Saturday, March 18, 2017

DIY Solar Install

This is well worth reading for anyone considering a DIY Solar Install. Lots of pictures!

DIY Solar Install

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Fogged Windows Repair at RV Glass Solutions

Review of the Phoenix location of RV Glass Solutions. Their main location is in Coburg, OR. 

We are having those three windows repaired. They also offer replacement with either insulated glass or laminated glass. We looked at a sample of the laminated glass and don't think it is as dark as the glass used by LD. They claim that the laminated glass would add about 5 pounds of weight per glass piece. However, only the Coburg location cuts new glass.

Cost to repair is $325 per window. The work is guaranteed for 2 years.

The facility looks good and they have a secure lot with three 50 amp hookups. We arrived last night.

They have just removed the first window in the living room and it was not installed with butyl tape but used double adhesive foam tape and then a bead of caulk around the outside edge. Based on my contact with various repair shops double sticky foam tape appears to be the standard. You can see an installation here.

No sign of water intrusion on the first one, at least.

It took all day to finish the job with two working on it. They used a black polyurethane sealant/adhesive completely around the circumference after installation. The windows look great and as an added bonus they are incredibly easy to open and close now. I can only assume that was from a cleaning of the interior of the frame.

Total cost was $975 so no additional charges for materials.

Now only time will tell how long the re-sealing will hold up.

Four months later we have been through plenty of rain with no sign of leaks. There was no damage to frames and we were happy with our experience.

Jim Cummings - 2016

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Fogged Windows

[Note to Lazy Daze Owners Forum. Where to get windows defogged has come up more than once. I don’t recall anyone responding where they had their windows done. Perhaps none of them read or post to this forum? If there are positive or negative reviews, may I suggest this would be a good time to post them]

This a negative review on Suncoast Designs 

February, 2017 - We went to Hudson, FL to have Suncoast Designs clean five fogged windows in our Lazy Daze MH.  Before we made an appointment we asked if they had worked on a Lazy Daze before. We were assured they had and it would be no problem. When we arrived they said they had done six Lazy Daze in the last few months.

First, the good thing - the windows are clean and clear. Except for one, which already has condensation in it.

When we checked in, the short conversation was very terse. No nice to meet you. We had to pull the information out of her. Where should we park? Where is the dump? What is the WiFi password? etc.

The first thing the next morning, two young, trim, agile men came to remove the valances and shades. Mission accomplished they left. Two others were outside cutting the caulk on the windows with razor blades. This went on for about 90 minutes. The windows barely budged. The original team returned to find out what was taking so long. They said they it usually took 5 to 10 minutes to remove a window. The original pair, led by Austin, went into a frenzied physical mode using pry bars to remove the windows. At this point I did not know they were bending the window frames in the process. I would not know this until the windows were put back in and bulges in the frames showed where the pry bar was used.

After a window was removed, I could see why removal was difficult. The manufacturer put a bead of Locite sealant on the aluminum skin which bonded with the aluminum frame. Another rubber like sealant was used to prevent water from even getting to the Loctite. A belt and suspenders deal. One could argue it’s overkill. I am not so sure.

Before a pry bar was used, we should have appraised that they were experiencing difficulties they had never encountered before. And we should have been offered some choices. Such as:

1) Abandon the project.
2) Advise us the window frames would be bent if they continued.
3) That an additional charge would have to be made because of the extra time needed to remove the windows without bending them.

But they said nothing and we did not know the frames were being bent.

They sealed the window openings with plastic lined cardboard held on with painters tape. Remember the painters tape, this will come into play the next day.

The next day, they had us bring the rig inside to put the windows back in, as it was raining.

That’s when we heard a rubber mallet pounding the bent frames almost back into shape. They applied a bead caulk ONLY to the exterior. No caulk was put under the lip of the window between the frame and the aluminum skin. That means the caulk will have to be redone every 1/2 years due to deterioration from UV light.

