Blue Opal’s head has had a bit of a pong since I got her, even with lots and lots of water flushed through (and Jabsco “Toilet Fresh Clean”.. actually, I think that smelled worse than the head itself; sickly sweet). The manual Whale V pump has also been annoying me, because it was installed about 5 cm too high up the bulkhead, leading to a bent pump handle and sore knuckles.

After some searching, forum browsing etc, I settled on replacing all the hose with Vetus 38mm sanitary hose (a butyl rubber type; part SAHOSE38), all of the size 50 hose/jubilee clips, installing a Vetus No-Smell activated carbon filter on the vent line, and replacing the manual head tank pump with a Whale Gulper BP2552. Dad came over for three days, and we planned to replace the hoses and pump, add the filter, get the new GPS head wired in, move the batteries around, add the monitoring gear etc.

After three days, I don’t have a working head, but it’s through no fault of our workmanship.

On the Friday, we wired in the pump with the supplied fuse and a temporary momentary switch, hooked it to the inlet and outlet of the existing pump, and set off to get outside the banks of Dublin Bay so that we could empty whatever was in the tank into the major tides (so it wouldn’t go round and round in the bay).

One wonders if we should have bothered, given the sewage outflow issue that had occurred a few days before. It was a nor-easterly wind, and the swell was doing the usual Dublin Bay thing of waves going in two directions at the same time.

The first attempt at running the pump made the steel tank go bong a few times (so too high an outflow rate compared to the vent inlet), and we really weren’t sure if we were emptying the tank. So, whip off the outlet pipe, and yes, there’s a bit of liquid dripping from the pump, so it must be working. Sliced open the 16mm vent line, and there was a powerful hiss as we pumped water in and out, so there was the possibility that the coaming-mounted vent is a bit unhappy and not passing sufficient volume of air.

We cut a length of the new hose off of the available length, figuring we had more than enough – after all, I had measured twice, and then added another metre of the stuff on the order! Point the outflow into the bucket, hold your nose, press the button.. suffice to say, the pump works very well.

We ran load after load of water through the tank, until it started to look clear. For the final load, half a bottle of Dettol, a good dose of the Jabsco cleaner, and 250 pumps of the head pump to get a load of water in to it. Let Blue Opal sway around a bit to wash the tank, and then with everything clear of the deck, turned the pump on with the outflow directed at the cockpit drain.

The cockpit ponged of Dettol for the next two days. Better than ponging of the finest brown concoction though.

As you can see in the first gallery, the aft head on a Victoria 34 (when done in the master cabin style) has a bulkhead aft to the stern locker, what looks like a pillar inboard towards the engine compartment, and a stepped approach behind the head.

Back on the mooring, the first order of business was to determine whether we actually needed to take the whole head framing out, or whether we could reach the hoses and detach them in place. The photos above show that there wasn’t a whelk’s chance in a supernova to do it that way – disassembly is the only path to take.

I had been staring at the vertical pillar for a few weeks, and couldn’t see a way to get it out. It couldn’t be rotated in the vertical plane because that would make it taller, and it was already a tight fit. We finally sighed, and drilled out the teak plugs, and lo and behold, there were screws holding that fiddle on. Better yet, behind the fiddle were more screws (I’d already taken out all the obvious ones, and nothing moved) to be taken out. All #8s, 3/4 to 1 inch long, counter-sunk.

Please note the level of Sikaflex or similar that was used when this head was constructed in 1998 (I presume it was never taken apart since, but I could be wrong). This would come to haunt us over the next few days.

The Tank Tender line was kinked deep in the hull somewhere, and got unkinked when we pulled it out. I’ll have to try hooking it up before ordering a new length to replace it; the third knob on the Tender wasn’t labeled when I got Blue Opal, and I wonder if it just stopped working one day and the previous owner decided to not troubleshoot it.

Here endeth Friday.

Replacing the head sanitary hose – part 1
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