Repairing Reproduction (1950 and later) High Tank Toilets

(Gaylan, Heads-Up, Kohler, and Others.)

Repair procedures for reproduction high-tank toilets are pretty straightforward and are basically the same as repairs for low tanks. Common complaints in these toilets include leaks where the flush tube meets the tank, constantly running water, and having to hold the chain until the toilet is done flushing. Some of these problems come with age, others are merely the result of poor design. Often, the person working on the toilet won’t know the actual age of the toilet and might wrongly assume that the toilet is an antique when it is not.

Reproduction High Tank

To determine if your high tank toilet is a reproduction vs. a genuine antique, look for these telltale signs: A flush lever on the front of the tank with a chain attached to it is a sure sign that you have a reproduction or a “converted” low tank toilet. Genuine antique toilets have flush arms on top of the tank.

A tank that has a lid is also a pretty good indication that the unit is a reproduction. Genuine antique toilets almost never have lids.

Another sure sign of a reproduction toilet is a wood plate on top of the bowl where the flush tube connects to the bowl. This plate covers the bolt holes where the tank would normally bolt to the bowl on a low tank toilet.

Reproduction High Tank
Gaylan Spud Reducer

Repair solutions:
The most common problem associated with reproduction high cistern toilets is leakage where the flush tube connects to the tank on many reproduction units, Gaylan especially, the root of the problem is the use of a 2” x 1-1/2” reducing nut and washer on the standard 2” flush valve to connect the 1-1/2” flush tube. This is simply too large a step-down to be accomplished with nothing more than a rubber gasket; this type of joint is notoriously leaky. Leaks at this point result in stained and corroded flush tubes and frustrated plumbers.

We do not carry any of the washers or nuts for the original Gaylan-style installation, as there is a much better way!

For those who’d like to solve the problem once and for all, the solution is to replace the OEM reducing nut with a spud reducer. The spud reducer acts sort of like a funnel and makes the large reduction from 2” IPS to either an 1-1/2” or 1-1/4” flush tube. A pair of spud reducers can also be used to replace the 2” flush tube used on 1950’s and later vintage Kohler high tank toilets with a standard 1-1/2” flush tube.

cheap plastic flush valve
tankball type mechanism

At left is a cheap plastic flush valve like the ones used in some reproduction high tank toilets.  Replacing the valve with a tankball type mechanism (on right)  can solve short flush duration problems.

Another common problem with high tank toilets is having to hold the pull lever down for the duration of the flush. This usually results from the use of a flapper-type flush valve. The volume and siphon created by dropping a column of water 6 feet usually “sucks” the flapper valve closed before a complete flush is achieved. The solution to this problem is to replace the flapper-type flush valve with a tankball-type valve. A tankball will “float” during the flush and allow the tank to drain completely without having to stand there holding the pull chain!

All other repairs for reproduction high tank toilets are basically the same as those for low tank toilets.