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Help Me Figure Out My Ballast Filling - Possible Problems?

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Hi all, I need some advice, or maybe help, please. :)  I have a 2005 Avalanche. I have owned this boat for about 5 seasons now, but I've never quite understood the ballast system and whether I'm filling it correctly. My confusion is multiplied by the fact that sometimes the bags fill quickly and effortlessly, and other times I simply can't get them to fill at all! 

The boat has a factory hard center tank and two after-market bags, both on the port side (rear locker and under the port-side seat in front of the locker). The center tank has its own pump, and works great - no issues there. The after-market bags work off a separate jabsco ballast puppy. I have attached a diagram of the fill and over-flow lines and the general locations of the valves on the system.

First, I'm wondering if I am even filling it correctly. For example, I'm not sure what I should be doing with all the valves when trying to fill an individual bag. When filling the rear bag, should I close all other valves? Should I close only the fill line valve for the forward bag when I'm trying to fill the rear bag? I'm assuming I want to keep the over-flow valves open so the bag doesn't burst. In the past, I have simply opened the fill line valve for the bag I'm trying to fill, keeping the over-flow valve on that bag open, and closing the fill line valve on the opposite bag. But, for whatever reason, that doesn't always work.

Second, and related, is what am I doing wrong when it doesn't work? Here's the situation I normally encounter: I'll open/close the valves as described above, then turn on the pump. The pump itself is working, it doesn't sound "wrong", except for the fact that there is no water filling the bag. I will fiddle with the valves and the fill lines, shaking them etc., and then something will click (not actually "click") and the pump will start to pump water. I can't really tell what the difference is in the setup or operation between when it works and when it doesn't. Recently, my efforts to shake and fiddle with the lines has been less effective than in the past.

Possible Fixes (?): After a particularly unsuccessful outing, where I could only get part of one bag to fill (and then couldn't get it to empty at all), I took the boat home and checked all the fittings on the valves, the bags, and the pump. There were several that were loose. I doubt they had been tightened since they were installed. So I disconnected all of the lines, cleaned all the valves and fittings, applied new thread tape to the fittings, and then reattached and tightened them all up. This was an effort to create a better "seal" in the system, although I don't even know if that is/was the problem. I haven't been able to get the boat back in the water yet to test, but will hopefully be able to get out next weekend. 

Based on the above, does anyone see any glaring issues? Omissions? Outright thick-headed mistakes? I wondered if maybe the impeller in the pump went bad, but I haven't checked that out yet. 

I appreciate any comments! Thanks! 

Ballast bag diagram.png

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lyonboarder    2

I have an 06 Avalanche with only the center hard tank.  I had the exact same issues getting the tank to fill as you describe.  Pump worked fine, just could not get the system to prime and start filling the tank.  My solution was to remove completely the Orbit sprinkler valve.  Solved my problem.  In your case with multiple tanks, you may need to REPLACE the valve with something better.

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gravity12    82
26 minutes ago, lyonboarder said:

I have an 06 Avalanche with only the center hard tank.  I had the exact same issues getting the tank to fill as you describe.  Pump worked fine, just could not get the system to prime and start filling the tank.  My solution was to remove completely the Orbit sprinkler valve.  Solved my problem.  In your case with multiple tanks, you may need to REPLACE the valve with something better.

And it fills much faster bypassing the sprinkler valve. One of the first things i did to my elite. 

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gravity12    82

I have a 06 elite v. Getting it dialed. Plumbed rear bags and did hydrophase ridesteady. Run about 900 steal and lead. Home made suck gate. This site wont let me post pics. Check out chris butler on facebook or chrisbutlergcp on Instagram. Aren't you in the northwest? 

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vinko    0

check valves are your friend. Make sure that while one bag is trying to fill or empty its not sucking in air. Ive just redone my entire system and forgot to cut in one check valve in the fill line to a starboard bag. Maybe filled at 30% speed, cut in the valve, no air, full pipes!

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06warrior    1

@gravity12 

yeah im in Spokane,I thought you had your boat for sale,then saw it disappear from Craigslist 

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Troy    194

Sounds like you were sucking air. I bet with you redoing the fittings your problem is fixed. 

