I have just spent a DELIGHTFUL afternoon disassembling and reassembling the Jabsco Electric Toilet
Conversion in my guest heads in an attempt to solve a leak. The third time (plus 1/2) did the trick.
During the process I had a lot of time to think about how that miserable insult to engineering is designed.
Would it really be too much to ask, that someone would at last build a marine toilet
that doesn't ruin every cruise
with some stupid problem or another?
I need to blow off a little steam, so I'm going to catalogue the engineering defects which I observed in this device:
1. There are five -- count 'em, five -- sealed joints below the toilet's "waterline". Any flaw in any one of those and you have a heads compartment flooded with filthy water
2. Two of those are sealed with paper gaskets which gradually just dissolve, inevitably leading to the aforementioned unpleasant and unsanitary event.
3. There is no way to take apart one of these without a flood of filthy water
. Different eventualities during disassembly may even produce a geyser of filthy water. Oh, joy.
4. The lower impeller/macerater assembly is held to the motor
by four long screws (for the amusement of the mechanic
, they are of different lengths, so that reassembly is more fun). These screws go into either alu or plain black steel
(not sure which) but in any case, after a few years they will corrode solid into the motor
, so if you have one of these, Duralac the screws first thing.
5. The macerator blade, an exceptionally cheap
piece of stamped sheet, with a flimsy tab to key it to the motor shaft, cannot be taken off without removing a nut which seems to have threads designed to jam to keep the nut from falling off (and to keep the mechanic
from getting it off either). How do you hold the motor shaft while you're unscrewing it with the necessary (high) force? Oh, what fun. As it turns out, even destroying the impeller by jamming it with a screwdriver will not hold it tightly enough. So you have to disassemble the top part of the pump
, with the supply impeller and so forth, remove the supply impeller, and hold the motor shaft from that end with vice grips. How amusing!
6. The motor housing is plain black steel
which corrodes through the ordinary painting.
7. The heavy pump
assembly is attached to the flimsy plastic toilet base with four screws which screw directly into plastic. This is a critical seal. If in attempting to achieve that critical seal, you slightly overtighten one of the screws, then you know what will happen. And don't ask how I know.
Really, these things cost hundreds of pounds. Would it be too much to ask that an actual engineer
with a modicum of talent and skill would come up with some kind of non-idiotic design for these things?
My wish list for an ideal marine
1. Minimum of sealed joints. Best of all, any elements "below the waterline" of the toilet should be in a pan of some kind, to be withdrawn from the top.
2. A drain with plastic hose, which is capable of completely emptying the device for service
without flooding the room with filthy water. Even my 20 year old washing
machine has one of those.
3. All seals
which can't be avoided altogether designed to just work
, completely robust and foolproof. No fine alignment required like with the Jabsco
joker valve flange.
4. All gaskets -- to the extent any are needed -- are made of durable, non-dissolving materials.
5. All screws go into metal, not plastic.
6. Powerful and robust motor in ball bearings, with stainless or really well corrosion-proofed housing.
7. The prototype of the device is taken apart and reassembled by a few different randomly chosen marine engineers. Difficulties are noted and the design is corrected to make it realliy easy to service
, without problems like how do you hold the bloody motor shaft.
My other toilet is a Raritan
Sea Era. It is even flimsier than the Jabsco, if one can imagine such a thing, and this flimsiness caused mine to self-destruct once when the macerator blade contacted the overly flexible pump housing. Oh, joy. It is also functionally worse in some ways, lacking any way to actuate only the evacuation pump in order to empty the bowl, for example, and with much lighter and cheaper motor and other parts
. The motor is much less powerful, and is not up to any kind of heavy duty maceration jobs.
However, the Sea Era does have a few advantages over the Jabsco, including proper metal screw inserts, a better sealing flange for the joker valve, and only one seal -- the motor with macerator assembly is directly inserted into the toilet base. So I'm happy that at least I've never had a leak with it, unlike with those horrible Jabsco ones.
As I pulled apart my dedicated locker for plumbing
and pump spares, I realized that I have FIVE spare toilets on board -- Jesus! Some usable others not, the unusable ones retained for cannibalization for spares. One Jabsco electric
, two Jabsco manuals
, and one Raritan
. This is a reflection of how much trouble I have with these things, and how often I buy replacements
. This is ridiculous. Will someone at last make a good marine toilet, which JUST WORKS?