Whats Happening in the World of Owners Manuals?
June 17, 2011
We’re seeing several errors creep into owner’s manuals. Many of the mistakes seem to be the lost-in-translation variety, but others seem to be just poor writing, or sloppy editing. In the case of the Dometic Sealand Vacuflush system I describe below, the mistake was minor, but mistakes in an owner’s manuals can have costly—possibly dangerous—ramifications. Such was the case in General Motors' recent recall of nearly 50,000 Cadillac SRXs.
In the Cadillac SRX recall, the owner’s manual stated that the passenger-side airbag would inflate regardless of whether someone is sitting in the front passenger seat or not—effectively protecting others in the car, particularly the person in the back right seat. In reality, however, the airbag was programmed not to inflate if the front-right seat was empty, forcing Cadillac to recall the SRXs and reprogram them to inflate as described in the owner’s manual.
Having been responsible for a few mislabeled technical illustrations in the past, I can sympathize with the person at Dometic responsible for this error in the owner’s manual (above) for the Sealand J-Series Vacuum Generator. This is what creates the sucking power on the Vacuflush toilets we are testing. The person who drew the illustration extended the line designating the “outlet” about 1/8-inch too long, so that the inlet is labeled as both the outlet and the inlet.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out there is something wrong with the illustration, but it’s not obvious at first glance. After a bit of head-scratching, it becomes clear where the real outlet is. Nevertheless, we hooked the Vacuflush system up backwards – just to see what would happen. As far as we could tell, there was no damage to the seals or valves—even after a couple of flushes. Look for our test of Vacuflush toilet, along with the Blake manual toilet (which also operates using suction), in the August issue of Practical Sailor.
If you’ve got a favorite owner’s manual faux pas you’d like to share, send it my way. I’d gladly add it to my growing collection.