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 Catalina/Capri 25/250 Sailor's Forums
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 Bilge pump
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glivs
Admiral

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Initially Posted - 02/11/2022 :  18:23:47  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Longer days and starting to think about spring projects. I've been fortunate in that Great Escape has been largely a dry boat. None-the-less I've decided to add a bilge pump to handle situations (hopefully minor) that may call for it....Lots of questions:

  • Routing - I suspect most route the discharge hose to the stern but that is a long and somewhat circuitous run. I assume it should also pass higher than the discharge port at some point to limit any siphon possibility.
  • Securing the pump - I do not want to attach the pump to the bilge floor using screws. How do you secure your pump?
  • Winter prep - assuming there is a check valve in the pump, the discharge hose could potentially hold a fair amount of water. How do you maintain yours to prevent freezing without ending up with a bilge full of antifreeze.
  • Routing pt II - Did you drill through the tabbing in the bilge to route the discharge hose to your pump?
Just in early planning stage but any experience you can offer would be appreciated. Thanks.

Gerry & Leslie; Malletts Bay, VT
"Great Escape" 1989 C-25 SR/WK #5972

bigelowp
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Response Posted - 02/11/2022 :  18:57:08  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Gerry

I am in the same boat (no pun intended) as to considering adding an electric bilge pump. Sounds like you I rarely get water and it, thank God, is never salt water (I am on Long Island Sound) but the hatch boards and when a heavy rain, less that the Gusher's thick hose can handle and more than my sponge and bucket. I have wondered, and hope others pipe in, if both an electric and manual pump can be plumbed to the same hose/outlet. Then if the electric would not work the manual could be deployed.

Should be an interesting thread.

Peter Bigelow
C-25 TR/FK #2092 Limerick
Rowayton, Ct
Port Captain: Rowayton/Norwalk/Darien CT
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Leon Sisson
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Response Posted - 02/13/2022 :  08:46:03  Show Profile  Visit Leon Sisson's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Some Thoughts on Bilge Pumps

Here's an updated version of some info I posted back in 2017 in response to "Bilge Pump Project".
 
Let me start by saying I suggest any Catalina 25 owner who hasn't acquired and studied Don Casey's books on old fiberglass sailboat repair, maintenance, and upgrade do so.  "Don Casey's Complete Illustrated Sailboat Maintenance Manual" ($50).  As I recall this covers everything in "This Old Boat" ($48). and more.  The three bilge pump system I installed closely follows Don Casey's suggestions.
 
Pump 1.)  A small automatic electric pump selected for its ability to pump down to a shallow residue.  I think of this as the 'slurper' pump for removing nuisance water.  The type I use turns on with a low float, and then keeps going until it determines that it's pumping air.  I even went with a smaller diameter hose to reduce drain back volume.  Original advertised capacity was around 500 gph.  If it can pump a 100 gph, that's more than enough.  I shoved it as far fwd as it would fit under the companionway ladder.
 
Pump 2.)  A large electric pump powered through a relay and separate float switch selected for its ability to move a lot of water.  I refer to this as a damage control pump.  I think it's rated around 3,700 gph with 1-1/2" smooth bore hose.  The pump and switch are installed a few inches higher than the 'slurper' pump, under the galley area just to port of swing keel cable.  I've yet to have enough water in the bilge to activate the damage control pump, even flushing the cabin with a garden hose.  I imagine it looking like a fire hydrant or jet drive behind the boat.
 
Pump 3.)  I replaced the original manual bilge pump with a slightly larger one, including new hoses and a strum box pickup under the cabin sole near the stbd swing keel pivot.
 
Each pump discharges through a separate thru-hull high in the transom well above the heeled waterline between the rudder and outboard engine.
 
Electric Pump Power
 
Each electric pump is connected to a separate ON/AUTO switch with green indicator LED for enabled and red for running.  (An audible alarm on the big pump, loud enough to wake the dead but with a mute switch, seems like a good idea, but I haven't gotten around to adding it.)  Each pump has its own circuit breaker switch wired directly to the house bank, which is a pair of 6 volt GC2 flooded cell golfcart batteries, bypassing the OFF/1/BOTH/2 switch and main 12V circuit breaker.
 
The house bank is charged by 120.W solar array through a solar charge controller.  A separate group 24 cranking battery is charged directly from engine alternator.  The connection between the two banks is managed by an automatic battery combiner relay, 50.A continuous, 150.A cranking surge, as I recall.
 
I'm not suggesting this is the dewatering system every Catalina 25 needs, just throwing it out as food for thought.
 
Questions above here in the tread
 
Re:  "I assume it should also pass higher than the discharge port at some point to limit any siphon possibility."
 
Back siphon shouldn't be a problem, so long as the discharge port is well above the waterline (static, healed, or motoring).
 
