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Old 07-30-2020, 04:21 PM   #1
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Mainship 400 High Water Alarm

Anyone had experience with the high water alarm system on a MS 400?



Crossing back from the Bahamas today, 25 miles offshore, our high water alarm went off, and the indicator lights for all three bilge pumps came on. After I popped three heart attack pills, I checked all the bilges and all the pumps. No water coming in anywhere. Aft pump in laz is running, but there is no water in laz. Mid pump in engine room is running, but no water. Fwd pump light is lit, but not running. High water pump is not running.


Disconnected the alarm and came back to the home slip. It seems to me to be a failure in the High Water alarm, but I can't find a float switch or anything to trigger the alarm.



Maybe the High Water Alarm is tied into the float switch for the high water pump? The float switch for the pump SEEMS to be working. When I turn the knob on the side it turns the pump on.


Anybody got any advice before I start tearing things apart?


Thanks,
Doug
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:05 PM   #2
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Got to get that fwd pump running for starters. Most likely that high water pump only operates from it's own float and not the alarm switch. I think the high water alarm switch is either malfunctioning on it's own or something is tripping it falsely.
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:26 PM   #3
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Can't swear for a 400 but my 2008 MS 34HT/T has a similar arrangement. I believe the alarm is triggered by multiple events...
Hi water float Sw activates hi water pump, alarm and triggers other pumps. This seems to fit with what you reported.
I also have had alarms when one of the house battys was connected without the other. I traced all this out once but dont recall which is on which batty but the auto side of the float sw / pumps go through different breakers (that are always activated) than the manual switches that turn on/off from the 12V panel and batty switch. Our always on circuits are all on the panel on our aftvdeck with the batty Sw. That panel also has some circuits that run through the batty Sw so you need to test, check or view the rear of the panel to figure out which are always on.
My guess either the hi water float/ pump lost power? And triggered the alarm or the float some how activated and triggered the alarm and other pumps... seems to fit your report better.
I dont know if that helped or just confused but there are many tie ins with alarm and hi water pump.
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Old 07-30-2020, 06:40 PM   #4
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Depending on which "system" of alarm was installed, it might come on whenever a bilge pump comes on or may wait until there are 3-5 inches of water in the bilge. A high water alarm should sound long before the high water pump turns on. The high water pump shouldn't come on until water lifts it's float switch. I suppose there can be multiple variations. I'd want an alarm to come on before the final/failsafe/high water pump kicks on.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:18 PM   #5
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Can't swear for a 400 but my 2008 MS 34HT/T has a similar arrangement. I believe the alarm is triggered by multiple events...
Hi water float Sw activates hi water pump, alarm and triggers other pumps. This seems to fit with what you reported.
I also have had alarms when one of the house battys was connected without the other. I traced all this out once but dont recall which is on which batty but the auto side of the float sw / pumps go through different breakers (that are always activated) than the manual switches that turn on/off from the 12V panel and batty switch. Our always on circuits are all on the panel on our aftvdeck with the batty Sw. That panel also has some circuits that run through the batty Sw so you need to test, check or view the rear of the panel to figure out which are always on.
My guess either the hi water float/ pump lost power? And triggered the alarm or the float some how activated and triggered the alarm and other pumps... seems to fit your report better.
I dont know if that helped or just confused but there are many tie ins with alarm and hi water pump.

That helps some for sure, thanks.


There is a breaker panel on the aft bulkhead of the ER on the 400. It has breakers on it that are independent of the main DC panel in the cabin. All of the bilge pumps (Fwd, mid, aft and high water) have their own breakers on that panel, but there is no breaker there or on the main DC panel for the HW alarm. When I turn off the pump breakers on the ER panel the pumps and their indicator lights turn off, but the HW alarm stays on.


There is a switch on the lower and FB helm that is tied into the HW alarm indicator lights. I seem to recall that if I activate that switch it turns on all four pumps plus the alarm, but I'm not certain of that. Right now the indicator light next to that switch is on and the alarm would sound if I reconnected it. Turning the switches on/off does not turn off the light or the alarm. Maybe one of those switches shorted out?


Based on your comments, Don, I feel sort of certain that the HW alarm is tied into the float switch on the HW pump. There is no other float switch in the bilge other than the one tied to the main mid bilge pump.
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:30 PM   #6
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I just had to replace the float switch on my high water pump last weekend...The angle bracket that they mounted the pump & switch had somehow collected large amounts of salt deposits and during an inspection I attempted to manually actuate the float and it did not move, completely removed the bracket and found that the salt was preventing the float from moving...strange indeed...
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Old 07-30-2020, 07:42 PM   #7
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Doug
You are absolutely correct.
Here's a picture of mine and guess your is the same. Activating sw lights alarm light and activates all four other pumps. Label even states loss of power to pump also activated alarm. You might start by verifying power to pump on auto side. Click image for larger version

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Old 07-30-2020, 08:36 PM   #8
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Don: Yes, that is the exact setup as my boat. Thanks for the verification, that helps. When I manually activate the float switch on the HW pump the pump comes on, so it has power.



