Initial Assessment

Ahoy there, me hearties! Little Bear has arrived home without too much ado. But a shakedown cruise has a purpose. That purpose is to see what works and what doesn’t.

The first thing we noticed was the problem with the head.  The heinous stench was our first clue. We followed our noses to the head and discovered that the bowl was filled with sewage loveliness.  Ok, not lovely but there it was.

The boat has a ‘Lectra San’ system installed but with the breaker switch turned on and the ‘flush’ button on the system pressed there was absolutely no joy. None. This will not do. Dread Pirate Admiral is simply not going to be hanging her lovely haunches over the gun’l to do her part in keeping the sea levels up to where they should be. Nor will she be feeding the crabs, prawns, shrimp, lobsters, lawyers, politicians, and sundry other bottom dwellers by an over-the-gun’l method. She has far too much class for that. I don’t. Butt that’s a different kettle of fish isn’t it, me scurvy blog readers?

We can’t enjoy a good sail or excursion with the stench of sewage in our nostrils so #1 priority on the fix-the-blaggardly-thing list is to get the head / Lectra San sorted.

On 20 April 15 (Monday) I went back to the boat to have a go at troubleshooting the Lectra San.  The first thing I discovered was that the battery was dead.  I’m beginning to understand a phenomenon that I’ve noticed on other seafarers blogs – creeping project syndrome.  I’d just as soon run out the 9 pounders and blast away at project creep but that would send my lovely ship to the bottom. So now I have to fix the battery problem AND the Lectra San.  I removed the battery and took it home to charge. (We’re on a mooring bouy now – no shore power.  Note to self get secondary power source wind, solar or both).

After charging the battery on shore, I took it back to Little Bear and fired up the diesel. I realized that in all the excitement of the shakedown cruise I’d failed to turn the ‘Perko’ switch to off when we left the boat. That has been remedied but we’ll see if turning off the main switch stops the battery from dying.

Now on to the Lectra San.  I whipped out my trusty Volt meter that always gives me a reading I want to see… and did some basic troubleshooting.  Here is how that rolled out:

1. Check continuity of wiring from battery bank / panel to the Lectra San       .                                   – Wiring checked ok.

2. Check voltage from battery bank / panel to Lectra San.                                                                       – 12 vdc joltage arrives at terminals on the back of the Lectra San Control Unit

3. Open control unit and apply 12 vdc directly to bus bar inside Lectra San Control Unit                – Lectra San came to life – pushed ‘flush’  button and the flush cycle started and                       completed.

4. Diagnosis: The terminals on the bus inside the  Lectra San control unit are rusted and corroded beyond recognition. I reckon the corrosion presents enough resistance to the 12v current that the unit won’t fire up.


You can see in this picture that the terminals look like brass but in my unit they’re clearly made of some kind of steel.

5. Remedy: I will have to replace the terminals inside the control unit with brass / bronze or some other metal that won’t corrode so readily. I need to remove them without destroying the control panel. Perhaps an email to Raritan…

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