Pump Out Attention Extends to the Head


Although head maintenance is low on everyone’s fun task list, working on functioning head that has been flushed clean (flush with lots of clean water, soak in vinegar for 15 minutes, and then flush that through with more water) head is much more pleasant than working on a broken, clogged head.

Joker Valve. If you have a Jabsco Manual or Groco Manual head, install a Raritan joker valve. It is dimensionally interchangeable and long term PS testing has confirmed that they last about twice as long. The price is a bit more, but the total cost is less and the improved operation and reduced labor is a blessing. The joker valve should be installed with the lips vertical; placed horizontal, they droop under gravity and fail prematurely.

Lubrication. Follow the manufacture instructions, giving the pump a good slathering of synthetic grease every season (every other season, if use is light). Break the cooking oil lube habit; it’s bad for the holding tank and marginal for the pump.

Replace vs. Repair. Jabsco sells a rebuild kit, but at 70 percent of the Amazon price of a new pump, its a poor investment. The new pump will last much longer and is much easier to install than the kit. Raritan heads are easier to rebuild, and the results more durable.

Preventive maintenance is the key. Motivating yourself to actually do it is the challenge.

Darrell Nicholson, editor of Practical Sailor, grew up boating on Miami’s Biscayne Bay on everything from prams to Morgan ketches. Two years out of Emory University, after a brief stint as a sportswriter, he set out from Miami aboard a 60-year-old wooden William Atkin ketch named Tosca. For 10 years, he and writer-photographer Theresa Gibbons explored the Caribbean, crossed the Pacific, and cruised Southeast Asia aboard Tosca, working along the way as journalists and documenting their adventures for various travel and sailing publications, including Cruising World, Sail, Sailing, Cruising Helmsman, and Sailing World. Upon his return to land life, Darrell became the associate editor, then senior editor at Cruising World magazine, where he worked for five years. Before taking on the editor’s position at Practical Sailor, Darrell was the editor of Offshore magazine, a boating-lifestyle magazine serving the New England area. Darrell has won multiple awards from Boating Writer’s International, including the Monk Farnham award for editorial excellence. He holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton Master license and has worked as a harbor pilot and skippered a variety of commercial charter boats.


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