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Old 11-17-2011, 12:11 PM   #1
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Mystery author has research question...

Mystery readers may be familiar with a pair of books I wrote for G.P. Putnam's in the early nineties about Joe and Dottie Loudermilk, Airstream owners and frazzled parents of five grown kids from hell (GOING NOWHERE FAST and BAD NEWS TRAVELS FAST).

I'm presently adapting the books for television and have a few technical questions I'm hoping someone here can answer for me:

This is a gross thing to ask, I know, but what happens to solid valuables that get flushed down the toilet? If, say, a diamond necklace were to get flushed into a relatively EMPTY tank (that is, almost immediately after a visit to the dump station), would there be any finding/saving it? Could the tank be flushed, say, into a large bucket or barrel just to retrieve the valuable item?

Also, aside from the obvious, what kind of shape would such a solid object be in if it were retrieved from the tank? What kind of damage do the chemicals in an RV chemical toilet do to metals, plastics, etc.?

Any help you guys could offer me would be very greatly appreciated.

Gar Anthony Haywood
(aka JLoudermilk)
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:20 PM   #2
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Well, typically the tanks are closed off when in use so that if you dropped something in you just would not go to the dump station without retrieving it. A solid object like a necklace or ring could be retrieved from inside through the bowl with a mechanics small object recovery tool - long flexible claw like pincers - not my idea of fun but possible.

You could dump to a portable tank or bucket and retrieve the item - again not my idea of fun.

As to what would happen - gold, silver, diamonds, valuable gems are not relly affected by the waste or the chemicals. Silver may tarnish but gold will not be affected at all.

The tanks are not typically that big or generally over full so the bucket method would work - 2-3 gallons at a time then flush.

Good luck
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:23 PM   #3
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Yep, that is gross. And I would certainly think retrieval by dumping into another tank would be possible, but yuck! It would have to be pretty valuable. And a full rubber suit with air fed respirator would be in order. Be funny to watch on tv!
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:25 PM   #4
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It would be a messy proposition - but it could be found. This reminds me of a couple of comical threads here from awhile back...

$1,041.95 Lost @ Sewer Pump

Toothbrush disappears in the toilet

Metal fork in black water tank

If it were me and a diamond necklace, I would fill the tank with water & flush out the tank through a collander or strainer to retrive. If there were "other solids" in the tank, I would fill the tank with water & a bag of ice to break things up first, then drive around the block a few times and flush trough the collander/strainer.

Shari
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Old 11-17-2011, 12:28 PM   #5
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Wow, first time we've had a question like that, I think However, probably not the first time we've had someone ask about recovering an object from the black tank. I seem to recall someone having to retrieve a dropped toothbrush from there, and much hilarity ensued in the responses!

Clancy's right on. Plus, RV Toilets are not necessarily 'chemical' toilets. It depends on the owner. We don't use any chemicals in ours. Retrieval would be a dirty job, but nothing a little soap and water couldn't clean up

on edit: Ha ha, Shari remembered the toothbrush too - that WAS a good one!
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:12 PM   #6
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I'm still damaged from the toothbrush!!!
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:16 PM   #7
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We use an enzyme additive in ours, so it probably wouldn't react with fine jewelry. Typically the black tank is directly below the toilet so if there's not much else in there I'd vote for clancy_boy's suggestion of using a claw grabber to get it. If you want to get high-tech, I have an "inspection camera" with the camera sensor and LED lights on a flexible stalk to allow me to see into places my big head won't fit (or icky places I wouldn't want to put it even if it did fit.) With that and the claw grabber you could find it even if it were over in a dark stinky corner of the black tank.
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:48 PM   #8
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Usually don't watch "reality" TV, but this sounds interesting...

We all love a good dump story...

Bob
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Old 11-17-2011, 01:58 PM   #9
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Just dump into a colander and you should find it. I am sure you could have fun with a clueless couple sifting through sewage to find a lost ring or something. It should be good as new once cleaned.

I accidently flushed my retainers down the toilet one time. That was a $300 mistake. I wrapped them up in some toilet paper to dry them off and forgot why they were there and flushed them down the toilet. I was not going to dig them out of the septic tank but I would have found them if they were in an RV holding tank. After all, bleach was made for situations like this. The blue color might not go away though.

You will find some RV sewage tank humour in the movie RV, and one of the Meet the Fockers movies.

Perry
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Old 11-17-2011, 04:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by InsideOut View Post
It would be a messy proposition - but it could be found. This reminds me of a couple of comical threads here from awhile back...

$1,041.95 Lost @ Sewer Pump

Toothbrush disappears in the toilet

Metal fork in black water tank

If it were me and a diamond necklace, I would fill the tank with water & flush out the tank through a collander or strainer to retrive. If there were "other solids" in the tank, I would fill the tank with water & a bag of ice to break things up first, then drive around the block a few times and flush trough the collander/strainer.
Be sure to rinse that colander well before straining the spaghetti. Sal.
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Old 11-17-2011, 06:06 PM   #11
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A customer brought his Airstream into our shop for us to remove his black (sewage) tank, so he could get his house and car keys back. The labor charge was less than replacing several very expensive keys.
I've also found some pretty esoteric things in holding tanks. I won't go into detail, but you can probably bet that if it would fit down the drain, it's been a holding tank inhabitant.
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:02 PM   #12
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Be sure to rinse that colander well before straining the spaghetti. Sal.
Since my colander was a cheap one from the dollar store, it would go fast to the dumpster. No rinse involved!!!!!!
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Old 11-17-2011, 07:40 PM   #13
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Hi from GA. . . reminds me of a long ago trip to Road Atlanta when my friends wife took the keys with her on a trip back to the car, with a stop @ the job johnny. Upon return she said sheepishly 'I dropped your keys in the job johnny, BUT NO WORRY, I got them back for you' ,and handed me my keys ! Thank God for spare set in glove box, I never did use those keys again. Regards, Craig
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Old 11-17-2011, 08:49 PM   #14
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...This is a gross thing to ask, I know, but what happens to solid valuables that get flushed down the toilet?...

They would be covered in poo?

You all were thinking it, I just have the lack of class to say it.
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