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Old 10-02-2009, 10:27 PM   #101
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My First Truck Adventure - Unfortunately It wasnít the good kindÖ

I got a call from the shipping company telling me that they would deliver my toilet on Tuesday morning, so I think, great, I will bring the truck to work on Tuesday and bring it home right away. Tuesday goes by and I checked the receiving dock several times, but no toilet. Oh well, maybe tomorrow, so I head home.

On the way I am passing the home improvement store, I think, might as well pick up a few supplies, so I pull in. I hop out of the truck and note that sitting on the front bumper has fooled me again, and I could pull forward another 18Ē to make my back end a smaller target, so I hop back in, turn the key, and click.

It was running perfectly 1 minute before and now it wonít start. Now to be fair, this isnít exactly the first time. A couple of times it did this, so I took it out of Park and then put it back into Park and it started right up. I figured there was something a little iffy with the safety interlock. I had also received a ď2nd NoticeĒ of a recall from Mitsubishi about a week earlier. It seems the shift linkage can bind or become offset due to normal heat from the exhaust pipe. Naturally I popped the cab and checked the linkage. It wasnít binding and there was no evidence of deformation. I tried shoving it around at the transmission end but it didnít help.

15 minutes and several starting attempts later I figured it was time to get some help, so I went into the home improvement store, borrowed their phone (thank you) and called AAA. Now I didnít really expect that AAA would tow my truck, but I figured they might connect me to a private tow company that could. The nice lady at AAA wanted to make sure I was safe (itís in her script), and then she wanted to know, make, model, year, color, and of course location. I gave her the info, and then made sure she understood that it was a 14í box truck, like a small moving van. She said, ďOh no, its not a problemĒ.

You guessed it, Ĺ hour later, which is pretty good response time I must admit, a tow truck smaller than my truck shows up. The driver takes one look at it and says, ďI canít tow that.Ē (No kiddingÖ) Heís trying to be helpful though and wants to turn the key himself, so I figure, sure, why not. It doesnít start for him either, but now he feels better. He also tries banging on the starter motor with a stick. I guess that must work sometimes because every tow truck driver wants to do it, but I am getting ahead of myselfÖ

He calls his dispatcher and she eventually puts me on the line with Frankís Towing (not their real name). Another lady dispatcher, so this time I make extra sure she knows itís a big truck with a 14í box on the back. She asks how much it weighs, so like a dummy I answer her specific question with a specific answer. ďI donít know exactly, it has a GVWR of 14,500 pounds, but itís empty right now and probably weighs about 7,000 to 8,000 pounds.Ē Between the wind and the cell phone cutting out I am pretty sure she got it.

You guessed it, Ĺ hour later, which is pretty good response time I must admit, a tow truck smaller than my truck shows up. The driver takes one look at it and says, ďI canít tow that.Ē Heís trying to be helpful though and wants to turn the key himselfÖ This all seems so familiar somehow? He wants to smack the starter, but I told him the last guy already did that. The good news is he says they have a tow truck that can handle my truck, but it might be 45 minutes or so.

You guessed it, Ĺ hour later (x3) and I am still waiting. Itís dark now, windy, and getting cold. OK, so itís not the middle of winter in the Midwest cold, but itís pretty amazingly cold considering that it was 80 degrees at 10:00 pm 3 days ago. My friend Dave says I should have M and M tattooed on my but cuz I am such a candy ass, but Iím telling you it was cold.

I jog back into the home improvement store where the nice folks let me use their phone again to call the dispatcher. She says heís there but canít find me. Thereís one big white truck in the middle of a mostly empty parking lot and he canít find me? I run outside and sure enough, heís driving around, so I wave him down. Itís a big red Pete, so at least it should be able to get the job done.

Heís not a big guy, well not vertically anyway. Not much of a talker either. Doesnít say a word, just walks around with his flashlight like heís never seen a truck before. I was glad when he found the placard on the inside of the drivers door that warns you canít tow the truck with the rear wheels down without severe transmission damage. Clearly heís having a good evening, nice and relaxed, taking his time, filling out the paperwork in his nice warm cab way up in the sky.

Finally, he backs the stinger up under the rear of the truck, and Iím thinking, alright, forward progress, but no, he pulls out to consider his options. Now just to be fair, I was getting just a little anxious (and cold) by this point, and it probably only seemed to me like he was swimming in molasses.

He pulls the wheel pads off the swivel bar and puts on some brackets, followed by two heavy pickle forks about 18Ē tall to catch the frame rails. They donít fit under the bumper, so off they come, and then back on again back under the truck. Now weíre crawling around under the truck looking at the frame rails. Thereís wires, and a gas tank under there and not a lot of good places to grab onto. We move some wires out of the way and finally get the forks in place. Now comes the chains, but thereís more wires to be crushed, and the hooks just wonít stay hooked, so the chains come out and a couple of big Kevlar ratchet straps go in. More safety chains to the rear leaf springs and about 45 minutes later we are hooked up and ready to roll.

