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Old 08-07-2017, 03:51 AM   #1
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Camano Head Woes

I've got head plumbing issues across the board with my new to me Camano. History... previous owner switched to composting head, removing and storing the holding tank to use that space for additional storage. Refit holding tank and replaced composting head with Jabsco Lite Flush electric to sell boat.

1) Smell in head pretty strong. Thought it was due to raw water flush but turned out holding tank was full to point of being swollen and sewage withing 5-6 inches of pumpout access plate. This was after 4-5 flushes. Turns out it wasn't pumped out in anyone's recent memory. Pumped out immediately and added cleaner. Believe vent/vent filter clogged. Figuring on replacing tank shortly. Not sure if anyone has done that and whether it requires custom tank.

2) Read that Jabsco Lite should not be used with fresh water but noted Saturday that it was plumbed for both raw and fresh, I am guessing from original vacuflush. Decided to try fresh water despite above since no understood why no fresh. Shut seacock and rotated Y valve. Appeared fine but did note toilet auto flushed now after second water input. Still planned to replace with reliable low usage fresh water head due to holding tank size.

Used the head a few times Sat night with no apparent issue. Water pump remained on into sunday afternoon with minimal use. Ran the boat for maybe half hour and then went up to pool for half hour to celebrate first run. Came back to sound of pump running with some water splash sounds. Shower pan had a few inches of water in it and water spraying from, so far, undetected leak in left plumbing access cabinet. Water, probably 15-20 gallons, had filled in under the head. Turned off pump to halt leak for now. Not sure if higher voltage underway influenced pressure or if engine heated water was factor as electric water heat has not been used.

3) To add insult to injury the shower drain wasn't draining. Manually hit the forward bilge switch and only a small amount of water came out. Haven't found access to forward bilge yet to determine whether it is full with bad pump or just a shower pan drain issue.

So there you have it. All three systems with issues.
1 - Holding tank and venting
2 - Fresh water leak under pressure
3 - Shower drain not draining

Number 2 probably due to my decision to try fresh on Jabsco Lite but a little thankful that it exposed issue 3. A little depressed survey didn't expose any issues beyond original holding tank. Definitely will keep water pump off even when off boat for only half-hour in future. Sorry about length of post but wanted to cover details.
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Old 08-07-2017, 03:16 PM   #2
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Item 3 - Shower Drain likely Solved

Quick check of online owner's manual mentions a switch in the head for the shower pump so hoping that is functional. The previous owner ever used the inside shower and I don't plan on it either at this point.
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Old 08-07-2017, 04:29 PM   #3
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When you replace your head consider a Raritan Elegance with the smart panel 4 use options. If the holding tank is useable, no leaks, replace all sanitation hoses and install new head. I know its easy for me to say..i ain't doing it. Good luck.David
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Old 08-07-2017, 05:14 PM   #4
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You actually have 5 issues: The first is your holding tank vent, the second is your toilet, the third is your odor problem.

If your tank vent/vent filter is blocked, the pumpout would only have been able to remove about a gallon before the pump pulled a vacuum that prevents any more from being removed. So that's the first thing you have to deal with--BEFORE you use the toilet again...'cuz continuing to flush against blocked vent will pressurize the tank...trust me, you do NOT want that to happen!

The Jabsco Lite Flush (toilet is designed to use raw (sea, lake, river) water...it should not be connected to the fresh water system...connecting it to use both is even worse because that not only risks contaminating your fresh water supply with bacteria from the bowl, it can also pollute your fresh water supply with sea water.
So that needs to be corrected asap too. Instruction manual for it is here:
Jabsco - Lite Flush Instructions
You're wise to replace that toilet...even Jabsco admits it's pretty bad, and that says a lot! I second Dave's recommendation for the Raritan Marine Elegance...it's the top rated electric macerating toilet. Raritan Marine_Elegance Promo.pdf Available with all the "bells and whistles" for a very reasonable price if you know where to shop. For a bit more you can add kit that can allow it to safely use both sea and fresh water: Raritan seafresh.pdf

Ronco Plastics (no relation to the VegoMatic Ronco) Ronco Plastics Marine Catalog is your best source for a tank. They make TOP quality thick-walled water and waste tanks for a very reasonable price and has more than 400 shapes and sizes, over 100 of which are non-rectangular (which means you might be able to fit a larger one in the same space), and they install fittings in the sizes and locations specified by the customer when they make the tank. The time to talk about that, the hoses you'll most likely need and your odor problem--is after you've solved the immediate problems.

Meanwhile, you'll find a lot of help in solving them here:
http://www.amazon.com/New-Get-Rid-Bo...dp/1892399784/
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Old 08-07-2017, 11:02 PM   #5
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Thanks Peggy

I suppose I would feel better about the Raritan if I knew of a Camano that had one. I already expect some install issues given the original VacuFlush, the composting AirHead and the Jabsco Lite currently in place. It seems that both the VacuFlush 5000 and the Marine Elegance have a large following. If I move to a Nordic Tug I believe most have a VacuFlush so I would have some knowledge of the system. That said, if going with an entirely new system the Raritan sounds less complex.
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Old 08-08-2017, 12:47 AM   #6
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I already expect some install issues given the original VacuFlush, the composting AirHead and the Jabsco Lite currently in place.

