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Fear and Loathing and Bathroom Stink...


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#1 OFFLINE   Wanky

Wanky

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  • Camper Brand:Northern Lite 811 Q Classic
  • Truck Make & Model:2016 GMC 3500 Duramax
  • Name (Public):Eric

Posted 26 August 2018 - 01:53 PM

I'm going to try to make this tacky topic as light hearted as possible.  Hopefully, some more good advice will come out of this...

 

There was a thread on this in 2013, with some good discussion and advice, but I'd like to get some additional advice and put some of my recent learning into the discussion.

 

Our Northern Lite is about 11 years old.  It has a Thetford Aqua-Magic V hand flush toilet in it.  After the first couple of years, the bathroom started getting stinkier and stinkier, not only after driving, but also when it was left in one location for a week or two.  A phone call to NL, and the thread in 2013 on this forum gave me some ideas to try and things to check.  At that time, I pulled the toilet off the flange and saw a couple of additional things that weren't mentioned in the previous discussion here.  They are:

 

1. The flange installed by NL does not actually meet the specifications for flange height recommended by the manufacturer of the toilet.  Thetford states in the manual, that the flange needs to be 7/16" above the floor that the toilet is mounted on.  Since most RV manufacturers use off the shelf parts for things like toilet flanges, I guess that the toilet manufacturer assumes that there would be some kind of metal or plastic spacer that should be installed between the floor and the flange to ensure correct flange height.

 

2. The design of this model of toilet is not particularly great.  There is an internal compartment below the bowl that acts like an unseen funnel of waste, that you can't clean out, unless you use a manual wand and garden hose to blast things clean once in a while.  Think of the bowl at the top, then the little blade that opens and closes sideways.  Then, below that is another compartment, that is funnel shaped, that contains the blade mechanism at the top.  Stuff sticks in this lower area, and once some of the gaskets by the hand actuator (also located this area) fail, you essentially have a open air path between the black tank, and bathroom, along with a collection of "bad stuff" that will have been the funnel.  Again, no tank rinse system reaches this area.  Only a wand, lowered directly below the flush blade, will get at this debris.

 

Here is an article posted by someone with a great sense of humor on this topic:  http://interstateblo...interstate.html

 

So, a few years ago, as part of my removal of this toilet, the first time, I noticed that the flange was too low, there was obvious leaking from the toilet ring area, and this funnel interior was in need of cleaning.  I didn't really know at that time of a way to adjust the height of the flange to the bottom of the toilet, so I cleaned everything up, put in the new gasket on the blade of the toilet, and installed a new ring in the flange, and bolted the toilet down again.

 

A few months ago, "La Fumes Noir" returned.  Apparently, the flange has been broken by (perhaps) my over zealous tightening of them to try to ensure the seal between the toilet and flange.  I went through about 4 hours of agony to remove the existing flange, which was not only threaded in with teflon tape, but screwed down, and also glued to the floor with marine adhesive.  In the future, I'd probably prefer a root canal over that adventure...

 

It appeared to me after thinking about how the flange failed, that stress on the flange bolts would be primarily over tightening, OR, due to the weight shift during the "paperwork" stage of the use of said toilet.  Upon further collection of data in our household, I found that everyone is right handed, so this is a very real possibility.

 

So, thanks for reading to this point.  Here are the things I would love everyone's advice on:

 

- Can anyone who has ever replaced their camper toilet with a new one give their thoughts on how it went, and did it solve some of their smelly issues...

- Anyone out there who has been through the "flange failure" and replacement process?

- Any thoughts from any one on this particular model of toilet?  Should I replace it?  Or, is it still probably okay once you install the correct flange / height.

- Anyone installed an after market black tank rinse kit?  Now would be the time for me to install one if it's worthwhile.

 

At this point, we're not using the camper for a few weeks.  I have a clean, threaded opening on my black tank, and it has a temporary cover screwed in.  Now that I've gone through all the nasty work of taking this apart, I'd like to fix this once and for all.

 

Thanks for reading...



#2 OFFLINE   Electrojake

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Posted 26 August 2018 - 05:27 PM

A couple things come to mind here. . .
 
1.) That was the best post I've read in a long time.  :fing32:
 
2.) No, I cant help you with your NorthernLite 'stink' issue but as a cassette toilet owner I have learned that a little 'stink' can go a long way.
I quickly installed a small exhaust fan that keeps a negative pressure in the cassette box any time the toilet (or wet-bath) is used.
*Keep this a secret but I stole the concept from SOG https://www.soguk.co.uk/
the difference is that I use a much larger fan and a much cleaner and unobtrusive application of the hardware.
 
Wanky, that was a nice tech post. I hope someone here can help!
And thanks for the link to The Interstate Blog site too.
Regards,
-Ej- occasion14.gif

2016 RAM 3500 Longhorn - Cummins/AISIN, 4x4, SRW, ShortBd.
2017 Northstar Arrow-U


#3 OFFLINE   Wanky

Wanky

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Posted 03 September 2018 - 09:43 AM

Okay.  Todays update. And further learnings...

