T30 MAKEOVER
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THE HEAD OR MICROHEAD 2

In sort of a bottom-up fashion in the head I worked on the intake valves for the engine water and toilet intakes first.  To get at the engine valve you had to enter the head, open an access door to the front of the engine, which sits next to the mast, and feel around through a bunch of hoses and wires to find the valve lever.  For guests offering to help get started it meant they had to search for the lever and then figure out which way is open and which way is closed.  I remedied this by fabricating an extension for the valve stem and made it so that the lever is in the head, easily visible and the positions labeled.

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The toilet intake valve was even more inconvenient as it usually meant body and wrist contortions and scraped knuckles to operate it.  It is located under the toilet platform and was accessed through a lift-out wood panel.  With the head so small this had to be done by feel since scrunching down to see the valve through the access hole was nearly impossible.  This too was remedied by having the lever exposed in the head, visible and labeled.  I did this with some fancy pipe routing as shown in this picture.

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The sink drain was later connected to the toilet intake plumbing after I learned that the sink could not drain into the toilet bowel as it did with the old toilet.   There was a copper tube bent in such a way that it directed sink water through a space beneath the toilet seat. The new toilet I bought had a lid and seat design with no space for the tube.  Being able to drain fresh water into the toilet is a good idea.  When leaving the boat for more than a couple of days it is advisable to put fresh water into the toilet bowel.  Salt water tends to get stinky when left standing.  We now have a new exit procedure: Close the toilet intake valve, fill the sink, flush the toilet with the water from the sink, close the other levers, and toss the ignition key into the sink.  Now we are pretty well reminded to tend to the valves when we need to start the boat again.

Next up was the head discharge seacock.  For those of you thinking about replacing this seacock don’t fall into the trap that I did.  The original valve would have worked fine for the next hundred or so years if I had just performed some maintenance on it.  However, there was so much friction that it was nearly impossible to operate the wing-nut-like lever.  I assumed that crud and corrosion had done in the 30-year old valve.  So, with a pipe wrench and a lot of force I removed the seacock body from the through-hull, destroying both in the process.  Once I got a half turn on it I realized that there was a friction adjustment screw and a grease zerk on the blind side of the seacock.  The parts inside were like new but the body was now distorted from the force of the pipe wrench. 

I replaced the unit with a Blakes seacock, something I tripped over during a Google search.  I liked the design because its 45-degree angle between the inlet and discharge sides allowed for running the discharge hose vertically into the seacock, rather than looping around in order to enter perpendicular to the hull angle.  Any space saving in this compartment was important because so much was crammed into it.

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I spent as much or more time working in that compartment than I did in the head itself.  With everything removed I painted it, replaced the water tank fill pipe, the engine exhaust hose and pipe fittings, and fresh water hoses, which all attached to the tank or the freshwater pressure pump somewhere in the compartment.  I also spent a lot of time replacing and organizing the wiring so that, for instance, I could easily connect or disconnect all the mast wires at a terminal strip when stepping or unstepping the mast.

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A major improvement to the head was the relocation of the head door and the reversing of its hinges.  As originally designed the door also closed off the v-berth when swung 90 degrees.  Having been on this boat with any number of people I had come to the conclusion that no one uses the door for privacy in the v-berth except on rare occasions when they use the v-berth for changing clothes.  But there is not much more standing room in there than there is in the head.  Putting the hinges on the aft edge of the door allowed for the door to form a full screen between the main cabin and everything forward.  The door was moved aft about 5 inches so that one can walk past the door, turn and open it without going so far into the v-berth.  A slide-bolt and a hole in the ceiling are used to hold the door in the open position.

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Changing the door brought multiple benefits.  Yes, you can now bend over to pull up your pants.  You can move your body and arms more freely while showering.  Drying off is easier, and having the head open to the v-berth makes changing clothes a breeze – even in a breeze if you want.  Should anybody be sleeping in the v-berth one can always revert to the microhead version by closing the door.  Joyce is so thrilled with the head now that she’ll start her tours there every time.

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