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Discussion Starter #1
This is so obvious there has to be a reason why it is not done. So here goes.
Why don't they make a toilet seat cover that seals over the head.
There could even be a fresh air vent near the rim under the seal that is vented overboard.
Would be easy to make and should eliminate 90% of the odors as long as the hoses etc are in good shape.
 

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ancient mariner
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i can't see that helping much. the only time you get a smell from the head is when you are using it. after you flush it there is no smell. i had a bad oder from my system until i rerouted the vent hose to eliminate a low spot & blew it out with compressed air. i also pour in some head deodorant every once in a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Several of the boats I've been on had an odor all the time even after flushing.
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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Not to plug Peggie Hall's book(let) on marine sanitation devices but her book does explain all of the nuances that can make a boat smell sickly. I hate a smelly boat worse then the next person so I bought the book from SBO (sailboatowners.com). I have found that her tips and insights help immensely.
On our own boat whose head is not often used we:
-added a second vent hose from the tank (cross ventilation if you will)
-use only KO from Raritan as the treatment for the holding tank and no harsh chemicals like bleach etc.
-cleaned and painted the bilge that I could reach
-never overfill the tank as the air vent then becomes the likely route for the excess (don't ask how I know this) and may drip in the bilge from any fitting that has been compromised by overfilling or vacuum pressure created from a pump out.

One of the main points in her book(let) is that anaerobic bacteria (no oxygen) will create a stinky sulphurous smell but the bacteria in the KO product with enough oxygen will hardly stink at all as the waste is broken down. Pumping out and flushing the holding tank frequently will also help minimize odors as will cleaning out the bilge the old fashioned way (then paint it). Another major point not to be overlooked is to keep your holding tank vent lines clear of any blockages as any blockage will likely cause the system to fail to be pumped out completely and create a vacuum in a system not designed to be vacuumed out. Clean vent(s) to the tank are key to achieving a clean pump out of the tank.
Covering the top of the head (John, WC, whatever) even with a vented cover is likely to cause unintended consequences as the boat heels on one tack or another. Just because you don't see 'stuff' backing up into the bowl does not mean that you wont smell it. Getting a pressure seal on top of the head that will hold back the 'liquid' is unlikely. Having a properly plumbed head with the right treatment and maintenance in the first place will save you from having to take extraordinary measures.
Peggie Hall's (not Hill) book: Get Rid of Boat Odors
also contains diagrams of the most popular heads sold on the market.

How is your summer going? Care for a sail up at Nyack before the white stuff comes and/or will I see you in November when Bene505 moves his boat from MTK to Glen Cove again?
Hope you are well.
 

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My Catalina 309 head system smelled in the first season, and we thought we were attentive to keeping it clean, etc.

Here in Michigan, we put our boats away every winter, and in the Spring, I could see that I had some kind of a leak at the base of the toilet.

I said to heck with it and eliminated all future maintenance issues and all future smells by replacing the toilet with a Thetford porta potti.

Here on the Great Lakes we can never pump overboard. Pumpouts are the only way to empty the holding tank. We got kind of tired of going to our local marina, where the gas dock is sort of a circus run by imbeciles. Emptying the porta potti is really easy, and we don't have to do it any more often than we had to get the holding tank pumped. Saves LOTS of time and hassle and a little money. We seldom go to the gas dock, as I carry a 5 gal. can to the boat to add diesel fuel.

The porta potti does NOT smell

It's not at all fussy about which brand of chemicals we use. Just pour some in the bottom and forget it.

It hasn't needed any repair...if it did, it would be cheap and simple and we could replace the whole thing for 70 bucks

It looks nice in the head / colors match

It's easier to flush than the regular toilet / easier to explain to guests

Did I mention NO smell?

Our Catalina 309 toilet had a drain/exit about the size of a silver dollar. All it takes is one person who can poop bigger than that and the captain has a nasty chore to do. The porta-potti's "exit" is similar to a home toilet. It would take a gorilla to clog the thing. In that case it would be much easier to unclog than a home toilet.

Emptying is quick, easy, and clean, as they've really done a nice job on the design / you'd think it'd be gross, but the chemicals break down the $%^.

Once a year you can put the entire unit on the dock and give a good blast and cleaning with the hose. Overspray goes on powerboat in next slip.

We haven't found a single negative to the porta-potti.
 

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Frequent pumpouts help.

Siamese says, "We got kind of tired of going to our local marina, where the gas dock is sort of a circus run by imbeciles."

