Flushed With Victory
Nothing attracts manly attention like a powerful product demo. Check out the drill bit guys at a farm show, or the spokesmodels at a car show. Wait – maybe the latter is a different phenomenon. Or cast your mind back to the ancient Veg-O-Matic. Tell me you didn’t try to “julienne” a potato when you got yours.
Today the presence of ubiquitous, easy to find video like YouTube and the stuff your brother-in-law forwards constantly means this commercial entertainment form may be reaching Oscar-like quality.
An abnormally long dry spell had dried up our house well last year for the first time in decades. Scrimping on water usage became The Prime Directive. In fact, the highlight of my week was driving to South Bend to tape US Farm Report and take a REAL shower in the hotel. The rest of the week I just took a swim after work, and used Old Spice liberally to counter the chlorine aroma.
One major culprit was our fleet of old toilets. Being as green as the next guy, I had long pondered replacing our 6-gallon water-splurgers with new 1.6 gallon misers, but was troubled by the results I had observed decades before when manufacturers essentially reduced the tank size and hoped for the best. It was not good.
However, I am happy to report the new generation of low-flow toilets really sucks. (I should point out as an engineer that nothing actually sucks, everything is blown, but this argument gets pretty tedious pretty fast.)
But I still had doubts. The slope of the drain system was problematic. However, it turned out that Internet research buttressed by an episode of This Old House relieved that fear.
So I began serious research on which of the 37 different models at the Box Store to buy, whereupon I ran across a video of an American Standard Champion 4 toilet. My jaw dropped as it slurped up 18 golf balls with ease. You read that right: EIGHTEEN GOLF BALLS!
Like most engineers, I had a brief period of fascination with toilets as a boy. The mystery of their function, the elegance of their action mesmerized me and begged for experimentation. I learned of course that 1) simply getting stuff down the toilet trap was only the beginning, and 2) however much fun it is to see a tube sock disappear in a graceful swirl, it was hard to shift the blame for the consequences to sisters or the dog. Still, the Internet video ran incessantly in my mind, begging for verification.
Removing the old ceramic water-waster, I assembled the sleek new ASC4, marveling at the massive tank valve. But I wisely decided to do my own golf-ball test run before actually mounting the new fixture.
Nerves on edge, I dropped a golf ball down the toilet flange, ignoring for the moment the backflow of sewer gasses. Result: if you hold your breath and listen carefully, you can hear the ball boink its way down the PVC pipes and even the faint “ploot” of the final entry into the septic tank.
It was massively amusing, as in Fourth-Grade Hilarious – the absolute gold standard of male humor. So were the next twenty balls that followed.
And so with this hard empirical data to back me up, and a second bag of old golf balls from my buddy, I installed the ASC4. After a few warm-up flushes, which revealed its impressive “SLORK!” noise, I began the sea trials.
I am a man of vast mechanical testing experience, much of which was not disastrous. However, I am not ashamed to say I was more excited than the last time I drove a new $300,000 combine into the first field. Six balls were child’s play, and the resultant pinball echoes good for breath-taking guffaws.
But, as seen on TV, my 18-Ball Challenge was a masterful hydraulic triumph, with rewarding ricochet sounds marking the progress of the doomed little spheres. Ditto the remaining test flushes I had bookmarked on YouTube, including half a box of Kix cereal. It’s on the Internet – it has to be true. And I can verify it.
I must also add a high-five for the Kohler Memoirs toilet, which has a most impressive, guest-alarming snorking sound as it whisks away the bowl contents. It sounds unnervingly like a giant trying to get the last of an enormous milkshake up a straw, or cope with a huge runny nose.
But all good times must end. As a final note, the septic-tank guy told me later the local golf-ball record is 27. And we both doubled over as the unfortunate orbs rattled up his hose. Funny is funny, and it doesn’t get any better than this.