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Old 28-08-2016, 11:47   #1
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Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

My lucky streak with toilets -- running about 4 years now, was broken when my Raritan Sea Era broke down a few days ago

The "seal plate" somehow fused to the impeller, which jammed up the motor so it couldn't turn.

Thank God I had a complete other Sea Era in spares (one which I wasn't able to install in my forward heads), so I cannibalized the motor, impeller housing, impeller, and manage to get it working again.

God, what a sh***y job. This is a job of rare unpleasantness. You start out wearing gloves and carefully keeping your clothes clean, trying not to let anything spill out, maintaining clean and unclean zones, finally you end up sweating like a pig, throwing the gloves aside, and getting yourself and your clothes right into it, and screw it, you stop refraining from kneeling, sitting, whatever you need to do just to get it over with.


Which of course put me in a sh***y mood, but even giving a discount to my mood, I am not having good feelings about this device. It is very cheaply made and not too well engineered. It is not easy to get apart and put back together again, and all too easy not to get the crucial seal lined up right (the thing separating your living space from sewage).

I have also regretted lately not having a separate pump-out control like this toilet's Jabsco predecessor had. If the pump-in gets ahead of pump-out, you have to close the sea cock.


Meanwhile, the old electric Jabsco which I intended to replace with a Raritan, but could not, keeps chugging along. About 5 years by now without a problem. It is much heavier and more heavily built. I had a lot of trouble with another Jabsco electric toilet, but this one has been ok. I've hated the Jabsco, too, in its time, but that time now seems eons ago. Now I have a new toilet to hate.
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Old 28-08-2016, 12:06   #2
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

Two noisy Jabsco electric heads, five seasons, no complaints.
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Old 28-08-2016, 12:07   #3
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

We have used the Seaera for 10 years now, constant use (liveaboard) and have had minimal problems. Replaced seal once, impeller once, jocker annually. Very simple head design, only one moving shaft which turns chopper and impeller.
Only downside I found is it is a bit of a pain to reassemble, getting notch to line up while making sure of ring doesn't move. I use a bit of Lanacote to hold off ring into place.
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Old 28-08-2016, 13:08   #4
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

Your experience is VERY unusual...I can count on one hand and have fingers left over the number of complaints about the SeaEra I've seen since it was introduced 15 years ago. So I'm wondering if yours was an installation problem.

First thing that comes to mind is the wiring. Low voltage is the most the common reason for sluggish discharge (which you experienced) and can destroy the motor (which you also experienced) This applies to ALL electric toilets, not just the SeaEra. So it's crucial that the wiring be the right size for distance--round trip, not just one way--from the power source, and the toilet be on its own separate dedicated circuit, not shared by anything that can reduce power to it, and on its own breaker. So if your toilet isn't always getting a full 12 volts (test it while flushing, not while sitting), that' almost certain what "killed" it...and history is highly likely to repeat itself with the one you just went through the agonies of the damned to install. Again I want to emphasize: this does not only apply to the SeaEra or other Raritan toilet...low voltage over time will kill ANY electric toilet.
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Old 28-08-2016, 14:31   #5
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
Your experience is VERY unusual...I can count on one hand and have fingers left over the number of complaints about the SeaEra I've seen since it was introduced 15 years ago. So I'm wondering if yours was an installation problem.

First thing that comes to mind is the wiring. Low voltage is the most the common reason for sluggish discharge (which you experienced) and can destroy the motor (which you also experienced) This applies to ALL electric toilets, not just the SeaEra. So it's crucial that the wiring be the right size for distance--round trip, not just one way--from the power source, and the toilet be on its own separate dedicated circuit, not shared by anything that can reduce power to it, and on its own breaker. So if your toilet isn't always getting a full 12 volts (test it while flushing, not while sitting), that' almost certain what "killed" it...and history is highly likely to repeat itself with the one you just went through the agonies of the damned to install. Again I want to emphasize: this does not only apply to the SeaEra or other Raritan toilet...low voltage over time will kill ANY electric toilet.
Mine is 24 volts, and installed with heavy cabling, two sizes up from recommended, with the best heat shrink terminal connectors. From a dedicated circuit (electric toilet was in the original build). Voltage drop not more than a couple of tenths of a volt as tested. Definitely not an electric problem.


This problem was mechanical, not electrical, and not a motor problem. The seal plate got stuck onto the impeller somehow, which locked up the motor. These are very cheap, very light plastic parts, and I guess the dimensions just don't necessarily hold up after long usage.
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Old 28-08-2016, 14:33   #6
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

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Originally Posted by bvander View Post
We have used the Seaera for 10 years now, constant use (liveaboard) and have had minimal problems. Replaced seal once, impeller once, jocker annually. Very simple head design, only one moving shaft which turns chopper and impeller.
Only downside I found is it is a bit of a pain to reassemble, getting notch to line up while making sure of ring doesn't move. I use a bit of Lanacote to hold off ring into place.
Yes, simplicity is a plus of this design. It's simpler than the Jabsco and that's good.

