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Old 09-28-2011, 09:47 PM   #1
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Completely clueless ...

The most time I ever spent in an RV was a drunken weekend in Ozona, Texas in 1978.

No, I take it back, there was a drunken trip from Las Vegas to Austin Texas in 2009 after a wedding. I wasn't driving. Heh. I did nothing but sit on my duff and drink beer. No hooking up, no unhooking. No other unpleasant tasks.

I usually look for opportunities to learn new things, RVs however always mystified and overwhelmed me so I stayed blissfully ignorant of their inner workings. The terminology alone boggled my mind, wattages and amperages and pumps and a/c versus d/c ... ick.

Ironically, I have recently moved into a 29' Coachman Catalina as a primary residence in an RV park. It was given to me free and clear and it seemed overly stupid not to lower my expenses by trying to live in it full time. I have ZERO knowledge of the mysteries of RV living. Any knowledge I have gleaned has come to me the hard way over the last three weeks.

I won't even go into the hard lesson learned about water pressure regulators, and I'm fairly certain that the thing is still not level. I gauge this by the fact that the cabinet doors have an odd habit of opening on their own. Once I ruled out paranormal activity, I was left with nothing but personal failure.

Anyhoo, bigger fish to fry, one day I'll get it level. My dog doesn't care, and I kind of walk with a list in the opposite direction anyway, so all is well.

The problem is a new development. It is, to put it gracefully, a rather unpleasant stench. I was operating under the assumption that keeping the valves open on both black and gray and a steady supply of water going through from showers, etc, that the tanks would stay flushed out.

I may have been incorrect in that assumption. What do I do? Do I get one of those flusher things and do they really run on electric? Is there one that doesn't? I am basically lazy, and will do anything I can to lower daily or weekly maintenance but I am not stupid and know that sometimes you just have to do what you have to do and deal with it.

I really am hoping for something I can hook to the drain pipe and flush out the tanks once a week using water force alone, or better yet, bi-pass the tanks altogether.

I am attaching a link to my little home for anyone who would like to see it. Any help would be appreciated. Cheers.

trailer redo 0001 - YouTube

PS ... after watching the video I remembered I dropped a spoon down the toilet, could that have anything to do with it?
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:24 PM   #2
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By leaving the black tank valve open you are letting the sewer gases up and into your trailer. In addition, a big pile of solid waste will accumulate in the tank under the toilet as only the water will drain with the valve open all the time. By closing the valve and letting the tank get full, it will create enough pressure when you finally open the valve to get rid of the solid waste. Good luck.
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Old 09-28-2011, 11:30 PM   #3
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Whew!

I'm told that letting the black/greys fill up, then emptying them in one ginormous fell swoop cleans them out most efficiently....
But of course part of that depends on your rig being level, or at least tilted in the right direction...


Good luck with the learning curve!

Francesca
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:22 AM   #4
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So I guess basically I have what amounts to a square box under there?

This may not have been the brightest move on my part, but it's never too late to turn back and make other living arrangements. I don't want to admit defeat though. Not yet anyway.

I was trying to sleep last night and this whole stinky thing was bothering me. I kept getting visions of a headline reading "woman overcome by methane gas." My kids don't deserve to have me go out that way and frankly I can think of dozens of preferable endings as well. It also occurred to me that I have not given all the facts, because by midnight it seems I located and eradicated the source of le pew.

This trailer, back in 1991, was someone's shiny new pride and joy. The previous owner, however, converted it to a rolling snack shack. He removed the kitchen and installed a cooker and a utility sink, one of those big square plastic sinks. He also installed a 2" PVC drain pipe in place of whatever was there before to drain the original kitchen sink.

I could not seem to shake the notion that the odor was coming from the front part of the trailer and not the bathroom area, because I plugged all the drains and closed the bathroom door and the odor was still kickin'. That's when I remembered that when I cut that drain pipe back to make room for the refrigerator, I left the end open. The open end was right under my bed near the water storage tank. I got up, yanked the mattresses off and lifted the plywood cover and stuffed some paper towels into the end of that drain plug. In ten minutes the air had cleared and I was asleep.

Another thing I did not mention is that I normally follow any "constitutional" with a couple of buckets of fresh water from the tub. But even that routine is getting tedious.

I came back here last night and did some reading and also did some searching online. Does anyone have one of those wand type water blasters that hooks to the shower? If so, how well does it work with normal water pressure from a hose with a regulator? Or, a hydro flush?

I have a problem closing the valves and letting water accumulate in the tanks for two reasons. One, I'm fallible and am scared that I will forget to dump them until it's too late. Two, my connection at the sewer is not that tight and I worry that a huge amount of water releasing at once may knock it loose at an inopportune moment. With the way I have been doing things it has never come loose, but I have dislodged it a couple of times when arranging the hose to keep it on an incline.

I am trying to convert this thing into an efficiency apartment basically. I will never haul it, my truck isn't powerful enough. I may have it moved in the future, but will not take it on the road. I have bi-passed the water pump and do not use the water storage tank. I have a 4-gallon water heater that I suspect will be of little use when the weather turns cold.

