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Thread: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

  1. #1
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    Question Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    These two marine composting toilets are very similar (Nature's Head probably a knock-off of the Air Head). There's plenty of information in forums online about both......some here too, but I could not find any comparison, let alone a detailed comparison of their quality and features. The Air Head is a bit more expensive with slightly different specs. The Nature's has an oval bowl too, rather than the Air's round one. Other than that, what's the difference?

    I'm installing one of these two. Which is better?

    Air Head drawing:



    Nature's Head drawing:


    Last edited by KAIROS; 05-07-2010 at 11:58 AM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I have used the original 'Air Head' and as of a year or two ago thought I would prefer the 'Nature's Head' as comparable/same for less money. Now the 'Air Head' looks to be superior with:
    (A) new larger urine tank that removes w/o disturbing main bowl
    (2) fully gasketed joints between sections
    (iii) mixer crank better suited for tight spaces

    I expect to purchase one or the other in the next 12 months so your final choice is of interest to me.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    A new larger urine tank is always desirable! I am sure it is; it just sounds funny to me. I will be interested too, in fact.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Just bought 2 plastic buckets. Green is clean and blue is too( #two)

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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    We are also looking at these for our vessel. Functionally they seem to be about the same, and the Nature's head seems to be a renewed and refined design compared with the AirHead. However, the Nature's head appears to be somewhat wider on the top (16.6") and also square at the base possibly making it more difficult to fit it into small spaces. The Airhead has a round base, I believe. I think Airhead may be responding to the competition by updating its design.

    I have never heard complaints about the function of these system, but then again, I know almost nobody who has actually lived with one.

    A 2002 issue of Practical Sailor concluded that the Airhead was a fine piece of gear, but requires some involvement by the user... They were referring to the need to empty the "liquid" tank and also to the solids stirring and blending process for you and your guests.

    Instead of replacing my nest of stinking hoses and a failed pump, I may shell out the bucks for one of these units. I would be interested in anyone's actual experience - with these units. I'm not interested in more of the honey bucket discussion!
    Last edited by John P Lebens; 05-05-2010 at 11:01 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I am very into my airhead but BUT BUT especially if you have a crew of beer drinking women, be prepared to drain the urine tank a couple times a day.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Let the Babes have the good liquor

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by George Ray View Post
    .......Now the 'Air Head' looks to be superior....
    George, are you saying that the Air Head has recently been upgraded, and the Nature's Head may not be as good now?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Don't know about 'recent' .... last time I used an Air Head was a few years ago, before Nature's Head was available. It seems to me that Air Head has changed their design for the better. It has been a couple of years since I took a close look at either. This post prompted me to visit the web sites and look/compare and I posted my impression.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I've gotten a response to my question of how these two composting toilets differ from the manufacturer of the Air Head. I'll post the answer here. Still waiting for an answer from the Nature's Head folks. Not any kind of independent study, but maybe useful. I am still searching for independent evaluations.

    Here's the question I asked both companies via email:

    Please describe, being specific about each component, how the Air Head is different than the Nature's Head. I am installing one or the other of these in my sailboat. The cost difference is trivial.

    Here is the answer from the Air Head folks:

    QUOTE: As for a comparison, below is my stock answer to your question which seems to fulfill your request. . I hear that NH only says they have a few advantages over ours. That there is no seat and therefore no danger of seat breaking in rough seas. However, the gasket on our unit keeps that from happening. Also, they say something about their urine tank being supported and ours not. The flaw in that argument is that if either unit is left to overhang your feet will dangle in the air due to the height of the units. Therefore it is necessary when installing both units to extend a raised platform out beyond the bottle thereby supporting the bottle as well as providing a foot rest.

    I think you will find my arguments sound and really there is no way to compare the product of an original thought and 12 years of work to a mere facsimile cobbled up to take advantage of a "marketing opportunity". But as always, I leave this to your complete examination and if you need any further help let me know.

