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Old 03-04-2019, 09:25 AM   #1
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Do I need bilge pump switches?

I want a dry bilge, so Iím installing a paint roller tray under each stuffing box to collect the drips that I canít seem to stop without tightening the packing gland fitting to the point of over-heating. (I have Duramax packing and it still leaks when I back off the gland to cool things down, so I suspect the shaft may be grooved inside the stuffing box.)

Power is available from a nearby fuse block and I envision these automatic pumps will be energized all the time. With that in mind, do I need an on/off switch for each pump? Any ABYC standard covering this? If I need to de-energize them for any reason, I could simply pull the fuse out of the fuse block. When I haul the boat, Iíll disconnect the entire house bank, so parasitic loads should not be an issue.
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Old 03-04-2019, 09:50 AM   #2
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Any chance or attaching hoses to the trays and routing them to an existing shower sump? If they're not needed when the engines are off, I might consider wiring them to the engine run circuit (with an appropriate size fuse inline).

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Old 03-04-2019, 10:04 AM   #3
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I suggest repacking the boxes and checking the shafts for damage while you are at it. They should not leak to that extent. I used gore packing and had no drips.
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:21 AM   #4
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I don't think that there is any ABYC requirement for switches. Many builders put on/automatic/off switches at the electrical panel which I hate. If you accidentally push it off, you have no bilge pump. I do understand the logic of having an on switch that bypasses the float switch, but see no need at all for an off switch.


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Old 03-04-2019, 10:29 AM   #5
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I don't think that there is any ABYC requirement for switches. Many builders put on/automatic/off switches at the electrical panel which I hate. If you accidentally push it off, you have no bilge pump. I do understand the logic of having an on switch that bypasses the float switch, but see no need at all for an off switch.


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Old 03-04-2019, 10:34 AM   #6
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I think it would be ok to skip the manual switch. Be sure the paint tray will hold enough water to activate the pump. They are pretty shallow.

I’m not crazy about this work around. When I got tired of dealing with my packing gland I installed a drip less shaft seal. I was very happy with the result.
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:39 AM   #7
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On my boat, the bilge pumps have covered breakers on the DC panel, and are “always on” even if the batteries are off (except if you lift the cover and deliberately turn them off).
I agree with diver Dave, if an oil or fuel leak you want to be able to contain it.
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Old 03-04-2019, 10:53 AM   #8
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I have a sump built in under my shaft seal, it has a tube that is routed to the AC condensate sump, which has a little bilge pump going overboard. The shower sump is on the other side of a watertight bulkhead, and gravity feed to that was troublesome for both drains. So I put a sump in the engine room too. For last few years bilge has remained bone dry.
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Old 03-04-2019, 11:27 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the ideas.

A PO had trays under the stuffing boxes with hoses attached that delivered the leakage to an all-the-way-forward depression in the bilge. From there, an auto bilge pump routed it all the way aft to a shower sump. So, the leakage essentially ran the entire length of the ER twice, pooling in the bilge at the forwardmost point. Also, the collection trays leaked and the long hose runs would clog if not cleaned regularly.

With the system Iím installing, itís about a 2 ft hose run to a shower sump that sits between the shaft logs. If the stringers didnít run between the sump and the roller trays, I could almost gravity feed it to the shower sump.

I bought extra deep roller trays and the Whale pumps sit perfectly in them.

There is no possibility of an uncontrolled oil or fuel pump out because the Whales only draw water from the roller trays, not the larger bilge.

Repacking, again, might have solved this problem, but Iím tired of screwing with it. This is the third time Iíve repacked or had it repacked and they either leak or run hot. If this doesnít work, it may be time to consider dripless.
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Old 03-04-2019, 11:35 AM   #10
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I like the bilge switch panel. Besides being able to shut off the pump in case of a fuel leak, it allows me to turn on the pump manually. This may be needed in case of a bilge pump switch failure (an all too common problem). It also allows running the bilge pump manually until it runs dry, to minimise the amount of water in the bilge sump.

