Oh the joys of a 28 year old trailer... - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-13-2008, 09:11 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1976 Trillium 13 ft and 1980 Trillium 5500
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My wife and I stumbled across one heck of an upgrade a few weeks ago - bought a 1980 Trillium 5500 that had been in storage for the last few years. Although we knew this was the "big brother" of our 1976 1300, we weren't quite expecting what an upgrade it was - from (very) basic 13 foot to an all-the-bells-and -whistles 17 foot. We now have things like hot water heaters and showers (whoa!) that were just dreams in our 1300. Although the unit is in almost pristine shape, there are a few kinks.

The indoor facilities are the age of the trailer (black water tank is in the base of the unit) and were made by Sanitation Equipment (makers of the current Perma-flush units). Came without any documentation on this unit (every other manual was there - stove, furnace, water heater etc) so had to guess at a couple of things (like well-hidden release valves). Hooked the water up today and found it all works, except water was POURING out of some type of pressure relief valve(?) on the left top of the unit (right above pressurized water inlet - see pic below). The valve (?) was in pieces when we got it, so I obviously don't have it together correctly - is anyone familiar with this design and can shed some lite?

In doing some websurfng tonight, happened across a pic of a Boler with the same unit - any Boler owners that might know how the pieces go together??

Other main problem at the moment is with the pressure system itself. Found the prev. owner had replaced the water tank and unhooked the pump - when rewired, he got it backwards and the pump was run at least for a few minutes in this state (I know because I was the one who turned it on - discovered the backwards wiring very quickly). When corrected, the pump runs fine except it will not prime for trying. There is water at the pump, city water hookup filled the lines so there is nothing to purge, water tank is full, the pump itself appears to be in perfect shape - a Shurflo 205-013 - 2.5 (Canadian)gpm. I'm guessing it to be original as I can find very little reference to this model on the web - old, old, old.. Was anything damaged in the reverse operation? (sounded fine while running) Or are 28 year old seals just not sealing? (although I can't figure out where it might suck any air as there is water on both sides of the pump). Or do older Shurflo's have some mysterious and very well hidden (from the newbies) way of manually priming? Again , any help would be most appreciated.






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Old 07-14-2008, 06:20 AM   #2
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I can't help with the commode as I've never seen one. It looks for all the world like a porta-potty that has been somehow converted into a flush toilet.

There are a couple of things on the pump... and the Surflo pumps are self priming with an internal back flow preventer. Having run it backwards may have gotten the back flow preventer stuck. I don't know of any way to repair a Surflo pump. I think they just have to be replaced. Since you have to replace it anyway, you may want to take it out and see if there's some way to push the back flow preventer's valve to "unstick" it. If you break it, you're not any worse off than you are now.

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Old 07-14-2008, 06:39 AM   #3
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Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
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I wanna see pictures of the trailer.... not the toilet!

Anyway, maybe the Shurflo Water Pump Troubleshooting Manual in the Document Center will help?
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:10 AM   #4
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I can't help with the commode as I've never seen one.
Taken out of context...pretty funny...

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Old 07-14-2008, 10:25 AM   #5
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Trailer: 1976 Trillium 13 ft and 1980 Trillium 5500
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It looks for all the world like a porta-potty that has been somehow converted into a flush toilet.

We thought the same when seeing it - turns out it is quite different inside - no holding tank for clean water, the whole thing is black water tank - releases from under trailer (had a heck of a time finding [b]that lever). The lever on the LH side has 3 positions - up, centered(in pic) and down (which opens interior flap and water valve to rinse) - I was unable to fully test all the positions (too much water puring out said valve) but in further web research, seems current Perma-flushes use a similar lever - up position just adds water to bowl. I'm thinking the manufacturer might have stayed with the same concept even though the works have changed greatly. Just have to figure out what the valve is and how it properly goes together...

Thanks for the info on the pump - guess I'm pulling it off today. With the link that Donna provided, I now have something to work with - many thanks!!! (And yes, full trailer photo's will follow - the big boy is just photo-shy at the moment because not all his "parts" work...)
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Old 07-14-2008, 02:46 PM   #6
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Trailer: 1976 Trillium 13 ft and 1980 Trillium 5500
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Update - found the issue with the pump - pulled it out and took apart - seems like the prev owner had it apart at one time and when put together, the valve assm and piston assm did not quite mate and the seals btwn them were out of position - and had been that way for so long that the rubber was crushed and would not return to original position. The only solution is to replace the piston/gasket assm, which for a 28 yr old pump is NOT easy to find (definitely differnet than current Shurflo's). In the interests of time (our original holiday plans had been to be on the road right now) we are putting in a new pump.

The manager at the last rv place we visited this am at least had heard of our toilet but advised that parts are DEFINITELY not available I'm stil hoping I don't need parts, just how to get the thing together correctly - there are 5 or 6 pices that can be flipped over and around and all still fits - but what combination actually works? Oh well., more trial and error.....
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Old 07-14-2008, 03:18 PM   #7
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Ahhh,,,, The joys of hauling your around with you.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:49 PM   #8
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Garth, we also have a 1980 Trillium 5500. Just got it back from the shop having the brakes redone, so was coincidentally playing with the water lines, finishing the plumbing connections etc. as I had put in a new sink. We also have no black or grey holding tank, with the lines all running thru the sewage line. We had no documentation, but each of the valves underneath appear to be connected to the kitchen sink, bathroom sink (left and right valves respectively), and a lever which controls the toilet. have attached pics. The previous owner said he just opened all three valves when camping, and occasionally used a tote tank. Our toilet is actually a Thetford, newer model -- toilet has 2 levers, one of which controls water, the other which flushes.

