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Cruisers Elegante 297 Sanitation System

Marine Plumbing

Section - Just received an email from a fellow mariner that also owns a Cruisers 297 and ...
   
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  1. #1
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    TimG's Avatar
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    1986 Cruisers Elegante 297
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    Default Cruisers Elegante 297 Sanitation System

    Just received an email from a fellow mariner that also owns a Cruisers 297 and he is experiencing problems with his sanitation system. I decided to post it here so that as we troubleshoot the system it may help others that experience similar problems.

    Good Morning Tim,

    I figure you might be the best source of information regarding the boat, and over the weekend I had an issue that I plan and need to resolve. I have noticed a faint odor in the cabin from time to time, stronger in the head compartment. During my last outing, two friends used the head with no issues. After docking and heading back out we began to notice this same odor, except it got very strong. I had a friend check the head area and the forward bilge, but he basically said it was merely an odor. We got back to the dock, stayed on the boat a couple hours just talking etc... and then buttoned her up.

    This Friday the GF and I had planned an overnight in a cove. I opened the first zipper and the smell was terrible. Got the canvas down, cabin open and started into the engine room for my normal routine before heading out. Sure enough a few inches of BLACK liquid. I went down and opened the cabin floor hatch and was greeted with the same liquid. Got it drained out of there and have been tossing bilge cleaner and simple green in there for the whole weekend.

    So here is my question, what is usually the cause of this? Hose let go? Hose broke and fell apart? Tank busted? How hard is getting to the tank and hoses. I know it's located under a solid part of the floor, so I can imagine getting to it won't be the easiest thing to do. Any pointers or tips would be appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Brian

  2. #2
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    From your description it sounds like you had a large amount of liquid in the bilge of the boat, however that was over a period of days so it may not necessarily be a large leak.

    I am not sure if Cruisers piped the 297 in different layouts or if it was standard for all of them. What I will do is describe the layout on my boat and you can do a bit of investigative work to see how close yours matches.

    mascerator.gif


    When you pull up the cabin floor hatch the holding tank should be at the aft end of the opening under the floor. if you sit on the aft bunk with your feet on the floor, your feet are right on top of the holding tank. You also should see two white hoses connected to the tank, the bottom hose runs forward to the Y-valve (if equipped) then one port of the Y-valve connects to the macerator then another hose discharges out the port side of the boat. The remaining hose on the Y-valve (pumpout hose) does a 180 degree turn and runs back toward the holding tank. Just prior to the holding tank it passes through a cutout hole in the stringer on the starboard side of the bilge. From there it runs under the floor behind that stringer almost to the back bunk, then it turns and goes under the small coat closet that is between the head and aft bunk.


    closet.gif

    From under that coat closet it passes through another hole to come out under the aft cabin bed on the starboard side of the boat.


    aftbunklow.gif


    Then it runs up the starboard side of the boat behind the shelf assembly in the aft bunk and turns toward the stern of the boat to connect to the pumpout fitting.


    aftbunkhigh.gif

    The top white pipe (head discharge) connected to the holding tank runs forward and then turns starboard to pass through the same hole in the stinger as the pumpout hose. It then makes a 180 degree turn and runs alongside the pumpout hose toward the aft bunk, however under the small closet instead of turning and running under the aft bunk like the pumpout hose this hose turns toward the bow of the boat and runs up under the shower floor where it pops out in the back left corner of the head then connects to the head's discharge port.

    The holding tank vent is located on the top of the tank pretty close to the end that the hoses are attached. I never fully removed my holding tank but it did not appear too hard to do. If you sit with your feet in the cabin bilge and face aft, you should be able to lean down and see the vent fitting on top of the tank. This vent fitting connects to a hose that leaves the top of the tank in pretty much a direct path to the starboard side, this vent hose passes under the small closet as well. If you look in that closet all the way in the back you should see the vent hose appear from under the floor and run up the side of the boat where it attaches to the vent fitting located on the starboard side of the boat.

    If you are looking at the holding tank, look at the starboard side and you should see a small piece of wood approx 8 inches long and 2 inches wide with 3 screws in it. This piece of wood is screwed into the starboard stringer and its function is to hold the holding tank in place. If you remove both hoses from the holding tank then unscrew this piece of wood, you should be able to slide the holding tank forward a few inches to gain access to the vent fitting. If you go to the trouble of sliding the holding tank out a bit, I would highly recommend replacing that vent line fitting, it is a 90 degree brass elbow with threads on one end and a tubing nipple on the other. The holding tank may be tough to move at first. As I was moving mine I discovered that they used this black, messy, really messy, extremely sticky, gets all over everything type of sticky paste to cushion some areas around the tank. If you can tell from my discription this stuff is a mess and I could not determine all of the areas they used it since I did not totally remove my tank.

    Be careful if you attempt to remove the holding tank since there is a holding tank level sensor fastened to the tank somewhere. I have not determined where or how it connects to the holding tank, but the tank level indicator is in the head adjacent to the toilet paper holder under the sink. It should be a push and hold button with two red lights.

    As far as the source of the leak, I think it is most likely going to be from one of the hoses that fasten to the front of the tank, most likely the bottom one or it could be where the bottom one connects to the Y-valve and mascerator. The mascerator or Y-valve could also be leaking. My mascerator was leaking between the pump and motor and a slight twist on the nuts fastening the two together solved that problem.

    The holding tank is pretty rugged so a tank failure doesn't seem likely although possible.

    The vent fitting could have possibly corroded through and the effluent could be coming out of the top of the tank when it fills up.

    Lastly a hose could have rubbed and be leaking anywhere along its path.

