E38-200 Shower Sump float switch wiring

driftless

Member I
My shower sump pump isn't working and I'm blaming the switches. Went to replace the float switch first and this wiring is wild! Three way bare metal junction in a tube of goo! I think that must be the original install.
But I don't see an easy alternative. Is there a way to get the float switch wire junctions up out of the sump? The runs are under the floor boards, and it seems like it's gonna be really hard to pull new wires through. The leads on the float switch seem too short to pull through to get them up high anyway.
Anyone tackled this before and have an elegant solution?
Or do I just make another 3 way junction and cram it in another hose section and flood it in silicone and leave it in the sump?
 

Kenneth K

Sustaining Member
Blogs Author
Here's a blog post I did about my bilge pump wiring installation:

 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
FWIW, I found several 3-wire crimp fittings behind our DC power panel. Same panel used in the late 80's E-38 and E-34, I have noticed.

They were well-taped and dry with solid connections, but I changed all of them out for terminal strips with some bridges. That way a single wire could be run to each breaker. Not the way I thought it should have been done, but it worked without problem.
I also found and eliminated one under the aft headliner where the DC lead was shared with two overhead light fixtures... added a terminal strip for that one, too.
 

Attachments

goldenstate

Member III
Blogs Author
My shower sump pump isn't working and I'm blaming the switches. Went to replace the float switch first and this wiring is wild! Three way bare metal junction in a tube of goo! I think that must be the original install.
But I don't see an easy alternative. Is there a way to get the float switch wire junctions up out of the sump? The runs are under the floor boards, and it seems like it's gonna be really hard to pull new wires through. The leads on the float switch seem too short to pull through to get them up high anyway.
Anyone tackled this before and have an elegant solution?
Or do I just make another 3 way junction and cram it in another hose section and flood it in silicone and leave it in the sump?
Have you ever made your shower sump/bilge pump work with the as-is wiring?

I thought my shower pump was broken too. Finally I realized that I must have the pressure-water circuit turned on in order to operate the shower bilge/sump pump. I don't know if that is specific to my boat or if it is by design, but it might be a 200-series thing.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
My boat has the same setup. Water pressure has to be turned on to activate the shower bilge pump.
Our boat came with two separate "bilge" pumping systems, both Jabsco chamber type pumps. One has a standard Rule control panel with indicator light and double throw toggle switch, mounted by the main DC panel at the nav desk. The second pump has another Rule control panel mounted in the head compartment. Both draw power from one of the higher-amp DC breakers on the main panel. Both pickup hoses reach the same general bilge areas.

We leave that circuit energized all the time and both toggle switches set to "Auto". I have traced all of the 1988 factory wiring and this is original to the build-out.
The fresh water pressure pump has its own separate breaker on the panel.

If these were somehow paired up electrically, I would certainly separate them. It's reassuring to have both automatic pumps 'on duty'.
 
Last edited:

driftless

Member I
Thank you all, and sorry for a slow response. I've gotten side tracked by many other projects that seem more pressing before fall. We've been on the hard all summer (Covid indecision) and I needed to re-wire the mast before it gets buried in by others as boats start coming out. I also stupidly started ripping out stinky head hoses and pulled out hatches to rebuild and re-bed and pulled out the sensor through hulls to replace and on and on. \rant off.

Yes, the shower sump pump has worked sporadically before on manual mode, and likely was due to one of the breakers being on or off - wouldn't have though it was pressure water, especially given that the next breaker down is dedicated to "bilge pump" so thanks for that. I will test once I get back to it.

The float switch had never worked, so I don't feel bad about having ripped that apart. Even for the tube of goo the wires were badly corroded.

Like Loren, I have found other similar three way junctions on the boat, which is why I suspect this was the original install. The one I can thnk of was to tie the compass illumination light into the nav lights, with the junction in the cockpit locker. It was clean and well taped and I did not fix what wasn't broken in that instance.

My question still stands though - what's the best way to make the wire junctions the seem to need to be in the shower sump or bilge given the tiny access? Are good heat shrink butt connectors sufficient? Is the tube of goo a good idea?

Aside, just in case this rambling reply isn't long enough already, I replaced the other non-funtioning Rule float switch in the main-bilge with an Ultra Junior and I'm quite happy with how that went.
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
wire junctions the seem to need to be in the shower sump or bilge

Now a word from Opinionville: do it any which way that's convenient. In the end the shower sump will not work anyhow, as it was a marketing installation beyond the realm of practicality.

I say that because the tiny sump, given one long daughter shower (I have three of them--daughters, not showers), will have enough long, beautiful strands of hair in it to clog the sewer of Paris, not to mention the half-gallon of shampoo and exotic conditionerss and Moroccan oil substances. Egad!, or any sentiment you like.

A float switch is usually installed. Oh? As owner, you are therefore required to listen carefully to make sure it's on, because if not the shower water will saturate the floorboards from underneath in such a way as to deny inspection. Automatic expulsion of small-yacht shower drain water is a dream wrapped in a cloak of darkness (the sump gets used maybe twice a year, nobody checks it, its pumbing is mysterious, its circuits confusing, and it hates you) . I advise checking such a float switch once a day if it is being used.

Opinion also states that a float switch in the shower sump is a terrible idea. Instead, tell the showering entity to turn a switch on so the shower bilge pump runs continuously during the 45 minutes she's in there, or until the hot water runs out, which ever comes first. Forget a float switch.

In sum regarding shower sump connections: I'd just use heat-shrink connectors and not worry about it. Rare is the bilge shower sump that doesn't look like Rube Goldberg wired it. There is no good way.
 

Filkee

Member III
I have a similarly bizarre setup on my 32-3. One Rule 500 in the shower sump is a sniffer and another Rule 500 in the main bilge only goes on when the sump pump goes on so it's never on long enough to fully drain the main bilge. Lately it's been blowing fuses and I'm ready to just pull it all out and start over. But I'm also afraid I'll screw it up even more.
 

