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Old 01-07-2009, 10:42   #1
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Lazy Lavac - Help!

A few months ago while on a long weekend cruise with a lady my Lavac had problems in evacuating solids. Not the most romantic moment of the trip and although eventually I solved the immediate problem ( requiring five cycles of pumping) it somewhat spoiled the overall experience for the lady in question. I am sure that she was constipated for the next two days…Certainly my services were not called upon again… and we were able to eventually return to the positive experience level attained before it vanished down the toilet (or should I say “didn’t”) before returning home
( Requiring two beautiful sunsets, charm, romantic dinners and copious amount of rather difficult to get single malt whisky).

Liquids seem to be no problem and she followed the proper procedure, the suction created for a minute or so after a cycle was/ is unbreakable.

Anyway I learned many years ago that if a lady can have a regular and stress free bowel moment in a clean and comfortable environment, then her world generally has… if not actually a rose tinted hue… at least a positive and reasonable outlook.
However, when this is interrupted the sparkle in her eyes fades much quicker, than the suction dissipates in the toilet itself. As she stated a few weeks later “I loved learning about sailing and the functions of the boat equipment, but never again want a situation when some else is needed to complete the toilet process”

Last year while refitting, I changed the hoses and did a basic clean out and looked at the various component parts and all seemed to be working effectively ( although occasionally some return seepage was evident). Never the less suction seems okay…although not quite the “It will suck a tennis shoe through” a poster in another thread regarding Lavacs stated. Never the less the suction seems to act as expected.

While in Europe a few weeks ago I bought a complete maintenance kit. I don’t use the lavac much…Don’t ask! But last weekend did and once again solids were problematic. So I have the kit to do a complete replacement of gaskets and internal parts, but I wondered if other Lavac users, who have had similar difficulties and were unfortunately, by necessity, made intimate to it specific working, could perhaps assist me in suggesting the likely causes. My desire, would be not to replace all parts, but from others experience, replace those parts only, that others believed would most likely solve the specific problem. Equally if experience would indicate that replacing only a few likely parts, would be a bad choice then I will do the whole thing. I certainly don’t want to keep replacing parts, rebuilding and testing the unit (although some unkind souls may think I am full of it! I only have a regular daily process .

So it has the suction and it deals quite successfully with fluids…After about five cycles it evacuates solids. Do any of you have similar experiences and what was your solution and for anyone remotely interested in the subject, your best guess would be helpful. I would like to deal with this….one time!

Thanks in anticipation

Alan
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:11   #2
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manual or electric lavac?
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:13   #3
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95% of the problems are partially blocked outlet hoses...always eliminate first.
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Old 01-07-2009, 11:26   #4
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I have had 3 problems in 7 years of living on the boat.

Outside blockage
weak seat seals
pump gave up

I forgot to mention it was a tennis shoe off a key chain....lololol.....i2f
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:18   #5
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Rhosyn Mor.... It is a manual Lavac.

Moondancer and Imagine2frolic.... A few weeks ago I dived and cleared all the outlets which had some barnacles. I can imagine the possibility of a build up restricting the final excavation ( direct to sea)... But why would that necessarily hinder the first excavation out of the bowl? I can see it imparing the second process perhaps...but why the first

The suction/seal is impossible to break for a minutes or so after completing a cycle. Therefore I am assuming that the general system is sound. I believe the unit is around eight years old although it could be only five...which may mean it is due for an overhaul. But the level of water in the bowl (before use) seems (from the handbook) also to be normal. Reading the "troubleshooting section" gives a number of solutions, but when I checked they seemed to be performing as spec.