For valve placement. Turn on the valves for the sac/sacs you are filling.  If you want just the locker sac to fill, open both the fill/empty and overflow valves. When the sac is full, close the overflow valve. You can close the fill/empty valve also, but will have to remember to open it before emptying.  To empty, keep the overflow valve closed and open the fill/empty valve of the sac you want to empty.    The way it looks to me that is how the system should work.

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On 8/26/2018 at 8:16 AM, vinko said:

check valves are your friend. Make sure that while one bag is trying to fill or empty its not sucking in air. Ive just redone my entire system and forgot to cut in one check valve in the fill line to a starboard bag. Maybe filled at 30% speed, cut in the valve, no air, full pipes!

I definitely don't have any check valves in the system. I'll look in to that if I can't get things working well again. Thanks for the idea. 

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On 8/28/2018 at 6:24 AM, Troy said:

Sounds like you were sucking air. I bet with you redoing the fittings your problem is fixed. 

For valve placement. Turn on the valves for the sac/sacs you are filling.  If you want just the locker sac to fill, open both the fill/empty and overflow valves. When the sac is full, close the overflow valve. You can close the fill/empty valve also, but will have to remember to open it before emptying.  To empty, keep the overflow valve closed and open the fill/empty valve of the sac you want to empty.    The way it looks to me that is how the system should work.

I hope its fixed. Trying to get out tomorrow, so hopefully I'll know what the status is. Thanks for the review and advice on my system. 

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So apparently all my tightening did nothing. Couldn't get any of the bags to fill again this weekend. Not a drop! (Center tank still works). 

So I'm back to asking for suggestions or advice. Any chance the pump is bad? I sounds like it its working correctly, but I have no idea if something is wrong inside. Since I can't fill either of my bags, I figure the pump has to be the most logical place to look. 

Also, the more I think about it, the less I understand how a check valve would fit into the system, or enhance it. Any advice or explanation is welcome. 

Thanks!

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Troy    194

any chance the wiring is reversed? Hit pump out and it actually pumps in? Maybe bad impeller?

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Packrat    1

Perhaps the ballast puppy has a bad impeller. Maybe you should try to put a green one in and see if that makes a difference. The impellers do go bad. Also if you have a cordless shop vac you might put it up to the hole where the water would discharge once it is full. 

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On 9/10/2018 at 2:31 PM, Troy said:

any chance the wiring is reversed? Hit pump out and it actually pumps in? Maybe bad impeller?

It worked just fine for the first few years I have owned the boat, so I don't think that could be it. Unless someone played a trick on me....

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23 hours ago, Packrat said:

Perhaps the ballast puppy has a bad impeller. Maybe you should try to put a green one in and see if that makes a difference. The impellers do go bad. Also if you have a cordless shop vac you might put it up to the hole where the water would discharge once it is full. 

Going to give this a try. Seems like the next most logical thing to check/fix. 

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rhino89523    25

If you space turning the pump off it will burn the impeller up. No big deal on the in because you have water running through it and it will just blow out the overflow but when you reverse and pump out if you run it dry you are spinning a rubber impeller up against the housing wall with no coolant. on mine the switch got bumped and I started smelling burnt rubber. Also after a bunch of years those impellers can get brittle and crack.

Edited by rhino89523

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7 hours ago, rhino89523 said:

If you space turning the pump off it will burn the impeller up. No big deal on the in because you have water running through it and it will just blow out the overflow but when you reverse and pump out if you run it dry you are spinning a rubber impeller up against the housing wall with no coolant. on mine the switch got bumped and I started smelling burnt rubber. Also after a bunch of years those impellers can get brittle and crack.

I have left it running for 5 minutes or more while I am trying to get the pump to prime, but no longer than that. I never smelled any burning, although the pump did get pretty warm. 

Based on the age of the boat, and the fact that I've never changed the impeller, I'm guessing the impeller has gone bad. I ordered a new green impeller and will crack the pump to check it out and report back.

Thanks for all the help.

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