Monday, 4 July 2011

Thomas Crapper: The Silence of the Toilets

A most amusing little book called Flushed with Pride: The Story of Thomas Crapper, by Wallace Reyburn, has come our way.  It is a real joy to read; full of the most delectable anecdotes.  We don't believe in selfishness when it comes to interesting information regarding toilets, and so we have resolved to share little snippets with our dear readers every now and then.  Today we bring you information on flushing.

Akin to the problem of the recalcitrant chain is the noise associated with the W.C.  A question frequently asked, particularly by women, is:  ‘Why can't there be a really silent toilet?’
Sensitive females, such as maiden ladies and girls entertaining a new boy friend, know it is no good announcing, ‘Excuse me a minute, I'll see if the scones are done’, merely to have the sound of the flushing toilet proclaimed to everybody in the house [...] ‘I have been to the loo.’
Crapper had this problem very much in mind and in those pioneer days of the modern toilet he knew that the noise broke down into these four basic components:
       (a)     The sound of the flush itself, the down-rush of water into the pan;
       (b)   The gurgle which occurs at the end of the flush;
       (c)    The hissing sound of the water coming in to refill the cistern;
       (d)   The noise of water coming under high pressure to the cistern through copper pipes which, to quote an old plumber, ‘ring like a peel [sic]of bells’.
 When Crapper was confronted with the problem of what to do about it all, this water concerto was really con brio.  Thanks are due to him for building in silencers which cut down much of the noise and to which modern water closet makers have added little more in the way of noise elimination.  Crapper's improvements to what became the ‘Marlboro’ silent Water Waste Preventer’ at the turn of the century incorporated two refinements which, if they didn't ‘prevent the hissing and the gurgling’ as claimed, at least minimised it.  Modern inventors have got rid of some of the gushing noise down in the pan, by developing the siphonic trap.  But truly Silent still eludes them and it was cause for worry on a Royal level.
(Pavilion Books Limited, 1969, pp 21-22)

We're afraid we really must leave you at this stage of the story. If you can endure this cliffhanger and live to see another day, you'll get the next instalment soon.

Related Reading
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Toilet Roll Holders (But Were Afraid to Ask)

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