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Shu

Electra-Scan Type 1 Marine Sanitation Device

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Hi folks,
My Corsair 28 came with an Electra-Scan grinder pump device on the discharge hose for the head.  The head is just a standard Jabsco manual type (or Groco, I will have to check when I'm down at the boat next). I was hoping to get your opinions regarding the need for such a device.
 
As I understand it, some areas of the country allow a type 1 marine sanitation device to discharge overboard.  I sail in Southern California, and I must discharge to a holding tank for later pump out at an approved facility, or if more than 3 miles offshore, I can discharge directly overboard. From the mapping on the EPA site, Type 1 discharge might be allowed within the 3-mile zone, but not untreated direct discharge; unless it is a harbor, then no discharge is allowed.

The main question I want to ask the group is this: Has anyone without such a device experienced clogging problems with the hose to the holding tank, or with the fitting into the holding tank?

 I see no need for the Electra-Scan device; it just adds weight, is one more drain on the batteries, and one more thing to go wrong on the boat, with potentially nasty consequences. I would like to remove it.

Your thoughts?
-Steve

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Steve, F31#1 here.  We (actually, this time First Mate did the dirtywork!) pulled out *everything* sewage-related, and replaced with a bespoke dessicating head.

Some off-grid guy in the UK was selling the urine-separator seat, I built the rest as nothing commercial was going to fit.  Goog up "urine separator", "dessicating head" etc.  There is C-head, and some other commercial marine units.

If you are pulling out sewage hose, reconfiguring, IMHO you should at least check out the options.  We can now go ~weeks without dumping solids, just the pee.  Dry shit doesn't stink, piss seriously does, and the toxic shiss combination, well, you know all about that by now.  We probably shook fifty to a hundred pounds off the boat as a side benefit.  Second side-benefit: more environmentally friendly.  Good luck!

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Thanks B2B.  We have been thinking of the composting toilet option.

In the meantime, it would be good to get rid of the Electra Scan, if it is serving no purpose for us.  I suspect it even adds to the odor issue, by being one more place where seawater can putrify in an anearobic environment when we are away from the boat for a couple weeks.

Do any of the group have an Electra-Scan, or the older Electra-San? Do you like it? How is it better (or worse) than not having it?

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We just built a custom composting head for our monohull; thread here. Finding a good, reasonably-priced urine separator was the key. There's a fellow in Arizona who 3D prints a number of different models; we paid $50 delivered and it is quite well made. :) Comes with one 1" shim. Separett has a distributor in Kansas for their ludicrously-priced kit; these folks in England ship internationally. Could make one out of FRP pretty easily.

Agree Type 1 MSDs may be less useful every day, as more and more harbors, bays, and the Great Lakes designate as NDZs.IIRC, the power demands are pretty high, too?

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I don't know what the demand is, but it "sounds" like it is using a lot of power for the 30 or 40 seconds it runs for each solids flush.  We don't run it for urine only, as we want to save the batteries.  I'm not sure that's the right thing to do though.

 

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14 minutes ago, Shu said:

I don't know what the demand is, but it "sounds" like it is using a lot of power for the 30 or 40 seconds it runs for each solids flush.  We don't run it for urine only, as we want to save the batteries.  I'm not sure that's the right thing to do though.

 

West Marine says just 1.2 Ah/cycle at 12VDC -- which is much less than expected. But if it goes into a holding tank after that (like at anchor or dock), doesn't it still turn into black water about 5 minutes later? You can murder all endemic micro orgs in a sewage slurry -- but it remains quite a fine medium for other micro orgs to grow in.

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8 minutes ago, Diarmuid said:

West Marine says just 1.2 Ah/cycle at 12VDC -- which is much less than expected. But if it goes into a holding tank after that (like at anchor or dock), doesn't it still turn into black water about 5 minutes later? You can murder all endemic micro orgs in a sewage slurry -- but it remains quite a fine medium for other micro orgs to grow in.

