Thursday, February 11, 2010

Project: Replace the Forward Head

This is *not* a project from the past. You are cruising right along with us on this one.   At last week's boat show, we visited a booth from Marine Sanitation - a local outfit that specializes in marine heads and related items.  After talking with the saleslady there, my frustration with the heads on Eolian came to... um... a head.
Aside: Why is it called a "head" you may ask? On the old sailing ships, the sailors were not provided with "facilities" of any kind whatsoever. When nature called, they had to go up into the bows of the ship, into the very head, and do their business as best they could, hanging on to the rigging while the bow plunged into wave after wave.  There was a scene in Master and Commander that depicted this in the movie theaters (that scene was relegated to the "deleted scenes" on the DVD).  Not very pleasant at any time, and downright nasty in the winter.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't do it.
The forward head, despite the investment of more than $100 in parts will still not pump sea water for the flush. Instead, we have been using the shower hose to supply flush water when needed. I became convinced to try a Jabsco head, for $154, instead of investing another $100 in parts to attempt another repair of the fragile mechanism inside the old Groco head.

So we bought one.  Aside from the usuals, it has a nice feature:  if you push down the pump handle and twist it, both the inlet (sea water) and the outlet (waste) are closed off tight.  At least so it says.  (Pardon my lack of faith in heads.)  It does look like it will be easy to rebuild, when the time comes.

This weekend we did the procurement, and I spent a half a day removing the old Groco head.  There is no other way to put it: this is a filthy job.  In the end, I washed up the area and myself with bleach and then took a shower.  The old head is out on the dock, leaning against our stairs.  Since we still have a Groco head in the aft cabin, this can serve as a source of spare parts.  Unless we like the Jabsco head so much that we pull the aft head too.

The floor area where the head was mounted needs to be refinished.  I tied the hoses up out of the way, and once things dry out I will get out the sandpaper and varnish.


Erick said...

Excited for this one! I'll be taking good notes for Windsong's re-plumbing and head replacement. I still havent figured out how my head works, if it does at all.

bob said...


If you are re-doing any of the waste hoses, I can't recommend strongly enough that you replace as much of the hose with solid PVC pipe as possible. (You will always need a short pieces of hose to connect to the head, the holding tank, etc. to prevent vibration from propagating back to the pipe.) You will never have to replace it again - it will never allow the smells of what is inside the pipes to get to the outside. Even the best of the head hoses will last only about 5 years before they begin to stink.

What kind of head do you have on Windsong?


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