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 Post subject: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 5:23 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:37 pm
Posts: 242
Location: Niles Canyon Railway, near Sunol, CA
Niles Canyon Railway http://www.ncry.org is in the planning stage to upgrade the toilets on several passenger cars. The old toilets are unusable because they're the original dump-on-the-tracks installations. We would like to know what you recommend.

NCRy primarily operates on weekends Jan-Oct. Each trainset runs 3-4 round trips per day, at 1-1/2 to ~2 hour intervals. During the Christmas holiday season, we switch to 2 trains/night, 4-5 nights/week, 1-1/2 hour round trips.

6+ years ago, NCRy converted a S.P. "economy" baggage car (PC&F, built 1962) to an ADA-accessible snackbar/generator/toilet car. A 120VAC electric centrifugal pump supplies water to the bathrooms. The toilets are standard household 1.6 gal/flush models. They get a lot of use. This uses a lot of water, but on the other hand the toilets rarely get clogged. Waste drains to a custom-built 250-gallon "blackwater" holding tank. It's barely big enough for 500-person trains, but that's what would fit in the available space. In general the toilet systems work well on this car, but the system is not fail-safe... if the generator (or trainline electrical supply) or water pump dies, everything shuts down immediately.

Before we blindly replicate this sort of system on other cars, we would like to know "lessons learned" from others' experiences:

Water supply
Gravity-fed from overhead tanks, electric pump, and/or the traditional railroad pressurized water system (supplied with compressed air from the airbrake system)?

Toilets
Household-style 1.6 gal/flush? Can you recommend 1.0 gal/flush models (water-pressure assisted?) for onboard train use by the general public, or do they clog too easily? Microphor?

Thanks very much,
Doug Debs & Charles Smith
Car maintenance dept, Niles Canyon Railway


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 Post subject: Re: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:14 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 3:25 am
Posts: 1025
I know of one private car owner who installed an RV toilet. I've also seen them in restroom trailers at public events. These are readily available from RV suppliers like Camping World, as are spare parts to keep them running. Not sure how well they would stand up under heavy use in a public-restroom situation, and the holding tanks have to be "recharged" with powdered or liquid chemicals after each dump.

_________________
Bob Davis
Southern California


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 Post subject: Re: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 6:18 pm 

Joined: Mon May 24, 2010 10:22 am
Posts: 422
Part of a Article from MTMs Minnegazette:

Restoring 1096
Eric Hopp

I’ve been asked to tell about 1096’s restoration. Let’s start with the times that saw its creation, follow its career, and discuss efforts to erase the effects of time. I may even reveal why I like a plain ol’ coach so much.

Working Toilets
In 1997 MTM usually had one toilet – the blue juice pumper in 2232. I vividly remember one passenger, at Marine, asking if he could please, please run into the woods to use a tree! Chief Mechanical Officer Paul Dalleska equipped 1213 with pressure-flush, retention-tank toilets in 1998, and A11 in 1999. (With their retention tanks below the floor, they smelled a lot better.) After the 2000 season, the Railroad Superintendent decided more toilets were necessary. I was newly in charge of car maintenance, and had Paul’s ready-made design. The Rock Island commuter cars were quickly ruled out – no restrooms, water, or air. 1102’s restrooms were too small. That left 1096 and 1097 as options, and 1096 was at Jackson Street that winter.

Those Microphore toilets require a solid floor, water, compressed air, a small-diameter waste pipe, and an under-car device to consume the waste.

Water was easy, as the previous toilets needed it too. However we had to fix several pipes that had frozen and split.

For compressed air, we tapped the water-raising system’s air supply, ran soft copper through water fill shroud and under heat register cover, to the water cooler closet where we hid the toilet air oiler/regulator. From there we ran doubled back, passed behind the men’s toilet, under the end door threshold, and to the women’s toilet.

The waste pipe has to be 1 ¼” in diameter. Because of the long horizontal run, it must be small enough that compressed air can push things along. That raises the danger of foreign objects blocking the pipe, so it’s actually several short segments of PVC with removable mounts and couplings – just in case. In practice keeping a small trash can near the toilet has prevented most problems.

Microphore sells a bacteria-powered digester, but Paul had arranged with member Todd McGonagle to have stainless retention tanks made. Todd owned a fabrication shop in St Cloud, and was able to donate the tanks by using them as filler work between paying jobs. One tank is based on Paul’s drawings for 1213, the other is a mirror image. They sit on rails welded to the center and side sills. A common drain pipe connects them, so that the pump truck can suck both down at the same time, and there is an air vent pipe which arches higher than the tank to discourage liquid drainage. To make room for the tanks, we had to relocate the A-2 quick service valve (part of the brake system) and an air reservoir which supplies the water raising system.
-----
He also mentioned that he used canned dog food to test the toilets.


