Skip to main content

Bilge Pump Renewal

Before I laid the boat up, I had to replace a bilge pump that had mysteriously stopped working. This was a secondary pump, serving to keep the water out of a poorly drained part of the hull forward of the mast step. It was a good opportunity for a quick photo tutorial on connecting 12-volt wires together. Yes, this sounds remedial, but I have seen enough botched jobs on boats to know that you

Before I laid the boat up, I had to replace a bilge pump that had mysteriously stopped working. This was a secondary pump, serving to keep the water out of a poorly drained part of the hull forward of the mast step. It was a good opportunity for a quick photo tutorial on connecting 12-volt wires together. Yes, this sounds remedial, but I have seen enough botched jobs on boats to know that you can’t take knowledge for granted, and electrics is one of those things that somehow scares people.

So, here goes.

1. It's important to keep any connections in wiring as far above the bilge as possible, so pumps tend to come with long wires. I leave them that way.

2. The pump draws 5 amps, so after consulting the wire size table at emarine.com I've chosen 14-gauge cable for the 8ft run from switch panel to bilge pump. I could have gotten away with 16-gauge, but I'd rather use a bigger wire and have less chance of voltage drop. Here, I'm using my trusty Swiss Army knife to slice through the sheath of the duplex cable.

3. A pair of sidecutter pliers makes short work of trimming the sheath back.

4. I've just cut the wire sheathing to expose the tinned copper wire in this Ancor marine grade cable. Don't be tempted to use cheap automotive cable–it won't last nearly as long as tinned cable.

5. I'm using Ancor butt splice connectors here, because the connection will be permanent. I mislaid my expensive crimping tool, so I'm using Old Faithful—the basic crimping that's available cheaply just about anywhere. It's not the best tool, but it's good enough.

6. I've slid a length of heatshrink tubing over the wire before making the connection. Next I'll give the wire a good hard tug to make sure the connection is strong.

7. It's good, so now I apply heat to shrink the tubing over the connection. I would ideally use a heat gun, but I have no access to 120-volt power, so it's down to the gas match I use to light the grill. It does a fine job, as long as you're careful to keep it a respectable distance from the wire.

8. The finished product–the heatshrink tubing is nice and snug over the connection, which should now be watertight.

9. If you doubt the necessity of sealing connections, check out this photo. The copper strands have been exposed to bilgewater and have corroded all the way through. Even tinned wire can't stand up to this kind of abuse.

Related

00LEAD-Thomas-on-%22Melody%22-2004

The Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Disappearance of Thomas Thor Tangvald

The first boat Thomas Tangvald ever owned was just 22 feet long. She was an odd craft, a narrow plywood scow with a flat bottom, leeboards on either side, and square ends—little more than a daysailer with a rotting deck and tiny cabinhouse tacked on. Thomas paid just $200 for ...read more

VIPCAshowbynight

USVI Charter Yacht Show Showcases a Flourishing Industry

As the U.S. Virgin Islands continues to attract sailors seeking to charter and explore the pristine territory on their own, the immense growth and expanded options for a crewed yacht or term charters have exploded here over the past five years. Last week, the USVI Charter ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-11-21-at-9.48.33-AM

Personal Locator Beacon Wins Top Design Award

The Ocean Signal RescueME PLB3 AIS Personal Locator took top honors at the 2022 DAME Design Awards, while Aceleron Essential, a cobalt-free lithium-iron phosphate battery with replaceable and upgradeable parts, won the first DAME Environmental Design Award. Announced each year ...read more

tracker

EPIRB in the Golden Globe Race

Tapio Lehtinen’s boat sank early this morning southeast of South Africa while racing the Golden Globe Race, a faithfully low-tech reproduction of the 1968 Sunday Times Golden Globe. The boat went down quickly and stern-first according to the skipper’s emergency transmissions. ...read more

99640-victoire-de-charles-caudrelier-a-bord-du-maxi-edmond-de-rothschild-r-1200-900

Victory, Tragedy in the Route du Rhum

The 2022 Route du Rhum was a highly anticipated event in the ocean racing calendar, but few could have predicted exactly how challenging, dramatic, and tragic it would ultimately prove. French yachtsman Charles Caudrelier took home gold aboard the Ultim maxi trimaran Maxi Edmond ...read more

DSC_1879

Boat Review: Lyman-Morse LM46

Lyman-Morse has been building fine yachts in Thomaston, Maine, ever since Cabot Lyman first joined forces with Roger Morse back in 1978. With experience creating and modifying boats built of various materials, backed by its own in-house fabrication facility, the firm has ...read more

01-LEAD-SPICA-Forest_3

Know-how: All-new Battery Tech

Until very recently, the batteries in sailboats used some form of lead-acid chemistry to store energy. Different manufacturers used different techniques and materials, but in the end, the chemistry and the process by which the batteries charge and discharge electricity remained ...read more

01-LEAD-Bill-Sailing2

At the Helm: When Things Go Sideways

I don’t like sea stories. My number one goal on every passage is to get the crew back in one piece. My number two goal is to get the boat back in one piece as well. If I can’t do both, I’ll take the former. Do this long enough, though, and things are going to happen, no matter ...read more