Manual Bilge Pump Rebuild
by, 04-08-2017 at 06:42 AM (513 Views)
When we bought the boat it was pretty dry inside, just a little bit of water in the bilge. And when we left her on the hard, we felt good about her being level, and closed up pretty tight. I expected some rain water to leak inside, but not a lot. A couple of months later I was on a business trip that had a weekend layover, and was within a couple hours drive to the Marina in Maryland. I decided to swing by and check on the boat since we would be taking her home soon, and I could verify that the Marina had dropped the mast and strapped it down for shipping as we had requested.
When I arrived, I couldn't find the boat in the place I had left it, so I went up the Marina office. "Oh, we moved her, she is over on the other side", the Manager said, "Easier for you to pull her out mid winter than the other spot." So I went and found her, and was dismayed to see her leaning considerably forward, bow down. When I climbed on board I discovered the cockpit was full of rain water right up to the low bridge deck. That was concerning, but what was worse was waiting below. Water had filled her right above the floor level in the stern bilge, and it was a mess. Apparently she had been sitting bow down for months, with water leaking in all around the hatch boards and down into the boat around the companionway ladder. Ugh!
With no electric bilge pump, and a dead battery anyway, I thought I would never be able to pump her dry. Then I remembered the manual bilge pump. I had never used one before, but found the operation pretty obvious. Open the cover, stick the handle in, and pump up and down. I was surprised by how much water start gushing out the back of the boat, it really was a "whale gusher!" I easily removed most of the water with the pump, and other than my arm getting tired, found the manual bilge pump quite effective. Although I doubt I could keep that pumping action up for an hour........ or 30 minutes....... or 20 minutes....... But periodic pumping with some rest would definitely remove a LOT of water. I was impressed and thought the pump must be in great shape.
Fast forward 2 years and we have reached the point in the rebuild where we are ready to tackle the Whale Gusher 10 manual bilge pump. We expected it to be in good shape based on my use of it, but had already ordered a rebuild kit to ensure top operating condition. So we opened her up and were quite shocked on how bad a condition she was in. What really blew me away though, was how well she worked, despite her condition. Amazing.
Below are pictures of what we found. Note the extensive corrosion. The rubber valves were stiff and not sealing fully either. It took me two hours to get all the screws out, by alternating heating them and working them back and forth.
Bilge Pump Before
It is hard to say why we decided to move forward with rebuilding her instead of just throwing her away and buying a new one. Maybe because we had the rebuild kit and no receipt for return, maybe because we just wanted the challenge, or maybe because we just hate throwing old things away when they can be saved. But whatever the reason we plunged in.
We sand blasted off all the paint, and then carefully ground and sanded the aluminum in areas with deep corrosion to get clean metal. We then welded in new aluminum into the corroded areas. In one point where the tapped screw hole was to corroded, we welded it closed and then drilled and tapped it again. Once that was completed we primed and painted it with aluminum primer, and some matching yellow industrial enamel.
Bilge Pump Primed and Drying
Next we reassembled the pump using the new hardware in the rebuild kit from Whale. It was really easy, and there is no reason to go into in details here. If you can remove a hose band, and unscrew some screws, that is all there is too it. Whale even has a video online that shows you how. We were impressed with how easy it was to rebuild the pump. Something that could easily be accomplished with a couple simple tools on board the boat while underway. Assuming you had the kit. But even without it, we were impressed with how easy it was to take apart and put back if something got into it and clogged it.
Below is the finished pump. Note that we machined a new Fulcrum Eye bolt out of 304 Stainless Steel to replace the one that broke during disassembly. Whale offered a new one in another kit for $40, but it was pretty easy to make with the old one as a guide using a small piece of leftover 1" stainless round stock.
Finished Manual Bilge Pump
The last step was to install it. Note again that it is a temporary install, will be removed during final painting as the mounting bolts come through the side of the cockpit locker and have to be removed. But as is our methodology, everything gets installed and holes drilled before painting. Such is the way.
We also ordered some new heavy duty bilge hose. No sense in going to all this trouble and using an old bilge hose. We liked that this one alternated between clear and black so you could see where a clog was. At least that is the theory. We also clamped the hose down to a pad block to keep it from sliding around. Makes for a nice, strong, professional looking installation.
Ericson 25CB "Nordic Thunder"