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Old 07-12-2011, 10:32 AM   #1
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VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

My new-to-me trawler has a VacuFlush system. The system has worked fine to date but I need to develope a spares kit before we head north.

If people with expereince with this system could make suggestions on the most useful/necessary spares to have on board, I would appreciate it.
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Old 07-12-2011, 10:55 AM   #2
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

We carry a spare set of duck bills (4) for the vacuum pump, water valve kit, a ball/shaft & cartridge kit, and the rubber seal kit.* In the last 4 years we have had to replace or use parts from each of those kits.* We also carry a spare vacuum switch assembly which we have not needed.* Just remember that the head always seems to crap out right around breakfast time.
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Old 07-12-2011, 11:06 AM   #3
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

The most important thing you need is an owners manual, 'cuz it lists just about every possible symptom, possible causes and cures that a Vacuflush can develop. If you don't have one, you can download it from here:

http://www.dometic.com/47dc839e-0c3a...27b06884.fodoc

It doesn't matter how old or new your system is...the VacuFlush hasn't changed enough to notice except cosmetically since it was first introduced in 19878 by the marine division of Mansfield Plumbing (which was spun off to a "startup" named SeaLand Technology in 1984)...so the manual for any year works for any other year.

There is no "service kit" for a VacuFlush...the only parts that you're likely need even if you leave the country for several years are duckbill valves (4), vacuum switch, water valve and vacuum breaker switch...and if it's a VERY old system, MAYBE a vacuum pump bellows. If you're just heading north up the ICW, you don't even need that much...just duckbills. If anything else goes wrong, the toilet will keep working...you can order parts from just about anywhere there's a marina or a boatyard.

A quick "VacuFlush 101" course may help you avoid problems:

It's a 3 component system--the bowl assembly, the vacuum accumulator tank (not to be confused with a holding tank) and a vacuum pump. The vacuum tank and vacuum pump may be a combined gizmo called the "vacuum generator," but it includes both and works the same way as separate vacuum tank and pump. The holding tank is NOT part of the VacuFlush toilet system...SeaLand just bundles holding tanks with the toilet system.

The vacuum pump has TWO functions: it suctions the air out of the plumbing between the toilet bowl and itself while simultaneously pushing the flush the rest of the way to the tank, treatment device or thru-hull. The vacuum tank has a switch and a sensor on it that starts the vacuum pump when there's a loss of "vacuum" (toilet is flushed or an air leak in the system) and turns it off when the correct amount of negative pressure has been reached. How long it runs depends on the distance from the pump to the bowl...the shorter the distance, the shorter pump run time. The accumulated "vacuum" only pulls the bowl contents TO the pump..the pump has to push it the rest of the way.

Air leaks are the only thing that will cause the vacuum pump to cycle between flushes for no reason. The most common source of air leaks is worn out duckbill valves in the vacuum pump 4 of 'em--2 in, 2 out...so if it does start cycling for no reason, first thing to do is replace 'em. They should be replaced about every two years as preventive maintenance...even annually if you live aboard.

As duckbills become more worn, the pump will cycle more often and will run longer and longer each time. A failing vacuum tank switch can also cause the pump to run longer--till eventually it won't turn off at all unless you turn it off at the breaker--but that will NOT cause the pump to cycle for no reason.

The two most common mistakes that V/Flush owners make are:

1) Easing the pedal back up instead of just letting it go.
It's spring loaded for a reason--to snap the dome back into place it with enough force to seat it and seal it. So just let it go! If you dont, over time youll develop an air leak in the bowl.

2. Using too little flush water.
SeaLand's claim that the V/Flush can use "as little as" 1 pint of flush water is VERY carefully worded. If only urine is flushed...no water added to the bowl first, no TP either...then yes, you CAN get away with that little, at least for a few flushes. But if you do much of that, unless you want odor, at least once a day you need to run at least half a bowl of clean water through it to rinse out the system. It's also advisable to add at least half a bowl of water ahead of solids or any TP (iow, every time a female uses the toilet)...that's a quart or more. It's also essential to leave the pedal down for at least 7-10 seconds after the bowl is empty to rinse out the pump and duckbills--to prevent a buildup in the pump or bits of waste or TP from becoming stuck in a duckbill, creating one of those pesky air leaks that causes the pump to cycle for no reason...at least another quart. And if you don't want permeated hoses, it's a very good idea--last thing before the boat will sit (or at least once a week if you're living aboard)--to fill the bowl to the rim with clean water and flush it through to thoroughly rinse out the vacuum tank, hoses and pump...'cuz suction splatters waste all over 'em and the flush water flow isn't sufficient to completely fill the hoses. So, averaged out over a week, the VacuFlush actually NEEDS about the same amount of flush water as most other toilets that use pressurized flush water: about .5 gal/flush. If you're using much less than that, you're asking for problems.

