Installing a composting toilet.

Kris Cringle

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"But that “boat smell” is gone. It was my wife, so pleased with the dessicator, who ripped out our old head and holding tank. In August. In Mississippi. And smiled while she worked."

I'm holding my breath on that thought. 'Our head doesn't smell,...' That's always been a conversation on our boat, like any. It's more opinion than fact I suspect. According to my wife, it always smells. All heads smell off to her, no matter which of our or friends boats we're talking about. 

The 'Boat smell' you speak of creeps out at me, often at 3-4 in the morning. Dead still air, my head just inches from the 'head' in the vee berth. That funky smell drifts through the bulkhead. Faint, but there. It's a combination of all those parts I believe, impossible to hermetically seal them off. It's been an acceptable trade off for what the system does, for decades, with several boats, countless head systems, and a family of four. 

She was as much in favor of the composting head as I, for the the discharge reasons. The boat is mine to her (not really) when it comes to this stuff. She says I'm a hair shirt whenever it goes overboard. So she is expecting the composting head to smell, but she's happier with the no discharge. So she's in the composter, even more than me. 

She still expects an off smell. I can't convince her otherwise. So, if what I read has any truth, she is (hopefully) in for a surprise. Time will tell.

The OGO landed on the back porch yesterday,..."Your toilet is here",....she said. 

 

Spokey Doke

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I like the idea of a composter (which is really to say I dislike the idea of a holding tank and plumbing and pumping).

I'd like to hear more from those with the Airhead and how the fan system works (or doesn't) and any insights on how that helps both evacuating smelly air, and with desiccation.

 
.

As for gnats, very location dependent. Never had them until this latest long stay in Floriduh. My solution is SEVIN dust (same as for pets’ fleas) in the commode.
This, 

Been living with the composter since 2009 and was unaware of these gnats until we arrived in Florida in 2017, what is it with that place? Even 3 years in Colon and Bocas del Toro weren’t a problem. Like you we don’t bother initially wetting out our coir for the same reasons, no need, humidity and adding material seems to take care of that. 

The OGO landed on the back porch yesterday,...
I’m very interested in how it works out. Went to their website and was impressed but thanks to my own experiences with the Nature Head I’m shy about wiry and mechanical bits around compost. The Nature’s Head has a tendency for bits of that compost to occasionally find its way into nooks and crannies. Not a deal breaker but it does keep me motivated to keep things spotless.  One thing I do like about the Nature"s Head is the deep water tight container the pee bucket lives in. I’ll be giving a Ted talk on brain farts and remembering to empty the bloody thing any day now.   
 

I'm holding my breath on that thought. 'Our head doesn't smell,...' That's always been a conversation on our boat, like any. It's more opinion than fact I suspect. According to my wife, it always smells. All heads smell off to her, no matter which of our or friends boats we're talking about. 
There’s been some research centred around those areas of the brain that tune out, block or adapt our level of awareness to the persistent smells we’re exposed to daily. Might explain the “I’ve got my holding tank smells sorted” types. 
As far as I can tell there’s only an slight earthy/peaty smell in the vicinity of the head itself.  There were two times where the charge went anaerobic on me (operator error) It wasn’t pretty but I knew immediately.  If I’m very close to the deck vent when someone is using the head there’ll be a slight whiff of sewage until it gets stirred/mixed, after that sweetness and light.

 

Blue Crab

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What convinced me was the day I had a guest aboard who is a very savvy sailor, licensed 100T and all that. I mentioned an odd odor -- she was sitting very near the head, took a long whiff and said all she smelled was diesel aroma.

 

thinwater

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I am surprised to hear that a clumping cat litter would work, but I will give it a try....
a. The secret of clumping litter, for cats, is that it separates the urine from the poo, because they don't hi the box the same place. That reduces the odor. And you can remove the pee.

b. You can't compost clay-based little. It's just a mess. It clumps when wet.

 

thinwater

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Deale, MD
I like the idea of a composter (which is really to say I dislike the idea of a holding tank and plumbing and pumping).

I'd like to hear more from those with the Airhead and how the fan system works (or doesn't) and any insights on how that helps both evacuating smelly air, and with desiccation.
All of the composting/desiccating heads have fan options. It always helps, but some don't really need it, depending on use.

 

Kris Cringle

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If I were a full time live aboard cruiser, I would have chosen an Airhead. And I'd also choose a different boat to fit that into. 

I'm the silent majority, the seasonal coastal sailor that uses the boat recreationally, weekends mostly with a few weeks or a month onboard, if we're lucky. I think the C-head is the best known option for the occasional user. But I'm taking a chance on this idea.

The OGO has very little test time on the water from what I gather. I'd guess more designed with tiny house, van conversion, off-the-grid living that is on the rise these days. But they seem confident it's up to the task of the sea. 

I love an old boat and care what I do to it. I liked the look of it for starters. Sleek and modern but business like. It's very well finished in a satin white. Upper lid fits tightly with a friction catch, bowl -lower seam - also lifts for service. Note On button left, turns auger on - turns 2 minutes - automatically shuts off.  

