Pimp my Livewell – Part 1: Livewell Wiring and Controls (words and images by Tracey Mammen)

Almost 2 years ago now, we purchased a boat with tournament fishing in mind, a 1996 Bass Cat. It needed a little bit of work, as is often the case with older boats – especially those that are not designed and built for Australian conditions.  The main areas for concern (you guessed it) were related to wiring.  Slowly but surely, we identified and repaired problem areas, and in the process have learnt a great deal about the boat and what needs to be done in the way of maintenance to avoid issues in the future.

Now confident the boat would be reliable, it was time to target the accessories. Sounders came first, followed finally by a complete overhaul of the livewell system.

Photo 1

I refer to the old well as a “just alive-well”. The aeration system consisted of a single fill pump connected to a Flow-Rite “reverse check valve” that delivered water to the livewells (Port and Starboard) through spray bars – not unlike an icebox with a bilge pump moving water through a puncture hose. This system allowed fresh water to be pumped into the livewells and also allowed the water to be recirculated via a drain connected by a “push / pull cable”. The recirculation pump didn’t work, and the original 16 year-old valve leaked (not bad for a teenager), meaning water would drain from the well and leak. Opening the lids to see fish lying on the bottom of an empty well after a long run was a common sight, meaning I had to factor in at least one stop on any long run to re-fill the well. Drive-through weigh-ins weren’t really an option.  I kept a bucket on board to add water to the well and aerate the system at the weigh in. This was very stressful for both the fish and the angler!

On inspection the problems were clear. Copper wires in the bilge with exposed, corroded connections that were falling apart, faulty corroded switches and leaking hoses…  starting fresh seemed the best option.

Thankfully, we had planned ahead at the time of installing our Lowrance HDS units, and had already laid new 6mm tinned wires to a fused distribution board at the helm. This was the only way to guarantee a clean power source for the accessories.

I replaced the faulty aerator pumps with new ones from Flow-Rite. (*see photos 1 and 2)

Photo 2

We then ran new 4mm wires from all the pumps to the fuse board at the helm. Every connection in the bilge uses self-sealing heat shrink joiners, wrapped in heat shrink tubing. I’m confident that no salt water is ever getting into those connections!(*Photos 3 and 4)

The existing switches were a nightmare, corroded and poorly placed. It was easy to accidently knock a switch on, and this resulted in burned out pumps.   I purchased a new, flush mounted, waterproof switch panel to solve the problem.(* Photos 5, 6 and 7)

Photo 7

I fitted a new Flow-Rite ProTimer ™ switch into the dash. It would’ve been simpler to fit the switch next to the new panel, but I wanted to fill an existing hole in the dash, so with the help of a fantastic tool “The Renovator” (purchased of all places from Big W) I cleared a space behind the dash to allow room enough to fit the switch. Due to space restrictions, without this tool I wouldn’t have been able to fit the switch without removing the dash.  The oscillating blade made light work of the marine ply, and the adjustable head made fitting the tool into the small working space easy. There was no concern about running out of battery as this tool runs from 240V power source. It also accepts blades from other branded tools, so good value in my opinion. It made the job of cutting the hole for the switch panel very simple as well. It’s a very useful tool and well worth the $170.(*Photos 8, 9, 10 and 11)

Photo 11

The ProTimer ™ is easy to install, is weather resistant and helps to conserve battery power. The switch allows the pump to run for 1 minute, and then turns the pump off for the desired interval. I.e. from a 1 to 12-minute delay.  I find that the Flow-Rite venturi aerators are so efficient that I can set the delay at 12-minute intervals without any sign of stress to the fish.

I created a wiring diagram for future reference. I have a laminated copy in the boat, and another in the filing cabinet just in case. I don’t anticipate having to fix anything for a while, so by the time I do, I won’t have to remember – it’s all in the diagram!(Photo 12)

With the switches and wiring completed, I sourced some expert help from Lincoln Johnson at Flow-Rite Controls to determine the best way to aerate the tanks.

Check back soon for Pimp my Livewell Part 2: Flowrite Plumbing

For Tracey, fishing is more than a hobby – it’s a huge part of life. Even though she would love to be on the water everyday, on weekdays you can find Tracey practicing Acupuncture on the Northern Gold Coast.  Ask any family member, friend, or client what makes Tracey tick, and the answer will be unanimous: Fishing!

It’s the adventure and discovery that goes along with catching fish that excites Tracey.  That sense of adventure that was uncovered at an early age, with many rugged camping trips, 4WDriving, hiking and canoeing with her father in search of highland Trout and wild Bass in the wilderness of North Western NSW.

In recent years Tracey has been involved in the Bream tournament circuit, which has provided the opportunity to hone skills in all aspects of fishing and boating. Most of all Tracey enjoys the ever-evolving challenge that is angler against fish and the environment, learning all the time and loving every cast


4 responses to “Pimp my Livewell – Part 1: Livewell Wiring and Controls (words and images by Tracey Mammen)

  1. Gday Tracey, nice write up! Can I ask we’re u got your flush mount panel from , I have one the same but it’s is due to be replaced and can’t seem to fined one please help.

  2. Great article Tracey, can’t wait to read part two. Scott wants one of those renovators also. Great idea on the electrical chart. Cheers Vic

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