Friday, May 11, 2012

SST-(Sweet Smelling Toilet)

usbackroads information--SST (Sweet Smelling Toilet)

Back in the heyday of American science and engineering excellence the term SST meant supersonic transport.  Those were the days when we did great things.  Built huge dams like Grand Coulee and Boulder Dam.  Built the Interstate Highway System.  The country even sent men to the moon and BACK.

Who knew that when we decided not to build the SST we would soon lose interest in science and engineering projects.  Not building the SST was probably a wise decision, but ending the manned space program was a very bad decision.

And so America's edge in science and engineering has continued to wane throughout the 70's and 80' until in the second decade of the 21st Century we can no longer even put a man into earth orbit.   Well, we can do it.  Sort of.  We just now write a check to the Russian government and fly on THEIR rockets to the space station.  Sad, that the next man on the moon will likely be Russian or Chinese.

Early in civilization there were two basic questions.  The first was looking at the moon and wondering our role in the Universe.  The second was why pit toilets smelled so godawful and was there anything we could do about it.

Most people recognize that America took the first step towards answering the question about our role in the Universe by landing men on the moon.  Very few recognize that American engineering expertise finally go rid of the stinky outhouse!!

Yes, by 1990 American engineering was in sad decline, but there was ONE rabbit to pull out of the hat.  The Forest Service tasked its San Dimas Technology and Development Center with job of developing a SST (Sweet Smelling Toilet).   Think about for 5,000 years or so stinky toilets were just a fact of everyday life.  It is hard to believe that it took 5,000 years to find a solution.

There is stands.  The crowning American engineering achievement of late 20th century.  A vault toilet that does NOT stink (as a general rule).

5,000 years to overcome biological decomposition processes and their orderous by-products.  Early attempts were geared towards perfumes or stopping the biological processes.  All dead ends for toilets in recreational areas.  The solution in the tradition of all great solutions was remarkably simple. That black chimney on the back of the toilet.  It provides positive ventilation for the pit, once the sun hits and heats up the chimney.  Sweet smelling indeed during most of the day.  However, find a toilet improperly sited or in a bad location and you will be instantly be transported back in time to 1985!!

The other remarkable feature of the SST toilet is that the basic design evolved to a concrete pattern painted to look like wood.   Among lower life forms one of the most popular activities in Forest Service campgrounds is sitting on the toilet and shooting out the outhouse with the door closed.   Well, the first "lower life form" to sit on an SST toilet and shoot was in for a basic lesson in physics.  Yes, the question is how many times did that bullet bounce off the walls before finally coming to rest. Now, you know why in parts of the West the Forest Service has signs up saying "please, no shooting while using toilet".

Nowadays, you will find SST toilets on National Park Service, BLM, and Corps of Engineers managed recreation sites as well as the Forest Service.

On some COE sites they even come complete with LED lights charged by solar panels.  Like any new invention, once completed the accessories start coming quickly.

If we can solve the problem of stinky toilets, maybe we should give another shot at going to the moon.  America was not meant to be a "closed" country we really do need a frontier.

In today's world, that frontier is UP.

So next time you use a SST reflect for a moment on the great engineering achievement it represents.  I will let you google and explore the internet for the names of those great engineering minds that solved one of mankinds most vexing problems.


butterbean carpenter said...

Howdy Vlad,
No Stinky Outhouse; How Great!!!
As a 14 year-old construction contractor the first contract I received was for a 3-holer privacy palace. I worked for a whole month building it.
My father was of the old-German-school,and inspected every inch of my work, each day. Each board was cut by hand and sanded, then fitted exactly..
The interior was done to perfection,with hand-made lids and covers, sanded smoothly, so NO splinters!!
When the man came to pick it up he
was amazed at the quality of work and gave me a bonus.. His wife and kids thanked me also..

Vladimir Steblina said...

Wow, I 14-year old contractor!!

A 3-holer!! Pretty fancy.

If your really into "outhouses" the Forest Service has many, many designs from previous to the 1990's.

The SST have really swept the market and now all the toilets are starting to look alike!! Oh well, it is probably worth it for the odor control.

Anonymous said...

I just bought some rural land and sadly, I'll be building an SST soon. It may not be supersonic transport, but I'll be pretty happy to have an odor-free can!

Vladimir Steblina said...

I assume your building your own version of an SST. That large diameter vent pipe makes all the difference in the world.

Walk into a SST toilet and look at their design and construction. Lots of effort went into their design.

You will want to incorporate SST principals into your outhouse unless your one of those special people whose....well you know what I mean.

Good luck with the personal SST