Last edited by HudsonL on Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:08 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 2:14 pm
Posts: 454
Location: Essex, Connecticut, USA
Greetings:
For the past 10 years or so, the Valley Railroad has standardized on stainless steel model ME200 retention toilets from Motive Equipment Co. sales@MotiveEquipment.com . These are the units the railroads use on diesel locomotives. They are compact, cheap, easy to install, and easy to maintain. The entire top (with seat and pumping unti) can be removed in seconds. We stock complete tops for quick change outs if we don't have time to repair one at the moment. We also stock all of the internal parts. During cold weather we run RV anti-freeze in them.
At this time we have 7 of these in service and are quite satisfied with them.
Even though they are just a step above an RV toilet, we haven't had any customer complaints about them...
Happy flushing!
J.David


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 Post subject: Re: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2013 11:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:56 pm
Posts: 172
Location: Norwalk, Ohio
Hmmm, Being a RR employee now for a tad over 20 years i can say i've just about seen and used them all! This is a outstanding subject that everyone just loves to talk about and something i can say we all have in common when it's time to go on board a train!

They all work good if they're maintained, that's the big problem nobody wants to do the dirty job of cleaning them! It would make a good episode for TV's Dirty jobs.I can remember many years ago when my kids where young when some of the tourist RR's still had the toilets where it went right on the tracks. One in peticular out west my oldest son who was 3 at the time was fascinated by this being able to pee down a hole and see the tracks below. That entire trip he kept saying Dad i have to go just so he could go to the bathroom and pee on the tracks! I also remember back in the 80's watching one of the steam exursions and standing trackside watching a couple coaches pass by and seeing toilet paper cached to the side of the truck frames not to mention other disgusting matter. I thought then man i sure wouldn't want to work on those wheelsets!

The RR i work for had this great idea of going in a plastic garbage bag wich you would drape over a toilet seat frame. It was actually a sanitary clean seat to sit on but the problem was the bag after using it. You were supposed to put them in a bucket after using and snap on the lid, next problem was nobody wanted to service the buckets at any terminals. You get a hot 90 degree day out and guess what! Especially bad if you had to open a lid to dispose of a bag! Most railroaders didn't like that so guess what they would do, throw them trackside. I think it amused some guy's as they would try to throw them up in tree branches or into the telegraph wires from the train to be seen by all.

Rumor was some farmers horse or cow got ahold of one of the bags and sh*t then litterly hit the fan. They then issued us bright orange bags with serial numbers that we had to sign for. I had to chuckle as i saw some listed on Ebay a few weeks back. Can you imagine handing out bags to your passengers on a tourist RR to go to the bathroom in! The unions then got us toilets put on the engines. The air operated ones are pretty nice and have a hell of a vacuum. These were nice at first and we still have some. But then guess what the maintenance issue of cleaning them comes up and i dare say you would not want to sit your butt down on many. Some guy's bring there own cleaning supplies and sanitizers to clean before using.The guy's you work with are their own worst enemy. Guess what they do, they're mad because they have dirty toilets so they throw water bottles in them and other debri plugging them up to where it makes it a inconvenience for all.

The chemical toilets are ok but they get nasty also when they are not maintained and cleaned and when they get full, then they tend to slosh around and it gets on the floor. It's a real pleasure to run a train on a 90 degree day for 12 hours when the john smells like a roving outhouse on wheels! Rumour is the RR is changing all the air powered flush toilets to chemical toilets because of the high maintenance costs. Soooo what did the guy's do on the old steam engines back in the good old day's! Are the steam loco's running around in service today like 765 and others now equipped with a john? Or do you simply go before hand and hope to hell you don't have to take a dump while enroute from point A to B. Let's face it the whole subject of toilets on trains is a stinky situation!


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 Post subject: Re: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:59 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2005 1:25 pm
Posts: 4981
F.N.Kuenzel wrote:
Soooo what did the guy's do on the old steam engines back in the good old day's! Are the steam loco's running around in service today like 765 and others now equipped with a john? Or do you simply go before hand and hope to hell you don't have to take a dump while enroute from point A to B. Let's face it the whole subject of toilets on trains is a stinky situation!


Fritz -

My guess is that on coal burners, the shovel scoop was used and the "evidence" disposed of into the firebox. I wouldn't venture a guess as to what they did on oil burners.

Les


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 Post subject: Re: Onboard Toilets - recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:26 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 9:55 pm
Posts: 252
Location: San Diego area
Fritz & Les: In oil burner cabs there is the sand box, officially used for sanding the flues. It did have another unofficial use. Like on the coal burners, the "evidence" was disposed of in the firebox. (This, according to the old heads that showed us how to run SP 2353).

Back to the main subject, we use a regular construction site-type chemical toilet on board, which is serviced weekly by the toilet company. (We only run Saturdays and Sundays). Depending on the season, and anticipated passenger loads, we have either on or two on board. One is located at one end of an open car (no glass in the windows), the other in a baggage car. The vent pipes from the toilets are attached to flexible clothes dryer vents that are attached to roof jacks to vent most of the odor outside. Prior to boarding, we do encourage our passengers to use our nice, new, restroom building.


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 Post subject: Onboard Toilets - women's recommendations?
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:43 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:37 pm
Posts: 242
Location: Niles Canyon Railway, near Sunol, CA
Our biggest market is the family trade. We depend on word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied passengers. Its very important that the onboard toilets appeal to nearly all women passengers, and aren't something that many of them never want to see again.

This is a subject that many passengers won't mention, but makes a big difference in getting repeat business.

Any insights on women's reactions to Microphor, Motive Equipment Co, etc. onboard toilets?

Thanks!
- Doug Debs & Charles Smith
Niles Canyon Railway http://www.ncry.org
Sunol, CA


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