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Not all projects have to be huge. Take for example the new switches that we added for One Love’s shower sump pumps. Some readers may not realize the difference between a household shower and one on a boat. Whereas, in a house, the water simply drains away via gravity, in most cases on a boat the grey water from the shower needs to be pumped overboard (or into a tank) by an electric pump. It just so happens that the shower sump pumps on this Leopard were activated by a pushbutton momentary-on switch. This means that, while standing in the shower, you would need to push and hold the button to make the pump run. As the evacuation process can take over a minute, a period of time which seems exponentially longer when one is standing naked and dripping wet, I knew that there would be no way a guest would ever do it properly.

Old switch, push and hold to turn on.

Sourcing new switches was as easy as making a trip to Island Water World. In order to cover the large hole left by the other switches, I did have to use large stainless steel fender washers. Unfortunately, they only had three switches in stock so I was only able to fix the showers in the guest cabins, not our own. We have been using the other showers though and I can say that the new pull-on, push-off switch is a huge improvement over the originally installed ones.

New switch, pull to turn on, push back in to turn off.

  • Time required to complete the change: approximately 20 minutes each.
  • Cost: less than $20.00 each.

27 Comments

  1. Can you hear the pump when it’s running ?
    Knowing that your going to have guests
    That might not pay as much attention as
    You do , I might consider wiring a small led
    That shows the pump on On our boat I can
    Barely hear the sump pump , and it’s wired to a
    Float switch that sticks sometimes.

    • Yes, you can hear the pumps. It’s loud enough that no one would leave it on by mistake. Instruction in how to operate them will occur at the same time as the lesson in how to use the head.

      “Run the pump until you here the ‘glug, glug, glug’ of it sucking air…”

      • If they don’t get it, it would be fairly easy to add a small lamp or LED to it to show that the pump is on. Ok, it may take one more (small) hole though… 😉
        Ciao,
        Marco.

        • We have such a light on our nav panel which illuminates when the fresh water pump is on. This is a bit more important as a leak in the fresh water system will cause the pump to run and potentially empty the ship’s tanks into the boat.

  2. Timely post as I am in the process of adding a new pump and wiring to our “single” shower. Was the push/pull switch what you wanted or just what was available? (I need to look for the best switch)

  3. I so agree with this. Yesterday, while I was sitting in the cockpit being the tool runner for Tim’s wind vane installation, I got pretty bored so I took apart our cam cleats on the traveler which had not been grabbing and fixed the spring. Took less than 1/2 an hour and no $$$$ and I was feeling pretty happy with myself 🙂

    You just have to have some of those sometimes to balance out the projects like your carb rebuilds that take forever.

    Deb
    S/V Kintala
    http://www.theretirementproject.blogspot.com

  4. I just fixed the latch plate on my front door by screwing it in a quarter inch deeper so the door would mate with the magnetic seal properly. It took two minutes, but will be an hour when I tell my wife.

    Sadly, it wasn’t a door on a boat, but maybe I will go clean the rudders on the Hobie and pretend its a Gunboat. 🙂

  5. Nice corrosion! One of the first failures I had on my PDQ was the shower sump pump; corrosion on the push-on conectors. The cure was HEAVY GREASE on all contacts. A cheap help towards not fixing stuff (did a 1-year test in a salt spray chamber for PS).

    No-Oxid was great, but trailer bearing grease was very good.

    • Grease… check.

      When I changed them out I noticed that the wires on each of the switches were wet. To prevent this from happening again I ran a bead of silicone around the back of the shower-side fender washers and I made sure that the wires coming off the switch lead immediately up so that if any water does get through, it will not run down the wires.

  6. Not being on a boat, yet , but any worries about someone getting injured from the switch?You know what I mean who wants to get shocked or burned from the amp draw! It appears that the original was plastic and may have been waterproof so it may not have presented a problem standing naked and wet. The new one has a plastic knob but is the shaft plastic or metal? With the switch pulled out (on) could water follow the shaft into the switch itself? If a bracelet or ring or any metal jewelry were to connect just the right way OUCH!

    The original appears to have sealed the hole with an o-ring did you seal the SS washer equally? Could you have painted the washer white?

    Perpaps something like the ROCKER SWITCH, W/LIGHT ON /OFF WATERPROOF BLUE SEA
    Item #: BS08230 would have been better to use? Just sayin’

    I look forward to your posts every day and I hope once you start your charters you have a moment each day to post.

    Steven

    • Most Boat electricity, and im sure the electricity to these pumps, is either 12V DC or 24V DC, which is not enough voltage to injure a human, even a soaking wet one (you might know that when your skin is wet it is more conductive), infact you won’t even feel any electricity, well maybe if you licked the switch … Like a 9V battery! The switch itself shouldn’t have any live parts on the outside, they are all hidden on the inside of the cabinet.
      When I replaced the switches on a number of shower sump pumps (i have run many charter cats), I used an illuminated rocker switch similar to the blue sea ones mentioned in an earlier comment. They work even better than the push-pull ones, however I understand not being able to find the parts you really want!!

      • I could have purchased those switches but it would have taken a lot more work as the hole left by the other ones would not have been filled with the Blue Sea rocker switches.

    • My friend Ron who lives on a boat and is a manager at the chandlery told me that he installed the exact same switch in his shower 3 years ago. It is still functioning AND he has not been electrocuted. 🙂

      As for the rocker switch, it would not fill the hole left by the other pushbutton switches. I checked.

      • Kewl, being a swimming pool contractor I am always cautious of my surroundings either new installations or especially old installations and the equipment rooms with leaking plumbing and electricity, yikes.

        I had an uncle who was a mechanic and the circumstances were jussssst right and his wedding ring touched a battery terminal and it arched and burned his finger pretty bad. I know that 12v we wont even feel it given the physics of conduction but ya never know. Good to have the responses of experienced skippers share their thoughts. I appreciate the feedback. 😉

        Steven

  7. The best shower setup I’ve seen on a cat was placed in the bridgedeck cabin. Gravity draining! No pump, switch, and no filter to clean the hair out of. Great setup for a cruising couple, not so great for a charter boat.

  8. If there is concern about being shocked you can install a relay to handle all of the current and use the switch to turn the relay on/off.

  9. The corrosion on that old connection is UGLY. Plus the old crimp connector looks poor quality too. The web link below has some excellent info & pics on quality crimp connections plus tools and parts to achieve that.

    http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/wire_termination

    Consensus (well sort of) on this thread is high quality crimps are better (easier and faster too) than soldering.

    http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f13/butt-connector-vs-solder-84399.html

    I like how you led the wires up to avoid water migration and corrosion in the wiring.

    Interesting comments for a “not a huge” fix!

  10. Not to be a cold shower, but a on/off switch is probably going to bite you at some point. If someone accidentally leaves it on (and you don’t hear it) you will have dead house batteries. A timer switch would be much better investment. After having dead house batteries a few times, the switch would definitely be worthwhile.

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