Escape Trailer External Tank Monitor - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-15-2008, 08:10 PM   #1
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Name: Thane
Trailer: Escape
Posts: 223
I added an external monitor to watch the water level in the tank while standing outside. This saves the running back and forth to monitor the tank levels while back filling and flushing my waste tanks with a Flush King. I could also monitor the water level in the fresh water tank during filling. Iíll need to post the job in parts due to the amount of space required.

When I empty the waste tanks on my Escape, I use a Flush King to back fill and flush the tanks; it normally takes four or five fill and flushes to get the black water tank clean. The Flush King is a great system and really helps keep the trailer ready for camping. A picture of the Flush King is shown below. The right end as shown attaches to the sewer line fitting on the trailer and the left end attaches to the sewer line. A water hose attaches to the one-way on-off valve on top. By closing the gate valve, water from the hose is directed back into the tanks to rapidly fill them for dumping.


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The main problem with the Flush King is keeping track of the water level as you fill the tanks. If you overfill the grey water tank then grey water will drain out of the vent on the opposite side of the trailer, near the door. If you overfill the black water tank then black water will drain out of the roof mounted vent right above the waste tank drain fittings. If the wife is with me, she monitors the tank levels with the standard Escape wall mounted monitor as shown below. If I am dumping the tanks by myself then I have to run back and forth from the dump valve to the monitor panel when filling the tank.


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Guess what happened? On one of our first trips to a RV resort, I was outside back filling the tanks while the wife was inside monitoring the black water tank level. She got distracted by the kids and the black water tank overfilled and vented out of the roof mounted vent. The trailer, ground and I were drenched. Toilet paper in your hair at 9 AM is the classic bad hair day. I imagine that there were many amused witnesses as we were in our little trailer surrounded by land yachts. The external monitor will relieve the wife of what has probably become a stressful experience for her.

As a side note, since I added an auxiliary tank on my Escape (see this link if interested http://www.fiberglassrv.com/board/in...owtopic=25621), it is now very unlikely that I could overfill the black water or auxiliary tank because they use a common vent line so if one tank over flows it would run into the other tank and not vent overboard. The auxiliary tank added a few details to this project that I will point out as I go along so this post will focus on the standard Escape installation.

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Old 07-15-2008, 08:15 PM   #2
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Name: Thane
Trailer: Escape
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Here is a picture of the completed external tank monitoring system set up for use. The upper wire harness plugs into the side of the trailer for monitoring the grey, black and fresh water tanks. The lower wire harness plugs into a RCA jack for monitoring the auxiliary tank that I discussed above. The tank monitor hangs on the furnace vent which also provides the negative ground. When not in use, the external monitor is stored inside the trailer.


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The following picture shows the external monitor in use. It is the same brand (JRV) as the standard Escape monitor but has the capability of monitoring four tanks versus the standard Escape three tanks. I wanted the four tank capacity so I could monitor the three standard Escape tanks and my auxiliary tank. I bought the monitor on E-bay for $16 but it did not come with the sensor wiring harnesses which arenít needed for a standard Escape as the grey, balck and fresh water tanks are already wired with sensors. The same monitor with sensor wiring harnesses normally sells for over $70. I bought an extra sensor wire harness from JRV for $3.95 so I could add that capability to my auxiliary tank. The new external monitor uses the same sensors in the standard Escape trailer water tanks.


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Old 07-15-2008, 08:26 PM   #3
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Name: Thane
Trailer: Escape
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Below is a picture of the monitor removed from the trailer. The monitor is mounted on a thick piece of foam rubber packing material that I salvaged from a computer box. I hogged out a cavity in the foam rubber with my Dremel tool to provide space for the wires. The long wire harness on top is a standard four pin round trailer wire harness and trailer plug covered with flexible wire wrap for protection. The lower wire is a stereo system RCA plug with a female-female adaptor for use with the auxiliary tank.


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Below is a picture of the back of the monitor. The silver clip is from an old garage door opener and it is used to hang the monitor on the furnace vent and also provides the negative ground.


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Old 07-15-2008, 08:32 PM   #4
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Name: Thane
Trailer: Escape
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Below is a picture with the front of the monitor panel removed. The foam rubber block was hogged out with my Dremel tool and I left a vertical ridge in the middle to provide an attach point for the clip that hung the monitor from the furnace vent. I added a 1N4001 diode to each wire going to a water tank with the band on the diode (the cathode) facing the water tank. This website discusses diodes http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diode A diode acts like a one way valve for electricity and I added diodes inline between both the standard and new external monitor panels and the grey, black and fresh water tanks, this is six diodes total. The diodes are needed to keep one monitor panel from powering the other monitor panel when either panel is used to measure tank levels.


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The diodes are real small so I spliced them into the wires with butt splices, these are the two red spices placed end to end with three sets zipped tied together to keep the diode leads from flexing. The diodes are hidden in between the splices. The splices are placed close together because the diodes donít have insulation on the wire leads and I wanted to protect them from possible short circuits. The white negative ground wire is attached to one of the screws that hold the garage door clip in place and provides grounding of the external monitor to the furnace vent.

The four wires that plug into the trailer come through the coaxial cable bushing on the top of the monitor; these wires are the power line and the three leads to the standard grey-black-fresh water tanks. The coaxial cable bushings are usually used to pass a TV cable through a wall. The black wire coming through the coaxial cable bushing on the bottom of the monitor is a stereo RCA cable with female-female adapter so that I can monitor the auxiliary tank. The coaxial cable bushings in the foam rubber block were installed with latex sealant.

The following picture is the four pin trailer receptacle that I mounted on the side of the trailer. This is a standard tow vehicle plug. I glued on a small circular gasket to make the receptacle cover water resistant, I held it under a faucet and no water entered the receptacle. The adjacent porch light was added at the same time I added the monitor to provide an exterior light on the driver's side of the trailer, that installation will be covered in a different posting and I'll add a link here. I put the four pin trailer receptacle on its side so that it would be easier to open the cover. The mating four pin trailer plug on the external monitor wire harness had a spur that latched onto the cover of this receptacle. The spur locks the plug in place when it is used as a normal trailer plug. I ground the spur off with my Dremel tool as it is not needed for this installation and it would damage the circular gasket that I added to the receptacle.


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Old 07-15-2008, 08:33 PM   #5
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Name: Thane
Trailer: Escape
Posts: 223
This picture shows the inside of the cabinet behind the standard Escape monitor panel. The four pin trailer plug is on the left and the wires are enclosed in a wire wrap for protection. The short piece of wire wrap on the left is for the added porch light that will be discussed in a separate posting.


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I spliced the new wire harness into the old wire harness using the attached schematics as a guide. It really turned into a mess of wires and splices but it all worked out OK and fit in the available space. I cut a larger access hole in the cabinet wall behind the standard Escape monitor to ease the wire splicing.

This is the end of the postings.
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Old 07-18-2008, 09:05 PM   #6
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Name: Thane
Trailer: Escape
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I forgot to include the schematics for the standard Escape monitor and the external unit I added; they are provided below.


Standard_Monitor_Panel.PDF




Four_Tank_Monitor_Panel.PDF
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