Loren Beach

O34 - Portland, OR
Senior Moderator
Blogs Author
I have a similarly bizarre setup on my 32-3. One Rule 500 in the shower sump is a sniffer and another Rule 500 in the main bilge only goes on when the sump pump goes on so it's never on long enough to fully drain the main bilge. Lately it's been blowing fuses and I'm ready to just pull it all out and start over. But I'm also afraid I'll screw it up even more.
Having worked with a good boat wright for several months on the re-fit of our boat, I have learned (more than ever) that it's cheaper and easier in the long run to just 'start over'.
While the EY surviving 'factory' circuitry on our boat is no way the only or maybe even the best answer, it is logical and straightforward compared to other boats I have helped other owners with, over the decades.
Your 32-3 has a divided-up bilge with complicated access for both hoses and wiring. This is a by product of the TAFG, and, well, "it it what it is"....
I once did regular bilge checks for a friend -- E-32-3 -- who winters in Arizona, and that whole forward multiple bilge area was interesting the way the pump intakes and float switches were arranged.
(I really like his boat, I should point out, and did a coastal delivery with that couple once. Wonderful boat in the ocean.)

Anyhooooo.... I recall that the forward pump had been changed to a centrifugal type and would easily air lock unless kept submerged in about 1.5 inches of water all the time. This was just one more data point convincing me that our stock positive-displacement pump(s) were more dependable.

As for laying out the wiring and plumbing, start with a large sheet of paper with your sketch of the boat outline looking down, and with #2 pencil and new eraser, start putting the information. Once you have sat down with the pad and your tape measure, time to overlay where you have found the existing wire runs, whether good or questionable.
My SWAG is that the original hose runs are mostly intact, because this is difficult to alter, but the dewatering devices and wiring were altered by prior owners.
At this age the boat is, in any case, overdue for new hoses, pumps, and new tinned wiring with well-sealed connectors.
(Proper way to treat those old "Rule" pumps, strictly IMHO, is to fling them with gusto and joy, over the side. Like a mortor shell, there is an optimal degree of arc to get the most distance.)
:)

Anyhow, let us know how this goes. And, speaking of technology, unless you are good with CAD drawing, do what a friend of does and take a well-lit overhead view of his precisely-detailed pencil drafting of complex designs... with his iPhone... and then he sends the file to the customer. He is an excellent old-school draftsman.

Cheers,
Loren
 

footrope

Contributing Partner
Blogs Author
Yacht marketing was big when the E38 was in production.

While I "get" and sympathize with most of the sentiment about the lack of onboard shower utility expressed on this thread, we have learned to use, like, and properly maintain, our shower sump and pump arrangement. Sounds weird, I know. Full disclosure: we also put wine bottles in the wine rack.

Useful showers onboard are much more than draining the sump, however. We both generally shower every other day when out for more than a couple of days and nights. It keeps the Admiral happy, and men can use a shower once in a while, too! Re-wiring, re-plumbing and pump selection can be dealt with as advised above. I recommend a remote diaphragm pump because they reliably self prime. The pump should be relay controlled, if you can, because the float switch will last longer if it carries less current. Our float switch has lasted 20 years, operating a relay.

A nylon stocking filter zip-tied over the water pickup in the sump and a medium coarse screen close to the pump inlet are essential. We have formed habits that minimize the impact of hair accumulation, such as cleaning up the shower drain screen after each use. Sometimes we wait until it dries. I have thought about wrapping the drain screen with a piece of nylon stocking, too. More effective against hair and blobs of conditioner.

Shower bilge pump operation must be monitored when showering. You have to do this or the float will stick, it's just true. The float switch has to be tested every season or even every week on a long cruise. Sometimes a pump will run, but not pump any water. If the pickup and screen are clear, check the pulleys on the pump. Mine have loosened and I had to add Lock-tite to the set screws. I almost replaced a pump, but then discovered the problem was the pulley set screw was loose. This is a problem you can fix once when you install or inspect your pump.

You have to keep obstructions out of the water flow. Cleaning the soap and hair residue from the pickup and the float switch regularly also keeps the pump operating efficiently (running less per activation) and maximum water flow is the key to reducing battery drain for showering.

Install an RV-style shower wand or head with a shut-off valve. Take "navy" showers by shutting off the water while soaping up or washing hair. The water dribbling out is normal and helps prevent a cold shock when turning the water back on. This saves water and battery power and pressure pump wear-and-tear. One cruise, while dealing with shower bilge pump issues, we bailed the sump into a 5-gallon bucket during showers and discovered that we each use about 3-1/2 to 4 gallons per shower. Two people are required for bailing operations. Good data point.

Six gallon water heaters are typical, so warm water won't last two showers. We solved that in convenient, but expensive way, in conjunction with a diesel hydronic heater we installed with a coolant-to-water heat exchanger. There are other ways to solve this. Our water heater can use 120 volt shore power when docked, and the engine coolant circuit heats the water when the engine runs. So, planning, timing, may be necessary.

Finally, thoroughly clean out the shower bilge before it starts to stink. It takes a few days of stagnating to get enough bacteria going, but when it does you'll know when you open up the boat. When we are done showering I either use the remote pump switch or lift the float to drain as much out of the sump as possible. That helps while out cruising, but after you're back home ya gotta clean and dry the sump.

Has anybody installed an automatic dishwasher in your boat?
 

Christian Williams

E381 - Los Angeles
Moderator
Blogs Author
Footrope has the shower drill nailed.

Let me brag up (again) my extended shower wand hose, with (typical) hand-click shutoff. You can stick it through the head portlight and shower on deck.
 
Top