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Old 07-23-2013, 01:42 PM   #1
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Portland , Oregon
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New Composting Toilet Installation

My wife and I just purchased a 1998 Excella in good condition (31' model) for full time use in the fal. We plan to install a composting toilet and would like your feedback about this process.

The Airstream was in storage mode so has clear water in the toilet bowl and the black tank is empty.

The composting toilet will require a vent to the outside. Rather than drilling a hole in the side of our nice Airstream we would like to remove the black tank and feed the hose for the vent to the outside through that space (and the old blank tank emptying hose).

Is this possible without tearing the floor up? If not, how would we go about that in order to remove the blank tank?

We might replace the carpet with wood flooring at some point, so if we could kill two birds with one stone and rip the carpet out/temporarily open the sub floor to remove the tank that might work...

Thank you for your help!

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Old 07-23-2013, 01:53 PM   #2
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Saline , Michigan
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We will be 'gearing up' for a composting toilet some time in the future so will be interested in your install. Rather than remove the black tank it might be worth looking into adding it to your gray tank system, doing do would increase your gray water capacity and still allow you to connect it to your black tank vent. Are you putting the composting head in the same vicinity as the current toilet?

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Old 07-23-2013, 02:48 PM   #3
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Milford , Ohio
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I think goshawks has the right idea about connecting to the existing vent.

Gray water capacity could be easily increased by attaching a slide valve to the sewer outlet, then leaving the original dump valves open. With the two tanks wyed together you would then have that entire capacity for gray water.

A friend owns an off-grid hunting cabin which has a home built composting toilet and it works quite well, for that application.

This is a decent sized cabin with plenty of storage space in the bathroom for a large bag of wood shavings. You have to put a scoop of those in the potty after every use.

Also being at a cabin, size and weight are of little concern so the holding tank is rather large, built from a plastic laundry/utility sink. Given the infrequent use it gets, it only needs to be emptied once a year, which is no trouble since it is located on 10 wooded acres.

For liquid waste, men are expected to use a tree outside whenever possible. Again no real trouble due to the private location.

I'm not sure where you will be parking your trailer and for how long, but if you have access to a dump station, even if you have to pump out your tank and haul the waste a few miles, I think keeping the original RV toilet and holding tank would be easier in the long run.

My apologies for being the nay sayer, but at least I have some hands on experience.

Its a camper, therefore it leaks.
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Old 07-23-2013, 03:34 PM   #4
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We will also be installing a composting toilet next year. We are planning to install a Natures Head model, but I am still researching the options we've got. We will combine the current black tank with the grey tank as suggested.

The Natures Head is good for about 80 uses before it needs to be emptied.
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Old 07-24-2013, 08:32 AM   #5
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Portland , Oregon
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goshawk--yes, the composting toilet will be replacing the current toilet.

blickcd--thanks for your perspective. We'll probably go ahead with the composting toilet. We will be full timing and while we will be located in a more urban area for the time being plan to relocate to rural property sooner or later.

andreasduess--Canada, eh? Living in southern Alberta for the summer but relocating to Oregon in the fall... We are planning to purchase the Airhead unit, but will make our final decision after we check them out in person in the fall.

Interesting idea to combine black and grey tanks. With that option is there still enough room under the floor of the trailer to vent the composting toilet? I haven't opened it up yet and am trying to get a sense of what we will find...

Thanks, all.
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Old 07-24-2013, 09:03 AM   #6
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I would definitely not remove the black tank.

I would also probably keep the black tank vent in place and just install a composting toilet with the vent tied into the black tank vent above the floor. This way when you sell the Airstream, the new owners can remove the composting toilet and vent, if they so desire and install a normal toilet, or just keep the composting toilet. Their option.

I have looked at the Airhead toilet and it looks like a good candidate for RV use. I considered it for my Tradewind, but it would just not work in the confined space and the design of the console type original toilet in the Tradewind. I installed a "Curve" porta potti. It works quite well for us.

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Old 07-24-2013, 10:39 AM   #7
1985 31' Excella
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I just had a Natures Head composting toilet installed in my 31' Excella. They covered the hole with a plate and hooked the fan up to existing electric in the wall behind the toilet and used an existing vent. No tearing up required. Be sure to get the spider handle for space and be sure you have enough clearance behind the toilet to raise the unit. Holiday in Albuquerque installed it. It was the first time they had heard of a composting toilet!
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:17 PM   #8
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How much back space is required so removal could happen?
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:07 PM   #9
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I have a Nature's Head also. I took the old toilet off, removed the flange from the floor and screwed a 4" thraded ABS plug into the hole in the tank. I cut out a section from the adjacent vent pipe, easy to fix if we want to go back to the flush toilet. The one thing is having enough room to swing open the top of the toilet to empty it. Ours is pushed back to give room in front of it, but I have to unsecure it from the floor and slide it out to do so. Otherwise, I'm soooo happy not to have to deal with the black tank.
Wherever you go, there you are
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:39 PM   #10
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Doesn't seem like it would be to big of a deal to make a sliding track so you could just pull it out a bit when time to empty. That's my plan anyway.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:49 PM   #11
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From what I've read they normally recommend venting toilets up, not down, since the gasses try to go up and it causes problems when trying to force things to go the opposite direction they want to. So tying into the vent pipe for the black tank would be the way to go.
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Old 07-24-2013, 07:09 PM   #12
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We bought a SEPARETT composting toilet. We should be ready to install it in about a month. We will see how we like it. No space problem with this model, since only the toilet seat open to replace the bucket inside. Urine will go to holding tank. There is a vent that will connect to one of the roof vent. an electric fan always run to eliminate odors.
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Old 10-09-2013, 01:48 PM   #13
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Portland , Oregon
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We have the toilet!

We will be installing ASAP. Any ideas how to remove the old one?

Also, what conduits are in the pictures linked below? Any advice would be great. Thank you!

Trying to figure out which pipe to use to vent the composting toilet... The black pipe on the bottom snaking from the left looks like it comes from the current Thetford toilet. Could I drill into that for venting purposes? Where's the other end of this pipe system?

As soon as we get this done we are placing our trailer on some beautiful property for full timing! Thanks for your help, folks!

Image links (you may have to copy and paste):

P1060030 - Photo Gallery

P1060033 - Photo Gallery
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Old 10-09-2013, 02:00 PM   #14
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I am not trying to hijack a thread, or start a fight.

I would really just like to know how carrying a 2 gallon bucket of urine or a bucket of human waste compost through the interior of one's trailer and out the door to some dump site is any better or easier than a black tank?

Really, just an honest question.



Jeff & Cindy
'09 27FB Flying Cloud
'91 350 LE MH
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