Sunday, May 4, 2014

Heads Up

I had a little time in between the final layups for the rudder yesterday so I decided to tackle a project that I've been putting off for no good reason.  I've probably ranted about marine heads before so I'll keep it short: I hate them; they are nothing but trouble and I decided long ago that I was going to go with a composting toilet and remove the marine head and associated malodorous hosing, valves, and seacocks.  

I had been looking at Nature's Head and the Airhead for a while and while I think they are pretty nice units, I just couldn't justify spending close to $1000 on either of them.  I ended up choosing a super low budget option that uses the same urine separating principal as both units above, but only costs $120.  It is really nothing more than a plastic bowl that separates number 1 and number 2; the implementation is 100% up to each user.  The unit is called the Separett Privy 500 and pretty much caters to the off the grid Mother Earth News type.   Basically, I'll be building a platform to mount the bowl with a compartment underneath to house the 2 containers (1 urine, 1 poo), but first I needed to remove the devil's spawn that currently resides in the head compartment.

Amazingly, the beast was in a good mood and allowed me to remove it without a fight.  In fact, I was actually pleasantly surprised that even though the base of the toilet looked corroded, the bolts freed up without any trouble and I cut the hoses off with a hacksaw.  The whole removal only took 10 minutes.  It almost made me feel bad for the thing.  

I moved onto the seacocks and it really looked like they didn't want to come out.  The bases where actually glassed over and several of the bolt heads just looked like globs of gum stuck to the floor.  I took an old chisel and chipped away the fiberglass to expose the base of each seacock and located the 4 bolts holding each one in.  

It took a little while, but I was able to expose all the bolt heads and get a wrench onto all of them.  I'm pretty sure I witnessed a miracle because every single one of the bolts came loose without any fight. Incredible!  I believe these were probably the original seacocks installed over 50 years ago and didn't give me any grief when I removed them.  I'll take this as proof that God must exist.  

Once the bolts were off, it was just a matter of getting a screwdriver under the flange and prying them up. It seemed that they were bedded in butyl rubber or something that was still sticky and quite tenacious.  I was able to pound the mounting bolts out of the boat from the inside.  I never realized it, but there was no metal plate/ring on the outside of the boat; the bolts were just countersunk into the hull.  

I decided that it would be best to close up the holes mostly from the inside.  Mainly because one of the seacocks was located really close to a jack stand and I can't move it until I get a loaner in a week or so. The second reason was that it's always easier to get a laminate to hold when it's not upside down (I don't have vacuum bagging equipment).  Ultimately, I will add several layers to the outside, but not until I can move the jackstand.  

In the meantime, I worked from the inside and ground out bevels with the angle grinder and 36 grit discs. I suited up and put on the respirator and closed myself into the head compartment before going to work to cut down on the mess.  After that, I cut out 5 biaxial cloth 'discs' of increasing size to fill the bevel.  Finally, I mixed up 5 ounces of epoxy and wet each disc out and layed it in place.    

Next up on this project, I'll clean up the lamination, maybe a bit of fairing and then paint the area.  Ultimately, this section will hidden underneath the new composting toilet, so I'm not going to spend too much time here. 

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