How to know if Grey and Black tanks are full? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-03-2006, 11:35 AM   #1
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Name: burton3
Trailer: 1978 17 ft Boler
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We are new to the whole sewer system with our 17' Boler and have been told to keep the dump valve closed until the grey and black tanks are full and then dump to ensure everything flows out....but how do we know they are full? I realize with the new trailers there is an indictor like a light or buzzer but on a '78??
Also do I really need to buy the crazy expensive RV toilet paper? Yesterday the lady at the RV place guilted me into 4 rolls for $5!! That's nuts! Thanks all I look forward to your repsonses.

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Old 05-03-2006, 11:58 AM   #2
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You can tell the gray water tank is full when the shower pan is holding water. The black water tank can be checked by looking down the tiolet with the water shut off. My question would be why you would want to wait until the tanks are full. Nine times out of ten that will happen right in the worst time possible like on the first day of a three day weekend.
When I get back from a trip the first thing I do is drain the black water tank and run a hose down the tiolet or just run the tiolet until it has all drained. The gray water tank can be dumped any time , the only reason I do it second is to clean out the drain hose.
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Old 05-03-2006, 02:50 PM   #3
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So Ron you usually dump on a regular basis, such as daily? We are totally new to this whole sewer thing so excuse me if I seem very niave... and the grey water full fills the floor of the bathroom? So a bathmat is not good if the grey water is left to get full... I maybe be wishing I had my porta-potti back!
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Old 05-03-2006, 03:47 PM   #4
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In my opinion and only my opinion a black and grey water sistem is the only way to go. My point was that it is best to empty the tanks when you are done for the trip. The floor of the bath is the lowest open drain, so if you allow your gray tank to get to full, thats where the water will go.
If you have full hook ups where you camp you can drain your tanks any time you want, but if you dont 't have hookups it is best to start out with empty tanks. As you use the trailer more you will get a feel for how much room you have left in the tanks. You make an extra effort to use less water when you are camping for longer periods of time.
I'm sure once you get used to the system you have, you will not want to go back to the porta potty.
Have fun camping and learning your new trailer. I'm more than sure you will learn to love it.

Ron
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Old 05-03-2006, 06:11 PM   #5
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1. told to keep the dump valve closed until the grey and black tanks are full and then dump to ensure everything flows out....but how do we know they are full?

2. Also do I really need to buy the crazy expensive RV toilet paper?
1. I do not have monitors on my tanks either, but I used to be hyper-anxious about dumping them all the time. What I have learned:

A. If you wait until the [b]black tank is close to full, the contents may have a higher percentage of liquid than solid; and it will gravity-flow out easier carrying more of the solid matter with it, than if you try to empty it more often. A smaller amount in the tank is more likely to have a higher percentage of solid which will stick to the walls of the tank, requiring a lot of additional flushing/injecting more water into the tank to dislodge the solid matter.

B. If [b]both tanks are full, open the valve to the [b]black tank [b]1st. Wait until it sounds like it has finished emptying. Leave the [b]black valve open, and open the [b]gray valve. The [b]gray water will back-flow into the [b]black tank, helping to "clean" it as it drains out of the system. After [b]both tanks are empty, then close [b]both valves.

Each of my tanks are supposed to be 13 gallons; they are the same size. Some trailers have a smaller black tank than gray tank. That is enough capacity (for me) to usually dump only once at the end of a 3-day weekend campout.

2. No, you do not have to shell out bug bucks for "special" toilet paper.
Pre-hack we had a discussion about this topic, and the scientific consensus was that regular toilet paper bio-degraded in the tank just fine.
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Old 05-03-2006, 06:55 PM   #6
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Trailer: Boler (B1700RGH) 1979
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Even a new trailer might not have a tank level monitoring system, and our Bolers certainly don't unless someone added one later. This is a modification I am considering, but it's not really high on the priority list.

I agree that the way to check the black tank level is just to look down the toilet with the flush valve held open (with a flashlight) - it's a straight shot down, and for reference the bottom of the tank is the trailer floor level.

The grey tank level can be seen from under the trailer - just look underneath (again with a flashlight if it is not bright enough), and you can see the liquid level through the translucent plastic. You might even try holding a light against one side and looking at the other (if you have a helper, for instance). This works for the freshwater tank as well. I suggest having a look when you know that there is a significant amount of water in it, but it's not full, so you learn what it looks like. The tank is 6" to 8" deep (deepest at the discharge fitting), with the top being flush against the bottom of the plywood trailer floor. There's a couple of inches of height that are only visible from the ends (trailer sides) because of the supports on the front and back, but the top 4" is in plain view.

Since the grey tank is immediately under the floor, and there is no shutoff valve between the tank and the shower drain, even a not-quite-full tank can send water up into the bathroom/shower floor area in bumps and turns - a good reason to not put a mat in there, and to dump before traveling.

Another reason to dump before towing is that in the rear-gaucho Boler 17' (B1700RG), the freshwater tank is just behind the axle, while the greywater tank is just ahead, and the black tank is ahead of that; as a result, using water shifts it forward, and tongue load can increase significantly - maybe too high for the tow vehicle or hitch setup.

As with the Fiber Stream, the fresh and grey tanks are essentially the same size (although the black tank is much smaller). That doesn't help you if you are in a fully serviced site and using water from a hose, but if you are running from the fresh tank it means you can't overflow the grey tank - there isn't enough water! My plan is just to dump at least evey time I fill; the use of water which ends up in the black tank means that they grey tank will have some spare capacity.

