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How to reconnect bilge pump wires

Discussion in 'General Yachting Discussion' started by dewald, Jan 24, 2022.

  1. dewald

    dewald Member

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    Location:
    Treasure Island, Florida
    We all know the saying “you can’t tell a good book by its cover”. I have a new one “you can’t tell if it’s a good wire connection until you remove all the electrical tape”. In my aft bilge I have a bilge pump that’s activated by either a float switch or manual switches on the main electrical panel, and a warning light to the bridge when pump is activated. A Hi-water float switch wire to an alarm bell on the bridge. Also, in the aft bilge is a pump too empty water in the fish box overboard. The pump is activated by a switch on the main electrical panel and possible a switch that was inside the fish box that is no longer there but a caped off Hot wire is. Do not ask how I found that out.

    Now back to the electrical tape. After removing all the tape and goo from around all the wire connections, what did I find? Just ordinary plastic wire nut screw type connectors and plain crimp butt connectors, no heat shrink tubing or connectors anywhere. I should add a picture on how not to wire a boat.

    As per my post title How to reconnect bilge pump wires. Here is what I was thinking:

    1: Use Deutsch watertight Connectors (combination of 2 & 4 Pin) for all the wires and secure in current location.

    2: Use heat shrink butt connector and tubbing for all wires and secure in current location.

    3: Use heat shrink ring connectors and tubbing on all the wires and connecting them to

    2 6-gang terminals that would be attached to the back of the fish box.

    Using option 1 or 2 I would not have to splice in extra wire for length.

    Using option 3 I would have to splice in extra wire to reach the back of the fish box.

    FYI the 2 wire cables running from the main electrical panel to the rear bilge supplying the power to the pumps and float switches are 3/8” black round 3 wire 12 awg orange/black/brown.

    Running all new wiring for a home run is not an option, I believe, all the wiring was done before they put the cockpit floor in when they built to boat.

    Any pump or float switch that may need replacing in the future could easily wired into the Deutsch connectors or the 6-gang terminals without splicing any wires.

    I’m open to all recommendation. I just want do it right.
  2. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    I’m sure others have their preferred methods. I like to use marine heat shrink connectors followed by marine shrink tubing. The marine grade stuff has the added adhesive/sealant in them that activates when you shrink them. And I only use a proper heat gun and shrink everything nice and evenly all the way around.
  3. menkes

    menkes Member

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    With over 40 years of experience in marine & aircraft wiring, I support DOCKMASTER's advise with both hands
  4. chesapeake46

    chesapeake46 Senior Member

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    You should look at the wires closely to see how far back you may have to trim them to get to good, bright copper.
    I also coat the copper with Noalox or Copper Coat before terminations of any sort.
  5. Pascal

    Pascal Senior Member

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    I use heat shrink marine butt connectors . As mentioned above make sure the wires are clean, especially if un tinned wire was used.

    i know the butt connectors make troubleshooting more difficult but I like that they are sealed. Otherwise you can use rings with a terminal strip as long as it placed high enough to never get wet.
  6. rtrafford

    rtrafford Senior Member

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    Agreed. If I need a plug for maintenance, etc, it's high, in sight, and nowhere near the sump.
  7. Capt Ralph

    Capt Ralph Senior Member

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    I'm in the terminal strip mode,,,, when you can. Sadly, the wires on some installs from the pump and switch are just not long enough to ensure that a rogue splash will not wet the terminal strip. Then out come the shrink butts and more shrink tubing.
    Also, when you have to wrap in electrical tape, I fold the last inch of tape back on itself and leave a tab of tape exposed like a mini flag. If I or another person needs to get back into the splice, the end is rite there. Quality tape helps also. Not rescue tape.
    d_meister likes this.
  8. Lunderic

    Lunderic Member

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    I personally don't like the heat shrink butt connectors. I prefer regular marine grade butt connectors and marine grade shrink wrap after. In my opinion (probably false) I seem to get a better crimp. I also use dielectric grease. I second using terminal strips as well. I keep spare pumps with connectors ready to go and can change in less than 5 minutes.
  9. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    Are you using the correct crimper tool for heat shrink? I use one of these and it works fantastic. Pretty much a perfect crimp every time without damaging the heat shrink insulating jacket:

    https://www.amazon.com/Crimping-Too...9Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=
    rocdiver and gr8trn like this.
  10. Lunderic

    Lunderic Member

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    I use an Ancor ratcheting crimper and it does seem to damage the heat shrink insulating jacket. Most likely it happens because I'm usually upside down in a cramped dark space (read user error) which is why I like to use terminal blocks. Over the last 30 years or so I haven't had any failures (fingers crossed). Thanks for the suggestion though I'll pick one up and try
  11. DOCKMASTER

    DOCKMASTER Senior Member

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    Nothing wrong with an Ancor crimper. But it has to be specifically for heat shrink type connectors. I have two of the wirefly crimpers, one for regular insulated connectors and one for heat shrink. The dies are different for each type of connector.
    Lunderic likes this.
  12. Lunderic

    Lunderic Member

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    Thanks...for sure will help!
  13. dewald

    dewald Member

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    Just want to say thanks to everyone that replied to my post. Unfortunately, right after I posted Omicron came a calling. Starting to feel a little better, with my biggest adventure being moving between the bed and the couch.
  14. gr8trn

    gr8trn Senior Member

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    Take care! Now more natural immunity is likely for you, hopefully.
    As for this thread you started, it lead to my brand new Wirefy butt connector ratchet crimpers thanks to @DOCKMASTER. I have a water pump to change out and will now be more confident that my wiring connections are ship shape!
  15. cleanslate

    cleanslate Senior Member

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    All very informative posts ! Thank you all. I'm still finding wires from the previous owners on my old vessel , that lead to know where and are just cut off...most are dead so far.

    Dewald, good health to you.... and good health to your boat..lol.