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Old 04-04-2018, 19:17   #1
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How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Howdy folks,

So were coming up on our first full year of cruising. I rebuilt our primary head (Raritan PHii) when we started and we just developed a slow leak at the joker exhaust outlet (joker valve) fitting. Slow drip onto the sole. Planning to swap the joker valve and possibly whole pump assembly since we have a spare. But Im curious, how often should I expect to deal with this, is this an annual maintenance issue for two people living aboard full time? Or am I just super lucky?

To the best of my knowledge the pump assembly is 18 years old, so will probably just swap it out with the (new) spare pump and rebuild to have one ready to go. But if not, is it dumb to just swap joker valve and not to a complete pump rebuild?

Curious to hear from folks who have been doing this longer.

Thanks,
Erin
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Old 04-04-2018, 19:22   #2
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Jabsco head, I only get about a year out of new pump assy.
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Old 04-04-2018, 19:38   #3
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Is the leak from the seal where the joker valve butts up to the pump assembly?

This shouldn't "wear" at all and should never really leak unless the flange was over-tightened and it has deformed or there is an extreme amount of mineral build-up and it needs to be cleaned out . If build-up isn't the case then it could possibly leak at the bottom because there is too much tension at the two sides where the bolts are and after the plastic discharge flange is bent like a banana and the middle is loose once the plastic parts start to age.

The joker valve in any case should stop working properly long before the 90-degree flange assembly leaks. It is just a rubber disc captured between the discharge flange and the pump body, while the joker is a pretty sensitive valve and the slightest bit of deformation or build-up could cause it to backflow.
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Old 04-04-2018, 19:49   #4
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

So were coming up on our first full year of cruising. I rebuilt our primary head (Raritan PHii) when we started and we just developed a slow leak at the joker exhaust outlet (joker valve) fitting....To the best of my knowledge the pump assembly is 18 years old...

A PHII can easily provide 25+ years of reliable service if only minimally maintained--keep it well lubricated and rebuild it every 5-6 years. I don't know how the PO maintained it, but you rebuilt it so if the leak is the only problem, the PUMP is working fine. That it's leaking at the discharge fitting connection leads me to suspect that you over-tightened the screws when you replaced the joker valve. The flange on the joker valve is the gasket that seals that connection. It's instinctive to want to really crank the screws down TIGHT...but Over-tightening the screws will put puckers around each of the screws that'll actually cause that connection to leak. So start by removing the joke valve to let it sit at least overnight. If it's been more than few days since you replaced the joker valve, the puckers may or may not relax. If they do, just tighten the screws enough to be "snug"...if it leaks, tighten another quarter turn...and maybe another if necessary to end the leak. If the puckers in your joker valve don't relax, buy another one and install it as I just described.

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Old 04-04-2018, 19:55   #5
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

My experience matches Peggie's. I get about 5 years a rebuild on the PHII and have rebuilt it twice so far. I have a few extra joker valves aboard just for fun too.
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Old 04-04-2018, 21:50   #6
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

How often do I rebuild my composting head?
Well -------
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Old 04-04-2018, 22:33   #7
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Switch to fresh water flushing and cut your head rebuilds by 75% and smell by 90%.
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Old 05-04-2018, 00:57   #8
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

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How often do I rebuild my composting head?
Well -------
Yeah, we did it once. Sold 10yrs later with no indication the composter was wearing out.
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:24   #9
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Thanks Peggie and everyone else that chimed in. That I overtightened the discharge fitting seems likely, so Ill start with replacing the 1 year old joker valve and see if the old one regains its original shape.

We regularly lube the pump by pouring mineral oil into the bowl and slowly pumping it through, so hoping from Peggies comments we can expect 4-5 years between rebuilds.

Again much appreciated,
Erin
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:29   #10
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Any day now I am expecting a knock on the hull from a composter handing out literature and trying to convert me. I can just imagine them in their Sunday best turning up at an anchorage going boat to boat trying to get people to "see the light"
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:56   #11
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Jabsco head.. We have been %100 living aboard for 2 years and I have not rebuilt my head or replaced the joker. I lube the pump and shaft about every week and a half (with vaseline). Still works like the day I replaced the pump assembly 2 years ago.

However, I have had to replace the sanitary hose recently. After 2 years it finally blocked up with crystal despite the fact we occasionally put muriatic in the hose.
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Old 05-04-2018, 04:22   #12
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

ErBrown,

The PHii will never wear out if it stays lubricated. The weakest part is the plastic yoke that connects the pump handle to the pump piston. Those sometimes break due to age and lack of lubrication of the pump cylinder. Lubrication inside the cylinder walls and on the piston rod is the key to long life. Dow Corning DC4 or Super Lube is a good lubricant.

If you dont use harsh chemicals (vinegar, bleach) and folk lore additives (vegetable oil, soap) the joker valve will last a really long time.

Most common problem is deposits in the hoses. Salt water and pee will create cement that lines the hoses. It can be removed by some lime/rust removers but a mild hydrochloric acid does the job pretty well if you flush it overboard. Get the ultimate book on Marine heads written by Peggy Hall. It should be on Amazon.
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Old 05-04-2018, 05:02   #13
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

I have a jabsco electric flush freshwater unit and we live aboard full time, so we use it a lot. I just changed the pump after seven years..
Only thing on the boat that I have replaced that worked perfectly for that long without blowing up.
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Old 05-04-2018, 07:21   #14
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Get the ultimate book on Marine heads written by Peggy Hall. It should be on Amazon.

Thanks for the plug! There's a link to it on Amazon in my signature.

Peggie
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:16   #15
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Re: How often do you expect to rebuild your head with full time use?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
A PHII can easily provide 25+ years of reliable service if only minimally maintained--keep it well lubricated and rebuild it every 5-6 years.
Ok wait. My Jabsco has been rebuilt every year that I've owned it. In fact I usually just buy the whole assembly for $20 more and save myself the pain. If the life of the head is 25 years then:

$200 new + ($89 x 25) = $2,425

If I trash it and buy a Raritan then:

$400 new + ($79 x 5)= $795

Why am I not buying a new head this spring?
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