    Air Head Vs. Natures Head

    In my slightly biased opinion you are buying a more thoroughly thought out product when purchasing the Air Head. I've been at this since the late 90's and I have spoken to 100's of customers about their experiences with my product. When there is an issue with the product I make design changes. If there is something that I think can be improved I improve it. So over the years I believe I have created something that is solid and dependable and I have made countless changes that really aren't noticeable to people. Air Head is designed to last into the foreseeable future. So the chances of someone fresh copying Air Head quality and dependability is remote right off the bat. They just can't have the breadth of understanding that I have. Nature's Head (NH) is designed to be manufactured more cheaply probably because they figured they needed some advantages over Air Head since its reputation is so good, (Google search “airhead toilet)” and see what people have to say about my product.

    Here is a feature to feature comparison of the two:

    NH translucent bottle will get pretty ugly pretty quick due to build up of residue from urine. Air Head has a view strip with a replaceable PVC tube. If the tube gets dirty replace it at any hardware store.

    It is a bit unbelievable that to remove the LIQUID bottle of NH you need to lift the bowl exposing the SOLID "goods" for a few seconds. Air Head liquid tank is removed using a pull at the bottom, the bottle tilts under the spout. The Air Head bottle has 1.8 gallon capacity when used as designed. However, it really has two gallons if you lifted the bowl as you do the NH.

    NH is less compact. In tilting the bowl back on the NH more room is necessary in the rear in order to accommodate this. Additionally, the base of NH is square making it more difficult to fit in tight spaces than the circular Air Head. Air Head was and still is the most compact composting toilet ever made.

    Just as unbelievable is that the crank handle on the Natures Head is threaded so it turns only in one direction, the other direction will unscrew and the handle will fall out. I designed the Agitator in the Air Head (which Natures Head copied) to turn both ways. One way moves everything inward, the other outward. It is a necessary element of the equation to be able to reverse direction and Natures Head doesn't provide that...thread lock won't hold it.

    Air Head seat and lid is gasketed to prevent flying insects from entering as well as reduce odor if the fan should stall. NH lid has no gaskets.

    Air Head comes complete with a solid base transport lid when you carry it off of the boat. Amazingly, NH does not come with a lid for use when you empty the solid tank.

    Air Head comes with starter peat, liners, enzyme, mounting screws, hose, fan, four pages of illustrated instructions edited over the course of eight years. NH does not come with liners, enzyme, starter peat and the instructions are brief.

    My favorite: You can lift the seat and urinate into the Air Head. NH requires men to run a stream over the seat that does not lift. NH boasts of a larger seat. But it really doesn't have a seat does it?

    Air Head has remote fan within its own shroud that pulls air out of the system. The NH fan is mounted on the body of the toilet and attempts to push air though the hose which is less efficient due to turbulence produced and is more likely to push musty air out leaks in long stretch of hose after fan.

    Air Head is a nice matte “granite” white. NH is a dark “granite” gray which appears to be the same color formula used in making of porta-jons.

    Air Head, has a two year warranty. NH one year.

    Geoffrey Trott Originator, Air Head Environmental Toilet. The first diversion composting toilet for boats.

    Geoffrey Trott General Manager Eos Design LLC PO Box 5 Mt. Vernon, OH 43050 740-392-3642

    END QUOTE.
    Last edited by KAIROS; 05-07-2010 at 11:54 AM.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Great info - we'll see what Nature's Head says.

    From my POV, the AirHead looks better because it has cleaner lines.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Have not gotten a response from the Nature's head folks yet. Resent the question via email today.....

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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I hope they respond soon - I am looking forward to what they have to say.

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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Received the following answer to my question from Nature's Head. The response from Air Head is in a post above. Again, here's the question I asked both companies via email:

    Please describe, being specific about each component, how the Air Head is different than the Nature's Head. I am installing one or the other of these in my sailboat. The cost difference is trivial.

    QUOTE:

    Here are a few advantages we feel that Nature's Head has.