 

I installed this tank rinse kit:  https://www.youtube....h?v=Hbzp5j_ErPg

I based my selection on a couple of things.  First, there are videos comparing flush systems on YouTube:

https://www.youtube....0Slt_cU&t=1318s and https://www.youtube....h?v=Lf4p1CpfgOs

My reasoning on choosing this particular model was the fact that parts don't move inside the tank.  The rotating sprayer gizmo looked to do a slightly better job, but I don't like moving parts in inaccessible places.

 

Installing the rinse kit was simple, once I followed lots of videos and thought about other things entering and leaving the tank.  Another thing that I was guilty of, but didn't proceed with, was trying to "out-think" the manufacturer on their selection of glue/gasket.  They recommend silicon (which I used), but my initial instinct was to use 3M 5200 Marine Adhesive, since I've seen this stuff stick the heck out of stuff I've used it on.  Luckily, a visit to the 3M website and a hard look at the data sheets told me why the manufacturer of the rinse kit had chosen this adhesive.

 

Although the 3M 5200 would have stuck extremely well to the ABS fitting that is the material for the rinse kit, it would only have half the strength on the black tank side, due to the different plastic used.  My son, the aspiring chemist describes them as "completely different" plastics.  A premium grade marine RTV Silicon was the best choice.  So, it's probably just better to read the instructions and follow them...

 

My last couple of weeks of after work hours were consumed by figuring out a way to actually get the flange to the correct height.  Since the existing flange was broken, it had to come out.  And,since the original flange was too low, the toilet was constantly leaking, and even the stainless steel screws holding the base in place were corroded.  it took about 8 hours to remove it.  The screws had to be drilled, then the glue used on the bottom of the base holding to the floor cut, then with very careful operation of a saw, making strategic cuts to eventually break the base out, followed by a similar process to break out the threaded section in the black tank.  I finally managed to remove the existing flange, clean the "hole area" up, and put a threaded cap on it for a while, to think about next steps.

 

My first challenge was finding a new flange.  The type with a threaded exit was not in any Canadian renovation stores.  I finally found one at an RV parts place, but ever that took a few tries.  Next, I measured the base on the new flange, and it was a tenth of an inch too low.  With the help of my son and his spanky new 3D printer, a spacer of that height was created, and glued on the base with the 3M 5200 that was there originally, sandwiched between the flange and the floor.

 

The new flange and spacer wound up at exactly .5" above the floor.  Next, the research on toilets.

 

It appears that the toilet business is essentially a duopoly.  There's Thetford, and Dometic.  Our existing toilet was the cheapest Thetford available, and the camper we have has very little room for mounting it.  Especially problematic was the lack of room on the lower right side, which prevented almost anything but a couple of Thetford models from fitting.  All of the Dometics had their foot flush on the right side, which wouldn't fit, and except for some of their marine gravity models, did not seem to be an option.  A foot flush on the left side would have been best, since it eliminates the "inner sanctum chamber" in our existing model, which is essentially there due to the hand flush at the back.  The other issue I ran into during my attempts to find a replacement toilet, is almost none of the RV dealerships here stock any, or at most, one model.  They then want to "order it in", so you're back to the internet to try to see if something fits, and from all the frustration, I finally decided to clean up the old one, and re-mount it.  I simply ordered a new foam ring for the bottom, and went and got some proper plumbers silicon grease to grease up the ring, prior to installation.

 

Couple of other subtle points.  First, in taking my toilet back into the bathroom in my camper, the side to side dimensions allowed it to barely fit.  So, if you are thinking of replacing your existing toilet, you better measure the width of your doorway into the bathroom.  Ours would require major reconstruction to get a wider commode in there.  Second, after reading everything I could on how not to break the flange by over-tightening the nuts again, I made certain they were snug, and there was no side to side movement.  Then, I noticed that there was a bit of play front to back.

 

Floors in general are never absolutely flat and level, and campers appear to be the same.  The floor that our toilet is mounted on is constructed of fiberglass, and placing a steel square on it shows that there is probably ups and downs of around 3/16".  So today, I'm off to buy some shims, and I'll shim the back, where no one can see it, and try to run a small bead of caulk around the base to keep the shower water out from beneath the toilet base.  The fact that the toilet is also in the shower appears to be one of the reasons the flange was held to the floor with 3M 5200.  You don't want shower water running under the toilet, and then sit of the top of your black tank in the camper basement.

 

Lastly, I decided to order one of these: https://360productsn...rv-applications  This issue was discussed in the forum back in 2013.  Positive pressure in the black tank when driving pushes the smell up the toilet.  This vent is supposed to create negative pressure in the black tank.  There was also a simpler solution proposed here: http://rv-living-mag...tank-vents.html

 

So my three pronged solution to my original topic was:

 

1. Install a rinse kit for the black tank.

2. Install a new flange that was installed slightly above the toilet manufacturers specification for height

3. Install a vent cap that sucks.  (Sorry, I just couldn't let that one go...)

 

I'll try to post an update a year from now, to see how this all worked out, or any further findings.






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