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Old 01-15-2014, 01:36 PM   #1
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Rolling Ball Bilge Pump Switch

Time to replace the Rule bilge pump switch (again!). Just saw an inexpensive ($24) replacement at WM that incorporates a rolling ball bearing. Does anybody have comments about this type of switch? Seems like the switch mechanism is completely sealed unlike the Rule.
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Old 01-15-2014, 01:45 PM   #2
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Time to replace the Rule bilge pump switch (again!). Just saw an inexpensive ($24) replacement at WM that incorporates a rolling ball bearing. Does anybody have comments about this type of switch? Seems like the switch mechanism is completely sealed unlike the Rule.
I would go for an ultra, and you never have to worry again.
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Old 01-15-2014, 04:58 PM   #3
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I would go for an ultra, and you never have to worry again.
Wow! Never worry again?

They are good switches ($$) but they're still mechanical and the wiring in the bilge is always a concern. That being said we had one on our last boat for 7 years and it never failed. We mounted it against a bulk head, independent of the bilge pump which made servicing the pump easier.
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Old 01-15-2014, 05:22 PM   #4
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I would go for an ultra, and you never have to worry again.
I think not. In my experience, they don't work good in freshwater, soapy water, oily water, or water w/ dog hair. IMHO the only "install and forget forever" switch is the diaphragm type switches like GROCO & PAR make. No wires in the bilge either.
I have had the same switch on my moored boat for 35 years and it still works fine.
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Old 01-15-2014, 06:55 PM   #5
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Oh ok I wasn't aware of every one else's problems we've had one in our camano and now have one in the Nordy. They've did us just fine, sorry if I miss lead you but we've had good luck.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:00 PM   #6
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My Ultra has worked longer than any of the 4 or 5 hinged arm switch variety. There was an extensive old thread about switches, including the air pressure type which we don`t see advertised here.
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:38 PM   #7
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Jabsco Hydro Air Bilge Switch

Groco Bilge Pump Control Kit
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Old 01-15-2014, 07:57 PM   #8
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Thanks Brooksie. I thought they were a good idea, but not being sold here, and with people talking of DIYing their own out of old washing machine parts (!), thought they might not go down well with insurers and bought the Ultima, from Amazon US, importing 2 for the retail price of one here, freight included.
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Old 01-15-2014, 10:29 PM   #9
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This is one of those subjects without a good answer. The truth is that all bilge pump switches are troublesome and they are kind of like the light inside your refrigerator. I second the thumbs up for the Ultra switch. I have had one in a cruising sailboat for several seasons and it has never failed to cycle the pump even when a vent line broke and filled the bilge with diesel. I am a big fan of Johnson bilge pumps, the big ones are of much better quality than Rule, so I have installed 2 Johnson Ultima (not Ultra) switches in the low water/high water backup system in the bow of my trawler. These are no moving part electronic switches with a cost of $35-50 depending on where you buy. So far so good but they have only been in place for 4 months. I like that they wont get fowled by debris in the bilge. I test them every month.
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:18 AM   #10
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Check out. DEPCO.com they have a switch called That ultimate switch page 31
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:33 AM   #11
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[QUOTE="Defever;206147"]Check out. DEPCO.com they have a switch called The Ultimate switch page 31 in the catalog it works
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:29 AM   #12
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In my opinion, the best switch for a bilge pump would be a mercury switch. A little ball of mercury sits in a sealed glass tube and when tilted, it runs down and makes a connection between two contacts inside the tube. No wear and no corrosion. Many of the old round residential heating thermostats used these switches.

Unfortunately, the government has outlawed these switches and left us to find a substitute. I used to have a bunch of them that I removed from equipment several years ago but I discarded them when I moved.

The only float switch I ever had trouble with on a boat was on a shower sump. The ones in my boat's bilges are 14 years old and working just fine. The impeller on one pump broke but not the pump itself or the switch. I have no idea what sort of switches they are but they are conventional float switches that pivot up when the water in the bilge rises to a certain level.
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:38 AM   #13
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the rolling ball ones...especially the RULE ones for the last decade or so have been problematic in 2 areas...the balls themselves get dead spots on them...probably from arcing and the floats themselves if subjected to typical bilge slime do get sticky enough to "not float".

I agree that the air ones and some of the electronic ones do have their advantages but alas they too can have failures (even though you have not experienced one - yet).

My solution is just buy a couple of the cheaper ones...whatever suits your fancy or even try 2 different styles....connect both to the pump, one higher and out of the goo so to speak...the higher one should not suffer the same fate of the lower one and be a backup just in case.

Of all the safety precautions we as boaters take...I'm not sure why this simple yet effective solution isn't explored more.

Hook the higher one to the high water alarm system as an added benefit.
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Old 01-16-2014, 08:51 AM   #14
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To me the easiest way to mount a bilge pump, its primary switch and a secondary , with even a third switch for a sinking!!! alarm is to mount the pump on a piece of plywood with an arm that is fastened to the boat with wing nuts.

When its time for inspection,or cleaning the intake screen the entire setup, hoses and all are lifted.

This allows easy soldering of the various connections , and heat shrink tubing to be installed.

KISS!
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Old 01-16-2014, 09:30 AM   #15
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My bilge switches seldom operate. The only time they operate is if I dump water tanks to the bilge. I put a small automatic Rule 500 gph in the bilge. It cycles every 2.5 minutes for about two secounds and detects load on the motor if it is pumping water. I put it in to maintain water in the bilge as low as posible. I dont have a bilge sump, its just a trough that runs the partial length of the keel. Water level is less than 1/2".
The first one failed at two months but the replacement has worked for over three years.

Rule Pumps Automatic 12 Volt DC Bilge Pump, 500 GPH 25S
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Old 01-16-2014, 10:48 AM   #16
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............. This allows easy soldering ...........
Shame, shame, shame!
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Old 01-16-2014, 04:41 PM   #17
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This allows easy soldering of the various connections , and heat shrink tubing to be installed.
I started soldering my bilge pump connections in as well as they're in a damp environment which really attacks the barrel connectors and oxidation wicks up the exposed wire. According to the ABYC is acceptable as long as there is a mechanical connection and the joint is supported against vibration. So I cross twist and wrap the two copper wire ends together, solder, liquid tape and heat shrink tubing the joint for support. Just about everything else, other than fine instrument electrical connections, I use mechanical connectors.

11.14.5.7 Solder shall not be the sole means of mechanical connection in any circuit. If soldered, the connection shall be so located or supported as to minimize flexing of the conductor where the solder changes the flexible conductor into a solid conductor.
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:37 PM   #18
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always interesting who here knows the whole/most of the story and those that don't....
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Old 01-16-2014, 05:38 PM   #19
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Shame, shame, shame!
Assumed a bit to fast there chief.
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Old 01-16-2014, 07:22 PM   #20
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I recommend an electronic one;
- Never jammed by debris
- fully adjustable
- timer of 5 sec of delay to start (to avoid starting by just rolling)
- time for disconnect 5 sec in order to pump up avoiding water return if you have not anti return valve

you should add a bypass electric switch for testing in the bilge (without water)
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