Are 6 Volt Bilge Pumps Going The Way Of The Paramylodon?

Save that 6 volt pump - one day it may save you!

Save that 6 volt pump – one day it may save you!

We need to raise our arms in the sky and scream and protest to the eventual extinction of the 6 Volt bilge pump! Thats right, it’s not just obscure animals or prehistoric bugs that are leaving us. It’s bilge pumps of the 6 volt kind. Forget saving the whales, they already have a reality show and Greenpeace..  How do we know this? Well it’s the new Woody Boater Connect section on your right.. Two questions regarding info on 6 volt bilge pumps in a week. Folks, we have a problem.. We are calling it out here. Forget global warming. That will only effect your great grand children. Ingrates, they wont even know who you are.. We are talking NOW.. Rising waters is a good thing for us.. Unless it’s in our bilges.. And even worse in our 6 volt bilges. So here is question of the day. Is there anyone out there that knows anything about 6 volt bilge pumps. There are show boats out there that need your help.. That and folks to cheap to convert to 12 volt. Now next topic, vinyl records and type writers.

39 replies
  1. Cliff
    Cliff says:

    I say bite the bullit Re-do the bottom, a old wood boat has a better chance of surviving than one with a leaky bottom and the “correct” 6v system. I think this is something A.C.B.S. Is going to have to adjust in the future with regards to scoring. Who is the U-boat Comander in the picture and what is the boat?

    • Paul H.
      Paul H. says:

      I have two 6 volt boats and they run and operate just fine. Until recently I had a 6 volt vehicle and had no problems associated with that 6 volt system, either.

      Availability notwithstanding, I do not believe a 6 volt pump is in any way an inherent safety problem. The safety problem is a crappy bottom that requires large or multiple bilge pumps in the first place. I bought one of the last 6 volt pumps for my Gar about 4 years ago. I could not find any last year. Bottom line – if you are worried about safety, start with a good bottom, Alex.

      If a guy is having his boat judged, chances are that the bottom will be in good shape and not really need a bilge pump anyway. It is the messy boats with leaky bottoms that present the problems and the safety risk, and those are unlikely to be judged in the first place.

      I would love to find a supplier of 6 volt pumps and would buy a couple, just to keep them on the shelf as spares for when the need inevitably arises.

      Can a 6 volt pump be rebuilt, as can almost every other electrical component? If so, that solves the problem – partially, at least.

      • Alex
        Alex says:

        Paul, I do worry about safety. Big time. (In fact, I worry about everything.). A new bottom is a big part of safety. But not everything. For instance, our area is full of shoals. And there are unmarked boulders too. And mechanically, sometimes a clamp, an intake, or a stuffing box can fail on a boat. When something — anything — goes wrong, I want a pump that ejects water like a sumbitch. That’s why one of my 25′ Sportsmans, Marion E, has not one but two 12 V high volume bilge pumps. I sometimes have 12-15 people in that boat, most of them kids. It’s nice to know the boat has modern amenities I can call on in an emergency, say when I’m 6 miles en route to Mackinac Island in 200’+ feet of water with 6 miles to go. Last thing I want to rely on is an original style 6 V pump that pees as if if has an enlarged prostate.

        Another thing. I am a strong advocate of ACBS removing any and all demerits for sensible safety features installed on preserved and restored boats. This includes fume detectors, powerful bilge pumps, ignition cut-of lanyards, halon extinguishers, and the like. It’s wrong to penalize people who pour tens of thousands of dollars into their classics AND who make safety equipment Job 1. Likewise, it’s wrong to reward those who choose to omit those items for sentimentality, or to win a prize. When tragedy strikes on a classic boat that lacks basic equipment to make it safer, ACBS will not look good for their policy. Instead, they should award points for discrete, creative installation of such items.

        • Mark Edmonson
          Mark Edmonson says:

          Back in 1990 I was pushing the ACBS Judging standards to remove any demerits from 12v systems and new bottoms either 5200/WEST due to being it is for safety. Along with Blowers. Sorry I had no luck

  2. Troy
    Troy says:

    DARN, Darn, darn!

