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Old 03-12-2017, 06:44 PM   #1
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Yet another silly "upgrade". Fuel transfer relay

Those of you who were entertained by my oil pan heater will love this.

I installed something over the weekend to solve a problem where none really existed.

So, I have two 200 gal fuel tanks and a single engine. I normally draw from one tank and return to the same tank. I have to change tanks to keep the boat trimmed. My boat also came with a crossover line with a Reverso transfer pump controlled by a switch at the helm.

So I have three ways to equalize fuel level. 1) Burn from the more full tank. Very effective but takes some time. 2) Return fuel to the opposite tank that it is being drawn from. Extremely fast and easy, however there is the risk that I might forget and over fill a tank. There is also the possibility of making an error when changing the fuel manifold, cutting off a return line which would be very bad. 3) Use the nice fuel transfer pump.

I never do #3 because the toggle on the dash at the Helm is a momentary toggle. I can send fuel either direction but I have to hold the dang toggle over. At 3 gpm you have to standing there holding that stupid toggle for a long time to get much fuel transferred. So I decided to do something about it.

First step was to order an On-Off-On DPDT latching switch to replace the DPDT momentary toggle. The only problem with this is that it is possible (probable?) for me to forget about it, again causing an over full tank and resulting spill.

Then one of the many folks on TF who is smarter than I mentioned a timing relay in the thread about intermittent wipers. It got me thinking.

I decided I wanted a way to have a timed transfer of fuel (without using a mechanical dial timer which would not be attractive in the PH) that would also give me an visual indicator that it was active.

I found this timer relay on Amazon. It is made by 3rdbrakeflasher and seemed to be able to do what I wanted, as long as I could figure it out. They make two version, a 5 amp and 10 amp. I ordered the 10 amp since my pump uses 10 amps.

I then ordered this 16mm LED button switch in red. My thought was to use this to trigger the timer. When triggered the relay would send power to the DPDT toggle which would control which way the pump would run. The LED would be lit while the timer was active and then go out. The pins on the switch are really small so I also picked up a pigtail for the switch (actually two as they are sold in pairs).

I then got a little worried. The timer relay is rated for 10 amps at 12v. My pump says it runs at 10amps, but often we have more than 12v when the batteries are being charged while at the dock or under way. Not knowing anything about electricity, I decided that it may be too close to the timer relay's rating to be comfortable. So I decided to add a 30amp relay. So the timer relay would send current to the 30 amp relay which would in turn power the DPDT switch which would direct which way the pump ran. Simple right? I found a 30 amp relay with pigtail connector at an autoparts store, then found that Radio Shack had them for 50% off. You can get them from Amazon even cheaper.

The timer relay can be programed to do most anything you could want, but to program it there are two leads which need to be grounded in certain sequences to set the behavior of the timer as well as the length of time. You can do this by simply shorting those wires to a ground, but given that the whole thing would be buried underneath the helm station, it would be a real pain to get at to change the programing. So I bought some push button micro-switches from Radio Shack and some small project boxes from Amazon.

So I had the stuff, I just didn't know how to put it together. The 3rdbrakeflasher.com website has an instruction manual that is pretty good. It gave me some basic ideas and I came up with this schematic.

It had been a long time since I have done any soldering but I soldered up a harness for the ground connections, installed the micro-buttons in the project box and ran it to just inside the DC electrical cabinet in the PH. I installed the LED push button switch right above the toggle switch at the helm between the fuel tank indicators and crammed all the wiring, relays and connections into a larger project box I picked up at Radio Shack and mounted that under the helm console where all the other wiring is.

Usually, when I design and build something, it doesn't work at first. I usually have to trace down either design errors or problems created from my complete incompetence at anything electrical or mechanical. In this case at 5:00am this morning (I had a lot of projects I was working on Friday and Saturday) it worked from the beginning as soon as I turned on the breaker at the DC panel for the fuel transfer pump. (It has always had its own circuit).

So the procedure is this.
1. Turn on the power for the pump at the panel (I normally keep unneeded items powered off at the panel).
2. flip the toggle in the direction that I want the fuel to flow.
3. Push the red button.

