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Old 09-08-2014, 03:01 PM   #1
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1987 32' Excella
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Newbie help request from Newbie

I am a 5 day owner of a 1987 Airstream Excella and cannot understand why my so called auxiliary (grey water )tank fills so much faster than the main tank handling the sewage waste. I know my wife uses water - she is Admiral. But two showers and two dishwashings filled the grey water auxilliary tank and almost nothing in the black water tank. Why is there not an overflow from grey to black and if there is tell me how to make it work. Or tell me is there is an "easy" way to make it work that way. I did read the manual and it basically says auxiliary and main tanks are separate. I have not yet found the gallon capacities for the tanks and will have to search further. I do believe I have the stock tanks - and I don't mean for the cows;-). Thanks for any assistance.
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Old 09-08-2014, 03:09 PM   #2
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You can always drain your grey tank the fill it up using a gallon jug just keep count of how many you pour in .
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Old 09-08-2014, 03:13 PM   #3
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And don't trust your monitor fill it until it comes up in the shower drain then subtract a couple of gallons. That should give you how many gallons your grey tank will hold.
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Old 09-08-2014, 03:50 PM   #4
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There are a lot of good reasons to keep your grey water and black water separate. There typically is no valve you can open, etc. that will allow the contents of the tanks to flow directly one to the other. Some people who have the same problem as you resort to dumping their dishwater down the toilet to try not to overfill the grey tank so fast, usually with disastrous consequences such as tossing silverware into the black tank.

So, as suggested above, the first thing you want to do is to confirm for sure what the capacity of your grey tank is, and to determine whether the tank sensors are actually working or not (the stock "sensors" are notorious for poor performance). Second thing to do is to learn to minimize running water down the drain--even seemingly short showers can fill a tank fast.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:06 PM   #5
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One thing that might help (emphasis on MIGHT) is to not use your municipal water hookup. Instead, fill your freshwater tank, and use the water from the freshwater tank only.

Given the relative sizes of the fresh tank and gray tank, and allowing for some water going into the black tank, you'll run out of fresh water about the same time you fill the gray tank.

That's what I did when I was a newbie, to get a handle on my water consumption.
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Old 09-08-2014, 04:56 PM   #6
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Navy showers. Wet, turn off shower. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now that you are STREAMIN you get a real life example of how much water we "use"! We also had some behavior mods to undertake in our 34' which carries apx 60 gallons fresh@ 8.33# /gal = 504#.
Then we have main of 35gal and aux of 37 gal. By trip #3 we figured out how to "manage" the water use.

We can last a couple days with showers on fresh and pouring "used dish soapy" water down the "head". A welcome Surprise was that the extra water helped flush the "black" tank! More water, more "volume"of water to carry "solids".

If there is no ability to adjust use, then an external "dump"
Tank may be in your future. If you use it for gray/grey water ONLY you may find it isn't too offensive. Plus it may gives you the extra "run time" between major offloads.

You "can" tow the tank after filling to the nearest "official" disposal site in a park.

Remember, the gray is handy for flush of the SS after empty of black.

Oh, a shot of dishwater with "Dawn" helps "stuff"
Breakdown and slide out easier... Remember, a Royal Flush beats a Full House!
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:23 PM   #7
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Smile Ok,thanks to all, now how about this"idea"

