Head Starts Page 2
April 2002 — By Tim
|Part 2: A Preventative Eye...|
I also spoke on the subject of rebuilds with Raritan Engineering’s manager of technical support, Vic Willman, whom Hall endorses as one of the industry’s most knowledgeable technicians. He hints that Hall’s regimen might be considered a bit severe, but agrees that you may want to err on the side of caution. Of the discharge joker valve, for instance, Willman says, "It normally should last a couple of years or more. But it’s only about a $10 part, so why not replace it annually? That way you won’t have to worry about backflow into the toilet." Granted, your life doesn’t depend on this equipment, but your quality of life does. You’re much better off putting in a little extra time and expense in the spring as insurance against an all-out, midcruise disaster at the height of summer.
On manual toilets, a rebuild would include replacing the O-rings and shaft seal on the pump piston and generously applying a Teflon-based waterproof marine grease such as SuperLube or Sea Lube. Other parts to replace might include the intake valve (usually a flapper valve) at the base of the pump and the discharge valve (usually a joker valve) often located right in the discharge fitting. On an electric head an equivalent undertaking would be replacing the impellers on both intake and discharge pumps. (Owners of VacuFlush toilets can take a moment of satisfaction here, since there are almost no moving parts above deck, and the valves near the vacuum pump below should only need to be replaced every few years.)
Also with a preventive eye, once your rebuild is complete, go below and examine your plumbing. Inspect all through-hulls for corrosion or cracks, and make sure seacocks are in good working order. Check and lubricate any Y-valves that govern the route of your system. Examine hose fittings, and ensure that all connections are double-clamped and in good shape. And check the hose itself, not only for signs of wear but also for odor permeation. This is not a pleasant task, but it’s easy. Just wipe the exterior of the hose with a clean rag; if there are no leaks at the fittings but the rag smells, the hose needs to be replaced.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.