Fixing a hole - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-17-2017, 07:31 PM   #1
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Name: Michael
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Fixing a hole

Hi everyone! I just purchased a 2012 16' Scamp and I have a question about installing a composting toilet. I removed the toilet and the blackwater tank and I'm trying to figure out how to plug and seal the hole that's left in the floor. Looks like Scamp uses 2 layers of OSB for a total depth of 1 3/4 inches for the floor. The hole left in the bathroom is 5" in diameter. Would appreciate any suggestions on how to do this. Thanks!
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Old 05-18-2017, 05:35 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by jazzis4u View Post
Hi everyone! I just purchased a 2012 16' Scamp and I have a question about installing a composting toilet. I removed the toilet and the blackwater tank and I'm trying to figure out how to plug and seal the hole that's left in the floor. Looks like Scamp uses 2 layers of OSB for a total depth of 1 3/4 inches for the floor. The hole left in the bathroom is 5" in diameter. Would appreciate any suggestions on how to do this. Thanks!
First, I would ask why you would want to do this? I hope you plan to keep this trailer for a long time because by installing a composting toilet, you will be drastically reducing the potential customer pool for resale. Composting toilets are not known for the treatment speed and most require separation of liquids from solids, and the liquids still need to be disposed. Is it an environmental thing resulting from an aversion to holding tank chemical use?

As to the hole, I would cut three disks, maybe one 7" and the other two 5", of the material which you plan to use, whether it be OSB or something else. Glue the two smaller disks atop the larger disk. Treat the assembly with resin or whatever, and then push the smaller top disks up through the hole and glue and screw the assembly to the underside of the floor using the "flange" created by the larger disk. Seal it well. Then do whatever cosmetic work is necessary on top so that it is aesthetically pleasing to you. Hope this works out for you.
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Old 05-18-2017, 06:34 AM   #3
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Hi Carl,
I did go back and forth on this. But that said, I haven't done anything that can't be undone. Keeping everything and will reinstall if I decide to sell and that's what the new owner wants. Do plan on keeping this for sometime though.
I like the idea of using a composting toilet because it extends the time you can boondock. No need to deal with a blackwater tank since no water is involved. Yes you do have to empty the liquids often but you can go for a couple of weeks or longer without having to empty the solids. Added benefit is that there is no smell.
I know there's a lot of angst on this subject among RVers. Have a little of it myself. Do like the concept though. Will keep everyone posted on this.
Thanks for your suggestion on creating a flange with smaller disks attached. Very good idea!
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Old 05-20-2017, 04:57 AM   #4
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Advantages of a "composting" toilet for RVs

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First, I would ask why you would want to do this? I hope you plan to keep this trailer for a long time because by installing a composting toilet, you will be drastically reducing the potential customer pool for resale. Composting toilets are not known for the treatment speed and most require separation of liquids from solids, and the liquids still need to be disposed. Is it an environmental thing resulting from an aversion to holding tank chemical use?
Actually compact "composting" toilets, as they are known have some significant advantages over holding tank systems and as they become more well known they will become more popular. If you can explain the advantages to a potential buyer it can enhance your ability to sell it. The biggest advantage is that it unties you from using dump stations and allows you to carry more water if you go so far as to swapping out the tanks. For boondockers this is a huge advantage. And for established camp sites that only have one dump out station you avoid having to break down camp or wait in line to dump your waste.

Imagine you are a boondocker and you have found a great site. Your tank is full which means you have to leave the site and drive to a dump station or you can dump it there (a frequent practice) which effectively pollutes the campsite and prevents you from returning or any body else for that matter for some time. At least with a porta potty you can walk back into the woods away from the site to dump it but with any system that mixes the pee and poop, you create a stinking mess that is contrary to nature and leaves the local bugs and other waste digesting organisms wondering how to deal with it.

If you just dump sawdust covered poop on the ground,which is what a composting toilet produces, it will be gone in a few weeks if not days and the bugs and worms will thank you. Pee can be easily disposed of in a simple cat hole that will leave absolutely no smell at all and the trees will love it. Nature will deal with both of them swiftly and efficiently.

"Composting toilets" is a misnomer for what are effectively compact waste management toilets but the moniker has stuck and in fact some minimal composting does take place but that is another topic.

