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Old 01-04-2019, 06:01 AM   #1
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? Replace Vacuflush, ?remove direct overboard discharge

I have a (new to me) 49 DeFever RPH. It has 2 well functioning vacuflush heads. All the hoses are permeated and need replacing (along with a partially blocked vent hose). Both heads have a direct discharge overboard option or to a single holding tank via Y valves. In addition to the marina pump out deck pipe, there is a separate holding tank discharge via a macerator pump to a direct discharge thru-hull.

My problem is all the hoses, Y valves, 2 vacuflush pumps, and the macerator pump are jammed under the forward companionway and difficult to access even for basic service like joker valve replacement on the vacuflush units. I can't personally even reach the vent hose to remove the filter let alone do any basic repairs so I'm going to have to write a big check to have all the hoses replaced, the vent changed and proactively service the vacuflush & macerator pumps.

Instead I am considering:
1) removing the vacuflush units
2) replacing both toilets with Raritan Marine Elegance heads as Peggy Hall & Hopcar rate them so highly
3) removing the Y valves & cap the individual direct discharge thru-hulls
4) connecting the new toilets directly to the holding tank (approx 6-8' from each).
5) maintaining the holding tank discharge (preferentially) by marina pumpout or (if offshore) directly overboard via the macerator pump.

I'm thinking that despite the cost of 2 new Marine Elegance toilets and a spare macerator pump because of the marine tech labor $$, the overall cost may not change much if I have them take everything out thus creating space to install this simplified system rather than the difficult task of servicing the existing units whilst replacing the hoses. More importantly in future, while cruising, I will have a simple accessible layout that I can fix myself.

I would value everyone's comments and experiences.
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:29 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Flatswing View Post
I have a (new to me) 49 DeFever RPH. It has 2 well functioning vacuflush heads. All the hoses are permeated and need replacing (along with a partially blocked vent hose). Both heads have a direct discharge overboard option or to a single holding tank via Y valves. In addition to the marina pump out deck pipe, there is a separate holding tank discharge via a macerator pump to a direct discharge thru-hull.

My problem is all the hoses, Y valves, 2 vacuflush pumps, and the macerator pump are jammed under the forward companionway and difficult to access even for basic service like joker valve replacement on the vacuflush units. I can't personally even reach the vent hose to remove the filter let alone do any basic repairs so I'm going to have to write a big check to have all the hoses replaced, the vent changed and proactively service the vacuflush & macerator pumps.

Instead I am considering:
1) removing the vacuflush units
2) replacing both toilets with Raritan Marine Elegance heads as Peggy Hall & Hopcar rate them so highly
3) removing the Y valves & cap the individual direct discharge thru-hulls
4) connecting the new toilets directly to the holding tank (approx 6-8' from each).
5) maintaining the holding tank discharge (preferentially) by marina pumpout or (if offshore) directly overboard via the macerator pump.

I'm thinking that despite the cost of 2 new Marine Elegance toilets and a spare macerator pump because of the marine tech labor $$, the overall cost may not change much if I have them take everything out thus creating space to install this simplified system rather than the difficult task of servicing the existing units whilst replacing the hoses. More importantly in future, while cruising, I will have a simple accessible layout that I can fix myself.

I would value everyone's comments and experiences.
As for replacing the heads, I highly recommend the Marine Elegance electric heads. Press a button, poop quickly macerated and flushed away. No more rebuilding the Vacuflush or replacing hard-to-get-to joker valves. All the mechanics of the Marine Elegance are hidden behind the porcelain throne.

Now that you have macerating heads, you can get rid of your macerating over-board pump. Install a Dometic T-Series pump as Peggy also recommends. I went through two other brands before happening on her advice. Very happy now. I have pumped overboard several times now (legally). Works fast with no apparent strain.
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Old 01-04-2019, 06:29 AM   #3
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I think your analysis is on the money. The one component that I would keep for the new system are the vacuum pumps to use for emptying your holding tank. In my view they are head and shoulders more reliable than a macerator type pump albeit a little slower rate of discharge. I find the macerators to have a significantly higher failure rate and even when they do work require coaxing to make them spin.

