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Old 07-05-2011, 05:52   #1
KDH
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Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

The forward head on our boat was plumbed straight overboard and has sat unused and locked the entire time we've owned our boat. We thought it might be nice to use the forward head from time to time as we're moving onto the boat in August and since we are also planning a cruise to the Med in 2012 we have been exploring adding a holding tank (we already have a 40 gal for the aft head). I have spent many days researching how to fit a 15 gallon holding tank into a tiny head. The plumbing contractor has suggested putting the holding tank above and behind the toilet. I thought, ok, no problem since most of these new electric toilets will pump up hill in excess of 5 feet and we're only looking at 3 feet or so. Having seen the new SailVac 5200 holding tank I thought that would be perfect....fits the hull, alleviates the waste lift issue, etc. So I phoned Dometic/Sealand and asked for tech support. Apparently they don't have any as they sent me straight to their distributor who insists, that not only can I not put a normal tank in above the toilet but that the SailVac is the only way to do this installation. Here's the catch....after days of trying to get ahold of tech info, templates etc. from my contractor (granted it's a busy time of year) I gave up and called the sales department at the distributor. Hold onto your sundowners- this tank costs $1232.00; the only toilet that will work with it is one of the vacuflushes- in the series we need $427.00 and the assorted other parts around $500 before I pay for the installation (since it cost about $1000 to have some issues on our old boat taken care of I don't see it costing less than that). So, minimum $3000 or so. Not sure the boat need two heads that $$$ much although I was dreaming of segregating the heads by gender. The tank only holds about 20 flushes anyway!

So if anyone would like to chime in about the topic while I go back to the holding tank catalogs and the plumbing texts to confirm this really is possible that would be great. Anyone know of a hull shaped tank besides the SailVac?

Guess it's a really good thing I didn't cut out the liner and cabinetry out when the plumber suggested it although I've spent over 8 hours disassembling the toilet, plumbing, interior liner (it can be put back in) and cabinetry!
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:16   #2
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

Sounds like highway robbery to me. And it's BS that only their system can flush up to a tank.

I'm doing the same project and plan to install the holding tank just over and behind the head so will gravity drain when offshore. Have found a place that will custom build a PE tank for your boat. Company is Duraweld in S Florida. Can find their web site on the net. I'm looking at a 15-20 gallon tank and initial estimate from Duraweld is $300-$400. They will shape the tank to fit your available space and install the fittings as you specify.

Haven't bought mine yet but have called the guy a couple of times and he is very helpful at least as far as the tank construction goes. He has not been able to offer advise as far as the installation, etc.

Read Nigel Calder's book. He has a great section on holding tank design and installation.

PS
Use Trident hose for everything. Keeps the odor down.
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Old 07-05-2011, 07:23   #3
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

KDH, if this is your second loo, why not rip out the existing sea toilet and replace it with one of those chemical caravan/motor home self contained units. Clean, cheap and self contained, plus easy enough to put back the existing sea heads at a later date if you wanted.

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Old 07-05-2011, 07:43   #4
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

i am currently building a fiberglass holding tank into the hull behind the toilet, total capacity is ~ 20 gallons, plywood and copious amount of glass/epoxy construction

cost break down:
fittings (t-hulls glassed on with pvc valves for all tank inlets/exits, inspection plate): $150
wood: $20
epoxy/glass: $150
paint: $20

toilet goes straight to holding tank, the top of which i lower then the old vented loop, so the cheepee manual jabsco toilet will have no problem pumping the waste in...

i have for the time being abondoned my fiberglass drinking water tank plans, in favor of PE due to epoxy leeching concerns and the massive amounts of labor. but for a holding tank, in my opinion, there is no better material then wood/glass and glassing it into the hull... done yourself it is functional and affordable...
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:37   #5
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

I would be extremely wary of an uphill pump because of the physics. Granted, only the contents of the hose could backflow, but if sailing teaches us anything, it is that you really want to work with, and not against, the natural forces around you.

