KEYWORDS: toilet, water, trailer, chamber, oil, trailer toilet

Have Trailer--Will Travel--Part 14: Toilets

David Berg


1. NOW TO THE TOILET! Having washed your face & hands & your body with a sponge bath, & your feet in the bucket, now you need to go to the toilet. Well‚ the modern portable camp toilets that most of these smaller camp trailers use are just what we would normally call flush toilets. But they are very cleverly made in two sections, each about the size of a normal jerry-can—that means about the size of one of those 5-gallon cans you used to carry gasoline in in the U.S. Only these are lying flat on their sides, & of course they've been completely adapted & made for this particular purpose.

2. THEY'RE USUALLY MADE OF LIGHTWEIGHT PLASTIC, but sufficiently rigid to hold you up when you sit on it. They are attached to each other in a way so that the upper one has the bowl, seat, lid, & little trap door in the bottom of its bowl so you can flush it. The upper unit outside of the bowl also contains fresh flush water, & if you prefer, as most people do, you put some type of chemical into this flush water to perfume it & cover up the odors.

3. THIS WATER IN THE UPPER PART IS THEN USED TO FLUSH THE LITTLE TOILET BOWL, There's a little pump on the corner of the toilet which you push up & down with your hand so that a little bit of water squirts into the toilet bowl rinsing it out, which you let down through the little trap door. Then you close the trap door again, & it's completely sealed up. The dirty waste water has gone down into the second chamber‚ the lower chamber of the toilet. It goes down completely out of the upper chamber, & doesn't mix with the clean water in the upper chamber, but is flushed into the lower chamber which is the holding tank for the sewage.

4. WE USED TO BUY THESE EXPENSIVE CHEMICALS FOR IT when we first got our Dodge Motor-Home flush toilet, which was very similar to this, only the circulatory type called an aircraft toilet, which flushed with this blue chemically–treated water.

5. THE CHEMICAL WAS VERY EXPENSIVE‚ Aqua-something, a powder that you dissolved into the flush water, & it would circulate & keep the odor in until you had to flush it out into the holding tank below. Your little portable camp toilet has a very small reservoir of fresh water & a very small holding tank for dirty water, each one about the size of a 5-gallon jerry–can.

6. BUT I SOON FOUND THAT THESE EXPENSIVE TOILET CHEMICALS WERE REALLY NOT NECESSARY. I found a much cheaper disinfectant & even stronger deodoriser with a very fine fragrance‚ a nice pine scent: Ordinary Pine Oil! In the U.S. you buy Pine Oil in big one-litre or 1/2-litre bottles very cheap‚ like 50 cents to $1, fantastically cheaper than those special expensive toilet chemicals!—Just a little dash of this Pine Oil in the water! In fact if you were going to put it into your circulatory system into the fresh water, the upper chamber with which you flush the toilet into the lower chamber, you only need to put in about 1/2 cup of this Pine Oil, not even a full cup into your flush water that you use for flushing. Each time you refill the upper chamber with fresh water, put a new cup of Pine Oil‚ & that's all you need. It has a very delightful fragrance, very strong, & it covers up almost any odor & is a good cleanser, purifier, disinfectant & deodoriser, everything you need—just an ordinary bottle of Pine Oil! You may not always be where you can get these fancy trailer toilet chemicals‚ & they're expensive. So I highly recommend Pine Oil. We used it for years & it did a good job, & that's all you really need.

7. YOUR LITTLE PORTABLE CAMP TRAILER TOILET (WHY DON'T WE CALL IT A PORTA-POTTY for short, the name of a popular brand) starts out with a chamber of fresh water above‚ scented with Pine Oil, & by the time you've used that toilet a few times & the rest of the family too, of course this water is all used up, about three gallons of water—they don't fill'm completely full. Now it's all flushed down into the lower chamber, to which you have added considerably more water & solids yourselves‚ which is why they don't fill the top one full, because then the bottom one would be too full! To your three gallons of clean water, you've added about two gallons of dirty water & solids now flushed into the bottom chamber. Your upper chamber is now exhausted & the lower one full.

8. SO IT'S NOW TIME TO GO MARCHING DOWN TO THE TOILETS WITH BOTH & empty your dirty water in the toilet or hole provided for this purpose—& rinse it out too‚ don't forget!—And refill your clean water chamber. For this purpose these two cans are very conveniently made so that you can disconnect them from each other & each has a handle to carry them by in an upright position, a vertical position, just like the jerry-cans that they used to use with the jeeps during the War—one in each hand.

9. IT'S NOT TOO HARD TO CARRY THREE-TO-FIVE GALLONS OF WATER IN A JERRY-CAN. You march down to the toilet with one in each hand, one empty clean upper chamber in one hand & your completely full five gallons of sewage in the other. You go to the toilet & pour this carefully down the toilet & flush it, & be careful you don't pour too fast & have it run over! Some of these camp toilets do not drain very fast. Then you go to the faucet wherever it is, & you get your clean water. There's one right there nearby. Often in the bathroom there's a mop tub with a big mop faucet, & I used to clean out our potties there. You put a little water in & put the lid back on & slosh it around good to get it good & rinsed out, then pour that water also in the toilet. Don't pour that dirty toilet rinse water down the wash tub or the mop tub! Pour that dirty sewage water‚ even from rinsing your potty, back in a toilet again!

10. NOW YOU'VE GOT AN EMPTY SEWAGE CONTAINER, the holding tank‚ empty & rinsed & clean. Then fill your upper chamber with about three gallons of clean water. It will hold five, but you're going to add other things to that water, so you don't want to run it over!