I'll be glad to answer any more questions.

Btw...are you aware that there's a K-K forum? Check it out here: http://krogencruisers.net/dolphin/index.php
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Old 07-12-2011, 03:09 PM   #4
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Quote:
GoldenDawn wrote:
My new-to-me trawler has a VacuFlush system. The system has worked fine to date but I need to develope a spares kit before we head north.

If people with expereince with this system could make suggestions on the most useful/necessary spares to have on board, I would appreciate it.
*I would like to add that the vacuum gauge*can be*a great tool for finding where the problem is.* When the pump cycles too often, the problem can be chased down by using the gauge.*

The folks in FL said that they like to see the system hold for at least three hours, but the folks at the factory say it should hold for at least eight hours.* The truth is that if it is working correctly it will hold for at least a week.* I just chased down a problem on mine that was very hard to find but in any case when I finely put the unit back together it never cycles unless we flush it.* In fact when I leave the boat I shut it off and when I come back a week later and turn it on the pump does not run because it has held the vacuum for the last six or seven days.
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Old 07-12-2011, 06:14 PM   #5
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Quote:
HeadMistress wrote:
The two most common mistakes that V/Flush owners make are:

1) Easing the pedal back up instead of just letting it go.
It's spring loaded for a reason--to snap the dome back into place it with enough force to seat it and seal it. So just let it go! If you dont, over time youll develop an air leak in the bowl.

It's been hard for some of our guests to adopt the "let it go" maneuver.* But they all seem to understand how to put the top of their foot under the pedal after flushing, and pull up seating the seal and putting some water in the bowl.* A little padding under the pedal seems to satisfy the bare footers.
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Old 07-12-2011, 08:19 PM   #6
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

I would like to add that the vacuum gauge*can be*a great tool for finding where the problem is.* When the pump cycles too often, the problem can be chased down by using the gauge.

Using* it requires removing and replacing every d'd hose connection--which often requires warming the hose to get it off the fitting, then warming and lubing it again to put it back--till you chase down the air leak that didn't exist in the first place 'cuz the air leak was actually either* defective duckbill valve or a bowl that's leaking 'cuz the dome no longer seats tightly enough to seal it.* There's a MUCH easier way:

Squirt a TINY bit of shaving cream on each hose connection...flush the toilet. The suction will pull the shaving cream into any air leak...it'll just sit there on the rest of 'em. Wipe off the shaving cream with a wet rag.

Prob'ly a good idea to release the vacuum when you close up the boat. Not critical, but it's always better to relieve the tension in any system that's about to spend sny extended time just sitting.

(Our guests can't learn to let go of the pedal, but)...seem to understand how to put the top of their foot under the pedal after flushing, and pull up seating the seal and putting some water in the bowl.

You need to retrain 'em to let the pedal go. 'Cuz that's gonna cause the spring to develop a "memory" that'll result in a bowl that no longer holds water.* (You actually installed cushioning under the pedal for 'em????)
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Old 07-12-2011, 09:37 PM   #7
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Quote:
HeadMistress wrote:--till you chase down the air leak that didn't exist in the first place 'cuz the air leak was actually either* defective duckbill valve or a bowl that's leaking 'cuz the dome no longer seats tightly enough to seal it.
Quote:
I have had 3 VacuFlush toilets on two different boats and have found Peggy's description as to where the leaks occur to be spot on. I have removed more "hangings" from those damn duckbill valves than judge Roy Bean had. My present toilet is a Jabsco sal****er "grinder" & I love it!
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Old 07-12-2011, 09:45 PM   #8
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

1. thanks for the excellent advice
2. I am a Peggy Hall "disciple", have your book and recommend it to others, have the VacuFlush manual (but not the experience), totally get the holding tank vent issue and am a regular on the KK Cruisers site.
3. I am heading north on WEST coast (northern BC) so I am pretty sure I will be doing all the repairs myself.
4. My system (so far) holds the vacuum for days, so at least today am feeling lucky.
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Old 07-13-2011, 08:05 AM   #9
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Sounds like you're good to go...have a safe and enjoyable cruise!

