Dec. 2015

The toilet has finally broken. I’d noticed over the last few months that the 22 year old toilet was getting harder and harder to flush, so when I got to El Centro where I’d be staying a week before entering Mexico I figured I’d better do something about it before I crossed the border. You can’t easily or reliably get repair parts shipped to you down there. So I removed it to work on…and discovered that the metal part that functions as a hinge for the moving pedal shaft was rotting away from rust and corrosion. Not fixable, at least not without a shop and easy access to supplies. Since I didn’t have ready access to the toilets here at the RV park (they lock them overnight…not typical of most RV parks), I had to reinstall my old one, after I’d lubed all of it’s moving parts. While I had it out, I inspected all the hoses and clamps and it was all looking pretty sad. The clear tubing was stiff and would be difficult to replace along with the badly rusted spring type clamps holding it. I didn’t even know where to get those clamps. The main slider that is suppose to hold water in the toilet wasn’t really working anymore either. Yeah, time for a new toilet.

Went online and got the manufacturer’s documents and discovered that there is an exact replacement for mine but when you dig out the specs, and that’s not that easy, you find that their ‘exact’ replacement is 6 freaking inches taller than the one I’m removing. A-holes. What is wrong with these people these days?

After several hours searching, comparing dimensions, etc., I finally settled on a replacement, the Aqua Magic V, that was only 2 & 1/2 inch taller than my old toilet. That should work I’m hoping. Locate it on Amazon and find it’s $40 less expensive than the toilet called the ‘exact’ replacement. Hah. Well, that answers that question. Unfortunately, it had taken me too long to find it so I had to pay $12 extra for quicker shipping, plus pay for an extra day at the RV park. No discount even though I’d been there a week already.  Whatever. Then when UPS delivered it, they took it to the wrong space #7 because they didn’t notice there’s a different address for my section of the park. Had to track it down. It was just sitting there in front of a trailer’s back door. I got lucky no one stole it.

And here’s the new one parked on top the old one.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Had to cut out some of the carpet in the front section to get the toilet on a firm section of plywood.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut on the sides, there are now some open areas in the carpet where it had been cut for the old toilet years ago. Then notice I used sheetrock screws? I couldn’t get the waste coupler flange to turn a few inches for the large bolts, called closet bolts, I’d like to be using. And I was running out of time. I’ll try that again when I’m down in Mexico. The two screws I used made it stable enough temporarily, but it’s obvious it’ll loosen up and I’ll have to fix it later.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Had to drive to Home Depot to buy an adaptor to mate up the old water connection to the new. It leaked of course, so had to wrap the male with teflon tape to get it to stop dripping.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And this is how it looks all new, clean & shiny…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA But here’s why is was so important to get a toilet closer in size to my old one. I can just barely get into the drawer next to the toilet now with the new toilet installed. If the toilet had been 6″ taller, there’s no way I could have used that drawer for anything. At least now I can get some stuff out.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Opening the lid doesn’t help with the drawer.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve found that when I use the toilet that I’m on my tiptoes a bit. Not tooo uncomfortable but I think I’ll have a carpenter down here in Mexico make me a platform I can pull down to the floor to give a little more height. And make it so I can pull it up with my foot and it would stay in place leaned up against the front of the toilet riser. It would not be fun to try to lower the riser that the toilet itself sits on. But I’ll consider it…

BTW, this new toilet really flushes nice. Easy foot pressure is all it takes. However, even with the moderate water pressure here in Mexico (45 PSI) it splashes out over the front sometimes getting on my legs. It’ll probably be a real concern at a park where the PSI is much higher. We’ll see if that happens. It’s clean water so it’s more of an annoyance.

On Edit: Dec. 24th. A couple days ago, I got up early and discovered there was a puddle on the floor in front of the toilet. I wandered outside and turned off the water so all was good. Turned out when I checked it a couple hours later that my short extension hose was leaking big time at the toilet water valve. So, time to work on the toilet again.

This also gave me the opportunity to try to turn the closet flange, the large plastic piece that has several slots in it for the closet bolts to hold the toilet down to the flange (and then the floor), and screw holes to hold the flange to the floor.  (Picture above, 2nd one in this section).

I tried, unsuccessfully, to turn it several degrees so the closet bolt slots in the flange lined up at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock instead of the 11 o’clock and 5 o’clock they were at now. To get it to turn, I took the old closet bolts and placed them in the slots, than using a crowbar spanning the two and using them for leverage, twisted. This did move the flange clockwise a bit. But the further I turned, the higher the flange got, lifting up off the floor. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I sure as hell didn’t want to break the pipe or whatever connected from the flange to the black tank. Yikes, that would be a disaster down here in Mexico.  And the toilet wouldn’t work with the flange 2″ off the floor if it stayed that way. It would be wobbling all over. I tried pushing the flange down to the floor after it had lifted but it wouldn’t budge. I guessed that there was either a problem with my reticence to just reefing on it, or there was a flexible hose type pipe attached to the flange with a clamp and that hose was flexible enough that it deformed, both lifting it, and causing excess strain on it.

