Plumbing, Head, Part 9, Finishing Touches

The new head, fully replumbed
Having completed many subprojects in the replumbing of the head of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25, all I needed to do now was to add a few finishing touches to call this full makeover of the head a done deal.
When I purchased the boat in the fall of 2009, she had a toilet paper roller. Now I needed to figure out where to reinstall it. This seemingly simple task actually ended up taking a considerable amount of time, only because I had the installations of several other components to take into consideration in this limited space. I had a custom built magazine rack; I had a custom built Maptech chart rack; and I had a small trash can that I needed to fit within this head.
Ultimately, I decided to mount this roller in the narrow space between the discharge hoses. It didn't encroach on the user's space, it provided easy access, and it occupied space that was out-of-the-way and otherwise wasted. Yes, we're talking about toilet paper, but after all the time and effort and money I had put into this project, I took this subject seriously. Besides, it had to be something that the Admiral would find acceptable. Otherwise, my lovely bride would remind me of this ad infinitum.
The latch for the mahogany door was another issue that I had to address. This was on the exterior of the door. The previous owner obviously had installed it for the purpose of keeping the door from swinging back and forth while the boat was underway or docked or at anchor.
It appeared that he had adjusted the catch for the latch several times. There were numerous screw holes here and there. In my experience the swing of the door can vary by as much as 1/8 inch, depending upon how the boat sits on the trailer or depending upon how you tie the boat up to a dock. I suppose it's just an expression of the natural flex of the hull.
I readjusted the catch, so that the barrel bolt would easily pass back and forth. Later, after I launched the boat, there was again a lot of friction between the bolt and the catch. I suppose there is no way around this issue, unless you adjust the catch depending upon whether you're tied up at the dock or sitting on the trailer.
The door never possessed a handle. I found this a little strange. The only way you could open it from the outside was to grasp the the little protrusion on the barrel bolt. This was uncomfortable. The only way you could shut it on the inside was to grab the eye for the hook-and-eye latch and pull it toward you. I was tried of this foolishness. Therefore, I purchased two solid brass handles from my local hardware store. These were actually marketed as window sash handles, but to me they were marine grade door handles. These cost me a little over five dollars a piece. Similar solid brass "marine" door handles at chandleries were four or five times the price. I considered using a spare stainless steel cleat, but I was worried that things might get snagged by it.
Here's a view of the underside of these solid brass handles. Yes, they were solid, not brass plated zinc.
I didn't just grab the drill, put a screw on the bit, and drive it into the mahogany. I thought the whole thing out and figured out the best location - the one that felt most natural and looked most natural for this space.
Nice and plumb, nice and level. If I'd paid someone to do it, I bet it would have been crooked. Have you ever noticed how crooked some things are these days - pieces of trim, electrical receptacles, even chimneys? I'm not kidding. A few years back I saw a crooked chimney in one of those neighborhoods they slapped together in a few month's time. So this is the work of professional carpenters, electricians, etc.? Whatever happened to craftsmanship? It's good that there are some who still practice it. They're just hard to find. I know a few, and they're amazing.
I installed the interior handle at a slightly different height so that the screws for the two handles would not interfere with each other.
The handle made the closing of the door much more simple. No more grabbing of the eye with your index finger and thumb.
I decided to install the custom mahogany chart rack on the bulkhead, between the discharge hose and the conduits for the mast wiring. As was the case with the location for the toilet paper roller, this one was high and out of the way. You might ask why I installed this chart rack here, rather than in the main salon. The answer is that there was no room for it there. It was easy to reach around the bulkhead to access these charts, so I figured that it would be just fine.
I considered installing the custom mahogany magazine rack on the opposite bulkhead, but ended up deciding to install it on the back of the door. As you can see, it does not encroach on the user's knees, and it provides easy access to that reading material that so many find so essential to a space such as this one. By the way, those are knee pads on my knees. They were an essential part of my work gear during this refitting. Some might find kneeling on fiberglass comforting. I never have.
After I had completed the installation of the above described components I climbed up on deck and took a picture of the head while looking down through the forward hatch. This was shortly before I relaunched the boat after this lengthy refitting.
Before I launched, I made sure to add some wooden plugs to the head. As I recall, I ordered these from Defender in Connecticut.
I taped these to the hull liner with some Gorilla brand duct tape, not far from the through-hulls.
After the boat came off the trailer, my friend tied the boat to the dock while I pulled the trailer out of the water and parked. The first thing he did was to inspect the through hulls. Fortunately, he found no leaks.
I leased a slip and docked the boat. Every day for the first several weeks I visited the boat and inspected the through-hulls. Again, good news.
During this time I continued to add some finishing touches to the head - some finishing touches that I didn't have time to complete prior to the launch. One of these was the installation of the trash can. This I joined to the bulkhead with black shock cord. This was the perfect place for this trash can. It was easy to access, and it was out of the way. I also added a canister of Lysol wipes. This I joined to the bulkhead with black shock cord. Why was a trash can necessary? Read on to find out.
On the other side of the toilet I installed a plastic basin with a Scotch-Brite pad dedicated to the head. Notice that I have cut a certain number of corners off of the pad to indicate that this pad belongs in the head. There were other pads in the galley with a different number of corners removed to signal their purpose. This was something I had learned on the tall ships on which I'd sailed.
Also at this time I shoved a wad of gray plastic grocery bags behind the hose for the Whale brand manual pump. This was a convenient place for them, especially because I would need them often. These bags fit the trash can perfectly. Spare rolls of toilet paper and cleaning supplies I stowed in dedicated spots within the hanging locker opposite the head.
I never left the handle for the toilet's pump in the handle housing. I only put it there while flushing the toilet. Otherwise, I stowed it behind the mags in the magazine rack.
During this early period, not long after the launch, I was also taking regular trips from the boat to the marina office to use the the marina head. There was great reluctance on my part to use the head. It was so pristine . . . and what if, after all this work, it itself did not work? That was my thinking. Finally, having grown tired of walking back and forth to the marina's head, I made the inaugural flush. I was overjoyed that everything worked just fine. After this, I used it a couple of more times, and then . . . and then . . . things started going badly.
It was that damn joker valve. Seawater and . . . other things . . . were leaking out of it steadily whenever I flushed the toilet. What could have gone wrong? The problem, as I discovered from my reading of old threads on various online sailing forums, was that I had tightened down the screws on the plastic flanges surrounding the joker valve too tightly. This apparently had caused the plastic to warp, thus causing the seal around the joker valve to be broken.
I had no choice but to remove the hose that led from the toilet to the holding tank. This created some unpleasant spillage in the area around the toilet.

