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Author Topic: Is this a dangerous thru-hull fitting/valve combo, or is this normal? MARELON  (Read 14585 times)

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Sailor Vic

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I own a 2005 wing keel 34 and overall love my boat.....except now I am terrified of a situation that I encountered last weekend as I now don't trust any of my thru-hull valves.

As all of us have below the waterline thru-hull fittings.  Most of the thru-hulls have handles on the thru-hull valves. But I understand that the ones used on my Catalina are fairly new.

I found out that on my less than 2 year old boat that if a handle is either taken off, or the screw holding the handle on the thru-hull valve strips out, that I have a boat wanting to sink!




The handle is what holds back two o-rings.  No packing nut, just one small screw holds the handle in place and when the screw strips out the handle will blow off and the two o-rings will blow out and you have a major leak (as seen in the picture above).

In my case I took the handle off voluntarily as I had ass-u-med that I could do that. Big mistake (hired an emergency diver and mechanic) and I learned a lot from it.

I learned that I will never sleep until I either sell my boat (not likely in the near future) or replace all those potentially dangerous (in my opinion anyway) thru-hull valve/fitting combinations.

I was told by a number of people that these thru-hull fitting/valves are fairly new on Catalina and that no yard in Alameda (Calif) had them in stock.

I called Catalina last Friday, had to leave a message to get the part number, and to date (it's now wednesday) they have not returned my phone call.

I searched on the web and found where a 2 year old Catalina 400 had a similar handle's threads strip out of the plastic valve and so the valve plug blew out and a diver had to install a plug.

So my question to all of you is:

1) Think I'm being too over-reacting?

2) Has anyone else experienced, seen or heard of this happening on any other Catalina 34?

3) What would you do if you had these types of thru-hull fitting/valve combinations on your boat?

Thanks a lot,

Vic
« Last Edit: January 23, 2011, 12:49:42 PM by Stu Jackson »
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2005 MKII - Letting Go  - #1688
Marina Village - Gate 11 - Alameda, Calif.

Joe Kern

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I have Hull # 1717 and suspect I have the same thru-hulls so I guess I am a little concerned now that you have raised the issue.  Never even thought about it.

Since you experieced the problem, can you tell whether there would have been an emergency solution of tapping a wood plug into the hole where the handle was and/or the water was coming out and then binding the plug in with something?  Just wondering if the typical wood plug assortment at West includes something small enough for that hole.  Certainly not going to take any handles off to see what size the hole is.
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Joe Kern
2005 Catalina 34MKII
Hull # 1717
Merritt Island, Fl

Sailor Vic

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">can you tell whether there would have been an emergency solution of tapping a wood plug into the hole where the handle was and/or the water was coming out and then binding the plug in with something?"<

I wish it had been that easy.

The problem is that once the handle is off there is a groove for a small o-ring, as well as the plastic body is still there (to where the handle screw screwes into is).  So the "hole" isn't in the center, it is a space where the "packing" o-ring is.

Due to water pressure that o-ring will blow out as soon as the handle comes off and you won't be able to put it back in until the pressure is relieved.

So there is no way to put a plug of any size into "the" hole in an emergency.

I was able to get a perfect sized cork (needs to be just the right sized width), pushed it against where the water is coming from and wrap a stainless clamp around the cork and that slowed the leak down considerably.  But a plug won't work at all.

Look at your handles and you will see a white plug with a loop that fits on the outside of your handle.

What's that for?

Believe it or not that's to give to your diver because that plug (also has an o-ring) fits perfectly into the thru-hull (it only fits from under your boat).

The loop that's in the plug is there so that you only need to call the diver once.....(I'm not making this up)......as what you do is put a string in the loop of that plug so that when you're done fixing your valve handle (assuming that the threads aren't stripped because if they are you'll have to haul your boat out of the water) you can pull the plug out.

Hope I've explained it well enough?
 

">Just wondering if the typical wood plug assortment at West includes something small enough for that hole."<

No way will a plug work from above.  That's where the plug that is furnished with the valve comes in.

A good idea if you have an available diver onboard at all times.


Vic
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2005 MKII - Letting Go  - #1688
Marina Village - Gate 11 - Alameda, Calif.

