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Old 02-12-2010, 15:12   #1
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New Plumbing System From Scratch

Ahoy, All...long timee no postee.

Well after a suitable post-divorce financial mourning period I am now back to Full Steam Ahead on finishing Diva. Just spent ten days in Trini getting my head wrapped back around the project and formulating an end-game plan with my contracted talent. Notwithstanding the all-too-real risk of financial ruin, I hope to float her by this time next year. Be warned, I will undoubtedly return to my old pesky self on this board.

I put off even thinking about plumbing systems until now, as there were so many other bigger, scarier skeletons to tangle with. Having never plumbed a boat, I must admit I gave it short shrift: "Aw, hot water heater, pump, water tanks, faucets, what's the big deal?" Now, having spent fully four of my ten days down-island tackling the subject, I have a little more respect for its complexity.

Here's the Overview (Oh, and all Ye Minimalists out there, you need not razz me that all my complications are entirely self-inflicted. I put in my years sailing with an icebox and porta-john and I ain't a-goin' back): (2) heads, one forward, one aft; The forward head is a standard "wet" head, with toilet, sink, and shower-intended grated floor with a drain pan. The aft has a separate closet on port for the toilet and shower, with the sink aft of that closet outside in the cabin. Galley is on starboard aft-of-midships (next to engine room); There is a bar sink starboard saloon with cold water only; and there will be a Splendide vented combo aft Nav area (on the other side of the aft shower/w.c. bulkhad). I plan to have a freshwater shower mounted somewhere handy to the aft deck. There are six separate 25-gallon freshwater tanks, 3 each port and starboard under the saloon sole.

This is what we've sussed out thus far: there is really only one decent place to put the Isotherm 40L hot water tank, furthest forward section of center saloon bilge; this argues to have the freshwater pump and accumulator in the center section of the saloon bilge; flanked by the freshwater tanks, this has most of the water supply in one central place. We've built new 40-gallon blackwater holding tanks, one for each head; the aft one is built into the back of the shower/toilet closet, and the fore one is in the forepeak.

Okay, here are my TBDs. Apologies if any of these items have already been beaten to death in past threads:
1) Freshwater Tank Ganging: separate valves on the six water tanks (as the previous owners had it) was just plain goofy, and reduces tank monitoring to getting under the floorboards and opening a new valve when a tank goes dry. Given I only have 150 gallons total, and would prefer to have just a single deck fill, is there any reason not to just gang them together as one 150-gallon tank? As I'm not going to live aboard for longer than a month here, a month there for the next several years, I don't see any point to putting in a watermaker just yet; the maintenance hassle would be at best a wash with the benefit. It's been recommended that I fit a couple 53-gal Plastimo flexie tanks as reserve tanks, and I have a perfect pair of dead spaces behind the saloon settees. I could plumb them into the main tanks; only PITA might be having to run a hose down into the saloon to fill them. Thoughts?
2) Blackwater Management: my carpenter has built two lovely fiberglass custom tanks, roughly 40 gal ea. for the purpose. Our evil plan is to pump the head into the tanks, and then in a seaway use the old thru-hulls, which are just below water level, and see if gravity is all that's required to sluice them out. In a NDZ we could lock-off the thru-hull valve, store the poo and pump out as required. He has seen at least two boats with this exact system, and it seemed to work just fine without the help of any pump assist. If this didn't seem to work getting the solids out, it would not be a huge deal to add macerator pumps between tank and hull. I've read many of the head-related threads here, and fully understand the "do you really want to find out the hard way?" POV. I'd love to know if anybody here has a gravity system and how it works for you.
3) Greywater Management: I need some schooling on what is legal for US non-discharge waters. Is there an official distinction between the grey coming from showers vs. that from sinks? Just about every boat I've ever been on has had the sink(s) drain directly overboard...but is this just a grandfathering for older production boats, of an issue too hard to enforce? For the showers, I was considering one each of the all-in-one sump kits out there (either the Whale or Rule unit), which in a legal seaway would simply pump overboard. As small capacity as they are, would these legally count as "holding tanks", such that with some kind of defeat (on-off switch zip-tied to "off"?) we'd pass inspection, with the knowledge that it means temporary non-use of the showers? Is it legal for other (sink, washer) greywater to go directly overboard at all times, or do I need a dedicated grey-water holding tank? If so, I have precious few good-sized spaces left in her bilges to put such a tank, so it probably can't be very big. Depending on the answer to the sump-kit question above, would perhaps a 3rd one midships for the sink drains pass muster? Regardless I'd like to avoid the "straight into the bilge" solution if at all possible.
4) Deck Wash: Seasoned Cruisers, tell me what you find useful and/or necessary out there. I can see benefits of washing down one's anchor chain and anchor with fresh water, but with my limited freshwater capacity that seems like an expensive luxury; is saltwater sufficient for most washdown purposes? With 50 feet of deck to clean, will I want a saltwater washdown both fore and aft?
5) Aft Deck Freshwater Shower: Do you tend to find it good to have both hot and cold here, or is cold generally all you need (in a tropical environment)?
6) Saltwater Tap in Galley: Worth the redundant plumbing for freshwater conservation? I assume that this kind of grey water is legal to go straight overboard, true?

