The Head and replacement thereof...

Hose Clamps, Seacocks & Thru-hulls, Heads, Holding Tanks and Sanitation

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The Head and replacement thereof...

Postby mattattama » Thu Jan 12, 2017 7:55 am

I admit it, I was lulled into a state of “easy, I can do this” by reading accounts of changing a Raritan PH11 to a Lavac. The Moitessier’s account was written by a self confessed princess watching her man, man-up and get what needed to be done, done. The former Bruadairs did it easy, in a day even, but no mention of removal of the old unit. Was that another day, or another week?
So I had the time, I had the parts and despite the heatwave we are having on Australia’s east coast it was haul out time, get on with it.
Day 1
It was hot 34ºC but caught the morning tide at 7:30 am so I was on the hard and away with the tools by 9:30.
Equipped with gloves and a paper face mask with essence of lemon oil liberally applied. Showtime!.
First to go come down was the anti-siphon loop. By pulling this off the bulkhead any fluid in the top half of the up tube can be run out of the pipe. I should note that the pump on the Raritan had failed, yet again, so running clear water through wasn’t an option although I had cleared as much fluid from the bowl as was possible. Next was the unit itself, had to, as access to everything is blocked by it. I packed underneath with old bed sheets folded thick to catch overflow. Three dinky little stainless nut & bolts and 1 x self tapper (just to add a degree of difficulty to the most inaccessible one under the pump) were a pain to get out but came eventually. Lifted out the whole unit and dropped it into doubled up bin liner with the now soaked wadding and to the dumpster I went attempting to not break the bags and wear it while doing down the ladder. Success.
Drink 1 1/2 litres of water, take off shirt get old towel to wipe off sweat.
From there, removed the upside pipe to the vent loop and worked my way down. Same method pack wadding under joint, block open end with rag, undo hose clamp, heat pipe with heat gun if necessary, release joint. Sounds simple? Yes but I was going until 10 pm. Every joint was difficult but I managed to do them all without spillage to the bilge and get them bagged and to the dumpster. The wadding idea suggested by the workshop manager at the Marina was a good one. Old towels would be better but this worked fine. With the weather I also took breaks after a trip to the dumpster, to have a glass of water with electrolyte, worked well taking time to consider the next move and tidy up tools an keep the access off the boat clear.
So day 1 over, the head and tubing out of the forepeak with the exception of runs to the holding tank.
Tubing I removed this day was not the original but still was so clogged that only operating at a third of it’s original capacity. If you’ve never replaced your tubing and don’t know when it was last changed you should probably think about it. Over the 2 years I’ve owned the boat, I’ve treated with vinegar but it’s obviously had little effect, too far gone. Pipe clamps were in good condition and one of the clues as to which tubing is original and which is not, as in the case of the run from the holding tank to the deck pump-out fitting, are all rusted totally.
As for the Raritan, I hope I never see one again. Even if a beautiful naked woman was to ask me to be the skipper of Tioga all expenses paid I would not fix her Raritan and anyone who says they would, is a fool! I will bear the scars until the end of my seafaring days. I did think about salvaging the pump, cleaning it and passing it on to some poor soul condemned to fix their head on a rapidly and increasingly frequent basis for the rest of their lives but the old plastic is brittle and doomed. Plus I remember the wise words of a more experienced seafarer than myself when I expressed the opinion that I might strip down and recondition the unit rather than replace it. He and his Lady sailing partner looked at each other, then looked hard at me and he said, “What, are you fucking nuts?”
Day 2 The holding tank.
This was never going to be easy. A previous owner had an air conditioning unit installed in the bottom of the locker that’s on top of the holding tank. If the owner insisted on it going there he’s an idiot, the company who installed it there, are idiots either way. So most of the day has been getting this unit out. Fortunately it does come out as a unit. I though this may have been the thinking, unplug, unhook the raw water intake and outlet, three wires, two screws and out it comes and you have access. But no, it won't come out the door. The bloody thing is so heavy, I should have got help and only just managed it on my own after taking up the mattress on the pullman berth. Plus found the floor of the locker has been screwed down, with now rusted out, mild steel wood screws. (Conclusion: they were all idiots.)
I should add none of this was picked up in survey and as a safety issue, it should have been. I figured it out after my first head failure/maintenance with the help of photos from Mick of SV Respite. The air-con should have been installed under the dinette seat. I’ll have to figure that out, or whether to keep it at all, when I’ve finished with the plumbing.
The unit was also Installed without thinking of how you get access to swing a spanner on the locating bolts. A good reason, if you are at all handy to do your own installations, or ask hard questions of the person you are paying to install. I.e., get them to show you how they have made it as easy as possible to reach nuts and bolts and be able to swing a spanner or use a screw driver. For mine, I hate phillips head screws particularly for self tappers. When they freeze they are the worst to get undone.
Anyway got the “King Marine Aire” of Florida (so you know but I bet their business failed long ago) unit out and it’s sitting on the dinette table where it will stay until the plumbing for the head is complete.
Day 3
Started today with getting the floor out of the locker. Doubt this is the original floor. It’s ply and in one pice. Too tight a clearance. Before I put it back in I’ll cut it in half for easy removal. Was screwed in with mild steel self tapers, no doubt from the air-con installer. Drilled them out.
Mistakes like this tend to compound and this is the case here. Previous owner to me had a suite of Raymarine electronics installed, the data cable runs up the mast through this locker. When faced with the unmovable locker floor the techy just drilled a hole an ran the cable through, effectively trapping it in the floor. What should have been done was cut a slot to the edge of the floor panel so the cable can be moved and the panel lifted out but that would have required the serious hours of labour I put in today and yesterday. So faced with this problem I turned to a tool invented by a man who was obviously blessed by God! Yes, the Fein Multimaster, slot cut, floor out!
So now I’m at the holding tank and have to check the condition of the hose barb fitting, doesn’t look good, and breather.
Remembering it hasn't been used in years, should I remove the tank cover? Have you been there? What will I find?
Suggestions from the experienced please?
SV Cygnet HC33 Nº85
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Re: The Head and replacement thereof... Day 4

