by Sherwood Heggen
Now, it’s “Tip Time”! Either one these tips may save you a lot of grief and money at some point in the future.
Bilge pumps keep your boat free of excess water that invariably comes in from somewhere. Question: does your bilge pump have a fuse in the positive line from the battery? If not, run down to the auto parts store and get an inline fuse of the proper size for your pump and install it. Without the fuse, the pump motor, if ever restricted from turning, will continue to try to start running creating a lot of heat until the battery dies. Or, if the generator/alternator is providing the current, something is going to melt or burn because the heat is created by the stalled motor. It is not unlikely that a fire could start. Put in the fuse!
Many boats have automatic bailers. If you aren’t familiar with this device, it is an upside down “U” shaped piece of ¾” tubing mounted aft and inside by the keel and fuel tank. One end is attached to a through hull fitting and the other end is open and suspended about a ¼” off the bottom of the inner hull. The through hull fitting on the outer bottom of the hull is in the shape of a wedge with the big end to the back. It is open at the back and as the boat moves through the water low pressure is created at that opening. This sucks the water, drinking straw style through the tube, from the inside the hull and passes it into the lake from whence it came in the first place. On the top of the bailer, there is either a tiny hole or a small nipple with a hole. This is the anti-siphon feature. If this little hole is plugged, water that is in the tube while the boat is in motion will reverse its direction and come back into the boat when forward motion stops. Even the rocking motion of the boat while at the dock caused by a big wake of a passing boat or waves caused by a windy day is enough to force water up the tube and start the siphon. This “major leak” won’t stop until the water level in the boat is equal to the lake level. Unfortunately, the water weight makes the boat sink deeper and deeper into the lake allowing the water to continue flowing into the boat until the boat weight is greater than what the hull can displace and down it goes. Now the tip. Poke a small piece of wire into the hole periodically to keep that hole open. It is a small hole and is highly susceptible to any little bit of debris plugging it up. The amount of air that passes through that hole will break any siphon action from starting. It is a simple task that will protect your boat from hanging itself by its own dock lines.
That is it for this time. Let’s all be friends and keepers of the old boats. Properly restored and maintained, they can provide many hours of safe reliable fun.
Remember – don’t destroy it; restore it!