59 club

Spent the day on the tug. Crawling around in the bowels of the Dutch Master was never my favorite thing. But after owning an old troller, I know now that repairing things on the boat will teach me how the system on the boat I’m repairing works. And with nothing but time on my hands, I looked forward to tackling this today. Although it still seems like it takes an act of Congress to get me in motion for the day.

I determined yesterday that the bilge pump was shot – it was a $600 model 36600 Jabsco diaphragm pump that sat up in the cabinet. It was wired to a float switch, and drew the water from the bilge area under the stuffing box up through the pump, then out the pump and over the side. The pump spec sheet lists the year as 1979, so it may be an original pump with the boat. So it’s a solid unit. When I started looking around for something obvious other than the electric pump that could be wrong, the pump itself looked like new inside. I figured out the electric pump had seized or burned out, and likely because water froze in the pump.  Of course, I broke off the inlet and outlet nipples when I removed the pump as well.

So, I thought about the system for a good long while. Did I want to replace this pump or repair it, or go with a pump that would be submerged in the bilge – which has excellent access, unlike the Dutch Master, which had a bilge that was nasty both in content and in smell.

I took a tour of Western Auto’s assortment of bilge pumps. They had no direct replacements for my diaphragm pump, and lots of submersed models, with various outlet sizes and pumping volumes. Surprisingly, the diaphragm pump volume was 480 gallons per hour – which is not very much compared to even the smallest of the bilge pumps. I didn’t buy anything yesterday, figuring I’d do a full recon at the boat first and make a list.

I decided to go with a submersible pump. The water in the bilge is below the water line and so shouldn’t freeze, whereas a diaphragm pump in the cabinet above water might.  If I got a pump with a 3/4 outlet, I could use the hose from the Jabsco, and just put a union between the pieces of the hose that went into and out of the pump in the cabinet where the pump had been. I asked Larry what size pumps he’d put in the Ruth Evelyn, and he went with 1100 gph Rule pumps.

I went to Harri’s first to see what they had for bilge pumps. Not as many selections as Western Auto. They did have the hose connectors I needed, so I got one, plus a couple extras for the toolkit, then off to Western Auto.

At first I thought I’d go with the 1100 gph Rule Pump, but luckily caught myself before checkout – the pump outlet was 1 inch, and I had  a 3/4 inch hose already in place from bilge to the over the side through hull fitting. The lower volume models up to 800 gph had 3/4 inch outlets, and while I knew I could use adapters to go from 1 inch to 3/4 inch, I went the easy route and bought the 800 gph. I figured it was almost double the size of the pump I just took out, so should work fine. I picked a roll of black and a roll of red number 14 wire to do the wiring.

When I got back to the boat, I took the volt meter to figure out the wiring where the other pump had been. I figured out the positive was from the float switch in the bilge, the negative was from the battery, and figured out after awhile that another set of positive and negative wires in a sheath were wires that went to the bilge counter on the dash.

I was ready now. As a new member to the 59 club, I’m a little wiser. In my younger years, I’d have bought a pump, then figured out I needed to get an adapter or new hose, etc. etc. It’s sort of fun to realize you’ve learned something since you had last had a big boat 20+ years ago. I threaded the new black and  red wires from the float switch wiring that went to the old pump in the cabinet back down to the bilge. I could have tried to splice into the wiring down in the bilge, but this was alot easier. Once I got the wires down to the bilge, I used a shrink wrap solder butt connector for each connection, and then put a second shrink wrap over that. I’ve got a heat gun on the boat now, and that makes shrinking the connectors a lot easier and precise than using a lighter, for me anyway.  I hooked up the hose to the pump and the pump sat nicely on the bottom of the bilge channel, right in front of the float switch.

I went back to the other ends of the wires in the cabinet. I first bundled and twisted the ends of the positives and negatives, and then flipped the breaker on to see that the pump was working. It was. It pumped the bilge nearly dry before the float switch turned it off.  I turned the breaker off again, and got to putting on some male and female connectors with shrink wrap, tied the wiring with zip ties to other plumbing and wiring along it’s route to keep it from getting torn out, then made labels for the wiring at the connectors so I’ll know what they’re for later on. Finishing up, I was satisfied with the job, with water proof connections and a set up that should work a good long while. And, it’ll be easy to change out the bilge pump if necessary. I sure like the easy access to the bilge pump. Like someone designed it that way!

Next job was to tackle the freshwater system. The filter housing under the sink froze and cracked. Like the bilge pump, I decided to go with a different set up to try and avoid a repeat of freezing.  I found I could simply bypass the filter set up and connect the inlet hose to the sink to a connection in the water line. Then I could use a filter right on the spigot. Luckily, the fittings under the sink fit each other after bypassing the filter, although the connection point was a bitch to reach in the cabinet. I had no teflon tape for the connection, so made another long walk up to the car and a short drive to Harri’s for the tape. The walk felt good.

Back to the boat, more awkward reaching in to thread the connection onto the fitting with the new teflon tape, a test of the system, and it all worked. No leaks.

As usual, the work area is a disaster with tools and debris everywhere. That will be tomorrow’s job.

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