In Nelson last year I changed out the fresh water accumulator tank for a new one. The rubber bladder on the old one had burst and there was no replacement bladder available. The new accumulator tank was a one litre Jabsco, just the same as the old one. Quite handy at the time as it was a direct drop-in replacement.

After a bit of trial and error, adjusting the bladder pressure with the help of a bike pump I was able to get the tank to hold the maximum water capacity before the pump cycled on. But I was not happy. Over the years, the Jabsco water pump has developed an annoying noise when operating and I wanted a bigger accumulator tank to reduce pump cycling. I looked for a solution and as usual the space constraints on board seemed to limit my options. I could not see an alternative but kept the idea at the back of my head.

Another thought running in parallel with the fresh water issue was a deck washdown pump. A few weeks ago we had anchored in Islington Bay, just outside Auckland.  This is a notoriously muddy anchorage.  On weighing anchor the chain came up caked in thick gelatinous mud, the anchor was just a big mud ball. After numerous buckets of water the anchor and chain were a bit cleaner and the deck looked like a dredger. I am getting too old for the bucket brigade and made a vow to find a less labour intensive solution.

A couple of weeks passed, the cogs in my head churned away in the background. I looked all around for a place to fit a larger accumulator tank, under the galley sink, in the head, in the bosuns locker, behind the engine. Nothing easy and tidy came to mind, the more I looked the more frustrated I became.

Off course every problem has a solution waiting to be found.  It just needs time and a couple of beers for the answer to present itself.  Under the existing pump and behind the chart table there is a small void space. Just the size to fit an accumulator tank and fresh water pump.  Of course, the space is tight, good planning and flawless execution was critical to get the installation in place and connected.

Measurements were taken, retaken and then checked again.  Sketches and plans were drawn up. By wriggling on my stomach across the chart table I could get one hand and arm into the space where the installation would take place.  It was tight but possible.  The installation of the water pump was easy.  The existing electrical connection was close by and connecting the power was straightforward.  The pump has quick connect ports which made the connecting of the inlet and outlet pipes a simple one-handed job.  Securing the pump to the bulkhead was a bit fiddley one handed but once one retaining screw was in position the other three followed quickly.

The pump I chose to fit is a Johnson model.  It’s a bit smaller than the previous Jabsco model at 11lpm but big enough to handle the needs on Truce.  It can service two open taps with ease and in reality, there is usually only one tap open at any one time.  The Johnson pump is quieter than the old Jabsco and as it is now insulated behind cabinetry the sound is very muffled.

Mounting the accumulator tank was a bit trickier than the water pump.  I decided to fabricate a wooden back board out of marine ply, which I gave a protective coating of west epoxy.  This wooden backing board has a bottom retaining bracket and the tank retaining strap bracket mounted to it. 

The idea is to permanently mount the plywood backing pad to the bulkhead first.  Then slide the tank down into position onto the location screws and bracket to hold the tank in place.  The dry fit went well after a bit of adjustment.  On top of the bottom bracket, the faces of the tank securing bracket and under the steel retaining strap I placed double sided bear tape.  That will (hopefully), prevent any metal-to-metal contact, vibration wear and possible corrosion problems at a later date.

Due to space constraints the pipework under the accumulator tank was preassembled and fitted to the tank prior to installation.  The tank was then lowered into place onto the location screws.  It all fitted perfectly and is rock solid.  The flexible inlet pipe was connected to the quick fit connection on the pump.  The outlet pipe as connected to the John Guest distribution piping, an easy quick connect with the final fitting of a retaining collar.

Next, I checked the pressure in the accumulator tank with a tyre pressure gauge.  It was too high so I released some pressure, down to the pump manufacturers setting.  Then I opened all taps on board and opened the fresh water supply from the tank to the pump.  The moment of truth, I switched on the pump.

Water flowed from both the galley and head taps, I let the water run for a minute to get rid of any air in the system then closed the taps.  The pump ran for about a further thirty seconds and then shut off.  So far so good.

As an added bonus I have converted the space where the old pump used to be into a large and useful shelf area behind the chart table. 

I checked around for leaks and found none.  Then I played around, running taps and measuring how much water I could draw from the system before the pump cycled on. The result was heaps, I can fill a kettle and fill mugs of water before the pumps kicks in.

The larger accumulator tank had made a significant improvement to life on board.  The new installation is an improvement on the old in many ways.  The pump is now lower in the hull and closer to the water tanks which reduces the vertical lift.  The situation of the pump behind cabinetry reduces pump noise to a low hum which is not at all intrusive.  I expect that when single handing the pump will come on only once or twice per day, reducing stress and wear on the pump and conserving energy.  I am very happy with the modification and the improvement to the quality of life on board.

Back onto the muddy anchor chain issue, there has been a huge improvement there as well.  The old Jabsco fresh water pump has been repurposed as a salt water washdown pump.  I have teed into the galley salt water inlet pipe to feed into the washdown pump which is installed in the bilge under the galley sink.  From there I have taken a pipe to an outlet on deck at the forward end of the cockpit.

From the deck wash down connection I can reach all areas of the deck with a ten meter long hose.  This is going to make anchor washdown a breeze and allow me to give the whole boat a salt water wash if needed.  I anticipate that washing down after fishing is going to be much easier as well.  Oh, what an easy life its going to be.   Now I have too many buckets on board.



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      1. I suspect mine is a single litre. Where would I put something that large is the question… Then again the is a place under one of the bench seats in the saloon.


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