Jump to content

Hunting down cabin bilge inspection hole/hatch


Featured Posts

Have found some water in the cabin bilge, viewable from an inch wide gap to the left and below the shower pump. The boat is a 1992 Stowe Hill trad stern narrowboat build and no plans available to me. The marina engineer and I don't know where any inspection hatch to gain access to the cabin bilge might be - he's looked around but can't find one. He's drilled a smallish hole and pumped out what he can, but ballast is getting in the way, so can't reach it all. He thinks the water's been there for the full 20 years of the boat's age, but who knows?

 

The whole cabin area has fixed carpets and no obvious access points in wardrobe areas, under sinks etc.

 

Has anyone on here got a similar build of boat that might be able to advise, or can you think of any places where an access hatch might be situated in a 21 year old trad build boat, please?

 

I've contacted the previous owner, who had her for 10 years, but he doesn't know of any inspection holes/hatches on this boat.

 

As you might know, I'm a real novice at this.

 

Thanks one and all!

 

K

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Water in the bilge for 20 years is not good news.

 

Cut small access holes in different places, and determine where the water is/has beeen. Determine state of steel below. You may need to take the floor up if water has been sloshing around for 20 years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmmm....Stowe hill.....not known for practicalities!....I would be looking to make my own hatch...they are nice fit outs at face value but can be lacking behind the scenes so to speak.

 

Sorry cant be if more use

 

Cheers

 

Gareth

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Make an inspection hatch as close to to the bulkhead for the engine room as possible (assuming it is a modern trad with a sperate engine room at the back and no through bilge). Does your boat have a tendency to list in one direction more than another, even if only by a degree or two? If so make sure insopection hatch is on the same side as the list.In theory if you do all this all water should find its way to a point where it can be aqua-vaced or pumped out with minimum hassle. I would want to know what it is about the design of the ballst that is trapping water and stopping it running to the back of the boat.

Edited by JDR
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you looked inside the cupboards/wardrobes/etc?. Ours isn't a Stowe Hill trad it's a Stoke-on-Trent cruiser but it's the same vintage and that's where we found ours, next to the rear bulkhead inside a wardrobe. It wasn't very convenient there because only the top half of the cupboard opened so we cut another one where it was easier to get at.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Chances are very high this is a shower tray or shower pump leak so no need to panic about sinking due to a hull leak.

 

Do you have an automatic bilge pump? How often do you notice it running?

 

This is one of those non-problems that peeps like to worry about. Water in the bilges is only a threat if it remains there for 50 years.

 

Might be an idea to sleep with one hand dangling down though... ;)

 

Hope that helps! (Although I doubt it.)

 

 

MtB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If the water has been there for twenty years, then the boat is not going to sink.

 

The water cannot get out but also more cannot get in.

 

Most likely is a leak somewhere in the boats pipe work or the shower pump has a leak.

 

As for inspection hatch, I expect there isn't one.

 

My boat does not have one but I made one about 4 ft square under the bed, well actually it was to remove some ballast but it does make a good inspection hatch, almost at most rear point of the cabin bilge.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When looked on ours to try to find access to the cabin bilge, the clue was that the base of the wardrobe was screwed in place rather than nailed. Removing that there is a 3in diameter hole through the floor right by the engine bulkhead (modern trad). Through that hole I can see that it is dry and if there was water could pump it out, but my intention (sometime!) is to make that bigger so that if I do need access it is easier.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I can assure you that the water has not been there for twenty years! We have had some sizeable water tank related leaks in the past resulting in a lot of water in the bilge. Any remaining water after pumping has always evaporated

 

I'm with Mike - check your shower tray, drain, pump and pipework

 

The pump outlet pipe is connected to a skin fitting I suppose...

 

Richard

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slightly off topic, we bought one of these battery operated syphon pumps recently for those hard-to-get-at bits of water. Works well.

Was an Aldi Workzone special - so only appeared in the stores that week, but there must be others similar out there.

(No connection with Aldi other than customer)

 

8674192898_81c0a9d008_z.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found that the easiest way to cut an inspection hatch is drill 4 x 10mm holes in a 1 ft square (or whatever shape you want) and then just connect the holes with a jigsaw. Before you drill the holes make sure your inspection hatch isn't going over a floor bearer. A line of screwheads across the floor is a giveaway. If your ballast is close to the underside of the floor you will need a short jigsaw blade or you can snap half an inch off the end of a standard one with a couple of pairs of pliers (but take care!)

 

Put a screwdriver into one of the holes to lever out the piece of floor you've cut out.

 

Then, if your ballast is broken concrete slabs you might need a cold chisel (one with a rubber hand protector is best), a lump hammer and a pair of goggles to break the ballast up so you can get the pieces out of the hole.

 

If your jigsaw can angle the blade, you can cut the hatch at an inward angle which means that you can just rest "the lid" back in the hole, otherwise you'll need to come up with some other cunning plan to keep the lid at floor level.

