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Old 08-06-2003, 03:00 PM   #1
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bizare toilet setup

I just got a 1956 Caravanner with a really bizare toilet setup. The toilet seems to feed straight down to a hole in the belly skin which is supposed to have some sort of stopper (but doesn't). I am wondering if anyone else has this and how exactly you are suposed to use it to dump, etc.?? Also, has anyone out there put in black and grey tanks and found a great way to do it. I plan to lift the body off the frame, get it sandblasted/painted and then add tanks, insulation, new floor but I've never done anything like it so any advise would be very helpful. Thanks. This is my first post so if I did anything wrong, will someone let me know.
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Old 08-06-2003, 03:33 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums!

Your toilet is of the type that many of the older units had. The way they were used was dig a small hole, connect a pipe on the fitting under your coach, and the other end goes in the hole. There would have been a cover for the hole too. When you were done camping you filled the hole in. They were called gopher holes. In the EPA worlld we live in now this will not do, so holding tanks or sewer hookups are a must.

If you are going to add a tank it will more than likley have to be mounted in such a way that part of it will be above the floor. This in not an issue and many units are plumbed this way today to allow for greater capacity. The toilet will mount right on the tank. In the newest models they are using one BIG tank for all waste since gray water cannot be drianed on the ground any more either why complicate systems. One tank, one valve, one vent stack, simple.

The biggest drawback I see in the one tank method is that the shower floor must be above the top of the tank for backup protection. I know what my wife would say if she was taking a shower and the tank overflowed . When this happens the water will back up to the lowest point in the system, normally the shower pan.

Good luck on your project!
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Old 08-06-2003, 05:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by thenewkid64

I know what my wife would say if she was taking a shower and the tank overflowed .
I'm sure she'd just call 'em as she sees 'em
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Old 08-07-2003, 01:53 AM   #4
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We have a '52 Cruiser with a similar toilet setup. On her maiden voyage, we hooked up a portable holding tank using a hose clamp. Definitely RV newbies crawling under the trailer with a screwdriver and a flashlight. The waste drained everywhere but into the tank. Fortunately, we started only with gray water.

Now we're in the process of updating the plumbing, restoring the floor, etc. I'm doing the floor a piece at a time; it's more work, but we don't really have the space or the equipment for a shell-off restoration. The length of the frame is being reinforced by a local welder. We had a crack where the frame bends, and were told by vintage airstream folks that some of the early 50's frames were designed too shallow. The frame is being painted with a Por-15 rust inhibiting coating. We're using marine plywood on the floor (not the nasty off-gassing exterior grade plywood).

As for the toilet setup, we're going new. I looked at RV catalogs and visited RV stores to become familiar with all of the parts and how they go together. Figuring out how to place tanks and run plumbing and vents has been a challenge. The early 50's trailers with tanks had them above the floor, but we didn't want to alter our (tiny) bathroom compartment and have opted to install two small tanks (black and gray) below the floor. We made insulated metal boxes for them which extend below the belly pan a few inches. The tanks were ordered from from Inca Plastics. We have an additional 20 gal. portable "blue" tank from Camping World.

There are alot of tricks that I've gleaned from this web site. It's too bad that airstreamphotos.com is down at the moment, because it was really helpful seeing other members photos of the restoration process. The Vintage Airstream Club also has a huge archive of postings, and if you haven't connected with them already, the Washington DC Unit of the WBCCI is a great resource of friendly folks with vintage trailers.

Glad to see you restoring a great old trailer. This is a good site for restoration questions, so keep 'em coming.

Doug
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Old 09-01-2003, 07:24 PM   #5
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Bizarre toilet

Bailey,I think you have the same set-up I do. If you flush the toilet, you can see straight trhough to the gound. Actually, you may be looking THROUGH the blackwater tank, and the dump valve is wide open. In my '59 Tradewind, the toilet is mounted directly above the blackwater outlet. The tank is only about 5" deep, so with the toilet valve open you can see daylight if the dump valve is open.
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Old 09-01-2003, 09:48 PM   #6
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You could keep the shower the way it is if you use a sump pump to lift the shower drain water up and into the top of the tank. The sailboat we chartered did it that way... on a boat, the bottom of the shower is often below the water line, and it must be pumped up to pump it out.

(On a boat, it's considered OK to dump sink and shower water directly overboard... after all, do you know what fish do in that water?
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Old 09-02-2003, 08:38 AM   #7
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All right an another Caravanner!

If you have a Gas water heater you should have a black water tank. The toilet should be sitting on a step. that step is the black water tank.

The Caravanner has the flow though like Mark described. The dump valve has a extension on the control lever. If you look between the bumper and the body next to the curb side frame rail there will but a aluminum T. That's the dump valve control. push in to close pull out to open. There is good chance it's stuck. Ours is and I have not had a chance to mess with it.