If it is something silly like water volume level in bowl. I would hate to find that I had overhauled the system only to continue with the problem. After all even land based toilets sometimes need a few flushes to successfully complete the process and perhaps my expectations were inflated, when I imagined a childs tennis shoe rather than a key ring bauble (:

Regards

Alan
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Old 01-07-2009, 12:34   #6
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angloof,
I suspect the problem is in the bilge pump you are using to pump, if you have the original pump its a Henderson MKV. I would look for two things, the joker valve in the pump, and perhaps there is a small air leak in the bellows. Rebuild kits for these pumps are easy to get.
hope this helps
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Old 01-07-2009, 13:37   #7
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If you haven't open the inspection plate on the pump you should. Have you run anything through the hoses?. It's an awful simple unit. Not much can go wrong even with an NBA tennis shoe involved......i2f
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Old 01-07-2009, 15:36   #8
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The outlet hose can get a calcification buildup that can restrict the ID of the hose down to matchstick size if left long enough. Remove and replace / or clean out the hose. A quick short term fix is to hit the hose with something solid which may detach enough of the buildup to get things working in the short term.
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Old 01-07-2009, 16:10   #9
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Vinegar, no brown paper...

Have you tried adding a cupfull of vinegar to the water in the bowl and pumping it through? This can be done every day, or even after every use, if necessary.

Reduce the amount if the acetic gets up your nose.

I'm assuming that you have a bog standard setup with no "Y" valves, holding tanks or fancy plumbing.
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Old 01-07-2009, 22:27   #10
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Gentlemen,

As always thanks for you impute.

As I mentioned in my initial post I replaced all the hoses late last year while refitting the boat. In addition I not only took off the face plate and cleaned and checked components, but dismantled further back to the pump diaphragm as well.

Every thing seems to work. I specifically bought one section of the new hoses which isn't total opaque and one can see the flow while working the pump. The flow seems normal and the force needed in working the pump lever is consistent and not "floppy" needing quite strong arm movement. After the required 8-10 handle movements one hears the pressure movement (which I assume is what creates the working principle that allows it to be successfully moved from in state and pass through to the out stage). The next five or six strokes moves the fluid out.

Now unless I misunderstand the process and/or what I can actually see working... I am somehow incorrect in my assessment... insofar as I erroneously believe that what I am seeing as a correctly functioning process is inaccurate.

It seems that the system is actually functioning as expected; perhaps not to “as new standards” and as such probably now needs the complete refit.

So perhaps the best way to approach this problem is to ask the question differently…

For those with experience of lavacs

1. How successfully does your unit function? Is it one cycle-gone! Or perhaps less efficient, needing two or three cycles.

2. Is there anything in my working description above (process) that seems not quite what you experience.

Finally I suppose I can change my menu from Coq au Vin to Chicken Piri-piri and substitute my Beouf Medici a la Alan to Prawn curry. However, before I am defeated by a simple toilet. I intend to wage a war of attrition and elimination, whereby one of us services the other and I hope its not me.

Regards

Alan


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Old 02-07-2009, 01:07   #11
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Might be bullet proof but 3 ply...

I've found my Lavac to be sort of bullet proof, but 3 ply toilet paper was its undoing (unfortunately literally). Cheap generic single ply from my local supermarket does the trick.

In general I find myself using small amounts of vinegar daily. I usually dry bowl with the lid open, then flush, add vinegar, then pump again to dry bowl, leaving the pump and the hose to the holding tank full of dilute vinegar.

I regrettably mounted the top of the holding tank some two feet above the bowl, so keeping the pump internals in good condition is my way of keeping the smell down and the operation smooth.
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Old 02-07-2009, 11:54   #12
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Are you sure that the seal is good enough, difference between holds the seat down firmly for a minute or so, and holds it down very firmly for several minutes. Every so often I have to just squeeze the seals underneath the seat and lid, and will feel them go tighter into place. I can then immediately see / feel the difference.

If it is not filling the bowl 1/3 - 1/2 full (depending on pinhole size in intake line) and you can't feel and hear the intake water rushing through the intake hose, check and squeeze the seals tighter with your thumbs.

