Back Me Up

Maintenance Q & A — April 2004
By Capt. Ken Kreisler

Back Me Up
Installing a second bilge pump, getting a good finish with teak oil, tips for working with gasket sealant, and more.
 More of this Feature
• Installing a Second Bilge Pump, and more
• Applying Gasket Sealant, and more
• PMY Tries... Refrigerator Soda Can Dispenser

 Related Resources
• Maintenance Q&A Index

I have a 47-footer and want to put in another bilge pump. Where is the best place to install a backup pump? B.V., via e-mail
I like to start off any discussion of bilge pumps by sharing an image that all of us can relate to: The world’s most efficient bilge pump is a boat owner with a five-gallon bucket on a sinking boat.

That said, one way to install a backup bilge pump is to place it at the same level as the primary bilge pump with the float switch, if so equipped, higher. The float switch should not be more than four to six inches above the primary. This way, if the primary can’t keep up or fails, the secondary will kick in.

The other method, which I prefer, is to have the backup pump and switch higher than the primary. In this setup, should any debris block the operation of the primary, it shouldn’t prevent the backup from kicking in.

When determining how high to mount your backup pump, look at what components you need to protect against rising water, particularly your battery box. Also, make sure your backup pump has a higher capacity than your primary. Why? Because once the backup is in operation, you already have too much water coming in.

Whatever bilge-pump system you have, whether for a small boat or large, make sure it is of the highest quality. Cheap out on this piece of equipment, and you could put your boat on the bottom.

Careful maintenance is also crucial, and daily checks, if possible, should be done on all components: float switches, hoses, electrical connections, and pump housings. Always make sure there is no debris in the bilge that can cause problems. A plastic cage over the float switch can help. Don’t wait to inspect or change an impeller you suspect is damaged or faulty. In fact, make sure you have several replacements onboard at all times.

What are some suggestions for getting a good finish with teak oil? L.K., via e-mail
Whether you are doing a deck, rail, pulpit, or trim, first make sure the surface is clean. That means wiping all dust and contamination off the teak with mineral spirits. Once the surface is dry, brush on a soaking coat of teak oil. Let that sit for about ten minutes before wiping it down with a clean, lint-free cloth. I know of some finishers who will put that rag in a Ziploc-type plastic bag and squeeze out all the air in order to use it again the following day, while others will go for a new, clean, and lint-free rag. In any case, let the teak dry for 24 hours. You should repeat the process through five coats. This last coat should get a rub down, much like applying furniture polish. Allow this also to dry for 24 hours.

One more tip: To keep up the finish, you should wipe down your teak and apply a polishing coat of teak oil about every four to six months.

Next page > Applying Gasket Sealant, and more > Page 1, 2, 3

This article originally appeared in the March 2004 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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