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Old 15-02-2020, 11:44   #1
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Head choices

Looking for opinions and suggestions concerning a good manual head.
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:00   #2
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Re: Head choices

Lavac!
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Old 15-02-2020, 12:34   #3
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Re: Head choices

Something has got to be better than a manual Jabsco. Maybe Peggy Hall will honor you with some of her very extensive knowledge of head systems.
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Old 15-02-2020, 13:08   #4
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Re: Head choices

Love our Groco model K, they’re not cheap but bullet proof and fully rebuildable with specific kits or improvised.
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Old 16-02-2020, 08:08   #5
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Re: Head choices

The Raritan PHII has been the top rated manual toilet since Raritan introduced it in 1983 The current version is the PH SuperFlush, which uses the PH II pump but has a redesigned base Raritan PH SuperFlush A bit more expensive than other manual toilets, but will provide at least 20 years of reliable trouble-free service if it's just kept well lubricated, rebuilt about every 5-6 years (rebuild kit is about $60) and the joker valve is replaced annually. Defender has it for the best price Raritan PH SuperFlush Toilet



The British Lavac Lavac Marine Toilets is another excellent choice, but St Brendens Isle, who was the US importer, now includes a link to a UK site on their page. A search for "Lavac marine toilets" brings up several US retailers who have it, but not sure how long that will last.


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Old 16-02-2020, 11:26   #6
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Re: Head choices

The reason I like the Lavac is we had a good amount of experience with them. The toilets are dead simple to use. We installed two of them on a sail training vessel and they have been used now for more than 10 years, by 30 kids at a time for 5 months a year and they are holding up well.

It is also possible to install these with both electric and manual pumps inline, or two manual pumps, giving redundancy.

They are reasonable cheap also. I think they are called "Popular" now.

On my present boat I actually have a Jabsco. They are not perfect toilets, but if you do not put paper into the toilet they hold up reasonably well. They are used on many charter boats also, which in itself is a recommendation. Spare parts are available everywhere. The pump shaft seal tends to leak after a while, easily changed.

The worst toilet I ever had was a Blake. Don't ask me. The British tend to like them, though, like everything that is a little bit of a torment
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Old 16-02-2020, 11:40   #7
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Re: Head choices

Nature's Head.
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Old 16-02-2020, 16:39   #8
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Re: Head choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by rbk View Post
Love our Groco model K, they’re not cheap but bullet proof and fully rebuildable with specific kits or improvised.
I bought a Groco Model K new 22 years ago. I selected it over the Wilcox Crittenden Skipper because the Groco has a household sized bowl and could has a option for electricity. . Have been a liveaboard on and off. Rebuild kits are expensive at $125-$150. The little spring-loaded flapper at the bottom of the bowl is vulnerable. It is not really possible to install it properly with a vented loop on the inlet as valving is internal to the bronze base, so would be cautious about installing if the rim is below waterline.

For its type, a great head. I think though that type of head has come and gone.
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Old 16-02-2020, 19:17   #9
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Re: Head choices

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Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
I bought a Groco Model K new 22 years ago. I selected it over the Wilcox Crittenden Skipper because the Groco has a household sized bowl and could has a option for electricity. . Have been a liveaboard on and off. Rebuild kits are expensive at $125-$150. The little spring-loaded flapper at the bottom of the bowl is vulnerable. It is not really possible to install it properly with a vented loop on the inlet as valving is internal to the bronze base, so would be cautious about installing if the rim is below waterline.

For its type, a great head. I think though that type of head has come and gone.
Just did the first rebuild after 18 years. No issues with our install below the waterline. Piston rings were worn a little and a small inconsistent drip from the pump handle. All other gaskets and drop ball looked brand new. I think the best part is that guests can’t flood the boat with this style.
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Old 16-02-2020, 19:24   #10
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Re: Head choices

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Originally Posted by tkeithlu View Post
Something has got to be better than a manual Jabsco. Maybe Peggy Hall will honor you with some of her very extensive knowledge of head systems.
Somebody enlighten me... why the negativity on the jabsco manual heads?

I have two of them. In full time liveaboard service with two people living on board. I service them every 24 months, and they have been flawless. They are 25 years old and have two circumnavigations on them. A whole new pump is only about $100, so if you prefer to swap that out you basically have a new head.

They have never leaked, they have never failed to pump what was in the bowl into the tank--ever. Am I leading a charmed life?

I KNOW they get lots and lots of negative comments here, but I have never understood WHY?
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Old 16-02-2020, 19:43   #11
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Re: Head choices

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Originally Posted by rbk View Post
Just did the first rebuild after 18 years. No issues with our install below the waterline. Piston rings were worn a little and a small inconsistent drip from the pump handle. All other gaskets and drop ball looked brand new. I think the best part is that guests can’t flood the boat with this style.
I am amazed that the little wire spring (or the rivot that secures it) that holds the flap against the bottom of the bowl has lasted this long! And similarly stunned the small bronze strike plate on the inlet flap that is held closed by the cam has remained intact for 18 years (I've been lucky to get 2 years out of these parts, which are fairly deep into the guts of the bronze base). But good for you!

Correct installation of a raw water head is to have a siphon break between the flush pump and the bowl. If you put it on the suction side of the pump (the pump handle on a Groco), it just sucks air. On a Groco Model K, this is not possible because it's internally plumbed within the bronze body. There are solenoid activated vented loops for auction side that close the vent when flushed, but they are designed for electric head use.

