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Author Topic:   Sump Pump Wiring
ebwalk posted 10-15-2012 08:44 AM ET (US)   Profile for ebwalk   Send Email to ebwalk  
Thanks for the great articles on bilge pump wiring. My 1973 [Boston Whaler 13-foot boat] had a pump in place when I bought it. It was wired with three-strand Anchor [ANCOR?] wiring up to the console. The Anchor [ANCOR?] wiring has been mentioned here, so it seems the person knew something about what they were doing. Based on other comments, it sounds like [a 13-foot Boston Whaler boat] could be left with no plug and no bilge and be safe--never tried that!

The switch I have includes auto-man-off and indicator light. Only three wires were run to the console which I will use for Hot, Man and Auto. This means I lack a negative wire for the indicator light. Is it possible to run the power serially through the light and to the Man side of the switch? Or should I run a separate negative wire up from the rat's nest in the stern? Or just leave the light as a decorative feature!

Thanks for the help; this site and the work people have done is amazing and inspirational!

jimh posted 10-15-2012 09:20 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You boat is probably wired with ANCOR three-conductor cable.

Read my article on bilge pump wiring at

Only three conductors are necessary to be run to the pump and float switch from the controlling switch and power source.

ebwalk posted 10-15-2012 10:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for ebwalk  Send Email to ebwalk     
Yes, I agree, ANchor 3 conductor and that is all necessary for the bilge pump. But in your article the indicator lamp is clearly attached to the Man post on switch and to ground.
I have no ground wire at the console.
Here's my set up:
ANCOHOR 3 CONDUCTOR one for Bilge:
Stern Console
AN-1-Power---------Fuse- Hot SWitch
AN-2-Bilge Man-----SW Man and Indicator light
AN-3-Bilge Auto----SW Auto
Indicator light Grnd?

There is the runnig light switch so maybe i could branch off the hot from the bilge pump to feed the running lights and then use the leftover wire from the running lights for ground for the indicator light
ANCHOR 3 CONDUCTOR two for Runnning/ANchor light switch:
Stern Console
Running light Hot------------Switch hot (
anchor light-----------------pos 1
running light----------------pos 2

Stern Console
GRND to feed indicator light--to indicator light ground
anchor light-----------------pos 1
running light----------------pos 2
AN1-branch to lite switch hot
maybe i solved my own problem?

jimh posted 10-15-2012 09:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is impossible for me to follow your narrative of the wiring. Make a sketch. Scan the sketch. Post the image of the scan where I can see it.

jimh posted 10-15-2012 09:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You are still spelling the name of the wire manufacturer wrong. See my prior article for the proper spelling.
Tom W Clark posted 10-15-2012 09:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
You boat is probably wired with ANCOR three-conductor cable.

ebwalk may have a three conductor wire leading to his bilge pump...[but]...Whaler never used ANCOR brand wire.

[Tom then makes an aside to me to explain why I though the boat had ANCOR brand wire. I explain in my reply to below--jimh]

jimh posted 10-17-2012 12:05 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE to Tom--You should read more carefully. The initial article talks (twice) about "Anchor wiring". I just inferred that this was a misspelling of ANCOR, which often happens. This should completely explain for you how I came up with that idea. I hope you are satisfied with the explanation. If not, feel free to continue interrogation on the subject.

Let me also anticipate another question from you. The initial article talks about "three strand" wiring. I inferred that this was a misstatement and three-conductor wiring was intended. This should completely explain for you how I came up with that idea. I hope you are satisfied with the explanation. If not, feel free to continue interrogation on the subject.

Tom, I know you are not an electrician, so perhaps you read "3-strand Anchor wiring" as a reference to three-strand anchor rode.

One of the clues I used to think that "Anchor" was a misspelling for "ANCOR" was the capitalization of the initial letter of "Anchor." If the writer were talking about an anchor, that device that secures the boat to the sea bed, it would not be capitalized. The capitalization indicated a proper noun, and that made me think "Anchor" was really "ANCOR," the very well known wire brand.

Also, the intial article referred to "the person [that] knew something about what they were doing" having added the wiring. This seems rather clear that it was not a Boston Whaler factory-installed accessory. I hope this further explanation helps you understand my thinking on this.

And, Tom, please throw me a line. You've dragged another thread into the weeds.

jimh posted 10-17-2012 09:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Marine grade wire such as that sold under the ANCOR brand may not be found in the original construction of boats. Wire suppliers like ANCOR and even BELDEN tend to cater to the non-OEM market. Original equipment manufacturers will use a lot of wire, they will want the best prices, and they generally do not care about the brand of wire. OEM's don't buy their wire out of the Digi-Key or Mouser catalogue, and the don't by it at WEST Marine. They likely buy it bulk and deal directly with wire manufacturers--ones that don't advertise a lot to the general public trying to build a brand name to consumers.

You might think, heck, wire is wire, and who needs a brand name anyways. To some extent that is true. If a wire is made to qualify to a certain standard, you'd think it would be the same as another maker's wire that qualifies. However there are often differences, in my experience, and two sample of wire, made by different manufacturers and supposedly meeting the same specification, can have some variations.

One factor that is sometimes overlooked in stranded wire specification is the number and wire-gauge of the individual strands. The smaller the individual strands and the more of them used, the more flexible the resulting conductor will usually be. Another element is the wire insulation. Wire insulation jackets have secondary properties other than their specified voltage insulation rating. Some insulating jackets are easier to strip than others, remain softer and more pliable over a wider temperature range, and have a different lustre in their appearance. These factors may not make a difference if the wire is being stripped by a machine, handled by robots, and concealed in a conduit, but they can make a difference if the wire is stripped by hand, has to be threaded into place in tight passages, and becomes visible at certain points.

ebwalk posted 10-18-2012 08:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for ebwalk  Send Email to ebwalk     
Hi guys, this is a tough crowd to run with! First, my heartfelt apologies for misspelling of Ancor.
Next, another apology for not posting a scan of the wiring- great idea which I will save for my next conundrum
In fact, I did solve my own problem and the resultant diagram would look just like yours. I needed to do a little finagling to get a negative wire up to the console to supply the other side of the indicator light on the bilge switch. All functional now and on to the next project which, of course, involves another post. Then on to restore the wood and fiberglass and then I really won't want to sell it. That doesn't seem to be a problem as buyers are not beating down the door. Thanks again for the support.
jimh posted 10-19-2012 10:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
First, you should not worry too much about spelling. I silently correct the spelling of keywords in articles all the time--even in articles written by some of our most esteemed participants.

Second, details of electrical circuitry are very hard to convey by narrative description, and a wiring diagram is almost always necessary in order to convey an idea of wiring.

Third, I don't quite understand how there could be any sort of power distribution at your helm console without the battery negative circuit already being provided there.

Fourth, congratulations on your success; the problem is apparently solved. I hope the resources of the website were useful and helped.

ebwalk posted 10-20-2012 10:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for ebwalk  Send Email to ebwalk     
It may be useful to explain this The only things in my console are the bilge switch and the running light switch. The ignition switch is on the engine controls on the starboard gunwale.
It seems that the running lights are hard wired to negative and only positive conductors are fed to the console. Same with the bilge switch, thus my problem

Yes, the site is extremely helpful...and fun!

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