OGO unpacked.jpeg

First, how does it work? I feel a toilet is a urinal most of it's life, at home or on the water. This part is a clever idea: OGO advises men sit of course.

If a kid or guest doesn't get it, the entire bowl will direct liquid into the 2.4 gal. storage bottle (the solids hatch is a pretty tight fit but has a slot on the forward edge). No chance of flooding the solid bucket. And it also keep the solids tightly covered from sight and smell. Pretty easy to clean me thinks. 

OGO lid raised - above.jpeg

To use the solids (in honor of my long gone mother, I refuse to succumb to the temptations of bathroom humor-please adhere to her,...), the sleek handle pulls out a mere inch. It takes a solid pull (more about how that works later), and clunk, 100% open to solids. 

OGO infers you can use the solid container, throw paper in (or not-all volume #), and close the hatch while on the seat.  Of course I assume you may need to clean up at times, before closing the hatch. Note: the spray bottle which it's advised to use just diluted dish soap for cleaning. That's part of a marine head of any sort. The smaller bowl of the composter will need special attention, I expect. 

OGO lid up handle pulled out.jpeg

To get the part you'll be dealing with the most, you throw the two side catches and the front easily pulls forward exposing the liquid tank. You just need to lift the bowl up an inch, that frees the spigot that fits into the bottle(with gaskets). 

OGO liquid bottle open.jpeg

One major reason this attracted my attention was the size and fit in a sailboat. The C-head is 18" front to back, the OGO is 15". And the venting is brilliant as well as interchangeable port of starboard side. The lid and bowl stay firmly up for use and service with the OGO just 1/2" out from a back wall. It comes with a flexible hose and cuffs to connect to 1 1/4" PVC. That will make it a breeze for me to mount a permanent PVC stack just behind the mast and through the house top to a 3" clam shell forward of the mast. 

OGO lid and top up right side.jpeg

The solid lid slides in tracks and here is the linkage. A lot of stuff but it looks well designed. OGO has a 5 year warranty on non electrical so they seem confident. Also note the tiny muffin fan (.5A/24hr) and inlet vent which is located at the top of the solids bucket. 

OGO bottom of top and door mech..jpeg

The worrysome hole in the bottom of the solids bucket: YOu can see the hub is raised. The bucket would need 2-3" of fluid to reach the bushing that would leak if submerged. Note the liquid level sensor(hope that works as designed) that has a red signal light around the auger button. Also the cover over the motor/gear/fuse. 

OGO solids bucket removed hub.jpeg

With motor cover lifted off: Motor, gearbox and thermal breaker. It operates for 2 mins. 

OGO base cover removed motor.jpeg

Auger and bucket: All these parts excluding the motor have a 5 year warranty. Plus the solids buckets with auger at $105. The liquid tanks are $55. 

OGO solids bucket auger hub.jpeg

Mechanical connection: 

OGO auger gear bushing removed.jpeg

 
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Happy

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^^^^^^^^

So many moving parts, electric-powered stirrer, potential leaks, etc etc.

The maintenance/replacement blues will start after a year or two. Not as bad as hoses/pumps/tanks, but still unnecessary.

I'm very happy with my SunMar GTG. The most basic foolproof design, lots of capacity, works perfectly, zero maintenance. 

The concept is a modern bucket-and-chuckit, not a gadget with motors, lights, and lots of moving hinged bits.

 
The maintenance/replacement blues will start after a year or two. Not as bad as hoses/pumps/tanks,
True, but in Kris Cringle’s use case it might work out ok. Day to day liveaboard use 24/7 year round maybe not so much. I can’t help thinking OGO could have designed the mixer to do what they wanted it to do without going through the bottom but perhaps they’ve solved the “cutlass bearing” problem. I do like the overall design particularly the urine dam. The Nature’s Head (NH) dam is not as well thought out. The NH vent is swappable to either side as well. 

The NH works well and is simple and well made but it is first gen and kinda agricultural which is fine.  One thing I do like about the NH is the toilet seat is moulded into the body of the unit. Can’t remember how many old Jabso toilet seat hinges I had to replace over the years due to them sliding sideways out from under me in a seaway. Also the crank on the NH is so basic that if the head starts to get too full or wet it lets you know by becoming really difficult to turn which is kinda a plus I guess. 

 
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accnick

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Out curiosity, how do you secure these in place while sailing.

Not trying to cause trouble, just want to know.

 
Out curiosity, how do you secure these in place while sailing.

Not trying to cause trouble, just want to know.
On the Nature's Head there are two brackets that bolt to the head sole with big hand knobs that screw into the unit. Ok for keeping the thing attached to the sole but there should really be four to make it a bit more secure. I like that I don't need tools to spin the knobs off if I have to move the head for some reason. 
 

 

Kris Cringle

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Out curiosity, how do you secure these in place while sailing.

Not trying to cause trouble, just want to know.
Four screws. Great composters, the NH and Sunmar, but they're too big to fit my head. I have a raised platform the head sits on. That is 13 1/2" fore and aft. The entire head is about 40" fore and aft. The Sunmar is 24", and I don't know if that includes the vent fitting out the back. 