The only thing keeping seawater from entering your boat via the head is 1) rim is higher than waterline, or 2) cam on foot pedal pressing against a rubber flap. Failure of the spring on the foot lever or failure of the set screw on the cam or failure of the small bronze plate that is rivoted to the rubber flap will allow water into the boat.

Please, do not leave your boat with the intake thru hull for a head like the groco model k open.
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Old 16-02-2020, 20:29   #12
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Re: Head choices

Spring has a bit of rust but the retaining screws (no rivets) is also like new (bronze and stainless components) and it was getting a little weak. It has spent its life in the PNW so less salt concentration maybe? I am a little worried about the rebuild, sometimes those create more problems then they fix. The cellophane film was also in place on the intake flap, I have heard others having problems leaving this optional piece out. All through hulls always get shut when we leave. Only problem we’ve had with it is the joker valve letting effluent from the riser to the vented loop seep back into the bowl but that’s a five min fix.
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Old 21-02-2020, 05:46   #13
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Re: Head choices

I agree with Mike- Nature's Head composting toilet would be my first choice. Lavac would be my choice of wet head. You'd have to pay me to install another Jabsco head on my boat...
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Old 21-02-2020, 06:59   #14
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Re: Head choices

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I agree with Mike- Nature's Head composting toilet would be my first choice. Lavac would be my choice of wet head. You'd have to pay me to install another Jabsco head on my boat...
When I bought my Groco Model K 25-years ago, I closely considered the Lavac (Defender carried them at the time). One thing I hate about marine heads is the small, round seat which ruled out both the Lavac and the Wilcox Crittenden Skipper head. I have a one-head boat, so wanted something manual which ruled out the macerating heads such as the Raritan Crown (and certainly the Jabsco). In the end, 25-years ago, there really wasn't a lot of choice left over. The Raritan PHII (or its predecessor - I don't recall exactly) didn't seem robust, though I understand from Peggie Hall that they are indeed good heads, albeit with small/round seat.

As part of my refit, I recently went through the head selection process again, though options are greater now. Electric heads are much, much more reliable and water-efficient than they were 25-years ago. The Raritan Elegance appears to be a great choice. But after 25-years, my issue is no longer with the head itself even though I find my Groco pretty high maintenance, but with all the stuff behind/beneath it: holding tank, Y-Valves, hoses, macerator, through-hulls, MSD Type II treatment devices, odor, pump-outs, etc. It's a multi-part system with several points of failure: every year or so, something seems to give and I'm back in the bilges, swearing.

If my head were above waterline (no vented loop) and it was kosher to discharge direct overboard (no holding tank etc.), I'd go with a Raritan Elegance even though I still have a geek-crush on the Lavac....if only they had a household sized seat. But I can't/won't do that, which is why I decided to give a compost head a try (Natures Head), especially since our cruising plans are for just my wife and I. I am not crazy about the routine waste handling it entails, but I'm very hopeful it offsets the myriad of "unscheduled" waste handing events I've resolved over the last 25-years, including extensively sanitizing the bilges/head/myself afterwards (actually, entire boat by the time it's done). And haven't even mentioned the challenge of a "service interruption" on a single-head boat.

Compost head is, by far, the most controversial decision I've made in my refit. I am comfortable it's the right direction for our needs. If not, I'll install a traditional wet-head. I guess it just depends on what type of experience folks have had with their sanitation system and how squeamish they are about handling waste. For me, head systems have been far from reliable. My first job was a ranch hand mucking stalls and castrating livestock so my squeamish threshold is pretty high. Trade-off is attractive for me.

We'll see how it goes.....

Peter
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Old 21-02-2020, 07:09   #15
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Re: Head choices

Quote:
Originally Posted by mvweebles View Post
When I bought my Groco Model K 25-years ago, I closely considered the Lavac (Defender carried them at the time). One thing I hate about marine heads is the small, round seat which ruled out both the Lavac and the Wilcox Crittenden Skipper head. I have a one-head boat, so wanted something manual which ruled out the macerating heads such as the Raritan Crown (and certainly the Jabsco). In the end, 25-years ago, there really wasn't a lot of choice left over. The Raritan PHII (or its predecessor - I don't recall exactly) didn't seem robust, though I understand from Peggie Hall that they are indeed good heads, albeit with small/round seat.

As part of my refit, I recently went through the head selection process again, though options are greater now. Electric heads are much, much more reliable and water-efficient than they were 25-years ago. The Raritan Elegance appeared to be a great choice. But after 25-years, my issue is no longer with the head itself even though I find my Groco pretty high maintenance, but with all the stuff behind/beneath it: holding tank, Y-Valves, hoses, through-hulls, MSD Type II treatment devices, etc.

If my head were above waterline (no vented loop) and it was kosher to discharge direct overboard (no holding tank etc.), I'd go with a Raritan Elegance even though I still have a geek-crush on the Lavac....if only they had a household sized seat. But I can't/won't do that, which is why I decided to give a compost head a try (Natures Head), especially since our cruising plans are for just my wife and I. I am not crazy about the routine waste handling it entails, but I'm very hopeful it offsets the myriad of "unscheduled" waste handing events I've resolved (with plenty of Clorox clean-up of the bilges) over the last 25-years. It is, by far, the most controversial decision I've made in my refit, but I am comfortable it's the right direction for our needs. If not, I'll install a traditional wet-head.

We'll see how it goes.....

Peter
Peter, if you are anything like all the others who installed a composting toilet, it'll go well. I also think you'll find dealing with emptying it is no big deal.
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