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Thread: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

  1. #1
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    Default What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    The float switch type or the electronic switch?
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    Default What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    The cynic in me says, "a really burly, high capacity one".

    Solid state sensors have no moving parts, and thus less opportunity for failure.
    Last edited by Nicholas Carey; 09-18-2018 at 10:27 AM.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. — P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    A frightened man with a bucket? I've had very little luck with float switches and am ready to try graduating to an electronic sensor. The best float switch I had only lasted a year (Rule switch). I haven't tried any of the really quality float switches, though.

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey View Post
    The cynic in me says, "a really burley, high capacity one".

    Solid state sensors have no moving parts, and thus less opportunity for failure.
    My current thinking too.
    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I had an electronic one fail. They don't seem to be as widely available as they were a few years ago. I've had float switches fail too but it's what I have in Masina now.

    Keep it clean, so place it in a very accessible spot.

    Rick

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Hmmm, roll the dice ? I just bought an electronic version.
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I think I read somewhere that electronic ones don't do well if the bilge is oily.

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    The one I had on Pipsqueak never failed but I had two float switches fail. I think you'll find it'll be fine.

    Rick

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil Y View Post
    I think I read somewhere that electronic ones don't do well if the bilge is oily.
    JIM's bilge will NOT be oily !
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Two in parallel.
    Creationists aren't mad - they're possessed of demons.

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by P.I. Stazzer-Newt View Post
    Two in parallel.
    Do you mean one feeding from each side of the centre board case?
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I leave my dinghy (an open boat) with a 300gph Rule that runs when it senses water (is that the electronic version?). The pump cycles on every 2 1/2 minutes, when there is resistance it comes on. Boat stays dry all summer. Downside, the pump seems to be good for one year, although I have had them last longer.

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    Do you mean one feeding from each side of the centre board case?
    I think he means having an electronic sensor switch and a float switch paralleled so that either can turn the pump on. Wales being fairly close to ireland.

    Rick

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Bucket, flat scoop bailer and a large sponge. I have found that faster and easier than any manual pump. I did think of adding a small auto bilge pump and a solar panel for times i am away and there has been a lot of rain, boat can hold a heap of water in a non self bailing cockpit. Not had any issues with float switches, but i make sure the pins are well lubricated.

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    The float switch type or the electronic switch?
    I've never had a mechanical float-switch fail on me.

    I like the idea of two in parallel though, good idea.

    The electronic switches run every couple of minutes, if they sense resistance, water, they continue to run until the resistance is gone.
    If in a seaway and taking on water, I don't much like the idea of waiting two minutes for de-watering to begin...

    How big is the open boat?

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    In my books an electic bilge pump in an open boat is just there to pump out rainwater and water from minor leaks when the boat is moored.

    In my 22 foot doubleender I also had a good diaphragm pump and a bucket or two. I also bought a Wickström centrifugal pump to mount it on the propeller shaft but then my life got in the way for any wooden boat owning and the boat didn't get into the water again.
    As a total that would be what I call a reasonable pumping capacity....... and what others call ridiculous....
    Amateur living on the western coast of Finland

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I'm supporting the folks who say a bucket. Damn useful, never fails.
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    An electric bilge pump is ok unless you need to remove a lot of water fast. On "Bright Star" we have an automatic pump for small amounts such as rain water and shaft leakage but our back up for an emergency or, God forbid, a dead battery is a Whale Gusher diaphragm pump and a disconnect to the engine cooling system that will allow the engine to assist in a dire emergency! My only objection to the Whale Gusher pump is its cast aluminum body that lasts only a few years in salt water and must be replaced by a new one. The cure for this is to invest in an Edson Diaphragm pump that has a cast bronze body and will last a lifetime! They also have a pump that will move a gallon per stroke! The Edson does cost a lot more than the Whale pump but if one is sinking the Edson is worth the price for the greater capacity.
    Jay

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I visit my dinghy at the dock after rain and bail by hand. I previously kept a 20' sloop at a dock, I used a boom tent to deflect rain water, and bailed by hand there too. I like those plain plastic hand pumps.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    In the Thistle we have a 5 gallon bucket for serious water. All the boats, canoes etc have bailer made from a 1 gallon plastic jug, and also a large sponge.

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    An electric bilge pump is not much use of course in Jim when you are sailing, there's no deep bilge, so when the spray is flying, she'll be heeled well over. And on the trailer you can just leave a drain plug out. Do you need an electric pump at all?

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I'll have a bucket, scoop and sponge as well plus a manual bilge pump. It's really for spray and close calls while sailing.
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    A good fitting cover has worked best for me

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    I'll have a bucket, scoop and sponge as well plus a manual bilge pump. It's really for spray and close calls while sailing.
    I thought you wanted it for those times when you intend to leave the boat on a mooring or anchored. The little electric pumps don't move much water really so they're not much use if you get swamped. A big manual pump, located near the helm, is a better option.