In the forums is a nice write up on how to rebuild that valve in the plumbing section. Some people have had success spraying a penetrating oil into the valve through the drain and letting it sit for a few hours. Then close it and dump some coconut oil in the tank through the toilet.
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Old 09-02-2003, 08:55 AM   #8
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Bizzaro Toileto

The dump valve on these early models is a brass 2" sliding gate valve, just like you buy at any plumbing shop. I guess this was before Atwood et al developed thin profile plastic valves. Took about 400 ft lbs to get the valve off of the tank. BUILT TO LAST.
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Old 09-02-2003, 08:55 AM   #9
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Sorry I'm at work and occasionaly have to work ( I hate when folks interupt my internet time).

As for a gray water tank. There was a nice set of pictures that one of the members had posted where they made a aluminum gray water tank to fit the existing space under the rear of the coach. I'll be doing something simular in the near future.

I will keep both systems seperate because of the potential for back flow from the black water into the gray or worse...into the shower pan. I'll just have a stinky slinky with a Y so I can drain both when I have full hook up.
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Old 09-02-2003, 10:32 AM   #10
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I'm thinking I'm going to want to add a grey water tank under the rear bed of my Caravanner too sometime soon, there's a lot of space under there.
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Old 09-02-2003, 10:41 AM   #11
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Bizzare tiolet

So we're in agreement- 58/59s need a gray water tank. Maybe someone should do a design and sell a kit? \
Also-check marine builers sites for tankage. They have a lot of odd shaped tanks for fitting in bilges.
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Old 09-02-2003, 11:45 AM   #12
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Re: Bizzare tiolet

Quote:
Originally posted by markdoane
So we're in agreement- 58/59s need a gray water tank. Maybe someone should do a design and sell a kit? \
Also-check marine builers sites for tankage. They have a lot of odd shaped tanks for fitting in bilges.
Well I'll be in there soon. I'll get some measurments of what will fit mine and figure out how much water that will work out to be. My goal is about 15-20 gallons. If I can get 20 that will put me at about right to handle a long weekend off the main 40 gallons fresh.
I want to mount it as close to the axle as possible to limit stress on the frame from the extra weight. I have taken a peak and it looks like the ribs joining the rails are about 24 on center between the frame rails. The rails are about 36 inches apart. That should let me get a 33x19 inch tank alowing for mounting bracket and fitment of the drains.. With it close to the axle it can hang a little below the rails without much chance of dragging if it were at the rear. So proably 5-6 inches tall alowing 1 inch of air space above for the insulation. I want to say the rail is 6 inches but I won't swear to that.

I need to look again but I think it's not going to be that hard to plumb in and maybe stick with just one main drain like factory with a ball cock valve next to the sewer connection. The second valve will prevent black water from back flowing into the gray water. On mine all the gray lines T into each other and a single line goes in just below the dump valve. All I will need to do is put a T right there with the ballcock valve on the dump valve side then run the line back to the gray water tank.

The only other problem will be venting the tank. I think it will be real easy to T into the existing vent on a rear bath that you have access through the trunk. Going to be a little tricky on a Caravanner since that vent is under the box the toilet sits on. No access pannels exist. I figure a 1 inch ID line should be plenty. It may slow it some when emptying but should not give any problems with filling.

Dump the black water first then the gray ands it will rince the stinky slinky with the gray water.

Hmmm I need to get the tape measure out. If the gray hangs lower then the frame the drain will be higher then the tank. On mine the gray comes in right above the belly pan. Might not work to use just the single drain.. I'll get a frame rail hight in that location next time I'm tinkering on it and figure out how many gallons I can hold above the existing connection. Might be able to just run the jack up to tilt the coach back and be OK as long as the gray tank stays above the belly pan.
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Old 09-02-2003, 12:51 PM   #13
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I,m doing the same project with my 61 Overlander -body off frame repair, and floor replacement. I will be using plastic tank for black water under toilet and sink (20 gals). Plan to install new 50 gal plastic fresh water tank under bed.Have not decided yet on where to put grey water tank lots of room under bed but would require pump.Could also mount under frame behind axles a 7" tank mounted below floor would come flush with bottom of axle.
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Old 09-02-2003, 04:17 PM   #14
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Design plans

Better check again. On my Tradewind the rails are 54" inside and only 4" deep. Also, on long and/or wide tanks you need to check free surface area-can really start to cause sway as the water sloshs back and forth (side-to-side). Might look at baffled tanks. Would I prefer pitch or rolling? Depends on if the long axis of the tank is fore and aft or on the beam.
My Tradewind has two gray water outlets attached to the outlet of the blackwater tank. One is from the sinks, the other from the shower pan. Otherwise, same as the Caravanner.
Nice talking to ya. Stay in touch.
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