As soon as it is pushed (it is momentary), the LED lights up and the pump starts to go. I set it for 10 minutes which will transfer 30 gallons of fuel. After 10 minutes the LED goes out and the pump shuts off. I can interrupt the pump cycle by simply pushing the button again to cancel the timer interval. I can also flip the toggle to the center off position. In this case the timer will still run and the switch will be powered, but the pump will be off. If I want another 30 gallons of fuel transferred after the cycle has completed I can just push the button again and get another 30 gallons transferred.
Here is what it looks like with the timer on and off.
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:52 PM   #2
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My brain is burning whats wrong with what I do and just draw from both tanks and let god work out the physics
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:55 PM   #3
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I did say silly upgrade....

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Originally Posted by gaston View Post
My brain is burning whats wrong with what I do and just draw from both tanks and let god work out the physics
Yup. Not a thing.
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Old 03-12-2017, 06:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by gaston View Post
My brain is burning whats wrong with what I do and just draw from both tanks and let god work out the physics
I have three tanks and they are currently all open. The fuel returns all go to the middle tank. I told my mechanic that I'd like to install a nice manifold that could allow me to direct fuel and returns to and from all tanks, the main and both gensets. He just gave me this look as if to say "why would you want to do that?"

I guess he thinks I should let God continue to do the physics on my boat too...

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Old 03-12-2017, 08:05 PM   #5
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I have two 100 gal tanks and a single engine and I use both tanks and return to both tanks while running. I have valves to the return and supply lines on both tanks but I never use them. Boat stay level.
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Old 03-12-2017, 08:11 PM   #6
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I love these kind of mods, these "outside the box" solutions to things that might not even need fixing. Nice work, I'm impressed! The only caveat is to see that the relay is not intended to be momentarily on and might overheat. Then again with a fuel flow it has built in cooling. Disregard.

Nice!
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Old 03-12-2017, 08:45 PM   #7
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I use a rotary timer switch that has a max of 1 hour. My transfer pump moves 5 gal/minute so I set the time for the amount of fuel I want to transfer. No forgetting.
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Old 03-12-2017, 08:52 PM   #8
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Dave,
You have far too much time on your hands. Spring cruising weather must be getting close for you.
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Old 03-12-2017, 09:06 PM   #9
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Only one question. Did you finish at 5:00AM because you got up early, or because you pulled and all-nighter?
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Old 03-12-2017, 10:04 PM   #10
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Only one question. Did you finish at 5:00AM because you got up early, or because you pulled and all-nighter?
uh... well... my wife was out of town so there were a bunch of projects that I wanted to get done on the boat. Then the shop that was supposed to look at my engine forgot about me until I called. Turns out he had dispatched the Cummins expert to an emergency commercial job and forgot about me. He apologized but I ended up being one of "those guys" and nicely acknowledged that it was his fault, he did apologize, but what was he going to do to solve the problem I had of being down at the boat waiting on a mechanic that never showed up. He sent a second string kid out. Nice kid but he is relatively new so his diagnostic and troubleshooting skill are still "developing".

Anyway, that put me behind by a few hours, then the dinghy ended up being ready so I took time to pick it, get it to the boat, and put on the swim step. Then of course was the extra long time it took at the hardware store trying to get some additional stuff for some of the projects...

Yeah, I had more that I wanted to do than what I had time to do. I still am working on fixing the kitchen sink at home. So I kept working on the boat until I was done, and it just happened to be 5:00 am.
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Old 03-12-2017, 10:08 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lepke View Post
I use a rotary timer switch that has a max of 1 hour. My transfer pump moves 5 gal/minute so I set the time for the amount of fuel I want to transfer. No forgetting.
That is the best solution as it is easy, cheap, and reliable. I just didn't want to put the timer in the ER (although that would be a great place for it) and didn't want to put it in the PH either. To be honest, I got and idea and then just kind of wanted to see if it would work.

