10. Shower system, Toilet

The Toilet – So, I decided to design my own “Composting Toilet”.   That decision was quickly made after seeing the cost was over $1000 dollars for these things.   These “Composting toilet” videos are my first postings to YouTube.  So the video, sound and editing isn’t very good.   But it works.  The plans are on our Etsy Store.  We really do not use it as a composting toilet.  Its more of a dry toilet.  Once we use it, we bag it and dispose of it!

Toilet Seat   

Dry Bag     

Recirculating Shower Design – Then it was time to design a recirculating shower system.  This is necessary because of the weight of water.  One gallon of water weighs 8.3   pounds.   On board we have three 16 gallon tanks (48), a 5 gallons tank for the shower, and 4 gallons in the water heater.  When full we have 57 gallons or 473 pounds.

Long showers are taken at my house and we would be out of water in a day if we had a standard shower.  So, in my garage I engineered a recirculating shower system.  It uses 9 gallons of water.  5 gallons cold, and 4 gallons in the water heater.   The water flows into a 5 gallon tank and recirculates.   As it flows it goes through three filters and a UV sterilizer.  Some think this is excellent while other think it gross, disgusting, unhealthy.   Well they are all correct!

It’s excellent, and healthily if used properly.   Since your reusing the water it’s kinda like taking a bath, but cleaner since the water is filtered and sanitized.   If we want we can drain the water after each useage and refill with fresh water from our three 16 gallon tanks (48).  If we are out in the middle of nowhere and don’t know when we will be able to fill our tanks – we can re-use the water several times.   It all depends on the current conditions.   This system allows us the best flexibility.

I spent a week testing out the shower system in my garage.  Several changes were made along the way until I was sure it was easy to use and reliable.   You will notice in the video I laid out the design just as it would fit in the van when it arrived.   I needed to know the route all of the water lines would take.   I did not want to run any water lines under the floor.  The temperature of the lines under the floor would cause condensation, which would encourage mold growth.  So, all water lines are on-top of the floor.  More about that later.

Part used in the Shower System (more materials in the Plumbing section)

Shower Drain         

Water heater                

Spin down filter           


Shower valve            

Shower wand            

Shower Walls The shower side walls are made from 3/4″ plywood.  The back wall is made of 5mm plywood which flexes to the contour of the wall.  Each inside wall is covered with FRP Board.

Painting the outside shower walls:  I wanted a smooth finish.  This meant filling in the wood grain so it would not show through the paint.   I did this by using Drydex and joint compound.     I sand, refill the grain and sand again, until its smooth.  Then I sealed the wood with a coat of thinned polyurethane.   After that has fully dried I put on a coat of mold killing primer.  Finally, I put on two coats of Behr urethane paint.  This resulted in a smooth durable finish

FRP Board – Low cost and very durable is FRB Board.  Which stands for fiberglass reinforced plastic.  This stuff is very durable. But requires a carbide tooth bit to cut.  You can use a regular steel bit, but it won’t last long.  I found cutting this with a jig saw, or a router is the easiest.   I recommend this jig saw blade  It’s for metal, but worked well cutting all my FRP board.   Also to flush cut the FRP board to the edges of the plywood I used a Flush Cut Router Bit.  This Freud Bearing Flush Trim Bit easily made the FRP board perfectly flush.  Be sure to wear safety glasses when using any power equipment. These were so comfortable I continued to wear them even when I was done with power tools.

Shower Faucet installation –  I have not seen anyone install a shower faucet like I did.   I fit the faucet right up in the corner.  It was a very tight fit and required the use of 90 degree swivel PEX fittings.  After it was finished it worked well.  I highly recommend installing the shower faucet this way.  Why?  Well if you installed the faucet on one of the walls you would need to make the wall thick enough for the valve connections.  That means the wall would need to be three or four inches thick.  Plus the thickness of the wood wall.   That’s a lot of lost space.   Our walls are a little over ¾” thick.  They are made of ¾ plywood plus the FRB board.

I originally had a plastic faucet for the shower.  It worked well, but after year I replaced it.  It was plastic and I was worried it would break.  I replaced it with this all Metal Faucet.  It is excellent.  Top quality.  It’s one of those times you get what you pay for.

Shower Pan – Oh, my the shower pan.  This is the only item I didn’t create myself.  I had this custom stainless steel shower pan made by a seller on Etsy.  They made it to my specifications.  It’s perfect.   The shower pan extends up 3 1/2″ on all sides.  Stay away from plastic or fiberglass shower pans.  They are not durable enough.  Many have had holes form in those shower pans.   On top of the shower pan we place a bamboo shower mat.  This has small rubber feet on the bottom.  I have seen YouTube video’s showing that these feet have punctured the fiberglass pan.

When installing the shower pan we placed it directly on the floor of the van.  We did not glue it in place.  We did use lexal caulk sealing it to our plywood floor.   To drill through the stainless steel shower pan, and the steel van floor you will need a bi-metal hole saw.  The Milwaukee Hole Dozer set was of excellent quality and easy to use.  Be sure to get a set with all the sizes you will need for this project and future projects.  Today, I would have bought a larger set!

Important – When you install the FRP board, it should extend over the stainless steel shower pan to the bottom of the pan.  This ensures all the water remains in the pan.

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