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Old 08-09-2014, 19:00   #1
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Location: vancouver, canada
Boat: hunter 31
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Blocked head... oh-sh--

Ah, the clogged head. Nothing is more certain in life than the fact that you are not going to enjoy your day, once you tackle that little problem. I once tried inviting sailing friends over for a little wine and cheese, then announcing the necessity of unclogging the head in order to proceed with the party, thus emptying the boat of friends, but not the afformentioned clog. Thus, I donned rubber gloves and (medievel armour) and began the task. The first task, and the ONLY non-offensive one, is locating the probable location. Since I was able to pump seawater directly overboard, but not into the holding tank, The offending obstruction was, by deduction, between the y valve and the holding tank itself. Since there was a small length of flexible tubing connecting the y valve to the 1 1/2 inch tubing leading to the holding tank, I suspected this spot, and began unscrewing the clamps. The irony is that, at the moment when you MOST want to pump water into the system and empty the blackwater before opening the hose, alas, the afformentioned clog makes that task impossible. Suck it up, buttercup, and open the hose.
Decorum prevents me from describing the subsequent circumstances, but suffice to say, if there were a "smiley" doing the dry-heaves, I would certainly include one. What followed, however, was a bit of a surprise, and I wonder if anyone else has seen this. The 3 foot length of 1 1/2 inch hose appeared to have an inner lining, uniformly coating the inside of the hose about 2 or 3 millimeters thick. It was this lining which had cracked, and come loose from the hose wall, and large chunks of it were causing the blockage. After banging on the hose, I was able to empty about a cupful of this stuff, and clean the hose out. It appeared to be a kind of brittle ceramic, and had no smell at all. After pondering this for a minute, I realized it was, in fact, almost certainly "precipitate." A solidification of suspended particles creating a solid mass. The actual composition of the stuff I leave to the imagination, but, other than some solids found in sea-water, there seems little doubt as to the chemical composition of the stuff. I will make it a point to keep pumping the head to make sure all waste makes it into the holding tank, and only seawater remains in the hose. I would also like to make the following point:
To all Marine supply stores, hose clamp manufacturers, and dealers and distributors of same. To all yacht designers, manufacturers, and anyone else the least bit involved with boats:
There is not, nor will there ever be, on this planet, or any other,
a place for hose clamps which use the slotted screw head.
Just so we're clear, the slotted screw head originates from the time when the threads on screws were painstakingly filed into the screw by hand, as was the slot. Since many of these clamps are placed in EXTREMELY hard to reach places, having the bit slip out of the clamp screw 300 times while contorted into an almost unbelievably small space made me wish for the day when I could watch the bastard who put them there get horsewhipped. Use a phillips. Or Roberts, or torx. Anything. Just DO NOT USE A SCREW HEAD INVENTED IN THE 17th CENTURY guaranteed to be difficult, if not impossible to use when there are vastly superior products which cost nothing more!
Gee, what a long post.... gotta go replace the BAND-AID where the screwdriver slipped...

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Old 08-09-2014, 19:11   #2
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Location: Sydney Australia
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Re: Blocked head... oh-sh--

I feel for you, oh how I feel for you.!! Been there done that.

Rob aka Uncle Bob Sydney Australia.

Life is 10% the cards you are dealt, 90% how you play em
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Old 08-09-2014, 19:25   #3
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Re: Blocked head... oh-sh--

The precipitate is a product of seawater and uric acid, and dissolves quite easily in acid such as vinegar (routine maintenance) or muriatic acid (when you haven't done the routine maintenance.

Most slotted head hose clamps also have a hex head which allows you to use a hex driver. Many (not all) are sized the same as a bit in a 4-in-one screwdriver, allowing you to remove the bit and use the rest of the screwdriver to torque the hell out of the hose clamp without fear of damaging your knuckles.
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Old 08-09-2014, 19:35   #4
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Location: Cowichan Bay, BC (Maple Bay Marina)
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Re: Blocked head... oh-sh--

Here's a BAD case of what's inside:

Head Hoses 101 Head Hoses 101: Head Flushing/Hose trouble
Stu Jackson
Catalina 34 #224 (1986) C34IA Secretary
Cowichan Bay, BC, (Maple Bay Marina) SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)
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Old 08-09-2014, 19:38   #5
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Re: Blocked head... oh-sh--

Here's one if it comes through.. Smiley...
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Ken H
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Old 08-09-2014, 20:03   #6
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Re: Blocked head... oh-sh--

Great post! That 'precipitate' is calcium built up when urine and seawater mix. Acid is the cure. distilled white vinegar flushed regularly.

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