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Old 24-08-2010, 20:16   #31
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I inherited someone else's clog. Our first boat passed all surveys, sea trials, and my check on all systems. After we were out for a while we noticed that despite macerating (in Canada and more than 3 nm from shore, at speed and yes, with an ebb tide away from land), the head was becoming more difficult to pump. Its a saltwater flush with a hand pump. After the smell was becoming noticeable and the pumping REALLY tough, I checked the holding tank (normally a rectangular box). It had swelled up like a balloon and was a giant sphere - it was so huge that I was afraid it would explode just by my looking at it.
I'm in Cowheads, Newfoundland and I get an invite to a nice dinner on another boat. 16yo daughter is in a non-social mood and won't come. I go out and have a nice time and come back around 10:00pm..

"Oh my God, what's that smell??"

Daughter had used the electric head, over pressurized the holding tank, and it EXPLODED!!! The front wall went out and dumped it's guts in the bilge.

Scoop up a bucket of water, dump it in the chain locker (via Vee berth) pump it out with manual bilge. Repeat ad nausea until 3:00am or so.

Send Daughter out for gallon bottle of bleach in the morning.

Drink heavily as required, and it IS required.



There is a bit of a story to how I got this tank, which was some helpful guys idea of how to save me money. Yeah, right. Clearly the tank had "issues", it should never have gone like that. And...Daughter should have used some sense. And.......I should have flushed it before.....

Oh well.......S#@T HAPPENS!
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Old 24-08-2010, 20:58   #32
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Ever heard of a sewer ejector pump. Its college for glad someone else will have to deal with this after the job is done. Kinda of like were putting water source heat pumps in our 30 story high rise. off topic sorry
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Old 24-08-2010, 21:43   #33
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Man I remember those days. Not sure if the valve was the joker or me. Just cleaned out the composting head again today on my boat after two months, could have gone longer. A ten minute job with no more than a slight musty smell and I'm good for another two to four months. Where the old holding tank used to be sits a new EU2000, 250' of 1/2" rode, 5hp merc, 2gal. of 2/cycle oil and sail covers. Why in the world anyone would own any other type of head on a boat is beyond me.
OK, I gotta ask (becasue I really don't know), How does a composting toilet work on a boat? How long can you do business with it before what-ever-it-is-you-gotta-do to 'cleanse' it gotta be done?
Cheers,
Bill
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Old 24-08-2010, 21:58   #34
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OK, I gotta ask (becasue I really don't know), How does a composting toilet work on a boat? How long can you do business with it before what-ever-it-is-you-gotta-do to 'cleanse' it gotta be done?
Cheers,
Bill
Below is the two best known composting heads. Brent Swain will sell you plans to build one. I went for the Air Head for no other reason that it's measurements fit my area better. Browse their sites to get a good understanding of how simple they really are. The Air Head claims 80 uses, I've no doubt as I went over that amount my last trip with no problems. The first hyperbole is the eeeck factor with most people that are not used to them. Believe me, that is easily out weighed and quickly forgotten if you have ever gone through any of the stories that are posted above. You will just never, ever, have to deal with exploding tanks, stuck valves, disgusting leaking hoses again. To empty it is a simple matter of two small wing nuts to remove the bowl. Two more small wing nuts to remove the container base, walk it off the boat, upside down it into a garbage bag take it back aboard and reinstall the four wing nuts drop in some new desiccant and you are done. The urine container is simply poured over board when it gets full. The claims that your boat will smell better with a composting toilet are very accurate. I've been through all of the above posted stories on the boats I've owned. Composting toilets are the KISS rule.
I just came back from the Bahamas the other day and was stopped by the boys for a quick safety check. They were more intrested in how the composting head really worked than anything else. They were really impressed when I told them I never have to dump off shore again.