The mid pump is staying on all the time until I turn off the breaker, so it has power as well. I clipped a wire on the FS on the mid pump and it still stayed on.


I used my ohm meter to verify continuity through the HW switch/alarms at both the FB and the lower helm. They both tested fine.


Jeff: Thanks for the info, I'll check that tomorrow. Something is closing the circuit on the HW alarm.
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Old 07-30-2020, 10:11 PM   #9
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Glad Don was able to point you in the right direction. Sounds like there's a short somewhere. Hope you get it squared away soon.
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Old 07-31-2020, 06:40 AM   #10
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Again not positive but just thinking about how MS got this scheme to work... there must be one or more relays that trigger alarm & pumps.
One for alarm on loss of pump power must be normally closed with power opening it. When pump loses power contacts close for the alarm. If that relay wire is off / loose / broken it would trigger the alarm even with power still to the pump.
Tracing wires to find relay(s) might identify the problem area.
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Old 07-31-2020, 09:39 AM   #11
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Hey Don,


You mean a relay like this?


This is wired into the pump circuits. Power is fed into it by a wire that runs from the high water pump breaker in the ER. I've got 12.7 V coming into it, but nothing coming out on any of the other 3 terminals.



I found an exact replacement for it this morning and replaced it, but it didn't fix the issue. Should I be getting voltage on the other tabs?


Now I'm really stumped.


Thanks,
Doug
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Old 07-31-2020, 10:26 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jefndeb View Post
I just had to replace the float switch on my high water pump last weekend...The angle bracket that they mounted the pump & switch had somehow collected large amounts of salt deposits and during an inspection I attempted to manually actuate the float and it did not move, completely removed the bracket and found that the salt was preventing the float from moving...strange indeed...
Glad you shared this experience. I imagine many of us don't inspect on an adequate frequency. Your experience is an inspiration to do so. Involving our boating partner is a good practice as well.
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Old 07-31-2020, 11:45 AM   #13
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Hey Don,


You mean a relay like this?


This is wired into the pump circuits. Power is fed into it by a wire that runs from the high water pump breaker in the ER. I've got 12.7 V coming into it, but nothing coming out on any of the other 3 terminals.



I found an exact replacement for it this morning and replaced it, but it didn't fix the issue. Should I be getting voltage on the other tabs?


Now I'm really stumped.


Thanks,
Doug
Doug
Again I'm guessing or speculating but there may be more than one relay like that one for different functions of the bilge pump / alarm system.

I'm imagining the condition you describe could possibly? Be the relay that either triggers the other pumps if hi water activates? Can you monitor other contacts while someone activates the hi water float Sw to see if that changes anything.
Other possibility is the opposite contact are NC normally closed and close if power to hi water pump is lost it closes the opposite contacts???
The relay should be marked or show whether NO or NC. You can check continuity w and w/o powering to see if its working.

One other thought or resource.
Are you familiar with Steve Cyr and his Stella Blue website? I believe he had a MS 400 and he and his website are a wealth of info. I corresponded with him when I first got our 34HT. My recollection is he had a much better electrical schematic than I could ever find.
If you haven't seen his website there is a link on my Bacchus website in the "useful links" section.
I'm curious and interested in what you find as I'm guessing MS used similar bilge pump logic on different models / years.
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Old 07-31-2020, 01:53 PM   #14
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There is a bundle of four wires that leads from the HW Pump and HW Pump FS up under the breaker panel in the ER. Pretty sure it is one red, two yellow and one brown. They lead to a plug that has the same combo of wires coming out of the other side. Some of those wires run through the relay in the pic above and some run to a buss bar that has all of the bilge pump connections on it. The buss bar is also behind the breaker panel.



There is also a second bundle of wires with the same color combo and same plug that leads up out of the breaker panel and then on to ? My guess is that it goes to the fly bridge, but I'm not sure of that.


When I pulled the plug apart on the first bundle the HW alarm went off and all three primary pumps went back to normal operation. That is, their float switches turn them on when activated as do the manual switches on the breaker panel.



With the plug disconnected the HW pump works when its FS is activated, but not when I turn on the HW switch at the helm.



It seems that only the HW alarm is not working correctly, and that is causing the other pumps to turn on. Not sure what is shorting it out though. Could it possibly be the alarm buzzer?
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Old 08-05-2020, 08:29 AM   #15
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Having similar issue on friends 2007 Mainship 40T. No pumps are coming on and no lights for pumps on panel, just High Water/No power light and alarm are on. Disconnected ground wire on alarms for now until we can further investigate. Will report back when we find anything.

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Old 08-05-2020, 07:57 PM   #16
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Having similar issue on friends 2007 Mainship 40T. No pumps are coming on and no lights for pumps on panel, just High Water/No power light and alarm are on. Disconnected ground wire on alarms for now until we can further investigate. Will report back when we find anything.

