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post #1 of 11 Old 05-15-2019 Thread Starter
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Blocked bilge cross drilling

My S2 27 is a keel step design. From memory there are approx (4) bilge pockets above the keel, all linked with cross drillings. Typically rain water comes down inside the mast and drains into the first bilge pocket. When the water rises to the height of the cross drilling, the water spills into the second pocket, then the 3rd and 4th etc.

I just notice that the water level in the 1st pocket is hign, with none in the second pocket. This is a clear indication that the cross drilling is blocked and not allowing the water levels to balance out.

I tried poking a piece of stiff wire into the hole, to clear away any blockage but its seems the path is not straight as I couldn't push it thro'.

I have a hand pump on board used for sucking up any unwanted water. I m thinking of wrapping tape around the discharge hose to make the OD as close as possible to the cross drilling in the 2nd pocket so that when inserted into the cross drilling any leakage will be minimal. Then I will put the inlet in a pale of water and try and pump water "The wrong way" through the cross drilling to try and clear it.

Failing that I might give it squirt of compressed air.

Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

Your "Cross Drilling[s]" are commonly known as "Limber Holes".

I suggest you use your hand pump to drain the fw'd bilge pocket and then use a shop vac to see if you can suction out whatever debris may be obstructing the limber hole(s) working from fw'd to aft. There would have to be rather alot of debris to obstruct a water flow, Non?

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post #3 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

Often a small diameter chain is run through the limber holes. Shaking or pulling the chain back and forth will clear out any obstructions. Might add that once you get the blocked limber hole cleaned out.
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post #4 of 11 Old 05-16-2019 Thread Starter
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

So I was able to return to the boat for a few mins tonight.
First I put a few turns of tape around the end of the discharge tube of my hand siphon pump to make it a snug fit on the discharge side of the first limber hole. Then I tried to pump clean water through to reverse flush the hole but no result.

Second I had a 12 gal comp air tank and a blow nozzle and gave it several bursts of air into the discharge side of the hole. Again no result.

I had a length of stiff gardening wire and tried to push it through from the back but I could only get it maybe 1/3rd of the way though. It would appear that the holes are not straight through.

For my next move I'm going to try and fine something thinner and more pliable than the gardening wire.

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post #5 of 11 Old 05-16-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

A plumbing snake may work.

Last edited by paulinnanaimo; 05-17-2019 at 10:02 AM. Reason: Another spelling error
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post #6 of 11 Old 05-17-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

Have these limber holes worked before, or is this new to you? I suppose it's possible that they don't go straight through a rib or stinger, but I've not personally seen that. It would seem unnecessarily complicated too.

I wonder if a prior owner had intentionally sealed the inside somehow. Especially with keel stepped masts, which I also have, it can get frustrating to clear up water that makes it's way all over the bilge. Could a PO have been trying to contain the water in one place for clean up?

Rather than plug them off, I'm trying to engineer some boxes around the limber holes that would hold back and inch or so of water, before spilling over the top of the dam and moving around. Hopefully, that would allow me sufficient time to clean it up, as it slowly accumulates, but still allow the limber holes to distribute the weight of the water, if there were a catastrophic leak. A point, btw, which may or may not actually be helpful, given the circumstances.

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post #7 of 11 Old 05-17-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

Fiberglass pans and reinforcing ribs in the bilge are usually hollow, so blowing air or water into them is not going to do much: the pressure will simply dissipate into the airspace. Do the holes line up? It isn't clear from your description. The pictures look like there might be a tube or hose in there, which could somehow have gotten kinked or compressed, leading to your problem. Going at it with a longer, stiffer tool (phillips head screwdriver?) might work. Or you could get out your hand drill... Just be sure to hold it horizontally, not vertically.
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

The limber holes have worked fine for the three years that I have owned the boat until now.
The hole entry and exists don't line up.
Zooming into one of the pics it looks like they have an inner sleeve much reducing the diameter so you could not get a snake in.
I believe that there is a hollow chamber in the stringer area due to the amount of water that dribbled back after I removed the siphon pump.
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post #9 of 11 Old 05-17-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

Try a big zip tie. Online, or in the big box stores, you can actually buy packages of plastic "drain snakes" that are usually $1-5 each, sometimes $5 for four or five. They are basically two or three foot long zip ties, with various barbs and fuzzy parts, and sometimes a handle of sorts. Meant to be used to snake out the crud in sink and bathtub drains, and they do a pretty good job of it. Stiff enough to work, soft enough to bend and not poke holes in things.
And way cheaper than a bag of really big zip ties.(G)
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post #10 of 11 Old 05-17-2019
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Re: Blocked bilge cross drilling

Why not simply pump out the water at the mast step when that compartment is somewhat less than full? My boat has 9 very shallow bilge compartment that are not connected by limber holes. I try to pump out before an overflow condition. Which also keeps the floorboards from getting wet.
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