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Marine Head Questions


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Just purchased a new (old) Ericson 33.  The head plumbing (waste side) is a Rube Goldberg maze that's been modified and I'm trying figure out how it's supposed to work.

 - See my (crude) diagram below.  The diagram is for the waste side of the system (water not shown)

- I'm trying to understand how the system is supposed to work. See photos of "Y" valves (note also one has a missing handle).  Does anyone know how these valves are supposed to work ? In other words, what is the flow based on handle position ?  There are three labels on the valve "flow", "open" and "open".  Seems very non-intuitive. From internet search, it appears that these valves are made by "5 Oceans" and they are cheap enough, so I ordered one to play with outside of the system.

- I would like to simplify this system.  it is way too cluttered and actually one of the hoses crosses over the thru-hull handle, making it difficult to open/close.   Since I have the tank pumped out every month and don't plan to cruise in any remote locations for extended periods, I am thinking maybe I don't even need any "Y" valves and can just run a hose directly into the tank from the toilet.  Any ideas on this ?

- How do I worked on the system (disconnect any hoses) without any toxic waste spills  ? :-).   If I put a tank treatment in with water and have it pumped out several times, will that be sufficient to empty it so there are no spills in the boat ?

Thanks !

 

 

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Is the tank above the waterline? Probably not in a 33. Maybe the idea is that the head can be used to pump seawater into the tank to flush the contents out. But the tank would remain full of dilute black water and sea water. Just a guess.

You should re-plumb it to just one Y valve for overboard/tank switching. Be sure to wire it to the tank position to make the CG smile.

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1 hour ago, El Boracho said:

Is the tank above the waterline? Probably not in a 33. Maybe the idea is that the head can be used to pump seawater into the tank to flush the contents out. But the tank would remain full of dilute black water and sea water. Just a guess.

You should re-plumb it to just one Y valve for overboard/tank switching. Be sure to wire it to the tank position to make the CG smile.

I'll check but I think the tank is below the WL level.  The thru-hull valve is definitely lower than the tank.   Do you mean to use Y valve for diverting head directly to overboard or for emptying tank overboard ?  I am not sure I need either but I could see a situation maybe where I would want to dump the tanks at sea if I was going to a port with no pump out facilities...(but no immediate plan for such a voyage but it would be nice :-).

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Yes the two valves could do all three modes:

Waste to tank (in harbor)

Waste to overboard (at sea)

Waste thru tank to overboard (which seems useless except that the head could be used to flush clear seawater into the tank for a rinse. That is my guess above)

You cannot empty tank at sea if tank is below waterline. You need a second pump for that. Which is common.

 

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3 minutes ago, El Boracho said:

Yes the two valves could do all three modes:

Waste to tank (in harbor)

Waste to overboard (at sea)

Waste thru tank to overboard (which seems useless except that the head could be used to flush clear seawater into the tank for a rinse. That is my guess above)

You cannot empty tank at sea if tank is below waterline. You need a second pump for that. Which is common.

 

Ah, I see.   The holding tank is under the lower birth, so the bottom of the tank I think is about floor level.  I don't know my boat well enough yet to know where the water level is inside the boat (but I check).   The hose that looks like it could be used for the tank empty actually coils up higher than tank level, so I am guessing that even though the plumbing is there, the tank is not going to drain overboard anyway in it's current configuration.. you'd want to have that line lower than the tank.  

I'm guessing that if I used one Y-valve, maybe the first two options would be the most useful for me right now (??).  although it would go into the tank 90% of the time. 

 

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2 hours ago, 964racer said:

Ah, I see.   The holding tank is under the lower birth, so the bottom of the tank I think is about floor level.  I don't know my boat well enough yet to know where the water level is inside the boat (but I check).   The hose that looks like it could be used for the tank empty actually coils up higher than tank level, so I am guessing that even though the plumbing is there, the tank is not going to drain overboard anyway in it's current configuration.. you'd want to have that line lower than the tank.  

I'm guessing that if I used one Y-valve, maybe the first two options would be the most useful for me right now (??).  although it would go into the tank 90% of the time. 

 

Doesn't matter if the line is lower than the tank if your water level is above it. Except for the backflow thing... 

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So  - if I treat the tank and pump it out at the station (and don't use it) will it be "safe" to remove output hoses so I can reroute the plumbing ?

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25 minutes ago, 964racer said:

So  - if I treat the tank and pump it out at the station (and don't use it) will it be "safe" to remove output hoses so I can reroute the plumbing ?

Safe? Depends if your nose has experience as a wastewater plumber. The pump out normally leaves a good bit of waste in the tank. Might treat and pump a few times over a few days. Use plenty of sponges to catch the flow when undoing fittings.

