Crane Walsan wall-mount toilets ...Considering replacing 3

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Don in Ohio

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Hello plumbing gurus! I have been considering a solution to replacing 3 (still working) Crane Walsan toilets in our 1959-vintage home. My late father-in-law built the house — he was a mechanical engineer, and I suppose the idea of hiding tanks in the wall influenced his decision to go with the Walsan units. He satisfied his spouse by getting them in shades of pink, blue and gray. My wife and I moved into her parents house in 2003 to care for them while they were going through issues with dementia and incontinence in their later years. They have now passed on and my wife and I decided to keep living here, since we’ve fixed up just about everything else with the house and yard.

About the time we moved in, I helped my father-in-law jury-rig the ballcock assemblies by removing the worn-out and leaking brass assemblies and replacing them with some inexpensive American Standard plastic ones, called “SmartValves". They work pretty well, and only require an occasional changing of the rubber seal/washer at the top of them, and sometimes (if the washer doesn't fix the shutoff when the tank is full), I simply replace the entire SmartValve assembly. A few years ago I noticed that the replacement parts (SmartValve washers and the SmartValve units themselves) began to disappear from the shelves at Lowes and other hardware stores. I ended up buying a dozen SmartValves and a couple dozen seal/washers from a Pennsylvania site on the internet, to ensure I could keep the Walsans working as long as possible. They are indeed still working and I’ve got plenty of parts left, probably enough to last for years. On the other hand, I worry that we may be on borrowed time, as the Walsans are now over 50 years old and there may be other critical parts (e.g., the copper fill tubes or seals between the tanks and bowls) that could fail at some point. In some respects though, I like the way the Walsans flush, since there’s never much need for a follow-up flush, given the large amount of water they use.

Over the past few years, I've looked into a few European-style wall-mounted toilets as potential replacements for the Walsans (e.g., Duravit, Grohe, etc), but they use a carrier frame inside the wall that require a width of 18” or more. Unfortunately, there are cast iron vent stacks (2” and 4”) just to the sides of our Walsan in-wall tanks. To install a modern wall-mount toilet carrier frame would require tearing out portions of walls, floors and perhaps ceilings to relocate the vent stacks out of the way. Doing this for all 3 toilets would be a pretty major expense (relocate vent stacks + new framing + install new in-wall carriers + replumb supply lines + install new wall-mounted toilets + drywall work = $$$$$). As much as we’d like the look and performance of brand new modern wall-mounted toilets, we are also budget conscious (especially since I retired several years ago).

After seeking less expensive alternative solutions, I found this great website (Thanks Terry!) and see that there are a couple of wall-mounts that could work: the American Standard Glenwall pressure-assisted toilet, and the Gerber Maxwell, a non-pressure assist toilet. We have become accustomed to the splashing sounds the Walsans make while filling (the SmartValves are located near the top of the tank, and drop water to the bottom while the tank is filling), so a little noise is not an issue. But my wife and I really don’t like the much louder sound of a pressure-assisted toilet. The wife likes the idea of toilets with dual-flush options, but I don’t see that as an option for a Glenwall or Maxwell unit. Finally, compared to the amount of water used in a Walsan flush (which effectively empties a bowl of just about anything in it), anything with a 1.6 or less gallon flush would result in a big reduction in our water usage.

Bottom line is that I’d like to know if either the Glenwall or Maxwell would be a viable replacement for our Walsans. I know there would be some drywall work to cover the old access panels of the Walsans, and that the water supply lines would have to be extended from the upper right side of the Walsan tanks, to a new location at the lower left of where the Glenwall or Maxwell units would be mounted. I see that as fairly straightforward to do, but I am more concerned whether the bolt holes and waste outlet of the Walsan units would match the dimensions of the Glenwall and Maxwell units. That would make replacing the Walsan’s a fairly easy and straightforward proposition (relatively speaking!). And not having to deal with relocating vent stacks would be wonderful.

One final consideration is that one toilet is in a small powder room, and the shorter depth of the Maxwell (27” vs 29.5” for the Glenwall) would be a better fit, since the access door enters into this bathroom. Actually, it would be better to have the shorter depth for all 3 bathrooms now that I think about it. So I’m leaning towards the Gerber Maxwell from the perspective that it’s not a deep, doesn’t have a noisy air-assisted flush, and looks pretty modern. Would this be your recommendation? Is it safe to assume the 4-bolt carrier for the Walsans be reused with just installing new seals? I am pretty sure the dimensions for the bolt patterns and waste outlet match the Maxwell. Anything I should be aware of that could be of concern with this project? Or should I take the easy way out and just wait for the Walsans to develop unrepairable problems before I replace them? I've always believed in the old adage about not fixing things that aren't broken, but the wife is really not a fan of this option! Yesterday was our 35 anniversary, so I tend to try and keep her happy!

Here are pics of the 3 Walsan units (I’m sure you’ve seen these before!). Thanks in advance for reading through all this (sorry, I got a little carried away!) and for the sage advice!

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Terry

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The Maxwell and the glenwall use the standard 9" wide by 7.5" high bolt pattern, typciall the lower bolts starting at 4.25" off the floor and inline with the waste.

Either of these should work if you have that some bolt locations.

If you fix what you have, a quieter fill valve is the Korky 528MP with gray cap. It comes with adjustable bowl refill.
36 years? Yep, I would be keeping her happy. :)

The in-wall system would require a lot more work to be sure. Even the route above looks like you will need to move the water supply valve, so you're not scott free on that either.
 

hj

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A Smart Valve is not something I would EVER install. In fact, when they came with American Standard toilets I replaced them immediately. OTher than relocating the water line there should be no problem with either replacement.
 

