Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Testing the Rule-Mate 500 bilge pump

The bilge pump that I installed in the boat is a Rule-Mate 500 automatic bilge pump. Unlike regular bilge pumps that use a separate, external float switch, automatic bilge pumps have an internal float switch that activates the pump when tripped. 


Rule-Mate 500 Automatic Bilge Pump
Rule-Mate 500 automatic bilge pump, wired to Rule 3-way panel switch.

I wanted to use an automatic pump, simply because the Glen-L Utility is a very small boat, and I did not want to use up more space with a separate float switch.

The pump is controlled by a Rule 3-way switch, style #41. Its positions are Auto, Off, and a spring-loaded Manual position. The switch is wired to a small Exide Stowaway deep-cycle battery.


Exide Stowaway deep-cycle battery, mounted in an Attwood small battery box.

Not surprisingly, after a couple of trips to the lake, I wanted to make sure the pump worked correctly. This would mean partially filling the boat with water.

So, with the boat on the trailer in my driveway, I placed a garden hose in the boat & turned on the faucet. Slowly, the boat began to fill with water. As the water kept rising in the boat, I double-checked to make sure the switch was turned on.


Rule 3-way bilge pump switch panel, #41
Setting the switch to Auto.

The boat continued to fill with water.

The internal float switch for the Rule-Mate 500 trips when the water level is approximately 2-1/2 inches higher than the base of the pump. In a little boat with only 26" hull depth, 2-1/2 inches of standing water seems a little alarming. However, you can easily hold the switch to the Manual position to activate the pump well before the water gets that deep. 

Once the internal float switch tripped, the pump came on, as promised. Operation was pretty quiet.


This is how high the water gets before the internal float switch activates. 

When the pump came on, the red light on the 3-way switch panel also came on as a visual confirmation that the pump is operating. (The light also comes on when the switch is held in the Manual position, but is otherwise off if the switch is set to either Auto or Off.)


The red light comes on when the pump activates, or when the switch is held in the "Manual" position.

Based on the pump's rated 500 Gallon Per Hour capacity, it can move a gallon of water in approximately 7.5 seconds. Not bad.


The bilge pump doing it's job.

The pump drained the water from my boat quickly enough. Once the water level got below the intake "grill" at the pump's base, the pump began making a slurping sound. The pump motor seemed to go through a rapid succession of turning off and on repeatedly. At first, I thought something was wrong with the float switch, and that the pump would not turn itself off. However, I noticed that in spite of the way the pump sounded, it was continuing to move water. Water was continuing to pour out of the drain hose, so I let it continue to run to see if it eventually would shut off.

It did shut off, and I'd have to say that I'm pleased overall with the pump's performance. It doesn't drain the boat completely... and that is partially a result of the way I installed it. However, the remaining water was minimal, and what I'd consider "safe" if I was still out on the river. It was relatively easy to get the rest of the water out with a cut off plastic bottle and a towel.


The removable panel for the bilge pump allows for complete access to the floor for drying up any remaining water.

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