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S&S Swan Maintenance - Blake Valves vs Forespar Valves
22 March 2017 - 18:09
Join Date: 06 February 2007
Posts: 51

Blake Valves vs Forespar Valves

Dear All,

I am thinking of replacing the old Blake valves onboard "toge". As I have learnt some of us have installed marelon valves (Forespar) instead of the bronce Blake ones.

What are the reasons for this? Any pros and contras?




(SY toge, 38/113)


23 March 2017 - 09:53
Join Date: 23 October 2011
Posts: 154

Dear All,

I am thinking of replacing the old Blake valves onboard "toge". As I have learnt some of us have installed marelon valves (Forespar) instead of the bronce Blake ones.

What are the reasons for this? Any pros and contras?




(SY toge, 38/113)



Dear Toni,

I believe that there may be two lines of thought:

1) you own an historical boat, therefore every single part and detail has to be mantained, restored or eventually replaced with the same piece, as long it is possible to find it in the market. In this case you rechrome every other year the lids of your Blake toilet, change the gaskets, and you open, close, clean and grease regularly your Blake valves and replace them in case they are too worn out with the same brand. You need, too, to keep the old NECO autopilot functioning, of course...

2) You do not believe that these details are essential for continuing to be proud of your boat and you choose, in case of need, more practical parts.


The choice is yours.

In my case, after having spoiled my Blakes, I have installed Marelon valves and they are perfect. This has been my choice. And no regrets at all.

There is another brand, Randex, much popular in Italy and France, which should be good as well.

Fair winds,


Grampus 47/016






23 March 2017 - 17:26
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1547

Dear all

Pls note that there are two choices for Forespar Marelon sea cocks
The first mentioned are U.L. and A.B.Y.C. approved and ISO certified, the second apparently not.
You may note a certain similarity with this older product
The Randex Marine Valve link does not work at the moment
Kind regards

23 March 2017 - 17:35
Join Date: 01 July 2010
Posts: 48

Dear Toni and Matteo,


this is one of the very interesting topics in life, and I‘d only wish that there would be more people out there, who are at leisure to discuss them. Thank you both for bringing one up.


Perhaps, there might be some middle ground between Matteo’s choices 1) and 2). I tried to get hold of this some time ago, when one of us threatened to caulk his teak decks in white… 


1) This is a true S&S Swan, original, or as original as possible, in good repair? 

2) This is an S&S Swan, slightly adapted to todays standards, with some visible modifications that every knowledgable S&S owner will be able to understand? 

3) This once was a S&S Swan, but now it looks like a Wally yacht, with sleek carbon spars and beautiful grey 3DI sails, flush RONDAL hatches, a few push button hydraulic carbon winches, a carbon steering wheel, and white caulking? 

4) This S&S Swan is a mix between 2 and 3. 


Indeed, we are discussing about Yacht culture here, about quality perhaps, both at times confusing but definitely intriguing topics… I sometimes dream, that Britta and I could pick up the VERA new from Nautor in Finland. Her gelcoat would be immaculate, as would be her interior, the toerail, the spars, the knife shaped rod rig, the original blocks and sheaves, the Baby Blake toilets, and the new shiny bronze seacocks… oh bliss. But then again, she would have an unreliable engine, a power hungry and kind of un-gyroed autopilot, no self tailing winches, and no furling gear and no Harken mast track. I shudder to think about this: Me and Britta alone out there, when the squall with our name on it hits us.


But back to our topic: Our 40 year old Blake bronze seacocks were in a sad state. The engine seacock was leaking, despite several attempts to grind it back in to a tight seal with grinding paste. The cones at both heads were badly corroded, as they do not like blackwater mixed with salt. We usually leave the boat in the water for a couple of years at a time. Regreasing the seacocks is difficult at best, when wet. Someone seals the throughull from the outside, someone else greases up quick and thick inside. The problem here is, that there might be grease ending up in your watermaker membrane…


Long story short: We ended up with new Forespar Marelon seacocks, the flush ones (much faster! When closed…), as it is done by most high quality builders today. I am not quite sure, but Forespar claims, that today, they deliver seacocks to Nautor, Oyster, Hinckley, et al. I have seen Forespar seacocks in the specification of a recent Swan 80 (Conquistador). Maybe Lars could help us out here. I also do not know about certain certification issues. After all, Marelon seacocks might burn through, in case of a big fire onboard. Bronze wouldn’t. But then again, if we have a fire big enough to burn through our seacocks, we would probably opt to split for safety and pull an Epirb…


Yacht culture: For now, I feel quite comfortable to replace some parts on an S&S Swan with newer (and better) equipment, in order to make the boat more manageable (and comfortable) for the two of us. Except for electronics (toys!) I would always want the highest quality. If, for example, the beautiful Nautor mast should fail one day, I would not hesitate to ask Hall, or Southern spars for a carbon quote… If we would own a 1913 William Fife, we would perhaps have a modified perspective on that.


