I’m about to use my Hobie livewell in anger in a few days time so I decided to address a couple of minor modifications to make the livewell a little more user friendly. With the livewell full of water and the pump switched off, water will drain back through the Tsunami pump, causing the livewell to eventually empty. This pump would probably requiring priming before further use and if done inadvertently there’s always the potential to lose your supply of live bait.
Hobie are aware of this issue and supply a push on rubber cap that fits over the pump outlet to prevent the backflow of water. This requires the lid to be opened in order to fit or remove the cap, the cap clearly needs to be removed with the pump running.
This is a far from ideal and people have been addressing this problem for sometime. A cheap fix is to place a balloon over the end, with a hole snipped in the end of the balloon. When the pump is switched off the balloon collapses in on itself preventing the backflow of water. The balloon does have a limited life and will eventually perish or split, that said it’s cheap and easy to replace them as required.
Looking around the garage I found a spare non-return valve leftover from my DIY livewell project. It was going to be a simple solution to fit the valve onto the outlet of the pump. The pump is easily and quickly removed by undoing the pump retaining nut on the base of the livewell... this should be hand-tight.
The pump is withdrawn into the livewell, be careful not to lose the circular rubber gasket that sits directly beneath the pump.
The non-return valve fits snugly into a piece of 3/4” plastic pipe.
The pump outlet is threaded and the pipe will not readily fit onto the pump. However, if you first stand the pipe in some HOT water it’ll then have enough flex to slip over the threaded portion of the pump outlet pipe. That’s the non-return valve fitted and jobs don’t get much simpler than that!
The other issue with the Hobie livewell is the intake pipe. With debris in the water there’s a good possibility that the inlet/pump could become clogged, preventing the flow of freshly oxygenated water into the livewell. The opening on the inlet pipe faces forward to initially enable priming of the livewell pump whilst the kayak is underway.
I purchased a stainless steel plughole strainer off Ebay for the bargain price of 50p!.
A piece of this was cut out using snips. With the black plastic piece of the inlet removed from the clear pipe, the piece of the stainless mesh was inserted and suitably shaped using the handle of a wooden kitchen spoon. It’s not the easiest material to work and the end result perhaps wasn’t the neatest!. However, I reached a point where it was acceptable and the mesh was lightly glued into place using Marine Goop.
Leaves, etc, will still be attracted to the inlet, however, there’s now no chance that they’ll be sucked up into the pump causing a potential blockage. If flow does become restricted, shutting the pump off should cause any debris to fall away from the inlet allowing normal service to resume when it’s powered up again.
I may yet add a large drain plug to the livewell, though I’ll wait to see how it performs of a couple of trips. I’ll be using the livewell in a few days time and I’ll post an update as to how both the livewell and these basic modifications perform on the water.