March 30, 2009

Bilge Pump Blues

The only item replaced more frequently aboard a boat than a bilge pump switch is fuel. The reason they break? Most of these float switches are powered by a tiny, 18 or 22-gauge wire at the hinge point of the float. Everytime the float rises, that teensey wire gets bent. After a few more cycles it gets kinked. Finally it just breaks. Connection lost. While electronic or other solid state switches prove generally more reliable, they too are not foolproof. Additionally, replacing your float switch with one of these may mean making a change in the installation, some re-wiring, possibly even relocating the entire pump/switch assembly in order to make things fit. Your decision then is to easily replace, plug-and-play fashion, the one you probably have. Or spend a little more time, and a little more money for superior technology. Me? I stock a couple of replacement switches and have wired a waterproof plug on to the lead from the battery. (ALWAYS "hot wire" automatic bilge switch) I can swap one out in 10-minutes, simply crimping a mating plug to the new switches wiring. I did the same thing to my washdown pump, another piece of equipment that seems to need frequent replacement. Of course,that setup also cost me some time and money. Hey, its a boat. Get over it.

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