I think the idea is that the output goes straight overboard, but as soon as you introduce a holding tank into the equation, you may as well skip the Lectra San entirely.

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I've got an Electro Scan, and have just re-installed it after giving it a full overhaul (new electrodes and motors). I considered going to a composting (the wife voted that down) or holding tank but decided to re-install the sanitation unit.  The rules in NZ allow me to discharge waste treated properly with such a system unless I am within 500m of a marine farm (and a few other exceptions). I like the idea that the waste that is discharged is not polluting the water, and generally find that it's easy enough to run the motor up if I'm worried about current draw. 

I'm a fan of them...

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We had one for quite a while before the us puget sound became a ndz.  In retrospect they really don't add alot of maintenance compared to a SW electric head.  We had to use a salt tank and that was a little bit of a pain till I sorted out a easy to use dosing tank and supply of salt pellets.  It makes for a 100% oder free boat.  The use all the chlorine will eat bronze thru hulls but not at a rate I would really worry.  You have to maintain them with there own proprietary acid or muriadic dosing.  The power usage for two females and one male was insignificant.  Like anything electric it only works properly with the right voltage. Low batteries and no zapping 

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16 hours ago, Ishmael said:

I think the idea is that the output goes straight overboard, but as soon as you introduce a holding tank into the equation, you may as well skip the Lectra San entirely.

I can attest to that.  The holding tank smell when it vents is nearly gag-worthy. There is no way to skip the Electra-Scan the way my boat is plumbed.  Hence, my thoughts of removing it from the boat.

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If you have a gravity drain holding tank that drains 100% it's fine to use the electro scan.  If not then the treated waste will turn to sludge and be way nastier.  The same reason you never use bleach in a black water system on a ship it kills all microbes makes a super gross foul smelling sludge and causes general havoc.  If you have ever been by a huge power. Boat with a treatment plant that someone out a bunch of bleach down the toilet you will know beyond gross.

If you are not going to be using it daily then there is no reason to have it.   We actually sold ours at a swap meet.

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It sounds like your area and Puget Sound have the same rules, no dischage ever, no mater what processing takes place. Both our last boat and the current have simple manual heads and holding takes, no macerator or other sanitation equipment. So far we have had no problems. You should be able to get rid of the electra-san as long as you are strict with head rules.

On our boat we only use the minimum amount of crappy 1 ply marine/RV paper. We empty the tank whenever the opportunity arises, even if not full. After each pump out we run lots of fresh water through the system. If you remove the current set up have a low threshold to replace the hoses, research the best ones. Even at 3x the cost they are still a cheap investment in boat dollars. All of this starts to make a composting head sound like a good idea, but so far things work well enough to keep what we have.

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They are useful in areas that are not NDZs and where pumpout facilities are either not available at all or inaccessible by reasons of distance, bridges, draft, limited hours, cost, etc.  There are fewer such areas than was the case years ago but they do exist.

For example, much of the lower Mississippi doesn't have pumpout facilities that are open to recreational boats, and it's not an NDZ.  I understand there are some similar situations in east coast bays and sounds where the 3 mile limit is too far.

 

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Toilet paper goes into ziploc bags (which are not flushed down the head!) on our boat.  

Based on some of the statements here, it sounds like the very bacteria-killing action that allows for overboard discharge in some areas, makes for a way worse situation in our holding tank.  I'm pretty sure we have to run it when flushing No. 2, otherwise the grinder pump would clog up.

One of the reasons I might keep it was for potential trip to Puget Sound, but that is out according to Steele.

You guys are helping confirm that removing the Electra-Scan is what I should do.

Anybody want to talk me out of removing it?

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The Puget sound, even before it was a ndz was one of the easiest places to be compliant and pump out. In enclosed spaces like Lake union, downtown Seattle there are numerous services who will come right to your boat.  Alot of the big marinas also offer a pump out service boat.  Just about every fuel dock or marina has a free one and even the park services have them on out islands although they are not really maintained that good. Oddly CA was not as easy and after that we have seen three total marinas from San Diego to the canal with pump outs.

