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Old 12-11-2012, 11:56 AM   #81
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Amazingly the twin engine ("its safer") folks didn't chime in.

The possibility of dual switch failure at the same time is very low.

A simple solution would be 3 float switches.

2 would be set to operate the pump , with or with out the other one working.

#3 would be a simple alarm (bells work best) that tells you the first two have failed and you are sinking. A different battery power source for #3.
Or - rig it like my boat where the alarm sounds whenever any of the float switches activate. No need for a seperate switch.
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Old 12-11-2012, 03:42 PM   #82
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Or - rig it like my boat where the alarm sounds whenever any of the float switches activate. No need for a seperate switch.
Ron for one thing, I don't want an alarm going off every time the pump cycles. I have warning lights at each helm; when not underway you can usually hear them running. Second, your pump switch then becomes a single point of failure. What you really want to know is when the pump isn't working. I'll tell you a little story from my early experience with this boat.

Because of the way an aftermarket thruster was installed, and my own height and size I cannot get easily down into the otherwise very large forward bilge. Compounding that, one of the few design flaws in the boat is that the forward sump, for the galley and bow A/C, the forward (seldom used) shower and the forward head sink (frequently used) is only accessible from that bilge, which once you are in there is at least stand up height. Thus the sump can theoretically act as a high water back up to the bilge.

I had to test the old rule pump switch with a boat hook, which I tried to do monthly, more or less. Well, everything seemed hunkydory when all of a sudden, while cruising, the high water alarm for that bilge went off intermittently as the boat pitched. Long story short, BOTH the bilge and the sump switches had failed, and the sump had been overflowing into the bilge. The air had been run a lot in the summer heat and humidity, and the sink was used a lot. I was able to run the pumps manually, though the very old sump pump had come off its base and wasn't very effective. As is my habit when replacing out broken switches, I had the tech put in new pumps and kept the working old ones as spares, and put Ultras in both the bilge and the sump. And of course, I now take more frequent glimpses into the bilges.
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:09 PM   #83
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Ron for one thing, I don't want an alarm going off every time the pump cycles. .........
To each his/her own, I suppose. If my bilge pump is running and I am not in the process of testing it, there is a problem that I need to address sooner, not later.

If one is worried about a single point of failure, multiple switches can be connected to a single pump or multiple pumps can be installed, each with multiple switches if desired.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:47 PM   #84
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I am leaning to buying a Johnson float switch #36303 $37.17 Om Amazon
Do you recommend this switch and can you give me a price I am in Fort Pierce FLa.
thanks Bert
See post 69 above. That`s the Ultima part no. Local mechanic says 1 in 2 don`t work. First one does, and I have high hopes the second one will. Glad to be rid of the sticking flipper(or semi- spoonerised, the "flipping sticker").
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:21 PM   #85
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To each his/her own, I suppose. If my bilge pump is running and I am not in the process of testing it, there is a problem that I need to address sooner, not later.

If one is worried about a single point of failure, multiple switches can be connected to a single pump or multiple pumps can be installed, each with multiple switches if desired.
Ron, I don't think you understand what I am trying to say here. I have the warning lights and can hear them running when the boat's engines are off. I just
don't want or need to hear an irritating alarm every time the bilge pump runs for perfectly non-threatening reasons (strainer cleaning, bilge washing, boat movement and so on). I want an alarm when either the bilge pump is not working (which your system does not do) or when it is in a state of being overwhelmed, and that is a situation that needs to be addressed before it gets worse. I am kind of surprised that this forum is so nonchalant about this issue. Mostly ICW/near shore cruisers? Dock condos?
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Old 12-12-2012, 02:02 AM   #86
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BruceK;The Johnson Ultima switch is fitted for the fwd pump and tests fine. I like the absence of external working parts. The wiring connects differently to the flipper it replaced.

Bruce I'm about to replace my forward 'flipper',as it has now flopped. how different is the Ultima wiring.Any DIY hints appreciated.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:27 AM   #87
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The idea of high water alarms is faily common place on larger, deeper boats that were designed with sumps as opposed to flat, open bilge spaces. The sumps are often pumped out by very low capacity pumps that suck the almost dry. I would NOT like to hear when the sumps need to run, especially with a conventional packing that may fill one them every few minutes.

It's true most people I know don't want to hear constant alarms when there is no need for instant action, on my boat the high water alarm comes on after a few inches of water accumulated but still not enough to be anywhere near a problem.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:49 AM   #88
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Are your bilges normally bone dry- except when something breaks, leaks, or otherwise fails?

I would like my bilge to be dry, but it seldom is. Dripless shaft seals drip a bit, some past the rudder seals, some area rainwater comes in no matter what I do.

So the high water alarm switch is above the 3 pumps. And a 4000 gph disaster pump above that.
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:51 AM   #89
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Because of the way an aftermarket thruster was installed, and my own height and size I cannot get easily down into the otherwise very large forward bilge.

