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Old 09-08-2003, 12:49 PM
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Bill Bill is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: The mountains of Scottsdale, AZ, and the beaches of Maine
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Default The TM's recirculating toilet

Q: Tell me everything about the recirculating toilet. How does it work, how long does it last, how much water does it use, does it smell, etc.

A: Trail Manor and their dealers will tell you that "the recirculating toilet is just like the toilets on an airplane!" This isn't necessarily helpful. Some people haven't experienced an airplane toilet, and those who have probably think of the ghastly sucking sound when you hit the "flush" lever. Yes, there are some technical similarities in the hidden inner workings, but the TM toilet does not suck. It just quietly rinses. And it is not an airplane mini-toilet - it is very nearly full size.

The TM toilet begins with an initial "charge" of fresh water. Use the shower's spray nozzle to put water into the bowl until the needle on the FILL gauge reaches the CHARGE line. As you are adding water, pour in an 8 oz bottle of toilet deodorant liquid. The liquid is usually deep blue or green, thick, and is called something like AquaKem, CampaKem, OdorLos, or some other name suggestive of the purpose. Thetford (the toilet manufacturer) makes a good one, and there are others.

After this, the toilet operates just like the one at home. When you want to flush, you push the FLUSH button until the bowl is rinsed clean with blue deodorized water. Unlike other RV toilets that consume fresh water at each flush, the TM's recirculating toilet does NOT use any more water. In fact, the toilet has no connection to the fresh water supply. The toilet recycles the liquid in the tank, deodorized and somewhat sanitized by the blue stuff. You may (and should) flush often.

Underneath the TM, you won't find a black water tank for the toilet. Instead, the holding tank is part of the toilet itself. It has a capacity of 6 gallons. Depending on the number of people using it, this will be good for at least a few days - three days for three people is commonly reported. This can be greatly extended, of course, by using campground facilities when they are available.

When the toilet is full, or your trip is over, it is time to dump the toilet's holding tank. If you have a sewer connection at your campsite, just connect your outside sewer hose to the campground's dump opening, and pull the handle on the outside dump valve. Nothing will happen - the toilet has its own internal dump valve. It is a sliding T-handle at the front of the toilet at floor level. With the outside dump valve open, go inside, and pull the T-handle briskly outward. When the whoosh noise ceases, rinse the toilet, then push the T-handle all the way in again.

If you don't have a sewer connection at your campsite, but there is a dump station on the way out of the campground, you can dump on the way out, without opening the TM again. Before you fold up the TM, make sure that the outside dump valve is closed, then pull the T-handle. Then, at the dump station, connect your sewer hose, pull the outside handle, hear the whoosh, and close the outside handle again. Since the TM is closed, you can't rinse the toilet or close the T-handle, and that's OK until you get home (or to your next campground). As soon as you can, though, you should rinse the toilet and close the T-handle.

It is important to keep the T-handle closed while you are camping. Do NOT camp with this handle open. When you dump, it is the whoosh of water that cleans out the holding tank. If you leave the T-handle pulled out while you camp, the liquids will trickle out as fast as you add them, leaving a pile of solids ("the black cone") hardening in the bottom of the tank. The cone is tough and nasty to clean out - don't put yourself in this position.

If the toilet is only partially full when dump time comes, it is not a bad idea to fill it the rest of the way with fresh water, and then push the flush button for 15 - 30 seconds to mix and dilute everything. The added water increases the Whoosh factor, leaving you with a cleaner tank.

And by the way, you should dump the toilet (large pipe) first, and then dump the gray water tank (small pipe) afterwards. The gray water will rinse your sewer hose and fittings. Again, a good whoosh of gray water is desired.

Properly used, the toilet does not have an objectionable smell. Don't skimp on deodorant (use a full 8 oz bottle) and flush often to rinse out the bowl. You may detect a slightly sweet scent - this is the deodorant doing its job. If unusual usage causes the toilet to smell, just dump, rinse, recharge, and start again.

There are two common ways to extend the time until you have to dump. Thetford does not address either one, so you are on your own.
a) For the initial charge, add less water. Instead of bringing the gauge all the way up to the CHARGE line, add water just until the rinse (flush) pump will run. Don't hold the button down as you are filling - just tap it once in a while until the water begins to circulate.
b) If the toilet is full, and you REALLY need to coax a little more capacity out of it, you can go outside, ensure that the dump valve is closed, come back into the bathroom, and pull the toilet's T-handle. About a gallon of waste will drop into the pipe below the TM, and you get a gallon of new capacity in the toilet. Close the T-handle again.

The toilet in the TM seems to generate more interest, emotion, and conflicting opinion than any other system. C'mon in, the water's fine!

Bill

[Edit - as reflected in this thread in the Plumbing forum, you can remove the toilet from the TM, and replace the gaskets in the T-handle valve (formally known as the Slide-EZ valve) if they need it. The replacement gasket kit is Thetford part number 09872, available online at many RV supply houses. The diagram for replacing the gaskets is attached to this post.]
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