Like I said, didn’t want to break anything, so I quit doing that flange turning experiment and just drilled and cut out a couple of slots in the flange at 3 & 6 o’clock. Though the plastic flange is thick, it’s easily drilled, & trimmed with a sharp knife, so it only took 15 minutes to create the two new slots. Once that was done, slipped the closet bolts into the flange, then the toilet over the bolts. And while the toilet was loose, I attached the water pipe and really put the turns on the nut with a wrench. I’d reasoned that the leak was because I just hadn’t tightened the connection enough and fluctuating temps had caused the leak. This happens all the time when I do plumbing. Heh. After that was attached, added the closet nuts to the bolts, tightened them down until the toilet wasn’t rocking anymore, and turned on the water. Now I have a stable working toilet again. Well, that was fun job for xmas eve. I should have done it on xmas adam.


Toilet problems…2011

I noticed a puddle of water on the floor at the foot of my Thetford Aqua-Magic toilet & stand. The toilet sits on a carpeted plywood stand that is 9.5″ high. Couldn’t have been leaking that much more then a couple days so I think I caught it early enough.

Here’s the toilet and the stand, the water was showing up around the base of the stand on the lino:

For the past couple years I had been leaving my water pump off unless I was actually using it. Reason was that every half hour or so, the pump would run for 3-5 seconds to restore pressure to the house water system. Even if I hadn’t used any water. That meant there was a leak somewhere. The several times I wandered around the RV checking, I could never find the leak. So I got into the habit of turning off the pump whenever I wasn’t using the water and turning off the park water supply when I was off doing something. Doing that had saved my bathroom floor from being soaked all the time and ruining the subfloor.

I have the booklet from Thetford with instructions on how to remove the toilet. Their booklets are also available on-line. When the leak appeared, or rather, became noticeable, I was down here in Mazatlan and there is very little in the way of repair parts for this toilet as far as I know.

I went to a new Home Depot and got some parts I’d need to be able to connect a garden hose to the toilet to test it, and after connecting it, I turned on the water and found that the valve, although leaking, didn’t seem to be leaking enough to have caused the puddles of water that were coming out from under the toilet stand. Or so I thought.

I cleaned everything, wearing rubber gloves, but it wasn’t fun, even then. I found that the foam seal (like a typical wax seal but made of closed cell foam) that was installed was still foamy but had crud on it. I scraped off all that I could and coated the entire seal with Vaseline so I could still use it.

This is the unit in the bathtub connected to a water hose for testing:

This picture gives you the layout of the toilet, it’s upside down, the flushing pedal and fill pedal are on the left, the foam seal goes around that round plastic lip in the middle and the flush valve…the one that was leaking…is on the right:

I cut the carpet out of the area where the toilet would sit, so it was sitting directly on top of plywood, as per Thetfords original instructions. It was installed by the factory right on top of the carpet so the crush pattern gave me a line to cut to. Nothing I saw under the toilet was all that bad. The plywood was still in pretty good shape, with a little darkening from water but generally still sound.

Finally, I cleaned out the sewer hole and all mating faces…yuck. But I had the gloves, and a plastic bag to store the cloth when I’d finished.

I put it back in place, bolted it down, and it worked better. No puddle of water in front for the first few minutes, but then a steady trickle. Further checking proved that there is a substantial water leak from the water shut on/off mechanism that actuates when you step on the pedal. I didn’t have enough water pressure on it or didn’t wait long enough when I was testing.

So it needs a new actuator valve or something similar.

Since I couldn’t find any repair parts locally, I took it apart. I pulled out the actuating shaft, which had lots of rust and gunk around it and all over the single O ring. Pulling out the shaft caused the brass rotating shut off device to fall out of position, inside the body of the plastic case. (When I put it all back together later, it took nearly a half hour to get that part back into the right position). I tried to clean everything I could reach with small tools. It turned out the body is glued together so it’s not easy to work on and didn’t just unscrew and come apart like you would expect. After everything was cleaned up and had Vaseline slathered on it, I put it back together. The leak test showed it again worked as a water valve, and it no longer leaked out of the shaft tube.

Here’s the valve, the flush pedal is connected to the threaded metal shaft on the top of this picture. The leak was around that shaft, which faces down when installed:

And another view of the valve, that entire metal shaft assembly pulls out and the ‘O’ ring is near the bottom of the hole:

So far, after several days, no drips…when I get back to the states, I will get a new one, and install it, keeping the old one for a spare…

Just after I finished with the repair, I was off to the store for 2 hours and before I left I turned off the house water pump (which keeps pressure in the system) just in case (park water was still turned off). When I got back, I turned it back on and it didn’t run. Which means the system held pressure for that entire time. Good sign that I fixed it and there aren’t any more leaks anywhere.

Edit: 2013

Found a replacement valve finally, in Parker, Arizona. Replaced it and no leaking now. The old one I had repaired in Mexico was starting to leak again after a couple years use. Not bad though. Two more years use out of a defective part.