    Just not enough of us crazy old 6 Volt guys around any longer.

    Yorktown runs great on 6 Volt and the old pump is still working well, but I know some day I will face this issue.

    I would buy a spare pump now if I could find one.

  3. Jim Staib
    Jim Staib says:

    I had someone peek in the windows of Lovett in Ohio. They’re gone. I went to Mayfair in Chicago. They’re gone also. I contacted the 2 major bilge pump compaines in the US and couldn’t get past the secretary. They turned in to major conglomerates. Sent request to India and China. They can do 12, 24, and 36 volt but no 6 volt. I’m at a dead end. will listen to any new ideas.

  4. Phillip JONES
    Phillip JONES says:

    Hey I see a bright side to todays header. IT WASN’T ME UP THERE FLASHING MY CRACK!! :):):)

    I just put on a new bottom and dripless shaft and rudder post. solved that problem. Never want water IN the boat again, as Obama would say PERIOD!!!

  5. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    ACBS needs to wake up to the realities of the 21st century and realize that a boat does not have to be 100% factory original to preserve the heritage.

    If they can accept West System and fiberglassed bottoms, then 12 volt electrical systems, better bilge pumps, and bilge blowers should be a no brainer.

    No one is going to make 6 volt pumps at an affordable price to sell a dozen or so a year.

  6. matt
    matt says:

    The way we did it on Sylvia was to make it “appear” as a 6 volt system. But inside all the componets it was 12 volt. Its also fare that if the boat is a pure balls out show boat.. There should be a way to go extreme on it. And that includes 6 volts.. 5200 bottoms.. etc.. Preservation is preservation.. We all know the endless debate.. In this case, I wonder if there is a way to rebuild them.. And if we are going to go tat far, why not rebuild vintage period ones?

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Can the hobby afford to be so inflexible? If you need a 6 volt pump to compete, the price of the few that are left will escalate fast. In order to have a top placing boat, you must be one of the lucky people already in the hobby who have one, or have enough money to get someone to part with one. The result will be to prevent all but the wealthiest fools from joining the hobby. At least the show side.

      If ACBS wants to grow the hobby and welcome in new owners and the next generation, they are going to have to seriously re-think the way boats are judged at their events. Personally, I think any safety modification that is not visible or otherwise apparent to the passengers in the craft, should never be a deduction. The point is to save the boats and the experience of wood boating. I don’t see how that is harmed by 12 volt pumps and blowers, and I certainly don’t see any benefit in letting a single boat sink or burn because of well know safety deficiencies. A boat lost is a much bigger loss than 1000 boats invisibly modified.

  7. Alex
    Alex says:

    “Best Preserved” might win because of a 6 volt pump. But “Best Decision” goes to the man/woman who doesn’t compromise safety for a trophy.

  8. Dreed
    Dreed says:

    I think I must have bought the last Lovett 6v bilge pump about 4 years ago. I can pee a stream better than it does. I still have the old one, and no it’s not for sale!

    • cutwaterguy
      cutwaterguy says:

      I believe a nos 6volt lovett sold on epay last week or so, 58.00 i think. I wonder if jim got it?

  9. Alex
    Alex says:

    Here’s the best bilge pump ever in my boat HAL. It’s neither 6V or 12V. It’s TexxV. Makes a grumbling noise when it operates.

    • m-fine
      m-fine says:

      Did you read the manual? Those Canadian import pumps can be a bit high maintenance. You need to keep them well lubricated with Tim Horton’s coffee in the morning and Molson or Labatt Blue after about 11 am.

  10. Greg Wallace
    Greg Wallace says:

    The ACBS promotes and encourages use, safety, and preservation. IMHO when these come in conflict they should be accommodated in judging and scoring.