Todd

Yes, please let me know if you figure it out, I didn't get this finished before I had to leave the boat. I never could find another relay. It's weird.


I'm considering replacing the high water alarm with two basic HW alarms, one at each helm.



My concern though is that other things use the squwaker under the FB helm, like the overheat alarm for the engines, so I want to be careful disconnecting wires.
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Old 08-06-2020, 12:25 PM   #17
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Hey Doug, sorry for taking so long to get back to you. It sounds like Bacchus has you going in the right direction. Installing a separate high water alarm would get you around this problem, but would hate to lose the power monitoring of the pumps. I'm going to agree that this is a wiring issue, and it's "loss of power" that the alarm is sounding. A month after I got my boat home when we were all sitting watching TV at the dock, the alarm started going off. I disconnected battery to silence, family went home, and troubleshooting led to a faulty high water switch. Easy fix, and seeing as how I acquired my 2005 in 2016, it was time to replace all switches and pumps, anyway, which I did. Since our boats are as identical, if there's something you want me to check for voltages, I'd be happy to, let me know.
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Old 08-07-2020, 11:37 AM   #18
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Click image for larger version

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Found the problem on my friends 2007 Mainship 40T.

The circuit breaker tripped causing the alarm and large red light to come on.

Click image for larger version

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As per Bacchus’s message #7, check circuit breakers first. Since your forward bilge light is on, but the pump is not, you may have a fried forward bilge pump (may not be as obvious as the one above). Check to make sure impeller spins freely. Let us know what you find.

Todd
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Old 08-07-2020, 01:08 PM   #19
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FYI Steve Cyr's Stella Blue website has electrical schematics for his (previous) MS 400. I took a quick look and it does show different battys feeding different pumps. I did not see any relays which I'm guessing will be there for the loss of power logic... maybe I missed it w a quick glance. Thought it might help w troubleshooting if you have questions.
http://scyr.org/stellablue/index.php...86-spec-sheets
See DC Elec & scroll down
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Old 08-07-2020, 01:22 PM   #20
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Attachment 106006

Found the problem on my friends 2007 Mainship 40T.

The circuit breaker tripped causing the alarm and large red light to come on.

Attachment 106005

Attachment 106004

As per Bacchus’s message #7, check circuit breakers first. Since your forward bilge light is on, but the pump is not, you may have a fried forward bilge pump (may not be as obvious as the one above). Check to make sure impeller spins freely. Let us know what you find.

Todd

Thanks Todd.


Unfortunately, it's not that simple in my case. None of my pump breakers were tripped. While we were crossing the stream, I disconnected the alarm as a get home measure, then reconnected it when were back at the dock. I then got the alarm to stop and the pumps to turn off by turning off the breakers for each pump on the ER panel.



I think I said in my initial post that just my FWD pump and light were on, but that was a mistake as all three primary pumps were running. I guess I just didn't hear the other two at first. None of the pumps are frozen and their impellers seem to be fine.



I found a 4 wire bundle that runs from the HW pump float switch up and behind the breaker panel in the ER. It has a plug in it. When I disconnected that plug all three pumps and the alarm turned off. Yet all four pumps are still operational, even with the plug disconnected, meaning that their float switches are working (when I raise the float the pump comes on) and the manual switches turn them on and off. The only switches that aren't working with the plug disconnected are the two HW alarm/all on override switches at each helm, the same ones pictured above in Baccus' post.


When I reconnect that plug all three pumps turn back on and the alarm comes on.


Some of the wires from the four wire bundle go to the relay in my post above, so I replaced the relay, which didn't help. Some go to a small buss bar that is also behind the ER that contains most of the pump wiring.



Sorry to be so vague as to the wire colors in the bundle, I won't be back at the boat until week after next, so I can look then.


It does not seem to be anything as simple as a failed float switch or a tripped breaker.



Could be another relay that I have not found that has failed, though I'm at a loss as to where it would be.


Could also be a hidden switch for the HW alarm which I have not found yet, but this seems unlikely since the alarm turns off when I disconnect that plug and I have traced all of those wires.


I put in a call to a marine electrician who has done some work on my boat and walked him through it. He described the system as being so complex that it is "asinine." At this point I'm inclined to agree with him.



Bilge pumps and an alarm should be simple wiring and should all work independently of each other. I see no valid reason for all the pumps to turn on when the HW alarm turns on or if power is lost to any one of them. That just disables the entire pump system as a result of a tiny fault like I am dealing with now. Each pump has its own float switch. If I have high water in the ER the ER pump and the HW pump will come on. Why would I need the Fwd pump or the lazzerette pump to come on for water in the ER?


I can install a HW alarm for each helm for about $150.00. I'm leaning towards doing that as it will create independent functions for each pump and each alarm. If I can't find the short (or whatever it is) with the current set up, I'll have to call the electrician, and that will cost me more than $150.00.
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