Wednesday, March 9, 2011
As of press time, deciding the toilet type was one of the more thought provoking decisions made on the boat build to date. Every boat I've been involved with has had a macerating type toilet. Every boat owner I know has a macerating type toilet. Every boat owner in my neck of the woods whom I spoke with regarding composting toilets thought this to be a foolish idea ( I guess old habits are hard to dump). It is for all of the reasons I just stated, and a few ideas of my own, that I decide to utilize composting toilets on the trawler.
I'm not going to go into a ton of detail on this toilet, but I will say that it is a simple device that is well thought out in regard to use and maintenance. I was a little nervous about going this route, but after installing the unit and giving it the twice over evil eye, I'm feeling pretty confident that this composting toilet is going to make life on board more simple.
I went ahead and installed and finished the toilet area of the bathroom so I could have a working toilet while I build the boat. The toilet has a 12 volt fan built in to power air into the composting bin. The fan only pulls a few mill amps of current, so I decided to power it off of the circuit for the shower sump. I installed a simple set of 12 volt thumb screws in a wall box to make the connection to power the fan. This is a fast, simple connection that is reliable and looks pretty decent. Before I sheathed the walls, I installed a 1 1/2" PVC vent line to vent the composting bin. The vent line will eventually exit the front wall of the wheel house. After one drops a bomb in the composting bin, a stainless steel handle needs to be cranked a few times to mix the material in with the peat composting media. The handle can be used on either side of the unit, but since we are all right handed, I used the right side. Under normal conditions, the unit can handle about 80 events ( gotta love being politically correct while trying to talk about defecating). The science behind this is simple: keep the solids and liquid separate, keep oxygen moving in all the right places, good ventilation and moist composting media. This thing will work.
I'm pretty much sold on this idea, but I still installed a 1 1/2" schedule 40 PVC transport line from the bathroom to the main holding tank of the boat. Getting that line installed was a pretty simple thing, and because I used rigid PVC, the line will last as long as I'm on this world. If the composting toilet fails, I got a huge piece of infrastructure in place to use a different style head.
I read every post on every boat cruising forum I could find regarding composting toilets. I could not find one negative thing written about this style toilet. All post I've read by hard core cruisers and live a boards all agree that those who switch to this style head do not switch back to the macerating, vacuum, or manual style heads along with the associated holding tanks. A large part of my excavating business is installing septic systems form homes, and I'm pretty happy that I won't have the mini version of a septic tank on the boat. I now have two gray water tanks for a total capacity of 135 gallons, and 8 fresh water tanks for a total capacity of 360 gallons. It feels good knowing that none of the precious fresh water will be needed for flushing.
As the hour meter starts to tick and time begins to accumulate on the composting toilet, I'll start giving some updates on the performance. A few of you out there might be thinking that I'm jumping the gun by getting a working toilet on board at this stage in the game, but the truth is that I'm psyched to have another place to sit and ponder.