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Old 08-13-2017, 04:14 PM   #1
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Does there exist a bilge pump that will pump the bilge completely dry?

i.e.a setup almost like a shop vac where the pickup could be at the absolute lowest point and pump out almost every drop of water as the water seeped in... instead of waiting for 2 or 3 inches to accumulate before the float switch is tripped...and even then, the pump doesn't mount low enough to pump it all out. Does such a system exist ?
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:24 PM   #2
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Perhaps not a pump - a big sponge on the end of a stretched arm is probably the closest you are going to get
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:28 PM   #3
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I looked extensively, but could not find anything good. Ultimately, I concluded that the only way to have a dry bilge was to identify and eliminate every source of water intrusion. At one point, it occurred to me that gunnel mounted rod holders might be a source, but happily discovered drain lines (overboard, not into the bilge) attached to the base of each rod holder. One of the last things to solve on my boat was HVAC and ice maker condensation.

Ultimately, it is very satisfying, and well worth the effort, to have a dry bilge.
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:40 PM   #4
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Arid Bilge Home

Dry Bilges are possible!
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Old 08-13-2017, 04:44 PM   #5
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We're lucky. No "bottom" leak in our Tolly. And, if there is any water that gets in... do have leak on top of one water tank if I fill for too long... the water collects in one lower portion by the bow and that bilge pump empties it to nearly dry condition. The slight remainder evaporates over time.

We have stern, center and bow bilge pumps.

2008 starboard raw water pump blew a gasket - big time; I believe corrosion had taken its toll. The pumps handled that easily.

99% of the time there is no water at all in our bilge.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:15 PM   #6
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Wow....the second link looks like exactly the sort of system I was envisioning might exist but have never seen advertised, thanks !
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:26 PM   #7
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We have stern, center and bow bilge pumps.
I have stern, engine room and bow pumps as well...in fact the boat has six pumps....there are higher mounted pumps in case any of the lower ones fail, plus that sets off an audible alarm if water ever reaches one of the upper pumps.

Bow and stern are always bone dry, but the bilge area between the engine stringers is the problematic area...not bad really but enough water gets in after a month or so to get annoying.
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Old 08-13-2017, 05:52 PM   #8
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Ultimately, I concluded that the only way to have a dry bilge was to identify and eliminate every source of water intrusion.
Right. If you have 2 - 3" level now what is to be gained in reducing that to 1/4 - 1/2"? Either you have water coming in at some non-zero flow rate and a wet bilge and pump cycling or no water coming in and a dry bilge. I'm not sure I see any practical advantage in having a super low float system or more rapid pump cycling. Maybe I'm missing something in the question. For one-time events a sponge and a bucket or a shop vac work for most.
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Old 08-13-2017, 09:12 PM   #9
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Right. If you have 2 - 3" level now what is to be gained in reducing that to 1/4 - 1/2"? Either you have water coming in at some non-zero flow rate and a wet bilge and pump cycling or no water coming in and a dry bilge. I'm not sure I see any practical advantage in having a super low float system or more rapid pump cycling. Maybe I'm missing something in the question. For one-time events a sponge and a bucket or a shop vac work for most.
I agree with you that water in the bilge is water in the bilge, whether 1/4" or 3". But I, too, had been on a quest for a pump that would remove the last remaining little bit -- I wasn't interested in a solution that would leave even 1/4", it was bone dry or nothing (though, in fairness, I would have been OK to let evaporation do the last little bit, as long as the bilge was bone dry whenever I looked. Finally, I realized it made more sense to eliminate all sources of intrusion. PIA, but now I am happy.
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Old 08-13-2017, 09:21 PM   #10
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I take it non of you have old wooden boats!
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:24 AM   #11
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I don't have a wooden boat Bob but I am with you on this. I have some leaks which I need to sort out. Finally at a stage with the new to me boat where it is in the top 3 things to do. I have in my mind that a dry or very much kept up water wise bilge will help me find the leaks. Maybe bad thinking though and I don't really need that. Every time I turn around I have a couple of gallons down there and my current bilge pump doesn't go on until that couple of gallons is in there. Because of a low level slant to the pump it is back pretty far in the center bilge area and past some weep holes. I figure if it is dry I will be able to see where it is coming from better. Again, what do I know, may be wrong on that. The first system is too much money for my need. The second one is more inviting even as a temp fix until I sort the leaks out. Bet I could sell it afterward to someone in a similar spot....?

