Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   cement toilet seat lid
Monday, April 12 2010
This afternoon Gretchen and I went over to Penny and David's place in greater Marbletown. It was to be Gretchen's first encounter with their new adopted child. [REDACTED] Penny and David were horrified by the terrible haircut I'd inflicted on myself a couple days ago. So when Penny offered to help fix it in the back, I said okay. So we went out in the yard and, despite the chill, I stripped off my shirt. Penny is a graphic designer and it's hard to keep her from obsessing about the correction of imperfect forms, but eventually she was done and my haircut was somewhat better, although nothing could be done about that one bald spot on the back of my head.

Back home and back to the subject of my brownhouse, which has kept me from needing to use the household bathrooms since early November (though actually, given the utility of five gallon buckets, I have crapped in the house less than five times since early August, 2009). As you know, I recently resurfaced the "shitting bench" — the thing in the brownhouse that the toilet seat attaches to and through which me feces fall on their way to the trash can that keeps my shit in one tidy place, isolated from both the soil and the water table. After resurfacing the shitting bench, I reattached the toilet seat and the boxlike cover designed to atmospherically isolate the world of shit from the pleasant shit-free world of the brownhouse cabin. Unfortunately, though, I realized that even the cover wasn't capable of keeping out the stank. I needed a better seal. So the other day I'd added a ridge of epoxy to the bottom of the toilet seat such that there would be no air gap below it. I'd put in the ridge of wet epoxy, put wax paper on the shitting bench, and then had smooshed the seat down onto the wax paper. When the epoxy had hardened, I'd ripped off the wax paper and behold! The seat fit gaplessly to the shitting bench. But this still left the cover, the thing that hinges down onto the seat to conceal the toilet bowl (or, in my case, the shit pile). The cover was designed so that it had a eighth-inch air gap between it and the seat, so what could I do to fix it? I thought about using epoxy, but either I'd be using a lot of epoxy (expensive!) or there would be a crude ridge running around the rim of the cover, cutting into my back every time I leaned back as I tried to take a crap. But then it occurred to me: I could use Portland cement.
A little background: there are a lot of materials that are soft enough to be manipulated into a shape but that then harden into a permanent version of that shape. Many of these materials do this by drying, and in so doing they shrink. I obviously couldn't use such a material for a permanent toilet seat seal. Insteade I needed a material that could be shaped and that would then stay the same size as it hardened. Epoxy is a good candidate material, but (as I already mentioned) it is expensive. The alternative is Portland cement, which also hardens by chemical reaction (as opposed to drying). The problem with it is that it is heavy and brittle. But I decided to use it anyway. Much of its fragility can be overcome by impregnating it with fiberglass mesh (the stuff used for taping drywall seams) and as for its heaviness, I was willing to risk a having a heavy toilet seat cover.
The main problem with attaching a layer of Portland cement to the underside of a toilet seat cover is that cement isn't very adhesive and is particularly non-adhesive with things like smooth plastic surfaces. My solution was to cover the seat cover with fiberglass mesh and then put a bunch of small screws into the seat to serve as handles for the cement to solidify around. I mixed up the cement, spooned it onto the underside of the seat cover, covered it with a final layer of mesh, and then lowered the seat itself down into the cement to form a mating surface. The matching of these surfaces would be the key to keeping odors from leaking through.

Fiberglass mesh and screw pattern into the toilet seat cover before I spooned in the Portland cement.

The way I'm looking these days with my haircut, glasses, and mid-early-40s face.

For linking purposes this article's URL is:

previous | next