Just completed a 2900nm tough passage - two little switches almost ruined my month: Bilge Float Switch and Volvo D3-110C auxiliary stop


Scott SV Tengah
 

Hi all,

We just completed a 2900nm passage from Hawaii to French Polynesia with pretty rough upwind/up current conditions for the first 10 days or so. Just a bit longer than the Atlantic crossing but much more difficult, with days on end at 38-40 degrees apparent, bashing into current and waves. The second half was a bit better, but two little failed switches almost ruined our trip.

1) The on-off switch for our bilge pump float tube failed. I presume it's the original - 13 years old. Internally, it corroded and while it has been working perfectly during our ownership until now, the resistance finally got high enough that it didn't activate the bilge pump when the water level rose in the gray water bilge. The quick connect tabs are not well sealed and I believe this is how moisture gets into the switch.

The secondary bilge water level alarm on my A54 is located to port of the gray water bilge. Because this was a hard upwind port tack, the gray water (and saltwater from the anchor well and bow deck locker) pooled to starboard and NEARLY SUBMERGED THE ALTERNATORS. I would guess another few hours or another shower or two and it would have been an expensive problem.

I would suggest everyone check their bilge switches for resistance in the "on" position. Ours was approaching 500 ohms. It's a bit of a custom job, so you may want to plan on having a backup made or purchase one from Amel.

I also intend to install a water sensor on the float tube itself, in case we ever find ourselves on another multi-day port tack upwind adventure with a dead switch or bilge pump.

2) We have been having intermittent electrical issues with our Volvo D3-110C where it would turn off randomly, generally with the helm display going blank. Further, the Volvo displayed voltage was always 0.1-0.3v less than what we measured at the engine-side battery cables and less than what was displayed on our Onan remote panel.  I believe I have found the problem and I believe it's a design fault resulting from Volvo's adaptation of a car engine for marine use.

On the starboard side of the engine lid/cover is an "auxiliary stop button" that is normally closed and allows power to flow to the ECU. When you press this button, it opens the circuit and depowers the ECU, turning off the motor.

The problem is that this switch is not sealed and is in the path of the engine room intake fan. That means salty air is blown onto it and since it's not sealed, it will corrode internally over time. See attached photo. We had a motor that would die randomly and had major difficulty starting up as we were heading south from the doldrums into southerly winds.  Not a great place to have an intermittent motor.

After finding the problem, I simply butt connected the two wires leading into the aux stop switch and if we can't find a SEALED replacement switch, we will likely leave it as such. The aux stop switch is redundant there because you can always remove the ECU blade fuse right next to this faulty switch.

I'd suggest owners of the D3-110 check resistance on their aux stop switch. Also examine the quick connect spade connectors - both of mine were corroded from the constant flow of salty air.

Hope this helps someone.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com


Mark Erdos
 

Scott,

 

Glad to hear you found your issues.

 

Putting a water sensor on the tube is a GREAT idea!

 

 

With best regards,

 

Mark

 

Skipper

Sailing Vessel - Cream Puff - SM2K - #275

Currently cruising - Tahiti, French Polynesia

www.creampuff.us

 

From: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io [mailto:main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io] On Behalf Of Scott SV Tengah
Sent: Monday, November 2, 2020 8:48 AM
To: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io
Subject: [AmelYachtOwners] Just completed a 2900nm tough passage - two little switches almost ruined my month: Bilge Float Switch and Volvo D3-110C auxiliary stop

 

Hi all,

We just completed a 2900nm passage from Hawaii to French Polynesia with pretty rough upwind/up current conditions for the first 10 days or so. Just a bit longer than the Atlantic crossing but much more difficult, with days on end at 38-40 degrees apparent, bashing into current and waves. The second half was a bit better, but two little failed switches almost ruined our trip.

1) The on-off switch for our bilge pump float tube failed. I presume it's the original - 13 years old. Internally, it corroded and while it has been working perfectly during our ownership until now, the resistance finally got high enough that it didn't activate the bilge pump when the water level rose in the gray water bilge. The quick connect tabs are not well sealed and I believe this is how moisture gets into the switch.

The secondary bilge water level alarm on my A54 is located to port of the gray water bilge. Because this was a hard upwind port tack, the gray water (and saltwater from the anchor well and bow deck locker) pooled to starboard and NEARLY SUBMERGED THE ALTERNATORS. I would guess another few hours or another shower or two and it would have been an expensive problem.

I would suggest everyone check their bilge switches for resistance in the "on" position. Ours was approaching 500 ohms. It's a bit of a custom job, so you may want to plan on having a backup made or purchase one from Amel.

I also intend to install a water sensor on the float tube itself, in case we ever find ourselves on another multi-day port tack upwind adventure with a dead switch or bilge pump.

2) We have been having intermittent electrical issues with our Volvo D3-110C where it would turn off randomly, generally with the helm display going blank. Further, the Volvo displayed voltage was always 0.1-0.3v less than what we measured at the engine-side battery cables and less than what was displayed on our Onan remote panel.  I believe I have found the problem and I believe it's a design fault resulting from Volvo's adaptation of a car engine for marine use.

On the starboard side of the engine lid/cover is an "auxiliary stop button" that is normally closed and allows power to flow to the ECU. When you press this button, it opens the circuit and depowers the ECU, turning off the motor.

The problem is that this switch is not sealed and is in the path of the engine room intake fan. That means salty air is blown onto it and since it's not sealed, it will corrode internally over time. See attached photo. We had a motor that would die randomly and had major difficulty starting up as we were heading south from the doldrums into southerly winds.  Not a great place to have an intermittent motor.