This is when I find two places where the paint was lifted off where the painters tape that held the plastic lined cardboard on overnight. One of the men told us that they had told the manager/owner about this problem with the tape before. [Since the majority of rigs are fiberglass, this would not be problem]

Scapes from the pry bar

Paint lifted by the tape used

 Paint lifted by the tape used. You can see the only seal is between the window and paint

Close up of the previous picture

Another scratch from the pry bar

The day ends at 5. They did not do a water test because it was raining. Overnight it rained. One window, over a couch, was not sealed at the top. They sealed it.

We were asked to sign a checklist that said the work had been done. I noted the GM had already signed it, even though he had not looked at our rig. In fact, we did not see him out of the building the time we were there.

Now the second experience - not at all pleasant!  We go inside to pay and asked to speak to the manager. The customer rep, Taylor, says the General Manager has already seen the pictures where the paint was removed and they will take no responsibility for it. We think we should get some credit to have it repainted.  She is determined that will not happen, but finally admits she is authorized to give us $100 off.  After some arguing and then demanding to speak to manager/owner. He comes out of his office, walks down the hall past us and places himself behind the counter and proceeds to tell us off. He never introduced himself, but we found out he is the deceased owner’s son. 

The GM is arrogant. Nothing is their fault. It’s all Lazy Daze fault because they use cheap paint and are built on the cheap. Anyone that knows Lazy Daze, knows cheap is not a word that can describe any part of them. They have held a five-star rating for decades. The paint is a two part epoxy that lasts for over 20 years without fading. And get this, not only did the painters tape remove the cheap Lazy Daze paint, it also removed paint from the Hehr windows. Guess they use cheap paint also. 

Finally, he agrees to give us $150 off. Less than it will cost to have the paint touched up.

Suncoast states that we signed a document during check-in advising us that paint removal might occur. That is prima facie evidence that they knew of the problem, but silently concealed it. Talk about Buyer Beware. No one would knowingly sign something that said they were giving Suncoast the right to damage their RV.

Our Lazy Daze is nine years old and has zero factory defects. The paint is perfect, not a single bubble.

I was always taught that the customer is always right, whether they are or not!  Small businesses operate on the goodwill of customers.  This guy was a total jerk and we would strongly recommend not using them, especially if you own a Lazy Daze or any other rig that is painted.

BTW, I met two other owners in for service who were there as come-backs. Suncoast Designs claims the best warranty in the business, but what good is a warranty when you are thousands of miles away and the window is leaking. In fact, it is not much good if you park your rig next door to Suncoast Designs and do not check for water leaks after every rain.

In fairness to Suncoast, not many RV’s are built to the quality standard of Lazy Daze. Other windows can be removed in five minutes because they are barely sealed at the factory. They leave Suncoast the same way. Most RVs have fiberglass skins, so paint removal is not an issue. 

We are still finding screws that were not put back in. Even though I loaned them a hex head tool to put them back in. We found one window screw hole that was stripped out.

In summary:

The window frames were bent and show the bumps.
Paint was lifted off the exterior and the window frames.
One window was not sealed and is showing internal condensation.
One window was not externally sealed and rain soaked the bed.
At least a dozen screws were not replaced.
Nothing is the fault of Suncoast.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Replacing The Automatic Transfer Switch

Does your rig have a hardwired surge protector?  If so, you could have power at the source plug but nothing in the rig, it sounds like a bad ATS is a likely culprit.  While they usually fail in either Generator mode or Shore mode, I did have one that failed both ways.  If you can get the generator going and have power, but none with the shore power, it is almost certain to be the ATS.

Are your electrical skills up to working on the electronics?  If so, here are step-by-step instructions to check and to replace the ATS.  IF YOU ARE UNCERTAIN OF YOUR ABILITIES IN THIS AREA, DO NOT TRY THIS!

1) Cut the power. Check with a meter to be certain there is no 120v power in the system.

2) Remove the brown power panel cover using a Torx head driver.

