Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: Barrington, RI
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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.