What a Waste!
Originally posted 9/29/2012
Much has been going on with the Enterprise, and I’ll write about each area in separate articles. Step one of major items to be installed was this Tankmin water tank system, consisting of a 70-gallon fresh water tank above a 67-gallon waste water tank. I found a boat cover shop in McHenry, IL with experience in custom automotive work to shorten my existing Truxedo bed cover, and that will happen in a few days.
The Tankmin requires a waste macerater (poo grinder) at the camper tank to pump waste into the lower tank via a special 1″ tube I rigged up, thanks to pplmotorhomes.com and a local Ace Hardware. The freshwater tank is filled by faucet and hose (or gravity fill at the top vent) and drains via hose to gravity fill the camper’s fresh water tank. Thus my total fresh water capacity jumps from 20 gallons to 90, while total waste water capacity goes from (I’m guessing) 137 gallons under duress. Normal usage would be to live with the camper’s 70-gallon tanks or just use the Tankmin’s 67, either/or. My current setup is to fill the fresh water tank using a special triple filter set and pressure regulator from rvwaterfilterstore.com, a very helpful outfit with very good information and personal recommendations. Water conditions and pressures at campsites and other water sources vary all over the map, and a regulator and filter set can avoid both blowing out the camper’s old water pipe joints and having unpleasant personal experiences with problematic water quality.
It’s been important during this time not to have to remove and return the camper in order to dump the waste tanks, and the Tankmin has worked well in that regard. It’s a well-designed system with no particular drawbacks in actual use. There is no need to carry fresh water to commercial camps, but boondocking calls for carrying a load of fresh water along during transport. Waste is normally emptied before departure, thus there is little need to travel with unnecessary weight. Since Gulf Stream advises against traveling with all tanks full (with the risk of exceeding the camper’s 7,000-lb GVRW limit), the Ford F-250 can easily take on the task of expanding the camper’s tank capacity limitations. You simply pump waste into the lower Tankmin tank, drive to a dump station with the truck alone, and use a built-in waste hose to let ‘er go. The waste transfer process is pretty quick, and nothing in the system hinders dumping the camper’s tanks conventionally, if the situation calls for it.
The Tankmin itself weighs nearly 100 pounds empty and was, thanks to my son Tom, reasonably easy to install despite the verbiage in the instructions. If I had taken the opportunity for photographing the parts and installation, I could have tried my hand at doing better (I used to do this full-time) and send it to Tankmin. No time, though – the camper was in no shape to transport and dump, and the black tank monitor was reading full! We were short one fastener set, but the local Ace Hardware filled in. I was able to immediately use the new system without a hitch, and the looming crisis was over.
But enough about this topic. I next expect to write about the forced march to another worksite in a nearby town, and the starting work on the fairly unconventional electrical and solar panel systems. It hasn’t gone per plan, but it’ll work.