Repairing manual bilge pump - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 6 Old 01-09-2020 Thread Starter
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Repairing manual bilge pump

It had been bugging me for a while: the manual bilge pump on my S2 9.2A hasn't worked for a year or two. I knew I should fix it--in case the electric one fails, and there's a leak, it would be bad news. But getting at the darn thing, I knew it would be a bear.

It was a matter of a very awkward reach through the port lazarette behind wheel, almost impossible, or removing hot water heater and battery charger to crawl from full lazarette on starboard side, a claustrophic experience, or taking out a partition in back of quarter berth that involved a lot dismantling, then prying out partition. This last option finally gave me access to the Whale Gusher 10 Mark II pump. Phew.

So I take it out, bring it home, order a service kit (the plunger-like cone, the two flap valves, screws, etc. But this thing had been soaking up salty air and bilgy water for 35 years. I get the plunger off and start unscrewing the flap valves. It took a half a bottle of rust penetrant, my biggest screwdriver, and all the strength I could muster to get 5 of 6 screws out. But one was just welded in there. I tried and tried and got nowhere. Even deepened the slot with a Dremel for more grip. Nope.

Then I noticed that really the valves didn't look that bad, and seemed to be acting normally. The plunger too wasn't in bad condition. I decided to test it in the sink, and sure enough, got it to pump water pretty well--whereas on the boat it wasn't doing anything. Mystery. But it could've been the bilge hose, which looked like hell. Cracked, or blocked? Or it could've just needed tightening of hose clamps.

I don't want to have to drill that screw out and rethread, especially if the pump's valves are working, to put in new valves. So I think I'm going to clean it up, replace just one valve, the one I can get out, and the plunger, get it all tight and see what happens. Will the increased force from the long bilge hose be the problem? My test hose in the sink was only 2 ft. Guess I'll find out.

Just wondering what other DIY sailors would do in this case.

Sorry for the long post.

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post #2 of 6 Old 01-09-2020
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Re: Repairing manual bilge pump

I think I would take a shop vac down to the boat and attach it to the hose from the bilge and make sure that the water flows from the bilge to the shop vac before I contorted myself to re-install the pump.
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post #3 of 6 Old 01-10-2020
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Re: Repairing manual bilge pump

The scenario sounds like an inability to prime. Could be the hose. It could also be a leak in the pump that can't handle the head pressure of drawing up the bilge line, but the experiment in your sink had virtually no backpressure.

Something else to consider. Based on your description of the pump's condition (pretty corroded), how much longer would you expect it to last. It is a safety device, after all, so I think I'd want to know I could rely on it. I wouldn't be so worried, if I only sailed in calm, warm water and could swim to shore. On the other hand, you may want to be confident you could keep the boat off the bottom, in an emergency.

Me, I'd buy a new manual pump, along with troubleshooting the intake hose. What the heck.
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In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair. Margaritas fix everything.
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post #4 of 6 Old 01-10-2020
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Re: Repairing manual bilge pump

I am with Minni on this... time to replace. Repair is not worth the cost and effort to get an old pump working. Bilge pump is important.. so redo the whole thing including hoses... clamps and get a new reliable system.

pay attention... someone's life depends on it
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Re: Repairing manual bilge pump

It's the seals. They may work fine when they are wet, but are unable to prime when dry.

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post #6 of 6 Old 01-13-2020 Thread Starter
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Re: Repairing manual bilge pump

I see what you mean about having a reliable manual bilge pump. Update: I went out and bought an
impact screwdriver (7.99 at Harbor Freight) and sure enough, I got that damn screw out. Which means I can replace all the valves and gasket. Pretty easy. That and new hose to bilge should make it like new. Of course the real test will be the priming and the back pressure from a long (10') hose.

Thanks for your advice.
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manual bilge pump service

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