Please, please come up with your ideas about this.


Kind regards, Michael - 47013 VERA 

Flush seacocks from FORESPAR on VERA

23 March 2017 - 23:04
Join Date: 06 February 2007
Posts: 51

Dear Matteo, Dear Michael,

thank you very much! You are right: first it is a matter of decision and second of knowledge. Technically you have to decide and have to consider carefully between modern or historic alternatives. BUT, beside this there always is the knowledge of something: probably no one else will see or notice it but the knowledge of it being there or not will make you happy or will annoy you - always and eyery time. It is a completely personal matter, be it bronze or marelon seacocks, spinnaker poles in carbon which look like aluminium or completely overhauled electrics, or, or, or...

For us - as sailing mostly in the Baltics without EPIRB - we need something to hold on in case of fire onboard: Blake seacocks don't burn through ... it's a soothing promise.

Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on this!

All the best,

Toni (toge/38/113)




24 March 2017 - 17:42
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1547

Dear Michael

Also the size of the yacht has influence.
- Up to  24 m (Recreational Craft Directive upper limit)
Racing-minded Swan owners can specify Forespar Flowtech sea cocks.  
For owners thinking of getting approval for charter it is advisable to have metal seacocks in the engine space. This requirement is based on fire safety aspects.
- Over 24 m
These yachts are usually built with classification, and then the sea cocks are to be of bronze.
There are several manufacturers of bronze sea cocks, and some have bigger sizes than Blake.
Kind regards

24 March 2017 - 20:17
Join Date: 01 July 2010
Posts: 48

Hi Lars,


thank you so much for the information. Crystal clear, as always.

One more question: Would the bilge under the owners cabin on a 47 be considered a part of the engine room? We do not intend to do charter, but knowledge is always usefull...


Kind regards, Michael / 47013 VERA

25 March 2017 - 12:35
Join Date: 02 January 2008
Posts: 1547

Dear Michael

There is probably an opening where the propeller shaft comes through the bulkhead into the aft cabin.
You could close off the engine space with a fire proof partition, either at the bulkhead or as a cover over the shaft, but there is also another aspect - if the engine combustion air is drawn in through this opening the air supply has to be arranged in some other way. 
Engine air ducts should preferably be equipped with fire dampers with local or remote control. 
The engine space temperature reaches its maximum after the engine is closed down, and cooling water and air circulation stops. If there are automatic temperature-activated fire dampers or extinguishers, particularly in the tropics it would be advisable to check to what levels the engine space temperature rises. If close to 80 deg.C  (175 F) there is a risk that this will launch the automatic devices needlessly.
Kind regards

26 March 2017 - 19:21
Join Date: 27 October 2013
Posts: 60

Four Winds is going through a refit at the moment. New teak deck, new gelcoat in cockpit and other GRP surfaces on deck, new stemhead plate (the old one was made of aluminium and was quite beaten up) and I want to change all seacocks back to Blakes. The problem is that Blakes only come in two sizes:  ¾ inch and 1½ inch. The inlet for the raw water is at the moment 1 inch.  ¾ inch is a bit too small but it would be a bit crazy to fit a 1½ inch. I have not decided yet wat to do. So it is interesting to see the alternatives mentioned here!

If you are interested to follow the refit process you can visit my blog on Four Winds:

However, I have not yet started to blog on the refit work. I therefore recommend subscribing with your email so you will receive an email when I do make new posts. There will be plenty of pictures on the process.

Fair winds

Four Winds 44/014

03 April 2017 - 22:14
Join Date: 20 February 2007
Posts: 119

Hi Toni:

One of the criterias when considering replacing Blake thru-hull valves should be the condition of the tapered bronze valve and body.  

Even if the bronze mating surfaces are smooth you may see pink dis-coloration inside of the bronze body and valve surfaces which is a sign that the bronze has deteriorated and should be replaced.  

I find my Blake thru-hull valves to be of fine quality and are disassembled and over hauled annually.  I had mine replaced back in 2000 and have had no issues to date. 

The newer Marelon valves are also very good but they occassionally get stiff and need to be lubricated with Marelon oil.  Also they do not disassemble for maintenance.

Regards and fair winds,


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