3) There are 4 hex head screws going into the wood in the top left and right, and the middle left and right of the power panel frame. Remove them.

4) Slide the power panel toward you until it clears the frame and you can tilt it forward to see the ATS mounted on the back.

5) Open the top of the ATS.  This is usually done by loosening or removing 1 to 3 screws on the ATS cover.

6) Looking down into the ATS, you will see 3 bare grounds connected to lugs on the side, and you will see three white and three black wires connected to six lugs.  I will call them 1 through 6, left to right.  One, two and three are black and four, five and six are white. THIS IS POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS!  Turn the power on and use your meter to check voltage on the wires.  Check between #1 and #6, between #2 and #5, and between #3 and #4.  On my rig 1 and 6 are the power from the ATS to the power panel, 2 and 5 are the generator and 3 and 4 are for the shore connection. If yours is wired differently, make a note of how your wires connect, so you get it right at re-assembly.  With your rig connected to shore power, you should find 120v on the Shore connection pair, 3 and 4.  Once you find power there, check 1 and 6.  If there is no power there, the ATS is bad.  If you have power at 1 and 6, the ATS is working, and your problem is probably inside the power panel.  You need a pro. If you have no power coming in from the Shore Connection, your problems lie elsewhere, probably in your shore connection cable or its plug, its socket, or the plug on the wall of the RV.

7) Turn the power off. MAKE SURE IT IS OFF!

I have worked on 4 ATS's, and all 4 attached differently to the power panel. In one case I had to remove the breakers, drill out rivets, and drill new holes for the self-tapping screws mounting the new ATS.  I found a Parallax link at that may be helpful.

The basics are, loosen the 3 white, 3 black and 3 ground wire lugs.  Loosen the strain reliefs.  Remove wires, then remove the old ATS from the power panel.  Attach the new ATS to the Power Panel.  Re-mount the wiring, doing the grounds first, then 1 and 6 for the power panel, 2 and 5 for the generator, and 3 and 4 for the shore supply. Follow the torque settings for the lugs.  That is important. [See diagram below]

Gee - I sure made that sound simple.  When I did it, it has NEVER been simple. If it sounds confusing, challenging or intimidating, do not even try.  Get a pro to do it for you. If you screw it up, you can fry your panel, fry your shore cable, burn up your rig, or fry yourself. I say again, if this is outside your skill set, get a pro to do it.

OK, put the cover on the ATS, slide the panel back into position, put in the 4 screws and re-mount the brown cover.  You're done.

Ken F in NM

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Replacing Refrigerator Seals

We noted this year that the refrigerator was not as cool as before. We had to set it to the coldest setting and then it was only around 42. Before this year, on the mid-range setting it stayed about 38. The DW thought to do the dollar bill test. That found the seals needed to be replaced. [It a bill slips easily between the seal and the frame, the seals need replacing] No complaints, the unit is nine years old and unlike the one in the house, it’s subject to both freezing and 100 degree temps. 

I found Dometic seals on eBay for less than direct from Dometic. We have an RM2662 unit and the replacement seals are part number 3108704374. Check your model before ordering. We ordered from hard2findrvpart. The cost was a pricey $117.

The kit ships with double sided tape and a small tube of food quality silicon. I talked with the PM at hard2findrvpart and he advised to toss the tape and get a bigger tube of silicon because they found the tape will release. Lowe’s has DAP Commercial Kitchen Silicone Specialty Caulk which should work.

To remove the doors, you will need two 10mm wrenches. There is a plastic cap topping the pivot pin for freezer door. When that is removed, the mystery of how the doors come off will be revealed.

Removing the old seals will take two hours with a razor knife. The factory seals are installed in a channel and you will have to remove them from the channel. They seals were installed before the two pieces of the door were snapped together. There is no way to unsnap them. Hence the long time to cut them out. Do not try to pull the seal out. You will probably break the thin plastic. And that would mean a new door.