The one area that will complicate your life a bit is the extra power required to run the new toilets and that it has to be taken to the head area. I think it is well worth the effort. That and the space you save by having just a toilet without the remote mounted equipment that goes with the Vacuflush system.

One additional feature that may be of benefit is having the ability to raw-water rinse. If you have a raw-water wash down pressure pump system you could also use it to rinse the toilet bowls when potable water supplies are scarce or as a backup. That depends on how the freshwater is sent to the toilets.
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:07 AM   #4
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FS
My similar vintage DF has perfectly functioning vacu flush heads. The anti siphon loops and Yvalves are needed to cover all the bases for varying discharge compliance and to prevent boat sinking.

Your need for routine hose replacement is common. Why not just change out the hoses and be done with it? I'm in the same boat, hose replacement time is here. My mechanic who does things I don't want to, sees it as a normal grunt job.

While the Elegance seems a good unit, in my nearly identical situation it appears to be the perfect solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

BTW, I recently was on a vessel that had more than 1,200 vacu flush toilets - the QM 2.
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:15 AM   #5
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I faced a similar question with our Defever 44. Original permeated hoses, Y-valves and odors. A particular concern was the long hose run from the aft head to the holding tank up under the forward berth, some of which was actually slightly up-hill.

I replaced the heads with MArnie Elegances and the “Smart Flush” control panels. Next, I removed both Y-valves and all the hoses. For the aft head, I eliminated the long hose run and installed a Purasan MSD which is legal in most of the waters we routinely boat in. It fits nicely under the vanity. So the only option in the aft head is now treated waste overboard. If we’re in an non-discharge zone, we visit the forward head.)

The forward head goes only to the holding tank—perhaps an eight-foot hose run away. I have bought, but not yet installed, a Dometic macerating pump (perhaps overkill) for overboard discharge of the holding tank—where that is legal.

What I like about this configuration:
—all of the Raritan equipment is designed and operates flawlessly
—the Smart Flush key-pads are fantastic—easy to program and use
—hose runs are very short and there are fewer components to be compromised
—pump outs are MUCH rarer
—odors are simply gone

Possible negative:
—on the extremely rare occasions we have guests staying aboard while in a non-discharge zone, we’d have to share the forward head (this has never happened)

This might not be an ideal solution for someone who boats a lot on the Great Lakes or other NDZ, but it’s been ideal for us. It certainly wasn’t cheap and the replace/install process wasn’t easy nor always pleasant. But now that it’s done, it’s one of the best improvements we’ve made to the boat. Plus I get to boat with my wife; for her, the slightest head odors were a non-starter—as in “have fun; see you when you get back, hon.”
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:18 AM   #6
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FS
My similar vintage DF has perfectly functioning vacu flush heads. The anti siphon loops and Yvalves are needed to cover all the bases for varying discharge compliance and to prevent boat sinking.

Your need for routine hose replacement is common. Why not just change out the hoses and be done with it? I'm in the same boat, hose replacement time is here. My mechanic who does things I don't want to, sees it as a normal grunt job.

While the Elegance seems a good unit, in my nearly identical situation it appears to be the perfect solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

BTW, I recently was on a vessel that had more than 1,200 vacu flush toilets - the QM 2.
Geez, pretty graphic there sunchaser.
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Old 01-04-2019, 07:51 AM   #7
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Wow, you nailed me! Good one. What would guess the labor hours to be for converting your newly installed toilets? As usual, you did great work.
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:06 AM   #8
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We had the same issue on our Navigator. The vacuum pump could have been at the North Pole and we would have had better access. VaccuFlush are, in my opinion, archaic and horrendously inefficient. On Peggy's orders, we replace both heads with Raritan Elegance and never looked back. Downside? We turned a $20 duck valve replacement into a 3-week and $2000 dual-crapper upgrade. And TBH, we would do it again in a heartbeat.
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:30 AM   #9
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I think your analysis is on the money. The one component that I would keep for the new system are the vacuum pumps to use for emptying your holding tank.
I agree. The only difference between the T-Pump (overboard discharge pump and the S-Pump (vacuum pump) is the price and two more duckbill valves.

