(james benedict brown) on the road

The toilet

Posted in Posts by James Benedict Brown on 3 October, 2007

Ah, the humble toilet. What a marvel of intelligent design. A simple mechanical system for dealing with human waste in a hygienic, efficient and reliable manner. It’s quite an honour that no-one has been able to better Thomas Crapper‘s invention, save for a few aesthetic tweaks.

But after a couple of encounters with this toilet (on the seventeenth floor of the Minneapolis Hilton… that was a strange experience, especially as I’d just swung into the entrance of the hotel in a swanky car and asked the valet to park it) I began to be suspicious about what might be inside the cistern. The sound of the flush was reminiscent of that in an aeroplane toilet – a rapid high powered flush that started and ended very suddenly, with very little noise before or after. Have these sophisticated Americans managed to better Thomas Crapper’s simple device?

Er, yes. Or rather, instead of bettering it, they’ve found a way to make it more complicated and dependent on electricity.

“Made with pride in the U.S.A,” it’s the Sloan Flushmate. How? Who knows. Why? Who cares. This is America, baby, where there’s an expensive, complicated and energy consuming solution for everything.

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6 Responses

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  1. Kate said, on 3 October, 2007 at 23:35

    Yah hey dar eh, too bad yah didn’t stop into da U.P. …
    I enjoy your insight and appriciate your ability to write and write well.
    oh, and I really hope your luggage did not go to Frankfurt.

  2. James said, on 4 October, 2007 at 12:44

    Thanks Kate, it’s much appreciated. Who knows where my luggage is, ‘cos four weeks later I still haven’t seen it, and I’m already back in the land of mechanical cisterns…

  3. AM said, on 4 October, 2007 at 14:09

    I am not sure what it says about your character when I flush a toilet and think of you :) Last night after using a bar’s restroom I flushed the toilet and thought as I stood up, “Jesus, if that doesn’t sound like an awfully efficient (even airplane-esque) flush. My flush at home never sounds so confident…James!” And because of your blog entry about the over the top potty you encountered I had to lift the hood, so to speak, on this one. It also didn’t hurt that I was several sheets to the wind and probably wouldn’t normally dare peak inside someone’s toilet, especially a public toilet (that is unless I clogged her up and needed a manual remedy to save face.)

    So off this toilet cover went and I revealed with a small jaw drop that it had James’ jet powered mechanics like in that hotel! This was an America toilet, yes, and after some research on the old google.com I discovered that the American invention is now ubiquitous in new schools, public workplaces, as well as hotel and restaurants. Why? Apparently it’s more water efficient than standard gravity fed Johns. I don’t know how Sloan Valve Company reckons the electricity used to power their Flushmate requires, but I sure do like a confident toilet.

    Confidence. Yes, it’s the American way. Who else would have the balls to put big shit on the side of their roads and expect to be taken seriously? Other than the Canadians?

  4. Scott said, on 21 November, 2007 at 17:27

    To clarify, Flushmate pressure-assist technology does not require electricity. Ever.

    The technology works by harnessing the supply line pressure and mixing in a little air. As the Flushmate fills with water air is drawn into the system and as the water level inside the Flushmate tank rises, the air is “compressed” above the water surface. When the toilet is flushed, the “compressed” air pushes the water out of the Flushmate and into the bowl where it pushes the waste away.

    Approximately 20% of the water volume (1.6 GPF or 1.0 GPF, depending upon the system) extracts the waste leaving approximately 80% to rinse and refill the bowl and ensuring superior drain-line carry.

    Even the best gravity (traditional) toilets use about 50% of the flush volume to generate a siphon to pull waste out behind it.

  5. A different Scott said, on 29 November, 2007 at 16:11

    I just bought and installed a Gerber brand toilent with the Sloan Flushmate – turns out it was very reasonably priced! No electricity, and more efficient than any other on the market. That’s the whole idea behind the design. The only issue is that if you don’t warn guests, they come out of the bathroom laughing cuz it scares more sh*t out of them when they flush. One guy said he flushed while still sitting, and thought his parts would be sucked down with the waste.

  6. Jonas said, on 8 February, 2008 at 02:31

    Maybe I’m confused. You thought it was plugged in?

    That’s silly. you don’t think a normal gravity tank is plugged in do you? It uses mystical “gravity” to flush the toilet.

    this thing uses a venturi valve, or some other simple physics. I don’t think its complicated. I think you’re looking for fault in something that is simple, more efficient, and probably costs the same a regular toilet.

    You silly Americans and your self deprecating humor. Up here we could use some decent plumbing!


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