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Discussion Starter #1
I will start by saying removing an old holding tank that is full and was never emptied by the PO who assured me that it was is not a fun job. Made me go :puke and then :puke and then some more :puke while all the while my dad was :laugher :laugher :laugher at me while trying to manuver a full (at least it was frozen) holding tank. Now that the old head system is out I am left with a choice. What kind of head to use to replace it with? Should I use a macerator or plumb it to add one later. Benefits of an electric head or a manual? Ease of maintanance on electric or manual? I will use a poly tankand have a y valve. I just want to make sure that I dont have a stinky situation in the future. Any input would be apprieciated.

Jeff
 

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Nothing helpful here, but I have a funny story about boat poop. I once bought a boat from a lady with a full porta-potty. It was in great shape but it was full and I didn't need it. I took it off of the boat and as I did, wondering what in the world I was going to do with a full porta-potty, a friend motored by in his skiff. He was sort of a wheeler dealer who would buy & sell anything. I yelled at him and he cruised over so I offered him a nice porta-potty for free. One catch- it was full of his ex-wife's crap!
Yes, he took even more of her crap.
 

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electric heads?

The ladies aboard my boat have asked me to replace my old Jabsco manual pump head. They want an pushbutton electric flush, just like they saw on other (newer, better, more expensive) boats. I defer to their wishes on these things.

I have looked around, and it seems there really isnt a good mid-price choice for an electric head, is there? I've looked at Raritan and Jabsco, and they seem to be made mostly of plastic. I doubt they'll last long.

...Not looking forward to THIS project!
 

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SWW, some guys will just keep coming back for more!

I30B, please allow me to ask a couple questions.

Why did you find it necessary to remove your holding tank? Was it broken in some way? Heads get replaced all the time, but replacing a holding tank is a most unusual undertaking.
 

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I'd replace it with either a Raritan PHC/PHII or a Lavac. Both are pretty bulletproof and a good long-term investment. BTW, the primary difference between a PHC and a PHII is the pump handle. The PHC is designed to be more compact and fit in locations that the PHII will not.

I would plumb the head to dump directly to the holding tank, and then plumb the holding tank pumpout fitting to go to a diverter y-valve, one of which goes to the deck pumpout fitting and the other goes to a manual diaphragm pump and then to the seacock and through hull. If you do this, you can pump the holding tank out whenever you're out past the three-mile limit.

Electric heads, while convenient, aren't a good idea on a small sailboat, especially if it is your only head. If the electrical power or the macerator pump has problems, you're left with no head. On a boat with two heads, I generally recommend one be left as a manual unit, and the other made electric if an electric head is desired.
 

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I'm going to suggest that you look into the AirHead or similar composting toilets. No holding tanks, pumps, valves, through hulls etc. I put one in the after head on my boat and like it so much I just ordered another for the forward head (I know -two heads in a 40 footer is ridiculous, but I didn't design the boat). Anyway, no smell, love the room I got dumping two 20 gal holding tanks and all the 1 1/2 inch hose and all the pumps, "y" valves etc.

Check out their website, you might be surprised, though I'm not sure the female contingent would be enamored of the concept.
 

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We keep a 31 footer on the great lakes. I recently replaced our holding tank and toilet system with a porta-potti. Here on the great lakes we're never allowed to pump overboard...pumpout only.

Under these conditions, and our weekend and occasional longer cruise usage patterns, we've found the porta potti to be vastly superior. Easy to empty at the marina without ever having to wait for a pumpout / or pay for it.

We find it lasts longer than you'd think between emptyings.

Doesn't smell. Just use the recommended porta-potti de-stinker stuff.

Handles solid waste just fine. The toilet on our 2007 sailboat had a bowl exit diameter about the size of a silver dollar. There're a lot of turds that won't fit through that. Do I tell my guests not to crap bigger than that!?!?!

NEVER clogs and repairs are almost non-existant. The whole thing only cost 70 bucks.

I've heard that in a pinch it can be emptied anywhere there's gravity and nobody's looking, but of course I always follow the law.

