Going to the Well

QuestionI bought a very good condition 1985 Champion Bass Boat. The problem is the livewells don’t work properly. If I let the livewells fill up normally when the boat is off the lift and in the water, they fill somewhat: The front well doesn’t fill up to normal level but the rear does, and then when I put the boat back on the lift I pull the hull plug and water runs out for quite awhile, indicating a leak somewhere in the hull going to the front livewell. I have tried and cannot find any information on the hose routing or pump action anywhere for Champion. I’ve been an auto technician for 45-plus years and would like to find info, but so far have not been successful. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Bill Smith, via the web form

AnswerBaitwell systems are (typically) plumbed to drain overboard. If water is entering your bilge during use of the front baitwell, chances are the problem is located where you suspect — in the supply or drain systems (or both) for the front tank. Possible problems range from bad hoses and loose connections to damaged or broken fittings at the tank, baitwell pump, etc.

The bad news is that the likelihood of finding documentation showing the hose routing on a 30-year-old boat is not good, particularly when the company is no longer around (under that name anyway). Unless you’re extremely lucky, the only way to answer the question about routing will be to access and trace out the system yourself.

The good news is that accessing the bait-tank drain and fill systems for inspection provides you with a great opportunity to swap out the existing hoses. Assuming the hoses are original (which is likely the case), at 30 years they are way past their service life.

Even if the aft baitwell system is working properly, I’d thoroughly inspect it as well, with an eye toward hose replacement if you suspect they are original, regardless of how they appear.

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