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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking for input on this head. Ideally I would like to hear from anyone who has one on longevity, how it deals with solids, ease of service etc etc.
I got one with my boat and don't want to install it if it does not work well.
Thanks for any input
 

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IMHO - It's at the bottom end of the spectrum. My boat came with one. It only lasted 28 years, so obviously a POS. :p When it came time to rebuild the pump, which was every couple of years, we decided to upgrade.
 

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If it is brand new... sell it on eBay and buy a Lavac. The Lavacs are about the most problem free of the marine heads. :)
 

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IMHO - It's at the bottom end of the spectrum. My boat came with one. It only lasted 28 years, ...
I dunno, a head that worked for 28 years can hardly be said to be "bottom end of the spectrum," seems to me.

We've got one of these on our 32-year-old Pearson 30. About the time we bought the boat (last year about this time), it quit pumping water in. Thankfully, it still pumps waste out. I researched our options. Within a reasonable budget ("reasonable," for us, does not mean $1000 for a new toilet), I came up with: 1. Replace WC Head Mate with Raritan PHII (manual). 2. Re-build the Head Mate.

From what I've read: The Wilcox Crittenden Head-Mate is a fairly highly-regarded product. I've choose to rebuild. Just haven't gotten around to it, what with everything else going on.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #5
28 years of service does seem pretty good.

How does it deal with um "large deposits"? Does it block easily?

Thanks for the input
 

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I have two of these heads.

The PHII is a better head, in my opinion. That is what Dad has on his boat. However, for the cost and ease of operation, the WC is not bad. It would not be a bad choice.

The build is very straight forward. As a matter of fact, I will be rebuilding it this week. I just ordered the new kit ($75ish dollars/piece). The head lasted about 2.5 years I guess. The gaskets finally appear to have worn out. However, ours likely went out because I use a CL/Teflon In-line head treatment. This is very hard on gaskets. I have no doubt it caused a premature death... but worth it.

Bottom line, it is as fine as any cheap head. There are better. You get what you pay for.

- CD
 

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I was being tongue in cheek. Maybe it says something about the state of the equipment, but the Head-Mate is, I think, the cheapest MSD on the market. I think that is probably the main reason so many manufacturers install it as original equipment. Meanwhile, they CAN last a very long time. Does that make it good? A PS review recommended the Raritan PHII over the Head-Mate, as does Peggy Hall, the self-proclaimed "Head Mistress". Given the functional equivalence of the HM and the PHII, I'm not really sure what recommends one over the other. They are equivalent technologies. I can't fault a decision to stay with the HM. There are all sorts of reasons to pick one head over another, though, from something as simple as seat size/shape to the process of flushing. My crew hates the idea of pumping a head, so electric was the way to go. Different strokes ...
 

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I was being tongue in cheek.
Sorry, that flew right by me :p

... the Head-Mate is, I think, the cheapest MSD on the market.
I think not. I'm pretty sure Jabsco, and perhaps others, make cheaper units.

I think that is probably the main reason so many manufacturers install it as original equipment.
Or maybe because it's "just good enough?"

A PS review recommended the Raritan PHII over the Head-Mate, as does Peggy Hall, the self-proclaimed "Head Mistress".
Yup. But is the PHII enough better than the Head-Mate to justify tossing a perfectly good (other than the pump, in our case) Head-Mate to buy a PHII? When I asked that question here, months ago, the opinion was "No."

Truth be told: From what I've read, pretty much all marine toilets are nasty, undependable things whose only redeeming feature is that sometimes they more-or-less work for a while, if you're lucky.

Jim
 

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I'll cast another vote for rebuilding the HeadMate. Spend that $$ on something more fun. Just get the rebuild kit CD speaks of and spend a few hundred bucks elsewhere.

My 26 year old HM takes care of business no matter how big the job - and believe you me, I've given it some business to take care of.
 

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Sorry, that flew right by me :p

I think not. I'm pretty sure Jabsco, and perhaps others, make cheaper units.

Or maybe because it's "just good enough?"

Yup. But is the PHII enough better than the Head-Mate to justify tossing a perfectly good (other than the pump, in our case) Head-Mate to buy a PHII? When I asked that question here, months ago, the opinion was "No."

Truth be told: From what I've read, pretty much all marine toilets are nasty, undependable things whose only redeeming feature is that sometimes they more-or-less work for a while, if you're lucky.

Jim

Nah, the PHII is a better unit I think - since I use that and a Head Mate every weekend (I prefer to sneak on dad's boat to do my business when he isn't looking!!!). I think the biggest plus is in the handle since it gives you more leverage and makes it easier to use. My oldest son can pumo the PhII much easier than the WC-HM. Dad had to re-lube his phii a little while back, but no rebuild yet. My only negative of the PHII is that it may not be appropriate for all heads since the handle requires room. Other than that, it is great.

