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  #11  
Old 01-21-2013
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

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Originally Posted by Navigator Wannabe View Post
A slow leak will first empty the battery via your lower bilge pump, and leave no power or alarm or second pump.
Fair point on a mooring, if your solar/wind generator can't keep up. Not an issue at a slip.

My main bilge also had an alarm that would sound if it ran continuously for more than a few seconds. The false alarms were shortening my life. I had to disconnect it. Good idea though.
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

(OP) I am on a mooring ... I need to examine it in more detail, but I think that my two bilges bypass my DC selector switch (1-2-Both). I'm not sure if they are separated by battery bank ... they could be. The reason I assume that they bypass is that I usually leave my switch on OFF ... and the bilges still run. Is my thinking correct?

What about capacity? Is there any reason not to get the highest capacity that my budget allows?
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

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Originally Posted by dvuyxx View Post
(OP)....What about capacity? Is there any reason not to get the highest capacity that my budget allows?
Not really, but there are limiters. The really high gph units will require larger diameter hose, so you'll need the right thru hull for them. They will burn more juice too, so be sure you have the right battery capacity too. One of the best ways to improve pump flow is to have smooth bore hoses (huge difference). While the outlet needs to be above the waterline, preferably while heeled as well, the higher the pump needs to lift the water, the less efficient it will be.
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

Thanks. Helpful as always. - David
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

After a few scares with the boat taking on water...one while sailing and another at the dock (both because of human error and all the stars lining up to result in emergency) I reworked my bilge to maximize GPH as follows:

First, my main bilge pump is and remains a Rule 3000 GPH on a separate float switch, with a 3/4 hose, and wired directly to house batteries using the standard Manual, Auto, Off switch.
Next, I saw that my manual cockpit bilge pump had a 1 1/2 hose running to the bilge. So I disconnected the hose, put a Y-connection in a cockpit drain hose that runs under my cockpit and drains out the hull, and connected the 1 1/2 hose that was connected to my cockpit manual pump to the Y-connection. Then I connected a Rule 4,500 GPH pump to the other end of that larger hose in my bilge, but I mounted the pump on a fiberglass base so that it sits about 5 inches off the bilge floor (that way it doesn't sit in bilge water at any time). Instead of using another float switch, I connected the hi capacity pump to a electronic sensor switch that I mounted about half way up the side wall in the bilge. This way, the hi capacity pump is only triggered in emergency situation where the water infiltration to too much for main bilge to handle, or the main bilge fails. This configuration also saves my emergency hi capacity pump from doing the small stuff and using power except when really needed.
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

IMHO, any bilge system also should have a counter, to show you small problems before they get big, and audible alarm.
One human error incident involved water pipe bursting, mistakenly leaving water pressure on when sailing single-handed, and the main bilge switch turne off. As I was leaving boat on dock, I heard noise of water running and could not believe the noise was coming from my boat because I new all power was off. Turns out it was before I finished hooking up my emergency hi capacity hose...but I had the pump and electronic switch installed. So the electronic switch was triggered because the water had risen to mid-level since the main bilge was off, and the hi capacity bilge was just blowing the water around in the bilge which was the noise I heard....now that would have run my batteries to 0 since the pump would have never shut off because water level was not being lowered.
Anyway, very good idea to pay close attention to your bilge BEFORE the stars line up to create an emergency.
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

Stiffwind,

I wasn't aware that you shouldn't have pressurized water on under sail? Is that a general rule, or with your system in particular.

Does your bilge counter count the number of times that the unit comes on or the volume of water it's pumped out?
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

Here is what I am thinking on the subject. I essentially learned this by going through all the bilge threads on SN. Wow, incredible source of info. I took the best ideas so I came up with a plan.

My current system really sucks, a single Rule centrifugal with with check valve three feet from the pump. And there is a good twenty foot run to the stern. It does have a good high position in the line for anti siphon though.

A. New primary bilge. A Whale diaphragm type with a small strainer in the deepest part of the bilge and the pump located three feet away. 300 GPH. It has an integrated float switch and check valve at the strainer. 3/4" Bilge line to the transom.

B. The current Rule will become secondary. Mounted about six inches above the strainer of the new primary pump. Remove the check valve from the Rule bilge hose. 1100 GPH

C. Add a tertiary 2000 GPH near the engine compartment. Johnson centrifugal 2000. No check valve. Water Witch switch with an outside alarm. 1.5" bilge line to the transom.

I do have a manual system in place currently, an important fact.

It's amazing what you can learn on this site.

Last edited by kellysails; 01-21-2013 at 01:55 PM.
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

General rule is to shut off the fresh water pressure switch when underway. If a hose breaks while you are at anchor, you will most likely hear the bilge pump running and be able to save your water supply. If it breaks underway, you may be out of FW before you realize. Depending on where you are cruising, that may be either an inconvenience or a serious problem.

If we need water underway, we turn it on, then back off again.
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Re: Bilges - On vs. Automatic; Capacity?

Some might call this just another toy. I would call it peace of mind (especially if I was on a mooring):

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