This is a flaw in the lid / seals and may have been corrected by now. Lavac was aware of the problem, as they told me to check them. Mine is about 2-3 years old. Works great otherwise. Don't like the cheap parts that hold the seat on though!
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Old 02-07-2009, 12:33   #13
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I have found that most of the problems that I have had with the Lavacs are related to visitors on the boat who are instructed in the pumping protocol but who, when they are alone doing their business, do not pump to the full extent of the pump. Then when you or I go in and try to figure out what went wrong, we pump the full handle sweep and everything seems fine. To test this leave the seat open, fill the bowl with water from a bucket or the shower head and then pump. Try it first with the long slow full sweep pumping action that we normally use and see how many pumps it takes to empty the bowl. Then fill it and try it with a short pump handle sweep. You will be surprised at how poorly the short pump sweeps move water.
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Old 02-07-2009, 14:29   #14
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You show great wisdom in appreciating the role of the bowel movement (and related treatment) in the success of a cruise when the crew is not 100% male. I am confident that the British Admiralty concluded that their dominance of the seas in the 19th century depended far more on hurling a 32lb iron ball several hundred yards than improving the daily comfort of the all male crew. And as you have found, a goodly ration of Rum (or Scotch) brings a certain perspective.

Since your problem occurred several months ago, you have also noticed that memories of head problems can be persistent in the female mind (perhaps in the male mind too but supressed for various Freudian reasons).

I also had the Lavac and you seem to have tackled the obvious list. I would still suspect a partial blockage at a turn in the hose. Failing that, I come to a particularly indelicate possibility - firmness and length. The Lavac's "throat" (so to speak) will simply refuse to accept something in the bowl that can't turn the corner. The occurrence of this problem can be particularly difficult to predict since it is dependent on ship's cuisine (and lagged about 24 hours from time of consumption). Worse, logical changes to the menu ingredients to fix this problem can easily overbalance so as to present a noxious challenge to establishing the romantic mood.

While I loved my Lavac, this and other idiosyncrasies are not so warmly loved by all (or even many) - rather like an MGB I once owned. So, I have decided to replace it with a new Raritan Elegance. This was the result of an exhaustive search at last year's boat shows for the best push button, super quiet, no clog, and very low water use solution. I was the idiot running between tents pushing buttons at different displays. So far, the purchase is an astounding success. It wasn’t cheap but - as they say in the Visa credit card commercials - "priceless".


Carl
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Old 02-07-2009, 17:28   #15
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Gentlemen,

Thank you for you inpute.

I bought sufficient new hose to do two addition replacements so will renew near new this weekend to test whether it works better and whether some scale has accumulated. Although I have it mainly linked to a fresh water tank and every few weeks wash vinegar through the system.

Secondly the pump with the seat raised clears any liquid from the bowl in about three full pulls.

Neither with seat raised or closed will the solid move from the bowl( even when I cursed it)…although it moves the liquid and with the lid closed very small amounts of the solid.

No paper is allowed in the system and when I changed the older hoses some… not a great deal of calcium had accumulated.

Once the solid (for whatever reason) was taken from the bowl into the system it was successfully evacuated out through the system. No problem.

Its getting it out of the bowl which is the task to be accomplished, which ofcourse could stem from some/any of the points you have all raised.

However, somehow I feel that there is component that is not quite functioning properly… a valve or grommet… The seal takes a minute or two before releasing the seat. I am considered quite strong and there is no way I can break it until very late in the process. Could that degree of hold be faulty or working below par…really?

Carlf I must say that although I have the money, being a Scot with deep pockets and short arms I am reticent to buy a new toilet, but if this weekend stint doesn’t provide the confidence that I am on the road to a solution sometime in the near future, then I may be PMing you to find the details and assessment gained through your mad dashes within your Boat show escapade.

Finally to encourage further concentrated thoughts from all other Lavac owners or occasional users…the challenge at hand is to focus on getting the solid out of the bowl. Do any of the above comments I have made, make something think…Well if that is like that then that is okay, therefore it must be that component.

Deep appreciation to you all

Regards

Alan
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