I would also rather have a single bullet-proof installation than two heads. A conflict of interest is solved by a bucket, after all. If one is too delicate for this idea, perhaps one is too delicate for life at sea. My opinion only, of course.

We have a Lavac manual head (robust and easy to fix and provides good bicep exercise!) with a nearby and slight lower 50 gallon holding tank. A Y-diverter will allow pump outs into the sea where permitted, but the 50 gallons should "hold" us for some time at anchor.
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Old 07-05-2011, 08:39   #6
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

Check this supplier out for sizes Ocean Link supplying marine fuel tanks, boat holding tanks and boat gas tanks. They may have something suitable.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:11   #7
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

I wouldn't have that "Sailvac" contraption as a gift! Besides, it's not just a holding tank, it doubles as both the vacuum tank component and a holding tank in a VacuFlush toilet system. Here's a link to it for those who've never seen it SeaLand SailVac Holding Tank System

Your best source for a tank is Ronco Plastics (no relation to the VegoMatic Ronco)...they make TOP quality thick-walled (50% thicker than most) rotomolded waste and water tanks for a VERY reasonable price and have more that 400 shapes/sizes, over 100 of which are non-rectangular, including bow shaped and triangular "hull shaped" wedges....and they install fittings in the sizes and locations specified by the customer when they make the tank. Their catalog is on the web at Ronco Plastics You should be able to find a 15-20 gal tank for under $200.

However, Pete's idea to go with a self-contained system is definitely worth considering, 'cuz if your toilet has been sitting unused for years, it's gonna need at least a rebuild, if not replacement if it's been discontinued. "MSD" portapotties are designed to be permanently installed and are fitted for a vent and pumpout hose. A 5-6 gal model holds 50-60 flushes...you'd need at least a 30 gal tank to hold that many from a manual marine toilet. Check out the Thetford 365 MSD Porta Potti 365 MSD Sells for about $165...you'd only need a little hose and deck pumpout fitting. Or, since it's not your "main" toilet, you COULD just run the discharge line through a macerator or manual diaphragm pump to the thru-hull.

However, I have to disagree with , "but for a holding tank, in my opinion, there is no better material then wood/glass and glassing it into the hull..."

'Cuz once you glass anything that holds waste in, that space can never be used for anything else. FG boats can last forever...it's only been 30 years that boats have been required to hold or treat toilet waste. Who knows what changes 10,20 even 30 years from now may make it desirable to use that space for something else?

"...done yourself it is functional and affordable..."


Not so sure that it is more affordable than a good quality PE tank, even not counting the value of your time.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:21   #8
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

Are you sure you would not prefer to have a nice full sized shower instead of a second head? Heads just ask for work to be done and it's never the fun kind.

Multiple holding tanks is not a good investment since you'll end up filling them both and paying double to pump both. If you are moving aboard you'll want a lot of things but a full sized closet or a full sized shower to me would be better than a second head. Neither would require a holding tank. If you find yourselves with a guest then you can sort out one head easier with a second shower. A second shower adds a full sized wet locker when you both get soaked to the bone and are stuck below.
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Old 07-05-2011, 10:53   #9
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pblais View Post
Are you sure you would not prefer to have a nice full sized shower instead of a second head?
What a great idea! And he could have it both ways. Remove the sink to maximize the shower stall space....an MSD portapotty plumbed only to dump at sea would double as a shower seat... He'd have -0- toilet pump maintenance, no plumbing except the vent and discharge line...I love it! And I'm gonna keep that idea for future recommendations!
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:08   #10
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

OK Peggy then it's all settled

A 42 boat gets too small when you live aboard. Perhaps the portapotty would be good insurance. You would be less likely to fill it knowing it has to be emptied. He could keep a sink since the shower is there too. I would set it up for some storage such as when doing passages. You would find the forward head would be a challange in rough weather and wouldn't want to use it. But it could store a lot of "at anchor" equipment.
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Old 07-05-2011, 11:42   #11
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

KDH, sadly Europe (with the exception of say Holland and Turkey) lags behind the US when it comes to discharge rules and pump out facilities.