The new seals lay flat on the door, not in the channel. Hence the need for a good sealant.

Monday, October 24, 2016

My Thoughts On Towing

I don't claim to know it all.

Why Tow

It's a life style choice. We would not travel without our Jeep. We take our Lazy Daze places many would not. We take the Jeep to the places the LD can not go. If your traveling style means short duration trips, full hooks and stopping at scenic overlooks. You should be fine without a toad.

What To Tow

Unless you intend to do some serious off-road wheeling, I would discourage getting a TJ or JK Jeep. They are special purpose vehicles for rock climbing, etc. If you want the convenience of a transfer case for towing, but don't intend to drive the Moab trails, you would save weight and money getting an older Grand Cherokee or a newer Renegade. 

If you don't need a Jeep, there are some other vehicles, such as the Forester, which can be towed four down with few restrictions.

Got to have a Jeep? Consider the lighter weight TJ model that was built through 2006. If you want a new JK Jeep, consider the lighter 2DR rather then the popular 4DR. Understand that the rear seat on a 2DR is only suitable for dogs and small kids, but it's lighter and turns sharper than the Unlimited. Our rear seat came out the day we brought the Jeep home.

The Hitch

An ongoing topic in the Lazy Days forum is towing over 4,000 pounds which is the rated maximum for the factory hitch. "Beefing up" the hitch is the common suggestion. What constitutes "beefing" is nebulous. How does one find a "good hitch shop". I am not willing to trust that just anyone knows how to do it. All I can say is that doubling the attachment to the frame might be the way to go. That seems like a simple task to me. Weld on two additional braces. Maybe that's all that's required.

We have towed a 4,250 pound Jeep for 95,000 miles on the factory hitch. Since 10% is a common engineering safety margin I am comfortable. I did upgrade the bumper bolts to Grade 8 with larger washers. I found several loose nuts in the process. I used blue Locktight when I put on the new bolts. The bolt upgrade may have increased the tow capacity? Whatever you are towing this is a MUST MOD. Thanks to Larry Wade for this excellent improvement.

September, 2016
I followed Ed Daniels into a hitch shop in Moab, UT. Ed has a TK. The shop owner, Ben Wilson, did not think it needed anything extra to safely tow a 2016 Wrangler. Ed said he liked to tow down rough dirt roads. So Ben added a corner gusset to "beef it" up. Ben looked at my MB and saw no way to add any structural integrity. He drew out the TK design and compared it to the MB design. Way different. He saw no signs of metal fatigue after towing 95,000 miles. No wrinkles in the paint that would indicate the metal has been flexed. I felt better. I asked him to tack weld the adjustable part of the hitch, so it could not move if the bolts ever came loose again. And left feeling better about the LD hitch. If you are in the Moab area and want a pro to check yours out, the man to see is Ben Wilson at 435-260-2044.

Larry Wade's backing plate

 Ed Daniel's TK mod
 Ed Daniel's TK mod

Our MB tack welded just to prevent any movement in case of a loose bolt

The Crux Of The Matter

If I were looking at a used LD I would be leery of one that had a beefed up hitch. I would wonder exactly how much they had been towing? There is not only the 4,000 hitch limit, there is the almost ignored 20,000 pound GCWR. That rating decreases as the elevation increases. I would wonder how the extra weight has affected the transmission? Did the owner monitor the transmission temperature with a gauge? How often was the fluid changed. I would look at the color of the fluid. 

Downhill, the extra weight is stressing two components, the transmission and the brakes. Assuming you are using Tow Haul and allowing the engine to partially brake the decent, the  extra weigh can spin the transmission toward the red line. Using the brakes more heats the rotors. Have you priced those lately? 2008 rigs come with larger rotors that should help. [Had I known Ford was going to make that change, I would have waited a few months to place the order]

It's balancing act to get the toad brakes to engage correctly. You sure don't want them coming on too hard and braking the Lazy Daze. The ability to set when and how hard the toad brakes come on are an advantage of systems like SMI makes. 