And YES -- same problems with reassembly, and same solution
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Old 28-08-2016, 14:48   #7
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

Dockhead, you really need an Incinolet. I think your boat is robust enough to support one.
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Old 28-08-2016, 14:52   #8
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

After several problems with my Jabsco I replaced it with a 5ocean. Been using it 4 years full time leave aboard, 0 incidents


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Old 28-08-2016, 16:35   #9
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

I have experienced the seal plate fusing to the impeller. I replaced a motor due to a leaking water seal, but on reassembly apparently I over tightened the nut on the macerator blade, pressing the impeller into the seal plate. I got off two test flushes before the new motor seized. I took it apart and found the impeller melted to the seal plate due to friction. I pried the pieces apart, sanded the rough spots, and put it back together with less force. No further issues. I suspect your motor is fine.
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Old 28-08-2016, 20:29   #10
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

These are very cheap, very light plastic parts, and I guess the dimensions just don't necessarily hold up after long usage.

If the durability that 99% of SeaEra owners report is true, actually they do.

I strongly recommend that you have a chat with Raritan...and my go-to person there since Vic Willman retired is Mac McCoy in their FL plant. Give him a call at 954-525-0378. He will NOT blow smoke at you!
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Old 29-08-2016, 00:17   #11
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

Quote:
Originally Posted by JayH View Post
I have experienced the seal plate fusing to the impeller. I replaced a motor due to a leaking water seal, but on reassembly apparently I over tightened the nut on the macerator blade, pressing the impeller into the seal plate. I got off two test flushes before the new motor seized. I took it apart and found the impeller melted to the seal plate due to friction. I pried the pieces apart, sanded the rough spots, and put it back together with less force. No further issues. I suspect your motor is fine.
Thanks -- a very useful data point. I also suspect that these parts are salvageable. I used the new parts because I wanted to get the awful job over as quickly as possible, but when I have time I'll take apart the old ones and try to make good spares out of them.

Poor design!
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Old 29-08-2016, 00:19   #12
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
These are very cheap, very light plastic parts, and I guess the dimensions just don't necessarily hold up after long usage.

If the durability that 99% of SeaEra owners report is true, actually they do.

I strongly recommend that you have a chat with Raritan...and my go-to person there since Vic Willman retired is Mac McCoy in their FL plant. Give him a call at 954-525-0378. He will NOT blow smoke at you!
Thanks -- I will indeed get in touch with Raritan. If it's a good company they will be interested in learning from these problems. I'll take apart and photograph the defective parts.

I could give him a couple of other suggestions for design improvements, too.

Note the post from JayH describing exactly the same problem with his Sea Era -- so this is clearly not an isolated incident.
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Old 29-08-2016, 03:27   #13
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

LOL, first thing I've ever done to any boat I've ever owned was to toss the electric head and install a manual pump Jabsco. Entire rebuild kit fits in a baggie, and dead simple to overhaul in under ten minutes.
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Old 29-08-2016, 03:42   #14
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

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LOL, first thing I've ever done to any boat I've ever owned was to toss the electric head and install a manual pump Jabsco. Entire rebuild kit fits in a baggie, and dead simple to overhaul in under ten minutes.
To each his own!

I love electric toilets. Let me count the ways:

1. Makes it easy to pump an adequate amount of water through -- something which almost never happens with manual ones.

2. Does not intimidate non-sailor guests on board.

3. Much more environmentally friendly (no brown trout).

4. Far less likely to clog, since everything is macerated prior to hitting your black water pipes.


I have had manual pump Jabscos, and in fact I have one in spares (as an emergency replacement for my electric Jabsco). They are simple -- I'll give them that. And yes can be overhauled in less than an hour (don't know about 10 minutes). Biggest plus of all is that they are so cheap that you can carry a whole spare pump and just swap it out (and that you certainly can do in 10 minutes). But in my experience they don't work very well, and it's so much work to pump the small volume of water they pump, no one ever flushes through enough to get everything through the black water pipes, no matter how many lectures they get from the skipper. The result is that your black water pipes get arteriosclerosis and become prone to clogging. Give me electric any day, but to each his own, of course.
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Old 29-08-2016, 03:58   #15
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Re: Raritan Toilet Melt-Down

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LOL, first thing I've ever done to any boat I've ever owned was to toss the electric head and install a manual pump Jabsco. Entire rebuild kit fits in a baggie, and dead simple to overhaul in under ten minutes.
My experience with Jabsco manual pump heads was that they are cheaply made. They use wood screws in plastic that strip out, and can easily crack the plastic. Then it's time for a new pump body housing. They are very complex inside and when you remove one piece they all go out of place -- very delicate operation (like playing pickup sticks) and the documentation in the manual is horrible.

Since I switched to Raritan PH manual pump heads I've been very happy.
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