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Tundra Down
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The "Popular" model Lavac marine toilet looks like a winner. Does anyone have any experience with it?

George
 

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I've used one a fair bit and think it's a great unit. It was very reliable and simple to use. But pricey.

Another Sailnet member, Valiente, has somewhat recently installed one on his boat. Hopefully he'll chime in.

The only downside I remember with that toilet was that in extremely heavy weather, it was not really possible to use it. Because you have to first close the lid and then pump up the suction before it flushes, you couldn't keep the bowl pumped dry while using it. If you've ever been in a serious seaway, then you understand how this could be a problem.;)
 

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I have a Lavac Popular and they are the best marine heads I've used. Virtually plug proof. The previously mentioned downside doesn't exist. The head comes with two different sized air bleed plugs, one of which is installed at the top of the intake loop. The size of the hole determines the amount of water left in the bowl - the larger one leaves less water. To completely clear the bowl just open the lid and pump a stroke or two.
Brian
 

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... The previously mentioned downside doesn't exist. ...
I was referring to clearing the bowl while using it.

Maybe the installation and size of the bowl has changed since the one I used extensively 20+ years ago. But the unit I used had a warning not to pump while seated on the toilet due to risk of creating a potentially dangerous vacuum beneath one's posterior.
 

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Gentlemen not only sit, but they luff to pump! Seriously, nature calls, but I don't like my "anatomy" soaked by porcelain whitecaps, and so I will make every attempt to ease the boat's motion for both the execution and remediation phases of head use.

And mitiempo is correct: you can vary significantly the amount of "ambient water" in the bowl.

I didn't install the Lavac...it came with the boat, and its presence led to my wife's decision to approve our joint purchase of it.

Not only is it a sturdy and sensible way to move byproducts, it's the only toilet that can be used as a powerful manual bilge pump via a simple diverter valve. Not that I ever want to do this, but it's an added element in the waste-disposal equation.

While the "not cheap" claim is true, heads are an ongoing bane of cruisers, and the price difference is worth me avoiding the rebuildings and uncloggings that seemingly plague lesser heads. The point of my habit of rarely buying retail is to save enough money to pay for things that cost more because they are better: No cheap sextants, no cheap windvanes, no cheap heads. DVD players, coffee mugs and paperbacks? Craigslist!
 

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I guess you should stand up before you pump...
Brian
:D :D :D

True enough, but as Val points out, and I mentioned in my first post, there are rare times when the seastate is such that you want to keep the bowl level as low as possible while still seated.... Not really an issue for most coastal sailors who will be ensconced in safe harbour each night.

This is admittedly a minor quibble and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a Lavac. It's a nice piece of hardware.


Val,

I knew you had one but for some reason thought you'd installed it yourself -- must have been someone else.

My experience with the Lavac only runs to several hundreds of flushes. But while I was aboard I can recall only a single instances where the unit plugged up (and that was due to our failure to properly brief some young Dutch gals about what can and cannot be put into a marine head.:eek: )
 

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I put one in my Pearson 33 and found two negatives (one is just the way it is and the other could have been the quality of the install, my install). The Admiral didn't like that one had to wait to open it after use. Something about making sure everything went down. The second is we sometimes found some backflow which I called "the brown smoothie" back in the bowl. Bottom line, this unit was not popular with the Admiral, again, it could have been the quality of my work but I even checked with the distributor and could find no flaw in my work, just the results.

Hope this helps.
 

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They are very good heads, in that they hardly ever get clogged. The only drawback I found was that the gaskets on the bottom of the lid and bottom of the seat got very smelly quickly, from liquid waste being splashed up on them when flushing. It was very difficult to keep them from smelling, and an unpleasant job of removing them for cleaning. My 2 cents
Brian
 

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If you are fastidious in the cleaning aspect and keep the water level low, this is largely avoidable.

I have found just about every other unit crappy (pun intended) by comparison, even the supposedly good ones like the Raritan PHIII. The Jabsco/Groco/Par models are cheap and throwaway, not what I'm looking for at all. I have an old Brydon/ITT head on my older boat and I rebuilt that now-discountinued model by salvaging a pump from a chucked out one and making my own gaskets, but it's about ready for the scrap heap. Ah, for the simplicity of a hole in a plank over a roaring sea!

I hear good things about the Wilcox-Crittenden head, but I've never seen one installed. The blow-up drawings, however, instill confidence.
 

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Its important to understand how the Lavac works...

Note: Sorry about the repetition, for some reason I totally missed post #3.


The pump pushes out the sewage. The vacuum then created by the pump and the lid seal, pulls in sea water. The "Air Bleed plug" (the little thing in the plastic bag that normally get dumped with the packing (you get two)) is the device that dictates the level of water in the bowl. The larger the hole in the plug the quicker the vacuum is filled and the suction stops. This plug occasionally "plugs up" and a pin is needed to clear it. High water level and vigorous pumping may cause splashing of the contents. I have never found this, but its possible. Keep the water level lowish and pump slowly. When alongside or when fresh water is readily available I pre-fill the bowl and rinse with the fresh water shower hose. This reduces water level in the holding tank seems to reduce calcium build up in the hose. Hope this makes sense.
 

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I'm confused about my esteemed Mod Squaders problem. The problem of the bowl's contents getting out of control when caught in a seaway is surely no more of a concern with a Lavac than anything else.
Standing water can be pumped out before use, then if necessary (you are eating too much spicey food Pollard) you can give a quick pump mid op.
Why is that any different with a Lavac than anything else ? Or am I missing something.

