Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper: S

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Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper
Extracts from Adam Hart-Davis's book.
(Buy the book from Micheal O'Mara Books, ISBN 1-85479-250-4, hardback 1-85479-245-8, or in the US, ISBN 1570760810.)
DHD Photo Gallery---The Photo Lav
In his book about an SAS operation in the 1991 Gulf War, Andy McNab explains how important it was for his team of eight to hide their excrement. SOP---Standard Operation Procedure---was to collect all their urine in a plastic one-gallon petrol container. When it was full one of them would carry it at least 2km away into the bush, move a rock, dig a hole underneath it, empty the can, and replace the earth and rock. This would prevent detection by smell, animal interest, or insect activity.

They squatted to shit into plastic bags, which they knotted and carried in their rucksacks for later disposal. They could not afford to have the enemy find and analyse their faeces to discover where they had come from and what they were eating.

See also Bottom of the World, Iraqi cubicle.

S-bend or U-bend
Sewer gases smell horrible, and are toxic and inflammable; they carry both diseases and the risk of explosion. They are kept at bay by the water in the s-bend or u-bend, which is important, and tremendously clever, although far from new; in his 1775 patent Cumming said it was ``too well known to require a description here.''

All mordern water-closets have an s-bend, which forms a water-trap or seal. British Standard 7358 requires a water seal with a minimum depth of 50mm. Every time the lavatory is flushed, the contents are removed, and the s-bend fills with clean water---at least, this should be the case.

To prevent gas bubbling up through the water trap, the vent pipe relieves any excess pressure at roof level.

``Sense'' is the name of a sculpture in the Icon Gallery in Birmingham [England]; it is a representation of a giant lavatory. See also Duchamp.

Smallest Room
The loo is sometimes called the smallest room in the house, but if you really want to try a small one, pay a visit to the downstairs gents in the Queen's Head in Stockport, which is just 17 inches [43cm] wide---the whole room, that is! One 25-stone [160kg] customer got completely jammed inside, and had to be rescued with soap by the fire brigade.

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Text extracts from ``Thunder, Flush and Thomas Crapper'' copyright Adam Hart-Davis 1997.
Images available from the DHD Multimedia Gallery.
Site content copyright Damon Hart-Davis 1997--2008 unless otherwise stated.