Angus- It regard to stopping the drip on your packing gland; you may need to just change the length of your stern tube hose by a couple inches. This will move your packing seat to an unworn section of your shaft and give you a water tight seal once again.
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:47 PM   #11
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I like the bilge switch panel. Besides being able to shut off the pump in case of a fuel leak, it allows me to turn on the pump manually. This may be needed in case of a bilge pump switch failure (an all too common problem). It also allows running the bilge pump manually until it runs dry, to minimise the amount of water in the bilge sump.

Angus- It regard to stopping the drip on your packing gland; you may need to just change the length of your stern tube hose by a couple inches. This will move your packing seat to an unworn section of your shaft and give you a water tight seal once again.
Good thought, AusCan, but the stern tube isnít repositionable on this boatóabsent a lot of glass work. .

I should have mentioned that all four of the ďrealĒ bilge pumps on board are switched at the main panel. Iím only asking about the new pumps Iím installing in the small roller trays that will fit below the stuffing boxes.
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Old 03-05-2019, 10:17 AM   #12
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Angus I see that your packing gland is not mounted with a hose between the hull and gland. Mine was also like that. I never could get the dripping to stop until I replaced it with a hose mounted dripless Seal. I think they need the little bit of flexibility that the hose allows.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:13 PM   #13
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I have a 50 year old boat I purchased less than a year ago. I had an older (80 yrs old) chap inspect my boat as part of the auxiliary coast guard free inspection program. One of the items he noticed was my bilge pump and the fact it was not an automatic bilge pump but had to be turned on at the switch. He told me for my era of boat this was the "norm" for drainage. Needless to say, in refit that is one of the items I am having added, a new automatic bilge pump. But I'm leaving the old one in place in case of emergency out on the water (I've had that happen on a Tanzer 26 sailboat decades ago) with a bilge pump failure and the joy of watching a boat slowly fill with water out in the middle of the pond so to speak.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:52 PM   #14
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Angus I see that your packing gland is not mounted with a hose between the hull and gland. Mine was also like that. I never could get the dripping to stop until I replaced it with a hose mounted dripless Seal. I think they need the little bit of flexibility that the hose allows.
Thanks, Parks. If this setup doesnít work, iím going to look into dripless.
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Old 03-05-2019, 05:11 PM   #15
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auto / off / manual
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Old 03-05-2019, 06:48 PM   #16
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Ian, I think Parks suggestion should be investigated further. Duramax packing shouldn't leak... Its great stuff. I would rather have that old school set up than switch to dripless provided the drip could be controlled. Tightening to the point of overheating the shaft says somethings wrong.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:01 PM   #17
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Ian, I think Parks suggestion should be investigated further. Duramax packing shouldn't leak... Its great stuff. I would rather have that old school set up than switch to dripless provided the drip could be controlled. Tightening to the point of overheating the shaft says somethings wrong.
I would agree. That was my first thought when reading the post. Duramax doesnít leak. If the shaft is scored, how badly is it scored? I would want to inspect to feel comfortable.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:10 PM   #18
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I have dealt with shaft pitting (not scoring) that made dripless packing impossible. PSS worked for me, but they can have issues too. Typically causing closer to floods than drips.
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Old 03-05-2019, 07:20 PM   #19
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The first photo is of a rudder post. This is what my boatís builder used as a shaft log. The second photo is of a shaft log with hose and packing gland.

I had my boat yard take the packing nut off, clamp a hose on and install a seal. They could have installed a packing gland instead of the seal. I think the hose is what made the difference.
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Old 03-06-2019, 06:10 AM   #20
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"I think the hose is what made the difference."

Probably , boats flex ,engine mounts allow some movement and even perfect shafts will wiggle in operation.

With Gore or Duramax packing no shaft drips is a snap.
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