So where are we going? I was thinking my place where I can work on it or have my mechanic take a look, but he points out that if I have to tow it again it will cost me double. He talks me into taking it direct to a truck repair shop with a locked yard. Yes, it sounds like a setup, but it might work out, and if I donít like the smell of it there are several other shops in that part of town.

It was a fairly short and uneventful tow to the yard where one of the mechanics lives on site. I give him the key and we exchange info. The tow should have been $250 or so, but the driver knocks it down to $195. I guess shivering is a good negotiating tactic. The driver offers to take me home, THANKS!, and we get there about 10:00 pm. The street is freshly paved and I am glad to be home, so I give him $20 for his trouble and head for bed. (Donít worry, Iíll give him some more later if he was straight up about the repair shop.)

Thatís not the end of the story though. Were just getting to the part where I admit to being a complete idiotÖ.

To be ContinuedÖ
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Old 10-03-2009, 11:40 AM   #102
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The key here is the click. It isn't the neutral/park interlock if it's clicking. It's gotta be the starter/solonoid. You can use a big honkin' screwdriver or a channel lock and jumper across the large terminals on the solonoid and see if that kicks in the starter motor. That'll sometimes get you started to get home, it's worked for me. I'd want to change the starter and solonoid together tho.
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Old 10-05-2009, 06:41 PM   #103
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I would have some reservations in using da big ass screwdriver. I've managed to melt one doing the starter jump jig - scared the hell out of myself!!
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Old 10-05-2009, 07:15 PM   #104
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Stupid is as Stupid DoesÖ

So that night I am too wired to sleep, and finally when itís time to go to work I am ready to crash, so I figure I will just be an hour late. True to my word, Iím up an hour later, lunch packed, and ready to drive to workÖ. in my carÖ. which isnít there. What the? The street sure looks nice though, all freshly paved... Uh ohÖ.

OK, so this next bit has nothing to do with truck conversions, but they say confession is good for the soul.

Yes, I got a notice from the city, but my car is never on the street during the day. Itís at work, with me, and my truck is in the driveway, so what do I care if they are going to pave the street? Except on this one day, the day they were going to deliver my toilet, but didnít. They day my truck breaks down. The day I came home too late and tired to notice my car was missing. The day they towed my car.

So now I am looking for that damned notice, to find the phone number that stupid people call to admit that they are stupid. 7:30 am is still way to early for government types though, so I might as well have some breakfast. 8:00 is followed by 8:30, which comes before 9:00, when my friendly neighborhood government finally awakens to punish me. That will be $75 please, exact change only, at the local police station. I guess I am the only idiot awake at that hour because the place was empty. Sweeping balconies, stone fascia, and millions of dollars of empty space to house one lone bureaucrat. Some visionary architect should be very pleased.

That just gets me a piece of paper which gives me permission to buy my car back. $200 for towing and another $65 for overnight storage. Itís a good thing my sons bicycle still works. I should be able to pull the seat out eventually.

So off to work I go, and still no toilet. The shop calls and says it needs a new starter motor. Parts are hard to find they say, but they found one, $500 plus $200 labor. I think, Oh what the hell, just fix my truck and Iíll kiss you wherever you want. It should be fixed that same day. Well thatís the first good news in a while, so Iíll take it.

Five hours later, I give them a call, just before going over to get the truck.

Oh, you didnít get my message? The new starter they gave us was bad. We canít rebuild the original because they kept the core. Maybe Friday, or more likely MondayÖ

And still no toilet. Oh well, I donít have a truck to take it home with anywayÖ

Come Thursday I call Incinolet and they give me a tracking number. A phone call to the shipping company is answered by a live human, and she actually knows something! The toilet was delivered on Tuesday and signed for by Jose Emanes (not his real name). So back to the receiving dock I go looking for Jose and my 260 pound toilet in a great big box on a wooden pallet, the one I have been asking about for 2 days now.

Oh, ju mean dat great big box. Si, I sign.

They delivered it to the shipping dock. And still I have no truck to take it home with.

Monday at 4:30 comes around and I figure no phone call means no truck for another day, but I call the repair shop just in case.

I donít know, let me go check, he says.

That canít be a good sign. Then he comes on the line and says itís ready. Thatís $492 for a rebuilt starter, and $115 in labor for a total of $652 with tax. Hey, itís less than the $700 I expected, so Iím feeling pretty good.

So what have I learned from all this?

1. Tow truck dispatchers donít know a truck from a Denver omelet.
2. I now know exactly where to attach in order to safely tow my truck rear wheels up. I can use that information to safely route wiring and propane lines.
3. I need a much better roadside service contract. AAA, or at least my level of service with AAA is nearly useless. (Suggestions please???)
4. I need to build a modest tool kit for the truck. I would have done so anyway, before hitting the road in earnest, but it seems I need one even now.