The "dump black then grey" procedure seems to be universally recommended, and makes good sense to me.
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Old 05-03-2006, 07:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
...B. If [b]both tanks are full, open the valve to the [b]black tank [b]1st. Wait until it sounds like it has finished emptying. Leave the [b]black valve open, and open the [b]gray valve. The [b]gray water will back-flow into the [b]black tank, helping to "clean" it as it drains out of the system. After [b]both tanks are empty, then close [b]both valves...
The dump valves of the B1700RGH are way below the level of the black tank, because they are downhill from the grey tank discharge, the grey tank is under the floor, and the black tank is on top of the floor. As a result, I would not expect any grey water to actually flow up into the black tank; however, I still think that Frederick's idea is great for our Bolers because at least the black dump valve will get flushed, improving the chances that it will re-seat properly.
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Old 05-03-2006, 08:34 PM   #8
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My 2000 Scamp has a very simple plumbing system. The fresh water tank is 12 gallons, the greay water is 25 gallons, and the black water is 8 or 9 gallons. I can see the water level in my fresh and black water tanks, and I don't go for more than two fresh water fills before empyting the gray water.

If your prefered toilet paper dissolves with a bit of agitating after a few minutes in a glass of water, it will be just fine. Get the cheap stuff, not the extra-soft cottony tissue.

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Old 05-03-2006, 08:58 PM   #9
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As with the Fiber Stream, the fresh and grey tanks are essentially the same size (although the black tank is much smaller).
Actually, in my [b]Fiber Stream, the Black and Grey tanks are identical. They are both below floor level, both aft of the dual axles. My Fresh water tank is above floor level in the forward driver's side corner. I have the opposite situation from Brian. As water is used, weight shifts from forward to aft, significantly lightening the tongue load. I don't mind towing with water in the fresh tank. When that tank is empty, my tongue weight is less than 10% of total loaded trailer weight. But I feel safer dumping my holding tanks (Black & Grey) before towing for any significant distance.

I only filled my Grey tank enough to back up into the shower pan once. I was at a full-hook-up site, but my sewer hose was too short to reach the campsite's sewer fitting. So I went ahead and hooked up the "city" water inlet, but did not connect to the sewer. I showered on Friday night. Saturday's dinner dirtied up almost every dish & pan in the trailer. I ran a lot of water doing the dishes; I was on "city" water and didn't feel the need to be stingy with wash water. Then I showered before bed on Saturday night, and started to wonder why the shower wasn't draining...

I have a 5 gallon "tote" to dump my grey tank when boondocking. That night it took 4 trips with the tote to completely empty the grey holding tank in the trailer. I now have a new sewer hose, twice as long as the old one.
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Old 05-03-2006, 09:57 PM   #10
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We are new to the whole sewer system....

Me, too!

I learned a lot from this page:

http://www.phrannie.org/macerator.html

Hope that helps.
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:08 AM   #11
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I haven't had my Fiber Stream out yet, but with my old trailer, I dumped every time we moved the trailer, at the nearest or first dump station. Procedure as follows:

1. Put on rubber gloves (I use elob length industrial gloves purchased at a safety supply store).
2. Connect my own washout hose (NOT my drinking water hose) to the water supply at the dump station
3. Get and connect dump hose
4. Dump black water tank
5. Once the tank is empty(look in the toilet), feed washout hose in through the bathroom window and completely flush black water tank through the toilet.
6. Shut off flush water and close black water tank dump valve.
7. Put a bit of water in the black water tank, followed by toilet chemicals (couple of capfuls or whatever the supply bottle calls for)
8. Dump the grey water tank
9. Once this tank sounds empty, feed the washout hose in through the kitchen window, and quick flush through the kitchen sink.
10. Close grey water dump valve and disconnect dump hose.
11. Quick flush the dump hose with the washout hose.
12. stow both hoses, remove rubber gloves.

Most stations have a separate drinking water fill-up a little distance away from the dump station. NEVER use thew dump station flush water to fill your fresh water tank.
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:12 AM   #12
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Quote:
2. No, you do not have to shell out bug bucks for "special" toilet paper.
Pre-hack we had a discussion about this topic, and the scientific consensus was that regular toilet paper bio-degraded in the tank just fine.
If I remember right Scott brand (single ply?) was hands down the best/cheapest paper to use. Far cheaper than RV paper and digested faster
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Old 05-04-2006, 09:56 AM   #13
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Name: burton3
Trailer: 1978 17 ft Boler
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Thanks all, and yes once we get it figured out I am sure we will be grateful to have it. So we are placing the counter top now and the Grey Water vent goes through the counter top into the upper cabinet and out the roof. Do we really need this vent as we really don't want to put more holes in the counter than needed. We are planning to cap off this vent hose just below the counter... oh yah, and so thrilled about the toilet paper! Gonna tell that snobby lady at the RV place....they don't give the respect for our vintage Bolers deserve!
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Old 05-04-2006, 10:06 AM   #14
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As much as I lust after a Bigfoot 17 (And a Honda Ridgeline to tug it with!), I have often thought of the hassle of the tanks.

Your wish for your porta potti back is a good one. I dump each item when needed, and it isn't a big job at all. It's almost done as a matter of course, routine, no huge thought goes into it. No special stops or searching for the right station. My "waste" grey or black, just goes down the campground toilet! No mess either. Or extra systems to maintain. It's just me tho, so I realize most could not get away with that.

I use the RV paper because it isn't that big an expense when you look at it from the perspective of everything else in comparison.. 4 rolls will last me all season. 5 bucks? Not a big deal. (20 would be)
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