    The setup that Jay mentioned, of switching the engine water intake to a bilge water intake, is a really good idea.

    Rick

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Christie View Post
    I've never had a mechanical float-switch fail on me.

    I like the idea of two in parallel though, good idea.

    The electronic switches run every couple of minutes, if they sense resistance, water, they continue to run until the resistance is gone.
    If in a seaway and taking on water, I don't much like the idea of waiting two minutes for de-watering to begin...
    In our experience the mechanical float switches last about two years before failing. I've no clue why they fail - they still bob up and down with the water like they're supposed to. But they stop turning the electricity on when they should. We've been through at least a dozen in the last two decades, two switches controlling two parallel bilge pumps 24/7 for that period.

    Haven't tried one of the electronic switches - interesting idea. But no one who's worked on the boat has said "You really ought to replace those mechanical jobs with electronics." Nor has anyone said "Stay away from ...". Which tells me it's probably close to "don't care". As with all things electronic I'd want to know about its electricity consumption while it's waiting for the water to rise. Not much point if the switch has killed the battery. Something to check.

    BTW, an electronic bilge pump switch which senses water level, as the OP asked, is an entirely different animal than a bilge pump that senses water from rotational resistance. The electronic switch is a direct replacement for the mechanical one - both control a separate bilge pump.

    For us the rotational-sensing pumps are out of the question for use at mooring, dock or anchor. We have one of them, too. Not only do they draw power every 2.5 minutes, they make noise every 2.5 minutes all day and all night. Ours is only turned on when under way. (Main pumps are amidships, the rotational sensing one comes on when bilge water flows aft as the bow comes up under way.)

  26. #26
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    My rotational-sensing 300gph Rule pump runs off a small motorcycle battery and it lasts all summer, middle of May to middle of October. Comes on every 2 1/2 minutes and keeps the dinghy (a 10' Cape Dory) dry. The sound does not bother at all since we are not there much of the time and when we are using the dinghy, the oars and conversation mask the slight whirring sound. It takes about 5-7 minutes to row out to the mooring so...

  27. #27
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Chenier View Post
    In our experience the mechanical float switches last about two years before failing. I've no clue why they fail - they still bob up and down with the water like they're supposed to. But they stop turning the electricity on when they should. We've been through at least a dozen in the last two decades, two switches controlling two parallel bilge pumps 24/7 for that period.

    Haven't tried one of the electronic switches - interesting idea. But no one who's worked on the boat has said "You really ought to replace those mechanical jobs with electronics." Nor has anyone said "Stay away from ...". Which tells me it's probably close to "don't care". As with all things electronic I'd want to know about its electricity consumption while it's waiting for the water to rise. Not much point if the switch has killed the battery. Something to check.

    BTW, an electronic bilge pump switch which senses water level, as the OP asked, is an entirely different animal than a bilge pump that senses water from rotational resistance. The electronic switch is a direct replacement for the mechanical one - both control a separate bilge pump.

    For us the rotational-sensing pumps are out of the question for use at mooring, dock or anchor. We have one of them, too. Not only do they draw power every 2.5 minutes, they make noise every 2.5 minutes all day and all night. Ours is only turned on when under way. (Main pumps are amidships, the rotational sensing one comes on when bilge water flows aft as the bow comes up under way.)
    I've never heard of the rotational ones. The only electronic one I'm aware of is a Johnson one that has two external `points'. When water rises to the higher point, I assume a circuit is completed, and the pump comes on. So there's no power used unless the bilge floods. In principle, it's simple and on our first yacht, it worked really well, after, like you, I found that the float switches failed. On our second yacht, I was doing repairs when we had heavy rain, and I found the pump and electronic switch underwater. I've no idea how or why the electronic switch failed then. When I bench tested it later, it was dead. No idea why.

    Rick

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Mine is for an 18 foot trailer boat, it will be disconnected most of the time, connected on the water only..
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    I read a gazzillion threads on bilge pump switches. These came out on top consistently. Ultra

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    My current thinking too.
    "Long Steps" will have a big manual pump, a biggish manually switched electric one, and a bucket secured by a lanyard.

    3 Layers of redundancy.

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  31. #31
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    As will JIM.
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by lupussonic View Post
    I read a gazzillion threads on bilge pump switches. These came out on top consistently. Ultra
    About $250 here! Yikes!

    Rick

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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Quote Originally Posted by PeterSibley View Post
    As will JIM.
    So, no automatic switch? I wouldn't put one in that boat.

    Rick

  34. #34
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Yes, an electronic switch, the electric pump is really just for spray. I have a manual pump as well.
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  35. #35
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    Default Re: What's the best type of bilge pump for an open boat ?

    Have an electronic switch, with a float switch in parallel mounted a few inches above--which works if the first fails.

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