The Womboat has a Lavac and the very first thing I would do to a new boat would be to throw out whatever is there and replace with Lavac. Wonderful things and they are damn near fool proof. Maintenance is simple and easy, indeed if you don't mind wasting a few bucks simply fitting a new pump and new (you beaut, nil odour, ) hoses every five years or so the Lavac has as perfect a maintenance system as I have ever come across. Pump through a bit of vinegar before your leave the boat and its zero odour time.

As to the cost. Good heavens.....anyone who has ever had to dismantle and unblock a common marine head would never object to spending the extra couple of hundred bucks for a Lavac.

ps - isn't there an American head that works on a similar principal ?

pps - ref replacing the pump...when I went to buy a rebuild kit for our Lavac in Australia the difference between the cost of a kit and a new pump was so small that it just made sense to get a complete new pump. Wasteful, yes but I'm sorry, there are some jobs I will avoid whenever I can and sewrage engineer is one of them.
 

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I agree with tdw, but if you must pump midway, stand up first. You don't want to pump while sitting as if you complete the seal.....
Brian
 

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Yikes! Lavac

Unfortunately guest crew have a hard time figuring these bad boys out. I can attest that under the right conditions they can even be a safety hazard to the unwary. Personal bad experience occurred during a particularly rough offshore race 8 years ago. Midship head was not working due to a crew error so I had the urgent need to use the forward Lavac. Unfortunately the 55 footer I was crewing on hadn't been totally finished so there was nothing to hold on to and the evil Lavac was sitting out in the open. My digestive system was working overtime from the previous night's dinner and festivities. Just as I was finishing my business I was launched as the boat crashed off a rather large wave. As luck would have it I landed partially on the evil Lavac just as that nice sharp vacuum lid came down clipping me in a rather tender place. You know, you bleed a lot when cut there. After recovering from the shock of a near castration I found a towel to soak up the blood. It looked a lot worse than it was but the crew started blowing lunch as I returned to cockpit and pulled the bloody towel out of my sweatpants.
Lessons learned
1. Never get on a toilet in a seaway without being strapped in or secured
2. Never use the forward head.
3. Never trust your family jewels getting near any piece of equipment that has a French sounding name
 

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Just installed one on my boat last winter ...

Going through the motions with a failing Aluminum holding tank,a head that needed rebuilt at the pump and a "broken" macerator pump, I looked at the whole picture and decided to take on an complete overhaul of the whole system.

The question was which toilet to use for the refit. After looking at all the options (from electric vacuflush to a simple $100 head) I replaced my old Raritan II with the LaVac and never looked back. Installation is straight forward and I love the fact, that there is only one moving part : the rubber membrane of the manual pump.

The LaVac can be pumped almost empty (just don't close the lid while pumping to avoid to suck in water) and depending where the pump is mounted, that could be done even while using the head (just make sure to lift your behind just a little bit to avoid creating a vacuum ....)

No bad experiences yet including a relocation from Florida to the Chesapeake with a straight run offshore between Stuart, FL and Beaufort, NC.

While I was on it I also lifted up the head by installing a 2.25" high raiser (2 layers of 3/4" marine plywood covered by 3/4" Starboard to make the head more comfortable for a big and tall guy like myself.

While the whole process took much longer than I hoped, the install of the LaVac was the easiest part. Cutting an acceshole into the bulkhead of the saloon, to be able to mount the pump "invisible" in the space of the former toilet paper holder in my vanity cabinet, proofed to become quite a project. But the opening is covered by a nice little removable bookshelf unit and if the pump would need service I have excellent access from the salon side.

Every boat owner I 've met who has a LaVac likes it very much and would not consider replacing with a different one.

Seriously consider to simplify your plumbing by having one less item to worry about.

If the link below works you should be able to see some pics of my overhaul.

Pictures by volkhard - Photobucket

Good luck with your project.
 

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So you sit down on a head, up front, in rough weather with no hand holds around then get your wiener caught in the lid and its the Lavac's fault, largely because the thing has a French sounding name ??

Sheesh.......



Unfortunately guest crew have a hard time figuring these bad boys out. I can attest that under the right conditions they can even be a safety hazard to the unwary. Personal bad experience occurred during a particularly rough offshore race 8 years ago. Midship head was not working due to a crew error so I had the urgent need to use the forward Lavac. Unfortunately the 55 footer I was crewing on hadn't been totally finished so there was nothing to hold on to and the evil Lavac was sitting out in the open. My digestive system was working overtime from the previous night's dinner and festivities. Just as I was finishing my business I was launched as the boat crashed off a rather large wave. As luck would have it I landed partially on the evil Lavac just as that nice sharp vacuum lid came down clipping me in a rather tender place. You know, you bleed a lot when cut there. After recovering from the shock of a near castration I found a towel to soak up the blood. It looked a lot worse than it was but the crew started blowing lunch as I returned to cockpit and pulled the bloody towel out of my sweatpants.
Lessons learned
1. Never get on a toilet in a seaway without being strapped in or secured
2. Never use the forward head.
3. Never trust your family jewels getting near any piece of equipment that has a French sounding name
 

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TDW- anybody ever tell you that you have the sense of humor of a stone? It was meant to be funny and yes it did happen although it was a more round part of the anatomy.
 
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