Marine Sanitation in Seattle is the PNW source for Vacuflush parts and service. If you need 'em, their contact info is on their website at http://marinesan.com/

Btw, Walt...you said, "I have removed more "hangings" from those damn duckbill valves than judge Roy Bean had."

Not that it still applies to YOUR current toilet, but that's the result of too little water going through the system to rinse those "hangings" out of the pump and duckbills. However, too little water and too short a flush time can cause problems in any system, not the least of which are permeated hoses.
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Old 07-13-2011, 09:31 AM   #10
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Quote:
HeadMistress wrote:
However, too little water and too short a flush time can cause problems in any system, not the least of which are permeated hoses.
* * * * Good point!
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Old 07-15-2011, 07:06 PM   #11
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Just thought I would close this off by saying I took Larry's recommendations for spares, ordered them locally and picked them up within 24 hr. I am going to hold off on purchasing a vacuum gauge and see how the shaving cream works.

Two photos of the kits that Larry recommended in case others are wondering what these look like.
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Old 07-17-2011, 04:15 AM   #12
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Quote:
GoldenDawn wrote:I*am going to hold off on purchasing a vacuum gauge and see how the shaving cream works.*
*The vacuum gauge is helpful to locate the section in which the leak is occurring.* Like any diagnostic tool it is only as good as the technician using it. I may have not bought one right off but one was given to me to use so I did.* I'm glad I had it.

The problem I had with the shaving cream was that my tank and vacuum*generator are located down inside of a compartment that does not allow easy*access to all sides of the tank.* So some places were easy to use the shaving cream on*and others were impossible.* Also at times the leak was so slow that the cream degenerated (dried out)*to a point that I could not tell if it was a leak that caused it or it just dried out.* Turned out the*unit that was at fault never got the shaving cream test.* So I really don't know how the cream would have reacted.

By systematic use of the gauge I was able to eliminated one section at a time and finely locate the section in which the leak was occurring.* I replaced the component and the unit holds vacuum for over a week now.

This may have been a unique problem but it took over three weeks to fix it and that was with several contacts by phone to the plant in Ohio and their technical help desk.
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Old 09-02-2011, 09:50 AM   #13
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Great info!* I'm bringing an old Viking back from the dead and encountered the "Vacuflush" system - mine's a Mansfield.* I've encountered an amazing number of folks that claim to know these systems - but don't actually.* I really appreciate the info, Ms. Hall.*
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Old 09-02-2011, 08:38 PM   #14
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

JD, I'm confused...

The problem I had with the shaving cream was that my tank and vacuum*generator are located down inside of a compartment that does not allow easy*access to all sides of the tank.*

You couldn't reach the hose connections with a can of shaving cream but you could reach 'em to remove the hoses from the fittings and stick vacuum tester in 'em????

Also at times the leak was so slow that the cream degenerated (dried out)*to a point that I could not tell if it was a leak that caused it or it just dried out.

I don't think you quite caught on to how to use it....'cuz you're not supposed to leave it on the connections long enough to dry out.* Squirt just LITTLE onto each connection, then IMMEDIATELY flush the toilet--or have someone else flush it--to see whether the shaving cream gets sucked into any of 'em or just sits there on all of 'em.* That's it.
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:00 PM   #15
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VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

I just had the aft*Vacuflush repaired - bad PVC connector joint*on* the *bottom of toilet "base plate".*A vacuum test gauge isolated the problem easily, or better said eliminated what wasn't the problem. The issue was the Vacuum would drop off after about 45 minutes, creating a cycling pump.

On my Sealand T series macerator*pump, any thoughts on how often the two duckbills would need replacing, if ever??


-- Edited by sunchaser on Thursday 8th of September 2011 09:02:29 PM
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Old 09-09-2011, 06:59 AM   #16
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

It depends on your approach to maintenance...

