Living in a Bus Step 8: The Bathroom: toilet, shower, and water

The plumbing is finally done! Well, mostly done. I still need to install a drain, but I have running water, at least. After a lengthy break from working on the bus due to a valve gauge connector that had to be replaced, I’m finally back on track. The plumbing was the last big hurdle. And this is the set up I’ve got:

The Sink

I bought the sink and faucet from Lowe’s. The sink was about $90 and the faucet was about $170 or so. I chose a sink that could sit on top of the counter because I wanted to put as few holes as possible in the beautiful counter top the previous owner of the bus had made.

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The Set Up

A friend who happens to be a plumber installed both the sink and faucet and then I ran into a problem. I had no idea how to hook up the water pump. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this project it’s the importance of thoroughly doing your research before you start something. I just assumed water pumps plug into outlets, but they’re a little more complicated than that. So, I bought a 12V water pump, returned it, looked into other options, then bought the same 12V water pump after talking to another friend who said he could hook it up.

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There were a lot of suggestions made about how to hook up the water pump. Apparently, the proper way is to have a wire running back to my breaker box which was located above the driver’s seat. I didn’t want to bother with running wires behind the wall, however, so I chose the easier route: hooking the wires up directly to the house battery. After talking to an associate at the RV Parts store I realized I would also need an on/off switch and some additional wires, as well as an in-line fuse in order to connect it to the house batteries. They just don’t really explain this stuff in the tutorials online.

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So my plumber came back and installed the rest of the set up along with the water pump and the 16 gallon water tank.

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Then the following weekend, my other friend helped hook up the water pump to the house batteries which involved putting an on/off switch in the cabinets.

 

After that, he hooked up the wires to the pump and ran them to the house batteries. Once everything was done we decided to test it out. We filled up the 16 gallon water tank I had purchased earlier and tried out the pump. And thank goodness, it worked like a charm. Don’t you love it when things work out properly? And I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my friends Yankton and Victor for helping me set this up.

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The Toilet

Now, I’ve gotten a lot of funny looks from people when describing the compost toilet. In a nutshell, a compost toilet is not like a traditional toilet with water. In fact, it’s kind of like a glorified litter box. Basically, you separate the liquids from the solids, and dry out any solid waste with saw dust or some other drying agent. All the tutorials online swear that if done properly, there’s no smell. Now, I could buy a new compost toilet for around $1500.00, but I’m just not willing to spend that much money for something I’m going to poop in. So I built one using a pickle bucket, funnel, and plastic container. The goal is to use it as little as possible. If I visit public restrooms often enough maybe I won’t have to use it hardly at all. However, I’m determined to be both eco-friendly and independent in this adventure, so it will be used eventually. Here’s a video I made of me setting up the compost toilet. I posted this video on Reddit to get advice.

The Shower

So I had another problem regarding my shower. The space left in the floor for a shower pan was 26″ by 16″, or very small, in other words. I required a custom shower pan to be made because you can’t find ones that small. I talked to Lowe’s but their custom shower pan would’ve cost me $392! Fortunately, the same folks I bought the pump and plumbing parts from knew of a gentlemen who could make me one for $75. So after a visit to a small locally-owned business called Performaglass, I now have a perfectly-sized shower pan (not pictured). As for the water in the shower, I have a temporary solution. I bought one of those solar-shower bags, but I’ve never used one before, so we’ll find out how badly I’ll miss having a real shower, but like I said, one of the main points of this adventure is to live an eco-friendly existence and what better way than to use as little water as possible.

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Everybody said the plumbing wouldn’t be complicated. Well, it was a lot more complicated than I thought it would be. It’s a good thing I like learning experiences. If I could do this over, I would’ve done my research a little better and probably would’ve done the plumbing before I did the walls and the painting and other cosmetics. So I’ve done a few steps out of order, and I scrambled to make this system come together. I’m nervous about how well I’ll adapt to the simple shower set up and the compost toilet, but what matters is that I’m happy and I can always invest in a different system later on.

What do you think?

Next step: a security system.

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