Sailfish 272 Pump Issues

Raptor1472

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Hi all, new owner of a 1995 Sailfish 272. Working on finding some replacement seals for the trim cylinders, fixing the windlass, and a variety of other things, but one thing I can’t find a lot of helpful information on is the electrical issue I’m having.

In the attached picture, I have the aft and forward bilge pumps, and the wash down pump in the on position. But as you can see, only the fwd bilge is getting power. It sputters occasionally, but the motor definitely needs to be replaced.

The main confusion is the aft bilge and wash down. I just had the boat surveyed last Saturday, and the aft bilge worked then according the the surveyor, not the wash down. Now both won’t work, and the switches won’t even light up.

All other switches on the board light up and seem to function their respective mechanisms any ideas about these two?

Long time boater but first time owner so any and all advice overall is welcome. Thanks!

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Hookup1

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Don't panic just yet! I have an identical panel to yours on my 268 Islander that I'm currently rebuilding. There is a RED main power feed to a ORANGE buss that feeds all the breakers. Sounds like you may have some corrosion issues. Test things by wiggling the connectors on the breakers and switch you are testing. Remember the panel supplies 12 VDC to the different motors/lights.

Bilge pumps are fused back at the battery switches. Lift the floats manually and make sure they are working. If not fix that first. Both fuses are back there.
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Grab a voltmeter and try the switches you are having problems with (like the washdown). Could be the wiring, the switch or the pump. Switches are no longer available but there are alternatives. You can't trust the lights to tell you if something is working. Check it to see if it is working and see if it is getting voltage.

Do yourself a big favor and try to repair the connector and wiring. Some guys are too quick to hack things and run new wires. All my wiring on a 1997 Islander is original;.
 
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Bg56126

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I had a 99 Sailfish and experienced similar issues stemming from corrosion on the main bus bar. On the 99 it was under the steering wheel and required a full replace. It only took about 2 hours and solved all my intermittent electrical issues.
 

Hookup1

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All the circuits he is having trouble with are on the panel not on the fuse block and buss bar. Maybe ground wires are there.Here is a rough diagram of the panel. It was intended for my use so it's a little rough but it may help. Lots of wires but the diagram will help you understand what you are looking at. Not sure where the ground wires come together. They could be a problem too.

Washdown pump is in a terrible location in the aft bilge. I've installed several new ones over the years. My advice is just replace it (no repair) and get the same pump model (no mounting issues). Easy swap.

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DennisG01

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Most likely, you have dirty/corroded/partially broken connections (whether pos or neg). Remove the panel and inspect really close - clean and reattach connections. You can swap a switch for another (identical) one to test if the switch is the problem.

Do this stuff first - it's a needed thing to do regardless.
 

SkunkBoat

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First you have to get a look at the back of the panel. All of the switches get power from one wire. It connects from one circuit breaker to the other.
Are any breaker popped?
Does anything else on the panel work? Nav lights. Cockpit

the manual fwd bilge switch lights so there is power at least to that breaker and switch. ( Unless the float switch is on in which case you might light the manual switch back through the brown wire )

the various pumps may be shot but might just have bad connections at either the switch or at the pump Look for vertigris green corrosion.

Those are carling McGill euro oval switches and they suck. I had som fall apart internally. Plan on replacing the whole thing with ConturaV switches. Look at recent posts about switch panels from NewWiremarine
 

Raptor1472

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Thanks for all the replies everyone, just getting into electrical work with this stuff, so the information here has been really helpful.

I finally got some time this evening to spend on this issue, and I started with the panel. All connections were secured, and none seemed particularly corroded. I cleaned them to the best of my ability, but nothing changed as a result.

Then, for four of the bottom switches on the panel, two that light and operate their respected pumps and two switches that would not light/turn on the pumps, I checked voltage with the multimeter. The attached image is the result of one good switch (11.66 volts) and one inoperable switch (varying nominal voltage between 0.1-0.6 through testing). These were generally the same for the other operable and inoperable switches tested on that row.

Based on these results, what would be the general consensus? Might there be a faulty connection between the battery and the powered end of these non-working switches, or does this indicate that the pumps simply need to be replaced?

Thanks again for all the help!

IMG_3328.jpeg
 

DennisG01

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Am I correct that you were testing the supply side on the switches? It appears so since the switches look to be off.

This has nothing to do the load side.