    A full size elongated molded in seat. Safety and comfort in rough seas, also easy to keep clean

    Built in fan and filter, change to either side, single pin power hookup,12v draw 1.7 amps in 24 hours. can be run with our 110 v
    transformer,washable filters

    Crank handle and agitator can be switched to either side. crank handle can be left off and use a ratchet or ratchet wrench for very narrow installations

    For hull side installation the base is angled on the bottom to allow the unit to sit back further.

    The two front latches and slip hinge allow for quick and easy servicing of the unit. no thumb screws to line up.

    Flange bushings on agitator and trap door components

    Special ends and hose for venting, very flexible and no need for clamps.

    Urine bottle is self supporting, allows the unit to extend beyond a riser.

    Most of these are visable on our slide show on the home page.
    Toilets are always in stock for immediate shipping

    Please feel free to call or email with any questions or concerns.

    Regards, Larry
    251-295-3043
    www.natureshead.net

    END QUOTE.

    Still looking for independent evaluations....Air Head vs. Nature's Head.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet



    AIRHEAD



    NATURE'S HEAD



    Sorry, this has been bugging me for days and I just couldn't contain myself any longer!

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I’ve had my Airhead a few years so far. Off-hand here are my thoughts about the Nature’s Head remarks:

    Seat size - I’m a big guy with plenty of bottom and I manage to stay on target on the Airhead in all weather. No problem there.

    The fan is the fan - it’s only one connection and I think it works better on suck - out near the exit.

    The angled side might be helpful though I don’t see how. Airhead is pretty low and it’s easy to make a platform if you orient that way. I think it better to sit fore and aft, not athwartships - that after three decades living aboard in boats with both orientations, so the Nature’s head angle would serve no purpose to me as a sailor.

    Latches v. thumbscrews - well maybe but not enough to be trouble

    AirHeads hoses have stayed in place just fine.

    Both boats could use bigger urine bottles, or even a hose to a remote and really bigger tank. The AirHead tank is easier to get on and off if the flat it rests on is a hair lower than the head itself.

    For what it’s worth, I’d probably say get the one that you can get the best deal on. These guys were once partners and the AirHead’s the original but the market should grown enough for both and the competition helps keep quality up.

    G’luck

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    I used to be in the toilet equipment manufacturing business.

    I know that Nature's Head has an "elongated" seat. Air Head originally did not; its seat was "round"; ( Rd and Elong being the way household toilets are denoted).

    Elongated is LOTS'mo'better, far outweighing features like crankls, etc; even outweighing urine tank size, in my opinion.

    Moby Nick

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    The best head I had before the AirHead was my LaVac, so I guess I'm just used to round. Works fine for me.

    I forgot to mention that AirHead's crank can be oriented to which ever side you like.

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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    The best head I had ...
    Oops, wrong forum.

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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    LOL when I read this thread title... brought to mind one evening when I was three sheets to the wind peeing into the wind off the bow of HMS Rose.
    Gerard>
    Everett, WA

    RESIST. FIGHT THE POWER.

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Airhead has a version with an elongated seat they designate as a household design.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Yes, and you can order it as an option via email/phone after you place your order. It's not on their website order form yet.
    Last edited by KAIROS; 05-13-2010 at 05:51 AM.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    All other things appearing rather equal, I would go for the Airhead based on the service you've received from both companies. The Airhead guy seemed much more interested in answering your question thoroughly, whereas the Natures Head guy took several days to respond with what easily seems copy and pasted.

    I get the impression that the AH golfs are more interested in keeping their customers happy. Seems like the safe bet to me.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by BBSebens View Post
    All other things appearing rather equal, I would go for the Airhead based on the service you've received from both companies. The Airhead guy seemed much more interested in answering your question thoroughly, whereas the Natures Head guy took several days to respond with what easily seems copy and pasted.

    I get the impression that the AH golfs are more interested in keeping their customers happy. Seems like the safe bet to me.
    That's my impression based on most of what I have read on the web too......better service from the Air-Heads (careful, Bob) and more professional too. Only an impression though. No detailed comparison available, though owners on both sides have reported good service. Why isn't the Consumer's Union evaluating composting marine toilets? Bunch of lubbers.

