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.

Plumbing, Head, Part 8, Installation of Hoses

The hoses, during my installation of them
Having installed the toilet, the seacocks, and the other components for the new plumbing system, I could now install the hoses that I had earlier pre-cut and fit into the confines of the head. My work to install and clamp these hoses is the subject of this posting.
I've mentioned before that a considerable amount of time passed after my initial work on the replumbing of the head, which had included the cutting of the hoses. In the interim, I had done a lot of grinding, especially in the lazarette, where I had been working to modify it to receive the new electrical system and bilge pump hoses. The interior of the boat was covered with epoxy dust, mildew, and all sorts of inhospitable contaminants. I should have removed the hoses before I started all this grinding. As you see in the picture below, they became coated in dust - a dust that clung stubbornly to their textured surface.
The Admiral agreed to lend a hand at this point in the project. She wanted those hoses to be spic and span. This was no easy task. It took a lot of scrubbing with a stiff bristled brush and soap and water for her to get all the contaminants off the textured surface of these Trident brand hoses. This made me all the more glad that I had opted for the black Trident hose in lieu of the white. The white might have been permanently discolored.
She also cleaned up the other components - the installation of which I have already described in my narrative of this replumbing project. For this part of the clean-up she used straight vinegar, which does an excellent job at removing mildew. I always used to use Piggly Wiggly brand vinegar until the unfortunate demise of this iconic grocery store chain in the South Carolina Lowcountry. May The Pig never be forgotten.
The holding tank was covered in dust and mildew, but it came right back up to speed . . .
as did the pump, the strainer, and the other components.
I began my installation of the hoses by installing the one that led from the holding tank to the Whale brand manual pump. I installed two hose clamps. In the picture below, you see me cutting off the excess steel from the clamp with aviation snips.
The easiest way to tighten these clamps was with a nut driver. You can use a screwdriver, but it's not as fast, and it tends to slip from the slotted hex head screw.
I used AWAB brand clamps, because I had read so many good things about them on various online sailing forums and because of the praise that Maine Sail had given them on his Compass Marine website - a link to which is on the homepage of this blog. AWAB clamps, manufactured in the U.S.A., are solid 316 stainless steel, not slotted 304 steel, which is the norm at many chandleries and hardware stores. They're of course more expensive, but then again quality materials are, and you don't have to worry as much about your boat sinking. They are worth it, simply for the peace of mind. Various online retailers sell AWAB clamps. I bought mine from Hamilton Marine in Maine. Their prices were the best, and they were willing to sell them in custom quantities. Other retailers wanted me to buy an entire box of one size when I might only need two or three.
I spent a little extra to get the protective, red-rubber tail tips. From everything I had read from various sailboat owners online, these were worth it. I can say now that I agree. Is it really worth it to save a few bucks when the Admiral cuts her hand reaching down to pick up something she dropped in the tangle of hoses in the head?
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. This Trident brand hose is tough. It has a piece of steel that spirals along its length, making it both rigid and often uncooperative in tight spaces.
Yes, I had pre-cut these hoses long before this time, but I also had to do a little trimming here and there during this final installation. In the picture below I'm demonstrating how I used aviation snips to cut through the steel wire in the hose after I had cut through the hose itself with the hacksaw.
It was a tight fit for the hose that ran from the manual pump to the anti-siphon loop at the top of the bulkhead, but I made it work.
The next hose that I installed ran downward from the anti-siphon loop to the waste outlet seacock. This part of the plumbing system was for the pumping out of the holding tank when at the three-mile line - that's the line of buoys that runs along the coast to indicate the three-nautical-mile limit.
Here's the way everything looked in the area around the seacock. As you can see, I have double-clamped this hose leading to the seacock. I've also double-clamped the hose leading from the toilet to the holding tank. There is just enough room for me to open and close the seacock. Right now, the handle, in its vertical position (relative to the hose), indicates that the valve is open. To shut it, I would need to push the handle upward towards the hull.
Yes, it was a close fit.
Next, I installed the hose that ran from the holding tank to the deck plate - the deck plate used for the pumping out of the holding tank at the dock.
Now it was time for me to install the seawater intake hose. As I said in my earlier posting, I used Thermoid brand automotive heater hose for this purpose.
I stuck with the AWAB clamps.
To take the picture below, I put the camera down near the sole of the head and pointed it up. Here you see the Thermoid hose running upward from the seawater intake seacock. From here, the hose ran up to the anti-siphon loop. From there another hose ran to the seawater strainer. Then another hose ran downward from the strainer to the toilet. In the picture below, you can see this Thermoid hose running downward between the seacock and the toilet.
Here's a shot of the anti-siphon loop for the seawater intake hose. I decided to route this hose back toward the others so as to make the space less cluttered.
I had to install a stainless steel loop in the fiberglass cleat of the hull liner to give myself an anchor point for the wire ties that I used to bind these hoses in place.
Here's how everything looked at this stage of the installation. Now I needed to install the hoses for the seawater strainer.
As you can see in the picture below, I oriented one of the Marelon fittings for the strainer upward and the other downward.
This orientation of the fittings made the most sense in terms of my layout. You might not have noticed it, but in my previous postings, this strainer displayed a Groco label. This label is not visible in these pictures because it is now facing the hull. The water must enter and exit the strainer through specific ports. By facing the label side of the strainer toward the hull, I was able to plumb the strainer correctly.
This Raritan PH II toilet came with a piece of plastic that was designed to serve as a finish piece for the base of the toilet and the pump housing. I decided not to install this piece. I figured it would make it harder to keep the area underneath the toilet clean.
The last piece of hose that I needed to install for the seawater intake system was the hose than joined the strainer hose to the toilet's pump. The strainer hose was not long enough for me to use one single hose for this purpose.
Therefore, I used a barbed fitting to join this hose to a small one that ran the rest of the length.

