I’m a newbie fixing up his first boat, a neglected Catalina
27 that I recently purchased. I’ve started in on the head
, and I’ve come to a snag despite an afternoon of working on it. The short version of my question is this: The head
seems to work generally, but it never draws water
into the bowl. Is there any way to troubleshoot/fix the thing without disassembling it or hauling the boat out?
The longer version of the question….
When I set the head to ‘flush’ and push down the piston rod, it moves nice and smoothly with just as much tension as you would expect if it was functional, and I hear the hopeful sound of rushing water
inside the piston, yet no water ever enters the rim no matter how many times I pump the piston. On the ‘up stroke,’ the contents of the bowl empty out nicely. (Thus, when I manually pour water into the bowl, the head works fine.)
When I set the head to ‘dry bowl,’ it empties out nicely.
One possibility is that the ‘water in’ through-hull is plugged, which is possible because there was a shameful jungle on the underside of the hull
when I hauled it for the survey
. At the time, however, the surveyor
said that the through-hulls were fine. Moreover, when I was troubleshooting today, I closed the ‘water in’ seacock and pumped the piston, and it (or its hose) gurgled loudly as though there was air in it and seemed to puff out a little air into the bowl from the rim (which makes me think the hose leading to the rim is not blocked). Since it does not do this when the seacock is open, I suspect that the seacock might actually be drawing in water. (Notably, no matter how much I pump on ‘dry,’ there’s always a little be of water in the bottom.) If so, perhaps the piston is somehow allowing the in-flowing water to simply pass through the piston itself and out through the out-flow pipe?
The head is a ‘Brydon’ and appears to be in generally good shape. The lines appear in good shape, and are not leaking or even really stinking. The simple plumbing
runs to a holding tank
and then overboard
(or, depending on the Y-connecting setting, just overboard). There’s no pump-out line yet. (That’ll be a winter project
.) Despite the neglect, the fittings don’t look that bad.
I slowly pumped through a litre of vinegar. No change.
The lever on the seacock that draws in the water opens fine, but I can’t be certain that it’s not blocked/plugged. (The lever on the seacock that leads overboard
was jammed, but I managed to open it with a delocking spray.) Sadly, the previous two owners had neglected the boat, and the last one never stepped aboard it in a whole year of ownership
(so the effluent that I’ve inherited in the 60% full holding tank
and pipes may actually of 2005 vintage!)
What should I try next?