Question about Rule A-Matic Float Switch

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Our engine bilge pump is almost inaccessible but I can just about reach it. Lifting the float switch the pump doesn't work but using a switch at the helm the pump works. Is there something I can do without having to remove the engines to access the pump? I have a Hardy Seawings 305 with Volvo KAD32 engines. I've had it from new in 1998 and never yet had to use the pump.

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Hi, if you can switch on the pump, it's OK. Usually, the pump needs the helm switch on AND the float up. Does the pump not shut off when you push the float down? That would be normal operation, unless the helm switch has both automatic and manual settings.

Posted on Apr 04, 2011

  • 4 more comments 
  • f_cutler Apr 04, 2011

    The helm switch overides the float switch and can work the pump independantly. It's the float switch that's not working the pump when it's in the up or down position. The helm switch is a rocker and presumably sits normally in the "ready" position for automatic use with the float.

  • Jeff Turcotte
    Jeff Turcotte Apr 04, 2011

    OK, and are you saying you cannot access the float switch to replace it? I don't have any data on your boat, but I can't imagine having to pull the engines to access the float switch. What I would do if I could reach the switch is to pull the fuse, cut the wires, install a waterproof connector, and connect a new float switch.

  • f_cutler Apr 04, 2011

    Easier said than done. I was wondering how the switch worked - mercury switch ?? or if there are any known issues with them. The boat's 13 years old and the swwitch has never had to work. can any connections corrode etc?

  • Jeff Turcotte
    Jeff Turcotte Apr 04, 2011

    Unfortunately this company was bought by ITT, and data from older models is scarce. They used to use mercury, but not sure exactly when they stopped. You can access current literature here:

  • f_cutler Apr 04, 2011

    Thanks for your help.

  • william moore
    william moore Dec 13, 2011

    Typically they were a mercury switch. If you can access the back of the switch on the dash, check to see if it has 3 wires. One (the center one) will be the hot side the other two will be #1 for the manual over ride, and #2 for the auto float. Jumper the hot to the wire that does not run the pump and go lift the float. If it will run the pump, replace the dash switch. Seldom were float switches set to run all the time, you had to turn them on with a 3 way pump switch.


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