Any other considerations I'm missing? Has anyone else done a major re-plumb of their boat abroad and then had people wearing US badges scrutinize it? Can anybody quote ABYC scripture with regard to greywater?

Thanks in advance for any and all imparted wisdom.

Cheers,
Geoff
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Old 02-12-2010, 16:29   #2
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Welcome back, Geoff.

I don’t believe that ABYC adresses Grey water systems.
They do, however address the the design, construction, and installation of “Potable Water Systems for Use on Boats” in Standard H-23.
This standard establishes a guide for the design, construction, and installation of potable water supply systems on boats.
American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) - Standards and Technical Reports: Purpose and Scope

See also “Understanding Boat Plumbing and Water Systems” by John C. Payne
Understanding Boat Plumbing and ... - Google Books
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Old 02-12-2010, 17:46   #3
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Dunno the local laws about what can go overboard in your 'hood... but I live in a "no discharge zone" and have never been hassled about grey water (Don't ask, don't tell)

FWIW, I would not have freshwater washdown without a watermaker. My thoughts are that if you have to haul out a hose every time you want to wash the deck, you'll think about using the water more. Same with an anchor rode wash... use salt until you get dockside and are "putting her up" until the next trip and fresh rinse then.

I tank 75 gallons and easily get 3 weeks out of it with two crew; I am rarely away from fresh water for more than a week at a time, so sometimes I am not too thrifty.

YES! Hot and cold for the deck shower! I live in Key West and even at 75*F at night, the cold only shower sux! (this week were are due to see the 50's!).

As to the separate valves at each tank (mine is similar) why not just plumb them to a manifold (2; One fill, One to the pump) and leave them all open? At least with a valve you can shut one down if you have an issue and not loose ALL of your water to the bilge. If the manifold is located BELOW the lowest tank it will not suck air from an empty tank.
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Old 03-12-2010, 11:33   #4
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Thanks, Gord for the official docs and how-tos...you are an awesome Font of Knowledge.

And thanks, George for the good real-world tips. It actually won't be hard to link all my tanks together, as they all have a bottom pipe fitting; I just need to decide how many valves to put in between them all; I suppose it's a good idea to have the valves there just in case.

It's a relief to know that grey water isn't a source of much bureaucratic fuss.
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Old 04-12-2010, 13:07   #5
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Hey, Gord, is there a trick to printing the John Payne book? All I'm getting is the Google Books header and formatting with a blank box in the middle.
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Old 04-12-2010, 13:17   #6
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Hey Geoff, welcome back, hope the lawyers didnt hurt you too much?

That was a lot of thread and one thing caught my eye, The shower sump pump units are a pain in the derierre once they get clogged with hair and soap, and because they die in service, they are full of water so when you open them up, they can only leak it all in your bilge.
Get a Whale diaphram with a reed switch. Guaranteed not to rust, bust or kick up a fuss
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Old 04-12-2010, 13:24   #7
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Product Information
Pumps debris in waste water, Virtually impossible to block, Self priming up to 3m (10ft), Can run dry and pump air/water mixtures.Robust, reliable design. Pumps upto 14 ltrs (3.7US gallons) per minute. No filter required, Quiet running, Multi directional head, Low power comsumption. Dimensions:_ Overall length 273mm, width of body (including hose connection supplied) 173mm, heigth of body 117mm, on width feet centres 111mm, on length feet centres 135mm.


http://www.robotshop.com/seeedstudio...-switch-3.html

This inline sensor will need a relay to handle the Gulper, or you could wire it into a pull cord switch
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Old 04-12-2010, 17:31   #8
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Hi, Amy!

Thanks for the caveat on the shower kits. So...are you suggesting I build my own version of same, with the sensor you suggested fitted to the bottom of the sump box, then attached to the whale gulper? Or perhaps you're suggesting the Whale sump kit (which includes the Gulper 220), with the inclusion of the sensor? Feel free to speak to me as if I am a small, simple child...I'm way out of my depth on the subject (pun intended).

And damn, girlfriend, that's one prodigious battery ya got there.
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Old 05-12-2010, 07:48   #9
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Hey, Gord, is there a trick to printing the John Payne book? ...
I don't think you can print Google Books.

http://books.google.com/googlebooks/agreement/#2
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Old 05-12-2010, 08:37   #10
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Some random thoughts from my last plumbing exercise.