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12 minutes ago, El Boracho said:

Safe? Depends if your nose has experience as a wastewater plumber. The pump out normally leaves a good bit of waste in the tank. Might treat and pump a few times over a few days. Use plenty of sponges to catch the flow when undoing fittings.

zero experience :-)... I have heard put about 10 lbs of ice in tank (through deck fitting) mix in about 1 quart of "Tide" detergent and then go for  sail (or take the boat through some waves/chop to shake it around).   Then pump out...Not sure if that works but it makes sense.

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55 minutes ago, 964racer said:

zero experience :-)... I have heard put about 10 lbs of ice in tank (through deck fitting) mix in about 1 quart of "Tide" detergent and then go for  sail (or take the boat through some waves/chop to shake it around).   Then pump out...Not sure if that works but it makes sense.

Might work. "Dilution is the solution to pollution."

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On the Y valve position, I think OPEN is the inlet and the side where you can read FLOW (where it's not obscured by the handle) is the outlet. Rotating the handle should show FLOW on the other side. And then you have to trace out which side of the FLOW goes to the holding tank and which to overboard. 

I have a similar snake's nest and a bladder tank in the bilge. I'm trying to figure out how I can mount a poly tank high that will gravity-flow to the thru-hull, probably with a y-valve to the deck pump out. 

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On further thought I think I got that wrong. I believe FLOW is the common side and the OPEN that is not obscured by the handle is the open side of the valve. 

Might be a common inlet with two outlets or a common outlet with two inlets. 

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9 hours ago, TJSoCal said:

On further thought I think I got that wrong. I believe FLOW is the common side and the OPEN that is not obscured by the handle is the open side of the valve. 

Might be a common inlet with two outlets or a common outlet with two inlets. 

I think that explanation makes the most sense.  I ordered one of the valves (they are actually available on amazon).  It was cheap enough (I think it was 11.00).  I don't think I want to use one of these valves to replace,  but I can run some water through it to test how it is supposed to work and maybe use the handle off it to turn the broken one to make sure it is in the right position until I get a chance to re-plumb everything.   (and treat the tank).

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1 hour ago, 964racer said:

I think that explanation makes the most sense.  I ordered one of the valves (they are actually available on amazon).  It was cheap enough (I think it was 11.00).  I don't think I want to use one of these valves to replace,  but I can run some water through it to test how it is supposed to work and maybe use the handle off it to turn the broken one to make sure it is in the right position until I get a chance to re-plumb everything.   (and treat the tank).

Looks like the current setup might be simplified as well, if the tank is high enough that it will gravity drain to the thru hull. You could use one Y valve from the head to either tank inlet or overboard, and another Y valve from the tank outlet to either overboard or deck.

What I'm planning on my boat is for everything from the head to go to the tank, with one Y valve on the tank outlet to overboard or deck. At sea with the valve aligned to overboard everything will pass through the tank but go overboard immediately, and the Y valve, zip-tied to the deck position, will give me a way to positively prevent overboard discharge (I think that capability is required by law in my area).

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3 hours ago, longy said:

You do not need a Y valve for that setup - 'T' into the hose (for deck pumpout) just before thru hull valve. To store discharge, just close thru hull. Simple is better.

Yes, I definitely agree simpler is better.  But I believe in California you must have a way to "secure" either the Y valve or the overboard thru-hull in the closed position to positively prevent accidental or unintentional aligning for overboard discharge. I don't think simply closing the thru hull meets the requirement, and zip-tying a Y valve in the correct position seems like a simpler solution than trying to secure the thru-hull in the closed position. Particularly since I plan to put the Y valve in a more accessible spot  

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So , in the interest of Keeping it simple ( one y-valve ), it seems there are two possible configurations. 

1) head can be selected to go out to sea or into tank .  Tank cannot be dumped directly into sea, must be pumped .

2) Head always goes to tank, but tank can be selected to go to sea or closed ( to store waste )

for (2), I have two tank drains , so I don’t really need a y to select deck output because it’s in its own separate hose . The extra valve would just be a locked valve to meet coast guard requirements. If I had only one drain the. The the valve would be a “Y” valve to select deck or thru-hull (sea) but with it locked in deck position.

Are there any other options with just one Y valve ? 

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For option 2 if you want to use two separate tank outlets I think you'd want to use two straight ball valves, not y valves. Everything from the head would go to the tank.

Outlet number 1 would go to the thru-hull, either through a securable ball valve or figure out how to secure the thru-hull in the closed position. 

Outlet 2 would go to the deck fitting. It would probably be good to have a ball valve at the tank exit so you don't have waste sitting in the hose. Open the valve to pump out, close it when you're done. That valve wouldn't need to be securable since it doesn't connect to the overboard discharge. 

 I think the simplest rig would be to seal one of the tank outlets. All waste goes into the tank, which must be mounted high enough to gravity drain overboard. If mounted above the waterline the tank is also the vented loop. Outlet goes to one Y valve which goes either overboard or to the deck fitting. If you can secure it in the deck fitting position you meet the legal requirement. 

 

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