Q & A — January 2003
By Capt. Ken Kreisler
and maintenance of a VacuFlush MSD, tips on bottom paint prepping, and more.
just stepped up to a bigger preowned boat that has a VacuFlush system
and are unfamiliar with its care and maintenance. What is the proper procedure?
L.W., via e-mail
The major problem you'll probably face is clogging. To avoid this, use rapidly dissolving toilet paper designed especially for marine septic systems and always inform guests how the system works.
Should you get a clog, step on the lever, and you'll see a small opening in the flush ball. If the blockage is here, you can either pull it out or push it through; I've used a wire hanger to do this. Once that hole is open, the clog should go through, as the pump can handle material--plastic and metal included--up to one-half inch in diameter.
If water leaks down and out of the bowl, it's usually caused by debris caught between the flush ball and the surrounding seal. Cleaning under this seal will usually solve the problem.
Other maintenance tips include shutting off the toilet breaker when you leave the boat and avoiding the use of drain openers, alcohol, and solvents. Annual maintenance includes changing the in-line vent filter, tightening all clamps (including the base clamp), checking all wire connections, and cleaning and tightening the water-valve mounting screws.
There is a three- to four-year maintenance cycle for the vacuum pump, depending on the frequency of use--weekend outings compared to long-distance cruises. Contact a SeaLand dealer for this service. Visit www.sealandtechnologies.com to locate one.
is the recommended procedure for prepping my boat's previously coated
fiberglass bottom? K.T., via e-mail
A thorough powerwashing is a good way to start. After letting the bottom dry, inspect the entire surface for loose or flaking areas, grease spots, and blisters, which must be repaired before painting. If the surface is in good shape--no cracking, peeling, or flaking--sand it with 80-grit paper, which will not only prepare the surface for new paint, but also remove any residual contaminants.
Wipe down the bottom using clean rags moistened with the appropriate thinner. If you are using a new paint system, test a small area to make sure the paint is compatible with what's already on your boat. Finally, carefully follow the manufacturer's recommendations for applying the kind of paint you are using.
This article originally appeared in the January 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.