Important, But Neglected GCWR

You can move your rock collection from the LD to the toad axle, but all of the weight counts toward the GCWR. There is no free lunch. 

The GCWR is reduced 2% per 1,000 feet of elevation. This applies to ALL E450 chassis with the V10 engine.

An example:

We unhook, if we are going over 6,000 feet for any distance. Think of that long steep grade west of Denver. Our MB is 13,700 + 4,250 for the Jeep, for a total of 18,000 -  inside the max GCWR of 20,000 at sea level, but not above 5,000 feet. Folks, you should be just as concerned about the GCWR as the hitch limit.

Don't care for my example? Think you can load up the toad and have that free lunch? Here's what Wikipedia has to say on GCWR.

Bottom line, if your are towing much over the rated capacity of the hitch, it's a good thing to have it doubly connected to the frame. It's is important to weigh both vehicles, to monitor your transmission temperature and to not tow at higher elevations. And know that a informed buyer may see the beefed up hitch as a concern.

Don Malpas

See also


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Leaking Toilet Bowls

My Approach to Leaking Toilet Bowls

Bill Atkins posted a good article on toilet bowl leaking (, but included dealing with problems with the flush mechanism and the base.  This article takes on a simpler task - water leaking out of the bowl, but not onto the floor, meaning you need to replace the upper seals.  Parts of this article are purely my own thing, and I have not found anything published to support my approach.  They work for me, and I am sharing my process with you.  I am not saying that I recommend that you do the same.  I will flag those parts in bold, so you can decide if you want to try what I do.  It is written with the assumption that you have never, or rarely, dealt with this.  Maybe you are like me my first time, dreading and fearful of the task.  I have provided as much detail as I could, to help you through a task that really is pretty simple.

Few people I have talked with do what I do.  Most have repeat leakage without knowing why.  It is like a good paint job - it is mostly in the surface prep.

If water does not remain in your toilet bowl, you have a leak - somewhere.  It can be in three and only three places.  Let’s start by giving names to the parts for discussion.  These may not be “by the book” names but they work for me.

The bowl - This is the toilet itself, the porcelain part with a hole in the bottom and a rim around the top.

The flush pedal - This is the pedal to the left of the bowl as you face it.

The flush nozzle - This is the connection to the back of the bowl that feeds water into the bowl’s rim to rinse the bowl.

The flush spray - This is the hand held spray used to help rinse the bowl.

The flush dome - This is the curved plastic part that closes the hole at the bottom of the bowl, and opens when you press the flush pedal down.

The upper seals - These are the two neoprene gaskets whose edges can be seen between the bowl and the flush dome.  There are two - a thick upper seal and a thin lower seal.

The pedestal cover - This is the plastic part that splits near the axle of the flush pedal and covers the black pedestal base, the split ring and the band clamp.

The split ring or half clamp - This is a two piece ring with a V-shaped inner surface that pulls the bowl and the pedestal base together.

The band clamp - This is a clamp that, when tightened, pulls the two pieces of the split ring together, locking the bowl to the pedestal base.

The plastic pedestal base - This is the black plastic base on which the bowl sits.

I think that covers the parts.  Let’s talk about the possibilities for leaking.  For water to get out of the bowl, there are only three possibilities.  The water can seep between the bowl and the thick upper seal, eventually getting to the interior flanges that stiffen the plastic pedestal base.  This water can be the source of odors, as there is a slight ability for air to escape past the outer edge of the plastic pedestal base.  Water can also seep between the thick upper seal and the thin lower seal, though unlikely, again getting to the flange area in the plastic pedestal base.  Finally, water can seep past the thin lower seal and the flush dome, dripping into the black tank.  Just like stalactites forming in a cave, moisture containing calcium from a hard water source and urine salts from us, sitting on the dome below the seals and evaporating, leaves behind minerals.  As the deposits grow, the seal becomes worse and worse.