Seriously consider replacing large amounts of the fresh water system hose with pex tubing and fittings. Several good brands. I used Sea Tech. This goes in much quicker, is neater, and isn't as prone to growing stuff. Valves are much cheaper than for hose. There are fitting so switch from hose to pex so you can use a mix.

I agree that the standard shower sumps are unreliable but the diaphragm ones are quite expensive. I switched to this the sump by Johnston. It's been easy to clean and reliable so far and is much cheaper than the diaphram solution (which needs a tank, switch, pump, and check valve):
SPX Johnson Pump for Boatbuilders, Pleasure, Commercial & Fishing boats


I would be careful with the flexible tanks. Can you keep them clean and taste free? The same problem with the six tank strategy. Be sure you have a way to not let one tank's water stand and start growing stuff.

Consider a good undersink filter and a filtered water spigot at each sink for drinking and cooking water (just use the very small tubing used in home systems). Then ban bottled water on the boat. I even plumbed a filtered water line into a 1/2 gallon stainless canister in the fridge with a spigot outside for chilled filtered water. The filter I use is a Matrikx +CR1 filter that's less than $15. +CR1 0.5 mic Carbon Block - 9.75" x 2.5" - FreshWaterSystems.com

Are you replacing the heads?

The federal "No Discharge" designation in the US applies only to black water. I'm not aware of any place in US salt water that inspects for gray water. There are individual harbor regulations but the only one I've experienced is Nantucket Harbor's regulations about not dumping dish washing and clothes washing water but I've never been inspected.

Be sure to have convincing wire ties on the black water seacocks. While other techniques are allowed (removing handle), the wire ties seem to be the most comforting to the inspectors and gets them on their way quickly. I got bright orange wire ties so that they don't even have to get down on their knees.

Trident 101 hose is the only thing I use for black water. It's very flexible and I've yet to have smell come through.

Carl
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:57   #11
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Yeah, that's kinda what I figured, Gord. I'll just read it "e-book" style on the screen.

Carl, great advice and recommendations. Thanks!
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Old 05-12-2010, 13:06   #12
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Geoff-
"Given I only have 150 gallons total, and would prefer to have just a single deck fill, is there any reason not to just gang them together as one 150-gallon tank"
Yes, redundancy. One day the hot water heater went psycho and a relief valve decided to open and stay open, dropping all the fresh water into the bilge. Fortunately 'all' meant "just the one tank" and we were only inconvenienced by the need to pick up more water, and empty the bilge.
Six tanks might be a bit excessive, but I'd suggest you consider two or three. If you use two, then try to remember to switch tanks when you are only halfway through the first tank, leaving the other half of it "just in case" as your reserve. Or, at least stash away a number of large water bottles as an emergency reserve.
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Old 05-12-2010, 14:18   #13
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Dont replicate what doesnt work, do away with a box altogether as thats where the problems come from.
Simply plumb the shower waste into the Gulper via the in line switch. Have a manual secondary switch in the shower room for a back up but once installed, the gulper should come on when the waste water runs through the pipe to the gulper.

Its about 1860 amp hours worth of battery on a good day. Big enough to be a serious health hazzard apparantly. Of course, I know nothing about electrickery so im not afraid of it

Quote:
Originally Posted by Geoff S. View Post
Hi, Amy!

Thanks for the caveat on the shower kits. So...are you suggesting I build my own version of same, with the sensor you suggested fitted to the bottom of the sump box, then attached to the whale gulper? Or perhaps you're suggesting the Whale sump kit (which includes the Gulper 220), with the inclusion of the sensor? Feel free to speak to me as if I am a small, simple child...I'm way out of my depth on the subject (pun intended).

And damn, girlfriend, that's one prodigious battery ya got there.
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Old 06-12-2010, 11:19   #14
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Hi, Amy;

Okay, I'm liking the KISS approach here; one concern in looking at that liquid flow switch, is there seems to be some kind of strainer gizzy inside...won't that quickly get clogged with hair, etc? Or do I just assume I'm going to need to give that a regular clean-out, and mount that immediately under the shower pan drain, such that it's visible and accessible?

And you say you know nothing about electrickery, but I wouldn't have the balls to disassemble a 48v battery.

[Oh, and P.S. to Mods: whatever was wonky about my Quick Reply seems to be just fine now; either you fixed it or it fixed itself...]
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Old 06-12-2010, 11:59   #15
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Geoff, im pretty certain that you can see straight through the pipe switch in the web site picture, so there is no gauze filter.

That Whale Gulper pump was on demo at a boat show, pumping water from one tank to another and the sales rep chucked a pair of socks in the tank and one was sucked into the gulper and went shooting into the other tank immediately. Ive got one for my shower and will get another for my black water pump out when funds allow

Battery cells are just that, simple and mechanical, no witchcraft or mystery. Its the other stuff I dont get
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