28 November 2011 | St. Augustine Marine Center, St. Augustine , FL
If I had been quicker with my camera I would have had a picture of a beautiful double rainbow, one of the brightest I've seen, to put here. It formed as the sun was getting ready to set. I hope it was an omen. Instead, what you see is our bilge, where we again spent a good deal of our day. To get this picture I stuck the camera under the transmission of the engine. The bilge is bout 2 feet long at the bottom, less than a foot wide and about 3 feet deep. It has three bilge pump hoses in it and one of the hoses is on a small plate with the switch attached next to it. You can just see a piece of the white housing way in the bottom. That's the switch Bud replaced while I was in Texarkana.
Yesterday, we got to replace it again! The automatic bilge pump came on and wouldn't shut off. Bud stuck a pole down there and tapped the float switch to see if there was something hanging it up and that didn't work, so we very carefully, and with much contortion for both of us, pulled it back out after pulling the fuse so the pump would shut off. Once it was up, but still wired in, Bud took it off its base. It's a float, but is enclosed so we couldn't see what was going on with it until we removed it from the plate; the bottom is open. The float was sticking. There was some gunk on it, and that can cause it to stick, but Bud had spent hours trying to clean the bilge, so that was very discouraging. We put the fuse back in and the pump didn't come back on. We flipped the float up and down and it worked, but it didn't seem to move freely enough. Bud noticed that the part with the wires and switch was warm. That didn't seem right, but it was barely warm, so I didn't think it was significant. After it had been sitting hooked up, but with the float down for a few minutes I picked it up again and it was quite warm. I kept picking it up and feeling it and trying to figure out what was going on. Then, while I was handling it, I noticed water coming out. I showed Bud. We pulled the fuse again. The device was cracked and full of water. We think it heated up enough to distort the plastic just enough so it had a sticky spot. Our theory is that a wake hit us, sloshed the little bit of water in the bilge and lifted the float, which then stuck at the sticky spot.
So off to West Marine we went. We bought another one just like the bad one, because the one before had worked for about 2 years, and on inspection still seemed to be functional. We'll take the defective one back to the marine store where we bought it, but they're not open on Sunday, and we wanted our automatic bilge pump functioning again.
The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to reinstall it. Hooking it up and attaching it to the plate took about 20 minutes. Getting it back down in the bilge among the other hoses, sitting flat on the bottom and secure enough to stay in place, took two hours. Two hours of contortions over and under the engine.
But it's in, and we're almost certain the issue was a defective switch and not some other issue with the boat. We don't know if it works, yet. We tested it before we replaced it, and we tried the manual switch for that pump and all was OK, but the pump hasn't come on since we put the switch back in the bilge (it hasn't had reason to) so we can't be sure all is OK.
At one time yesterday I thought, "I would want to give up and go home if I had any other home to go to!" But then there was the rainbow.