Quote:
The one area that will complicate your life a bit is the extra power required to run the new toilets and that it has to be taken to the head area.
Macerating electric toilets designed to use pressurized flush water draw only about 10 amps, and for a shorter time than a V/F pump typically has to run...so the"extra power requirement" is negligible. It would only be necessary to re-route the dedicated circuit that the V/F should already be on to the head, making sure the wire size is correct (see installation instructions).

[/QUOTE]One additional feature that may be of benefit is having the ability to raw-water rinse. If you have a raw-water wash down pressure pump system you could also use it to rinse the toilet bowls when potable water supplies are scarce or as a backup. That depends on how the freshwater is sent to the toilets.[/QUOTE]

The fresh water is sent to the toilets via a line teed into the cold water line to the head sink, no different than it is for the V/F. To have the ability to rinse with salt water requires adding an option Raritan calls the SeaFresh System Raritan seafresh.pdf that allows switching between fresh and salt at will. It can only be used on toilets that have two separate inlet connections on the toilet bowl, which the Elegance has.

Sunchaser said Your need for routine hose replacement is common.

If that need occurs more than about once every 10 years (which is the average working life for any hose), you're using hoses that have inferior odor permeation resistance---and that does include Dometic/SeaLand's top of the line hose. I've been on half a dozen boats on which it had permeated in less than a year and heard of many more.

There are only two hoses I recommend: Trident 101/102 (identical except for color...101 is black, 102 has a white skin on it)...double-walled rubber hose that's been on the market for 20+ years without a single reported odor permeation failure. Trident #101 Sanitation Hose Trident #102 Sanitation Hose Average price: $7-8/ft. It has only one drawback, a major one: it's as stiff as an ironing board, making it necessary to insert radius fittings where bends are more than about 10 degrees, so it's really suitable only for long straight runs. Raritan introduced their SaniFlex hose Raritan SaniFlex hose about 10 years ago and there has yet to be a single reported odor permeation failure..neither have I heard of any. It also has the added advantage of being so flexible it can be bent like a hairpin without kinking. Defender has it for <$10/ft.

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Old 01-04-2019, 09:48 AM   #10
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You're getting great advice. I went through a similar process when my boat was new to me 12 yrs. ago, but I went with VF. If I were to repeat the process, I'd do it with Tecma's or ME Raritan's and leave the VF behind.

I couldn't agree more with the option to eliminate the wye valves. Perhaps change one of the thru hulls to a full size 1-1/2" discharge for the SeaLand T pump. If you attempt to use a 1" thru-hull, it may work OK...MAY. My experience has been otherwise, so if you have a full size option, that's a given to work problem-free. But absolutely get rid of the macerator overboard discharge, as well as all the extra piping, valves, etc involved with the direct overboard head discharge. It's just unnecessary.

And as Peggy advises, don't even think of cutting corners on the hose. Unless you like doing that work.
If you have straight runs of any consequence, use PVC-DWV pipe, it will never permeate and it's WAY less costly. There is a misconception that it will be subject to vibration damage on board a vessel, simply not an issue. Support it every 2-4 ft, it will probably outlast any other part of the system. Use smooth SeaLand hose adapters, silicone caulk on the hose-adapter mating surfaces will seal and ease future removal, and PVC-DWV long turn ells where needed rather than the short 90 variety found at the box stores will prevent blockages.
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Old 01-04-2019, 09:57 AM   #11
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FS BTW, I recently was on a vessel that had more than 1,200 vacu flush toilets - the QM 2.
They are vacuum toilets, but they're not VacuFlush.
https://www.wartsila.com/products/ma...vacuum-toilets

Photos of the bathrooms on the QM2 show the flush button on the back of the bowl in some of them, on the wall behind the bowl in others.

And btw...most if not all of the toilets on airplanes have been converted to vacuum toilets, primarily to conserve water.