I had to test the old rule pump switch with a boat hook ...
Just tie a piece of string to the float and the other end to a convenient spot under the nearest access hatch. Pull the string to test the switch.
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Old 12-12-2012, 12:05 PM   #90
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Just tie a piece of string to the float and the other end to a convenient spot under the nearest access hatch. Pull the string to test the switch.
Yeah, I thought of that, but I didn't like the possibility of the string jamming the switch, since it had to be fairly slack. The small boat hook was fine, it was my failure to test more frequently that may have been the root cause. But who knows, the thing could break the day after you test it. If we are making an extended open water crossing, I check them all before departure.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:31 PM   #91
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I had to test the old rule pump switch with a boat hook ...
Just tie a piece of string to the float and the other end to a convenient spot under the nearest access hatch. Pull the string to test the switch.
You aren't testing much if you don't run water into the bilge and see that the switch activates, the motor runs, the impeller turns, and water actually comes out of the thru hull.
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Old 12-12-2012, 04:34 PM   #92
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Are your bilges normally bone dry- except when something breaks, leaks, or otherwise fails?..............
My bilges are normally "bone dry" if there's more than dampness, there's a problem that needs to be addressed. Fortunately, so far, it's only been the potable water system, but I did find a crack in the raw water strainer cover before it did any more than seep.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:44 PM   #93
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My bilges are normally "bone dry" if there's more than dampness, there's a problem that needs to be addressed. Fortunately, so far, it's only been the potable water system, but I did find a crack in the raw water strainer cover before it did any more than seep.
Without getting into a long dissertation, the Hatteras bilges, two in particular on my boat are bit infamous for retaining some water, as the pumps are mounted to slightly raised fiberglass platforms to minimize screwing into the hull proper, and then the additional standard height of water that always washes back when the pump has cycled. So in those cases, there is usually enough to check that the pump is pumping by sloshing water its way in some fashion. By default, I get a good visual of the condition of the plumbing. I use the occasion of washing and vacuuming the bilges to test for "big flow".

But the flapper switches are known to have fairly short lives, and the first thing you want to know if they are working at all. Water does not activate the switch in any manner that a boat hook does not. I do use the "hose some fresh water technique on the two Ultras that are both hard to reach and in typically "dry" bilges. The sumps of course are a piece of cake since they get tested virtually every day through usage. Again, I don't need to hear an alarm every time I service a strainer or the AC seawater pump or clean the bilge or due to shaft and rudder packing gland seepage. When the bilge pump light comes on at the helm, that bilge gets checked immediately.Also, the high water alarms are not mounted that high if that makes you feel better.

As they say "whatever floats your boat" !
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Old 12-12-2012, 06:18 PM   #94
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BruceK;The Johnson Ultima switch is fitted for the fwd pump and tests fine. I like the absence of external working parts. The wiring connects differently to the flipper it replaced.

Bruce I'm about to replace my forward 'flipper',as it has now flopped. how different is the Ultima wiring.Any DIY hints appreciated.
The wiring instructions were confusing, I did not seem to have enough wires for what was said. Connecting it like the old flipper ran the pump constantly,so we swapped position of the wires from the switch and it was fine.You`ll see the switch has a test function on its body.
To other posters about testing flipper switches. Operate the flipper,does the pump turn on? Cease operate flipper,does pump turn off? Further check, just add water and observe. Always check for presence of debris, the pump draws debris to it, switch is beside pump and is at risk of jamming.
Final suggestion (subject to continued performance) replace flipper with "no external submerging moving parts" type switch.
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Old 12-12-2012, 08:11 PM   #95
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I'm with Ron on this one, only I don't call it an alarm, I call it audible notification. I want to know every time my bilge pump cycles on, whether I'm at the helm or in the sack. I use a little piezo buzzer and in fact I have two, each with different sound so I know which pump is running. And I am tuned in to the cycle time, so if the 'notification' lasts an inordinate amount of time, I know something needs attention.
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Old 12-13-2012, 07:27 AM   #96
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Without getting into a long dissertation, ...........
Really?

My point is, hearing the pump run does not in itself mean that water will be removed from the bilge and pumped overboard. Personally, I have had blockage in a bilge pump strainer and an impeller that fell off the pump motor. In each case, the pump could be heard running but it was not pumping. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.

It amazes and amuses me how so many boaters claim they would never leave the dock without a VHF "radio check", yet they seldom or never check their bilge pumps to see if they actually pump water out of the boat.
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Old 12-13-2012, 02:02 PM   #97
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Ron, I am not sure what your point is. or maybe you are not addressing me directly. When did I ever imply that I ignored water flow? Does your audible alarm that sounds every time your bilge switch activates measure water flow ? For those of us who do not possess bone dry bilges all the time, and do ocean cruising, in any kind of a sporty seaway, most switches will be intermittently lighting up. So that is one motivation for not having a bell or buzzer.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:26 PM   #98
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If the 'alarm' comes on and stays on, you know the bilge isn't being evacuated or the activator is faulty. I had a hose come loose and the pump was pushing water, but it was coming back in the bilge; the problem was quickly detected by the persistent notification. If the lower pump totally fails - no pumping and no alarm, the upper pump (and alarm) will kick in and I'll know the lower system needs attention.

At least that's how I stay comfortable with dewatering on my boat.
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:27 PM   #99
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Does your audible alarm that sounds every time your bilge switch activates measure water flow ?.
How can an alarm possibly measure water flow in a bilge?

The alarm signals that the bilge pump is getting power because the float switch has sensed an abnormally high water level in the bilge. What it means to me is that I need to determine the cause and extent of a problem quickly.

This is all original equipment put in by the manufacturer of the boat as safety equipment. It's pretty standard.
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Old 12-13-2012, 06:58 PM   #100
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How can an alarm possibly measure water flow in a bilge?
It can`t. That was his point.
I cannot see how a "bilge pump in operation" alarm/indicator/light/buzzer/communication device (call it what you will) is a bad thing. It can`t be harmful to know the pump is operating, and it can help.You`ll never hear the pump running over the engine noise.
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