Re:  "...assuming there is a check valve in the pump..."
 
The manual pump has check valves, but I can't imagine them sealing well enough to hold water for weeks.  However, I think the lowest point on the pump chamber is below the valves.  Electric bilge pumps are almost always centrifugal not positive displacement, so no check valves.
 
Re:  "...if both an electric and manual pump can be plumbed to the same hose/outlet."
 
In general, check valves, and shared hoses and dischage ports are to be avoided in bilge pump installations.
 
Re:  "I do not want to attach the pump to the bilge floor using screws. How do you secure your pump?"
 
My small pump wedges under the cabin sole, so no additional attachment needed.  For the large pump, I attached a thick block of teak to the hull with 3M 5200, then attached the pump base to that with SS wood screws.
 
Re:  "Did you drill through the tabbing in the bilge to route the discharge hose to your pump?"
 
Yup, I cut a rectangular window in the tabbing below the ladder for the small electric pump and manual pump pickup hose.  I used a hole saw as needed to get from pumps to transom.  An additional note regarding Catalina factory tabbing, in my 1979 boat it was so weak and sloppy, I cut a lot of it out, then applied new tabbing with a couple layers of woven roving and epoxy resin.
 
-- Leon Sisson {a.k.a. Mr. Overkill}

— Leon Sisson
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Voyager
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5239 Posts

Response Posted - 02/14/2022 :  11:53:12  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Leon, excellent posting, you’ve literally condensed years of debate and discussion into about a dozen bullets or paragraphs. That’s quite an achievement.
I just received a flyer email from Defender industries talking about electrical upgrades for your boat and they recommend a bilge monitor. There are several different approaches however you mentioned one of them in your treatment: a really loud alarm that a lot of your marina neighbors would hear and could alert you (if you’ve shared your contact info with them).
Another one is a wireless device that can alert you to a number of issues:
• water in the bilge and rate of rising water
• movement of your boat from its location (either drift or theft)
• engine running
• low battery level
• loss of shore power
For anyone with an automatic bilge pump, does the prospect of a bilge monitor or alerting system complete the project? I would guess that if there’s major water intrusion, time is of the essence. You’d want to know about it really soon before the battery died or the water overcame the pump.

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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islander
Master Marine Consultant

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3994 Posts

Response Posted - 02/14/2022 :  12:11:29  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
To secure the pump to the bilge/hull floor I removed the pump basket from the pump and glued it to the floor with 4 pea sized amounts of 5200 that are placed around the basket bottom edge at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o,clock. Once it is cured just snap the pump into the basket. This gets the pump as low as it can get and if you ever needed to remove the basket for some reason a razor knife can easily cut the 5200 tabs.

Scott-"IMPULSE"87'C25/SR/WK/Din.#5688
Sailing out of Glen Cove,L.I Sound


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glivs
Admiral

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822 Posts

Response Posted - 02/15/2022 :  07:44:53  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks all for the feedback and Leon, the detailed response is much appreciated. I know there has been much posted in past years about bilge pump installations, I am just overwhelmed of late and threw out my questions...mid-winter doldrums. I installed an auto-bilge pump switch last spring but have not yet purchased a pump(s). I also added a strum box (Defender) to the manual pump pickup but it has a built in check valve...hence my concern about winterizing. And Scott, ever the pragmatist, thanks for the tip.

Bilge alarms/counters....great idea and iirc mandatory for 26' and over.

Gerry & Leslie; Malletts Bay, VT
"Great Escape" 1989 C-25 SR/WK #5972
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redeye
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3474 Posts

Response Posted - 02/15/2022 :  14:29:27  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Rule Electronic Sensing Automatic Bilge Pump ( the 3/4in line one, which is the smallest )

I've used this pump in the front compartment of my Stamas for over 10 years. It is wired directly unswitched. We have two batteries on this boat with a solar panel keeping a float charge on it. Stored in the water for the last 5 years full time. This bilge pump keeps the rainwater from filling the boat.

I also have a Rule with a float switch in the very rear of the boat also over 15 years. Switched. I never leave the rear bilge pump on for fear if the float sticks it would stay on till the battery dies and then the boat could go down. switched for manual or auto or off. We leave it off.

I switch on the rear bilge pump when we go out and it clears the hull of water as it washes to the rear before planing out.

You can see the through hull for the front bilge pump in this image. Port side forward. The through hull port midships is a scupper. the through hull port aft is just aft of the gas tanks vents is the aft bilge pump. I have been more than happy with both pumps, but really happy with the auto sensing pump.


