Vane pump question

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Scraping Paint
Oct 23, 2007
A question primarily for RickB I guess since he's probably dealt with these things a lot.

As part of the new fuel system fitted by the boat's previous owner in 1997--- new tanks, plumbing, etc.--- there is a simple fuel transfer system.* It consists of a Jabsco vane pump and the plumbing and valving needed to transfer fuei between any two of the boat's five tanks plus pump fuel off the boat if necessary.*

When pumping between tanks the fuel goes through a dedicated Racor 500.* I regard this as a transfer system, not a polishing system.* In any event, we ran it a few times after aquiring the boat in 1998 just to see how it worked but have never used it since.* We have no need to polish our fuel and have had had no need to transfer fuel between tanks other than the normal valve-controlled gravity transfer between the saddle tanks and the day tank.* So this pump has sat for a whole bunch of years without being used.

Being as how this is a vane pump, my question is would it be wise to pull the pump and disassemble it to check and clean the vanes and pump chamber before running it?* We have no anticipation of ever needing to use it but I got to thinking never say never so it would be a good idea to keep it in usable condition.* I don't know if disuse has any effect over time on a vane pump.


I have several of these types of pumps. The one I use for fuel transfer is on a timer so I don't forget it is running and overfill a tank. I'd suggest you run yours but:

--Change out the Racor - the elements can break down over time
--Insure the discharge line is open with no closed valves BEFORE* you start the pump
--Insure the suction line (s) are not closed or clogged
--Feel the pump motor to see* how hot it is getting - when too hot for your hand shut it down.
--Check amps when running with a VOM
Other than the shaft seals I don't think any maint is required or needed. I think "vane"
pump is*** ....rectangular vanes (a bit like paddle boards) that ride in slots that are spring loaded so the outside edge is in constant contact w the outer circular cavity of the pump.
The inside rotating part of the pump holds the vanes and is offset like the shaft and rubber impeller of one's sea water pump. As long as the vanes aren't sticking and ther'e not worn the pump should work fine. But Rick should be able to tell all.
Thanks both of you. Tom, good point about the Racor element. It has never been changed as we've virtually forgotten about the system. The first time I ran the pump (which can run both directions) I ran it the wrong direction for the valve setting. And indeed, the pump body got warm quite quickly and I turned it off. Figured out the correct direction and the pump body stayed cold. Plus I could hear the fuel splashing into the tank.
After changing the element give the p/p a quick run and see if it pumps. If the vanes are stuck or damaged you can usually hear the different operating noise.
With vane p/ps there is always a good chance of the vanes sticking after being inactive for a long time.
Diesel can get a bit sticky around the vanes if not moved.
If stuck just remove impeller and clean vanes , replace if required and all should be ok.


-- Edited by Tidahapah on Saturday 19th of February 2011 04:20:51 PM
I'm familiar with vane pumps in hydraulic systems- running hydraulic oil. My concern with diesel fuel is the chance that a but of moisture could have settled in the pump. The vanes could possibly by fiber- like an impact wrench- but are probably made of steel. IF they are carbon steel AND you had any moisture in the pump it is POSSIBLE that rust has formed. If that is the case and you run the pump without disassembly and cleaning that strange noise you hear might be your wallet opening up.

I encourage you to disassemble it (center punch the housings first to assure it goes back the same orientation) and make every effort to keep the vanes in the same slot when reassembling.
you should turn it a full revolution by hand before starting it. If any of the vanes are stuck in the "out" position, this action will allow you to feel them and stop before any damage is done. if they're stuck in the "in" position, no damage will be done except the pump won't work, and then you could take it apart and clean them. I'm the GM of the Eaton Vickers distributor for the Mid Atlantic & New England. Vickers invented the vane pump.
You want me to build you an all new unnecessary polishing system? I seem to excel at that!
GonzoF1 wrote:

You want me to build you an all new unnecessary polishing system? I seem to excel at that!
Great sense of humor Tom.

Maybe unnecessary, but not unwanted!

I perfer to call mine a Fuel Management System.*

JohnP wrote:

I perfer to call mine a Fuel Management System.*
Charlton Heston: "You're guessing!"

Hal Holbrook: "We like to call it analysis."

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