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Shu, We have a Corsair 31 with just a standard Jabsco head into a holding tank.  We use regular Costco TP but pump a couple strokes while doing the #2 just to move things along and avoid clogs.  No problems in 5 years.  When I do pump the tank overboard in a discharge zone I see only slurry, ie no recognizable pieces of TP or anything else so a macerator would be redundant.  I guess the wave motion slurries it up just fine.   I use a small manual whale pump with a deck fitting.   For the final flush or pee we only pump the Jabsco a minimum amount (a fine art) to extend the time between pump outs.  At the end of the cruise we flush with copious fresh water at the last pump out dock.  I dump several 5 gallon buckets back into into the tank via the pump out deck fitting, then pump out again.  Usually I do this 2 or  3 times and this seems to eliminate odors, even during winter lay up.  Like you, we do have a small system with a ~15 gallon holding tank.  I don't know how my routine would scale up for a large boat.

I'll confirm that finding a pump out  dock in Puget Sound up to the San Juan Islands is easy.  Gulf Islands of Canada and north its a little harder.  For me, I see no need for anything more than my set up so I wouldn't feel the need for your electorsan.

Just for a point of reference to us fussy Norto Americans.  From what I can tell after more than 6 months of canal cruising in eastern France & NL, there are virtually no pump out facilities there.  I've seen a few but only one that was not "out of order".  Its all direct discharge.  Maybe the big modernized barges have big holding tanks and local knowledge of a working pumpout but I would never swim in those canals or associated river.

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The Electro-Scan is out of the boat! It was quite a job re-running a full-length hose from the head to the wye valve, but it is done. Does anyone have need of a Type I marine sanitation device?  This is essentially a box that is placed in the head discharge hose that grinds and electrically kills the bacteria in waste before discharging it overboard.  I have no need of it here in Southern California, as I can discharge raw waste overboard when 3 miles offshore, or otherwise I must use a holding tank. 

If you live where you can discharge overboard from a Type I marine sanitation device, it would be nice not to use the holding tank. I do not recommend it's use with a holding tank. If you have room to install it on the overboard discharge hose downstream of the y-valve, then I think it would work nicely for an either-or system.

I have the complete system, including control wires, operating switch, and owners manual.  It ran a week ago, just before I disconnected it. I suspect it may need new electrodes to have it's full sewage-bug-zapping capability, but I don't know. It needs saltwater to work correctly, so if you are in fresh water you will need to add salt (that's what the owner's manual says).

Either pick it up here (I'm in San Diego County), or pay for shipping and it's yours.  If there is any interest, I will take photos.  I just flushed it out completely with fresh water, and it is thoroughly drying out. 

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Here are some photos, for those who might be considering it. The dimensions of the main unit are as shown. The height of the box is about 8" and the overall height is 13.5". As I said, it's free to whoever wants to pick it up or pay for shipping.

A couple of corrections to my previous statements: I's manufactured by Raritan.  A normal cycle is 3 minutes on, and it shuts off automatically. You can stop it manually for a shorter cycle.

Trash pickup was today at my house.  Next week this will be put in the trash, unless someone wants it. It seems like a nice bit of kit for someone who can put it to use. These are $1,299 new!

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Some of the charter fishing boats use them might try selling or listing on a SD forum for them. It looks like the fittings may have been glued in and cut flush? If so unfortunately the cost of the tank, electrode pack and cover is more than the new unit.  If you fill with viniger and let sit then flush out it will clean it up fairly easy.  They are not that bad to dissasemble, you need to remove the electrode nuts and cover bolts then pull the top up pushing the electrode studs thru. If cleaned and dissassembled, and the fittings aren't glued in, can probably sell it.

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Shu - if no one takes the whole system, I’d love to get the electronics (control box, display unit and start/stop button). 

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