    I'm leaning toward the Air Head. Mostly, as you say BBSebens, because their response above is more appropriate, and I have not found negative comments on the web (and Ian and Margo like their Air Heads too).

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    The AirHead people were at the Port Townsend Wood Boat Festival last September. They gave a lengthy presentation about the unit, but looking at the boats was a higher priority so I walked on by! If there is one scheduled this coming September, I plan to attend.

    I think that physically examining each of the units would help in making a decision. Since both units are functionally identical, so I would want to get a sense of the construction and component quality.

    Airhead has been around longer and presumably will be in business to deal with any warranty issues. The competition from Nature's head may have lit a fire under them to improve some product details. I think the Airhead looks a little better.

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Still reading....here is the same thread in a parallel universe. This thread leans toward the Nature's Head.....though I think some of the older issues mentioned with the Air Head have since been addressed.....Capitalism yields better toilets!

    Here is an in-dept, more technical discussion of the issue.

    I'm absolutely sold on the composting toilet concept. I don't see any other option except paying for pumpout if you care about the coastal and inland waters you sail through. We are not talking about a gold-plated porta-potti here. The key is separation of liquid from solid waste. Which way you go from there.....Air Head ($1200 with solar vent), Nature's Head ($1000 with solar vent), kit ($400 with solar vent) or a completely homemade ($20?) composter, is up to how much money you want to spend vs. (relatively) how conveniently you want to deal with your waste.

  27. #27
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Got this email today:

    QUOTE

    "We would like to respond to the postings on the Wooden Boat blog. We received the inquriy from KAIROS on May 6th. We responded that day and on the 12th received an identical email request. I forwarded the original email showing we were prompt in responding.
    We try to reply to all customers' questions and evalute any suggestions presented to us. We have made some small changes per customers suggestions and will continue to listen to customer input. Each year we contact three customers who use the toilet full time whether it is in a watercraft, RV, home, etc. We ship them a new unit at no cost and pay to ship their used unit back to us for evaluation. With heads that have been out for 2 to 3 years we have found no staining or problems with any parts or function.
    Both of us at Nature's Head are quite familar with the AH as we had the units on our sailboats several years ago and I sold a few of them. He has definitely made some design improvements recently. As one of you posted, competition does facilitate change!
    Our combined 50 years of boating and sailing have given us some insight on the problems with marine santitation. Our many years of designing and building automated manufacturing equipment has contributed to our manner of manufacturing and cost containment. Since we have multiple sets of molds and continual flow of product we are able to ship daily. Whether one unit for a RV, home, or a hundred for a goverment contract, manufacturer, or our Military we meet the demand. We are here for the future.
    We have many people who use our toilet with no fan or venting. NO odor. Our hose is smooth interior medical hose, no turbulence. Due to our deep bowl design coffee filters are not required. Our units do come with the fan, electrical cable, hose, cap, mounting brackets, Due to the many applications of our unit we do not include screws. In many applications you might need through bolting, butterfly bolts, concrete inserts, etc. Starters are not included because overseas shipments and customer preference preclude their enclosure.
    We have been manufacturing white granite since last year although some people still prefer the light gray granite. Previously we provided a 2 year warranty, which has been increased to a full 5 year warranty which also applies to previously sold units.
    We feel AH comments were inappropiate, unfounded, and unprofessional. We should keep in mind opinions are not fact! Also, we all should be careful what is posted online, it is there forever.
    We encourage anyone with any questions, concerns or comments to please contact us directly. Phone calls are welcomed.

    Regards,
    Larry Stearns
    Matt Cochran
    Nature's Head Inc.
    www.natureshead.net
    sales@natureshead.net
    251-295-3043"

    UNQUOTE

  28. #28
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    On second thought, it is probably asking too much to have competing companies present an objective, tempered discussion of the comparative benefits of their products .

    But, I am still soliciting additional comments from buyers/users with experience with either of these composting toilets, including comments on the above posts.