Nature's Head Composting Toilets - The Ideal Waterless Toilet for Your Boat, RV, Cabin, Big Rig or Yurt!

http://www.airheadtoilet.com/
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Old 24-08-2010, 22:12   #35
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I'm convinced that life is all about pumping sh*t. I had to deal with that back when I was sailing charters for others. Not pleasant with five heads on board. I learnt that preventive maintenance is the best way and a thorough 'pre-sail' briefing with warts and all to all the passengers keeps most bits going ok most of the time. Most, I say, not always. New hoses and vents and diverters on my boat now, on my terms, not on holidays. Even so, not the nicest job on board. An old farm hand told me once 'very nice to crap sitting down but look at the problems it gives you'.
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Old 24-08-2010, 23:45   #36
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Don't you love the way how even after draining and pumping out and draining some more the tank just never seems to completely empty. Always enough in there to make those rivers.

So who's in? Think we could bulk pricing on Nature's Heads?
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Old 25-08-2010, 00:45   #37
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This thread is just too funny! I guess it hits home for me, because I just finished a black water system modification yesterday…. Urghhhh. Fortunately the job yesterday started with an empty holding tank, but the inevitable nasties still ensued (Albeit a low volume).
The mod was to install a manual pump for discharging the holding tank, as the gravity dump was prone to clogging once in a while, which is too often IMO!
The idea for the mod started when I couldn’t empty the holding tank, and the old ‘plumber’s snake’ up through the sea cock didn’t solve the issue this time. There is a 90 degree bend in the plumbing about 3 feet into the system, and I can’t get the plumber’s snake past this point. So I’ve ran the plumber’s snake all around the 3 feet of hoses I can reach, and nothing, which lead me to believe that the blockage was further up the system. I want to ‘prove the concept’ that a pump would empty the holding tank with this type of blockage, and I also desperately need to get the holding tank emptied. So the plan is to disconnect the dump hose which is attached to the sea cock, and insert a preassembled system of a pump, hoses, and adaptors, then make the test. Well as soon as the hose came off the sea cock, I was confronted with a disgusting site indeed. It was like a huge tube of toothpaste with an eager 5 year old squeezing the end of it for all she’s worth, but the substance coming out wasn’t ‘minty white’, or ‘blue Gel’ I can assure you. It probably only took a few seconds to get the hose onto the adaptor of the pre-made ‘pump system’, but it seemed like an eternity……. Apparently the blockage was actually right at the sea cock after all! After I regained my composure, I yelled “Clean up aisle 5” to the Admiral , but she was already untying the dinghy, apparently we urgently needed some provisions from shore………
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Old 25-08-2010, 02:25   #38
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Were you going East to Plymouth??!! Holy sh*t. That would be some bash. We saw 45+ gusts. The seas were falling over and we had green water on deck a few times. It was magical, though, actually. The sea was so beautiful, such shapes and textures. That raging gale and bright sunshine. We were sailing with just a scrap of Yankee jib up on a dead run and surfing on the waves; we saw 13 knots on the log at one point. We were blasting Mahler in the cockpit, although we don't usually mix saiing with music.
Almost due North, We'd been in Brest and having left with a forecast of force 5 to 6 it was easier to carry on and anyway there wasn't much in the way of a divert available. Thank goodness for stabilizers. Glad you sorted the problem. Hope your young crews' head is ok this morning

P.
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Old 25-08-2010, 04:06   #39
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Almost due North, We'd been in Brest and having left with a forecast of force 5 to 6 it was easier to carry on and anyway there wasn't much in the way of a divert available. Thank goodness for stabilizers. Glad you sorted the problem. Hope your young crews' head is ok this morning

P.
Brest-Plymouth Channel crossing? Yesterday? In a power boat? Yikes! That's brave!
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Old 25-08-2010, 04:23   #40
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I have done some 'head work' on my own and other peoples boats. Since I have a high gag reflex to the expected odors the first step I like to do (ALWAYS) is pump out the tank(s). On a healthy head the suction can go right back to the bowl of the head and should clear out most of the nasty 'rivers of ****' material. This only works of course if there is a pump out station handy.
Another trick is to have a bottle (or 2) of the Raritan bacterial tank treatment 'KO' handy is it makes the worst smells smell more like cherries, if for a short while.
Sorry you had to go through this but thankks for sharing.
Oh, that's interesting -- taking the idea one step further and pumping out the TANK instead of applying the suction hose to the end of the sanitary hose. That's a great idea. Wouldn't work on our boat because the black water tank doesn't have a deck pumpout fitting (it's dump at sea only). But still, a great tip. If that works, then that's the most painless clog you can imagine. Don't even have to take anything apart. Nigel Calder needs to put that one in his book.

