We are re-doing all of the plumbing on the boat. After finishing the major project of the head we wanted to tackle the fresh water system, which would bring the head that much closer to actual completion. The A37 has a larger fresh water tank in the forepeak underneath the v-berth and a smaller tank just aft of the mast under the floor boards in the saloon. Some A37 owners have added other fresh water tanks and systems over the years but our system was pretty much untouched save the addition of some filtration systems. While we would love more water storage we are opting to leave the general set up the same. Two tanks, two filters, two sinks (one in the head, one in the galley), no pressure, no heat, just a hand pump in the galley and a foot pump in the head. This set up is enough for two people and will help us conserve water.
Erin, the master tank cleaner, finished cleaning the interior of the smaller fresh water tank recently and that was good enough for me to install it and get on the plumbing project!
We decided to ditch the idea of running new, expensive hose and instead went with PEX pipe. PEX is high density polyethylene which is an excellent plumbing material, safer for drinking water, chafe resistant, and our favorite: inexpensive! We purchased a 100 foot roll of blue SharBite PEX for only $30 at the local hardware store. We don’t even need 100 feet but I assure you, we will find use for it down the road (I, Ryan and already thinking of rain water catchment systems plumbed into our bimini and so on).
Here is our roll of PEX and the larger of the fresh water tanks up in the forepeak. Our first task was to run the tubing from here back to the smaller tank where all the connections and filters will be. The PEX is semi rigid which makes it a breeze to push through the bilge and in inaccessible areas.
We replaced the fittings and got rid of all the other hose going up to the deck fill and vent, that will also be replaced. SharkBite makes cool “push fittings” that you just push the pipe into for a water and air tight seal. We use these fittings all over the place at work so I (Ryan) am not only familiar with them, but I know they are truly air and water tight, I trust them through years of maintenance free experience on industrial level applications.
Here you can see how easy it is to push through the bilge. We started under the sink in the head and just pushed it through. It’s bound to pop out somewhere and when it did, we routed it through the desired cut out to where the tank will be.
Same concept here but we cheated this time. Since we already had a hose and this was a longer run we just clamped the hose to the PEX and pulled it straight through to the galley!
We still have a lot of cleaning up to do on the outside of the tank but since the inside is clean the hard part is over and we were able to re-install.
Here’s the fun part and the only part that cost much (each of the push fittings are about $8). If you click on the picture and make it big you can see each tube is labeled. Here is how it works: there are two black ball valves (plastic so they cant corrode or seize), each one leads to a tank so you can choose which tank to draw from at any given time. In between the ball valves is a T fitting that leads to a little Jabsco strainer and then leads to a big water purification filter (at the mast base under the floorboard at the top). From the big filter back to another T fitting which then leads to the two respective sinks. Coming off the T fitting you can see two check valves that are also push fittings. These check valves ensure that we do not have to “dry pump” indefinitely to draw water but will always have water when we pump. They also ensure that we aren’t accidentally back washing any contaminates into our tank.
This is all just dry fit for now to test it out and make sure it all fits together but it gives you an idea of what we are going for and how the finished product will perform. We will have a brand new fresh water system in the end for less than $100 with lots of PEX to spare. 🙂