    Thanks.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    It seems that you've gotten a few long term reviews on the Air-Head. Might be worthwhile seeing if you can find someone in the area that's had the Natures Head for while, and talk to them. NH probably has a customer list.

    Or just pick one and go.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

    Ben Sebens, RN

  30. #30
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    As much as I hate to revive old threads, I think this one is well worth breathing life into.
    I have just purchased a Nature's Head. I am waiting for it to arrive. Having sailed, fixed and built just about everything (typical cruiser) I came to the conclusion that the type II MSD System I installed in our boat was too complex, and not going to be reliable. Having lived for years chasing the honey barge, or rationing our use until we planned to be offshore, we are done with holding tanks.
    So, simple decision, a composting toilet. I have heard of Air Head for a long time. Read about it, talked to a few who have used it, and was impressed. When we first started building our current boat, the air head was a consideration, but we decided on the more conventional system.
    I started looking for an alternative again, and while searching for info on the Air HEad, I found the Nature's Head.
    I expect to receive the Nature's Head sometime i the next week or so. I will post my thoughts at that time about the quality of the unit.
    I will say, at this time, my customer experience with my local dealer has not met my expectations, but I have high hopes that can be resolved.
    So far the Nature's Head rates:
    8 - for described design (I wish it had a separate seat and a way to close the urine bottle when not in use.
    10 - Price. Least expensive off the shelf composting toilet on the market.
    5 - Customer service specific to this dealer.

  31. #31
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Kairos - if you are out there, what did you decide between these two units?

    Because of space considerations, the Airhead is our only possible option. It is smaller in most dimensions.

  32. #32
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by John P Lebens View Post
    Kairos - if you are out there, what did you decide between these two units? Because of space considerations, the Airhead is our only possible option. It is smaller in most dimensions.
    Hi John. Still on the fence. For some strange reason, the other projects to be done before the head project are taking longer than I had planned. In the mean time we are using a spackle bucket with one of those Gama Seal lids. We keep urine separate, and throw in a couple of cups of wood shavings after use. Compost out in the field after 2 weeks of cruising. With the lid, without liquid, and with the shavings it has no odor and is not too sickening to empty. But, when we get done with more essential projects we might consider one of these composting toilets.

    kai nui.....we look forward to your evaluation. Thanks.

  33. #33
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    One stray thought - when I bought my AirHead the exhaust was a small computer fan. It's worked fine but I keep thinking of changing to a solar powered vent to seperate it from the boat's electrical system. This seems to me worth the money and if you can afford it a good idea from the start.

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian McColgin View Post
    One stray thought - when I bought my AirHead the exhaust was a small computer fan. It's worked fine but I keep thinking of changing to a solar powered vent to seperate it from the boat's electrical system. This seems to me worth the money and if you can afford it a good idea from the start.
    Now that's a good idea. My boat came with an AirHead (installed by the previous owner within the past couple years), and most of the time the fan is off to prevent battery drain. You can get the basic Nicro solar vent fans for around (or under) $100 - watch for sales and they're often cheaper. About a month ago, I got two of their best night/day solar vent fans, which normally retail for about $160 each, for $99 each on sale. I have yet to install them. Maybe I need to get one more for the Air Head...
    - Bill T.

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    "Look, I don't know, but that's not funny."

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Nature's Head vs. Air Head Toilet

    Quote Originally Posted by KAIROS View Post
    ...For some strange reason, the other projects to be done before the head project are taking longer than I had planned...
    Yes - my plan was to have the 5th coat of varnish on today, but I haven't lifted a brush to apply coat one. There is a good chance we are not the only wood boat owners to have gotten off schedule!

    If we get around to changing ours out and the Airhead fits (it's a very tight squeeze) we will use it. I attended the seminar put on in Port Townsend last September and liked the company owner. The Airhead seems to have some design advantages. The round base makes it easier to fit into small spaces. The remote vent fan keeps it away from the contents of the toilet, the separate seat makes it a more normal toilet, etc. Often, the original design is the best design.
    Last edited by John P Lebens; 05-05-2011 at 09:02 AM.

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