Friday, November 21, 2014

And water flows down hill

I work on ships for a living. designing the systems that make them work. In very many cases the systems on a ship are the same as those on an RV. How so I hear you ask?

Well a ship floats on the ocean, it has an engine that pushes it around. It has a crew that live on the ship and so it has cabins for them to sleep in, dining rooms for them to eat in. It has bathrooms for the crew's use with hot and cold water systems, sewage and gray water systems, power and lighting, ventilation, storage, refrigeration and food prep areas for food. Steering systems, fuel storage. all these things have to go along with the ship when it pulls away from the pier.

An RV rolls along the road, the owners live on board, there is a sleeping area, a dining area. There's a bathroom, hot and cold water, sewage and gray water, power and lighting, ventilation, storage, a refrigerator and food prep area. Steering and fuel storage. All these things have to go along with the rig when it pulls out of your driveway.

A rig doesn't float for long if you drive it into the ocean (Except for 1 very expensive unit), but then again a ship doesn't do that well on the freeway at 60 mph.

One common saying when designing piping systems for ships is "Poop don't float and water flows downhill" a huge simplification but a good thing to think about when you're working around sewage and water systems!

I talked about black and grey water in another page of this blog. Now I suppose I ought to give fresh water an equal amount of coverage.

Drinking water is described technically as Potable Water. Because we are going to drink it it's a good thing to take a little bit more care when setting things up. First thing is to get it clean and keep all the hoses etc used for drinking water clean and separate from garden hoses and sewage hoses etc. You can get VERY sick drinking contaminated water. 

The term "Blowing it out of both ends" gets the message across I believe. If you've experienced that sad condition you'll be ready to listen to some helpful hints.

To keep things clean and disinfected isn't hard. Simple Chlorox Bleach will very effectively sanitize everything connected with the rigs fresh water systems. 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of water in the tank will clean the tank. So for my 100 gallon tank I'd need about 1 3/4 cups. If you are like me and you've never done this before you'll find yourself standing at the water connection to the rig with a bottle of bleach in one hand and a measuring cup in the other and you'll have no idea how to get the bleach into the tank!!

To save you going online to find out I'll tell you. Connect the hose to the tank, pour the bleach into the hose (Use a clean funnel if you need to), then connect the hose to a faucet and turn the water on! As long as you keep the open end of the hose above the the level of the connection to the tank the chlorox stay in the hose.  (water flows down hill remember). Wow that worked. But you don't need to fill the whole tank just to sanitize it. You can get away with putting about 25 gallons of chlorinated water in and driving the rig around so the water splashes around inside. That way you could do it on the way to a campground and fill the tank when you get there. If the tank has not been used for several months you might want to run the faucets and shower for a couple of minutes to get the mixture thru all the piping in the rig and dump the contents of the tank before you fill it completely. You can't be too safe with drinking water. The measurements for the amount of chlorox and the amount of water in the tank are not exact, you can be just "In the ballpark" and it'll be fine.

UPDATE: We found an easier way to get the bleach in the tank! Take your carbon filter out of it's housing and pour the bleach in the empty housing, replace the housing and turn on the water. Job done. Put the carbon filter back when you're done and keep it out of the dirt while you're working.

Here are some good things to have along as part of your fresh water "Kit"

A pressure regulating valve. This screws on to the water faucet at your campsite. Water pressure can vary immensely from campground to campground. If the pressure gets over around 50 psi it can burst your hose and cause bursts and or leaks in the rig itself.

A white food grade hose to connect the rig to the faucet. If you have a long one and a short one you can couple them if the faucet is unusually far from the rig. It also gives you a spare if one bursts and there is no store locally to buy a new one.

A "Y" connector with shut off valves. This lets you use 2 hoses at the same time. Why would you need that? Well when you are breaking down the campsite for the trip home you are going to be handling the sewage hose and draining the sewage tanks. You'll want to wash the hose out when you're done before you pack it away. You don't want to use your drinking water hose for that. You also don't want to be using your dirty (contaminated) hands and/or gloves to undo the drinking water hose so you can put on a garden hose to rinse the sewer hose. When you finish rinsing the sewerhose you are going to want to wash you hands with soap and water. It's easier to do this in the rig rather that using a garden hose. With a Y connector you can easily leave both connected until you're done.

A backflow preventer. The National Plumbing Code requires these, The stop possibly contaminated water that has been sitting in hoses for possibly months from getting back into the piping and contaminating your drinking water system. Some pressure regulator valves have this built in.

Spare washers. Most leaks around faucets, valves and hoses are the result of old worn out washers. They harden with age and tightening the fitting until it screams for mercy won't stop the leaks. A new fresh washer will, unless you distorted the fitting last time you used the channel locks to try and stop a leak.

Here's our setup right to left: Campground faucet, pressure regulator. Y connector, white drinking water hose, green garden hose for washing out sewer hoses.

FILTERS! A simple two filter setup between the faucet and the rig will make life good. The filter nearest the faucet should be a particulate filter, it will keep dirt, mud, insects and other small bits and pieces that may be in the piping going to the faucet from ending up in your morning cup of coffee. The second filter should be a carbon filter of some description. Carbon absorbs bad tastes and smells in the water which is a good thing. A lot of campgrounds are on well water rather than city water because they are out in the country. That's not a bad thing but there may be sediment in the water and some tastes and smells you may not find pleasant. ( These filters are reasonably priced and last several months to a year depending on how much sediment is in the water. (One campground we go to can plug a new filter in a weekend and the filter housing looks like its full of mud when I open it).

The right side is the particulate filter and the left the carbon filter.
Water flows from right to left.

The connection to our rig. The lever directs water to the coach (as set here) or to the water tank for filling it prior to going boondocking.

Rubber gloves. If you are playing around with sewer hoses you'll want some of these. I find you need heavy duty ones because the thin latex type will tear as soon as you try twisting the hose to unlock it from the rig.

Hand sanitizer. Good to have close by if there's a spill.

If you want good prices for this stuff shop at the big box hardware stores and not the camping store. It's the same stuff but half the price.

There are lots of sources for this information on line. I like and for advice and answers to questions. 

Remember I'm a NEWBIE too so there may be some things I missed or got wrong.

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