While this is a trip report you could also learn something about pumps......  read on....

The Water Pump Saga


I bought Lady Annya from the brokers at Horning, in Norfolk.  I had been looking around the various yards all weekend, with something in mind.  Diesel, inboard engine and plastic.  I was on the way home, but thought I would call in at this “Gin Palace” purveyor anyway.  I explained what I was looking for and how much I was willing to pay.  The chap said he might have just the thing, it had just come in was looking a little sorry for itself.  Where had she been?  Mud splattered, green and grubby, I had a look and bought her on the spot.  Well, not that I told him at the time.  I waited until next day in the office and called up at 09:05, did not want to seem too eager!  This was the last week in October.  Due to various complications and a forgetful Broker, my first night aboard was spent sleeping in the cockpit on the night of November the fifth.

A couple of trips were put in, largely a case of driving 200 miles to do some serious housework and cleaning.  She was laid up for the winter.  The following season was great, a really new adventure.  I really got to Know the A12 and A140.  She came out of the water that winter and after some minor work the second season was underway.

It was after a trip from Horning to Beccles, a trip of around eleven hours all told, LA’s engine really does not push her through the water like the previous hire cruisers I had become used to. Two hours to cross Breydon, really exciting.  Anyway I, eventually arrived at Beccles Marina and paddled across the cockpit.  A flick of the switch and the  bilge pump sprang to life.

No leaks, once dry, no more water entered.  No rain, where had it come from?

Pottered up to the swimming pool and then Geldston.  A pint and lunch at the Lock Inn and back to Beccles and then the pump starts.  Investigation showed that water was being sprayed from the front of the motor.  A large bronze bit at the top of the front to be precise.  Yes, there was a problem with the pump. 

Now the engine says it is a BMC Vedette, a factory marinised version of the old Austin A series engine. Yes, it is petrol and it drives through an Enfield leg, so I found two out of the three things I was looking for; almost.  Back to the pump.  It was fixed to an iron plate, this holds the dynamo too. It was a Jabsco pump, the impeller seemed to be good, but should the shaft wobble quite so much?


It also squealed when the engine revs rose too high.  I packed the whole thing with grease, reassembled it and tightened the drive belt.  No leak and no squeak either.  So it lasted for a day.  More packing and grease followed.  I placed a sheet of Plasticard as a drip shield to save the water being sprayed over the dynamo and engine area in general and the holiday progressed.  The thing was obviously in need of more maintenance than grease!

On return from holiday a call to Jabsco revealed they probably had the parts, but would need to know the model number.  On the boat, I stripped the pump off and down to its components.  The plate that formed the back of the pump had a hole drilled into it, this fed water into the engine, the pump out put being blocked by a very large bolt, a professional job by BMC.  In fact they had done the drilling with such precision that the only information they had eradicated from the brass top was the model number.

Back to Jabsco, I told them the story and the gent tapped away muchly on his keyboard at his end of the line.   Numbers were exchanged, parts for him and credit card for mine.  Next day a Jiffy bag of small bits arrived.  These I fitted .  The leak was diminished, but still there.  By the end of the season, it was clear that a new pump would be required.

Armed with photographs and a shopping list, well I needed a new cooker too, it was off to London ExCel for The Boatshow.  I met the keytapper from Jabsco and we looked at the photos.  Several others looked at the photos.  A man from another stand came over and looked at the pictures. Definitely a Jabsco type something pump and yes they had supplied lots to BMC and, no they had not done so for about twenty years.

As suggested, I called back after the show and we had a chat about a new pump.  A short chat and exchange of numbers ensued.  Next day the pump arrived.  Bright, shiny and metric.  A different shaft size, all the bolts were different and all in different places.  Oh, and it was smaller too, not much but, enough.

I worked out where it could go, and the new positions for the bits using a sheet of card from Roys of Wroxham’s box store.  I worked out where the pulley centres were and thus where the pump had to go to do this.  More cardboard and a bracket was made.  A trial fit showed where to put it and that it fitted.  I marked the fixing bolt positions, took the thing home and made one up out of steel section.

Come the weekend and fitting.  I drove to Salhouse Broad and then started pulling the pump  and cooling system to bits.  Pipes were fitted, the new fan belt fitted and the engine turned. Water? Not a sign!  Fine, it was sucking.  Hence the somewhat ornate pipe arrangement seen in the photograph.  Still it does mean I can get at the back of the pump with the minimum of fuss.  How to put the water into the engine.  I pulled the guts out of the old pump and fitted some sealing washers in and then soaked myself when I turned on the engine.  That new pump really shifts water. 


Idea.  I took the old pump off, removed my bolt and washers. Drilled a hole through the length of a wine cork (real), jammed this into the bore of the old pump, slipped the bolt through with a washer, either end.  When screwed up tight the whole thing was watertight.

In fact the only difficult part of the project was getting a pulley to fit the pump.  In the end a local model engineering supplier managed to dig out one with a bore that required a little shimming to fit tight.

Any way as luck would having, I was down at Geldeston, village this time.  On the way back to Geldeston Lock for lunch.  I noticed that the engine sounded a tad staccato.  The temperature gauge was up around one hundred degrees  and rising.  A look over the stern and, that’s right, no water.  I moored up and had a look at the weed filter.  Clean.  I loosened various joints in the cooling system and a) soaked myself  and  b) misled myself as the water did not seem to be emerging from the exhaust manifold.  After half an hour, I had cleaned that out.  Probably for the first time in twenty years. No avail.  I put everything back together and still no water.  Another look at the water intake.   A bright sunny day and I could not see the water through the seacock.  A two minute swim removed the lump of reed root blocking the intake.

After all that I managed to reach the Lock Inn with two minutes to spare.

Last Time I looked the pump seemed to be working fine…


Thanks very much Andrew