Stu Jackson

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Vic

Is there a name on the thru hulls (Marelon) or is it something else?  This is new to us.
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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George Bean

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The Marlon seacocks are manufactured by Forespar, who supplies seacocks on all of Catalina’s boats as well as other builders (Hunter and Beneteau being two).  I am surprised that your valve is a new model as the case looks like the ones I have on Freya (#1476, year 2000).  The models we have on our boats are for OEM which are different than what is sold at West Marine. The OEM model having that (dubious) nifty built in plug behind the handle.  I understand your concern, but if it is any consolation, my guess is over eighty percent of the boats at Marina Village have the same or similar valve.  There are no user serviced parts inside the valve and opening up either the valve housing or stem is going to cause a leak.  The valve handle is on a keyed shaft which takes up the force of opening and closing.  The handle screw is there to hold the handle in place and under normal operation should not strip or otherwise pull out.  Like you, I think that the valve handle feels flimsy and I would have liked Forespar to have beefed this part up.  We do an “exercise the seacocks” session about once a year to ensure smooth operation.  As I recall (from a technical talk given by Forespar), the little mini bung in the handle is so you can bung the thru hull from the water side in order to replace the seacock. Yes, it requires going over the side (why do they always think we all live in Florida or SoCal?).  If you do this, you need to tie a sting to it so you can retrieve the bung later.  Our contingency plans for a broken seacock is to unscrew the valve from the thru hull and hammer in a soft wooden bung plug in the opening.  Opening up a thru hull while the boat’s in the water is a little eye opening at first, but if you have your tools laid out and don’t drop anything, you can swap out a seacock with no more than five (ten tops) gallons of water coming in (hint: have the valve in the “open” position when threading it on the thru hull).  Both Stu and I have both replaced seacocks and lived to tell the tale.  If you are still not convinced on the safety of Marlon, you can always swap out the Forespar Marlon with bronze seacocks from Perko (probably cheaper than a $500k Valiant).  You can get these from either Svendsens or Seapower Marine in Oakland.  The downside of bronze as they suffer from two types of corrosion, galvanic (you will need to bond all them to your engine) and electrolyte (you monitor the color and replace when the metal turns “red”).  Come to think of it, the corrosion (and subsequent failure) of bronze seacocks is why the industry went to Marlon in the fist place.
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George Bean
s/v Freya  1476

Sailor Vic

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I do not believe that most boats at Mariina Vaillage have this particular design.

Yes, I believe it is Marelon and lots of quality boats have Marelon but the design of this model is not one of a seperate thru-hull with a seperate valve.

When I went to my boat dealer (Farallone) they told me that is a relatively new design and has only been around a few years and that I could only get them from Catalina.  That no one stocks that valve and that they are hard to get.  The repair person from Mariner Boat Yard told me the same thing.

If I could replace the seacocks I would.

From what I saw, I believe that this design has 4 bolts to hold the seacock onto the thru-hull.

So I don't believe that I can unscrew them.

I hope that I am wrong.

To have to rely on one small screw that holds onto a plastic body to prevent a major blow-out is lunacy as far as I'm concerned.

For now I am going to rig a system where every one of my handles will have a stainless band around them so that none can blow out.  It will cause me hassles such as it will be hard to close the seacock but I just can't live with valves that can blow out like I have.

Right now  I am feeling that Catalina ought to pay for replacing all of my below the waterline thru-hull/seacock combinations and that they ought not install anymore on any new boats as I'm not the only one that has experienced problems.

I also think that each seacock ought to have a warning on the valve.

See:

http://www.sailnet.net/collections/articles/index.cfm?articleid=jkrets014

I quote:

>"A boat-wants-to-sink episode happened recently to a well-maintained, two-year-old Catalina 400. While at the dock, the owner's wife opened the seacock to the thru-hull fitting for the galley sink. The valve plug blew out and water rushed in. The threads for the retaining screw had stripped out of the plastic valve. To stop the inflow of water, a diver plugged the thru-hull from the outside. The integral flange valve thru-hull fitting could not be plugged from inside the boat. The boat had to be hauled to replace the valve and the thru-hull fitting. This poses the question of whether plastic thru-hull valves and valve flanges, which can't be plugged from inside, are safe?<"

>"........You also ask if integral valve flanges are safe on thru-hull fittings when a tapered wooden plug cannot be driven in from inside the hull? The answer to this one is easy, NO!"<


Stu, you saw my boat the day before this happened.  You know I love my boat,  :D   but I tell you, these seacocks in my mind are dangerous and it is somewhat tarnishing my feelings.