I still needed to install the hoses for the starboard side holding tank vent. The first one I ran upward from the bronze valve to the through hull in the alcove box.
This space had gotten to be quite crowded since the time I had drilled the hole for this through-hull. Now there were conduits for electrical wires and there was a G10 backing plate for one of the stanchions on deck.
Next, I ran a hose downward from the bronze valve to the holding tank.
I bound this hose to the others with plastic wire ties. Later I would come back and trim the tails off the ties to make the everything more orderly.
Over on the port side, I needed to do a little work before I could route the hoses for the other holding tank vent. You'll recall that I had earlier drilled holes for the routing of these hoses. In the interim, I had gone back and filled the hole in the countertop with epoxy. Why, you might ask? Well, this countertop, just like the deck of the boat, had a balsa core, and this balsa core could become compromised if water were to enter it. Yes, you might think it to be a waste of time to seal the balsa core on the inside of the boat, but I in fact had discovered balsa core rot in my installation of a new stove in the galley countertop. As a result of this, I made it my personal policy to protect all balsa core on this boat, inside and out.
In this tight space I had to use my Milwaukee Tools right angle attachment to drill through the cured epoxy.
Then I used my Dremel with a fiberglass cutting bit to ream out the hole.
I followed this with the sanding drum to clean up the rough edges.

My drilling and sanding of this hole came late in the process of the refitting of this boat. I had actually forgotten about it and had to come back and do this work after the Admiral had done a lot of work to clean up the boat and make it ready for use. Therefore, I cleaned up the epoxy dust with the Shop Vac immediately afterward.
I myself had done a lot of work in the hanging locker to make it both functional and pleasing to the eye. Part of this work involved the installation of a plywood panel for the mounting of the bronze valve to the bulkhead. I describe all of this work in a separate article on the hanging locker itself.
In the routing of the hoses, I began with the hose that led from the holding tank to the bronze valve. This hose, as you see, passed through one of the shelves.
Then I routed the hose that led from the bronze valve upward through the countertop to the through-hull. I would have liked to have avoided a hose running through this countertop space, but there was no way around it, and I wasn't going to settle for just one holding tank vent.
This alcove box, even more so than the other one, was crowded with electrical conduits.

