Installing Lavac Head (toilet)

Sometime in June 2010, Rick has to rebuild the Raritan PHII head yet again. This is the last time! We begin researching the pros and cons on the Lavac head. Because of it’s simple design (no tiny or moving parts) we decide to install one.

The Lavac head is shipped to Tuson, Arizona where our friend Dave lives. He spends a lot of time in Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico and agrees to bring it down with him on his next trip.

When he tells us he’s in Navojoa, we jump on the Tufesa bus and 10 hours later meet Dave and Adriel at the Navojoa bus station. We take Dave and Adriel out breakfast and afterwards they give us a brief tour the town and we visit the local regional museum (Museo Regional Del Mayo).

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On my birthday, October 14, 2010 the old Raritan head is removed. The handicapped parking sign was, and still is, part of the original head installation. Rick takes me out to dinner and we toast our good life together.

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After the Raritan is out, Rick takes a good look at the plywood base that was under the toilet. Except for two (2) corners, It’s totally delaminated. Why we didn’t fall into the bilge is a miracle.

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Rick fabricates a new base out of plywood and seals it with epoxy. Later it was installed on top of the old fiberglass tabs with thickened epoxy and then fiberglassed in with new tabs from the base to the hull. The Lavac is shorter than the old Raritan. So, in addition to the ¾ inch increase in height achieved by mounting the new platform on top of the old top mounting tabs, another ¾ inch raise was needed on top of that to raise the seat to a point inside the locker where it was usable and more comfortable while not being too high to high close the lid.

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A ¾ inch sanitation hose runs from the raw water (flush water) intake thru-hull to the back of the Lavac toilet. In the process, it passes under our berth, the head sole, through the platform, then through the bulkhead into the anchor chain locker where it makes a gentle arch (where there is a very small hole to prevent syphoning of water into the toilet and release the vacuum created by the pump) before coming back through the bulkhead and going to the toilet.

A 1-1/2 inch sanitation hose runs from the lower portion of the toilet through the bulkhead into the anchor chain locker and to the manual pump before passing over the double access doors (always in a downward angle after the pump/anti-syphoning loop) into the anchor chain locker to the “Y” valve which is used to select the effluent destination as either the black water tank or direct overboard. Adjustments are made, phone calls to Lavac in England (thank goodness for Skype), and a lost part that fell “somewhere” into the bilge.

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Thanks to Rosie and Ralph on s/v SERENDIPITY we had the lost part replaced within 10 days! As it so happened, they live near Lavac headquarters in England. Somehow, they were kind enough to find the time to drive over and pickup the part just before they flying to Mazatlan.

The installation continues. After much measuring and remeasuring, A hole is cut in the bulkhead for the pump handle. Next, the pump is screwed to the back of the bulkhead and hoses attached to the pump. An anti-siphon loop installed. And last, but not least, a ballvalve shut off valve (in addition to the seacock) is moved from it’s old location in a locker under our berth to a new one in the anchor chain locker. The new location allows the intake hose to curve gently instead of taking a right angle.

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A “custom” (DIY) oval teak molding will be created and added to give the access hole a finished look.

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The Lavac head is about one-inch longer than the Raritan. In order for the lid to open all the way, the teak lid must be extended. This is accomplished by moving the hinges back about one-inch. Simple until you understand that the teak plank behind the lid and in front of the bulkhead is 2 inchs wide and that it takes 1 inch to mount the take apart hinges.

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Also, one of those two inches must be added to the back edge of the existing lid while the other must stay attached as is. Meaning it must be sawed apart while it is in place without damaging the wood on either side of it. Not to mention changing the location of the lid support (on the left of the lid).

It should be noted that while the Lavac has no tiny, moving parts, it is sensitive to installation. For us it was made more difficult by the boat builder installing the intake and discharge seacocks on the side away from where the toilet had to be installed. You will note from the pictures that it is not mounted on centerline but off to the starbord side of the boat facing fore and aft in a small dedicated locker.

The dark brown area you see in one of the above pictures is the fiberglass hull where I needed to grind away the bilge paint. It is truly a tight installation.

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We survived one more major upgrade on LA VITA!

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