To be ContinuedÖ
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Old 10-06-2009, 06:31 PM   #105
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Mr. St Clair,
First of all, I wish to thank you for humor you put into your last post. I am not sure where you are from but I own a NAPA store, and if you are not in a HUGE hurry, for parts just shoot me an email, will sell to anyone registered here at cost and ship Fed Ex at cost as well... We do heavy duty, I still haven't found a $500.00 starter, but sometimes the garages really stroke if you bring your own parts...
Like taking your own bacon and eggs to the restaraunt... but if you were putting the starter or installing your own filters.... just ask.
But your expierence sounds very familiar, everytime I try to do something I get the same tow truck guy with the same stick !!!
Burt
rnapa@citlink.net
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Old 10-07-2009, 07:49 PM   #106
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The Never Ending Story

Tuesday morning, I take my now reliable truck to work to pick up my toilet. The guys on the shipping dock are happy to use the fork lift and put it into the back of the truck for me. Thanks guys! After work I climb in the truck and head for home. On the way, I think I might as well stop by the shop where the tow truck guy took me and drop off that extra tip I promised myself I would give him if the shop he recommended treated me right.

The owner of the shop is a little surprised to see me, and even more surprised when I hand him some cash, but I didnít hang around for a big gushing reunion.

Back to the truck I go, and you guessed it, click.

I must be the luckiest unlucky guy around to break down in front of the truck repair shop. Of course this is the 3rd bad starter the truck has seen in less than a week, so I am not that lucky.

I walk back into the shop and the guy is stunned. He grabs his test cables and off we go to check it out. Sure enough, itís another bad starter. He gives me a ride home, THANKS!, and on the way we talk about what could be going on.

Itís a two relay system, voltage goes through the ignition switch, through the transmission lock out switch, and activates a small relay on top of the starter. Itís the one thatís clicking. That in turn activates a bigger relay that pulls the drive gear into the flywheel gear and enables the current to the starter motor. Itís inside the starter where he doesnít want to touch it because it will void the warranty. Thatís the one that isnít working. Despite the evidence to the contrary, it canít really be anything but the starter.

He gets another starter on Wednesday and fixes it again, no charge. Iím on my 4th starter in less than a week. That must be some kind of a record. After work my buddies help me get the truck home. I must have started that truck 50 times when we got to the shop. I started it a bunch more times after we got home, just because I am now paranoid. It has started every single time, so farÖ

To be ContinuedÖ
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:15 PM   #107
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...roadside contract-huummm-mine comes with my insurance from Continental Car Coverage/Club or something like that it has a $500 MAX TOWING SO...OF COURSE IS IS ALWAYS $500....[pays to have friends in the business these days so to speak]........Starters are a PIA if not rebuilt by J&N here in Cincinnati Ohio....this I have learned the hard way...so did they....2 comebacks and I take the girlz over to upset business and create chaos in the rebuilding department and on the sales floor....nothing like % skanky / tatted/ half naked girlz to upset even the president of the company-they remember me by my first name now and treat me like I was the vice-president so to speak....any starter problems let me know the model serial number and I will get it taken care of if you want to pay the shipping....J&N looks forward to my business after that little fun fest......we are also invited to the How-o-ween Party this year.....hope these guys don't bring their wives-or it will be divorce court the next day with all the girls dancing..........geofkaye and the Rivercity Group
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Old 10-09-2009, 04:30 PM   #108
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....towing: if you have time and the energy grab a tow clevis or two in the 30ton range and bolt to the frame where you want them to lift on the rear....otherwise they will do something that is expensive to repair.....all of my recovery damage is caused by my driver doing the hook up poorly-lie as I may-the insurance company will catch me every time trying to lie my way out of the repair cost issue-though I do get the cost price-it still sucks! Under belly lifts are the magic wand these days because of the all plastic front ends and other crap hanging on both ends of the trucks.....nothing will replace a set of lifting eyes for doing the job right with out damage....make sure they are in _your rig_-or go to the junk yard and get 2-4 for lifting correctly[also the drop pins and the hair pins]....tow drivers seem to never have a pair or they can not find them and want use a board to act as a bumper and that is where the problems start......cracking a plastic front bumper is about $500 for a glue job and a replacement is a heart attack in the making.....geofkaye and the Rivercity Group
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:03 AM   #109
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Geofkaye,

Regarding: "..towing: if you have time and the energy grab a tow clevis or two in the 30ton range and bolt to the frame where you want them to lift on the rear....nothing will replace a set of lifting eyes for doing the job right with out damage....make sure they are in _your rig_-or go to the junk yard and get 2-4 for lifting correctly[also the drop pins and the hair pins...."

Do you have a picture, drawing, web site, etc. so I can know exactly what you are talking about. I know you are in the business, so this must be obvious to you, but I can only guess what these terms might mean.

