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Head Games...Oh No!

Discussion in 'Ask All Sailors' started by Jtcf78911, Jun 13, 2018. Add this thread to a FAQ

  1. Jtcf78911

    Jtcf78911

    Joined Aug 16, 2015
    130 posts, 12 likes
    O'Day 28
    US Salem, MA
    Hey all.

    Newbie sailor here with a Groco HF toilet on my O’Day 28 doing a great job of bringing in seawater but not emptying the bowl. Have owned the boat for three years and assume some kind of basic rebuild is in order (I know I should replace but that needs to wait). So for rebuild, I have about half a bowl of not pleasant looking water that I assume needs to go away before I begin to disassemble (I certainly want it to go away!). Will a little gentle plunger work make this happen? Other ideas on this particular challenge, and any guidance on rebuild, certainly appreciated. Also, does anyone have an article (link) that would educate me on exactly what is happening in these toilets, i.e. how do they do what they do? (bad grammar!). Tx. Tom O’Day 28.
     

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  2. Scott T-Bird

    Scott T-Bird

    Joined Oct 26, 2008
    3,380 posts, 483 likes
    Starwind 27
    US Barnegat, NJ
    Hey Tom! Welcome to the exotic and fantasy-filled world of sailboat maintenance! You will need to give us more detail about what you have observed, tried and failed at doing! The first question for all of us, since you are self-described novice, would be … "do you know how to operate a marine toilet?" It seems that you know how to open the valve to pump in sea water but are you closing the valve to pump the bowl dry? If so, why would the bowl not empty? Either you have a clog in the line between the bowl and the holding tank, or the tank might be full and the vent blocked, or you might be pumping with a "Y" valve on the discharge side directing the effluent to a closed sea cock for overboard discharge.

    You will need to describe the condition of all of the components to zero in on an answer!
    BTW, I would definitely NOT use a plunger until you are absolutely sure about the reason why the bowl isn't emptying! If you explode the contents of your holding tank, you will probably run away from the sailboat forever.
     


  3. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    2,247 posts, 830 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    First, buy this book: https://shop.sailboatowners.com/prod.php?53615 It is a definitive guide to dealing with heads, holding tanks, hoses, and what not.

    Two places to look, easy one first. Is the vent for the holding tank clear? Will it allow the pressure from pumping out the head to vent? If it is plugged then all you are doing when pumping the head is pressurizing the holding tank, which will force the stuff back through the hoses and into the bowl.

    The second and nasty place to look is the joker valve. It is located at the end of the hose that attaches to the pump. Yes, the bowl and hoses need to be drained. Find someone you don't like and borrow their shop vac and suck it out. (just kidding). The stuff needs to be removed. I've used a small hand bilge pump to pump into a bucket and then properly dispose of it. Take off the hose and replace the joker valve.
     


  4. kloudie1

    kloudie1

    Joined Nov 6, 2006
    7,908 posts, 543 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Mandeville Louisiana
    Here is a good video on a Jabsco but your pump works the same..
    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?...42E9E7787A3F3A372B6D42E9E7787A3F3A3&FORM=VIRE
    You could have a plugged holding tank vent, which would not let the bowl contents out.. ya could have a bad "joker valve" which lets stuff out the pump to the tank but prevents return.. or you could have a bad "foot" flapper valve at the bottom of the pump.. or a combination..
     


  5. Ron20324

    Ron20324

    Joined Jan 22, 2008
    6,188 posts, 571 likes
    Beneteau 323
    US Annapolis MD
    A first test for the vent: Pour some water on the deck pumpout fitting. JUST BARELY crack loose the cap and see if it blows bubbles. If so, leave it that WAY TO RELEASE PRESSURE IN THE TANK. Then, unscrew it all the way off. Try the toilet pump again now that the tank is vented via the pumpout.
     


  6. kloudie1

    kloudie1

    Joined Nov 6, 2006
    7,908 posts, 543 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Mandeville Louisiana
    More: don't try the plunger.. could surprise you with a gusher..
    Note that a new Jabsco is about the same price as the Groco rebuild parts..
    https://www.westmarine.com/buy/jabsco--twist-n-lock-compact-toilet--9532748?recordNum=8
    Jabsco has improved their toilet and it is a pretty good solution to the problem.. The Raritan is a really good toilet
    https://www.westmarine.com/buy/raritan--phii-manual-toilet--262907?recordNum=19
    but a little pricy.. This site has a kit that allows you to re-use an existing bowl and get the good mechanicals of the Raritan.. Not a fun job! but like running aground, there are those who have and those who will sooner or later..
     


  7. Ken Cross

    Ken Cross

    Joined Oct 24, 2010
    1,677 posts, 214 likes
    Hunter 30
    US Everett, WA
    NOOO. NO. Noooo. The deck fitting is routed to the bottom of the tank. If the vent is plugged and the deck fitting opened, it will pump tank contents onto your deck when you pump the toilet. First, pump out the tank properly, then go from there.