    We need to face the facts that the 6V pump is history. 12 volt pumps are common, relatively cheap, and SAFE. Any accommodations to allow their use should be met with no penalty. If this means 12v conversions so what. Its not like we’re ever going to forget this historical ditty.

    Restoring old pumps and blowers can be risky due to the explosion proof requirement potentially not being met.

    Water gets in the bilge from sources other than leaky bottoms so the argument that a good bottom mitigates the need for a good pump just doesn’t hold water….sorry couldn’t help myself.

  11. Jim Hilton
    Jim Hilton says:

    What about 6v accessories like depth finders? Wiper motor? For that matter what about 6v batteries? Those alone were hard to come by a decade ago.

    Are we over-thinking this? Can’t a 12 volt pump be used on a 6 volt system without burning out? I know the reverse is not true… a 6v unit getting pumped full of 12v juice typically won’t last long. Or are we only talking about aesthetics (and award winning) here? I agree with Alex, safety trumps aesthetics all day long. Regardless of how sound your bottom is, accidents and emergencies happen, and a good bilge pump is paramount to safety. As is a good manual pump for when you find yourself in a leaky boat in the middle of the lake with no working DC.

    Interestingly….I converted to 12v about 15 years ago. Nothing was wrong with the 6v system, but, having a small cruiser I wanted the ability to install some modern accessories like a depth finder, nav plotter, and phone charger. And since my boat is a “wet” boat, I tend to get alot of spray in a chop and could not find ANY 6v wiper motor anywhere, so I bit the bullet and converted. Bilge pump is a modern 12v unit, as is the wiper. Starter and Blower, however, are still the original 6v units running on 12v juice. The starter is only engaged momentarily so it’s not an issue running “hot”, but it sure as heck turns the engine over lickety-split. Yes it turns twice as fast with double the juice. The blower runs 5, 10, or 15 minutes nonstop (depending on how long I’ve been away from the boat) and has yet to fail, or even become lukewarm to the touch, and it’s been 15 years with no sign of trouble. And it turns twice as fast on double the juice as well. Sounds like a shop vac when the switch is on, and evacuates about as much air!

  12. red dog
    red dog says:

    woodyboater, your last comment in the main story about vinyl records. they are starting to make a comeback and whats a typewriter dont you mean a keyboard :- )

  13. Lyman56
    Lyman56 says:

    Why not use a DC 6V To DC 12V 1A 18W Step-Up Converter?

    They are small and easy to install.

    I had a new bottom on a ’46 Resorter, and an old bottom on a ’49 Riviera. My worst bottom was on ’65 Resorter – which should have had the water line painted on the windshield. However you cut it – a new bottom (or a good lapstrake) will save you from hours of embarrassment and visual-migraines. My ’56 Lyman is staying a 6v with the aid of the step-up mentioned above.

  14. Steve
    Steve says:

    99% of the problems associated with 6V systems have to do with bad grounds. Too much resistance to overcome as compared to 12V systems. A 6V system with good parts and good grounds will work “like new”….Just have to find myself a 6V pump!

  15. Mark
    Mark says:

    This needs to be an electrical solution with some sort of 6V to 12V DC to DC converter so the 6 volters out there don’t have to convert their engines and can instead install a device in line with the 12 volt bilge pump.

  16. Chris
    Chris says:

    I was fortunate enough to get a 6v Lovett pump a few years back but as for a 6v blower no such luck. I installed a good quality 12v blower on the 6v system and its been working fine for the past 3 seasons. Turns a bit slower so I leave it on for an extra few minutes before starting. I would imagine same would be true for a bilge pump.

  17. Bob Kays
    Bob Kays says:

    Did late 50’s, 60’s cruisers have a tv as an option? If so, no flat screens, so now we need to find tv tubes for old tvs. Where does it end!

  18. brian t
    brian t says:

    DC to DC converters for commercial applications are available – for example, one that is 2.25″ by 1.75″ by 1/2″, rated at 500W/35A are $100 and these babies are sealed so they would do well in a marine environment. We use them in telecomm systems – and the specs are accepted by the FAA and 911 call centers to be more than adequate – so a boat application is safe.