Thanks,

Ran D. St. Clair
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Old 10-11-2009, 10:12 AM   #110
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Back to Work

I closed up the back wall of the truck, which is probably the easiest since there is no electrical or plumbing to worry about, just the doors. Everything is insulated with at least 1Ē of R-MAX foam board. The fit and finish arenít perfect, but it doesnít look too bad.

This brings up a question about insulation that I will throw out to the group. I have 1 ĹĒ of space to insulate in the walls, and 4 ĹĒ to 5 ĹĒ in the ceiling. I am planning to use the R-MAXX foam board throughout, and it comes in various thicknesses like ĹĒ, ĺĒ, 1Ē, 1 ĹĒ, etc. I am not clear on the detailed physics of how the insulation works.

I understand that there is:
1. Conduction Ė Heat Transfer through direct contact
2. Convection Ė Heat transfer through movement of a fluid, like air.
3. Radiation Ė Infrared radiation (IR), electromagnetic waves, like light, only heat.

I understand that insulation reduces conduction because the insulating material is not a good conductor of heat. I also get that it reduces convection by filling the air space and breaking the air space into tiny convection cells that have to transfer the heat energy from cell to cell via the cell walls which are very thin, but there are lots of them so the insulation value adds up.

What I donít fully get is the impact of the foil. I get that itís supposed to be an IR reflector, and that it blocks direct IR transmission, but it also becomes hot itself, and then re-radiates. For example, I know that a tin awning will get very hot in direct sunlight, and will radiate IR on the people below, making its shade value much less than a nice green tree.

I have read that the foil surface somehow increases the insulating value of the airspace next to it, but I donít know exactly why. In my application I donít have space to waste on dead air so the foil would seem to be of no value. On the other hand, my intuition suggests that multiple layers of foil with insulation in between should be more effective than just the insulation alone, and probably more effective than insulation with just one layer of foil, on the outside, especially if that foil layer is in direct contact with plywood or some other less than ideal insulator.

Therefore I plan to fill all insulation spaces with at least 2 layers of foil backed foam. That way there will always be at least one foil layer with insulation on both sides. Put another way, there will always be at least 3 foil layers, one each on the inside and outside, and one in the middle where the two inner foil surfaces touch. I am counting those two foil surfaces as one since the aluminum is a good conductor and they are basically touching over much of their surface.

The complicated idea that I donít know how to handle is the modeling of the IR transmission through these multiple layers. Each foil layer is both reflecting and absorbing and then transmitting some energy to the next layer, which is doing the same, and so on. What I donít know is the ratio of energy reflected, absorbed, and transmitted in a steady state condition, and even if I did, the math to model it would get fairly complicated.

So, my bottom line question is thisÖ Is there any value to filling my insulation space with multiple layers of foil backed foam, or am I just making more work for myself?

To be ContinuedÖ
?
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:06 PM   #111
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Toilet Tech Talk

My ECOJOHN SR5-P12 arrived about a week ago and I have been studying it carefully. I must say, I am not entirely happy or impressed. If you have been following along, you know that this toilet is the centerpiece of my design. It is the most expensive single item except for the truck itself, and I am taking a bit of a risk buying it sight unseen.

I am determined to make it work because if it doesnít work then I will have to rethink and redesign many other aspects of the vehicle including electrical power generation. I will be modifying the toilet to suit my needs, which probably implies voiding any warranty.

At this point I canít recommend the toilet for an RV application. If it ultimately works out OK I may be able to change my tune, but even then it will be with some fairly extensive modifications. Let me start by listing my main issues with the toilet, in rough order of their importance to me.

1. The owners manual and installation instructions range from minimal to very poor. There are a number of parts I received that arenít mentioned at all. For example, there is no mention of the catalytic converter, and there are various parts probably related to mounting the chimney that I have no idea what to do with.

2. They more or less lied about the toilet running off of 12V. It requires two 12V batteries in series, which last I checked is 24V. Now I will have to install a 2nd 12V power supply that runs off of my inverter to create the 2nd 12V supply. (Correction: Upon further inspection I note that some of the literature does specify two 12V batteries are required, so I guess it's my fault for not realizing that they were going to be in series. They could have just said that though...)

3. Some aspects of the toilet are not very well made. The solder joints relating to some of the wiring are among the worst I have ever seen. I am a manufacturing engineer in the electronics industry so I may have high expectations for this sort of thing, but this is bad by any standard. The spiral metal armor over the high voltage ignition wire had sharp burrs on both ends, inside and out as well.