    Ken
     


    Apex likes this.
  8. CaptKimble

    CaptKimble

    Joined Jul 29, 2017
    132 posts, 51 likes
    Catalina 380
    US Los Angeles
    Buy Peggy's book.....:lastweek:
     


  9. CaptKimble

    CaptKimble

    Joined Jul 29, 2017
    132 posts, 51 likes
    Catalina 380
    US Los Angeles
    Buy Peggy's book.....:lastweek:
     


  10. CaptKimble

    CaptKimble

    Joined Jul 29, 2017
    132 posts, 51 likes
    Catalina 380
    US Los Angeles
    Buy Peggy's book.....:lastweek: BUY PEGGY"S BOOK
     


    All U Get likes this.
  11. CaptKimble

    CaptKimble

    Joined Jul 29, 2017
    132 posts, 51 likes
    Catalina 380
    US Los Angeles
    Buy Peggy's book.....:lastweek: BUY PEGGY"S BOOK
     


  12. kloudie1

    kloudie1

    Joined Nov 6, 2006
    7,908 posts, 543 likes
    Hunter 34
    US Mandeville Louisiana
    ditto ditto ditto ditto CaptKimble..
    Make sure vent is clear before pumping out the holding tank 'cause you could implode it or crack it with the pump-out pump..
     


  13. Jtcf78911

    Jtcf78911

    Joined Aug 16, 2015
    130 posts, 12 likes
    O'Day 28
    US Salem, MA
    Holy Cow!!! Help abundance. OK, I'm a newbie, but I know when the tank is drawing seawater, how to pump dry, etc. With seawater intake closed, the pump handle effectively just goes up and down, without any resistance or pressure, and the "water" in the bowl just seems to wallow in place - not sure if that is the right term. It's moving, almost in and up and down pattern, but its not going anywhere. Had earlier confirmed that my holding tank vent was open and functional. I have never pumped out the tank - just used macerator and so on when far enough out to sea... I'm hoping a joker valve...but I have the repair kit coming so assume I will be replacing a lot of parts... Sounds like no picnic getting the standing water out of the toilet. Oh boy....the fun never ends. I just finished running 20 ft. of new bilge hose and that was also a delight... Bad day on a boat still a good one?
     


  14. Jtcf78911

    Jtcf78911

    Joined Aug 16, 2015
    130 posts, 12 likes
    O'Day 28
    US Salem, MA
    Yikes....$500.....the next owner will love me!!!
     


  15. LeslieTroyer

    LeslieTroyer

    Joined May 20, 2016
    1,673 posts, 566 likes
    Catalina 36 MK1
    US Everett, WA
    Sounds like something stuck in the joker to me. If the vent was plugged you would get more resistance on the plunger.
    You crew knows not to put anything but pee, poo and Marine toilet paper in the head right?? Tampons, disposable wipes, paper towels, and cushy TP can All get stuck in the joker valve making it not work.

    Les
     


  16. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    2,247 posts, 830 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    Because the Raritan works so well, the current owner's wife will love you. ;)

    Lesson 2, West Marine is not always the best source for economical marine parts. As mentioned above, the SBO store sells the pump assembly for the Raritan PHII for less than a new one. And Defender.com sells the PHII for about $75 less than WM. https://www.defender.com/product3.j...ne-toilet&path=-1|51|2234284|2234286&id=10301

    From what you describe in your later post, it does sound like a joker valve. They should be replaced every year or two or as soon as you notice that it's not working as well as it should.

    Don't forget to buy Peggie Hall's book. A well spent $20 or so.
     


  17. Jtcf78911

    Jtcf78911

    Joined Aug 16, 2015
    130 posts, 12 likes
    O'Day 28
    US Salem, MA
    Ms. Peggy's book is on the way - it will sit right next to my "This Old Boat" and "Annapolis Book of Seamanship" resources. Boy am I a newbie... Thanks folks. I'll keep you posted.
     


  18. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    2,247 posts, 830 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY


  19. Jtcf78911

    Jtcf78911

    Joined Aug 16, 2015
    130 posts, 12 likes
    O'Day 28
    US Salem, MA
    Thanks. Lots of interesting resources to choose from. I may need to retire so I can spend all my time sailing, reading and repairing. Safe sailing. Tom O’Day 28.
     


  20. dlochner

    dlochner

    Joined Jan 11, 2014
    2,247 posts, 830 likes
    Sabre 362
    113 US Fair Haven, NY
    Speaking from experience, there is something to be said for having money show up in the bank account as long you keep breathing. :)

    It is well worth the 46 years I spent working. :waycool:
     



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