Installation couldn't be simpler: The installation, operation and maintenance instructions for the Elegance are here: Raritan Marine Elegance Owners Manual Although it's very important that you read and follow them, they basically come down to: bolt the toilet down, connect the flush water inlet line to the cold water line in the head that feeds the head sink, run the toilet discharge line to the holding tank.

Otoh, there can definitely be some installation issues installing a toilet that has only the bowl assembly--which consists of several parts--in the head and everything else remote from it somewhere in the bilge...and a lot of unnecessary problems if it's not all done correctly.

However, some of your comments lead me to think you're only replacing the toilet to sell the boat. A VacuFlush is a lot more expensive than the Elegance... but a buyer isn't gonna pay any more for a boat that has one that he will for a boat that has an Elegance or even a Jabsco Quiet Flush.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:20 AM   #7
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Not Selling just Depressed

I did my research and picked a boat with a reputation for a very good build and accessibility to systems. The mechanic who supposedly removed the Airhead and installed the Jabsco Lite a year ago seemed surprised Friday by the existence of the freshwater Y. I need to verify it but I believe the original owner never changed from the factory VacuFlush which I thought was also a raw water only head. So what is a Y valve doing in there?

I can deal with toilet and tank/vent replacement but need to know what else is plumbed incorrectly. Will read the manuals some more but expecting the mods may make it obsolete.

Did flipping the Y valve eventually cause the spraying leak in the freshwater system when the pump is on or is that a coincidence just due to the system being pressurized for two days for the first time in years. The mechanic who knows the boat has been missing a few days now and I don't like excessive spraying of water near the backside of the helm so am stuck. Later today I will chat with the yard repair folks and start working out a plan.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:39 AM   #8
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At least you didn't get that damn litter box the previous owner installed. Now buy Peggie's book and do what she says.

Before I retired, I sold a lot of Raritan Marine Elegance toilets. Not one complaint. You can get the fresh water version for about $500.

I think you chose a good boat but it sounds like the PO screwed up the plumbing.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:50 AM   #9
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I need to verify it but I believe the original owner never changed from the factory VacuFlush which I thought was also a raw water only head. So what is a Y valve doing in there?

The VacuFlush is designed to use only pressurized fresh water. It's possible to CONVERT it to use raw water, but because toilets designed to use fresh water don't have an intake pump, doing so requires adding a remote intake pump and rerouting the flush water inlet line to it. The y-valve shouldn't be there, for the reasons I described earlier. Fwiw, I had V/Flush toilets on my last two boats and was a dealer/distributor for nearly 10 years...so I'm intimately acquainted with 'em.

Did flipping the Y valve eventually cause the spraying leak in the freshwater system when the pump is on?

That and jury rigged plumbing done by someone who didn't know what he was doing.

Later today I will chat with the yard repair folks and start working out a plan.

The same yard people who did the work that's causing you all the problems?? Yards rarely know anything about sanitation systems...if you'd like to talk with someone who does, send me a private message with your phone number and I'll be glad to help you.

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Old 08-08-2017, 04:31 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MiltonP View Post
Quick check of online owner's manual mentions a switch in the head for the shower pump so hoping that is functional. The previous owner ever used the inside shower and I don't plan on it either at this point.
Yes. Unlike many boat showers, the Camano has no shower sump. There is a pump (located in the forward bilge near the holding tank) that is operated by a switch in the head. Turn it on, take your shower, when the water drains out of the pan, turn it off. Of course if a previous owner modified things, my description may no longer be accurate.

There is a screen installed at the inlet of the pump and you may have to clear the hair out of it periodically.

If we are in marina, we use the showers there unless they are gross or unventilated. At anchor or if no one else is docked within sight, we shower in the cockpit. We do use the head shower when necessary and there's nothing wrong with doing that other than having to clean up afterwards.


My Camano Troll came with the inexpensive raw water Jabsco manual head. I replaced it with the same as well as all the sanitation hoses shortly after I bought it.


This system works fine and neither of us is too proud to pump our own poop away.


I considered a Marine Elegance as a replacement but my concern was that it wouldn't fit while leaving enough room for someone to sit on it.


If you don't know how it was originally plumbed and don't understand boat plumbing, you should call in a pro to make things right.
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Old 08-08-2017, 08:58 PM   #11
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Progress Made

Appreciate all the input folks. Feeling more optimistic after getting back to the boat and getting to work.

First off the list... The shower sump pump worked as advertised. Second item off was the leak. Someone had cut one of the rigid lines and added a flexible sleeve to make a bend. It had crimped and eventually split/burst. Definitely not pressure rated. My mechanic is back and will replace that section.

I removed the head cabinets for easy access to the all the lines and brought in the tech to assess the situation. He felt the tank was ok but the Jabsco Lite was worth eliminating. He recommended the Elegance but, as Wes mentioned, it didn't fit the space. After chatting with the tech, I am strongly considering going manual with the PHII.