Full disclosure, I am an owner of a Minni Winni and I have been designing and using compact "composting" toilets for the past seven years.
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:04 AM   #5
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And when you get the small flying things in the composter, good luck getting rid of them.
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Old 05-20-2017, 09:38 AM   #6
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Actually compact "composting" toilets, as they are known have some significant advantages over holding tank systems and as they become more well known they will become more popular. If you can explain the advantages to a potential buyer it can enhance your ability to sell it. The biggest advantage is that it unties you from using dump stations and allows you to carry more water if you go so far as to swapping out the tanks. For boondockers this is a huge advantage. And for established camp sites that only have one dump out station you avoid having to break down camp or wait in line to dump your waste.
They also have some significant disadvantages that holding tank systems do not have. My 30 gallon black tank will hold more than enough waste for the length of time I may boondock. I also do not worry about some unknowing soul stepping in my sawdust coated fecal waste, and I don't have to frequently empty a urine container, or dig a cat hole to do so. Your preference in waste disposal systems may meet your needs, but I would venture to say that 19 out of 20 potential buyers, if not more, would walk away from a "composting" toilet setup. I would note that am not being critical, by all means if it works for you, use it. However, I note that you are from Florida. I would highly recommend you do not get caught dumping "untreated" human waste on public lands. FDEP and the county health boards frown upon it. And not only in Florida, but in most other locations in North America unless the location is remote. Incidentally, I have never had to leave a campsite to empty my tanks, and I rarely have to wait in line at a dump station.
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Old 05-20-2017, 11:03 AM   #7
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Crunching numbers and other musings

You are right that composting toilets are not for everybody even 1 in 20 may be optimistic. That being said, take the total number of people who are in the market and divide it by 20 (or 30?) and that is how many people are potential buyers of your RV. Pretty big number in any case. But I think most of us would agree that you should buy an RV that fits your needs and worry about selling it later.

I just got back from a three day camp out at a state park here in Florida. Our slot smelled like piss when the breeze blew a certain direction. Not hard to guess that somebody dumped there into dry swamp right behind the pad. How many days ago, is anybody's guess. Dump stations are convenient until they aren't. My guess is that that is more common than is admitted and holding tanks create and facilitate that situation. When they are full you cannot use them so your choices are dump or stop using them. Plus the slurry they produce tends to linger where it is dumped because it has been treated with chemicals to prevent the smell. With a composting toilet there is no urgency to dump and the waste can be responsibly placed where it can do no harm. Responsibility is key no matter which system you use. If you object to dumping your waste along with the bears, bunnies and all the other wildlife, then take it home and compost it there. I have been pooping in the woods since I was a boy and I can say with out fear of contradiction, no harm has come from it.

The whole issue of whether mixing your poop and pee with drinking water and then piping if off to a distant processing plant where they try to remove your poop and pee from your drinking water and then struggle to determine how best to fob the end product off on future generations, is a lengthy discussion in itself that will at some point be addressed. But not now or here.

As for the tiny flies, they are easily preventable and yes most people will experience them at some point until the learn how to prevent them. Sure beats getting doused with juicy poop or having the whole world stand and watch when you accidentally occasionally make a mess. There is no magic poop box where everything mysteriously and effortlessly disappears. All systems require a learning curve, maintenance and repair.
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Old 05-20-2017, 02:11 PM   #8
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Capt Sandy,
You are preaching to the choir. I spent over 20 years working for one of Florida's Water Management Districts dealing with reclaimed water projects, and I am thoroughly versed in proper waste water treatment. As a result, I understand the importance of proper waste treatment. But like everyone else, I have defecated or urinated in the woods when other options did not exist. That doesn't mean it should be a common practice. Realistically, "alternative" toilets may be necessary in remote areas where septic systems cannot be installed and/or waste water systems are unavailable. I suppose I could go boondocking and dig a hole 4 feet deep and 3 feet in diameter and dump the contents of my black tank in the hole, then cover it over; no different than mixing it with saw dust and spreading it on the ground, except when buried nobody is going to get it on their shoes or bare feet. But the days when society needed outhouses has passed into history. The unfortunate truth is that human wastes frequently carry dangerous pathogens. Passenger trains no longer expel the contents of waste tanks on the rail line and there is no valid reason for someone in an RV to leave their wastes at some distance from their boondocking campsite. You hit the nail squarely on the head; if someone insists on using retro-sanitation technology, they should bring the byproduct home and finish composting it where there is little chance of someone else contacting it.
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Old 05-21-2017, 05:57 AM   #9
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Carl-agreed!
Capn Sandy- Too often on the first hour or two of a Florida trail hike would come across a pile of turds in the middle of the path! !! There would usually be clumps of palmettos nearby, where someone would've been screened from the trail while dropping drawers, and it would bug the tar out of me that the depositor wouldn't even try to kick sand over it. I realized those humans were only doing the "natural" thing once backpacking with DS at Myakka River SP, when we turned the corner on a very brushy part of the trail and came across a bobcat squatting to do his business in the middle of the trail! The expression on Mr Bob's face was hhysterical!A combination of shock, surprise, and indignation!


Anyway, have you (o.P.) considered a marine toilet at all? That's the LilSnoozy alternative. If you are still sure that composting is the way to go, have you considered adding BOKASHI composting starter to help keep down the smell/quickstart the process/?
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Old 05-21-2017, 06:03 AM   #10
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BTW did anyone else get a Beatles earworm when reading the title? " Fixing a hole where the rain gets in...?"
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Old 05-21-2017, 07:22 AM   #11
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Who poops in the middle of the trail!

