Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Anatomy of a Jabsco Raw Water Pump

The sexy part of living on a boat in the tropics it is not, but a raw water pump is one of those essentials of living on a boat if you actually want it to move under power. Without it, the Westerbeast would balk posthaste. Its temp gage would peg in the red warning zone within minutes and the ever-thumping cylinders would screech to a rapid halt. As long as it hums along, not much attention is paid to it other than its annual impeller change.

Fed up with its lowly station on Kintala, our water pump recently decided to morph into something more glorious like, say, a fountain. It spewed endless amounts of hot seawater in lovely arcs all around the engine compartment, picking (of course) the absolute worst time to do so, the few days approaching the deadline of Worker Man's arrival at his new job in The Boatyard. We nursed it along, checking the temp and verifying the bilge pump's capacity to rid the bilge of the seawater accumulating as we limped into The Boatyard. Not an auspicious arrival of The Boatyard's new Worker Man.

Worker Man has been hard at it, battling both temps and broken boats, and the water pump was high on the list of repairs needed to move the boat, so this past week it was the job to tackle.

Day 1: First step was to check on possible warranty. We had replaced this Jabsco raw water pump in August before we left Oak Harbor Marina and one day later replaced it again due to receiving a bad unit out of the box. The original pump we pulled off had been on the boat at least as long as we had owned the boat at that time: 4 years. The warranty pump to replace the bad-from-the-box unit lasted a whopping 8 months. I can't say as I'm overly impressed with Jabsco at the moment. They would not warranty this unit saying that too many people overtighten the belt and cause the seals to fail.

Day 2: Next step was to remove and disassemble the pump. Thanks to a new set of flex-head wrenches that I bought to replace my favorite set that ended up in Tim's Worker Man tools, the job was a pretty straightforward one. Unfortunately, further disassembly required waiting on Tim to bring the puller set home with him to get the pulley off.

Day 3: I actually made some progress today with a full disassembly of the pump. The minor rebuild kit I ordered included the impeller, o-ring, gasket and new water seal, all of the parts it appeared I would need from the parts breakdown and failure symptoms. Unfortunately, on disassembly it appeared that I also needed a new inner bearing seal. Back to Google, and another day waiting.

Day 4: My project was interrupted by the arrival of several friends. Socializing and helping with other people's boat projects commenced. My raw water pump pouted on the work bench.

Day 5-8: See Day 4

Day 9: Parts arrived, pump was reassembled and installed, but running the engine and looking for leaks at the same time exceeds my mechanical and acrobatic limits so I had to wait for Tim to get home from work. After a few corrections of hose routing, the pump was pumping water out of the side of the boat instead of inside the engine compartment. Oh, and I still have a dry bilge, the very best part.

Lessons learned:

Jabsco pumps suck.

Sharing tools that are in two different locations sucks.

Having a significant other who lets you share tools is wonderful.

Having a significant other who lets you go buy new tools to replace the ones he heisted is even better.

Every boat project takes a minimum of three times your estimated time to complete.


Unknown said...

I'm curious. Is your Westerbeke also a Kubota/Universal of some type?

Deb said...

Richard - no, the Westerbeast is a Westerbeke 50 with the British Lehman block. If we had the money to repower we would certainly be looking at the Beta Marine which is a Kubota. Alas, the Westerbeast will have to do for this budget bunch.

Unknown said...

Only 3 times your original estimate? Surely you've forgotten the other 2 jobs that emerge every time you start a "simple" repair on a boat!