We all make mistakes in life, this is one that I think Catalina has made, and I feel that they ought to make things right.

Vic
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Marina Village - Gate 11 - Alameda, Calif.

Stu Jackson

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Vic, I agree with your concerns.  One suggestion is to call Gerry Douglas at Catalina Yachts, or Frank Butler.  Going through the dealership is like trying to get a seasick person to barf downwind, it ain't gonna happen.  many people have reported fine things about Gerry's and Frank's responses.
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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dgill

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Just an additional suggestion, you might also "alert" the ABYC about this item.  Also inquire whether they have evaluated this thru hull and whether they have approved it.  Catalina boasts that their boats are ABYC approved.   :?
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George Bean

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Vic, is it possible to meet with you this Saturday?  Freya is in Marina Village, Gate 8, Slip M11.  I will be there Saturday doing some engine maintenance and would like to see your seacock and compare it to Freya’s.  Did Mariner Boatyard replace the (broken) valve or did they repair and reinstall it?  It would be informative if I could see the inner workings of your valve and possibly post a couple of pictures of it.
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George Bean
s/v Freya  1476

Sailor Vic

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Thanks for the ABYC suggestion.

What happened on my boat is that I took the screw off voluntarily.

Looking back, not a smart move as I made some ass-u-mptions.

I blame that assumption somewhat on that I have taught ten plumbing courses at our local junior college, have been a plumbing contractor, also a plumbing distributor for over 25 years, and have been the largest Internet plumbing supplier for the last ten years.  So, I thought that I knew a little about "standard" plumbing. That probably hurt me as I just ass-u-med that all valves had a packing nut or something besides one little screw holding the handle whcih holds back the o-rings (which is the packing).  I've just never experienced a valve that could blow out if one takes the handle off.

The screw on my valve did not strip out (yet) as happened on that Catalina 400 that I had a link to.

Once the screw that holds the handle was off, the handle then blew out, along with the smallest of the two o-rings.

Before I knew what happened (would have made a great movie to see my expressions), the smallest of the 2 o-ring was washed away, and pumped away by my bildge pump.

Due to the water pressure blowing through where the o-ring used to be, the mechanic couldn't install a new o-ring until after the diver stopped the water from coming though the thru-hull.

After the plug was installed by the diver, the mechanic installed a new small o-ring.

---

It takes 3 hours of driving to get to my boat and I will be in China for 9 days soon, and so will probably not be back to my boat until Friday March 17th at around 2pm.  Possibly that Thursday the 16th.

Vic
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2005 MKII - Letting Go  - #1688
Marina Village - Gate 11 - Alameda, Calif.

Ron Hill

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Re: Is this a dangerous thru-hull fitting/valve combination, or is this normal?
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2006, 04:57:30 PM »

Vic : Your boat is still under warrentee. 
As Stu said  CALL Jerry Douglas and express your concerns.  He responds to telephone calls from owners.  Call rather than Email or letters.  Don't know what else to tell you!!!!    :?:
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Stu Jackson

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Re: Is this a dangerous thru-hull fitting/valve combination, or is this normal?
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2010, 01:36:33 PM »

Late 2010 Update:

Vic sold his boat a year or two after reporting this issue.  He sold it for more personal reasons, and NOT this one.  I never did meet him after this report, so I don't know what happened.

I've included this thread on the CRITICAL UPGRADES topic, and have posted it from time to time on other boards when folks talk about Marelon valves.

Haven't heard any other horror stories like this in response to those other posts.
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Stu Jackson, C34 IA Secretary, #224 1986, "Aquavite"  Cowichan Bay, BC  Maple Bay Marina  SR/FK, M25, Rocna 10 (22#) (NZ model)

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