The pizza oven and water heater kicked off a desire for more home improvement. And one piece of home improvement topped the list more than any other. Unfortunately, it required a lot of know-how. And, really, how often do you think about how your toilet works?
While porcelain ceramic was the standard, I didn’t have access to that kind of material. Pottery was a second choice, but we were talking a lot of pottery, and I didn’t know if it would hold up.
Gotta try, though.
I spent days making drawings; I had never done more than doodle in my spare time, like every delinquent high school student, but I concentrated and made detailed sketches of everything I could think of.
We did small-scale experiments putting bits of food in a model and pouring in more water to flush it down. The snake-like trap was pretty easy to figure out, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out how to get water from the tank to run along the inside of the bowl for the flush. I also knew that there was a flapper and a float, but had no idea how everything actually came together. I wasn’t an inventor, and this wasn’t A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I just wanted to be able to take a dump like a civilized human being.
After a dozen models and halve a dozen failed full-size attempts, I finally carted back a thick, glazed pottery commode to my cottage. I had already built a new outhouse, and set to work installing everything. I had even put in some drainage pipes underground to take the waste down the hill to a field. It was all organic, right?
With it all set up, I did tests, using a bucket to pour water into the bowl. I watched as it filled, then swirled down like it was supposed to. I went down the hill to the field, where the pipe finally emerged above ground to see the water flowing out. A few more tests, this time with bits of bread and potato to simulate, and it all worked perfectly.
I grinned like an idiot at the accomplishment, then frowned. “Now I need to figure out toilet paper.”