Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ultra Van Spotters Guide - Bathrooms

The Ultra Van is equipped with a small bathroom located curbside, between the kitchen and the bedroom. It contains a small sink, a flush toilet, a handheld sprayer for showering, a mirror-door medicine cabinet, a 12v light, and a vented skylight with electric fan. As in most such efficient RVs, there is no separate bathing area - instead the entire room is waterproofed (known as a "wet bathroom").

The bathroom door is cleverly fitted so that it can be swung open and latched onto the far side of the hallway - making the bedroom area completely private from the living area of the coach and forming a small dressing area.

The bathroom design was changed in 1968. Some differences are fairly obvious; the later bathroom (coach #411 and up) is slightly larger than the earlier version, the later sink is a smaller corner unit, and the toilet and sink positions were reversed. Since the bathroom was expanded towards the center of the coach, the resulting hallway is 5 inches narrower - forcing the bathroom door to be cut down 5 inches to fit.

Less obvious are the major changes to the coach tha
t were the real reason behind the redesign. To reduce weight, the coach was originally equipped with a greywater system which uses recycled shower and sink drainwater instead of fresh potable water for toilet flushing. This reduces the total demand for fresh water - allowing for smaller 30 gallon tanks.

However, to make all this work required a total of five electric pumps - including one mounted in the base of the toilet to pump the waste into the holding tank. This particular "Ultra Pump" (more commonly known these days as a macerator pump) demanded regular maintenance, or subsequent messy and unpleasant repair.

In order to eliminate this issue, the toilet was moved forward to a position directly over the holding tank, the greywater system was eliminated, the tanks were expanded to 50 gallons, and three of the pumps were removed.

Photo Credits:
Early bathroom: from 1966 Ultra Inc. sales brocure
(coach owner unknown)

#489 bathroom: Ronnie Large
(coach owned by John Howell)

Floor plans: adapted from 1966 Ultra Inc. sales brochure

Ultra Pump ad: from Family Motor Coaching magazine, September 1966

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