The marriage saver

How many domestic wars have been sparked by the toilet seat being left in an upright position? Well now you can forget about late-night slanging matches and bathroom battles — a new product is on the market that lowers the seat automatically!

Melbourne inventor Wayne Alway was sick of verbal bombshells exploding in his household whenever he left the toilet seat up. As the father of two daughters, Alway says a rather bitter holiday to Merimbula almost two years ago was the driving force behind his invention of The Smart Seat — an affordable and easily installed mechanism that lowers toilet seats automatically.

“It was right on Christmas, 2000, and I remember this particular day when I was just nagged and nagged because I’d ‘left the seat up again’,” says Alway. “I made up my mind there and then that I’d find a way to overcome the problem and restore a bit of peace to the home.” He spent close to 14 months developing and refining the invention, which has now been patented nationally and overseas and manufactured commercially.

The device, like all the best inventions, is remarkably simple. A nylon cord is attached to a bracket affixed discretely with adhesive tape to the underside of the seat. This cord is then fed into the cistern via a waterproof plug and copper tube conduit that leads above the waterline. Finally, the cord is tied off with a crimp alongside the ball float. The entire assembly is, therefore, largely hidden from view.

Once the toilet has been used with the seat upright, the mechanism to lower the seat is triggered by the toilet flush. When the ball float drops it pulls on the nylon cord, which tugs on the seat bracket secured near the hinge. This force causes the seat to drop. Rubber buffers attached to the underside of the seat prevent it from making too much noise as it falls into position.

One of the cleverest aspects of the invention, aside from its unobtrusive nature and easy installation, is its reliance on gravity to do the work. Gravity comes into play twice: (a) when the cistern empties and pulls on the nylon cord, and (b) when the cord tugs at the base of the seat and nudges it into a freefall. This process is enhanced by a small seat stop — a length of plastic stuck at the bowl edge that makes sure the raised seat is held close to a vertical plane. The closer to vertical the seat is, the easier it is to push over.

Not only is the Smart Seat an “argument stopper”, it is also hygienic — the automatic seat lowering saves women from having to handle seats with their hands!

This is Alway’s first venture into the design and manufacture of plumbing accessories; however he has plenty of experience dealing with mechanical wares as the owner of Allford Auto Recyclers in Melbourne.

Since finalising the patents on the Smart Seat, he has manufactured more than 10,000 units that are now ready for the consumer market. Specialist graphic designers have created decorative and eye-catching packaging that will appeal to the female market, and Alway has also commissioned easy-to-read instructions to facilitate installation. As a bonus POS aid, 20-second loop videos can also be supplied to retailers wanting to show consumers exactly how the device works. Almost all parts have been manufactured in Australia.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work and late nights, but with the help of people like Airdlab Private Laboratory in Melbourne, it’s all come together. ”If the Smart Seat saves just one marriage, it will truly add new meaning to the “relief” associated with a trip to the loo!

Boxes of the Smart Seat (54 units per box, each unit comprising 8 parts plus spare crimps, nylon) can be obtained by calling (03) 9772 0900 or fax (03) 9772 6139. The Smart Seat ($40rrp) suits all modern plastic-seated toilets.

Story by John Power