Can I bi-pass the gray/black dump tanks altogether? Has anyone ever done that? I don't have a kitchen sink right now, but plan to put one in in the future. I also use the scantest amount of toilet paper ever, in an effort to keep the hose free of obstructions.
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:25 AM   #5
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Also I still need to get rid of that spoon I'm sure. Is there any reason I can't use regular PVC fittings and pipe for my sewer line since this RV will not be rolling around very often?
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Old 09-29-2011, 06:29 AM   #6
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Both of you ladies, let the black fill up about 3/4 before dumping, but you can leave the grey open all the time when hooked up to a CG dump.
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:30 AM   #7
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SeeJay, I admire your spunk. Hang in there girl. You seem to have a good attitude about the whole thing. Free is free. Keep reading this forum, you will gain alot of helpful information. Suggestion: set a reminder on your computer to pop up every 4 weeks or so to dump your tanks. I've read that 2 people can usually go 3 weeks before dumping. We are new at this too, never owned one or even stayed in one when we got our 5th wheel. We are learning right along with you. But you are going to have to close the black tank and let it build up before dumping. There is a real good site with YouTube videos on RV maintence. I think it is called RV Geeks. Try looking there. Good luck, don't give up. Where are you located?
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Old 09-29-2011, 08:58 AM   #8
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The problem with bypassing the black tank is the way your toilet flushes. There just isn't enough water to get a proper flush using a trap instead of the tank. That's why almost all RV's have a sprayer at the toilet. So bypassing the black tank just won't work with a RV toilet.
Three weeks sounds a bit long to me even with only one person. Do you have tank sensors to monitor the levels in the tanks.
See attached picture for an example. It will look like this and be inside on a wall.
Just make it part of your morning routine to check the tank level and you will soon get a feel for when to dump. There are wands for cleaning out the black tank and they work pretty good. The best part is you don't have to use one every time. http://www.rvpartscenter.com/ProductDetail.asp?PID=31663&SID=19&DID=10&CID=38
Good Luck
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:11 PM   #9
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There is no perfect tank flusher.. You can rinse, but the indicators are still going to show you 2/3 full or more in all likely hood (less you upgrade the sensors, I plan on that)

The best tank want I have seen works only on SELECTED rv's however. Valterra Master blaster.. I "Home brewed" basically the same design (before I saw one) and my home made is a bit more flexible as to how many RV's it will work on.

The RV-Twister from Camco looks promising but the master blaster does a better job of cleaning my sensors.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:20 PM   #10
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I made one(of course) when I had my 5er. It had a 3/8" hose on the end that was ~4' long. When hooked up to a garden hose, the 3/8" hose went every way but loose. When I went to use it the first time, I discovered that my toilet didn't drop straight into the tank. It had a 45 elbow so I couldn't get the wand down into it. I gave it away.
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Old 09-29-2011, 12:58 PM   #11
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Seejay - repetition is the key here...I would set your dumping days as days you will remember..1st and 15th, every other Friday/sunday -- whatever works for you. As a single person, you prob don't need to dump more often than that, if you do, change it to weekly. Close the black tank valve, leave the gray tank open. Run water into the black before dumping - 3-5 mins should do it, keep an eye on it.

Depending on where you live, I believe you may need to wrap your water heater to keep it from freezing. I don't have that prob here in So Cal.

Glad to hear you got rid of the stink!
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Old 09-29-2011, 01:07 PM   #12
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I don't know if she still lives there, but her "Profile" says Burnet, TX
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Old 09-30-2011, 05:54 AM   #13
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Weed ... I am actually in Austin, mailing address is in Burnet. Will check out the geeks.

Dick, this is a very old RV. If it has any sensors of any kind I have not been able to locate them. Nothing in this trailer is standard issue.

RF4 ... coming home last night at about 9 pm, the best gift in the world was opening the door and not having to deal with le pew. Thanks.

Dunner and Wa8 ... I have been seriously considering putting in a regular flush toilet. The water heater is actually inside the trailer in a closet so it benefits from climate control. I do expect to have to wrap the water supply line and probably even sewer line though, and also install under pinning before the weather turns cold.



There are a lot of things to do to make this thing a home. I actually moved in about a month ago and temps were 100+ ... I thought my biggest issue was going to be heating and cooling. I have no amenities, no central heat or air, just a window unit and space heater. I worried myself sick about the electric bill what the unit air, but the bill came day before yesterday and was for three full weeks. It was about $25. Heh heh.

I lived on a farm for years and learned a lot about electric, and plumbing, but even that didn't prepare me for fixing all the leaks. Suffice it to say that shark bite plumbing fittings loved me that month. I am sitting on 3 flat tires and one good one. I have to redo all the leveling as I have had several blocks crack and crumble. I was sitting at the computer when the one under the back passenger side went. not a pleasant experience. Who knew that cinder blocks were so flimsy?



My poor dog has battle scars. She is a heavy Boxer and when coming down the step one of her nails went through one of the holes in the vented step and yanked it off. Ruined me completely, and did serious damage to the trust I have built up with her over the last two years. She bled and limped for a couple days. I went out and bought more stupid cinder blocks and built sturdy steps so she can't get hurt again. Took her two days before she would go up and down them without serious coaxing.



My goal is to live cheap for a year and maybe pay off a couple credit cards and my truck. By then I may need a more substantial living arrangement but by then I should be looking at having freed up about $700/month extra income.

What I really want is to buy a trailer I can haul with my truck (2005 Nissan Frontier) maybe a 22 foot or something and move it around, maybe Florida in the winter and elsewhere in the summers. I think my owner specs on my truck say I can haul up to 2300 pounds.
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Old 09-30-2011, 12:01 PM   #14
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They could have used cinder blocks like college kids use for table supports for the water heater.

They are much stronger if the holes are vertical. You have solid cinder from top to bottom, all the way around, instead of all that air.

If my dog(min-pin) hurts herself, she blames me. Arrrgggg.
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