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Old 07-15-2008, 03:19 AM   #9
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Trailer: 1976 Trillium 13 ft and 1980 Trillium 5500
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Garth, we also have a 1980 Trillium 5500. Just got it back from the shop having the brakes redone, so was coincidentally playing with the water lines, finishing the plumbing connections etc. as I had put in a new sink. We also have no black or grey holding tank, with the lines all running thru the sewage line. We had no documentation, but each of the valves underneath appear to be connected to the kitchen sink, bathroom sink (left and right valves respectively), and a lever which controls the toilet. have attached pics. The previous owner said he just opened all three valves when camping, and occasionally used a tote tank. Our toilet is actually a Thetford, newer model -- toilet has 2 levers, one of which controls water, the other which flushes.
I've read previous posts that indicated no two 5500's were alike, and ours are no exception. Your plumbing, particularly the main valve is similar (guessing probably original) but is configured differently. I have the single main lever for the facilities, but my shower and both sinks all tee into one pipe with a second, single valve controlling all three.

Alas, it would seem like I'm looking at toilet replacement down the line - no matter what I do, the water will not shut off when the pump runs. Simple solution for now was to block off pressurized water line and use water from the sink for - you know. In the longer term, as parts seem to be non-existant, we're probably looking at "out with the old". Does your Thetford use any type of holding tank inside the trailer (i.e. integral to the unit itself) or just "straight down the pipe" when it flushes? I'm thinking possibly as time and dollars permit of a Thetford recuriculating - minimal water usage and would empty thru existing plumbing. Particularly liked the minimal water usage part - my water tank is 10 gallons only - in a trailer with 2 sinks and a shower, somebody wan't thinking - and the new pump emptied that into the existing toilet in a matter of minutes while I was troubleshooting.
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:19 AM   #10
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Simple solution for now was to block off pressurized water line and use water from the sink for - you know.
When I'm NOT hooked up to water, I keep a gallon jug of water in the bathroom for flushing.
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:14 PM   #11
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Trailer: Trillium 5500
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Does your Thetford use any type of holding tank inside the trailer (i.e. integral to the unit itself) or just "straight down the pipe" when it flushes? I'm thinking possibly as time and dollars permit of a Thetford recuriculating - minimal water usage and would empty thru existing plumbing. Particularly liked the minimal water usage part - my water tank is 10 gallons only - in a trailer with 2 sinks and a shower, somebody wan't thinking - and the new pump emptied that into the existing toilet in a matter of minutes while I was troubleshooting.
Looks like it may flush straight down the pipe, although the unit is sitting on a platform build above the bathroom floor about 6-8". The platform is completely boxed in -- havent taken it apart to see if there is a holding tank underneath. Will let you know. havent worried too much about investigating there yet, as the previous owner had an "only peeing allowed in the trailer" rule!
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:58 PM   #12
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Trailer: 1976 Trillium 13 ft and 1980 Trillium 5500
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Looks like it may flush straight down the pipe, although the unit is sitting on a platform build above the bathroom floor about 6-8". The platform is completely boxed in -- havent taken it apart to see if there is a holding tank underneath. Will let you know. havent worried too much about investigating there yet, as the previous owner had an "only peeing allowed in the trailer" rule!
Not a bad rule to have - guess I just want to be prepared for that rare "exception to every rule" (usually happens after a day of junk food or an evening of 'refreshments'). Got to thinking too, if evrything else works but the unit just won't stop flushing, I should be able to fit some type of manual valve in the pressurized line - flip that, and instant flush into my integral holding tank - I'll have to see what type of valving is available and seal off the assembly that leaks... That and fix the road-debris battered propane line underneath the body that I just found is leaking... I'm thinking [b]someday we might actually be able to use the traler...
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Old 07-16-2008, 08:15 PM   #13
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my 5500 has a black and a grey tank, the black was factory, the grey I added. If you are interested I can pm you a sketch showing connections, piping and tank locations.
My grey tank was about $75, and a new black tank (old was cracked) was about $125. misc parts about another $150 . With a bit of work under the trailer, it now suits the two of us perfectly, and we can run 3-4 days without dumping the tanks, sometimes longer if we are being conservative
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Old 07-18-2008, 12:41 AM   #14
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So Garth, I was curious just how much water our toilet would use after your comment about your tank draining so quickly -- our is also small at about 10 gallons. Looks like it is not too bad on the water use front, but in the process, uncovered that I only have a stored water line running to the toilet -- no city water line! Both faucets have separate lines running to them for stored and city water, but the toilet just has the one. Is yours set up the same way?

I'm interested in what you end up doing for the pump -- while our is functional, it looks like it is original, and is running pretty noisy, so we may be considering a replacement down the line (will see how it performs over the next few camping trips!).

Quote:
Not a bad rule to have - guess I just want to be prepared for that rare "exception to every rule" (usually happens after a day of junk food or an evening of 'refreshments'). Got to thinking too, if evrything else works but the unit just won't stop flushing, I should be able to fit some type of manual valve in the pressurized line - flip that, and instant flush into my integral holding tank - I'll have to see what type of valving is available and seal off the assembly that leaks... That and fix the road-debris battered propane line underneath the body that I just found is leaking... I'm thinking [b]someday we might actually be able to use the traler...
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