I have just one question:

When we did our little pumpout trick, I already knew that the clog was downstream of my antisiphon valve (siphon break). So I didn't think about how they would interact with the process.

But I was very surprised to see that the suction from the pumpout nozzle, which we had applied near the end of the system, at the diverter valve, was sucking water out of the toilet.

Shouldn't the siphon break be letting air in, and breaking that suction?
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Old 25-08-2010, 04:35   #41
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Brest-Plymouth Channel crossing? Yesterday? In a power boat? Yikes! That's brave!
Not all power boats are created equall not that is wasn't bloody uncomfortable and unwise to do less than give both hands to the boat.

P.
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Old 25-08-2010, 04:40   #42
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I used to advise guests aboard that they could put anything in the marine head as long as they ate it first, but even this strict rule failed me. Once we had a crew member on a voyage to the Bahamas that enjoyed sunflower seeds and had the unusual habit of swallowing the husks as well as the seeds. Despite having chewed these masses of cellulose ruffage, the material completely impacted the joker valve as resulted in a difficult repair at sea. Recently, at a sea food restaurant, my son-in-law demonstrated that he enjoyed fried shrimp including the crunchy tails. I know this chitin is not digestable. I'll have to put him in quarentine and a restricted diet before allowing him aboard! Take care and joy, Aythya crew
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Old 25-08-2010, 07:21   #43
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The stench is just about impossible to describe.
Character building. Execs on a leadership course would pay thousands for your experience.


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My young crew had a brilliant idea -- why don't we hook up the pumpout hose to the diverter valve and just suck the clog out? Eureka.
And thats what you should have done as soon as you noticed the problem: Gone off with the guests and told the crew to fix it!
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Old 25-08-2010, 10:34   #44
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Almost due North, We'd been in Brest and having left with a forecast of force 5 to 6 it was easier to carry on and anyway there wasn't much in the way of a divert available. Thank goodness for stabilizers. Glad you sorted the problem. Hope your young crews' head is ok this morning

P.
my head is fine lol, small pub crawl then back to boat for several more tins! Now got the floor up sprting out macerator pump out. Also repaired/rebuilt electric toilet pump which had burnt out and got that working... Sort of.. Needs a new switch as it trips whole circuit when you press it meaning corrosion most likely as it's not the motor itself as I experimented and discovered switch has gone. The captain is very grateful and is taking me out for cocktails later!
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Old 30-08-2010, 14:20   #45
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The saga continues.

The discharge side is now fine. Thank God.

I dropped another load of cash on a new electric pump. The noisy old-fashioned vertical Jabsco one, identical to the old one, because (after reflection) it is a drop-in replacement for the manual pump, unlike all the quiet flush ones. Having now experienced the benefit of being able to drop in the manual one in a pinch, I think I will keep it that way.

After investing so much work and wasted so many days on it, then on top of it dropping so much cash into solving the problem, I thought that I deserved for it to be solved at last. Oh nooooo -- of course not. "Deserve" is not a word which fate recognizes.

Now the problem is on the intake side. A blessing, of course, that we are no longer dealing with the dirty, smelly, discharge side, just clean sea water now. But nevertheless, a problem. The pump doesn't prime.

We primed it manually but still no joy. Now the installation instructions warn sternly that there must be no vented loop in the intake side. And in the trouble shooting part of the manual, it says again -- pump doesn't prime; remove vented loop.

There IS a vented loop on the intake side of my toilet. The old electric pump is identical to the new one, and it always worked flawlessly. But the new one will NOT prime whatever I do.

I've checked everything for blockage. Sea water spurts out of the sea cock if you turn it on with the hose off. The vented loop is clear, judged by blowing through it. The little filter is clear -- I even changed it for the new one which came with the new pump.

Should I now put in a short length of hose bypassing the vented loop? I don't like the idea of not having it, despite what the Jabsco instruction manual says.

Anyone have any similar experience?
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