Edited by blackrose
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not so much an inspection hatch in our case, rather a circular plug, cut out with a 75mm/3" holesaw, with a ring pull attached to pull it out. As the hole is never perfectlly circular the 'plug' bit, turned ever so slightly fits very snugly.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not so much an inspection hatch in our case, rather a circular plug, cut out with a 75mm/3" holesaw, with a ring pull attached to pull it out. As the hole is never perfectlly circular the 'plug' bit, turned ever so slightly fits very snugly.

 

You must have some very strange holes saws. All my hole saws cut a core which IS a perfect circle, usually about 4mm smaller in diameter than the resulting hole. No amount of putting it back in the hole and turning it would make it wedge in position!

 

 

MtB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Easy to put back in position. Take two short length of thin ply or timber (like a ruler) with some blobs No More Nails on one half of it (along the length) Carefully feed through the hole and push up against the under side of the floor, to leave a lip showing when you peer down into the hole. Do the same with the second piece on the other side of the hole. Then the originally cut disc or square will sit on top quite happily. Once the No More Nails is dry, if you want to make it more secure, run a couple of screws through the floor into the wood strips.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You must have some very strange holes saws. All my hole saws cut a core which IS a perfect circle, usually about 4mm smaller in diameter than the resulting hole. No amount of putting it back in the hole and turning it would make it wedge in position!

 

MtB

Ah, the downside of perfection!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you looked inside the cupboards/wardrobes/etc?. Ours isn't a Stowe Hill trad it's a Stoke-on-Trent cruiser but it's the same vintage and that's where we found ours, next to the rear bulkhead inside a wardrobe. It wasn't very convenient there because only the top half of the cupboard opened so we cut another one where it was easier to get at.

I've looked everywhere I can in the whole cabin area - nothing so far. But the calorifier that was put in in 2011 covers up an area in bottom of wardrobe that just might have been the place...

I don't think any of the cupboards, which hold piping on their floor areas, have any inspection access.

It does list a little to port, but all the heaviest stuff is on that side. But evidently that's where I need to cut another hole so I'll ask engineer for help. Cupboards and wardrobe so tight fitted that I can barely get my head in side and floor very deep below so inspection hole will be tricky to make.

Oh dear... :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has anyone tried one of those miniature camera thingies with their own illumination?

Then a tiny hole would suffice. Mostly holes show there is water or not and nothing additionally useful.

Maybe a 1" hole sufficient to get a pump hose in?

What dimensions should these ideally be?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't laugh, but I've bought one of these today:

http://www.lidl-ni.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/SID-DAFD748B-EE5E96D7/lidl_ni_ie/hs.xsl/index_31034.htm

 

Don't ever go into Lidl on Sundays normally, but happened to be passing and it felt like too much of a coincidence that it was there. I'm working extra hours at work this week so that'll pay for it.

I'll let you know whether it's any good. I'm going to try and get another hole made in the cabin floor as close to the rear bulkhead as possible. It's going to be fun trying to prise up the carpet - they must have used "No More Nails" to glue it down, it's so firm!

 

Thanks all!

 

K

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Don't laugh, but I've bought one of these today:

http://www.lidl-ni.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/SID-DAFD748B-EE5E96D7/lidl_ni_ie/hs.xsl/index_31034.htm

...

I'll let you know whether it's any good. ..

K

I have bought something similar from Aldi in the not too distant past, and I made use of the full refund they offer.

The 'problem' is the lighting. It's adequate if the dark space is small, like the inside of a 1" pipe. When I put it down a 3" x 5" Land Rover chassis rail there wasn't enough light to see the walls, unless the lens was resting on the steel wall, when I could see a very small part of that wall. There is also minimal range.

 

Where it does work adequately is where there is some 'natural' light, but you can't get direct line of sight from your eyes.

So, you may well be able to see under the calorifier, especially if you also shine a small torch in that area.

The same applies to seeing that bit further when you have found or cut an inspection hole.

 

HTH

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have bought something similar from Aldi in the not too distant past, and I made use of the full refund they offer.

The 'problem' is the lighting. It's adequate if the dark space is small, like the inside of a 1" pipe. When I put it down a 3" x 5" Land Rover chassis rail there wasn't enough light to see the walls, unless the lens was resting on the steel wall, when I could see a very small part of that wall. There is also minimal range.

 

Where it does work adequately is where there is some 'natural' light, but you can't get direct line of sight from your eyes.

So, you may well be able to see under the calorifier, especially if you also shine a small torch in that area.

The same applies to seeing that bit further when you have found or cut an inspection hole.

 

HTH

 

It's not so much the size of the space but the colour. Anything very dark will simply absorb the light, so unless the light 'hits' something like an obstruction it's always going to be difficult to work out what's where.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.