Some of you may recall that I had asked if anyone here had installed a Natures Head composting toilet installation on their 20 footer, and all I heard was crickets. So I surmised that no one had done so.
I've decided to do it and I have been taking photos along the way in the hope that this will help some of you in the future.
One of the disadvantages we have as 20 footer owners is that our Black water tank is wholly inside out trailers and as such we have a substantial pedestal upon which out toilets are installed. The reason for the pedestal is to house, at least partially, the black water tank.
Most of the other Airstream installations I have seen have been pretty straightforward because they had simply been able to remove the existing toilet, cap the waste hole and then install the new composting toilet right over the waste hole. This is certainly doable on the 20 footers also, but this will result in a VERY tall toilet seat, so much so that the toilet seat will be at the same level as the bathroom counter top. I've posted some pictures below to show what that looks like.
This will necessitate the use of some sort of step stool in order to both get up on the toilet and to prevent your feet from dangling.
While this is doable, in my opinion this is not really an acceptable solution.
So I've embarked on removing the pedestal and black water tank from my 20 footer in order to install my composting toilet at a normal height.
Before I go any further, I just want to let you know that I have not yet completed that process. Removing the black water tank and pedestal is no trivial piece of work. As this point, because I have an upcoming trip, I am going to temporarily install the toilet on top of the existing pedestal, and then probably next week tackle the removal of the pedestal and black tank.
Here are some pictures of the process so far:
Here is the original Toilet
Here is the water connection to the toilet as well as the vent for the black water tank
Another View of the water connection. i used a pex tube cutter to cut the water line going to the toilet. Make sure you have plenty of rags to soak up the water you will have coming out of the hose. No matter how much I drained the lines, I still had quite a bit of water come out.
Removing the toilet was very easy, just unscrew the two nuts on the side of the bowl and remove. This exposes the toilet flange.
Removing the toilet flange was a royal pain, once I was able to remove it I realized why. The flange was a extension that then screws on the top of the black water tank and when this was installed they put some sealant around the area where the flange screws to the tank. I was able to unscrew the flange by first using a hammer and a nail set tool (using the blunt side on the plastic) to nudge the flange somewhat loose. This was VERY slow going. Notice the rag I placed in the hole to prevent the black tank smell from over powering me. I did clean out the tank as well as I could, but there was still quite a power aroma emanating from the tank.
To speed up the process I then placed the back the screws that are used to hold the toilet in place and used the handle of the hammer to continue unscrewing the flange. The sealant had a very tight hold on the flange.
Finally got the flange out, you can see the tank here with the opening.
Put a 3" plug on the black tank.
Next I put a pex cap on the line that was feeding the old toilet. Working with pex is typically easy, especially compared with copper or PVC, but working with pex in tight spaces is truly challenging as the pex compression tool handles spread out pretty far.
Next I am going to saw the black water vent pipe and I am going to attach this barbed connector to the vent pipe going to the roof, and the vent tube coming from the composting toilet will connect to the barbed end of this.
Here are 3 views of the composting toilet resting on top of the pedestal. The toilet is not attached yet, but you can see how high this toilet will end up if you simply install it on top of the pedestal.
The installation of the toilet on the pedestal is temporary. We are headed out this weekend and need a working toilet. Next week (or later depending on how soon I can schedule the woodwork that will need to be done, more on this below), I am going to hack into the pedestal. Despite trying to figure out a way to remove the pedestal while keeping it intact, I have not been able to figure out how to do that. Seems impossible to do. I can't even figure out how they installed this unless they installed it BEFORE the shell which seems just as impossible. So I will have to hack it off. Then go about removing the black tank.
Despite the fact that the black tank goes under the shower, I am pretty confident that I will be able to pull it out. The tank does not seem to be attached to anything other than the drain pipe, the vent pipe and the flange pipe, so right now I can move it quite a bit. If for some reason I am not able to simply pull it out, I am going to have to hack into it and take it out in pieces. I am very much hoping to avoid this as I am sure this will be very unpleasant. I am going to do one more black tank rinse using bleach this time to get it as clean as I can in case I do need to hack into it.
After the tank is removed, I will need to have a new pedestal/base made and installed. I am currently talking to a few finish carpenters & cabinet makers to see what they can do for me. I want it to look good. In addition to a new pedestal/base, they will have to also create something on both sides of the toilet make it all look finished. I plan on working a bit on the little mess if pex piping and vent pipe on the back right to eliminate the chintzy aluminum panel that was originally there covering the vent pipe and more.
I am really hoping that whomever I get to do this work can do it quickly, as I don't want to be without the trailer for too long.
I will follow up with more posts on the progress, both in removing the black water tank and the finished woodwork.
Hope this is of interest to some of you, and feel free to ask any questions.