The joker valve looked perfectly fine after I removed it from the housing and cleaned it up.
There were no obstructions within the neck of the valve.
Some persons said online that once you over-tightened the plastic flange you'd never get a good seal around the joker valve again. Some said they had ordered new flanges, only to warp these new ones.
I decided to try a risky solution that was untried by any before me, at least as far as I could tell.
I applied butyl tape to the flange of the joker valve. I figured that this would compensate for any warp that existed in the flange of the plastic housing.
I also applied it to the other side of the joker valve flange. I considered this risky due to the incredibly sticky nature of the butyl tape itself. I was worried that it would create a clog in the system.
I put everything back together.
The plastic flange appeared to cause the butyl tape to squeeze outward, sort of like deck hardware causes butyl tape to squeeze outward when you tighten down the screws.
Here's a close up.
Fortunately, this solution to the problem was a sound one. From this point forward there was never another leak, and the butyl tape created no clogs.
As far as the head itself was concerned, I next applied labels to the different components. As I said in my previous posting, it's not very much help to the Admiral or anyone else if I'm the only one who knows how all of this stuff works. On the lid of the toilet I added the following injunction: "Attention Males, No Standing Allowed." This was a rule on some of the tall ships on which I had sailed, and I thought it was a good one. It keeps you from banging your head on something while the boat is underway, and it keeps your aim more true. Who wants to clean up unnecessary spills?
I also added several injunctions to the bulkhead, just beneath the toilet paper. Here, not a soul aboard could miss them.
Again, these were rules that I had learned on some of the tall ships on which I had sailed, and I thought they were good ones. I don't care what Raritan says about the PH II being able to handle toilet paper. If you read the directions carefully, it can only handle a minuscule amount. Why risk it? Unless, of course, you don't mind assuming the job title of Joker Valve Specialist.
There were several other things that I added to the head as time went along. First, was the coat hook. Like the door handles, this was solid brass, and it was an item that I had found at my local hardware store. I had earlier installed three of these hooks on the exterior of the door and found them to be very useful. There were times, however, when I preferred to hang a jacket on the inside of the door, just to keep it out of the way. This hook served that purpose. The porthole style mirror was something that a previous owner had added at some point. This was a keeper. If you needed to use it, you simply sat on the closed lid of the porcelain throne, as if it were a chair.
I also added a thermometer. I also found this at my local hardware store. The base of the thermometer was painted aluminum, so I did not have to worry about rust. Why the thermometer? I found it to be useful in the monitoring of the temperature differences between the head and the main salon. By securing the door of the head in an open position, I could equalize the temperatures.
Speaking of temperature differences . . . the main culprit certainly had to be the forward hatch, which was located directly above the head. The bronze colored Lexan that I had installed on the hatch when I rebuilt it did little to deflect the sun's rays. Therefore, I temporarily installed a piece of cotton fabric - cut from an old sheet - as a shade of sorts. This made a big difference, and it also protected the varnish from UV rays.
Later, I gave the hatch a more professional touch by sewing a Sunbrella cover for it.

Yes, all of the time, effort, and money that I expended for this project were worthwhile. The quality holding tank, the quality hose, and the dual-vent system for the holding tank meant that this head would remain pleasant, despite frequent use. The air conditioner made the interior of this boat almost like a hotel room, and the Admiral and I considered this head to be first class.
This ends this article on my replumbing and refitting of the head of Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.

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