View Full Version : perplexing one-way problem on Jabsco pumps

06-20-2012, 03:14 PM
First off I haven't been on here in a while. Two kids will do that to your free time I suppose. I had a 95 prostar 190 and upgraded to a 06 X2 a couple of years ago and did one of the first full automatic additional ballast system in the new X2. Two rear bags and a front bow sac using the existing pumps. It's been working great for years. Got about 600 hours on the X2 total (i know, weak, but I ride other's boats a lot.)

Before I go into this puzzling issue, I have been searching the internet, wakeworld and posts on this site for answers and could find nothing even remotely similar. So hopefully this is a worthy post.

My ballast pumps were factory original and over the last two years occasionally one of the pumps would operate in one direction but not the other. Based on speaking with my mechanic if you run it in the direction it works for a minute and then jam the switch in the opposite direction it will work again. I had been doing that when the problem arose and it wasn't a big deal. He said that meant the pump was nearing the end of its life, but it would last a while longer doing that work around.

Over the last couple of months the issue has spread to all of the ballast pumps and it happens every time I take the boat out. I spend 10 minutes trying to get all the pumps to move in the direction i want them to. So I finally decided I would replace all of my pumps.

So I get the new ones in and they work initially but now I am back to all pumps having the same problem. They will operate 1 direction but not the other. Great, it probably wasn't the pumps. So here is all that I tried to determine the source of the problem:

---was I getting the exact same voltage at the connector when i ran it fill or empty. Was I getting enough voltage in general when the pump was on? Yes and yes.
---if i connected the old pumps to another power source (car battery, just touching wires to terminals) do the old pumps work in both directions? yes (great, i just bought three new pumps i dont need.)
---are the pumps upside down? yes (http://www.mastercraft.com/teamtalk/showthread.php?t=35343&highlight=jabsco) however it seems to me that the water getting into the pump due to it being installed upside down would affect it in both directions and mine all work fine in one direction. Plus why would this affect brand new pumps? also the idea that running the pump for 1 minute and jamming it the other way to get it to work would not be consistent with this possible cause. however I may try to flip my kgb pump next weekend and see it it changes since I am struggling to figure this one out. my neighbor thinks running the pump in one direction could clear the leaked water out and then it will run opposite, but I do not think so because it shouldnt run in either direction if there is water in there and also you have to jam the switch into the opposite direction, you cannot just stop and start in the opposite direction after running for 1 minute. but we'll see when i try it.
---do they have green impellors? yes but i dont think that matters. the old ones had green impellors too.
---do timers play a part in this mess? no timers for ballast did not start appearing on mastercrafts until 2007 and my boat is a 2006 (thank goodness)
---is the breaker popped? no and that would be inconsistent with the temporary solution anyway.

So I am now just about out of ideas to try and have come to the mastercraft community for help on fixing this weird issue.

Thanks in advance for anyone that posts any ideas.


And finally speaking of ballast, is the new x-star going to have more than the piddly amount of ballast that MC has included over the years or will it step up to the nautique g23 and go ahead and put in all the ballast start from the factory that we all want? i was advised that one solution to my ballast problem was the buy a new boat.....

06-20-2012, 03:21 PM
I'll take a stab - It must have relays for forward/reverse.

Has to be a glitch in that area.

Bad Grounds can play havoc.

06-20-2012, 04:21 PM
Well would the fact that the connection to the pump gets the proper voltage in forward or reverse rule that out? I mean that fact alone says its a pump issue but I have the same problem with old and new pumps (and they work fine on a car battery) and THAT says its a boat issue. A lot of finger pointing but no smoking gun.

We did consider that the switches at the helm were having issues (do they have relays?) but the fact that the connection get the proper voltage in both directions caused us not to take apart the helm to check out the switches.

(I mean "us" as in me and my neighbor as now I have him sucked into this problem as well.)

06-20-2012, 07:31 PM
Does not appear to me to be ground if it works in one direction and not the other, if old and new work off a direct connection to a battery, sounds like a switch to me as long as there is no relay inbetween.