Postby mattattama » Fri Jan 13, 2017 2:46 am

Looked through the board again last night and read Mike, x of Jolly Swagman’s post about the holding tank he fitted. Was interested in his thinking for the manifold with three hose connections + breather. My guess it was one for deck pump-out, one for the below waterline, manual, holding tank pump-out and one for the off-take from the head.

So the potential for leaks, by doing away with the complexities of switching valves, Y & T joints and all the extra hose breaks, joints and clamps, is reduced significantly and if a leak did occur, it would be easier to trouble shoot and in a place that’s potentially easier to access.

(That Is clever! Wish Mike hadn’t sold JS.)

The only switch valve would be to select overboard, or holding tank, from the head? Is that the way of it Mike?

On the 33T there is just the one 38mm fitting and the breather at the holding tank. I'm considering taking off the top plate off the holding tank (dread) and thinking about the options that will present. As I haven’t settled on the plumbing yet (the Bruadairs had fitted a potential candidate system too). This mod could be the way to go.

And there are some crazy things to the present set-up.

The inlet to the head. The ball valve at the thru hull has failed and will need to be replaced. There are three off takes from this inlet. The head, the air-con and deck wash pump intake. As Mike pointed out in another post the intake is positioned aft of the outlet (that wasn't done by a shipwright). I know he moved his, and I could drill another hole on the other side of the hull from the head outlet, (always reluctant to add more holes,) and use the original for just the deck wash and the air-con (if I refit it).

- The manual pump-out from the holding tank. One pipe from the holding tank to a stainless y junction (not a selector valve) one pipe then goes to a diaphram, manual pump (corroded solid) then to a plastic elbow to the thru hull fitting. I.e., No Ball Valve/Shut-off cock. That's not right is it? There should be a shut off valve at the hull outlet.

If you have time to consider and write something I'd really value your opinion. Especially Mike if he still looks at this!

Kind Regards,
Matt Caine
SV Cynet HC33T Nº85
matteocaine at gmail dot com
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