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Old 12-17-2011, 06:09 AM   #1
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Is Water Pooling Inside Your Chassis?

I'm dealing with recurrent fresh water leakage that seems to happen when it gets cold. Tomorrow, I hope to have my entire fresh water bay overhauled and modified to preclude future problems, my leak fixed, my tanks reshaped and cleaned, the entire section resealed.

While there are lots of reasons water will drip from our rigs, simple clamp-loosening could be the cause.

Rather than pay a shop to remove panels and tighten those clamps, an owner can easily DYI this problem.

One word of caution: manufacturers are in a Catch 22 when it comes to designing and building our rvs. They want to insulate and heat plumbing; but, leakage needs to be drained. I found that water was pooling inside a closed cavity, under my tanks. Bad, bad, bad.

Check your chassis from time to time to see if this manner of corrosion might be taking place in your own rigs.






Back in February, I'd noticed a small puddle under our Fleetwood. Horrifying at first, since it appeared the fuel tank was leaking!

But, 'turns out, it was a small discharge of fresh water.

I found the twin tanks, noticed that the drip was coming from where a 1 1/2" hose connected the two tanks, about an 8" long piece.

Idiotic as it sounds, the manufacturer had joined the tanks with ribbed, reinforced hose and used worm-drive clamps atop the uneven outer skin of the tubing. It's the RV plumbing version of driving a car with a different size tire on each wheel. Guaranteed to leak, with time. Also, vibration inherent to our machines will loosen any worm-drive clamp, over time.

Rather than modify the design, I simply added a second clamp to each side, tightened the four until there was no longer a drip.

I noticed that the tanks rested on a sheetmetal floor above the diesel tank, suspended between the chassis rails. There was some rust where two sheets abutted one another. Worst, the flooring sagged under the weight of the tanks, and the tanks rested in a pool of water. Not good. At the time, I reasoned that stopping the leakage would eventually dry out the pool, and any corrosion would be halted. Nonetheless, I put an open entry in the squawk log to refurbish the floor at a later date.

Fast-forward ten months, and -- you guessed already -- another small leak.

This time, I'm intent on fixing the leak permanently AND closing out the earlier writeup.

It's the subject of a blog entry here at iRV2. And, since managing photos at our forum is a little clunky, I've begun a collection of pictures at Picasaweb HERE.

Today, the tanks are on the shop floor, I've molded a sump into the bay floor and installed a drain tube that will convey leakage out of the bay and clear of the fuel tank and chassis rails. I'll paint the floor with bedliner, embed some perforated stable mat into the bedliner for cushioning, and reshape the tanks, which have taken on a Salvador Dali look due to gravity and heat. Tomorrow, a new connector tube sans ribs will be installed, the tanks put back in and leak-tested. In the end, the tanks will be closer to their original shape, will ride on a cushioned surfaced, will have a small amount of basement heat flow beneath as well as above, and the bay will be dry even if a subsequent leak develops. Best yet, if/when a subsequent leak occurs, it will be readily discernible from simple condensation drippage during pre-trip inspection by looking at the end of the discharge tube rather than tracing a long drip line back along the chassis rails.

I think the post is timely, since cooler temps will increase the likelihood some of our rigs will begin to leak. Since chassis rust is always a concern, this is one problem that owners should not ignore.
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Old 12-17-2011, 07:33 AM   #2
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Wow! What a job!! I also own a 2003 Excursion. Hope to NEVER encounter this job! My flexibility would not allow such an endeavor! Congrats on a great post, very informative.
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Old 12-17-2011, 08:32 AM   #3
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Thumbs up Big Project

Wow! That is a big project to tackle. Thanks for the details and the pictures.

I re-plumbed my water pumps using clear fiberglass tubing which is what it had before. Each winter as it gets cold it leaks at two of the connections. Warm weather and no leaks at all. The bay stays about 42-48 but when the weather turns cold it drips. I do have auto type clamps through out the installation. They are the screw type clamps. Should I replace those clamps and if so.. what type?

Thanks,

DKO
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Old 12-17-2011, 10:47 AM   #4
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Replace? Dunno

Quote:
Originally Posted by DKO View Post
... I do have auto type clamps through out the installation. They are the screw type clamps. Should I replace those clamps and if so.. what type?

Thanks,

DKO
I truthfully can't think of another way, other than hose clamps, DKO. Unless someone has a better idea, I'll mount screw-type hose clamps in tandem, and safety-wire them. 'Will take plenty of pictures.
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Old 12-19-2011, 04:59 AM   #5
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As Promised, Pictures

Quote:
Originally Posted by RVNeophytes2 View Post
...I'll mount screw-type hose clamps in tandem, and safety-wire them. 'Will take plenty of pictures.
It worked like a charm: my leakage traced back to a mildly deformed nipple.

Okay, smart-alecs... the pipe stub onto which a hose section is attached.

Manufacturers use a thinner layer of nylon to comprise these sections of tubing, and they bend under the force of ring clamps.

Of course, why they sacrifice wall thickness in these locations, I've no idea: how much flow is required, anyway?

I bought a replacement nipple from the RV store ($1.99), impaled it with a broom handle, carefully chopped it into two short segments.

Then, with a heat gun, I carefully warmed the old nipple while inserted a ordinary 1/2" drive socket to widen the opening, just a bit. As soon as the old nipple could "swallow" the new segment, I slopped some Aquarium-grade silicone on the latter and whacked it with the heel of my hand.

BTW, the new nipple is twice as thick. Now, effectively, I had a triple-thickness nipple to clamp down on.

Rather than duplicate the manufacturers' mistake of using ribbed-reinforced tubing, I got the braided variety from Lowes RV Supply first softening it with the heat gun. The socket-on-extension trick worked well here, too.

Last, twin hose clamps were snugged. Some thin stainless safety wire laid into the screw head grooves keeps them from counter-rotating, a last and optional touch.

An overnight leak test reveals not one drop, with the tanks filled to the brim!
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Old 12-19-2011, 03:32 PM   #6
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Very Nice

Quote:
Originally Posted by RVNeophytes2 View Post
It worked like a charm: my leakage traced back to a mildly deformed nipple.

Okay, smart-alecs... the pipe stub onto which a hose section is attached.

Manufacturers use a thinner layer of nylon to comprise these sections of tubing, and they bend under the force of ring clamps.

Of course, why they sacrifice wall thickness in these locations, I've no idea: how much flow is required, anyway?

I bought a replacement nipple from the RV store ($1.99), impaled it with a broom handle, carefully chopped it into two short segments.

Then, with a heat gun, I carefully warmed the old nipple while inserted a ordinary 1/2" drive socket to widen the opening, just a bit. As soon as the old nipple could "swallow" the new segment, I slopped some Aquarium-grade silicone on the latter and whacked it with the heel of my hand.

BTW, the new nipple is twice as thick. Now, effectively, I had a triple-thickness nipple to clamp down on.

Rather than duplicate the manufacturers' mistake of using ribbed-reinforced tubing, I got the braided variety from Lowes RV Supply first softening it with the heat gun. The socket-on-extension trick worked well here, too.

Last, twin hose clamps were snugged. Some thin stainless safety wire laid into the screw head grooves keeps them from counter-rotating, a last and optional touch.

An overnight leak test reveals not one drop, with the tanks filled to the brim!
Very Nice. Thanks for sharing with us. I may need to double clamp some things...
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