06-20-2012, 07:51 PM
I know nothing of your specific problem, but can you change the wires on the\a pump switching the forward to reverse and see if you get the opposite problem this will tell you whether it is the pump\s. If it isn't try changing the wires at the switches and this will let you know if it is switches or relays\wiring.

06-20-2012, 08:21 PM
Your system may have check valves, which are intermittently stuck closed, creating a vacuum and not allowing the tanks to fill or empty. Any blockage to the outflow pathway (depending on how you set up your Fly High set up) will prevent normal filling or emptying.

Do the pumps simply not come on when they are not working, or do the pump motors make noise but no water is moving?

06-21-2012, 06:13 AM
They worked fine on the bench - Forward/Reverse.

If the wires on the back of switch are under 14g -
There must be relays near the pumps - Mine isn't here, or I'd look to confirm.

If in fact there are no relays - this is simply wrong -
and over loads the switch load going double the distance.
It could be simply one wire is loose on the switch - over heated the connection.

If the switch can be popped out of panel -
Then see fried contacts /inside - from loose or burnt connector - Ground.
Connect test light to battery source to confirm Hot/Grounds at the switch.

The pumps would need a good power source for the load they are under,
plus the distance from switch.
Can't imagine done w/o a relay switch pack, with 12 -10g suppling the power near the pump.
Somewhat concerning in a vessel to be allowed to be wired w/o relays.
It would prevent high load damaged leads from starting a fire.

With full power/amps, the pumps would perform as made.
Done wrong - it's like a light bulb on dimmer control half dimmed.
Still surprised circuit breaker didn't see the over load before the switch failed - if true.

I reviewed the links you posted - there was mention in there of ground issues as well.

Usual wire management lacks restraint with wire ties.
If it looks like a monkey food fight of spaghetti under the dash,
it easily leads to these issues, where the slightest snag happens.

I'd like to see that view anyway. I can advise from there.
Restoring aircraft - this is a timely process.

I'd still back trace the pair of wires from pump to a box nearby.
If not found - a call to service to confirm where it isn't :).

I don't think check valves apply here,
being the flow has to go both ways in the same port.

Well would the fact that the connection to the pump gets the proper voltage in forward or reverse rule that out? It confirms a hot, but not the ground - depending how the circuit test was connected.
This test also needs to be performed at the switch.

Does not appear to me to be ground if it works in one direction and not the otherThe ground & hot are switched as pairs - so all it takes is one loose/burnt ground at the switch.

06-21-2012, 06:39 AM
Have you done what petermegan said?
If both sets of pumps are doing it, then I'd look at the relays, box under the port back seat. See if it's switching relays corectly.
BTW, you can flip al the pumps on the X2 without even changing any hoses. Rear ones are a little difficult.

06-21-2012, 09:41 AM
@Thrall. How do you flip the pumps? I have heard people running the wires opposite. Black Ground to Red and Red to Black Ground. That way you can flip the pump and it will fill and empty properly according to your switches.

06-21-2012, 11:01 AM
OK so I have not simply changed the wires to determine if the pump still doesnt work in the same direction. Will test that.

I will also check out the relay / breaker box under the rear port seat with the information you all gave. I think all the wires go to that and I have not examine that yet. If not problems are found there I will then proceed to the switches at the helm. I will report back on what I find. Hopefully I report back with the solution.

I do not believe it is the check valves (good thought though) as the pump does not turn on. Check valve issue would be pump is on but not moving water i think.

Thanks to everyone for the advice on what to check. I likely won't have much to report until after next weekend since I have family coming into town and I doubt my wife would be happy if I sat in the boat working on pumps while she entertains her in-laws.

06-21-2012, 02:52 PM
I do not believe it is the check valves (good thought though) as the pump does not turn on. Check valve issue would be pump is on but not moving water i think.


Since all 3 pumps are affected, both directions, and it comes and goes, I vote the ground or power wire to your relay box is loose. All three relays (I believe the 06 has no timers but does have relays) likely run off of a single power wire and ground wire from the battery on/off switch to the relay box. Make sure to check both ends of the power and ground wires to the relays and good luck.