Whilst there are lots of nice marinas, you are also likely to find yourself moored stern on in a quaint little harbour that hasn't changed much for the last two millenia. A water hose is all that might be available.

So a MSD would allow you to stay in harbour for several weeks and still empty it by carrying it ashore once a week, rather than having to go to sea just to pump out.

Whilst there are pump out facilities in Southern England, I can't actually say were any of them are. Holland with it's huge inland lakes and canals has taken a lead for obvious reasons and we will follow for sure. However, a lack of demand means a lack of shore side infrastructure, which means owners aren't rushing to fit or use, so no demand.

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Old 07-05-2011, 13:03   #12
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

I am just completing a total rebuild of my amidships bathroom on our Down East 45. I removed the manual Raritan PHII toilet and installed a Raritan Elegance electric full size seat, plumbed into their Purasan waste treatment system. I did a lot of homework and inquiries then decided, since we are moored in the Intercoastal waterway in Florida, the chlorine process of the Purasan would be best—and it’s legal.
The head itself is fabulous, having a water in, water out, and total flush options at the press of a button, everything just vanishes…..and getting rid of the holding tank appeals to myself and my wife, for both squeamish and pump out reasons. The toilet makes less noise than a household loo and you can’t hear the Purasan because its under the floorboards.
Mind you, it’s not a cheap setup, (total about $2,300 from Defender), but it certainly can be a compact installation compared with a whopping great holding tank somewhere. Battery power consumption is something to consider however, but not for me, since we have a very large battery bank and a big generator.
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Old 07-05-2011, 16:49   #13
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

I did not know the details about the Thetford portapotties.

The first repair on my July 2010 boat purchase was to the waste system. I spent about $150US on a new y valve and hoses, etc. Works fine but I was disappointed to learn how fast the 13 gallon holding tank would fill.

Now I learn the 365 model Thetford is good for ~50 flushes and can be pumped out. I thought they had to be manually removed and emptied. I had now idea they lasted so long between pump-outs or how relatively inexpensive they are either.

I think I should have pulled all my system out and bought a Thetford instead.

Everything has downside, so what's the negative side of a porta potty setup?
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Old 07-05-2011, 18:04   #14
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

KDH-
I'm not familiar with your boat, but is there enough headroom (no pun intended!) in the head, so that you could put the holding tank literally on the floor, and put the head immediately above it?
Several of the tnak companies will fabricate semi-custom tanks, or a local welding shop may be able to fab one, if nothing stock matches and you aren't DIYing fiberglass work.
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Old 07-05-2011, 18:27   #15
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Re: Cost of Holding Tank Retrofit

Quote:
what's the negative side of a porta potty setup?
There is never an up side to hauling poop in your boat. Hauling more of it never really pays off. The down side usually ends up on you. Pumping is better than carrying but eventually the hosess get replaced and the dividends compound. It all pays forward. The portapotty never gets that full and it has a low infrastructure investment. You do have to manually dump it and you can get better at doing it. Not being good at it has it's own negative reinforcement mechanism. You'll get good quickly.

Nothing beats opening the pump out deck fitting from the holding tank only to discover the vent was clogged. The fountain effect is better observed from a great distance on someone else's boat. The big holding tanks always make the best show. The "could be me idea" should go through your mind.

For rectangular tanks you can order on line with specs for size and inlets and outlet locations delivered for exceptionally low prices. Thinking bigger tank is a wrong mode of thinking.

Minimize waste and only haul as little as possible. You can be responsible about the whole thing but thinking a bigger holding tank usually is not a plus. A clogged vent make it go anaerobic and then you get the really nasty stuff. Aerobic oxidation is called composting and does not smell nowhere near as foul. It won't entice you to have a bigger tank but t it is tolerable and manageable. For poop that would be as good as it can ever get. The best it can be is not fashionable.
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