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post #1 of 10 Old 04-19-2016 Thread Starter
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New head suggestions, toilet

Last August we purchased a 1990 J37. It has a Raritan PH-2 toilet. Before we launch the boat this spring we want to replace this Raritan with an upgrade. I'm looking for suggestions for a replacement. What do people suggest and why? Looking for "ease of use" (for guests who might not be very experienced with marine heads).
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post #2 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Why do you want to replace? Your head is very highly rated, better that 90% of the others, I believe. So if you want to replace you can do so in kind.

Alternatively, we have a Blakes Lavac which is basically nothing more than a large bilge pump with no moving parts to break. Has worked faithfully for years. It works by creating a seal and a vacuum in the bowl. You simply close the lid and pump 8-10 times. We love it (as much as you can love any toilet).

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post #3 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

Marine heads just don't often work like those ashore, so guests need instructions. I leave laminated instructions on the counter in the head, even though I do show newbs how to properly flush. To a non-sailor, all manual pumps seem odd and the newbie almost never pumps enough clean chase water (ie one gallon min). The electric mascerating heads are closer to shore-like, but still aren't a simple flush to do correctly. You can press the combo button, which adds water and empties the bowl simultaneously. However, it needs to be held for 10-15 seconds after the bowls is clean to properly clear the waste lines, which newbs never do. They see the waste is gone and that's it, even though it's literally sitting in that hose behind the head. I prefer to use the combo button to empty the bowl, then the fill button to literally fill the bowl with clear water, then the flush button to push it through the lines to clear them.

The closest to shore-like is vacu-flush. They work like the head on a airliner, one push, a vacuum is created and then a sudden woosh.... Very expensive heads and you need to find room for the vacuum generator. The sell integrated holding tank with the vacuum generator, or you can use your existing holding tank. The biggest advantage of vacu-flush, is they take a fraction of the water to clear the lines, so your holding tank capacity multiplies.

I would be very leary of having an electric head, if the boat only had one head. When electric bits break (and they do) you need a backup, while you repair. Also, carry a ton of spare parts. I carry spare valves and at least one spare mascerating pump.

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post #4 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

I would have installed a vacu-flush unit if my vessel was larger... instead I installed the Sealand 8100 series electric flush unit last year and we couldn't be any happier. We installed a separate freshwater tank to supply the water instead of using seawater (to keep marine smells out) although it is plumbed to use seawater for emergency use. It is simple and very sanitary compared to the manual pump head used before, elegant to look at (no pipes, pumps, hoses, etc. showing) and our guests have no issues using it, simple hand wave (no touch) to flush the unit. Maintenance is no different than cleaning a unit at home. I used PVC pipe with flex couplings at the head and at the tank to minimize odors emanating from hoses.

Sure you'll find the right unit for your boat... many choices out there.

Last edited by guitarguy56; 04-19-2016 at 02:49 PM.
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post #5 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

In your position I would keep the Raritan and buy a complete pump assembly as a back up. I would also buy a length of sanitation hose long enough to replace all the hose between the head and the seacock.

When it blocks up [ and it will ] you have the spares on board to get back in action with the minimum of hassle.

BTW my boat is from 1978 and I think the two Raritans might be original fit. Anyway they keep chugging along and I am a full time liveaboard.

If you go the replacement route there is a lot to be said for buying Jabsco. They are much cheaper and spares are more readily available. Had one on the previous FT liveaboard and it worked just fine for 7 years with minimal maintenance.

If dealing with guests avoid the vacum Lavac at all costs as they never understand how to use it.

Last edited by TQA; 04-19-2016 at 10:56 AM.
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post #6 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

Originally Posted by Cande View Post
Last August we purchased a 1990 J37. It has a Raritan PH-2 toilet. Before we launch the boat this spring we want to replace this Raritan with an upgrade. I'm looking for suggestions for a replacement. What do people suggest and why? Looking for "ease of use" (for guests who might not be very experienced with marine heads).
Hi Cande,

If you want to stay with a water flushing toilet, the Lavac brand is hard to beat for simplicity.

Our current boat has two heads and came with Lavac toilets. [Same as my last 2 vessels...] Last summer we decided to replace one with a composting head [Nature's Head] for various reasons... That turned out to be a great move for us.

Interestingly [to me...] is so far our guests universally prefer the Nature's Head over the Lavac '...because they don't have to pump it...'

If you want more details about our strategy and decisions, here is our blog post on this topic...

Best wishes finding what is best for you.



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post #7 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

Another vote for simply getting parts and keeping parts on hand for the Raritan. Pretty solid heads. Easy to work on.

I know a lot of people these days seem to buy the $150 Jabsco and just plan to replace every few years.. but we've had two Raritans in two boats and have had pretty good luck, esp with the company still in business and supportive.


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post #8 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

Why not make a video of how to operate the existing head? Place the video on a tablet. Hang the tablet in the head and point it out to the guest.
Tablets are cheaper than a new head.

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post #9 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

Yes, the Raritan PHII is considered the budget gold standard(say best head for under $500. Lavic's are supposed to be great and simple too, but will still need explaining to guests and are expensive. On your lake I would think seriously about a composting head. It would allow you to cap off or get rid of the thru-hulls for the head and make any local inspection quick and simple because there will be no question as there is no discharge possible. An electric head might be a bit easier for guests. There might be a conversion kit for your head to convert to electric.

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post #10 of 10 Old 04-19-2016
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Re: New head suggestions, toilet

Cande, I just finished replacing my Wilcox head with a compact Jabsco which cost $150. Replaced hoses and Nauta holding tank as well. No hard at all. Use a little heat on your sanitary hose if it seems tight. It is smaller yet very "comfy" and will make cleaning the entire head easier. Pumps easy to come by. Good luck!
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