Inexpensive, DIY auto-bailer solutions for small sailing dinghies

Discussion in 'Boat Design' started by laukejas, Aug 9, 2019.

  1. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Location: SF bay

    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    RONSTAN Automatic Bailers | West Marine

    could be done, I recommend 6061 T6 aluminum about 3/16" thick. Its the sweet of being able to take a 90deg bend and even hammer for sharp corner, but still very strong and most importantly very weldable by any local welding shop. Or some JB Weld. Could this be done for cheaper than $140 if you value your time at minimum wage? Unlikely. Will a homemade bailer devalue the boat more than $140 for factory bailer? Certainly, not to mention much greater risk of it going wrong in the worst possible way.

    These are pretty robust and say "can be used as bailer in emergency" but as is seem to have lots of friction and small inlet/outlet restriction. Maybe hog out the nozzles and mount it with bike style "rat-trap" for one footed dual action.Ball Manual Hand Air Pump Inflator for Inflate Bed Basketball Football Soccer | eBay
  2. tlouth7
    Joined: Jun 2013
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    tlouth7 Senior Member

    For my suggestion you will require: two sizes of (e.g. PVC) pipe that are a close fit, a hole saw or forstner bit, a drill, a padsaw, a small piece of sheet plastic, some gloop.

    First you take a short length (~100mm) of the larger tube and a length of the smaller tube (~200mm).Position them concentrically with ~50mm of the small tube sticking out of each end. Drill a few holes through the sides around a circle about halfway up them. Separate the tubes.

    Now drill a hole in the bottom of your boat to match the OD of the larger tube. Seal up the edges of the hole using your preferred method. Glue the tube into the hole such that the small drain holes are as close as possible to the interior surface of the hull. Cut the tube flush to the exterior of the hull. You now have a plughole in the bottom of your boat.

    Take the smaller tube and glue the scrap of sheet to one end (you may wish to match the profile of the hull). Trim any excess sheet to match the OD. Drill a pair of holes in opposite sides of the tube, as low down as possible. Slide the smaller tube into the (fixed) larger tube. Position it so that the baseplate is flush with the exterior of the hull, and the two eductor holes face sideways. Drill through the two tubes such that you can fit a retaining pin.

    When you remove the pin and push the inner tube downwards the interior drain holes will line up, and the exterior eductor holes will be in the flow. This should pull water out of the hole. You will probably want to add some feature to stop the inner tube from being pushed out of the bottom of the boat, and to allow you to pull it back up. Grease between the tubes might aid sealing and movement.

    Edit to add: I wouldn't do this on my boat...
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2019
  3. John Perry
    Joined: Nov 2003
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    John Perry Senior Member

    Yes, when I built my sailing dinghy which was first launched in 1978 I made the Elvstrom type bailer myself from stainless steel sheet using basic hand tools. The reason I did that was because there is a sort of trough, an elongated sump if you like, that runs transverse accross the middle of the floor of the boat. The floor of the boat is slightly above the waterline when the boat is not heeled, so the boat is self draining when it is level. However, when heeled under sail, water would collect at one side if the trough were not there to funnel the water down to a self bailer at the bottom of the trough. The trough is about 90mm wide (from memory) and a standard self bailer would not fit in this space so I made my own one. It is slightly different to the one in your picture in that it has a piece of celular rubber (I think came from an old wetsuit) to make a complete seal when it is closed. The piece of rubber has been replaced a few times over the life of the boat. There is a linkage which allows the self bailer to be opened and closed using a small lever in the cockpit.

    The lack of space for the standard product was the only reason I made my own - unless you have time on your hands and really like making things it very rarely makes sense to make something yourself if you have the alternative option of buying one produced in quantity. You may think the Elvestrom bailer is ridiculously expensive - until you actually try making a one-off copy of it yourself!
    Doug Halsey likes this.

  4. Squidly-Diddly
    Joined: Sep 2007
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    Squidly-Diddly Senior Member

    how about a BIG "hydrophilic" sponge or towel AND a Press or Wringer of some sort to almost instantly squeeze 95% of the water out. I'm thinking the Press could hang over the transom and be operated by a lever.

    On one hand its not the most elegant solution, but on the other hand a nice big damp towel will keep everything clean as well as not leave stray little drips or puddles. Million and one uses. Make it about 2' x 4' and when folded it can become a pad, or can be laid down on muddy bank to keep shoes clean, or used as napsack or shade, etc.

    Make the press out of two large squat cans. Bit bigger than #10, one a loose fit inside the other. Dismountable for use as handy spare empty cans, AND emergency bailers.
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