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Dave,
You have far too much time on your hands. Spring cruising weather must be getting close for you.
Yes it is and I have a lot of projects yet to do on the boat. It is also coming around to a lot of the yearly maintenance tasks.
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Old 03-12-2017, 11:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gaston View Post
My brain is burning whats wrong with what I do and just draw from both tanks and let god work out the physics
Quote:
Originally Posted by dhays View Post
Yup. Not a thing.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Britannia View Post
I have three tanks and they are currently all open. The fuel returns all go to the middle tank. I told my mechanic that I'd like to install a nice manifold that could allow me to direct fuel and returns to and from all tanks, the main and both gensets. He just gave me this look as if to say "why would you want to do that?"

I guess he thinks I should let God continue to do the physics on my boat too...

Richard
Yez all beat me to it. My system is even simpler. Not only do my tanks drain from the bottom, and both sides equally, (always level), and no sludge/water build-up, as continually removed, (call it poor man's fuel polishing), but the single engine return just has to go back to the primary (off engine) filter - all fixed, no complication, and I can fill from either side and the tanks auto-level.


Sorry, Dave, but to use the in quote...you just came up with a brilliant solution to what should be a non-existent problem.
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Old 03-13-2017, 12:40 AM   #13
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You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble and just used a spring wound timer.
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Old 03-13-2017, 01:24 AM   #14
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You could have saved yourself a lot of trouble and just used a spring wound timer.
Yup, see post #11.
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Old 03-13-2017, 06:55 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dhays View Post
uh... well... my wife was out of town so there were a bunch of projects that I wanted to get done on the boat. Then the shop that was supposed to look at my engine forgot about me until I called. Turns out he had dispatched the Cummins expert to an emergency commercial job and forgot about me. He apologized but I ended up being one of "those guys" and nicely acknowledged that it was his fault, he did apologize, but what was he going to do to solve the problem I had of being down at the boat waiting on a mechanic that never showed up. He sent a second string kid out. Nice kid but he is relatively new so his diagnostic and troubleshooting skill are still "developing".

Anyway, that put me behind by a few hours, then the dinghy ended up being ready so I took time to pick it, get it to the boat, and put on the swim step. Then of course was the extra long time it took at the hardware store trying to get some additional stuff for some of the projects...

Yeah, I had more that I wanted to do than what I had time to do. I still am working on fixing the kitchen sink at home. So I kept working on the boat until I was done, and it just happened to be 5:00 am.
OK guys, I think we need to organize an intervention. Dave has gone off the deep end. This happens sometimes when people convert from sail boats to trawlers.
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:13 AM   #16
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I love that you took on at least 3 boat projects before tackling the kitchen sink. I've been accused of similar behavior, unfortunately my wife doesn't find any humor it in at all.
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:21 AM   #17
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When you are at the stage of requiring institutionalization, like me, you can wire two of these together to set an off time between on cycles. Any voltage will do. I use that setup to refill the boiler tank when away from the boat, on 4 minutes, off 8 days, or when underway to refill the day tank at a rate that matches the running burn. This way, I can keel over from a heart attack, and still reach my destination without the day tank running dry.

https://www.shopcross.com/product/om...FdIaAs5-8P8HAQ

P.s. forget to mention this little guy powers a 20 amp relay that turns on the pump motor for the required cycle. That way they never burn out.
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Old 03-13-2017, 07:33 AM   #18
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I installed something over the weekend to solve a problem where none really existed.
I can identify with your thinking as I have 3 ways to check my fuel capacity. Sight gauges on each fuel tank, Tank Tenders for each tank and the latest & greatest Maretron electronic fuel gauge. (Sonar)
I don't suffer from 2 foot itis but rather I'm addicted to having the latest & greatest electronic toys.
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Old 03-13-2017, 08:08 AM   #19
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Yup, see post #11.
OK, I get it now.
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Old 03-13-2017, 10:03 AM   #20
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I love that you took on at least 3 boat projects before tackling the kitchen sink. I've been accused of similar behavior, unfortunately my wife doesn't find any humor it in at all.
Yeah, but she was out of town. The order would have been reversed if she was home this weekend. The sink had its own project creep.
I had to replace the garbage disposable because it died.

While doing that I discovered a leak, turned out to be a split tailpiece.

While replacing the tailpiece discovered that the drain/strainer was rusted through and leaking so I had to replace that.

After that was done I found that the faucet assembly also has a leak. That was last night so it isn't fixed yet.

Sounds like projects on boats.
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