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Old 02-20-2013, 12:44 PM   #1
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Teach me about toilets...

I'm looking at the options that Escape offers, and faced with deciding between the different A/B plans that have or don't have built-in toilets/showers. But I have no experience with trailers with toilet facilities, so making an informed decision is kind of tough.

Three options present: built-in toilet with black-water system, porta-potti, or nothing at all.

The wife says "nothing at all" isn't an option, so that makes that decision easy...

So teach me about porta-potties and black water systems...

I'm guessing that a full toilet with black-water system is not as fool-proof as the toilet in your house. I don't think there's a trap in the waste line and I assume they're designed to flush with as little water as possible, so I'd guess you'd occasionally get a whiff of sewer gas in the bathroom when you flush. Is that true? Is it sufficient to leave the fan running into the bathroom to keep a little positive pressure? Or is there some other trick that people use to avoid this problem?

How onerous is it to empty the black water tank?

What are the common problems with these toilets and tanks?

How good are porta-potties at containing the smell? How difficult are they to maintain? How often do you need to maintain them?

Thanks. Any information you can send me way will be appreciated.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:10 PM   #2
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I don't have any experience with the " porta poti " option but here is my take on the toilet/black tank. Correct there is no trap so when you flush the door opens straight into the black tank, with a small amount of effort to keep things clean and rinsed the odors are very minimal. dumping the tanks is very easy once you get the hang of it, I would strongly recomend the window in the bathrooom to feed a hose through for rinsing the tank while dumping.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:21 PM   #3
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My experience with a porta poti was some 30 years ago, so maybe things have changed.
To empty it I had to attach a hose from it into the septic, holding that in place with one foot, and then tip the porta poti and hold open the flush valve at the same time. It created a suction and wouldn't empty without the valve being open. Then the unit slipped out of my grip, causing me to lose my balance, lifting my foot and allowing the hose to fire excrement in all directions.

I never want to see another porta poti, ever.

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Old 02-20-2013, 02:27 PM   #4
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The Porta Porta option is fairly simple but you obviously don't have anything like the capacity of the black water. The "holding" tank holds, I think, about two gallons and is detachable from the seat/water container. Again it is a direct flow down to the tank with a hand pump action to flush. This type of toilet takes up very little room and can be stored in a cabinet. From past experience it is preferable that the Porta potti does not have to be lifted in order to get it out of the cabinet, there are plenty of methods to retain it whilst traveling. I'm sure you will get plenty of advice but go with your instincts! If you plan to be hooked up every night then everyday showers are an option, if you are not then you would seriously want to consider the water capacity of your trailer and how often you can replenish that supply. Again a lesser option is an outdoor shower, you won't need the extra weight of a gray water tank. Have fun
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:33 PM   #5
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Baglo that's called "Getting your own back". More modern potties have a port on the bottom to which a short 2 1/2" pipe, which is stored underneath, is attached. It is then a simple matter of turning the tank on its end and aiming it at the hole at the dump site, quick, easy and no muddy feet.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:35 PM   #6
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Thanks for the replies everybody.

With respect to the grey water tank... How do you deal with water down the sink if you don't have a grey water tank?
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:41 PM   #7
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GBaglo's experience paint's a pretty funny picture , I think they have evolved a bit - but they are pretty basic and very easy to empty . One can buy a toilet chem ( environmentally friendly one) to use with either a built in or a porta-potti ( porta-potti does flush also ) . We've never had a smell issue with either system . We've had both . If we were going to do a lot of boon docking we would have chosen a built in ( also if we would have wanted the shower ). It is inconvenient to unhook and head to the dumping station if one is staying in a particular location for a long time (say more than a week - depending on uses/ people ) but the dumping process is easy - just takes more time than emptying a porta-potti . Porta-potti we tend to empty daily if used - which would actually be only over night .
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dbailey View Post
Thanks for the replies everybody.

