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Old 09-11-2021, 03:53 PM   #1
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Vacuuflush & Peggie Hall

Hi all and Peggie -

(I hope you see this, Peggie!)

After 9+ years of pretty much trouble-free use, the fwd head has become an issue. Pump will not shut off, but water stays in the bowl, which indicates a vacuum leak. At this point I have replaced all 4 duck bills, new bellows and o-rings, and a new vacuum switch. Interestingly, at each step (I started with the duck bills as they were way bad...), the toilet would work for a few flushes or a few days, then run continuously. The next thing I'm ordering is the vacuum tester.

However, I think I recall reading on this forum over the years that Peggie has a Vacuuflush book/guide? I know there's the "How To Stop Boat Odors", but I thought she had something Vacuuflush specific.

Anyone know? Or am I imagining things? Again.
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Old 09-11-2021, 05:17 PM   #2
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There are files in the forum library on this subject.........
Here is a link to one of them that I uploaded years ago.
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Old 09-11-2021, 06:05 PM   #3
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few things are worse than dealing with head issues. i've been using a vacuuflush for about 25 years. i think it's really been about as dependable as anything could be. you're right, when there's water in the bowl and the pump keeps running it typically means the pump isn't making or holding vacuum. usually changing out the duck bills cures it. clogged output lines can be an issue, at least they have been for me before. never had the pressure switch go bad, but it sure could. i guess if you have the vacuum gauge coming you'll see exactly what the pump is doing. you can usually tell if it's building vacuum though by the way it sounds when you crack the flush ball.
if you have the combined pump/tank vacuum generator you can spray a little fresh water on the input line seal and see if it squeals, sometimes they do if the seal is failing. (rare though)
any more, when my pump has issues i take the whole thing off, break it down and soak it in muriatic acid. new bellows and duck bills.
i'll run that sew clean through the vacuum tank, check/replace the lines and possibly replace the y valve.
it might be overkill, but if i do it all, it tends to last years before it needs attention again. nothing worse than having one of those bellows give up, i've had it happen twice that i remember. best of luck with it.
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Old 09-11-2021, 06:37 PM   #4
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My recent problem and the cure: I rework the head about 6 months ago..... everything was fine for about 4 months and then, water in the bowl and the vacuum pump would run a bit, shut down, run again etc.
Lifted the bowl and discovered a build up at the bottom where is joins the black rubber gasket...... chipped it off, reseated to bowl..... no more problems.
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Old 09-11-2021, 07:15 PM   #5
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My problem ended up being a slow air leak through the shaft of the foot peddle. Ordered new shaft and o-rings kit and slathered it with silicone grease. SOLVED.
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Old 09-11-2021, 09:27 PM   #6
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I hate to speculate on these things. Obviously the duckbills are the first suspect. The Vacuum switch is about midway on my list. Loose hose clamp is higher up and you can use shaving cream to look for this one. Cracked bellows is some times the culprit but this usually announces itself with a small brown smelly film covering the pump.
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Old 09-11-2021, 09:27 PM   #7
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I think I recall reading on this forum over the years that Peggy has a Vacuuflush book/guide? I know there's the "How To Stop Boat Odors", but I thought she had something Vacuuflush specific.

You aren't imagining it, but it's just 1 page that I call "VacuFlush 101" It may or may not have the information you need to solve your problem, but I think you'll find it useful. I'll be glad to send it to you if you'll send me a PM that includes your email address (no way to attach anything to a PM.


--Peggie
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Old 09-12-2021, 05:45 AM   #8
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Doing a search there are an amazing number of questions about toilet problems , which is remarkable as a low cost trouble free system system has existed for at least half a century!
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Old 09-12-2021, 06:53 AM   #9
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It is remarkable that the forums are chock full of postings about various problems with vacuflush systems but I have yet to see a forum question anywhere about problems with Raritan Marine Elegance heads. Pretty much they are flush and forget. Plus, no space-hogging vacuum device. Trouble free, reliable - hogwash.
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Old 09-12-2021, 07:06 AM   #10
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Too many builders install Vacuuflush units in locations where servicing is difficult if not nigh impossible. Another active thread points to this issue.

Moonfish, another check point is the mounting base cracking. This failure is unfortunately common due to lightweight wood flexing under heavy weight users.
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Old 09-12-2021, 07:11 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catalinajack View Post
It is remarkable that the forums are chock full of postings about various problems with vacuflush systems but I have yet to see a forum question anywhere about problems with Raritan Marine Elegance heads. Pretty much they are flush and forget. Plus, no space-hogging vacuum device. Trouble free, reliable - hogwash.