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Old 01-04-2019, 10:52 AM   #12
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FS
My similar vintage DF has perfectly functioning vacu flush heads. The anti siphon loops and Yvalves are needed to cover all the bases for varying discharge compliance and to prevent boat sinking.

Your need for routine hose replacement is common. Why not just change out the hoses and be done with it? I'm in the same boat, hose replacement time is here. My mechanic who does things I don't want to, sees it as a normal grunt job.

While the Elegance seems a good unit, in my nearly identical situation it appears to be the perfect solution for a problem that doesn't exist.

BTW, I recently was on a vessel that had more than 1,200 vacu flush toilets - the QM 2.
Tom, I've salvaged older sanitary houses by wrapping them in Petrotape. The wax seems to contain the stink nicely, and if/when I do have to replace them, I'll wrap them preventatively. If no oxygen can get to the hose, no stink can get to your nose.
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Old 01-04-2019, 11:14 AM   #13
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Angus
Wow, you nailed me! Good one. What would guess the labor hours to be for converting your newly installed toilets? As usual, you did great work.
Thanks! The first toilet was a steep learning curve so not a good benchmark. After running power to it, the second toilet only took me the better part of a day. A proper plumber could probably do it in a few hours. The Purasan was a complex install—running hoses through walls, installing a new subpanel and figuring out where components would fit—so will differ on every boat.
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Old 01-04-2019, 11:47 AM   #14
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Thanks to all for the useful advice but perhaps I should have been clearer. The current set-up: 2, stacked vf pumps above tank discharge pump, 2 y valves and spaghetti of stiff hoses accessible only by lifting individual steps in the curved companionway or 1ft square access doors in the side panel of a 14" wide closet. The labor costs for any work on the present system are very high (estimate $3-4K) 'cause it's brutal access and a crappy job to boot. I physically cannot get to the things I would need to fix. I can reach them but cannot generate enough power to disconnect hoses, dismantle pumps in that position! Surprisingly the things I can reach easily are: the deck fill and vent thru hull, the holding tank fittings and the actual heads, so running new hose without the extra connections/equipment will be a breeze.

My overarching issue is access to fix stuff myself as we hope to cruise longer and anchor more. I am glad to hear that all agree re: simplicity and workability of my proposed system. I suspect the labor cost will be the same since taking stuff out & installing new is a lot easier than replacing the hoses and servicing 3 pumps in the present environment. Just the additional cost of 2 new toilets-probably less than a major yard repairing the Vf's the next time? I can buy a back up discharge pump whenever.
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Old 01-04-2019, 12:01 PM   #15
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Thanks to all for the useful advice but perhaps I should have been clearer. The current set-up: 2, stacked vf pumps above tank discharge pump, 2 y valves and spaghetti of stiff hoses accessible only by lifting individual steps in the curved companionway or 1ft square access doors in the side panel of a 14" wide closet. The labor costs for any work on the present system are very high (estimate $3-4K) 'cause it's brutal access and a crappy job to boot. I physically cannot get to the things I would need to fix. I can reach them but cannot generate enough power to disconnect hoses, dismantle pumps in that position! Surprisingly the things I can reach easily are: the deck fill and vent thru hull, the holding tank fittings and the actual heads, so running new hose without the extra connections/equipment will be a breeze.

My overarching issue is access to fix stuff myself as we hope to cruise longer and anchor more. I am glad to hear that all agree re: simplicity and workability of my proposed system. I suspect the labor cost will be the same since taking stuff out & installing new is a lot easier than replacing the hoses and servicing 3 pumps in the present environment. Just the additional cost of 2 new toilets-probably less than a major yard repairing the Vf's the next time? I can buy a back up discharge pump whenever.
Jeremy, I’m not an expert on the 49 Defever . . . but Wilson Lin at POCTA, the builder, is. He almost certainly has a set of prints for your boat and may be able to tell you if there’s an easier way to access that gear. You certainly may be seeing the only way yourself, but Wilson’s been a great help with things I wasn’t sure about.
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Old 01-04-2019, 12:03 PM   #16
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I'm a Vacuflush fanboy based on our excellent experience with the three systems we had on our boat that got very heavy use during our 6+ years of living aboard a Hatteras 56MY. Your idea, though sounds like a good one, I can't comment on options as I am blind to the actual space and access you have on the boat.