Here is my setup for what it is worth. Bilge "full" with no bilge pump on yet and then one after being manually pumped out. That hose in the recess is the manual pump from up by the helm. The "full" picture is not really full as the water will go higher, sloshing back in the center bilge towards the bow. the first pic shows the bilge pump under water so to speak but the float is not up enough to turn it on. I wish I had a more sensitive float or that it was adjustable. Feel free to tell me if I am being stupid about this whole thing!
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:43 AM   #12
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Since I don't have dripless shaft logs, I'm sort of stuck with some water. Also, with cold sea water and humid summers, there's a lot of condensation which keeps the bilge areas wet anyway.

My thoughts are to run a small hose down to the lowest point of the bilge, and hook it up to a small pump. Not a bilge pump, just a low-capacity water pump of some kind. Come to think of it, I have an old-fashioned diaphragm pump that might work.

An alternative would be to run a vacuum cleaner hose to the lowest point and hook one of those "bucket head" shop vacs to it. Effective, but a little more work.

Either way, I'm on the boat enough that sucking that last little bit out every few days would probably be sufficient, so I wouldn't need it to be automatic.
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:49 AM   #13
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My thoughts are to run a small hose down to the lowest point of the bilge, and hook it up to a small pump.
"Between boats" right now, but this was the setup on my last boat.

A very small pump, with a check valve in the hose, to take care of very small amounts of water down in the bottom of the bilge. Then the "real" bilge pump was a few inches above that, and only came on when small pump became over-whelmed. A couple of inches above that were the BIG bilge pumps that would come on in case of something really serious (which never happened -- they only ran when I deliberately tested them).
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:06 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by firstbase View Post
I don't have a wooden boat Bob but I am with you on this. I have some leaks which I need to sort out. Finally at a stage with the new to me boat where it is in the top 3 things to do. I have in my mind that a dry or very much kept up water wise bilge will help me find the leaks. Maybe bad thinking though and I don't really need that. Every time I turn around I have a couple of gallons down there and my current bilge pump doesn't go on until that couple of gallons is in there. Because of a low level slant to the pump it is back pretty far in the center bilge area and past some weep holes. I figure if it is dry I will be able to see where it is coming from better. Again, what do I know, may be wrong on that. The first system is too much money for my need. The second one is more inviting even as a temp fix until I sort the leaks out. Bet I could sell it afterward to someone in a similar spot....?

Here is my setup for what it is worth. Bilge "full" with no bilge pump on yet and then one after being manually pumped out. That hose in the recess is the manual pump from up by the helm. The "full" picture is not really full as the water will go higher, sloshing back in the center bilge towards the bow. the first pic shows the bilge pump under water so to speak but the float is not up enough to turn it on. I wish I had a more sensitive float or that it was adjustable. Feel free to tell me if I am being stupid about this whole thing!


Looking at your setup I would guess that the addition of a small bilge pump where the black hose is would be a good thing. The small pump would suck most of the water while the big one would be there in case of major water ingress that the small pump cannot handle. Not sure I am clear

L
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:09 AM   #15
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I was trying to figure out how to mount a bilge pump inside the shop vac, haha. that second link looks good!!
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:42 AM   #16
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I recently purchased the Whale Supersub smart pump to use in addition to my other pumps because it will fit below the prop shaft on my Mainship. In the area I want to place it, the other pump with a float switch I have is off to the side and will not activate till the water is a couple of inches high.
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Old 08-14-2017, 09:51 AM   #17
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Sure would be nice to have the bilge pump sump at the lowest point of the bilge! Or pump sumps at all the lowest points. Sure would be nice if these sumps were just a teensy bit bigger than the pump and its switch. Then the permanent puddle around an ordinary (cheap) pump would be very small and inoffensive.

I arranged one on our Morgan 27 sailboat. That boat has no bilge and anything that dripped from the engine or shaft seal ended up all over the sole. When I replaced the engine beds I built an enclosure forward of the engine and ground a sump for a small pump. Ended up just using a sponge.
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Old 08-14-2017, 11:30 AM   #18
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"Since I don't have dripless shaft logs, I'm sort of stuck with some water."

Maybe in the past , but by selecting new Duramax or similar packing there is no longer a need for a dripping shaft , at rest or underway.
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Old 08-14-2017, 02:18 PM   #19
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"Since I don't have dripless shaft logs, I'm sort of stuck with some water."

Maybe in the past , but by selecting new Duramax or similar packing there is no longer a need for a dripping shaft , at rest or underway.
Absolutely Correct!
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Old 08-14-2017, 08:48 PM   #20
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Absolutely Correct!
So replacement of the packing with Duramax eliminates the need for the water flow from my cooling system to the shaft? Is that a recognized truth or the Marvel Mystery Oil of shaft lube??!?!
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