Why does a leak happen?  If you just changed the seals and it leaks, either the mating surfaces were not clean, the seals were not aligned properly, or the half clamps were not tightened sufficiently.  If the seals have been in place for a while and they slowly begin to leak, foreign matter is compromising the seals, either between the bowl and the thick upper seal, between the two seals, or between the thin lower seal and the flush dome.  A little chemistry - once a crystal or mineral deposit begins to form, it attracts more material to it.  Deposits will grow, even between well-seated surfaces.  This is what causes the seals to fail.  There is one more possibility - the flush dome might have shifted out of alignment, preventing a seal, but that is beyond this article.  See Bill’s article for that condition.

The most likely scenario is foreign matter accumulation.  That can happen in several ways.  Liquid waste contains minerals and salts.  Crystallization and accumulation over time can cause a leak.  When it happens, it is time to change the seals.  That is what the remainder of this article focuses on.

Before starting, you will need new seals, white vinegar, an aluminum pan large enough for the bowl to sit in it with vinegar in the pan, dry silicone lube spray, vaseline, a garbage bag, a socket set with a 5/16” socket and an extension, a straight blade screwdriver, an old toothbrush, a scrub brush, a spray cleaner such as Fantastic or 409, Pledge spray wax or similar, lots of paper towels, and if you can find one, a bulb syringe with a small tip.  You will want rubber or latex gloves.  My bowl seal kit is #385311462.  Check your toilet model to be sure you have the right seals.   

First, turn off the water, and flush until there is no more water in the bowl. 

Close windows and doors, making the RV as air tight as possible.  Open the bathroom vent slightly and switch the fan OFF.  Open the other vent and switch the fan to high, with the fan set so it is pulling air IN, not out.  This will create a positive pressure in the RV so odors from the open tank are pushed down into the tank, giving you an odor-free work environment.

Remove the toilet seat and seat back.  There are screws by the seat hinges that hold them in place.  With a flat blade screwdriver, pop the covers up to access the screw heads and reach behind the bowl to hold the screw bases.  Unscrew the screws, and set the pieces aside.

The pedestal cover splits at the flush mechanism at the base of the flush pedal.  You may find you need to remove the trim on the flush pedal to do this, but I can usually get the pedestal cover off with a little fussing and wiggling.  Pressing the lower edge of the cover at the seam behind the flush mechanism, front side right at the bottom with the screwdriver usually does it for me.  Remove the pedestal cover and set it aside for cleaning if there is any sign of staining or dried urine.  If you have ever had male kids visit, I can almost guarantee there will be some.

Feel the band clamp at the back of the bowl.  There is a nut there.  With the socket on the extension and ratchet, loosen the nut until the band clamp can be slid down off the half clamp or split ring.  Remove both parts of the half clamp.  As with the pedestal cover, look for staining or deposits and if present, clean before re-assembly.

The bowl is now loose, so be careful not to push it off the base or drop it.

Reach behind the bowl and feel the flush nozzle where it attaches to the bowl.  This is a rubber or soft plastic friction connection.  You need to remove the nozzle.  it pulls straight out, but is not easy.  I do it by tilting the bowl toward me to get more room, and by twisting the nozzle in a rotating fashion as I am pulling it out of the hole in which it is seated.

Put the aluminum pan in the shower.  Lift the bowl off the base and put it in the pan.  Be careful to have a good hold so you do not drop the bowl.  Using a funnel, tip the bowl toward the front and pour a substantial amount of vinegar into the hole at the back where the nozzle connected.  Your objective here is to first douse the ring area, which distributes rinse water around the bowl, with vinegar, then to have enough vinegar in the bottom of the pan so any crystallized salts on the bottom of the bowl have time to soften for removal.  If you just pour vinegar into the pan, it will deal with the base of the bowl, but any mold in the ring will not be touched.