4. It seems to me that the toilet is not designed for anything other than a fixed point application. The owners manual mentions in passing that it can be used in an RV, but the overall construction is not suited to take the pounding. For example, there is an electrically and pneumatically actuated propane valve that is connected to the unit with a short length of ľĒ soft copper pipe. It is mounted in mid air with no mechanical support other than the copper pipe. Any bouncing at all will work harden that copper pipe and cause it to crack over time. Also, the fire box, which is probably 60 pounds, just sits loosely inside the ABS plastic housing. There is nothing to keep it from sliding around except for a light weight sheet metal bracket attached to the auger input, which is not firmly attached to the fire box. I am also concerned that all that weight will eventually crack the ABS housing since it is mounted on 3 legs molded into the housing with no support directly under the firebox. Finally, there is no provision to bolt the thing to the floor.

5. The delivery of the toilet was slow, and when it arrived they forgot to send some of the parts. I had to call them and remind them to send my toilet bowl liners and the all important owners and installation manual. To their credit they sent them right away after I complained, but they werenít the least bit contrite about it. Considering I paid full retail of $4,688 with shipping and taxes, I would have expected better.

6. This is a theoretical concern at this point, but I am worried that the chimney in my application will not be tall enough to provide sufficient draft. The manual blithely mentions solving draft problems by adding additional chimney sections, but I canít realistically have 10 feet of chimney sticking up above the top of my truck. I donít consider this to be a flaw in the toilet itself so much as an issue with my application. It would be nice, however, if the various marketing literature, or at least the owners or installation manual gave some guidelines for the minimum chimney height. They do at least mention the need to provide a path for inlet combustion air though they are very vague about how exactly that would be done. Fortunately, I already have plans in that regard.

The toilet came in a large cardboard box sitting on a wooden pallet. It was reasonably packaged with a mile of wadded up craft paper for padding, but not bolted to the crate in any way. Inside the box was the toilet itself, and a bunch of smaller boxes containing various chimney pipes, fire stop, pipe clamps, storm collar, chimney cap, etc. For some reason they shipped separately my catalytic converter (option), stainless steel toilet bowl (upgrade) and fire stop, which arrived several days later. There was nothing but some craft paper between the toilet and those other boxes to prevent marring the toilets nice shiny finish though.

My first impression is that the toilet looks nice. It has a clean external design, for the most part, and seems reasonably well made. I would not be embarrassed to have it in my home or cabin. If I had a cabin, or fixed point application, I would say that it is potentially a really nice solution short of putting in a septic system, or using a fair amount of electricity to do the same thing as the Incinolet.

The outer shell is made of about 1/8Ē thick PVC plastic, and is well formed, and polished to a nice shine. It has various louvers and access features mounted with pop rivets, and that is the first clue that we are dealing with something that is more or less hand made in low volume with whatever level of workmanship the worker bees were feeling up to.

The heart of the unit is the fire box. Itís a heavy steel box, surrounded by a bunch of mineral wool, surrounded by another heavy steel box. There are 4 primary openings into the fire box. The burner, or flame from the burner is blown down a heavy steel pipe from above, where is presumably spreads out on the floor of the interior and consumes the waste. Getting the fire to blow down requires a small squirrel cage blower. The entire blower/burner unit appears to be a standard unit taken from other applications, probably a furnace.

Blowing flame into the box poses a technical challenge though. The auger input that pulls waste into the fire box is not sealed. We canít have super hot air coming out of the pressurized fire box back into the toilet bowl. As a matter of fact, it is clear that the designers intended air to be drawn into the fire box via the toilet bowl/auger opening. I assume this is accomplished in the same way as any fireplace must draw to prevent smoke from entering the room, using chimney effect.

That implies that the chimney needs to be very free flowing as it has to draw out more air than the blower/burner pushes in. This would seem to explain why they provide insulated chimney pipe that is 6Ē I.D. and 8Ē O.D. It also explains why there is a 10 ohm 20W power resistor in series with the blower motor to throttle it down. They need just enough blow to keep the flame from backing up, but not so much as to overcome the chimney draw.

The chimney related hardware is all very high quality from Duratech. It is not your standard hardware store double walled stove pipe. It is very thick walled, fully insulated, and has a polished chrome like exterior. The various other mounting hardware, flashing, roof supports, fire stop, etc. are also first rate, and come with an extensive manual describing various mounting techniques. This manual is just for the chimney related items, and has nothing to do with the toilet itself. Unfortunately, much of this stuff is of no use to me. If I were installing the toilet in a cabin it would probably be perfect though. I will use at least some of the shiny insulated chimney pipe, but much of the rest I donít need.

The outlet from the fire box is a heavy steel 4Ē pipe which sticks out of the top of the toilet, and is mated to the chimney pipe. This connection is made to be fairly easy to remove via a double pipe clamp type coupler. The whole thing is then packed with mineral wool and surrounded with a latching section of outer pipe to make it look nice. The 4" pipe clamp coupler, while high quality, is the wrong size for the job. It runs out of adjustment just as it begins to cinch up on the 4" exhaust pipe.