The wiring from the battery to the panel has to be good since you're getting battery voltage. Although, if your meter is accurate, 11.7V is pretty much a dead battery. But since you're not saying you have issues elsewhere, it's most likely dirty connections/old wires on the supply side. Look for the main feed - what V is there? What do you read directly at the battery? You may need to inspect the wiring behind the dash closer/better. Find where you have close to battery V and where it drops off.
 

Fishtales

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I agree that I'd check the switches first. On a boat that old and assuming you have the jing, you prob should start some proactive replacing. Everything I'd touch I'd change. For starters, the three pumps. The washdowns seem to go every 7-8 years if you are using and I wouldn't screw around with changing motors on a bilge pump. They are cheap and you need them to work. Change both float switch and entire pump assembly. Cheap insurance. I'd do the same with switches, if they give you trouble change em as you go or bite the bullet and do em all. It's a mindset thing for me, fix what you have to or be a bit more proactive especially if you are keeping the boat or using it offshore.
 

Hookup1

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I would make up a jumper from the battery and test each pump directly. Check bilge fuses, pump and switches. Then test each from the switch panel the same way - apply power to the connector and bypass switch. Fishtails point about replacing pumps is a good one.

Is the boat down in Cape May yet? Where do you keep it - I could stop by and get you started.

I also store boats and trailers at my storage place ($3/foot/month) if you need to.
 
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Raptor1472

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To those who guessed corrosion, you were right. I’ll give some context below for anyone who might need it in the future, but after some cleaning of the panel connections, both bilge pumps are now working (swapped the aft one regardless as it was cracked and caked in gunk), and the wash down switch lights but the pump won’t spin, but assuming that’ll need to be replaced anyway from what Fishtales said.

Thanks to everyone who pitched in! Next big job is swapping the tilt/trim seals and a trim tab actuator before dropping her in, but for those in the Cape May area, I’d be happy to meet up sometime in the season. I’m sure there’s plenty I can learn for my first season of ownership. Speaking of, if anyone knows where I might find good tips on how to remove seized up and broken bottom zinc bolts, I could really use it.

As for the pump wiring issue itself, I tested all 4 batteries as Dennis suggested, and I got 12.6 V on 3 and 12.4 V on the port-most battery, so I figured I’m alright there. Then went back to the panel and tried wiggling connections, no luck. After swapping out the aft bulge pump with still no luck, I took the connections from the FWD pump switch off and put them onto the AFT pump switch and boom, we were in business. So, I knew it wasn’t the switch. Had my buddy fill the bilge with water from a hose to check the float switch since even his 6’5” sized arms couldn’t reach it, and thankfully that was working too. From that point, I swapped switch connections to check the wash down, which lit up but wouldn’t run, so I’m assuming it’s the pump, which is fine with me since I already got a new one assuming I’d need it. However, the pleasant surprise came when I put all switches back to their original position - suddenly, the aft bilge pump switch lit up when clicked, and the pump ran, AND the wash down switch lit, though the pump still didn’t run. Despite the connections not having much space to fit a wire brush, just taking them off and on several times cleared enough corrosion to create a proper connective surface. I’m sure there’s a way to more thoroughly clean them, but it’s certainly a big relief for now.
 

Hookup1

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What zinc's are you talking about? Trim tabs?

If your layout is anything like mine there is a small aft deck hatch that can be removed. Removing this gives me better access to to saltwater washdown and aft bilge pump. Your boat may not be setup that way. You need good access to swap that pump out. I also recommend replacing it the the same pump. Avoid complicating things with different mounting or hose connections. If the one you bought is different send it back - you can thank me later.

Battery life is typically 5 years in a boat. Those numbers are suspect. May not be fully charged or on their way out.

With the charger on your batteries should see 13.1 to 13.4 volts. Charger off they should be 12.8.

There isn't really a way to clean the connections behind the panel. Pushing them on and off a few times is all you can do for now. Unfortunately these problems will come and go. As SkunkBoat said earlier, several of us havedone switch panel upgrades and can guide you. I wouldn't start that project now though.
 
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DennisG01

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Looks like you're getting back on track.

Side note... your battery voltage means they're getting close to being done - in fact, the 12.4 is pretty much no good anymore. Having 11.66 up at the dash means you have some voltage drop - which means more corrosion in the wires in between. It's not "horrible" - but it's not so good, either. Most likely, you're simply due for some re-wiring.
 

Fishtales

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I'm guessing your talking about the strap zincs on the bottom side of the motor bracket? I'd get some penetrating oil and try that and maybe a touch of heat if needed. I take replace these straps along with other zincs every two years (could prob go 2X that) but cheap insurance and I pull the bolts out as a result and clean before reinstalling.