I agree. Luckily, here in western Long Island Sound there's a donation-supported (mostly lobbying) organization called Soundkeeper that runs its own pumpout boats.

We can contact them at Pumpout Request Form and request a Free pumpout at our own mooring. Via e-mail, you leave a description of the boat, its name and location, and usually within a few days it's done for you. 'Course they leave a card suggesting a donation.

Sure beats trekking into the next harbor, only to find out that its sole pump is broken down and awaiting parts...maybe next week.
 

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Good venting, and new hoses will correct your problem. For a quick fix you can wrap the hose in saran wrap. A warm rag over the hose when taken away if it smells you know the problem is the hose. The vent may be plugged with gnats, or spiders living there too.....i2f
 

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Head rebuild

If you have "stuff" appearing in the bowl even after the toilet has been flushed it may be that you need new seals for the head. Rebuild kits are available. Maybe someone who's taken on that dirty job can chime in with comments about how easy or hard it is to do.
 

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Retired and happy
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I said to heck with it and eliminated all future maintenance issues and all future smells by replacing the toilet with a Thetford porta potti.
I came to the same conclusion for a different reason. There was no holding tank on the boat when I bought it and installing one looked like it was going to be a major hassle. The Porta Potti option was simple, clean and looked good. I guess if you are crusing long distances it may be impractical, but for a gunkholer like me, it is absolutely ideal and maintenance-free. Also, there was no plumbing involved, since the tank is small enough to carry to the pump-out or disposal site. :)

Stuart
 

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If you have "stuff" appearing in the bowl even after the toilet has been flushed it may be that you need new seals for the head. Rebuild kits are available. Maybe someone who's taken on that dirty job can chime in with comments about how easy or hard it is to do.
I have 4 heads like that. I'm thinking I'll get the complete pump assembly and not have to break down the pump assembly myself. Of couse, it costs more, but, rebuilding 4 of those is not something I'm looking forward to.

On the other side of the argument, It's probably just the big flappy rubber part at the bottom that's gotten old.

Anyone have insights into rebuilding Jabsco pump assemblies??? While we have all the hatches open it's not so bad, but come fall we'll need some good advice here.

Regards
 

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Tartan 27' owner
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David,
I am sorry to have poo-pooed your idea. It seems as though Bene505 might be the best person to try your idea out with. A simple prototype could be made from a flat sheet of thin rubber or even FRP. It is an interesting idea that would appeal to boat owners who have chronic problems with waste water back flow into the head. Of course, those using porta potties would have no use for such an invention.

Bene,
IIRC your boat's 4 heads each are connected to bladder type holding tanks. IIRC these bladder tanks are mounted higher then the actual heads themselves. I am reasonably sure that your tanks have at least one air vent in them (some have none, which is a recipe for a pretty chitty mess). This plumbing arrangement creates the perfect set up for back flow from the tank to occur, IMHO.
That 'flappy rubber part at the bottom' (aka, joker valve) is designed to allow waste to be pushed through in one direction when pressure from your pump pushes it. It is NOT designed to stop all liquids from percolating back into the head mechanism if there is any back pressure (eg., gravity, heeling of the boat etc).
Perhaps the run of waste pipe to the tanks does not go up high enough to prevent waste from running back down to the joker valve where it will seep back into the head. If the tanks are mounted just below your deck level there will not be enough room to create a high point in the run to prevent back flow.
I just re-read a section of Peggie Hall's book where she discusses bladder holding tanks. She does not have kind words to say about this arrangement especially when it comes to controlling odors. It sounds to me as though you might benefit from David's idea since it may help treat the symptom but not the cause of your head problems.
I have installed a Groco head re-build kit and it is not difficult to do and not as nasty a job as it might seem IF the tank has been pumped out first. I have been meaning to get the rebuild kit for the head on my own boat as well. Some of the re-build kits are kind of pricey for the small amount of parts you actually get. A boat owner I know (Bene 1st 51') told me that he just gets a new manual Jabsco head when problems start arising with the 'older' units instead of trying to fix them. If the service kit costs $50 and a new head costs around $200 then if you install a brand new complete head you may have spent $150 more but everything is brand spanking new for nearly the same amount of time and effort.
A new head will likely pump with more pressure but will not necessarily stop the back flow from your tanks if the plumbing was not done properly in the first place though. Beneteau chose to use the bladder tanks on your boat for the obvious reason that they fit well tucked away behind the liners. You might want to speak to Beneteau to find out how they have handled this problem with other boats like yours.
My best.
 
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