The Auger inlet to the fire box is made from heavy cast iron with a steel auger. Itís very similar to a big hand crank meat grinder like you might use to make sausage, except that there is no grinding involved, just transport. The auger is driven by a modestly large worm drive gear motor. For reasons I donít fully understand, the auger motor requires the 2nd 12V battery.

The one remaining input to the fire box is a heavy steel pipe for access to clean out the ash with a vacuum cleaner. It has internal threads and uses a heavy steel pipe plug with matching external threads. This pipe plug is buried under about 2Ē of mineral wool behind a sliding metal door that is part of the outer fire box.

This is where some of the limitations of the design really begin to show. You need to clean out the fire box when you use about 5 gallons of propane, which might be a month or two depending on how often you use it. That implies opening the rear hinged door, opening the outer fire box sliding door, digging out a bunch of mineral wool, unscrewing the pipe cap, sucking out the ash, and then putting it all back together again. I had envisioned something simple, like pulling an ash tray from the front, no such luck.

Since the access to the cleanout is in the back of the toilet you really need room to get back there. That implies that you canít put the toilet any where near the back wall like you would for a conventional toilet. In my case I am going to make an access panel so I can get to this cleanout from the outside of the truck. Fortunately for me, that wall is behind the awning/door and not subject to weather.

Speaking of the back of the toilet, there is a big grey plastic box about 8.5Ē x 8.5Ē by 4.5Ē that houses all of the electronics and control systems. It is also in the way, preventing the toilet from being pushed up against a back wall. Reasonable access to that box would require at least a foot of clearance which is something I canít afford. I have designed my exterior access panel to give me access to this box as well, and by giving up all my insulation space in that area I was able to get the toilet to within 1 ľĒ of the wall in the back. The toilet itself is 34Ē long and 23.5Ē wide, so it takes up quite a bit of space as it is.

To be fair, the designers may have had a different idea about rear access. This toilet isnít intended to be bolted to the floor. Itís supposed to just sit there. You can disconnect it from the chimney, and possibly the gas line, and then move it wherever you need to for access. I personally donít think much of the idea, but being bolted to the floor is not a requirement in a fixed point application, and the chimney is designed to be fairly easily disconnected.

I am very concerned about maintaining a proper draft given the need for a relatively short chimney. I am also using a catalytic converter to keep the smoke and smell to a minimum, but It will also reduce the draft. I had already planned to bring combustion air into the toilet up through the floor. I now intend to bring that air in with a small 12V muffin fan to lightly pressurize the inside of the toilet and help push the draft along. That implies sealing all the possible air leaks. The toilet is nominally designed to draw combustion air from the room, so it has louvers on the back as well as air inlets on the lower sides. Air can also enter via the toilet seat or lid, even when they are closed. The entire top of the toilet comes off with an overlapping horizontal seam that is not meant to be air tight. Finally, there are a few small openings for the electrical wires or gas line.

I will need to seal all of these openings. The various louvers I can just tape over from the inside. Likewise the openings for the gas line and electrical are easily sealed. The horizontal seam is fairly tight to begin with, but a 1/4" strip of low density foam weather-strip seals it nicely. Some 1/4" white neoprene weather-strip did a neat job between the toilet lid and the seat.

The hard part is the seal between the toilet base and the seat. The gap is about 5/8Ē and somewhat irregular. My solution was to make a gasket out of two layers of 1/2Ē thick low density foam weather-strip that is attached to the bottom of the toilet seat. I then put a layer of silicon caulk on all the exposed surfaces of the weather-strip. With a layer of saran wrap to protect the toilet base and act as a release agent, I closed the toilet seat and lid and put a small weight on top to hold the seal fully compressed while the silicone cured. The end result is a custom fitted gasket that seals pretty darned well. Itís not the neatest job I ever did, but itís not terrible either.

The air inlet muffin fan is mounted inside the floor of the toilet just ahead of the auger bracket. It taps into the same 12V line that runs the squirrel cage flame blower. That way it will only be on when the flame is on, which is only when the safety interlock detects that the toilet lid is closed. There is a corresponding opening in the floor of the truck box with a removable louvered cover and dust filter.

I thought long and hard about how to run the chimney up through the roof. Normally you would run the insulated chimney pipe right up through the ceiling and roof with various metal flashing to make sure nothing hot gets any where near anything that can burn, and then additional flashing on top to shed rain and snow. The typical home installation would be rather large and obvious, but in that setting no one would care. In my case I donít want to advertise that I am burning anything inside, let alone crap, which would probably gross people out and get me kicked out of most anywhere. I need something a bit more stealthy.

Since the roof of the truck is already aluminum and therefore not flammable, I decided to stop the insulated outer section of the chimney at the underside of the roof. A heavy clamp bracket gabs onto the outer section of the chimney pipe and ties it into one of the wood rafters for support. I then built a wooden box around the pipe with clearance for fire proof insulation like mineral wool or fiberglass. The ceiling opening will then be covered with a tight fitting aluminum plate which will be painted to match the ceiling. Nothing inside should ever get too hot as it is all separated by insulation and multiple layers of metal.