Emptying isn't messy. Ours has a flip out emptying pipe thing that keeps you out of the line of fire.

We've used the porta for one Michigan season and we're stickin' with it.

Emptying it shouldn't embarrass you...it looks like you're carrying a plastic briefcase to the bathroom....if anybody makes fun of you, tell 'em your carrying the stimulus bill (or its equivalent).
 

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Discussion Starter #8
SWW, some guys will just keep coming back for more!

I30B, please allow me to ask a couple questions.

Why did you find it necessary to remove your holding tank? Was it broken in some way? Heads get replaced all the time, but replacing a holding tank is a most unusual undertaking.
The reason for replacing the holding tank and the rest of the system is that it is 28 years old. I am replacing all other systems I.E. Electrical, water (keeping the original water tank), converting engine to fresh water cooling,adding refridgeration and a compressed natural gas cooking system. I figure it best to replace the system now while I have eveything apart inside the boat. I will also be repainting every nook and cranny when the weather warms up as well as glassin in a couple of bulkheads that has water damage due to leaky ol windows and poor maintenance. This pretty much a complete refit. Future plans may include re enlisting in the Coast Guard and living on the boat in which ever place I would be stationed at. As far as cost goes I work at West Marine part time with my dad so I do get better pricing then the average Joe.

Have people on here had many problems with the Jabsco manual head as far as gaskets pump failures?

Jeff
 

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Jeff,

I would keep it manual on a single head boat so that you do not have to worry about losing your head at a most in-opportune time. I have used and owned a variety of heads. The best head so far is, as Dog suggested, the Raritan PHII. However, it is quite a bit more of a pain to rebuild. LOTS of parts and a bit more daunting. The handle is also a bit more unusual due to its length, but it makes pumping easier. It is a relatively inexpensive head and pretty bullet proof.

If you really want something more comfortable, I would go back with a household size PHII. THat is what pop's has on his Tayana and it really is the nicest manual head I have ever used.

If you want an electric but also to have some "safety", purchase the jabsco head (the entry level one... cannot remember the name). You can also purchase the electric head modification for this head. Pull of the manual piece and save it. The electric conversion fits perfectly in there and is easy to hook up. You will then have what is actually a pretty good working head that even macerates before going to the holding tank (a big plus). Then, if you ever have a failure, you can pull off the electric piece and replace with teh manual pump to get you by.

I have done all of this so this is all first hand.

Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks Brian,

So I have sketched out the possibilities and I believe I am going to use the Rartitan compact II manual head. Less wiring to do have to deal with. And following the the KISS theory will make for easier troubleshooting in the future. The crapper will go straight to tank. From the tank it will go to a Y valve that will go to the manual diaphram pump then to a thruhole valve to overboard. The other section of the y will go to a valve right under the deck discharge then out. I believe the vent comes off of the tank to a vent just under the toe rail.

How does that sound? questions, comments, dirty jokes?

Jeff
 

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Sounds familiar... good plan. :)
Thanks Brian,

So I have sketched out the possibilities and I believe I am going to use the Rartitan compact II manual head. Less wiring to do have to deal with. And following the the KISS theory will make for easier troubleshooting in the future. The crapper will go straight to tank. From the tank it will go to a Y valve that will go to the manual diaphram pump then to a thruhole valve to overboard. The other section of the y will go to a valve right under the deck discharge then out. I believe the vent comes off of the tank to a vent just under the toe rail.

How does that sound? questions, comments, dirty jokes?

Jeff
 

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The Great Lakes guy with porta potty must not spend much time in Canadian waters where such animals are ver boten. I want to explore the North Channel and not have the Mounties on my case.
 

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When I bought my boat it had a Raritan PH-II and it was uncomfortable to use because the handle was opposite the bulkhead; and it was leaky. The leverage was not very good IMHO either. I decided to replace it with a Jabsco and I don't regret it. The hand pump works fine so long as the system does not get clogged. I know the Jabscos are not considered as high quality but they are 1/3 the cost so when it's time to rebuild I will just unbolt it and slap a new one in. I figure if I can get 6 years out of each one I am saving money over dealing with rebuilding the Raritan.
 