With respect to the grey water tank... How do you deal with water down the sink if you don't have a grey water tank?
There will be a drain outlet on the driver side to which one hooks up a hose for drain away or into a sewer hook-up.
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Old 02-20-2013, 02:49 PM   #9
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The gray water is easy from the kitchen sink it is fed to an outlet where you attach a 90deg.
And a 2 or 2 1/2 pipe, can't remember which and we put that into an old water container. When that fills we empty it appropriately. Some don't bother with the bottle and then it becomes ground water. Gabeck's reply gives the perfect scenario but that would be in a serviced site I think.
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Old 02-20-2013, 03:02 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Dixhiccup View Post
The gray water is easy from the kitchen sink it is fed to an outlet where you attach a 90deg.
And a 2 or 2 1/2 pipe, can't remember which and we put that into an old water container. When that fills we empty it appropriately. Some don't bother with the bottle and then it becomes ground water. Gabeck's reply gives the perfect scenario but that would be in a serviced site I think.
Hi... we do mostly go for full service - however we have also been told we do not need to have the hose into the sewer as the amount of grey water coming from our set up is so minimal . But we don't like to mess up the area we are in.
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:12 PM   #11
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Are you a parent or grandparent? Have you ever changed a dirty diaper? Trust me, dealing with a blackwater tank isn't nearly as bad. Besides, you get to wear gloves!
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:05 PM   #12
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I just knew Donna D. would get to the nub of it! Funny! And true!
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:43 PM   #13
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We have a porta potti made by Thetford which has its own storage cupboard under the passenger side front bench seat of our trailer. We have been using it for three years and have never had any trouble with it.

1. Saves a lot of space compared to a bathroom, especially in a small trailer
2. With chemicals added there is very little smell even in warm weather
3. We use the porta potti only during the night and only for #1, use the campsite washrooms for anything else -- most people who use one do the same
4. Paper goes in the garbage, not in the porta potti -- saves a lot of work
5. In full service sites you can dump the porta potti down the sewer connection, in others we dump it into a washroom toilet, usually once a day, usually when the washroom is not crowded -- some people are afraid of the things!
6. The top of the porta potti carries the flush water, the bottom the product, the two are detachable for dumping. There is a convenient carrying handle on the bottom
7. We have NEVER had the experience baglo relates in using a porta potti, although he does tell a great story

I have to agree with those that have larger trailers that a built in bathroom is more civilized, but it does come at a cost.
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Old 02-21-2013, 12:10 AM   #14
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I was careful to mention that that was 30 years ago.
The unit was all one piece, with a port for the hose on the top of it, which is why it had to be tipped to empty. You had to tip and lift it. It had no flushing water.

Last I saw of it, it was on the back porch of the cabin we sold (furnished )

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Old 02-21-2013, 09:32 AM   #15
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Being forced to consider smaller trailers has caused us to recognize that a porta-potty is probably more appropriate for the style of camping that we're used to. There's generally a campsite bathroom near by. Whatever toilet we have in the trailer will likely only be used rarely. Room in the trailer is better used for living in than *&$#%ing in.

On the other hand, I also recognize that what we've done in the past doesn't necessarily paint a complete picture of what we'll do in the future. I like the idea of exploring less civilized areas. Retirement isn't too far away, and when we reach that point I expect we'll expand our boundaries quite a lot. So it might be worth our while to pull around a bathroom we don't use for a few years to save restricting ourselves further down the road.

Ah, decisions... Gotta love 'em.
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Old 02-21-2013, 09:48 AM   #16
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Another way to look at space is that you have all the great outdoors wherever you are as your "front yard" to sit out in and otherwise enjoy. When we were younger, we were tent campers (and backpackers when even younger), but now that we are both in our 60s that bathroom is something that we really appreciate - especially with those late night/early morning needs. And here in the tic/mosquito infested Midwest, it is really nice to be able to wash off all the insect repellent with a quick shower rather than taking it to bed with us.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:15 AM   #17
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I actually like the late night wanders to the campsite bathroom, as long as it isn't pouring rain. The cold doesn't bother me, and even the quietest sites we usually visit have enough people in them that it's nice to experience the silence after everybody has gone to bed.

But washing off bug spray is something I definitely understand!
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:25 AM   #18
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I don't use bug spray, but my wife does. She just does a sponge bath before bed anyway, even though we do have a bath. This is my preferred method of cleaning too.

I would have no trouble giving up a bathroom if necessary. I have had about 3 showers in 4 years in our 19, and only use the toilet during the night, and only when in a busy campground. Otherwise I use the campground facilities, an outhouse, or a tree.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:34 AM   #19
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Our showers in Blue are pretty much sponge baths with the sprayer just used to get wet and then again to wash off the soap. Otherwise it gets really easy to fill up the grey water tank. And as you both say I was fine with a quick walk to the bathroom at night (actually much more often finding a nearby tree). But my better half was far less fond of her much more frequent outings late at night.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:51 AM   #20
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Besides, I once made the mistake of teasing a friend for peeing in the bushes beside the camp instead of walking the 200m to the campsite washroom in the middle of the night, so now I'm not allowed to use a tree.
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