Do you currently have the integrated pump/vacuum tank model of VF or the separates?
I take it you are using fresh water? (By the way, if so, with proper operation, there should be no hose permeation issues). I should also note that in those 6 years, once I re mediated an improper installation by the PO on one unit, we never had need to change the duckbills. Or anything else for that matter, and we had a full set of spares on board.

We had the separates and it yielded good installment flexibility. My first thought would be to keep your VF toilets and move the pumps and tanks to a more accessible spot; basically do exactly what you describe plumbing wide with the VF pump/tanks nearer the holding tank. Two of our toilets, including the very heavily used on in the master state room, were several feet away from the pump, around 15 feet for the master.
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Old 01-04-2019, 12:56 PM   #17
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I didn't hate our vacuflushs, but we had to remove the front head vacuum unit to get to the master head unit that had the bad valve. By the time we got that far, I told Tom there was no way we were doing that next time a duck valve went bad. No way we weren't putting that system back in.



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Old 01-04-2019, 12:59 PM   #18
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I am also a big fan of the Marine Elegance. A friend of mine had a VF system in his boat. He was always saying what a great system it was. And he was always searching ebay for parts for it.
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Old 01-04-2019, 01:10 PM   #19
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I physically cannot get to the things I would need to fix. I can reach them but cannot generate enough power to disconnect hoses, dismantle pumps in that position!

FWIW, the beauty of the Raritan Elegance system (and all electric macerating toilets) is that everything you need to get to (except the wiring) is ON the toilet itself. You will never have to crawl around to get to joker valves, pull off hoses and band clamps, or fight to get to pump diaphragms again. All that stuff can be pulled out and sold to guys like George. Truth-be-told, I would probably not have replaced our Vaccuflush rigs if it had been in an easy-to-get-to place like George's (and I am sure many others) must be. But orders came up from the 1st Mate's office that since she was the one that had to crawl under the floor to get to the poopy stuff, she would require the co-owner of said vessel to conduct a full replacement. The bright side is that now (finally I guess) I fully understand all aspects of where the doo-doo goes.

**See Bess' post above**
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Old 01-04-2019, 01:23 PM   #20
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You're getting great advice. I went through a similar process when my boat was new to me 12 yrs. ago, but I went with VF. If I were to repeat the process, I'd do it with Tecma's or ME Raritan's and leave the VF behind.

I couldn't agree more with the option to eliminate the wye valves. Perhaps change one of the thru hulls to a full size 1-1/2" discharge for the SeaLand T pump. If you attempt to use a 1" thru-hull, it may work OK...MAY. My experience has been otherwise, so if you have a full size option, that's a given to work problem-free. But absolutely get rid of the macerator overboard discharge, as well as all the extra piping, valves, etc involved with the direct overboard head discharge. It's just unnecessary.

And as Peggy advises, don't even think of cutting corners on the hose. Unless you like doing that work.
If you have straight runs of any consequence, use PVC-DWV pipe, it will never permeate and it's WAY less costly. There is a misconception that it will be subject to vibration damage on board a vessel, simply not an issue. Support it every 2-4 ft, it will probably outlast any other part of the system. Use smooth SeaLand hose adapters, silicone caulk on the hose-adapter mating surfaces will seal and ease future removal, and PVC-DWV long turn ells where needed rather than the short 90 variety found at the box stores will prevent blockages.
The wye valves - hated the one I had to direct poop either through the pump-out or the over board discharge pump. All it did was to significantly restrict the flow. That 1.5 inch hose? Well the wye valve reduces the passage to about 3/4 inch. Awful. I eliminated the wye using a PVC swept-elbow tee. The 90-degree tee goes to the Dometic pump; straight thru to the pump-out. Works terrific.
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