After finding the problem, I simply butt connected the two wires leading into the aux stop switch and if we can't find a SEALED replacement switch, we will likely leave it as such. The aux stop switch is redundant there because you can always remove the ECU blade fuse right next to this faulty switch.

I'd suggest owners of the D3-110 check resistance on their aux stop switch. Also examine the quick connect spade connectors - both of mine were corroded from the constant flow of salty air.

Hope this helps someone.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com


Paul Dowd and Sharon Brown
 

Scott,

 

This is really good info. Should I ever find myself in a similar situation I’ll be sure to follow your advice.

 

Cheers,

Paul

S/Y Ya Fohi - Amel 54 #98 - Grenada

 

From: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io <main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io> On Behalf Of Scott SV Tengah
Sent: 02 November 2020 19:48
To: main@AmelYachtOwners.groups.io
Subject: [AmelYachtOwners] Just completed a 2900nm tough passage - two little switches almost ruined my month: Bilge Float Switch and Volvo D3-110C auxiliary stop

 

Hi all,

We just completed a 2900nm passage from Hawaii to French Polynesia with pretty rough upwind/up current conditions for the first 10 days or so. Just a bit longer than the Atlantic crossing but much more difficult, with days on end at 38-40 degrees apparent, bashing into current and waves. The second half was a bit better, but two little failed switches almost ruined our trip.

1) The on-off switch for our bilge pump float tube failed. I presume it's the original - 13 years old. Internally, it corroded and while it has been working perfectly during our ownership until now, the resistance finally got high enough that it didn't activate the bilge pump when the water level rose in the gray water bilge. The quick connect tabs are not well sealed and I believe this is how moisture gets into the switch.

The secondary bilge water level alarm on my A54 is located to port of the gray water bilge. Because this was a hard upwind port tack, the gray water (and saltwater from the anchor well and bow deck locker) pooled to starboard and NEARLY SUBMERGED THE ALTERNATORS. I would guess another few hours or another shower or two and it would have been an expensive problem.

I would suggest everyone check their bilge switches for resistance in the "on" position. Ours was approaching 500 ohms. It's a bit of a custom job, so you may want to plan on having a backup made or purchase one from Amel.

I also intend to install a water sensor on the float tube itself, in case we ever find ourselves on another multi-day port tack upwind adventure with a dead switch or bilge pump.

2) We have been having intermittent electrical issues with our Volvo D3-110C where it would turn off randomly, generally with the helm display going blank. Further, the Volvo displayed voltage was always 0.1-0.3v less than what we measured at the engine-side battery cables and less than what was displayed on our Onan remote panel.  I believe I have found the problem and I believe it's a design fault resulting from Volvo's adaptation of a car engine for marine use.

On the starboard side of the engine lid/cover is an "auxiliary stop button" that is normally closed and allows power to flow to the ECU. When you press this button, it opens the circuit and depowers the ECU, turning off the motor.

The problem is that this switch is not sealed and is in the path of the engine room intake fan. That means salty air is blown onto it and since it's not sealed, it will corrode internally over time. See attached photo. We had a motor that would die randomly and had major difficulty starting up as we were heading south from the doldrums into southerly winds.  Not a great place to have an intermittent motor.

After finding the problem, I simply butt connected the two wires leading into the aux stop switch and if we can't find a SEALED replacement switch, we will likely leave it as such. The aux stop switch is redundant there because you can always remove the ECU blade fuse right next to this faulty switch.

I'd suggest owners of the D3-110 check resistance on their aux stop switch. Also examine the quick connect spade connectors - both of mine were corroded from the constant flow of salty air.

Hope this helps someone.

--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com


--
Cheers
Paul
Ya Fohi - Amel 54 #98


Laurens Vos
 

Had the same problem with my bilge switch. A water sensor is a good safety device. 


Sv Garulfo
 


All,

Scott said:
« this switch is not sealed and is in the path of the engine room intake fan »

We discussed the orientation of the PVC elbow that blows air into the engine room. On Garulfo (A54-122), it’s pointing to the C drive. On Tengah, it’s pointing to the engine air intake. 

Maybe it does not matter much but we wonder what the intended orientation is. 

How does it look on your amel?


Thanks

Thomas 
GARULFO 
A54-122
Moorea 


Jamie Wendell
 

Scott and Mia, I am very happy to hear of your safe arrival. As always, your postings have helped us all, and this latest one is no exception.
Congratulations on your successful journey. I too have similar stories to tell, but maybe not as consequential.
I connected my bilge high-water alarm to my Maretron system, but as you noted that will not work all the time unless you monitor the inside of the bilge pump tube. I also keep a count and timing on the bilge pump running through my Maretron system.
How did you install the level sensor?
I now have a Volvo D3-150, so I cannot comment directly on the issues you had with the D3-110, but again a good reminder to all to check the condition of all of the engine controls. Corrosion will eventually get you if you do not keep a close watch on these systems.
Jamie
Phantom A54 #44


Scott SV Tengah
 

Jamie, 

Sorry for the slow reply. 

I haven't installed it yet but I have an additional one of these aboard: 

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000JOK11K/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apap_BwgJiFawCYt3r

Plan would be to zip tie the sensor somewhere along the outside of the tube. The alarm unit itself will be mounted on the cavity behind the water maker panel or near the steering rack.

The included cable is a little less than 2 meters but it's 9v and the instructions explicitly say you can extend it. I figure 3 meters total should be more than enough. 

This is the same alarm I installed by the stuffing box. Works like a charm. 




--
Scott 
2007 A54 #69
SV Tengah
http://www.svtengah.com