Great story! I firmly believe that anybody with enough energy to take on nature in its many forms is probably not going to defile it outright. And pouring a bucket of sawdust covered poop into a bushy area (happy bushes indeed!) where it is not likely to be discovered and certainly not creating any kind of a problem, is what 99% of composting toilets users are going to do. Stepping in "human" waste on the trail is very unlikely indeed, especially the further back into the woods you drive, with the possible exception of walking around a spoil island or party spot that drunken revelers frequently use and nature lovers shun like the plague.

I remember as a boy pooping in the woods while hiking with my dad and how I was amazed at how quickly dung beetles hit the pile and started rolling away with their little treasures. Mother nature is willing to help and does a much better job than we do. There are no mammals that naturally mix their pee with their poop other than man. Dogs do one and the walk off a ways and do the other. We only overwhelm mother nature when we try to fight her. Managing our waste is actually one of the simplest and safest things we can responsibly do. But jobs and taxes depend on it being complicated. There are dirt simple answers to controlling disease. 1. Don't mix your waste with strangers waste. If you're not sick, you're not going to make yourself sick. 2. Keep your waste out of your water sources. Don't drink poopy water. Just that simple. Holding tank systems defy both of these logical rules.

It might seem like we are drifting off topic, but the question was posed at the beginning, why use a composting toilet and these are the reasons why.
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Old 05-21-2017, 08:22 AM   #12
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Back to the hole

Michael
The 5" hole really presents no structural issues. You and a 50lb toilet sat above it and you had no issues. I would seal the wood edges of the hole with resin. If you try sealing the bottom and trap water you can have big floor issues.
To cover the hole you can get a sheet of plastic to overlay your existing floor from West Marine and seal the edges. Sam's Club sell a big plastic cutting board in the catering supply area. If that is large enough to do the job that is the cheap way to go.
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Old 05-21-2017, 08:47 AM   #13
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It might seem like we are drifting off topic, but the question was posed at the beginning, why use a composting toilet and these are the reasons why.
Actually, there are no valid reasons to use a composting toilet in an RV that is mobile and can be towed to a proper disposal location, rather than spreading waste somewhere in the woods. IMO, the stated reasons are only an attempt at justifying a process that may be necessary many, many miles from civilization but not in many places where there is development. And any reference to a waiting line at the dump station is a poor reason for dumping poop in a public area in the absence of an "intestinal emergency."
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Old 05-21-2017, 09:53 AM   #14
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Eddie, thanks for getting the focus back on the original question. I think Scamp coated the inside of the hole with resin at the factory. I have a chrome plate that is just over 5" that covers the hole from above and was thinking of sealing it with a 3M Marine adhesive sealant and setting the toilet on top. So you think leaving the hole open at the bottom is the better option and as long as it's coated with resin there should be no issues? Sure would make things a lot easier. I like Carl's idea but you make a good point about trapping water if the bottom is not sealed properly.
I must say, I know there's a lot of opposition to the idea of composting toilets but I have no idea why. It's actually pretty ingenious. Conserves water and frees you from the necessity of having to deal with a black water tank. I can understand not wanting to swap out a perfectly good system like the one in my Scamp. It's well made and functions perfectly. It's not that big of a deal to dump the tank especially given it's only 9 gallons. But a composting toilet does offer more options when boondocking and to me that's a pretty big deal.
And Carl, it's one thing to say "I would note that I'm not being critical" and then proceed to offer one negative critique after another. But I do appreciate that you were the first to respond and offer a solution.
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Old 05-21-2017, 10:48 AM   #15
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Eddie,
Yes, come to think of it, that hole has been open and exposed all along. Toilet sits on the blackwater tank which sits on a gasket connected to the sewage pipe. That pipe is about 3" in diameter I think leaving the sides of the hole (5") exposed all around. Scamp must have coated the sides with resin. The only thing that concerns me is the gap above between the fiberglass floor and the OSB but I suppose I could use some 3M sealant there as well. This would be the simplest of solutions. I bought a 4 x 8 panel of exterior grade OSB so I could cut out three 5" disks to fill that hole. Haven't cut into it yet so can return. The idea that the hole was already exposed did cross my mind when I first started thinking about a solution but it must have been moving pretty fast. Your feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 05-21-2017, 11:42 AM   #16
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And Carl, it's one thing to say "I would note that I'm not being critical" and then proceed to offer one negative critique after another. But I do appreciate that you were the first to respond and offer a solution.
I would point out that I did not get "critical" until Capt. Sandy promoted the composting toilet as being superior to a conventional holding tank system for his stated reasons. I have no problem with composting toilets if they are being used to extend one's stay due to restrictions resulting from small holding tanks, and the "composted" product is disposed of properly. What I am critical of is dumping it on the ground somewhere because "I don't want to be inconvenienced because someone got to the dump station ahead of me." Or "I can't be bothered to even dig a deep enough hole and adequately cover the sawdust mixture for the health and benefit of others who come after me. But that is OK because I remember the dung beatles from my childhood." Anything critical or negative I might have posted resulted from a cavalier attitude about dumping fecal waste anywhere or everywhere, particularly on public lands, totally disregarding others.
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