Friday, October 30, 2009

Sealand Toilet Repair...and more!

Over the course of the past few camping trips, Kim repeatedly noticed liquid collecting around the base of the toilet. Initially, I thought it was due to either my modified way of showering, or poor aim on the part of the Boyz. So the Boyz got another lecture on the importance of giving full attention to their aim, and I resolved to keep shower water in the shower. But the puddle kept reappearing.

So after the last camping trip, I started troubleshooting, and found the “dripping gun”. The culprit was the vacuum breaker mounted on the back of the toilet.

The vacuum breaker’s purpose in life is to keep toilet water from being sucked back into the fresh water line. It does this by using flush pressure to force a piston to seal an air hole. When there’s no flush pressure, the piston moves away from the hole to let air in to preclude the possibility of siphoning.

These devices usually go bad when something happens to the rubber seal around the piston. Flush water then leaks past the seal, and onto the floor. But in my case, the device went bad because it was made of the wrong type of plastic, and had cracked itself to death. Before you say, “or it froze & cracked because you did not winterize properly”, I have high confidence that I did not fall asleep at the helm of last year’s winterization effort. Plus, the problem popped up in the middle of the season, and not at the beginning.

But the kicker is that this device only holds water when the toilet is being flushed. Other than a residual drop or two of water, it is dry most of the time. This vacuum breaker failed because a poor choice of materials was made at the factory.

Fortunately, the replacement part appears to be made of a different type of plastic. Here’s a picture of the new and old parts together

Initially, it appeared the toilet would have to be removed to gain access to the vacuum breaker. I really did not want to remove the toilet because, in addition to the two closet flange fasteners, there are two lag bolts holding the back of the toilet to the floor itself. My preference is to NOT remove bolts lagged into wood unless I really have to. Fortunately, my toilet is of a two-part construction. Loosening one big radiator-style hose clamp allowed the bowl to be removed to gain access to the work area.

Installation was quick & easy with the bowl out of the way. The work was done before I knew it.

In other news, while waiting for the replacement part to come in, I took a look at the pantry to see what could be done about getting more light into it so we could find stuff without having to use a flashlight.

Ground-rules were simple – Nothing battery powered or florescent. The one RV parts supply catalog I have had nothing that really inspired me so a trip was made to the local Big Box store. Kitchen lighting has come a long way since I last looked. What ended up catching my eye were the 2-1/2 D xenon lights. Both 12 vdc & 120 vac models were available, and each had touch switches.

Reasoning that I did not want to run into dead battery issues if/when someone forgot to turn off the lights, the 120 vac model was chosen. Mounting was easy enough, and the lights were wired to the converter outlet underneath the bathroom sink.

The touch switch is located on the door near the top light. The additional lighting is great, and is something I wish I had done many seasons ago.

Now that I think about it, these two projects are the only substantial work (other than starting the season with a new battery) which has been done on the Airstream this year. While one more small task remains (repairing a light fixture), that’s no big shakes. Pretty low maintenance for this year’s seven trips which covered 6123 miles!

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