Quote:
Originally Posted by southsaglejim View Post
I am a 5 day owner of a 1987 Airstream Excella and cannot understand why my so called auxiliary (grey water )tank fills so much faster than the main tank handling the sewage waste. I know my wife uses water - she is Admiral. But two showers and two dishwashings filled the grey water auxilliary tank and almost nothing in the black water tank. Why is there not an overflow from grey to black and if there is tell me how to make it work. Or tell me is there is an "easy" way to make it work that way. I did read the manual and it basically says auxiliary and main tanks are separate. I have not yet found the gallon capacities for the tanks and will have to search further. I do believe I have the stock tanks - and I don't mean for the cows;-). Thanks for any assistance.
Assume I am primarily without sewer hookup, and not wanting to haul external tanks anywhere, I want my showers in my Airstream, I want to use the external water supply but not my fresh water tank, and I take 5 day trips,dump every two days and will clean/rinse my grey and black tanks when I get home. Can I leave the cap on my discharge tube and open both tank valves intending to "equalize" the tanks (have the tanks share the total waste) by having the larger volume in the grey tank flow into the black tank. Will it physically work? Why is that a bad idea if it will physically work and I am willing to do the extra cleaning at home at the end of the trip and disposal at home is no issue whatever.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:45 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by southsaglejim View Post
Assume I am primarily without sewer hookup, and not wanting to haul external tanks anywhere, I want my showers in my Airstream, I want to use the external water supply but not my fresh water tank, and I take 5 day trips,dump every two days and will clean/rinse my grey and black tanks when I get home. Can I leave the cap on my discharge tube and open both tank valves intending to "equalize" the tanks (have the tanks share the total waste) by having the larger volume in the grey tank flow into the black tank. Will it physically work? Why is that a bad idea if it will physically work and I am willing to do the extra cleaning at home at the end of the trip and disposal at home is no issue whatever.
Before you try this, make very certain that your black tank is NOT mounted above floor level under your toilet. If your black tank is higher than the gray tank, it can't work. Flow will only go from the higher tank to the lower tank.

If both tanks are at the same below-floor level, then strictly speaking both tanks will drain to the drain cap until the lines are full, and then mixed effluent from both tanks will back up into both tanks. The flow WON'T all go in one direction in this case. If you allow the two tanks to be cross-connected, you don't have a gray tank and a black tank anymore, you've got two black tanks. That could make for a VERY unpleasant situation if you happen to STILL overfill and you get blackwater coming up your shower drain.

Also, just how tight is your cap on the discharge tube? The cap doesn't normally have to be watertight because when the cap is on the valves are closed. Normally you remove the cap and hook up the slinky before you open the valves. If the cap is not watertight, and will not STAY watertight as you drive to the dump station, you'll make yourself very unwelcome at the campground when the cap leaks mixed effluent.
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Old 09-08-2014, 08:52 PM   #9
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will get a nice surprise when you go to dump your tanks
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Old 09-08-2014, 11:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
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will get a nice surprise when you go to dump your tanks
The surprise is that the outlet and the piping behind it will be full. You can't undo it fast enough to outrun the splash.
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:31 AM   #11
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The OTHER nasty surprise is that if you mix waste and something backs up into the SHOWER it isn't going to be gray water... and **IT FLOATS!

Here's my "safe equalizer". I shower with the drain plug in. I have a gallon milk jug that I cut the top off of - leaving the handle attached. After showering I bail as much of the water as I can get easily into the toilet and flush it.

Conserve water. You don't have to run water for the whole time you brush your teeth. You don't need a sink full of water to do a few dishes - wash them immediately so you don't have to scrub them, use minimal water and rinse quickly... and of course paper plates can help a LOT. Cook outside over a campfire to minimize pots and pans. Consider dutch oven cooking - and use a parchment liner.

Remember it's CAMPING. There are all sorts of new skills to learn and enjoy. I used to love 20 minute showers, between draining the hot water tank and filling the gray one, it's a habit I've abandoned... and don't have as much dry skin as I used to, either. I enjoy not being chronically itchy - and not having to slather moisturerizer on two or three times a day.

Paula
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Old 09-09-2014, 12:51 AM   #12
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The info and suggestion are very much appreciated. Thanks to all.
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Old 09-09-2014, 07:11 AM   #13
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We have a 1987 25' sovereign. The gray tank is 35 gallons and the black is 30 gallons. here is another thought, the piping for the gray tank is only 2", where it is 3" or 4".
We have some friends in another club and the wife refuses conserve water during her morning shower. The only thing he can do is carry a blue dump tank and empty their gray tank every morning after her shower.
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Old 09-09-2014, 09:25 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by msmcv51 View Post
We have a 1987 25' sovereign. The gray tank is 35 gallons and the black is 30 gallons. here is another thought, the piping for the gray tank is only 2", where it is 3" or 4".
We have some friends in another club and the wife refuses conserve water during her morning shower. The only thing he can do is carry a blue dump tank and empty their gray tank every morning after her shower.
Sounds to me like your friend's wife is not "camping ready!"

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