Saturday, November 29, 2008


Siwelclo, by Trenton Potteries

Because I know that disgusting old toilets are just the perfect conversation topic on a Saturday morning. Yes, we have five toilets. Just think about this as though the house was built today, and it won't seem quite so excessive. Three of these toilets are original or originalish.

The toilet photographed above is Trenton Potteries (TePeCo) Si-Wel-Clo model, which was top of the line at the time that it was produced. In 1926, it cost $97.50. This toilet is in the non-master bathroom. I assume that the master bathroom originally contained an identical model. I am searching for a replacement for the toilet in the master bath that will fit inside my budget. I know that I can find one, but I'm waiting until I can find one at a reasonable price point. It's just a matter of time, and as I keep saying, I have 40 years.

Interior of the Trenton Potteries SiWelClo toilet

The interior of the toilet is not as awful as it could be. The condition of the rubber at the base of the tank is a bit disconcerting. Also, I'm afraid to learn what function the plastic bag serves.

Third floor bathroom

The third floor bathroom appears to have been completed in the early to mid 1930s. The tub and sink were both manufactured by Standard, so I think we can safely assume that the toilet would have been manufactured by Standard, too, which is what I will be looking for in a replacement.

Toilet made by Trenton Potteries, I think.

I am unsure as to the maker of the toilet in the half bathroom on the first floor. I think that it may have been Trenton Potteries, due to the presence of their products in the bathrooms on the second floor and the presence of a sink of their manufacture in this bathroom. The internals of this toilet have been replaced in the relatively recent past, so I'm not too concerned about the availability of universal repair parts.

Toilet - note the lack of knee room

The major problem with this toilet is that the bowl sticks out so far from the wall. I cannot sit down on it properly because my knees hit the wall. Fortunately, my wife, who tends to be more practical about such things, can sit there without any trouble. People certainly are taller than they used to be. Or, maybe it's just that I'm taller than people used to be.

1920s Kohler Toilet

This toilet resides in the basement. It is a cast iron model made by Kohler in the 1920s. One might question whether cast iron is a good material for something that will be continuously filled with water. This would be an excellent question.

1920s Kohler Toilet

This is the interior of the tank. It has been flushed recently (and flushes clear!) - all the iron oxide visible here is built up in the tank - I can't even see through the water. This photograph also illustrates clearly just how far back the tank sits relative to the bowl. I'm not sure whether this is a standard pipe connecting the tank to the bowl or what.


StuccoHouse said...

There are many of us that would give our eye teeth to have back the vintage toilets. They don't make them anywhere near as well these days. I have a high end Kohler in my bathroom and words can't express how much I hate it. It is a pain in the neck. My advice, is to think carefully before you pull out the originals ;-)

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

StuccoHouse - Don't worry, I'm not getting rid of the toilets. I saw your comment about them on my last post, so I thought I'd go into a bit more detail about them.

I know how hard they are to find, and how expensive they can be - it seems that if I were to replace the replacement in my master bathroom with one identical to the one in my non-master bath, it'd cost about as much as the toilet did when it was new, adjusted for inflation - $1100! Thus, I wait and wait and check Craigslist and other sources of vintage plumbing.

Gimbler said...

OOOH - I think I can answer the plastic bag mystery! It looks an awful lot like a quick fix I did once several years ago. I kept finding a small puddle of water on the bathroom floor next to the toilet and finally traced it back to that thingy that your plastic bag is on. Whenever we flushed the toilet a small stream of water shot UP out of that thing and ricocheted off the lid. I googled around and didn't find a fix for it. I fiddled with it a little and got nowhere and in a moment of divine inspiration I stuck a cleaning sponge on top of it and replaced the toilet lid. Problem solved. It looks like that plastic bag is serving the same purpose as our sponge.

BTW - I enjoyed seeing your cool old toilets. We have a 1929 Standard Purimo and although it's not very efficient I just love it. (The Purimo isn't the one that needed the sponge fix, btw)

Christopher Busta-Peck said...

Gimbler - maybe it's late and I'm not as smart as I might be at a more reasonable hour, but please do expand on the sponge solution. What would be the right way to fix that problem? Or is there still a sponge sitting inside your toilet? =)

Also, glad to keep you amused. I can't believe how many great details of this house are still present, especially given some of the places that we seriously considered and the number of owners that this house has gone through (normally, it seems, that the only houses with most of their detail still intact have had but a couple owners). Every couple days, I find something new that completely wows me. Today, it was the utility sink in the laundry room in the basement. Previously, I had thought it was cast iron, which would still make it pretty special. Today, while looking for a manufacturer's mark, I realized that it's porcelain of some sort! There will be photographs in my entry tomorrow.

gimbler said...

The sponge was still in the toilet tank when we sold that house! LOL

Sorry, I still have no idea how to fix that particular problem.

Chumi said...

Hi! i would like to know what material is the first one (Si-wel-clo model), im doing a research on this one! If you happen to know any other information, please let me know! thanks!!! Ps: i envy your bathrooms, so vintage!