Ray in Atlanta, Ga.
"Lee Key" '84 Catalina 25
Standard Rig / Fin Keel
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Derek Crawford
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3312 Posts

Response Posted - 02/16/2022 :  09:24:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Many years ago I visited that 50' Prout at the Coast to do some maintenance. I noticed she was listing a bit to stbd and found the stbd hull filled with about 9" water. Obviously, the electric bilge pump was not working. I emptied the hull using the manual pump and on opening the bilge found a tiny piece of oil-soaked fabric used to mop up oil spills sitting on the float switch and keeping it closed.
An interesting happenstance that could have had worse consequences.

Derek Crawford
Chief Measurer C25-250 2008
Previous owner of "This Side UP"
1981 C-25 TR/FK #2262 Used to have an '89 C22 #9483, "Downsized"
San Antonio, Texas
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Voyager
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Response Posted - 02/16/2022 :  12:58:55  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It’s just crazy that mechanical float switches are still the standard for sensing water in the bilge. Sure, it’s reliant on the basic physics of floating and levers, but there is so much that can go wrong with them. Stuck open, stuck closed, dithering around open and closed causing arcs and burning out the contacts.
I have a water sensor in my basement that tells me if the water heater or pipes are leaking. It’s two nickel-plated tabs embedded in a heavy plastic panel laying face down on the floor wired to a small alarm module. If the tabs get wet, they conduct a current and a transistor turns on the alarm. Runs on a 9 volt battery, and until it beeps, the current drain is nil.
The internal circuit is adjustable between just damp to completely under water.
I wonder why we need an electromechanical float switch in 2022?

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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5853 Posts

Response Posted - 02/16/2022 :  13:36:14  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Voyager

It’s just crazy that mechanical float switches are still the standard for sensing water in the bilge. Sure, it’s reliant on the basic physics of floating and levers, but there is so much that can go wrong with them. Stuck open, stuck closed, dithering around open and closed causing arcs and burning out the contacts.

I wonder why we need an electromechanical float switch in 2022?


I think what you're looking for is the Water Witch. I used one for the bilge pump on my C&C 35. The only thing you need to be aware of is that they have to be cleaned occasionally to keep the sensors clean. No big deal, just spray it with any household spray and wipe it off.

They have a model 101 (5 yr warranty) and a model 230 (7 yr warranty). Mine was the model 230. I have no experience with the model 101.

Here's how the seller describes it: "The Water Witch® submersible electronic bilge pump switches allow boat owners to forever rid themselves of the archaic outdated float switch. Instead of an unreliable and short-lived mechanical float switch, our electronic bilge switches have no moving parts and require no adjustments. This eliminates the chance of your battery dying or your pump burning out because of a jammed-on float switch. Temperature, humidity and electrical noise will not effect this switch, nor will it interfere with other electronics. This switch comes with an unprecedented 7 year limited warranty."

Here's a link. https://www.go2marine.com/Water-Witch-Bilge-Switch-230?gclid=Cj0KCQiA3rKQBhCNARIsACUEW_bb-6Ee5CmSG8A32C-BRQACRHzRUKnf4dNl37uJE_87c_PCTTQWDb0aAgf0EALw_wcB

Steve Milby J/24 "Captiva Wind"
previously C&C 35, Cal 25, C25 TR/FK, C22
Past Commodore

Edited by - Steve Milby on 02/16/2022 13:42:58
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Voyager
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5239 Posts

Response Posted - 02/18/2022 :  08:18:31  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Must’ve been reading my mind. We have the technology!

Bruce Ross
Passage ~ SR-FK ~ C25 #5032

Port Captain — Milford, CT
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redeye
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Response Posted - 02/21/2022 :  11:00:46  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
If I remember correctly, The Rule bilge that we use in the back of the Stamas has a square block with a piece of metal in it and the block floats if it has water which magnetically switches the pump. It has not been cleaned in years, functions well and has not failed. The design seems to work. I have a few more laying around and I will look at them again.

We also use it in a sea and sport bay boat without fail inspite of it being a very dirty bilge.

I'm also trying to get motivated to add one to the catalina...
I just changed out the line to the manuel bilge pump and I thought it was gonna kill me to get that run... Im getting to big and old to climb in and out of the dumpster..
regards

Ray in Atlanta, Ga.
"Lee Key" '84 Catalina 25
Standard Rig / Fin Keel

Edited by - redeye on 02/21/2022 11:08:45
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Steve Milby
Past Commodore

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Response Posted - 02/21/2022 :  11:43:39  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
My friend's bilge was the dirtiest, greasiest I've ever seen. He had a Rule bilge pump that was thickly caked with grease, and yet it worked flawlessly for many years. My bilge pump was mounted in the battery compartment, outside the bilge. Only the switch was in the bilge. The Water Witch worked well in my application, but, if I wanted to change the bilge pump, I probably would have chosen a Rule.

Steve Milby J/24 "Captiva Wind"
previously C&C 35, Cal 25, C25 TR/FK, C22
Past Commodore
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