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Re-creating the Sewage System and Re-Habilitating the Toilet

The hose routing was certainly complicated as Prout Catamarans elected to install a three-way connector just downstream from the toilet. This would allow bypassing the holding tank altogether... not my style. We have elected to simplify the system by mandating the use of the holding tank, per USCG regulations. It is very unlikely that something will make it past the little flapper valve in the toilet bowl and not get sucked out of the holding tank by the much larger diaphragm hand pump or via the pump-out.

There is a second toilet on board but it does not have a holding tank and hence is only suitable for off-shore use. Since I anticipate that our Prout Escale will continue to be sailed predominantly close to shore, this toilet will receive little use. Some day we'll replace the hoses on that unit also. The need is less pressing since there is no waste in the hoses (they go straight from the toilet to the sea-cocks) and all connections have barbed hose nipples and dual hose clamps. Routine maintenance such as greasing the flappers is easy enough.

Here then is a sketch of the system that Prout had installed into the forward bathroom in the port hull.

Holding Tank System as installed by Prout Catamarans

Prout Escale catamaran toilet system as installed

The Prout Catamarans system required the use of 8 elbows, many loops and pieces of hose, maximizing the possibility of leaks (particularly since none of the connections except for the sea-cocks and the toilet had barbed nipples meant for hoses). The "Y" was installed at or just below the water line. We're lucky that it didn't leak!

Toilet System as it is today

Prout Escale catamaran toilet system as rehabilitated

The system we installed is much simpler. Only the sea-cock connections will be below the water line. Continuous hose sections connect the toilet, the tank, and the sea-cocks. This minimizes the possibilities of leaks.

Thus, while our primary mission was to remove the offensive odor from the forward head, we embarked on a bigger project to simplify our sewage system and upgrade the space around it. Just how unprofessional some of the finishing in the Prout Escale was became readily apparent as we worked in the "unseen" parts of the boat.

The unfinished nature of the toilet installation was typical. Prout Catamarans molds almost the entire head section out of one piece of fiberglass which is then dropped into place and sealed up. Assuming the few surface penetrations are properly sealed and proper drainage exists, this not much different from a giant shower stall. Prout installed a shower in each bathroom that is part of the sink vanity but elected not to seal any holes that penetrate the "stall" surface.

For example, none of the penetrations around the toilet were finished to keep water out of the supporting plywood structure. Could one reasonably expect water around toilet fixtures? I think so - and just how much easily avoided fresh-water infiltration does it take to lead to expensive repairs? Fixing the saloon roof is onerous enough. Can you imagine trying to fix the plywood structure underneath this 7' long by 4' wide by 4' high solid section of fiberglass? That makes fixing the roof seem like a walk in the park!

Prout Escale catamaran toilet w/o waste hoseDetail of floor penetration on Prout Escale catamaran

Here is a picture of our forward toilet before we started working on it. In the left picture you can see the whole unit, except that we had already removed the drain hose. In the left picture you can see a close-up of the hole in the plywood/fiberglass structure that used to contain the sewage hose.

Prout Escale catamaran three-way switch (removed)The removed 3-way valve. It still works great but has no value to the Cats Pyjamas. Not to worry, it has already found a new home on a different boat. As long as you buy the parts directly from Whale USA, you don't get taken too badly.

Note the stains around the valve body from the fluids that dripped on it from above. It will be a good idea to soak this in some bleach...

Prout Escale catamaran surface under toilet (removed)

We removed the toilet in order to seal up all exposed wood surfaces. You can see some paint splatters in the discharge hole, as well as a rusty outline of the toilet base.

Evidently, the corrosive fluids in our sewage system had attacked the stainless hardware. Imagine trying to effect a repair on the wooden structure under the toilet if it ever rotted out!

And, another reason to enforce the "gentlemen, please be seated rule".

Prout Escale catamaran toilet getting repairedProut Catamarans did help us find their OEM toilet supplier to buy a number of service kits. I paid a dear price for these kits, but it was cheaper than buying and installing new toilets in the US.

So I had secured 4 service kits from the UK manufacturer. The stains on the unit convinced us to replace all the seals in the toilet, including the O-ring for the wet/dry lever that was not included in the service kit. Overall, the toilet has worked well for us.

My only real concern with the sewage system now is winterization. Maine gets awfully cold in the wintertime and things are either slathered in antifreeze or drained completely. There seems to be some question as to what antifreezes our new odor-safe hose can sustain without damage. Perhaps propylene glycol is OK while ethylene glycol is not.

Best Estimate of Time Required:

Removal of toilet from base, prepare area for painting 1 hour
Take apart both toilets, install service kit, reinstall 4 hours

Total 5 hours