Monday, June 18, 2018

Room for a Shower

Time to upgrade the Bathroom Plumbing

Bathrooms (Heads) on sailboats are small, unless you're looking at a much bigger and newer boat than our 1987 Catalina 34, but they all mimic a home bathroom in that they include a toilet (for #1's & #2's), a sink, hot and cold water (hot is a luxury) and many, like our's, have a shower. Eximius' Shower is a pull out wand from the sink faucet. 

The Plan:
Replace the Sink Faucet with a simple design, no pull out wand

Install a Shower wand & flexible hose behind the head

Install a water temperature controller by the shower seat

Install a water flow controller (valve) 

Here's a schematic of the modified bathroom plumbing

Flow Control
Shower Wand
Wand Hook

The hardware was all purchased on Amazon Prime, total cost $64.87 plus the cost of a few feet of reinforced hose & hose clamps plus 2 Tee fittings (left over from the last boat plumbing project)

As far as connecting everything, I had considered using PEX piping and connectors, however, the cost locally was over $150 compared to less than $50 for traditional reinforced piping and barbed connectors.

The trick was finding barbed connectors that matched the fittings on the Faucet, Temp Controller and the Flow Control valve. That took a bit of time at the local hardware stored, but I was able to get everything locally.

In order to minimize the time spent at the boat doing the installation, I prepped as many of the fittings as I could at home. So when I go down to the boat, I'll have most of it ready to install.
  • Cut hole in the shower bulkhead for the Temperature Control & drill holes for the mounting brackets.
  • Cut the hole for the Flow Control Valve (forward and behind the head seat)
  • Connect the a barbed Tee to the existing 1/2" ID hoses for hot and cold water
  • Fit the Faucet thru the counter top and secure it with the 2 bolts & backing plates
  • Connect the Hot & Cold Faucet pipes to the Hot & Cold Tee's
  • Connect a hose from the Temperature Control spigots to the Hot & Cold Tee's
  • Install the Flow Control Valve in the hole cut previously (it will be held in place with a nylon washer & nut.
  • Attach the connector to the back of the Flow Control Valve
  • Feed the Hose from the Flow Control Valve connector to the mixer connection on the Temperature control 
  • Mount the Temperature Control into the hole cut previously - Cover mounting hole with pipe cover.
  • Mount the Wand Hook onto the bulkhead forward and behind the head seat
  • Pressurize the Fresh Water system and check for leaks - cure any.
  • Use hose clips to secure the hoses.
  • Clean up.
That all went pretty much as planned. It took 4 hours on boat, but we did a few other things while we were in there (what's new about that concept?) Everything works, I did lose one of the washers from the shower wand hose but easily replaced (ACE), no leaks found, yet! The only concern we have is that it really pumps out water, and that could be a problem! Options: Educate crew about need to be diligent in water use. Add a Water flow restrictor (inline flow control valve). Looking at the Fresh Water System Schematic, it would be easy to put a flow valve. Simply swap the Filtered water take off and the hot water tank tank take off then insert a flow control valve between them. That way the filtered water would not have the flow restriction, the filters do that, and the rest of the boat water system would be restricted. We'll see how the education goes first!

The new Faucet installed. It works really well. Shut off is quick and clean. At full stream it does not splash outside of the bowl.

The Water Temperature controller fits nicely near the top of the bulkhead between the bathroom cabinet and the Shower Sum Switch.

The Red button near the top of the controller is a safety device to prevent inadvertent selection of very hot water.

If the user wants water above 38º C (104º F) they have to press the red button while rotating the controller to the desired temperature.

I need to make a nice interface between the bulkhead and the number ring on the controller. Probably a piece of starboard machined to look good.

The shower flow controller valve is installed behind the head. On the inside of the bulkhead is a nylon elbow threaded at one end and barbed at the other.

The valve is secured in place with a nylon pipe bracket held in situ by a pair of SS screws visible just below the valve.

We both used the shower several times this past weekend. It makes a world of difference compared to the old, original, pull out faucet hose which was a pain to pull out let alone use to shower.

The shower head has very very fine sprinkler holes, so the amount of water used is less than I thought.

Update on expense of this project. The plastic/nylon barbed fittings are not expensive, but the hose clamps are > $3.00 each so a T costs the price of the fitting plus $10 for the hose clamps. If I were to do this again, I would use 3/8" OD pex AL pex tubing and fittings. The cost would end up a lot less and also be less complex - my setup has 16 Hose Clamps (at > $3 each that's $48) and the tubing would be $12 for 40' (20' red and 20' blue), compared to $32 for 20' of the clear reinforced 5/8" tubing. Dang! And the big plus would be the absence of those 16 hose clamps that will snag my arms at some point when I'm rooting around inside the area where the plumbing is located. The PEX piping might require a couple or more additional elbow fittings in order to avoid tight radius pipe turns, but still the cost and appearance benefits would move me towards the PEX option.

After a thorough test by both of us the weekend, the new system is a hit. Now I may have to replace the shower sump pump as it is so noisy!  The shower wand is easy to use sitting or standing, the flexible shower hose makes it easy to move around while showering. 

Don't ask us for a demo 😉

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