11. NOW YOU TROT BACK DOWN TO YOUR TRAILER with an upper chamber of fresh water & the empty lower chamber. That's not a very heavy load—even your wife or older kid could take care of that if they had to. Just teach them the mechanics of it & how to do it. When you get back to your trailer, add the 1/2 cup of Pine Oil to the upper tank, lay the bottom holding tank back on its side again‚ trap door up, & attach the upper flush-water tank as instructed in your manual. Now the water in the upper chamber can once again be used to flush the toilet wastes down into the lower chamber. Be sure the trap door to the lower chamber is kept shut & sealed so the odors will not get out, & you're ready to go again.

12. BY THIS TIME THE KIDS ARE PROBABLY DYING TO GO TO THE TOILET! However we absolutely forbade anybody to use our trailer toilet in the daytime. No one was allowed to even urinate in the trailer toilet in the daytime, except in emergencies! Always go up to the public toilets during the day. The only time you're allowed to use the trailer toilet is for emergencies at night!—Especially children, who can't be running up to the public toilet in their nighties in the middle of the night—nor you, either, for that matter!

13. THE MAIN USE OF YOUR LITTLE PORTA-POTTY IS DURING THE NIGHT or after you're already undressed or in bed. We found that normally it's not necessary to use it for anything "serious", as I used to call it—BMs, in other words, doo-doos—except that sometimes the children‚ & even some adults, have their BMs in the middle of the night!

14. NORMALLY, THE NORMAL HABIT-TIME for most people to have their BMs is when you first get up in the morning, either when you first get up, or after the first cup of coffee, fruit juice or drink of water, or even after breakfast. This is the normal human habit time to have your AM-BM, as nearly all of us do—some earlier, some later. But there are a few peculiar freaks like Maria who have theirs later in the day or in the middle of the night! But normally most people like me have theirs once a day, pretty regularly.

15. IF YOU HAVE IT REGULARLY ABOUT THE SAME TIME EVERY DAY, this habit-time is very good for your health—doctors recommend it. They say that your habit-time to have your daily BM should be just about as regular as the tides, & if so, you will stay in fairly good health. If you clean out your system thoroughly each day, drink lots of water & liquids & eat lots of fruits & vegetables & fruit juices, you usually won't have any problem with constipation—especially if you eat plums & prunes! They'll have the opposite effect! So if you do have any problem with constipation, fill up on plums & prunes!

16. PLUMS ARE FRESH PLUMS, & PRUNES ARE THE DRIED PLUMS. They have a dynamic effect on the evacuation system! In fact, I can't eat them at all, because they give me the runs! But I don't have the problem of constipation, thank the Lord! I've always been very regular, just like clockwork every morning‚ as Maria knows. When I first get up in the morning I go have my BM the very first thing. It's comfortable‚ comforting, convenient & with great regularity.—TTL!

17. SO WHEN WE WERE LIVING IN TRAILERS & campers, first thing I did in the morning was get my clothes on as fast as I could & make a dash for the public toilet, so that I didn't have to have my BM in the trailer & stink things up! You'll find out that in such a small space there are many distinct stinks & many indistinct stinks, & you can really smell'm inside such a small space! So do your best to please‚ & if you must use the trailer toilet during the night, please keep the trailer toilet door shut & the bathroom window wide open, so that the odors can go outdoors!

18. ONE OF THE BEST BATHROOM DEODORISERS IS TO STRIKE A MATCH! I never liked these aerosol fragrance cans—the gas nearly chokes me to death!—And I hate the smell of most of them! They suffocate & asphyxiate, & have been proven not to be good for you. Some people keep a can of that stuff in their bathroom & spray it while having a BM, but if I'd do that, I'd probably suffocate! You'll find that one of the best deodorisers in the world is just to strike an ordinary match, get it flaming up with a good big flame, then blow it out quick so it will smoke a lot.

19. SMOKE IS ONE OF THE MOST PENETRATING ODORS THERE IS! God made smoke to be very penetrating so it would be a warning to you that something is on fire! It's so penetrating it will cover up almost any other kind of odor. So keep a box of matches in the bathroom out of reach of children where only the adults can reach it, & strike one or two matches while having an evacuation‚ especially if in a trailer during the night when you can't go up to the public toilet. I have tried sprays, incense & everything, but I have never found anything better to cover up those unpleasant odors than smoke!

20. ANYWAY, YOU SHOULDN'T BE USING YOUR TRAILER FOR BMs except in middle-of-the-night emergencies—or if perhaps there's no toilet nearby, & you have to go a mile to find a place to dump your sewage. So there may be a few extreme cases where you've just got to use your trailer toilet, but it has to be pretty unusual. I used to get furious when anybody dared to use the trailer toilet in the daytime when they were fully-dressed & could easily walk up to the public toilets!

21. SO MAKE THAT A RULE WITH YOUR FAMILY, that even if it's one of the children, if they're old enough to go up there by themselves, go! If they're not old enough‚ someone can walk up with them. Of course with tiny tots‚ sometimes they really have theirs at most inconvenient times, & you can never tell. It may be too sudden & too soon to have time to walk up the public toilet, & they may not be able to hold it. So that's one reason for your trailer toilet, for just such emergencies. You can pop them on the pot real quick, if necessary. Or if they're still using their little floor potty, they'll have to go ahead & use it, & then you can dump it in your trailer toilet quickly before it stinks up the whole trailer if possible! Stinking up a trailer is easy to do in such a small space with so little air, & others will be very unpleasantly affected if it happens too often.