06-22-2012, 11:40 AM
I think the OP said they are only affected in one direction, all 3.
Still, I'd look into the relays. I believe the 06 has 2 relays for each pump. 1 fill, 1 empty.
Not likely, but possible that wires got unplugged at the switches. Had that happen to one wire on mine.
Swap relays around to test if they're bad. Look at all connections.

06-22-2012, 11:51 AM
@Thrall. How do you flip the pumps? I have heard people running the wires opposite. Black Ground to Red and Red to Black Ground. That way you can flip the pump and it will fill and empty properly according to your switches.

WHen you flip the pumps, take the pump head off and rotate it 180 deg. I did not do this, but learned of it later (on TMC here). That will get the correct rotation wrt the switches without cutting wires. Right now mine is fill=empty on the switches because the switches looked like a pain to flip, wires all tightly bundled. I'll spin the pump heads next time I need to tear into the impellers, which by the way if flipped, the rear impellers are harder to access.
The rear pumps can be flipped without doing anything to the hoses, but they need to be mounted lower with only 2 of the screws. WOrks fine since the hoses pretty much hold the pumps in place anyway.

06-22-2012, 12:25 PM
I can't recall what year mc switched from the black plate switches to the silver toggles. If you have the black switches its simple to swap the rotation to match. Pop the switch plate of. Next pop the guts/electrical housing out of the dash and rotate it 90 degrees. Snap it back in, snap the switch plate back on viola. The plates just pop off it may seem like they don't but just pop me off with flat head from the center.

Also you say they work in one direction. What direction is that? The pumps have a safety system on them to prevent burnout. If you suck air for a bit too long the pump will go into a sort of protect mode. Usually if it's a fill problem and the empty works fine it's a check valve issue not sealing to suck air. pretty sure the 06 emptied above the waterline. If not disregard next process. Next time you fill put your hand over the empty line. If you get a suction pulling on you palm it's a bad check valve. Also if it's a fill issue and you are sucking air try filling while under way at around 15 mph or so.

06-22-2012, 02:21 PM
why is it a problem just to switch the wires where the pump is?

06-22-2012, 02:34 PM
In terms of amps / volts the pump actually sees, you might want to start with that first. Voltage going from the battery, through a switch, through smaller wires and to the pump could see a significant drop in voltage.

It makes sense that your pumps would run no problem straight from the battery, there is essentially no voltage drop.

In terms of current needed by the motor when running, the motor does not require too much. However in terms of locked rotor current, the level of amps needed to break the rotor loose (impeller vanes inside the pump housing) can be up to 10 times higher. (thats why your lights dim when your A/C unit starts up)

The motors in these pumps dont have much giddy up in them to help them from a dead stop. Any degradation in the power supply simply will not break the rotor loose (pump vanes) and the pump will remain locked up.

When my factory impellers failed, I went to install new ones and took note of the very small wire running from the ballast switch to the pumps themselves. Think of the wire as a hose. The bigger the wire, the more current that can pass through them.

In terms of the pumps starting in one rotation but not the other, that may be a factor of where the rubber vanes are and in which direction they are pointed. Breaking them loose when they are pointed in the wrong direction requires more starting current.

Good luck with it.

07-07-2012, 05:41 PM

So I found a post that point to the problem being the relays:


and another referenced post that discusses the relays:


When I took off the relay / fuse box and laid it on its side, all pumps worked in both directions. So I am thinking the relays are old and got stuck. They would get stuck again and hitting the relay with a wrench solved the problem. I have ordered new relays from here:


I will put them in and see if that finally solves the problem. Just wanted to update any future folks with the same problem.

odd that the wires to the pump were getting proper voltages yet if they ran was dictated by the relays. I guess I don't understand the purpose of the relays...

07-07-2012, 08:09 PM
That's great is finally solved.

High load devices need relays using full battery power / triggered by small wire & load switches at long distance.
Picture the main battery & switches sitting next to pump.
If switches can handle the load of the pumps - fine.

But that's not the case - switches have very low load ability in that amp range.
They would get hot & melt.
You could use phone cable as the trigger voltage to the relays & relays would have the 10G wire to run the pumps.
Of course - the relay's main power source would also need 10G wire from battery.

Similar to key switch to starter - it can be any distance from starter - it's just the trigger voltage going there.