Above the roof line, the 6Ē diameter inner pipe extends straight up about 4Ē and just stops. I didnít want to use the conventional (and nicely made) chimney cap that came with the unit because it looks like a chimney cap. I also question whether it would prevent horizontal rain from coming into the inner pipe in a 65 mph rain storm. Instead I made my own chimney cap from a small oval roasting pan with stainless steel brackets that hold it 2Ē above the roof. The whole thing sticks up about 6Ē above the roof, and while it is plainly visible, it is hopefully not overly obvious.

I am still struggling with how to create a good rain seal where the pipe sticks up through the flat roof. If not for the heat I would just build up a heavy bead of roof sealant, but this pipe will get hot. The plan is to use a heavy bead of silicone, reinforced with some embedded fiberglass cloth, then a roughly conical metal ring flashing on top of that, with another silicone/fiberglass seal where the flashing meets the pipe, and where it meets the roof. All of this will be mostly under the chimney cap and will hopefully never even get wet unless the wind is really howling (like at 65 mph down the freeway).

The gas line will be heavy steel galvanized pipe under the floor of the box. It will poke up through the floor behind the toilet and the final connection will be made with a short length of thin wall stainless steel accordion pipe, of the sort that is made for gas lines. I am still worried about it cracking over time with vibration, but I can think of no better solution. I will also be making brackets inside the toilet to better support the gas line and everything attached to it.

I made a 1Ē thick plywood support that fits under the toilet to take most of the weight off of the plastic legs. It also gives me a solid location to bolt through the auger bracket and toilet housing all the way down into the wooden floor of the truck box. A little silicone caulk between the fire box and the spacers that hold it up off the plastic housing should help to keep it from moving around as well. Heaven help me if the truck ever ends up upside down, but it should stay put for most normal situations.

That just leaves the 12V and 24V electrical which I havenít entirely worked out, but compared to everything else it should be pretty easy.

To be ContinuedÖ
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:50 PM   #112
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insulation....if you are using foam board-get the stuff with the foil on it for about the same price as the pink foam board [dow] or the blue foam board [dow] but not the white foam board called "bead board"-it has half the insulating value of the polyisocynate board and will begin to squeak when is loosens up in the cavity as one drives down the road....it also holds water...which iso board will not. Foil is not something that I understand very well-so i go along with the manufactures guide..... only i apply a 4 inch vinyl tape to the seams and any openings in the sheet face to control any moisture should it be present....with spray foam it is unnecessary to have a moisture barrier as 2 lb. density spray foam will not allow any moisture to penetrate the foam......keeps moisture in and controls any leaks in the outside skin of the truck box...geofkaye and the Rivercity Girlz
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Old 10-25-2009, 10:05 PM   #113
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toilets and other amusing issues:.....I prefer plug and poop if I may....something about propane-my hairy butt and an augur just scares me to death...kinda like a low budget porn movie....I'd hate to be "Puff the magic dragon on the throne....." having survived an propane explosion once-I have a certain fear for my life that was instilled watching my friend die of infections caused by burns.......if i go, i want to be surrounded by nakked women and not a puff of smoke from my backside going up in FLAMES!....and the augur issue it just too much!.......I just had a thought...isn't methane released during elimination?.....Ran D. are sure of this contraption?...I mean could I be on your life insurance policy somewhere...or maybe the Girlz?.....they'd love your ashes and would sprinkle them anywhere for a few grand in your will!...anyway be damn careful about this one...please-burns are the easiest vector into the body by bacteria and virus ......geofkaye and the Rivercity girlz
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Old 10-26-2009, 07:07 AM   #114
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Randy, I'm surprised they didn't have better documentation from the manufacturer for your installation. Have you contacted somebody from their tech support department and talked to them about what you're doing? What about driving to the factory and going over everything with them? Could be a learning process for both of you, more for them tho I'm guessing.
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Old 10-26-2009, 05:41 PM   #115
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Geofkaye, youre a funny guy

Bob86zz4, No I haven't talked to their tech support folks. To tell the truth I am a little concerned that they would give me a hard time. I don't get the feeling that it would be a productive conversation. That's probably not being fair to them though. Global Inventive Industries is in Southern CA, (Fountain Valley) which is about 380 miles SSE of me so I guess I could go visit them someday.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:05 PM   #116
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I'd give them a call. It might be a win/win for both of you. They might see it as a chance to learn something about an rv install.
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Old 10-26-2009, 06:12 PM   #117
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Toilet Testing

With some trepidation, I put my modified toilet together on the driveway for some initial testing. The bottom line is, it worked as advertised. I am not sure if it was thanks to my modifications, or in spite of them, but it seemed to work mostly fine.