All that being said, it is still just a toilet and probably just as likely to fail as any of them. Whatever meets the budget and floats the boat. But I will say that if you can swing a household size versus a marine size, you will be a happier man!!

- CD
 

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This is the truth from a man who knows his Sh**.
All that being said, it is still just a toilet and probably just as likely to fail as any of them. Whatever meets the budget and floats the boat. But I will say that if you can swing a household size versus a marine size, you will be a happier man!!
 

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No blockages for us, even with 2 kids that do not always follow the 4 square rule.

- CD
GBurton,

We had one [WC Headmate] aboard our previous boat and, like CD, had no blockage issues even with multiple kids and plenty of TP going through the system.

When the seals began to leak at about 15 years, I priced the rebuild kit, but I was able to purchase an entire brand new WC HeadMate for only about $10 more. So I swapped old for new.

My advice is use what you've got, and upgrade a few years down the road if you're unhappy. I'm sure you've got plenty of other equipment vying for your wallet!
 

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CP-

That you know about that...and probably have one, is very disturbing. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Aint that the truth :)

GBurton,

We had one [WC Headmate] aboard our previous boat and, like CD, had no blockage issues even with multiple kids and plenty of TP going through the system.

When the seals began to leak at about 15 years, I priced the rebuild kit, but I was able to purchase an entire brand new WC HeadMate for only about $10 more. So I swapped old for new.

My advice is use what you've got, and upgrade a few years down the road if you're unhappy. I'm sure you've got plenty of other equipment vying for your wallet!
 

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Head-Mate Reliability

I installed a Head-Mate in my basement on 12 July 2000 along with my self-invented water feed system to avoid digging up my basement floor to install a waste line for a conventional crapper. My waste line was next to the toilet location which I selected, so I modified the cap on a Y to receive the discharge from the Head-Mate. Thus I pumped waste up about a foot to get into the clean-out Y.

This toilet is still in use once a day or more for solid waste and a dozen or so pumps for liquid waste. I suspect this well exceeds normal marine use unless one lives on his boat year round.

I have occasionally taken the entire toilet apart and cleaned the parts and reused them. The weak link on this crapper is the pump assembly.

1) The black plastic handle broke, so I made one from galvanized pipe.

2) The piston ring is loaded with an o-ring under it and I found that 2 o-rings side by side under the piston ring work better. I have also found that I have had to put layers of tape under the o-rings to shim up the final OD of the piston ring since over time the piston will allow some waste to pass by it.

3) The spring in the fresh water outlet rusted and broke and I replaced that with a spare from the rebuild kit.

4) The black plastic pump handle packing nut was a joke, so I made a brass one with a pipe bushing and threaded the pump housing with a pipe tap. This works good if you know exactly how much to load the stuffing box since the pipe plug packing nut gets tighter as you thread it in now.

5) I found that teflon tape in addition to new pump packing worked good at preventing stuffing box leaks on the pump rod and helped to reduce the amount of pump packing tightening.

6) The wimpy gasket on the fresh water housing was also a joke eventually, so I made one out of an old inner tube and let it stick out over the sides of the housing which worked fine.

7) The fresh water housing cover eventually failed to tighten sufficiently so I made a band clamp to draw it up around the entire housing.

8) I mostly eliminated the problems of drawing in fresh water by installing a check valve in the line which feeds the bowl (keeps backflow minimal) and also a check valve in the line where fresh water enters the pump housing. The internal check valves in the pump housing are poor and don't avoid loss of prime of the pump. The water flows backwards and then it won't draw in new fresh water when pumping. Pumpout always did work.

Even with the check valves, I occasionally have to add water to the bowl to get it to self-prime after it has been pumped dry.

FINAL CONCLUSION: Unless you are resourceful and are willing to figure out ways to fix this crapper, it is a nuisance and Wlcox-Crittenden is unwilling to take any advice regarding improvements. I gave them a detailed story of how they could improve the thing but they didn't even respond.

My original pump housing is now so knackered that I was looking for good deals on a complete pump housing and came across this thread.

Good luck! ([email protected]) if you have a spare pump housing to unload cheap... let me know!
 

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On a boat the salt water adds to the issues. I agree with sailingdog a few posts back - go with a Lavac. Any pump mounted on a toilet will eventually be an issue you have to deal with. The Lavac has an external pump, same as a Whale diaphram bilge pump and it will pump golf balls through it - can't see how you'd ever plug it. Also you can get an electric version also with a diaphram pump. The easiest way to upgrade a Wilcox-Crittenden head is to replace it with a good one. Yes a Lavac is a bit more expensive but over a period of years I think it is probably less expensive and as maintenance free as it gets. By the way, ever cruise Yachtworld and notice a large number of offshore cruisers have Lavac heads but a large number of newer $500.000 boats have Wilcox-Crittenden or similar heads.
 
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