Don in Ohio

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Thanks Terry and HJ! I just verified that bolt pattern is 9" in side-to-side and 7.5" in top-to-bottom dimensions. The distance from the floor to the lower bolt centers is 4-3/4" on one, 5" on another, and 5-1/4" on the third. I'm only allowed to use one of them (haha), so have never noticed a difference in seat hight between the three.

While we contemplate updating to the Maxwell units, I'll definitely consider updating to the Korky 528MP for a quieter fill and adjustable bowl level. I agree that the SmartValve units are pretty flimsy, though they've been used in these Walsans for more than a decade. One issue is that the water supply valve is at the top of the tank, so it connects to a braided stainless/vinyl supply line that is connected to the bottom of the SmartValve, which is continually immersed in the tank. The Smart Valve is attached to a stainless bracket my late father-in-law made and that bracket is attached to the side of the tank by stainless machine screws, visible in the photo below.

One of the reasons my father-in-law came up with this jury-rigged solution is that the old brass ballcock assemblies were worn out, leaking, and while filling the tank were occasionally spraying a bit of water inside the tank's wall cavity (and getting adjacent drywall damp). Back in 2009, I decided to investigate on-line whether the brass ballcock assemblies were still available. I found that Cesco Brass still makes the Scovill Model 12 ballcock for ~$118. I bought one (picture attached) but never installed it, probably because I was still working at the time (and the last thing I wanted to do after work or on weekends was work on toilets that were working). I probably should make an effort to install it now that I have the time. I'd just have to get a float ball and an appropriate length float rod that will fit in the tank.

I suspect in the long run, we're going to be doing the Maxwell units which look pretty nice, minimize installation hassles, and will save lots of water. Thanks again for the advice, and have a great week!

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hj

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You may have one other option if you want to keep the inwall tanks, and that would be a wall mount toilet with a rear spud, such as American Standard's Afwall. It would be a 1 1/2" spud and I cannot tell what size yours is, 1 1/2" or 2".
 

Frank McGroary

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You may have one other option if you want to keep the inwall tanks, and that would be a wall mount toilet with a rear spud, such as American Standard's Afwall. It would be a 1 1/2" spud and I cannot tell what size yours is, 1 1/2" or 2".
Terry & Don,

I have two Walsan wall-mount toilets in my 1966 house. We are remodeling both bathrooms. Do either know if other brand bowls are direct replacement (we need to change color on the beige/peach one).
The in-wall tank and mechanisms working ok (I've repaired/retrofitted). See one issue would need to move foot operated flush handle (footle? : ) . Welcome any comments on this as well.

Thanks in advance,

Frank
 

Don in Ohio

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Frank,

If you're moving forward on your bath remodels and decide to replace the Walsan units, I'd like to purchase the flush handle from one or both, if they're in good shape. Here's the one I have that I want to replace, since it's been bent (probably by a heavy foot):

IMG_3958.jpg


Let me know if you want to part with a straight handle! Thank you!

Don
 
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Don in Ohio

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Here is a link to a vintage advertisement for that toilet:
http://www.adsausage.com/ad.cfm?id=46683

Wow! Thanks Smooky! That's exactly the same color as the one I'm hoping to find the handle for. We also have the blue lab sink in the same powder room, and it's in excellent condition. Our other two Walsans are rose and gray. Kinda wish they were white, but they're real conversation pieces!
 

Janana

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The Maxwell and the glenwall use the standard 9" wide by 7.5" high bolt pattern, typciall the lower bolts starting at 4.25" off the floor and inline with the waste.

Either of these should work if you have that some bolt locations.

If you fix what you have, a quieter fill valve is the Korky 528MP with gray cap. It comes with adjustable bowl refill.
36 years? Yep, I would be keeping her happy. :)

The in-wall system would require a lot more work to be sure. Even the route above looks like you will need to move the water supply valve, so you're not scott free on that either.
 

Janana

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If you decide to replace the blue walsum I would be interested in the seat, the in wall tank, and also the part that connects the tank to the toilet. The rubber seal in the tank had dried up and a plumber came and took the part that connects the tank to the toilet and now says he lost it. In the meantime my husband passed and trying to sell the home. This old home built in 1828 is truly beautiful and trying to keep the historic decor. Any advice or help would be tremendously appreciated.
 
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Blue_Bleeder

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Barry E. Walter, Sr. Co. owns and makes the Cesco Brass model 12 for wall hung toilets that replaces the Walsan fill valve. We have also now made the tank lever shaft that connects to the handle and operates the vertical flush rod:

crane-walson-handle.jpg


We do not typically sell retail but we can send you to one of our customers to get you what you need. We can be contacted via email: helpdesk@barrywalter.com
 

WJcandee

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Hey, that's just FANTASTIC, and once again shows the value of this forum. While many of our experts probably know of your product line and have a supply house that can obtain it, the fact remains that we get a lot of interest from do-it-yourselfers, some of whom read and lurk without ever popping up to ask a question. Others may speak to a plumber who doesn't have the interest or expertise of our best members, but would be willing to give it a go if his hand were held a little and he was pointed to the proper parts. Given that this thread comes up on many google searches, I am delighted that you have put yourself and your company's contact information out there. Here's hoping that you get a good response from the owners of the installed base of the ever-cool Walsan.
 
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