Conversely, the OGO is 15" front to back - complete with venting. In actual fit, it will come out less than the existing marine head (which is a compact Wilcox). Plus it will fit on the raised (4") platform with a 2" overhang. The fit will be nice! The head will grow!

I'm not afraid of electrical, but until it gets used, I can't say much about maintenance and how it will hold up. Up close, I'm pretty confident in the design. For comparison, ever look at a marine head schematical parts drawing? Of course you have,... :)

I'll put it through the test! 

Key 1200 2.jpg

 
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thinwater

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If I were a full time live aboard cruiser, I would have chosen an Airhead. And I'd also choose a different boat to fit that into ...
Excellent post. Thank you.

As for bathroom language, only when it adds clarity.

a. Cleaning with liquid into the desiccation chamber is a non-starter. Well, a fan will help dry, but it is a really bad design or operation decision in my experience.

b. No, with a good chute design there should be no need for cleaning unless someone has something explosive. I think it is much wiser to have a removable plate located higher, just under the seat, that is removed before you sit down. It's only purpose is odor control.

Overall, the level of mechanical complexity is concerning.

Re. odor, another trick, which I got from C-Head, is to hang a small 1-2 ounces) mesh bag of either dry swimming pool chlorine or dichlorisocyanurate inside, up under the lid and out of the way. Any moisture causes a VERY slow release of chlorine (the bag will last 6 months), just enough to kill the odor and discourage some pests.

 

thinwater

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Re. Cleaning. A spray bottle of something for the urine funnel is smart, for odor from the funnel and the urine tank. Citric acid (5% for the spray, a few ounces of powder in the tank) does a good job of both. Nil Odor Urine Digestor is also very impressive.

 

accnick

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Four screws. Great composters, the NH and Sunmar, but they're too big to fit my head. I have a raised platform the head sits on. That is 13 1/2" fore and aft. The entire head is about 40" fore and aft. The Sunmar is 24", and I don't know if that includes the vent fitting out the back. 

Conversely, the OGO is 15" front to back - complete with venting. In actual fit, it will come out less than the existing marine head (which is a compact Wilcox). Plus it will fit on the raised (4") platform with a 2" overhang. The fit will be nice! The head will grow!

I'm not afraid of electrical, but until it gets used, I can't say much about maintenance and how it will hold up. Up close, I'm pretty confident in the design. For comparison, ever look at a marine head schematical parts drawing? Of course you have,... :)

I'll put it through the test! 

View attachment 496851
I don't pretend there aren't a lot of things that can go wrong with a conventional head. I've experienced most of them over the years.

At the same time, it's hard to beat the convenience of what I have now, with a Vacuflush system.

I will have replaced most parts of it by this summer, however, but it was already 20 years old when I bought the boat.

 

smj

Member
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Out curiosity, how do you secure these in place while sailing.

Not trying to cause trouble, just want to know.
We use flexible latch handles, though only pulled the head out a couple of times.

We also have the rules clearly stated!

45E2BA31-FA94-4CBD-B824-AC1D255884A4.jpeg

028D9A3F-D0DE-433F-BB74-385294BEF9F4.jpeg

 

Kris Cringle

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We use flexible latch handles, though only pulled the head out a couple of times.

We also have the rules clearly stated!

View attachment 496867

View attachment 496868
Interesting head! Very tidy and well thought out. Loads of room behind the head. I think you have the C-Head with the stepped base? They discontinued that and I can't figure out why. Also, is that a vent hose running aft? If so, why did you vent (C-head doesn't think you'll need to). 

The two sea cocks I see: I'm trying to imagine the boat, must be a tri? And a bathroom scale,...? Are you living aboard or on a diet? :)

 

ProaSailor

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Overall, the level of mechanical complexity is concerning.
It could be far more extreme.  This "solution" is an example of what happens when more dollars than [good] sense are applied to the problem.




 
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smj

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Interesting head! Very tidy and well thought out. Loads of room behind the head. I think you have the C-Head with the stepped base? They discontinued that and I can't figure out why. Also, is that a vent hose running aft? If so, why did you vent (C-head doesn't think you'll need to). 

The two sea cocks I see: I'm trying to imagine the boat, must be a tri? And a bathroom scale,...? Are you living aboard or on a diet? :)
Yes, the stepped base C-Head. I think venting leads to less moisture in the bucket and also removes some of the odor if close to changing time. Odor being the smell of damp soil.

its a TRT 1200GT catamaran. We were going to remove the seacocks and glass in the through hulls at the last haul out, but we were constrained for time and the lay days were $120 per day! We are living aboard and on a diet! Getting older so trying to maintain a healthy weight.

 

Kris Cringle

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39 minutes ago, ProaSailor said:

It could be far more extreme.  This "solution" is an example of what happens when more dollars than [good] sense are applied to the problem.


Hahaha! I only watched the solids part> That's a wood pellet stove!! Exact same mechanics. This must have been an idea BEFORE Melinda found out Bill was hanging with Epstein the #1 global pedo.

 
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