    Not sure if I would go to the trouble though as if enough of you movers and shakers yell loud enough at the ACBS, the rules would be adjusted to allow for safety over originality – thus making 6V to 12V conversions accepted and preferred.

  19. steve bunda
    steve bunda says:

    I have personal and customer boats with 6 volt original in every way from bottom to top. Also have converted boats to 12 that work out great. The 6 volt pump is a easier and cheaper way to go , vs, a new bottom, or a 12 volt conversion. But supply and demand will set the pace and determine the eventual decision and outcome. Put me on the list for 6 to 12 new or rebuilt 6volt pumps a fair price.

  20. jim g
    jim g says:

    Lovett moved their production to china and then had problems with the quality of the run that came from China. After that they just closed the doors. So if anyone hear goes to China all the Lovett stuff is over there somewhere. If you have a lovett pump it can be rebuilt. If its pumping slow it probably just needs new belts. There a certain size o-ring you can get it from mcmaster carr.

  21. thomas dial
    thomas dial says:

    i got a couple 6v pumps somewhere if i can find them. i believe it came out of this boat.

  22. frank Miklos
    frank Miklos says:

    There is an easy much cheaper way to run 12 v pumps in 6v systems.. you have to add a second 6v battery and another wire in the harness to carry the 12v side … all 6v items are taken from between the two batteries… All the 6v items including charging in the middle… the second battery will even out the voltage between the two… I did not come up with this method but have used it and it works very well no problem with the second battery running down… it back charges… One plus is you can actually run the starter on the 12v side if you want it to spin faster…

    • Lyman56
      Lyman56 says:

      Frank – can you explain the schematics a little more on how to do this? I have a 1-2-All switch in my project boat, but I am a little unclear how to wire them so they both charge, the 6v accessories stay at 6v, and 12v is supplied to the bilge pump etc. Thanks! Are you Miklos from the Century boating site??

  23. John Baas
    John Baas says:

    Well, sir…
    I never dreamed my search for a 6v Lovett pump would generate such debate. First off…I’m not trying to win any awards for originality. The ’55 Correct Craft Atom Skier didn’t come from the factory with the bilge pump. All I want to do is be safe and pump out any water that comes in. I want to do it inexpensively. I don’t have to replace a bottom and don’t want to convert the electrics to 12v. I was told that the 6 to 12v converters can’t handle the amps needed to start and run a 12v pump. I’m thankful to have found a 6v Lovett pump for my boat. Now…where the heck do I get 6v bulbs for my nav lights?!

  24. JFunk
    JFunk says:

    As both an ACBS director and one on the judging committee, I hear your comments/concerns and will bring it up on our next call. Yes, the ACBS is obviously more concerned about safety over scoring points on originality. And, as our watercraft continue to age (and are being used more often), we recognize components/maintenance require continued upgrading…and our club needs to adjust, which we have over time. This is an evolving hobby run by volunteers, so no one swoop of the wand is going to address all issues to everyone’s satisfaction. There remains, I’m sure to no one’s surprise, still a large segment of our hobby that are purists in evey aspect of boat judging…of which I’m not totally opposed. The boat is either original (as it exactely came out of the factory) or it’s not. Thus one of the reasons for Preserved vs Restored in ACBS classifications. Most of the hi-scoring Preserved-class boats are seldom (if ever) used on a regular basis…so safety is not their primary concern. Whereas many of the Restored-class boats are indeed used regularly, encompass many modern technologies (adhesives, engine components, wiring, finishes, construction methods, etc.) and judging take these improvements into scoring. Are improvements/tweaking still needed in our judging system and overall message for responsible classic boating? Yes. I can tell you the ACBS and the Judging Committee labors over this continually. We also want to be cautius not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The comments today are very helpful and all of your notes seriously taken, and will be brought raised. Thank you.

    Jeff Funk
    ACBS International/Vice President
    Judging Committee

Comments are closed.