Thursday, March 3, 2016

A "Crappy" job, disaster, and recovery!

Let me start off by saying RV toilets are unique, at least compared to household residential toilets, and expensive, probably because of sheer numbers, there just aren't that many of them built.  But similar to both you give very little thought to them until there is a problem.

Now RV toilets all have a secure closing device in the bottom of the toilet to prevent gases or worse from sloshing up as you bump down the road.  Some have horizontal plates that slide in and out and some like ours have a half ball that rotates to open and close the bottom of the toilet.  One area of maintenance that affects RV toilets is the water holding  integrity of that closure.  It needs to be kept clean and even then with the wear of the valve going back and forth, every 2-4 years the ball and the seals need to be replaced.  No big deal.  We have a porcelain stool, in fact until you raise the lid on ours you'd never know it was any different from a residential toilet.  So ours was losing water, therefore telling us we needed to do the maintenance, no big deal, we'd done it before, the hardest part was picking it up from the floor and rolling it on its side to get at the mechanism.

So Jan and I pick a day to do it and start into the process by dumping the waste or black tank, helps keep any unwanted aromas from seeping up through the hole in the floor:)  We pop the toilet off, roll it over, and remove the faulty seals and half ball.  Then clean everything up and install the new half ball and then the seals.
Rolled over, getting things replaced

A good view of the half ball

Trim ring back on

And the seals going on
Well, the mechanism connects to the porcelain bowl with 3 J bolts that slip into holes in flanges, and with many, many warnings to be extra careful and use little torque when tightening the nuts, as the porcelain is fragile.........and I guess you know what's coming.
The arrow points to one of the holes in the flange
Yup, I snapped the porcelain off, and in so doing made the toilet a piece of junk!  Now a couple things here are pertinent and important.  Our toilet is no longer being made, and some parts are essentially impossible to find, and we only have one toilet in our coach, and our son, Jason is enroute to spend a long weekend with us.  After an appropriate time for crying, whimpering, and perhaps a bit of swearing, we get on the internet to see if we can find a replacement porcelain or a new toilet.  With absolutely no luck we decide to epoxy the broken piece back in, and maybe we can use it if we can tighten it up against the epoxy temporarily.  We glue it on, and have no idea if it will hold, and understand if you can't apply pressure between the mechanism and the porcelain, it will leak like a sieve, and not the stuff you want leaking.  I try one more thing, I call the manufacturer, and see what they have to say.  They confirm the toilet is no longer made, no they don't have any porcelains, if we have to replace, suggest the new replacement toilet, but ask why do I need this info?  I tell them our story of woe, there is a quiet hesitation on the line and he asks for my name and number and says he will do some checking and call me back, hmmmm.  In the meantime we check our repair, look at each other knowing full well we have no idea if it will hold and neither of us is confident at all, so we look into getting a new replacement toilet, and find out it will take days if not a full week!!  Unbelievably, my phone rings and it's Robert from Marine Plumbing in West Palm Beach, says the manufacturer had called him, and then he tells me he has ONE porcelain available!  Now it is already after 1 o' clock, we look at each other, jump in the shower, and leap into the truck to drive 180 miles one way to get the porcelain.  We get back at 9:30pm, work on the project for about an hour, Jason arrives, and we are SO, SO, SO careful attaching the mechanism to the "new" porcelain, and voila, we have a working toilet.

Another fun day in the life of full-timing motorhome nomads!


Sandy said...

You better send the guy who referred you to the marine outlet some steaks or flowers or something.

Bill said...

Or you could consider what I had to pay for the one and ONLY porcelain in existence:)

Sandy Smith said...

Make me feel good, how much?