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My choice : LaVac

Jeff
Just a couple of month ago I went thru the same dilemma: The need of replacing the holding tank, and while I am at it all hoses and the head. My Island Packet is only 11 years young but had a leaking aluminum holding tank that needed replacement. The Raritan PHII was leaky and small so I didn't want to rebuilt it.

After much investigation I decided on a SEALAND holding tank. Quite expensive but I like the idea of having ALL connections at the top, a "tank saver valve" and an inspection port build in.
For the head I opted for the LaVac, a manual vacuum head, made in England but available here in the US. The head itself is just a bowl with no moving parts. Pumping is done with a manual diaphragm pump I was able to hide nicely behind a bulkhead.
The system is up and running for almost 3 month now and I love it. While I was at it, I built a spacer for the head to rise it by the means of three layers of 3/4" material (2x marine plywood, covered with 1x Starboard).
The whole installation was strait forward, nevertheless the heavy duty construction of my boat (I guess the 10" deep vanity cabinet is designed to be earthquake-proof) made routing the hoses kind of a challenge. But everything is done now and I don't expect any major issues in the future.

I was tempted first by electric toilets but I am glad I went this route.

BTW I didn't route only to the holding tank but ran a second line directly to the V valve at the thruhull. When sailing offshore I don't want to go thru the holding tank but rather directly overboard, but this is a personal opinion. For mostly coastal cruising, going always thru the holding tank might be a viable option.
 

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love my Raritan PH-II high boy (full size seat and the ladies like the full size seat also)
dock neighbor has vacuum system advantage is low water usage & no smell at all
 

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The vacuum flush thing takes up a lot of space. No thanks. I can give you works aroudn for smell if that is your issue.

Also, if your PHII is hard to pump, then it needs a rebuild. Believe me, I know. It is a very easy head to use and almost effortless on the flush.

Regarding the plumbing, I dissagree with Dog on that one. I would put the y valve BEFORE the tank. Make it a short run to overboard. On the other end of the Y, take it to the tank. Put a pump out fitting and a macerator on the back end.

If you get a clog, chances are that it will be in the head hose b/c of the calcium buildup discussed earlier (or in another threqad... I cannot remember). You want an easy, overboard discharge with a Y valve that can be locked in one direction (to the holding tank).

Just my opinions, though. I am honestly curious why you would put the valve anywhere else.

Brian
 

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It all sounds good. If you want to keep it simple, you don't really need a Y-valve after the holding tank, just a Y (or a T). When pumping out the thruhull, you'll have the deck outlet closed. When pumping out the deck, you'll have the thruhull closed. It works fine that way, and since we had a Y-valve fail, we removed that as a possible future failure point.

Re the toilet: We went with the electric Raritan Sea Era for several reasons: The admiral wanted electric convenience. We wanted fresh water (aroma control), and it is important to isolating the fresh water side of the system from the waste side and an electric solenoid does this. Since it has a built-in macerator pump, you have the option of using 1" hose on the outlet. It is much easier to work with and is less expensive. Since the hose is what you end up replacing, I wanted that aspect to be easy. We're a single-head boat, and if it breaks down, we'll revert to our old small boat sailing procedure. We'll deal with it. So far, so good.

FWIW - The household bowl is MUCH more comfortable for some of us.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
So many choices aye aye aye:eek: I am thinking what I get will be through West Marine since that is where I get my discount and will be able to save some bucks. It will be mainly just myself on the boat with the occasional lady friend which might be a different lady every weekend :D So I don't really have an admiral to tell me what I am to put in. Can anyone tell me the difference in maintenance on the raritan vs the jabsco I dont mind spendin the extra hundred bucks right now on the head if its gonna save a few hundered bucks over the years to come. I am not to worried about how tough one is to rebuild either. I have the technical background to fix just about anything. Toubleshooting is part of what I do for a living currently.

Jeff
 
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