Installing a Replacement Toilet

When we bought our Aloha 28 (8.5) at the start of the 2000 season, I found the pump on the original 19 year old Jabsco toilet was leaking. I replaced all the seals, which effected a temporary cure, but it was as bad as ever within a few weeks. The cause is that the shaft of the pump runs directly in the plastic body and over time this causes wear that allows excessive sideways movement which very quickly destroys the new seals.

Since a replacement pump assembly is no longer available, I first considered installing one of the current ITT Jabsco manual flushing toilets. These cost under C$200 and have a revised design intended to overcome the problems – the pump is angled towards the operator so that less sideways wear will occur, the shaft has a separate bearing that is both stronger than the original and can be replaced if needed, and the assembly unscrews from the top so that the bearings and seals can be replaced from above with minimal dismantling.

If the mounting holes for this latest model had been the same as the original unit I probably would have gone this route. However, they are different and this made me consider alternatives including two kits which provide electric conversion of the existing toilet, the bowl and seat of which were perfectly serviceable.

The first of these (Jabsco 29200 Pump Conversion Kit) just replaces the pump body with an electric pump. This has the advantage of easiest installation since it requires no change to the original mountings. However, it was priced at around C$400 and only provides electric flushing. My local stockist didn’t recommend it.

They suggested instead a kit (Jabsco 37010 Electric Toilet Conversion Kit) which replaces the whole assembly apart from the actual bowl and seat. The Vancouver Boat Show “offer price” of this was C$345 and it has a heavy duty pump which incorporates both a pumped flush supply and a pumped waste with macerator. The only downside is that the mounting holes for this are different from the original toilet.

I chose this second option and now it’s installed I am really pleased with it, although it did cause one or two headaches on the way (but then what fun are boat projects otherwise?).

The Jabsco 37010 Electric Toilet Conversion Kit as installed, re-using the original bowl and seat. The pump is operated by the push-button at top-right of the picture. In the step in front of the toilet is the 4″ diameter access provided to enable the new base to be through-bolted (see tips below)

Useful information if you are replacing the toilet in your boat is:

Mounting Screws
Whether installing a new manual toilet or an electric conversion, if the mounting “footprint” is different from the original toilet you need to be aware that the underfloor may not be as you expect.
On our 28 (8.5), the original toilet was held down by 4 large stainless screws through the fibreglass and into some plywood bonded into the toilet floor. I incorrectly assumed this would extend under the whole floor area and could be screwed into wherever the new toilet required. This was not the case – the wood is shaped similarly to the base of the original toilet so 2 out of the 4 screws needed in new positions were not screwing into it and clearly would not hold if secured only to the thin fibreglass platform. The answer was to use nuts, bolts and washers instead, but this required access to the underside of the floor by putting a circular 4″ access hatch in the front step (see the picture above).
At least this also has the advantage that the wiring could be neatly concealed under the floor.

Water Inlet Position
The manual Jabsco toilets (original and current models) have their water entry and waste exits to the right. For some reason the electric toilets and conversion kits from the same company are supplied with their waste on that side, but the water entry on the left! To avoid having a long length of inlet pipe curving around behind the toilet, I needed to work out how to change this.
Since these parts must be made by or for Jabsco, I have to wonder why they didn’t design it to be easily reversible, but they didn’t. The motor mounts to the rear of the base using 4 symmetrically positioned screws and can easily be turned through 180deg to reverse the inlet and outlet pipes. This is what I did, BUT in this position the water inlet and waste outlet fittings are too close together for the hoses to be installed next to each other. I found that I could make them fit by shaving some plastic off the outlet housing, removing a little material from each hose, and flattening the side of the hose clips where these were next to each other. A bit crude, but it does work and gives a much neater installation.

Gasket Installation
Finally, I found the hardest part was making sure the circular rubber seal between the motor and base was correctly positioned. If the motor could be left attached to the base during installation this would be no problem, but in fact the water pump inlet and outlet block access to the rear mounting holes!
If only these mounting holes were designed an inch further apart and further from the base they would be accessible with the motor attached, and would also spread the loads more widely. As things are you have to remove the motor (even if you don’t want to rotate it as described above), mount the base and then re-install the motor. This means the thin rubber seal has to stay in a shallow groove on a vertical face and, especially working in restricted space behind the toilet, this is almost impossible. After several failed attempts I struck on holding the seal in place in the groove with 4 very small dabs of “super glue”, just sufficient to hold it in position until everything was screwed up tight.

I hope the above may prove of interest to anyone thinking of replacing their toilet.

Written by Keith Denham