I had it set up with a chimney of approximately the same length as it will use in the truck. It was up on blocks to allow inlet air through the fan in the bottom, and I had two 12V power supplies for electrical power. The propane was a standard 5 gallon tank with an off the shelf regulator and hose as sold for BBQ use. I also put a few cups of water in the rinse bag.

I started with about Ĺ cup of water to test the urine cycle. I pushed the button and it fired up as expected, the auger ran for about 20 seconds and then it fired up and ran the cycle for about 15 minutes. Nothing got hot at all. When it was done the outside of the insulated chimney pipe was only slightly warm. The auger input area was still dead cold, and slightly wet. I checked for air leaks around the toilet body itself and found a few tiny ones as expected. This is just fresh air blown into the toilet by the fan and not related to exhaust air. Mostly I was glad to see that my input fan was slightly pressurizing the toilet as I had expected.

Since it all went well, I decided to try a simulated poop test. I put in a paper liner, and dropped in a couple of slices of water soaked bread. (This was in my driveway after all.) I poured in a cup of water on top of it all just for good measure. I wanted to see the auger work so I slightly lifted the lid to peek under and found my first problem. The wet paper liner had wrapped around the auger and was just spinning, not making its way to the burn chamber. I poked it free just a bit and then restarted the cycle. This time it dragged the bread and paper back into the burn chamber leaving a few small crumbs behind. All of this makes me wonder if a paper liner is such a good idea.

The thing is very quiet, and it is sometimes hard to hear the squirrel cage blower or my fresh air input fan to know when it is burning. The ignition failed light came on for just an instant (meaning it lighted itself normally) and then it started to burn. There were about 4 burn cycles of about 8 minutes each followed by cooling cycles of about 4 minutes. The whole process took about 50 minutes.

I never saw any visible smoke or ash, only heat ripples from the chimney. There was no visible steam, though It was a nice day, about 75 degrees and dry, so I would not expect to see any. Throughout the waste cycle I would get occasional whiffs of something like toast. There was a light swirling wind in the area, so I was probably smelling the exhaust gasses from the chimney, not anything that would be noticed inside the truck.

With a waste cycle after a urine cycle it was pretty much up to full temperature by the end. I checked for heat all around and this is what I found: The outside of the insulated exhaust pipe was almost hot to the touch. I could hold onto it indefinitely, but it hurt a little. The outer plastic case was only slightly warm in the area above the fire box near the exhaust pipe. The inner exhaust pipe at the top was hot enough to burn me, but I could still grab it and hold on for a second without blisters. The exhaust gasses themselves were hot enough to burn me but I could hold my hand in the direct flow for a few seconds without getting burned.

I opened up the back access to the ash cleanout, but not the sliding door of the outer fire box. The sliding door and the outer fire box in general was hot to the touch, but I could still touch it for a second or two without getting burned. After the cycle was complete I opened the toilet lid and it was completely cold under the lid. The auger input pipe was warm to slightly hot near the fire box end but at the waste input end it was barely warm at all. There was enough radiant heat and airflow inside the auger pipe to dry it out, which is a good thing because dry stuff doesnít smell.

After it was all done I shut it down to let it cool. Per the manual I shut off the gas first and was rewarded with an error light as expected. I then shut off the electrical power and disconnected everything. Several hours later I came back and it was almost completely cold. I opened up the back access to check for ash. The screw in plug came out perfectly clean and did not have any tendency for the threads to jam. I could see a few lumps of ash inside the fire box so I attempted to vacuum it out. There was one large lump about 3Ē long that was stuck to the bottom of the fire box and had to be broken free. The rest vacuumed out fairly easily, but the lump had to be extracted whole.

I examined the lump and found that it was fully desiccated, but not fully burned. There was still some structure of the toast inside. I donít know if subsequent waste cycles would have broken it down further. I also donít know if wet bread is a fair poop substitute. I do know that the fire box will fill up rather quickly if lumps like this arenít completely burned over time. I am afraid the answer to that question will have to wait until it is mounted in the truck where I can do some real life testing.

In the mean time I am comfortable enough to go ahead and mount it in the truck when the time comes.

Be sure to check out all the various pictures under keyword "Stealth".

To be ContinuedÖ
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Old 10-27-2009, 01:04 PM   #118
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I think you should poop in it in the driveway for a complete test before putting it in the truck.
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Old 10-27-2009, 05:45 PM   #119
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bob86ZZ4:
I think you should poop in it in the driveway for a complete test before putting it in the truck.
BaHahahaha!!! If you can do that without getting arrested, post a picture.

DW
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Old 10-27-2009, 07:07 PM   #120
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Just wrap a beach towel around yourself, drop your shorts, and sit down. It's all in the interest of full product testing before going to all the work to install. I don't think my poop is like toast. Better try it, you might find something out.
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