mercury switches somehow get fouled up after awhile. Alas, no one has yet come up with a foolproof bilge pump switch, to my knowledge anyway.

Bill
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Old 08-24-2007
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That's exactly what I am looking for - many thanks. Apreciate the help !
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Old 08-25-2007
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Practical Sailor

Hello,

A few months ago PS did a review of bilge switches.

There are few that don't use mercury. Some run the pump at a preset time and check the load. If there is a load the pump stays on, no load and it goes off.

Good luck,
Barry
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I looked at the link that btrayfors posted and they look to be ideal for me. The bilge on the boat is very shallow - we are lucky in that we rarely have any water in there. I think the ones that cycle are probably a good thing for a deeper bilge, or power boats that take on water more readily.

Will check out PS too. Thanks for the lead.
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Old 08-26-2007
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This is totally off the top of my head, but if a Tank Tender can work from air pressure, could not a bilge pump switch go on if the relative air pressure inside a tube was increased due to rising water?

It might only work in bilges with a bit of vertical height in them, but I'm just thinking out loud.
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Old 08-26-2007
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Rule (amongst others) make one: http://www.rule-industries.com/produ..._285/index.htm
They tend to clog, but YMMV.
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Old 08-27-2007
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Nice find! Tending to clog could be overcome a bit with the right installation, and assuming you've got the right kind of bilge access. So I will file this under consideration.
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Old 08-27-2007
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Johnson Ultima switch

Have a look at http://www.johnson-pump.com/JPMarine...imaswitch.html

You can get this already built into a bilge pump, or buy it separately and add it to an existing pump. No moving parts, mercury, etc.

I have the integrated one and it seems to work fine.

Max
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Old 08-27-2007
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I've had good luck with the RuleMate pumps, which have a non-mercury switch built in and wired to a three position switch.
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