    You may get lucky if some liquid was left in the tank since the last time you visited the boat as it may have seeped out again and make it easier to find the leak. To troubleshoot this, I would remove the cabin floor hatch and look for obvious signs of leakage (use your eyes and don't touch anything yet). If you don’t see anything then don some rubber gloves, grab some paper towels and start with the hoses in the forward part of the cabin floor around the mascerator (the reason for starting up there and working back toward the holding tank is this area sits higher than the holding tank, any small leaks up there may run along the bottom of the hose until it reaches the holding tank then drop into the bilge), be careful and just touch the paper towel to the bottom side of the hose then remove the towel and see if it is moist. Keep doing this moving along the hose toward the holding tank. If you don't find anything I would clean the cabin floor bilge area really good and then make sure it is dry. Then place dry paper towels under all of the hoses, the Y-vavle and mascerator. Then I would pump enough water into the holding tank to ensure that it fills the hoses all the way to the Y-valve then begin to watch for leaks.

    Give this a shot and let us know what happens.
    Last edited by TimG; September 14th, 2010 at 00:46.

  3. #3
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    I also managed to find some videos that were filmed when I installed my washdown system on the boat that show the holding tank, aft bunk area and closet. Sorry the videos have not been edited yet but they may help.

    http://www.boatinghowto.com/videos/s...ashdown_09.wmv

    http://www.boatinghowto.com/videos/s...ashdown_10.wmv

    http://www.boatinghowto.com/videos/s...ashdown_11.wmv

    http://www.boatinghowto.com/videos/s...ashdown_12.wmv
    Last edited by TimG; September 14th, 2010 at 01:16.

  4. #4
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    Tim,

    Sorry for not having seen this previously, and thanks once again for pointing me in this direction. The photos and description are a huge help. From what I can tell, this set up is the same on my boat.

    I do have a question in regards to accessing the hoses as they run along the stringer, towards the rear closet. How did you manage to get them unscrewed from this stringer? Mine appear to have the plastic holders that are screwed in. I will get some photos of this area uploaded tonight and post them. I would like to undo these, and then reattach the new hoses in the same fashion, but can't seem to figure out how to get in there.

    Also, I see you removed the "wall" in the aft berth area on the starboard side to access the hoses. Is this as simple as a few screws, or am I cutting and patching here? It seems as though being only a year difference, our boats are set up the same.

    Brian

  5. #5
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    I could not find a way to unscrew some of the ones on the stringer so I just cut them (if I remember correctly there were three and I was only able to reuse 1). I had to lay in the floor with my feet toward the back bunk and reach into the hole in the stringer on the starboard side (I also enlarged that hole a bit to make it easier to get my arm in there).

    The shelves on the starboard side by the back bunk just unscrew and the shelves will come apart. Take the shelves out first and that makes it easier to pivot the carpet covered faceplate to remove it, don't forget to unplug the light. Once that is out the wood that forms the base for the bed on the starboard side can be unscrewed/removed and that will give you access to the pumpout hose.

    One thing you may want to consider is while you have the floor of the small closet out, gain access to the holding tank vent line and build a filter for it. Take lots of pictures...
    ~ on the hook ~

  6. #6
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    Tim,

    Thanks for the advice. I assume there have been, and you see no issues with not reattaching the hoses back to the side of the stringer? There doesn't seem to be much down there they could interfere with, or cut cut or damaged by. Also did you seal the holes left from the hose mounting screws you removed? I hate, or would hate knowing I left holes into the stringer, for possible water issues down the road.

    I checked on the boat last night and saw the screw holes all around the after berth side wall. Looks straight forward getting it unscrewed. Getting it out of the way, or out of the aft cabin might be a bit tricky.

    I am researching the filter, and found a good link on the Cruisers site. A visual showing how one was made from an existing one. I will probably go about making a filter for my line.
    '84 Silverton 34' T/270s.

  7. #7
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    Tim,

    I went ahead and took the floorplan of the boat and sketched up the sanitation hoses as I read from your description and photos. I am unsure if I have the Y-valve now, and not sure also where the mascerator discharge goes out the starboard side. Is it a thru-hull on the side of the boat, or is it an underwater seacock type fitting?

    Take a look at my photo below and I will do my best to describe what I have drawn up.

    Blue Box = Holding Tank. (not drawn to it's size)
    Pink Line = Discharge from tank to mascerator.
    Olive Box = Mascerator.
    Purple Line = Mascerator discharge. (not sure where it continues)
    Orange Line = Pumpout hose.
    Red Line = Toilet discharge.
    Blue Line = Water intake for toilet.
    Green Line = Holding tank vent line.

    '84 Silverton 34' T/270s.

  8. #8
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    that looks very accurate, the mascerator discharge goes out the port side of the boat under the refrigerator, you should have a sink discharge thru hull (most fwd) and then mascerator discharge thru hull (next thru hull) on that side, i also have AC discharge over there. To see those it is easiest to removed the drawer from the aft bunk and look behind it.
    ~ on the hook ~

  9. #9
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    As far as re-sealing those screw holes I was able to reach one of them, the others I was not... The holes I could not reach I just cut the plastic strap holding the pipes so the screw is still embedded in the hole which should keep water out, I never removed them.
    ~ on the hook ~

  10. #10
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    Tim, I actually looked into a photo of the port side, and see the secondary thru-hull. I thought that made sense, as there is no other drain in that area, but couldn't imagine that stuff being sent overboard above the waterline!!!

    I will revamp my sketch to show this. I may also add the sink drain lines into it. At some point I would like to put this into a CAD program (I think I sent you the CAD boat stuff I did previously) and measure and insert every system in to scale. Might be something really nice to have.
    '84 Silverton 34' T/270s.

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