Yeah, VF wouldn't be my first choice either. We recently took possession of this new-to-us boat, of course it came with a neglected VF system... and we needed an immediately working solution... so we just serviced what was there, but also including replacing all hoses with new.

At least that buys us some time, while we work on all the other "neglected" stuff.

-Chris
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Old 09-12-2021, 07:27 AM   #12
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A postcard from the 1940s, "There's a fork in the trail where old friends meet, a rundown shack, board, two holes for a seat."
Almost maintenance free for years, depending how deep you dug the original hole in the ground.

Then of course, on the farm, the horse collar behind the cook stove for those cold winter mornings. Take it with you to the outhouse.

Okay, I'm done.
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Old 09-12-2021, 11:34 AM   #13
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with respect and thanks to Peggy who really goes above and beyond in being helpful but OMG those things are just awful. Its nice that you can get years of service, but that's true with almost any marine head today. The problems start when they stop giving that "perfect" service. I've been dealing with one now for MONTHS. Works great, but will cycle the vacuum pump for several seconds about once every hour or so. So, I'm done. Its just not worth the headache. Next time I go to Fisheries I'll stop next door and pick up one of the new units, plumb and wire it in and give the current VF a slow death, drowing or fire or something even less pleasant if I can think of it.
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Old 09-12-2021, 12:22 PM   #14
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I have never been a fan of VF heads, too much maintenance and chasing vacuum leaks. However, our new boat has one, ugh. And it may be almost impossible to replace it with my preferred head a Raritan Marine Elegance.
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Old 09-12-2021, 12:47 PM   #15
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Practical Sailor gave a thumbs up to the elegance so that’s what we spec’d. Until we switched to RO water and never used salt flushes was replacing valves with fair regularity. Next one comes with VF in both heads. Any advice as to how to prevent troubles peculiar to this device?
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Old 09-12-2021, 02:22 PM   #16
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Any advice as to how to prevent troubles peculiar to this device?
I have a VF. Yes, I have had problems. You'll get use to it. I have learned to carry the necessary a complete rebuild. The duck valves seem to go first.
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Old 09-12-2021, 02:25 PM   #17
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Next time I go to Fisheries I'll stop next door and pick up one of the new units, plumb and wire it in and give the current VF a slow death, drowing or fire or something even less pleasant if I can think of it.

If you'd like a little discussion as to the relative merits of the various new units, you're welcome to shoot me a PM.

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Old 09-12-2021, 02:35 PM   #18
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Practical Sailor gave a thumbs up to the elegance so that’s what we spec’d. Until we switched to RO water and never used salt flushes was replacing valves with fair regularity.
You were replacing valves in the Elegance???

[/QUOTE]Next one comes with VF in both heads. Any advice as to how to prevent troubles peculiar to this device?[/QUOTE]

If you'll send me a PM that includes your email address (no way to attach anything to a PM) I'll send you my article "VacuFlush 101" which explains how it works (an amazing number of think they know but don't) and how much flush water it actually needs to keep it trouble free.


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Old 09-12-2021, 04:45 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocampus View Post
Practical Sailor gave a thumbs up to the elegance so thatís what we specíd. Until we switched to RO water and never used salt flushes was replacing valves with fair regularity. Next one comes with VF in both heads. Any advice as to how to prevent troubles peculiar to this device?
We've had two VF's on Blue Sky for 8 years now. Two completely independent systems. Over those years we've had minor problems that were relatively easy to fix but otherwise they work great.
As with all toilets they will occasionally clog. My approach is to judiciously apply a plunger and that has always worked. Peggie mentioned some time ago that you won't harm the system as long as you are gentle.
Also minor sealing issues in the bowl are easily remedied by gently cleaning the exit hole from the bowl via a bowl cleaning brush.
Every spring and fall I also pour some holding tank cleaner - forget the brand - into each bowl and slowly work it through the system to the HT. Not sure if it helps the VF system but the only clogging we've had is just below the bowl only.
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Old 09-12-2021, 05:16 PM   #20
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Practical . Any advice as to how to prevent troubles peculiar to this device?
VF suggestions:
- Post a how to use sheet by each toilet
- Provide good access to vacuum pump
- Have a recommended supply of parts
- Know how to do repairs, it is all simple stuff
- Use several flushes to keep lines moving after #2

This summer a guest dropped a large vitamin pill into toilet, it lodged in a VF duck bill. His defense, "You told me not to put anything in toilet that hadn't gone in mouth!" Splitting hairs for sure.

Since our vessel was new, not one VF clogging episode has occurred. Like all things boating related, figure out how to take care of the various equipment and you'll do fine.
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