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Old 07-13-2020, 06:55 AM   #1
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Marine toilet vs porta potty

Hello -
I am new to this forum, and new to Sportsmobile. My wife and I are in the process of designing a RB Mercedes 4x4 with Jason at Sportsmobile West. We've been struggling with the bathroom and what kind of toilet to use. When we rented a van to try it out, there was a marine toilet, and when you went to the dump station, you first emptied the black tank, and then emptied the gray tank, which was designed to go out the same hose, so the hose was "cleaned" by the gray water. We've been told that in the van we're working on, that the gray water is emptied separately, through a regular garden type hose, which means that whenever we empty the black tank, that large hose will not have any gray water to run through it (we've heard all kinds of talk about the "stinky slinky").

We're wondering if other people have a marine toilet that works like this, and what you've done in terms of cleaning out the hose.

Also, if you chose a Porta potty instead, how have you found the whole process of dumping that? We were pleasantly surprised when we rented, that emptying the black tank was not that big a deal. Not as sure about a porta potty.


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Old 07-13-2020, 07:09 AM   #2
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A porta potty is much easier since you can dump it anywhere. Do you have some annoying neighbors? Their porch at 0300 is ideal. If not that any toilet works.
Seriously, I would definitely stay with the simplicity of a porta potty these days. But, first I must ask, are you planning to full time EVER with your van? That could change things. A more fixed solution might be better if so.

If your build includes a shower stall then a porta potty sitting in it is ideal. You have the enclosure, a drain in case of a spill (not really a problem with modern ones though) and I have never smelled my porta potty because I can clean it and keep it empty when not needed. An RV setup with a fixed toilet? You'll always smell something when you are near it.

Currently vanless. Weird.
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Old 07-13-2020, 08:45 AM   #3
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Marine toilet vs porta potty

We have both....well not in the same rig.
Our (de)SMB build has a porta poti, when full, itís heavy and can be awkward for some to deal with, but can be dumped into vault toilets, regular toilets with some care and most RV dump sites as well, but harder to do when itís just a tube sticking out of the ground, but you can adapt a dump hose to slip over the swivel dump port to help with that.
Our Lance travel trailer, obviously has the black holding tank, and yes, shares the outlet with the grey tank to flush it, but when appropriate, weíll leave the grey tank open to drain, we only use biodegradable soaps, so weíll just fill the black tank to flush the system when at the dump, but thatís the catch, you are regulated to finding RV dumps, sometimes a drag but hasnít really been a huge issue for us, thereís apps thatíll point them out if not in a campground for a bit. Both have the tendency to smell after a while if not addressed, we have had the best luck with the orange Camco drop in packets.
Weíre full timing in our Lance and towing it with our van, which gives us the option to drop the trailer at the campground or RV park hooked up and go explore and spend some time out in the boonies with just the van. Often times we can find a pit toilet to dump the porta poti, but would be a drag to have to go back to civilization to find an RV dump if the van were plumbed in with a black holding tank.
.......Poop for thought
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Old 07-13-2020, 10:38 AM   #4
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Have you considered a composting toilet?

The best addition to our Sportsmobile was an Airhead composting toilet. There is literally no smell. Even when dumping the solids after a year of use, it smelled earthy, not shitty. There is a separate tank for liquid waste which needs to be dumped every two days or so (two adults). It's easy and can be dumped in any toilet, outhouse etc. The main drawback is the price(~$1000) and the fact that there is a small vent fan that runs constantly. It doesn't draw much power and if you have solar panels, it's not an even issue if the van sits idle for a weeks or months.
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Old 07-13-2020, 11:40 AM   #5
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One note of interest, dumping porta pottys into vault toilets or campground restrooms is often prohibited because folks use chemicals between dumps to reduce the smell. Unfortunately, these chemicals can kill the beneficial anaerobic bacteria that digest the waste in vaults, septic tanks or where ever it gets pumped to. That causes the waste to become septic and the bacteria no longer breaks it down. So, you will often see signs prohibiting such dumping. Having said that, I've never heard of anyone having any issues, but I would assume such use in organized campgrounds might be more closely monitored. YMMV...............
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Old 07-13-2020, 02:07 PM   #6
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Thanks 86Scotty - we're still thinking it all through, so your thoughts help.
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Old 07-13-2020, 02:12 PM   #7
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Hi pdg978 - we're also from Massachusetts! Did Sportsmobile install your composting toilet, or did you have to do it somewhere else, or do it yourself? I did some looking at composting toilets, my wife does not want to do it, partially due to some reviews saying it constantly smelled, and partially because we'd have to use cargo space (we getting the smallest of the vans) to store the material you're supposed to add to the composter. I really like the idea, and would love to hear more from you about your experience, any smells, the material you use with the toilet, and how much room it takes to store. Thanks!
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Old 07-13-2020, 02:14 PM   #8
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arctictraveler - definitely a good thing to know! There seem to be some more benign, biodegradable enzymes one can put in a porta potty, but I don't know if that would make any difference in the places that say you can't dump there.
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Old 07-23-2020, 10:27 AM   #9
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We have a porta potty and use the orange fluid. We have found no issue dumping at rest stop toilets, we usually look for the castodian and ask if it is ok, never had an issue, also porta loo/ Jonny on the spot are a good location.
If I was building out a van and could get a European model with a cassette that would be my choice.
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Old 07-23-2020, 02:06 PM   #10
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We've used a porta-potty for 10+ years. Our SMB (Sprinter) has no interior shower, so we store it just inside the rear doors in a specially designed (by SMB West) "box" where it slides out of the way when not in use and the top of the box can be used for cargo without being disturbed.

To use it we slide it out into the center aisle of the van and then take turns going for a walk to provide a little privacy. That keeps it clean on the underside. Dumping it at an RV dump is easy, or for short trips we just dump it into a toilet at home. Carry a hose you can connect to rinse water and rinse it 2-3 times after dumping, then add your chemical of choice.

We also have a "family policy" that the potty is for solid waste only, not for #1. That greatly extends the time between dumps. If your wife is as good a sport as I am, she should look into getting a Sani-Fem or Freshette so she can pee behind a bush like the guys when no restroom is available.

2009 Sprinter RB custom floorplan began conversion at SMB West in August 2010, delivered December 20, 2010. Diesel furnace/water heater (Espar D5), gaucho, porta potti, exterior shower, sink, fridge, micro, vent fan, cargo storage in rear.
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black tank, marine toilet, porta potty

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