Yesterday I was finally able to finish the overhaul on our manual bilge pump (WHALE Gusher 30) which in reality isn’t really a big project, nor overly changeling. Except that I initiated this project last June 2013 when I decided to inspect the inside of the pump (at 9 or 10pm in the evening after 2-3 beers) only to find the rubber diaphragms torn, the clamping plates corroded out, and pretty much all the gaskets shot.
So thinking that a chandler could get a kit in at a reasonable time, I ordered the replacement parts (kit) that I thought might take 4-6 wks at the latest, but in fact were finally shipped to me in the arctic this February 2014 (basically 9 months!!!). When we got down to the the boat and I went to install the parts only to find that one of the bolts (buffer) was corroded and snapped off! So I had to order another kit in because they don’t sell the buffers separately or with the first kit. So I anticipated another long wait for the kit and in frustration I sent and email to all the senior marketing sales reps with Whale (USA, England, Ireland) and asked if there was was another way to get the parts??
I got a response from Josh Phillips,Operations Manager at Whale Seaward who told me that they didn’t have anything in stock and that I’d have to go through a local distributor who they just sent some kits to. The problem and a fact that I find frustrating is that the parts come from Ireland (I was just there and probably could have gotten the parts) which are the shipped to a distributor in the USA who then ships it to other distributors around North America. The distributor here in Canada doesn’t deal with the public, only chandlers (3 middlemen).
Don’t get me wrong, I like Whale products, and I would have paid extra to get the parts direct from Whale, and I do understand that business don’t like having overhead and stock sitting around not being sold; but there has to be another/easier way, aside from keeping 2-3 extra kits on board. WHALE is a good company and probably all boats (power/sail) have either their products installed, or of one of another two companies on the market (JABSCO / BOSWORTH / JOHNSON) .
So in the end the new kit took 3 weeks to come in and it took me about 3 hours to take the pump out, take it apart, clean all the salt, calcium, and minor corrosion build up out and then put it all back together with new gaskets, diaphragms, clamping plates, and buffer bolts.
Things I learned;
Can’t do much about the getting parts thing, so maintenance is the key. The pump came with the boat, but I’m pretty sure the previous owner didn’t do much preventative maintenance. The main issue with the pump was seawater sitting inside the pump when not being used which caused most of the corrosion, so when not using the boat, close the seacock and pump the pump dry; of course this can be a problem if both manual and auto bilge pumps share the same seacock. Also, check your clamps; while taking the Gusher out I found that one the non-316 ss clamps on the out take had broken partially through.
If possible, keep an extra kit onboard. Expensive yes, about $200 for both kits, the pump new is about $600.
And, regardless of how small a piece of equipment is or the likelihood of using it, always check it, replace parts, grease/oil if necessary. Lessons learned. – Rob