PROJECTS TO IMPROVE YOUR BOAT BY LENNY RUDOW
INSTALL THE BEST BILGE PUMP
Installing an automatic bilge pump may be a simple task, but it’s also extremely
important — this pump will keep your boat afloat, so make sure it goes in right!
SURPRISING BUT TRUE: Most of us depend on rather cheap little pumps to keep our rather expensive boats from slipping beneath the waves. Fortunately, today’s automatic bilge pumps are far more powerful and dependable than those of yesteryear. But they still go bad from time to time, and
BEFORE YOU BEGIN
One of the main reasons bilge pumps fail
is because foreign objects either jam the
pump, or lock the float switch into the
“on” or “off” position. Bilge gunk, leaves,
oily crud, and sand are guaranteed pump-
killers, so before you even begin mounting
whether yours are in need of replace-
ment or you simply want to add an
extra pump or two for a security boost,
you need to make absolutely sure this
job goes right. Ready to get started?
Good — roll up your sleeves, and let’s
get to work.
a new bilge pump, provide it with a clean
place to live. It’s easiest to do this when the
boat is blocked up on dry land, when you
can thoroughly wash and rinse the bilge
and allow the mounting area to dry. Choose
a spot as close as possible to the bottom of
the V in your hull and as far aft as practical,
which has a secure mounting location like
a shelf or a block laminated into the hull,
for just this purpose.
STEP 1 MOUNT THE
We’re going to assume you’re starting from
scratch, with a new strainer and pump.
(When replacing a pump, you may be able
to re-use a previously mounted strainer
basket if it’s in good shape and you match
the brand). Many modern pumps have integrated automatic switches; in these cases,
you won’t have to mount a separate float
switch, but some boaters prefer the easy
access a separate switch provides.
Start by removing the strainer basket,
which does double duty as the pump’s
mount, from the bottom of the pump. Place
it onto the spot you’ll be mounting the
pump, and use a pen to mark the location
of the screw holes. Then remove the basket,
and drill shallow pilot holes where you
made the marks. Wipe away any gel coat
or wood chips, and give each hole a copious serving of 3M 5200 Adhesive-Sealant
to be sure water doesn’t intrude into the
screw holes and cause damage over time.
Place the strainer basket in position over the
holes. Screw it down using the stainless-steel
screws that came with the pump. If you’re
also mounting a separate flapper-style float
“THERE’S WATER OVER THE FLOOR BOARDS!” WITH A HURRICANE ON THE WAY, NO LESS!
TO READ A DRAMATIC TALE WHERE THE RIGHT BILGE PUMP SAVES THE DAY, SEE PAGE 44.