OK, back to the toilet base.  You are now looking at the two seals sitting above the flush dome.  There is a notch in the edge of the seals.  Note how the notch is positioned to fit on the plastic pedestal base, so the replacement seals will go in the right way.  Remove the two seals and drop them in the trash bag.  You are now looking at the flush dome.  Odds are, the surface will have an accumulation of salts.  Dribble some vinegar on the flush dome.  Roll up some paper towels, drench them in vinegar, and form a ring on the flush dome with them to hold vinegar in contact with the salts.  Let it sit to soften any deposits.  Occasionally, dribble some more vinegar on the dome.

While the vinegar is doing its job, let’s deal with the flange area in the plastic pedestal base.  Odds are, it will have liquid partially or fully filling the spaces between the flanges.  Remove the liquid.  I use a bulb syringe, but it can be blotted up with paper towels and patience, by rolling the paper towels into  a shaft and sticking the end into the flange so the liquid is soaked up.  

Clean any stuff that you set aside for cleaning.  You CAN turn the water back on and use the shower to do this.  Just be careful not to press down the flush pedal if you do so.  Get those parts squeaky clean and dry.

OK, turn the bowl upside down.  Look at the base around the hole where the bowl will rest on the seals.  Most likely, you will see a ring of yellowish deposits.  Scraping with the side of the screwdriver will usually clean those deposits.  Once the deposits are removed, feel the surface.  If you feel ANY roughness, you need to get this smooth.  My first time doing this was after three years of fulltiming, and there was a lot of accumulation of very hard material there.  I needed to use a file, then sandpaper, to get rid of the salt encrustation.  (This is the first of the things that I do.  If you try it, be very careful not to damage the porcelain, and just remove the salts.  It took some patience that first time, but has been simple since then.)  You want to get rid of every salt or mineral present, as any remaining will attract more salts, speeding the regrowing of the crystals.  After that first, very hard deposit, my future seal changes, done annually, do not need real aggressive cleaning.  I scrape with the side of the screwdriver, popping the hard stuff off, then I scrub any remainder.  An old toothbrush (not Dorothy’s, Don) with vinegar usually does the trick.  When all salts have been removed, I add more vinegar to the inside of the rim and scrub with a scrub brush to get the underside of the rim clean.  I then rinse the bowl thoroughly with hot water from the shower, scrub all surfaces in the bowl with a scrub brush and spray cleaner, and rinse again.  I fold up and discard the aluminum pan, leaving the bowl upside down on a number of paper towels to protect the shower base from scratching.  I dry the base of the bowl where it will mate with the thick upper seal.

Now it is time to clean the flush dome.  Hopefully, vinegar and the toothbrush will be enough.  I have encountered quite hard deposits that I remove by VERY careful scraping with the side of a flat blade screwdriver, finishing with a very fine sandpaper until the flush dome is smooth and clean.  (This is the second of the things I do that is not supported.  If you slip and scratch the flush dome, you will have to replace it.)  The best way is to soak with vinegar to soften deposits, then scrape with a material such as wood or plastic that will not damage the flush dome, then soak and scrape again, until all deposits are gone.

With the spray cleaner and paper towels, clean the flush dome thoroughly and rinse, then dry it.  Now, give it several coats of Pledge spray wax.  Your objective is to wind up with a thoroughly smooth, clean flush dome with a waxed surface that will seal well to the thin lower seal.

I then spray the underside of the thin lower seal with dry silicone lube (my own idea) and position it on the plastic pedestal base.  The intent of the lube is to promote smooth sliding of the flush dome against the seal.

Next, I rub a very thin film of vaseline on the upper surface of the thin lower seal and the lower surface of the thick upper seal.  I do NOT gob it on, but apply just enough to get a shiny surface.  This promotes a very good seal between the two neoprene surfaces.  (Again, this is my own idea, not supported.  Vaseline, like all petroleum products, degrades neoprene rubber.  None of the vaseline uses are necessary for re-assembly.  My own opinion is that a thin film improves the seal and reduces water adhesion so rinsing is more thorough.)  Mate the two seals, making sure they are aligned properly.