Debating a separate fresh head tank vs raw. Leaning to raw for extended cruising but could go with additional small fresh tank versus giving up one of the 37 gallon tanks. Looks like the PHII is designed only for raw though at first glance.

Holding tank is OK for now but also looking at a Purisan system to eliminate those frequent pumpouts. Expect a PHII will fill the holding tank much quicker than the Elegance. With the Bahamas in the two year plan, the Purisan and a small watermaker should make life much more pleasant there.

While thinking all this out I plan to replace the vent lines and possibly eliminating the vent filter over the next week.
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Old 08-08-2017, 09:50 PM   #12
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Nothing wrong with the PH toilet. I would rate it as the second best manual toilet. Groco K would be my #1 pick but I think it is over $1000 now.

If you want a manual flush from your drinking water tanks, Raritan now makes a manual toilet that safely does that.

If you install a fresh water tank dedicated to flushing the toilet, it's safe to use the PH or any of the raw water toilets. Just never connect it to your drinking water system.

If you would prefer electric and the Elegance doesn't fit, look at the Raritan Sea Era, second best electric toilet. I think it has a smaller foot print than the Elegance.
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Old 08-08-2017, 09:57 PM   #13
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After chatting with the tech, I am strongly considering going manual with the PHII.

The current version of the PHII is the PH SuperFlush Raritan PH SuperFlush Same PHII pump but on a newly designed base. It only uses sea water. However, there is one manual toilet that's designed to use onboard pressurized fresh water...the Raritan Fresh Head FRESH_HEAD Promo Sheet

Expect a PHII will fill the holding tank much quicker than the Elegance.

It won't if you learn how to use the "dry" mode to do more than push the remaining bit of water out of the bowl. (Details are in my book...see link in my signature).

I'm not sure how your tech measured the space, but the household size bowl on both the PH SuperFlush and the Fresh Head is 2" longer front-back than the Elegance and combined width of the bowl and pump on both of 'em is 2" wider than the Elegance. You can check the dimensions for yourself in the literature for the links above and the one to the Elegance I posted earlier.

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Old 08-08-2017, 10:14 PM   #14
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Fitting head in Camano

Thanks Peggie,

I will print out the measurement of the Raritan units and take them to the boat. I am guessing his call was based mostly on the depth of the raised floor the head is mounted to versus overall depth. I know some folks have done installs in spots like that where the toilet base overhangs the shower pan. I would like to avoid that.

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Old 08-08-2017, 10:20 PM   #15
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I replaced a Wilcox-Crittendon manual head with a PHII on my sailboat. That thing was wonderful! It is simple and easy to maintain. It worked really well and never gave us any issues.

I installed the small "marine" bowl but you can get it with a full sized bowl.

Water use was never an issue for us. I should pull out my copy of Peggie's book to see if we did it right, but we used the wet pump until all the contents of the of the bowl were gone (I just sea water in the bowl) then switched to "dry" and I umped another 10 times. We had two heads but preferred the PHII. It was connected to an 18 gallon holding tank and it never seemed small.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:24 PM   #16
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Nothing wrong with the PH toilet. I would rate it as the second best manual toilet. Groco K would be my #1 pick but I think it is over $1000 now.

Around $1200, actually. However the VERY best manual toilets are the British Blakes Victory and Baby Blake. The Victory--now made only when special ordered--has a price tag of over $13,000 USD (that's not a typo, there are 3 -0-s after the comma in that number) at today's rate of exchange with the British pound... the Baby Blake, still in production, is a bargain at $5300 USD...plus shipping and, if you're a UK resident, 18% VAT.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:26 PM   #17
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For that much money I would expect it to wipe my bum for me.
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Old 08-08-2017, 10:32 PM   #18
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I am guessing his call was based mostly on the depth of the raised floor the head is mounted to versus overall depth

Apparently he doesn't know that the Elegance is available in both a tall version for heads with a level floor and short version for heads with a raised platform for the toilet. See page 4 in the owners manual (link to it was in my earlier post).
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Old 08-09-2017, 07:21 AM   #19
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It's not that the Elegance won't fit in the space, it's that it doesn't leave much room for the person sitting on it. A friend suggested leaving the door open (for the feet) but that doesn't seem like a good solution.


Using one of the water tanks for flushing and the other for potable water is a bad idea. You want to use the water (and the fuel) evenly or the boat will list.
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Old 08-09-2017, 08:57 AM   #20
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You can easily plumb a Raritan PHII (or whatever it is called today) to flush safely with fresh water. On my boats the heads are plumbed for fresh water flush as follows: I put a "T" in the head sink drain and ran a hose from that to the head. I leave my head sink drain seacock closed. To flush I put some water in the sink then flush normally. That allows you to have fresh water flush with the added advantage that you control how much water is used to flush and can make your holding tank last much longer. It doesn't work if your head requires pressurized water though. This method works fine for my Wilcox Critenden Skipper and My Wilcox Crtienden Junior II.
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