Friday, July 26, 2013

Introducing the PPPP - Portable Powered Pipe Pump

Several years back I built and installed an electric bulge pump for my Boreal Design Baffin. I did an extensive blog entry that can be found here.

While the idea seemed good at the time, I never had a reason to use the pump and I pulled it out of the boat a few months ago. The extra weight wasn't worth the effort!! Just recently I was speaking to Brian Duffett about a more portable pump that he had made for his boat. The pump was not fixed to the boat but rather could be moved from one to other or simply left home if not needed.

 But why would I even bother to build another pump system?

Last August we acquired a new double - a Glacier by Eastern Island Kayak.  Doubles are big boats that can take on a lot of water in the event of a capsize. Emptying one with a small hand pump will prove quite the task!!  Looks like an electric powered pump was in order and the wheels in my head started turning.

I knew that Brian's system was a two piece, i.e., the pump and battery were separate, but I was wondering if I could make a unit where the pump and battery were housed together. The answer is "yes" and the text and pictures below, hopefully, will show how I did this!!

I discovered that a Rule 500 GPH pump, with some slight modifications, will fit inside a 3.5" ABS pipe. This was a major hurdle overcome as I now I had the basis for a waterproof casing! I packed some high density foam around the pump body to make a snug fit!!

Foam around the pump.

I needed to make the seal around the pump watertight as the battery and switch was to be housed in the chamber above. I simply poured a layer of Aquaseal over the foam. Gravity took care of the rest as the Aquaseal filled in the small gaps between the foam, pump and pipe.

Voila!!  Nice and tight!!

I did not go with a manufactured waterproof switch but went with a method that Brian told me about. Brian simply took a patch of latex (I am assuming old gasket material) and Aquasealing it over the outside of the switch.. I drilled the round hole for the switch slightly over sized and then wrapped some gasket material around the switch, pushed it through the hole and pulled it tight. Sorry but no pictures of this but it worked like a charm. A few dabs of Aquaseal and I had a perfectly waterproof swithc.

Cap drilled for switch.

Switch without latex covering.

I used a piece of ABS coupling for the "body" of the pump unit. It fit over the bottom section holding the pump. The coupling is large enough to hold the battery and wiring. The top of the unit is a clean-out cap that screws in creating a watertight seal.

The unit laid together for fitting purposes.

 I went low tech and used a 12 volt lead battery. This one is small enough to fit inside the coupling.

Battery in place,

Looking down at the pump head.

I added a 90 elbow to the outlet after some testing on the water in St. Philip's. The hose was kinking at the outlet and restricting the flow slightly! The elbow will eliminate the kinking.

Elbow added and tether installed.
When I first built a system three years back, someone gave me a small solar panel for charging. With the incredible sun these past few days, there's been no issue with getting a good charge!!

Solar panel and battery!

Pump as seen in the boat.

Foam holding the pump in place in the FWD cockpit.

The pump was tested in a cooler full of water at home and the housing is watertight and it moves water incredibly well. See here for a demo video. It was given a "real-life" test on the salt water later that evening and it performed flawlessly - quickly emptying first the FWD cockpit and then passed to the rear to promptly empty that one. I have installed a tether to the pump as it does not float. 

I have built a foam 'holder" for the unit but this may evolve as we try the boat on the water.  

I am quite happy with this project, not just because of the fact that it worked out so well but because of the increased level of safety and peace of mind it brings. Cheryl and I have been working on our rescues but the thought of having to hand pump out a double in a rescue situation does not appeal to me!!!  Of course the pump can be moved about so it can be used to pump water from just about anywhere that the pump can fit - aquariums, fish ponds etc etc.

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