Now it is time to place the bowl on the upper seal.  First, turn the water off and drain the line so if you bump the flush pedal, you won’t spray the room.  (I do a thin film of vaseline on the top of the thick upper seal and on the dried bottom of the bowl where it contacts the seal.  Again, this is my own thing, but the ONLY times I have found the flange area dry or nearly so on seal changing is when I have previously done this.  Also, cleaning the bottom of the bowl got much easier after I began using a thin film of vaseline there.)  Place the bowl on the seals in the approximate position.  Re-insert the nozzle in the back of the bowl, seating it fully.  Now position the bowl carefully.  You have it right when, if you stand over the bowl and look straight down, you see a uniform black ring from the seals in the hole.

Position the split ring half clamps in place, with the front, with the two tabs, together and the rear having a gap.  Place the band clamp over the split ring to hold it in place.  This may take a bit of jiggling and juggling to get the split ring and the band clamp in place.  Take the time to get it right.  The two parts of the split ring should be straddling the bottom of the bowl and the top of the plastic pedestal base, with the split ring joined in the front, apart at the back, and the band clamp sitting evenly in the groove on the split ring all the way around.  (Before I do this, I spray the bowl base and the inside of the split ring pieces with dry silicone lube.  As you tighten the band clamp, the split ring will pull the pedestal base and the bowl together.  The surfaces need to slide on the split ring for this to happen.  I find the dry lube to help this process, but support for this cannot be found anywhere.)  Make sure the band clamp nut is at the back of the bowl, else the pedestal cover will not fit in place.  Tighten the band clamp until the split rings are in place and the band clamp is snug but not yet tight.  Check the alignment of the bowl again and if necessary tweak its position until it is just right.

Now it is time to tighten the band clamp.  You need to do this carefully.  Go too tight, and you can crack the bowl.  Too loose, and the bowl will shift and move with use, causing leaks.  Here is how I do it.  First, I get rid of the ratchet and use a nut driver (like a screwdriver but with an end that allows the attachment of a socket).  If you do not have a nut driver and are using the ratchet, be gentle with that ratchet handle.  Don’t pull too hard.  Snug up the clamp until the resistance to tightening is building noticeably.  Re-assemble the toilet seat and seat back.  Check the bowl alignment.  Now, sit on the bowl and wiggle.  This will compress the seals and gain some slack in the band clamp.  Again, tighten until resistance builds.  Sit.  Wiggle.  Tighten.  Repeat until you are no longer creating slack by wiggling.

Finally, replace the pedestal cover.  Hold it so the bulge is at the top and facing away from you.  Slide it in place beginning on the right, maneuvering it around the back, over the nut, then rotating the edge forward until it seats behind the flush mechanism.  Now rotate the other side around to meet the seam and snap the two edges in place.  It may take a bit of wiggling of the cover to get the two edges to snap together.  

You are done. 

You may notice, however, after a few weeks of use, that the bowl wiggles a bit.  This sometimes happens as the seals continue to compress and the split ring adjusts itself over the bowl and base.  It that occurs, simply tighten the band clamp a bit more.

So, how much time does this take?  Well, I am used to it.  Aside from time soaking in vinegar and cleaning, it takes me about 15  to 20 minutes to dis-assemble and re-assemble.  Changing the seals regularly means I don’t need a lot of time soaking and cleaning, but my last change took about 2 hours, mostly sitting and waiting for vinegar to do its job.

Let’s close with maintenance.  Periodically, get all the water out of the bowl that you can, add about a half inch of white vinegar, and let it sit for a while.  Then, press the flush pedal to open the flush dome and scrub the edges with a stiff brush, removing all the sediment you can.  Do another vinegar soak and scrub, then a thorough rinse with the flush spray.  I do that once a month.

Ken Fears - October, 2016