After I had joined the hose to the through-hull, I went back and cut the other end to size.
I must tell you that I've been thoroughly pleased with this dual vent system - port and starboard. As I said in a previous posting, I opted for this setup because Peggy Hall, the Head Mistress, recommended it. The idea is that it allows for a cross breeze through the holding tank and thus promotes the growth of aerobic bacteria (the good stuff) rather than the anaerobic bacteria (the unpleasant stuff).
In my plumbing of this port side vent, I made an error in terms of the hose that ran from the holding tank vent to the bronze valve. I had installed 1/2 inch hose, when I should have installed 5/8 inch hose. I made this mistake because the through-hull was 1/2 inch. I didn't catch my error because the fittings on the bronze valve accept both 1/2 and 5/8 inch hoses.
Therefore, I had to pull out this 1/2 hose on the bottom of the valve.
Below, we see the 5/8 inch fitting for the holding tank and the 5/8 inch hose. Much to my chagrin, when I tried to install this 5/8 inch hose in the holes that I had previously drilled in the bulkhead and the shelf inside of the hanging locker, I discovered that my error was deep-rooted. Long before this time I had drilled these holes to accept 1/2 hose. Now that I had painted the hanging locker, I did not want to go back and screw up my finish work by drilling larger holes. Therefore, I decided to fix my error in a different way.
I reinstalled the 1/2 inch hose, routing it through the 1/2 inch holes that I had previously drilled.
I then purchased a barbed adapter and some stainless steel clamps from the local hardware store. Yes, I used these types of clamps, but only because this was for a vent hose.
My plan was to use this adapter to join a small piece of 5/8 inch hose on the end of the holding tank fitting to the 1/2 inch vent hose.
I assembled all the necessary pieces and climbed inside the V-berth and got to work.
I used butyl tape to create a seal around the flange of the fitting.
You'll recall that earlier I had drilled the hole for this fitting. This was necessary, of course, because this holding tank, like others, only had one factory installed vent fitting. I wanted two.
Yes, the installation of this fitting was a pain, just as I had expected it to be. It involved me reaching my arm into the large inspection port hole and holding the plastic nut tight with a pair of pliers that I could hardly grip.
I only needed a short piece of 5/8 inch hose to make the transition.
Now it was simply a matter of joining the two pieces.
Why did I bother to include my description of this error (and my other error - forgetting about the epoxy-filled hole in the countertop) in this posting? Because it reflects the reality of the situation. The refitting of a sailboat is a time-consuming project, or I should say a series of projects, with many wrong turns along the way.
After I had completed the installation of these port side vent hoses, I came back and installed conduits around some segments of them. On the countertop, I wanted to protect the vent hose from getting snagged or cut by some object that might slide into it.
My thinking was the same for the lower segment of the hose in the hanging locker.
I also placed labels on the panel behind the valve. One label indicated the purpose of this valve. The other two indicated open and closed positions, vertical and horizontal respectively. Why did I do this? So that the Admiral or a friend would know everything that I knew. Why keep anyone in the dark if everyone's lives depend upon everyone having a working knowledge of the vessel?
You might recall that I had experienced some frustration with the Dometic Sealand company with regard to their lack of information concerning their side-by-side, right-angle fittings for the holding tank. The problem was that you could not screw both of them down tightly, because they obstructed each other. The minimalist instructions were no help; the website was no help; and the customer service manager neither took my call nor returned my message.
I've said more than once in this blog that my motto for the refitting of this boat was this: FIGURE IT OUT FOR YOURSELF. I had no choice but to apply this motto in this situation. Don't you think, though, that this company could have provided some assistance? Certainly, I wasn't the first to encounter this problem.
I finally decided that the only solution was to cut one of the right-angle fittings short enough to where it could turn without any obstruction from the adjacent fitting. Do you think this modification to the Dometic Sealand tank rendered my warranty null and void? Probably.
I cleaned up the rough edges with some sandpaper.
Now the fittings actually fit. How hard would it have been to mention to the consumer that this was a necessary step, or better yet, how hard would it have been to provide the consumer with fittings of the appropriate sizes?
To seal the three right-angle fittings I wrapped the threads of each with Teflon tape.
I wrapped the fittings with enough tape to where they became nice and snug in the positions you see indicated below. These were the positions that would most easily accommodate the hoses.
The waste intake fitting I oriented perpendicularly to the tank.
Now I could reinstall the vent hose, which I had temporarily removed at this time.
I also, at this time, used a wire tie to secure the vent hose to the bulkhead, I would be stowing items in this unused part of the locker, and I did not want anything to snag this hose. The conduit that you see is for the small LED lights that I would later install in the V-berth lockers. At this point, I had only installed the wiring for them.
My final task in the installation of these hoses was to connect the large Trident brand hoses to the fittings on the holding tank. I had somehow miscalculated the number of AWAB clamps that I needed for these large hoses. Therefore, I resorted, for the time being, to using two stainless clamps from the local hardware store for the second of two clamps that I put on each of the three hoses. Below, you see a solid AWAB clamp on the right, juxtaposed with the two perforated hardware store clamps.
The cutting of hoses in the locker of the V-berth was a little more challenging than it had been in the cockpit of the boat.

All I needed to do now was to push the starboard vent fitting down into its hole.
Here's a shot of the final product looking aft from inside of the V-berth.

Just as was the case with the starboard side vent hose, this one also received a wire tie to prevent it from getting snagged by some object.
At last, this lengthy project was almost complete. There only remained some finishing touches. I'll address those in my next posting.
This ends this posting on my installation of the hoses in my replumbing of the head on Oystercatcher, my Ericson 25.