If you believe there's good reason why preventive maintenance is called "preventive" maintenance, replace 'em on the same schedule as you replace the duckbills in the toilet.

If you only "fix what breaks," never...or only if/when you have to replace the bellows in the pump. 'Cuz the bellows will push waste through the pump whether there are any duckbills in it or not.
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Old 09-11-2011, 05:12 AM   #17
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Peggy

I'm not sure of the purpose of* the duckbills on a Sealand macerator pump used to empty a holding tank. How would I know if they are bonkers or should I even care? That is the reason for my question. My guess is the builder felt the Sealand T series pump was compatible with the S series heads or better/cheaper than a non duckbill diaphragm pump.

BTW, my in-the-box spare macerator pump is 6 years old and counting.
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Old 09-11-2011, 08:57 AM   #18
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VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

First, it's not a macerator pump...it doesn't macerate, but holding tank contents don't need maceration, so it doesn't matter.* The real advantage to a diaphragm pump over n impeller pump is the diaphragm pump's ability to run dry without harm for a considerable amount time.

My guess is the builder felt the Sealand T series pump was compatible with the S series heads or better/cheaper than a non duckbill diaphragm pump.

Since the S-pump pushes only waste INTO the tank and nothing whatever do with dumping or pumping out a tank, why would compability with the S-pump have anything to do with the pump that dumps a tank?** The T pump AIN'T cheaper, either..they're at least 50% more than macerator pumps. In fact, it's actually an S-pump with only two duckbills, but for half the price (which tells you how over-priced the S-pump is).* They reverse-threaded the valve nipples on the T-Pump to prevent V/flush owners from adding two more valve nipples to it instead of buying a new S-pump.

The REAL reason: SeaLand tries to bundle as many components into a VacuFlush "system" as possible--the actual VacuFlush system (which consists only of the bowl assembly, vacuum tank and pump or comination "vacuum generator"), tank, vent filter, tank level monitor and overboard discharge pump.* They're VERY good at brainwashing people into believing thatthe holding tank, the overboard discharge pump, Tankwatch and vent line filter are all part of the VacuFlush toilet..they'll even go so far as to tell people that their warranty for the whole system is void if ANY of those parts are replaced with another brand! So replace it with any pump you want to. However, because it can run dry forever without harm, I wouldn't.

As for why to replace the duckbills in it at all...there prob'ly isn't much need to replace the outbound duckbill unless it's uphill from it to the thru-hull.* But because duckbills are essentialy joker valves, I'd replace the inbound one to prevent backflow...not that backflow back into a holding tank matters aesthetically, but it does slow down the dumping process.

*

*


-- Edited by HeadMistress on Sunday 11th of September 2011 09:59:43 AM
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:36 AM   #19
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RE: VacuFlush Spares Kit ?

Odor out the tank vent originates in the holding tank, not the VacuFlush system.* *

What are you using in the tank? Are you careful to use AS DIRECTED...or will this be an example of finally being forced to read and follow 'em AFTER all else has failed?* * Have you recently switched products?* If so, from what to what?** When, if ever, was the last time you thoroughly flushed out the tank?* Do you regularly backflush the tank vent line?

Btw, sunchaser...about that that macerator pump that's been sitting in your "spares" box for 6 years.* sitting unused is far more destructive to equipment--especially anything with an electric motor or moving parts--than continuous hard use...'cuz lubrication in sealed motors settles, ceasing to provide any protection against corrosion...all lubrication eventually evaporates, allowing rubber parts to dry out, become brittle and crack...materials just die and decay on the shelf after enough time. So there's at least a 50-50 chance that it no longers works.* Test it (easy to do with a couple of pieces of hose and bucket full of water)...and if it does still work, "exercise" it at least once a year. Better yet, sell it on Craig's list and plan to buy a new one IF/WHEN you're about to leave on an extended cruise to parts of the world where getting replacement parts would be highly problematic and/or ridicuously expensive.

*

*
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:35 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoldenDawn View Post
My new-to-me trawler has a VacuFlush system. The system has worked fine to date but I need to develope a spares kit before we head north.

If people with expereince with this system could make suggestions on the most useful/necessary spares to have on board, I would appreciate it.
GoldenDawn, I might be too late with this but I read that you are looking for vacuflush spare kits. Try to find them on this page.
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