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Old 08-25-2015, 11:13 PM   #1
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Stock 1962 Safari...how does black water work?

I am new to Airstreams...new to campers!! But I've built houses and restored cars, so there's nothing I can't handle.

I'm about to gut this interior to re-wire, re-insulate, and re-build everything. I am saving every single original part I can even if that means fabricating repairs on those that are broken. I am putting it back to the original layout. I just want updated wiring and fabric. I'm figuring out how the plumbing works before I start this weekend. The potable water is fed from the street and operates on air pressure when off the grid. The gray water just runs out of the single waste valve...which I can see probably needs some work like a new seal. I'm really lost on this black water. I think the toilet is sitting directly on the black water tank. There is a sprayer next to the toilet for "flushing". But what else feeds this tank besides what comes out of people? hahaha. Shouldn't there be a clean out or is it simply that sprayer? (Which really reminds me of how you handle your business in India). Does the waste valve have multiple settings when you pull it to dump gray and then black?

I'm really looking for a firm understanding of how this would have worked in 1962 out of the dealer. I know I can upgrade everything and add gray tanks, etc. But I'm a purist and if it worked in 1962 then I want it to work for me in 2015.

Thank you!

Craig
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Old 08-25-2015, 11:55 PM   #2
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Hey Craig,
We have a '62 Safari that is currently gutted. We've stored all the original parts to reinstall as we move along.
So far we've added a grey water tank underneath the new 3/4" marine grade plywood floor. We added it to add to waste water storage capacity in the event hookups are not available.
I just ordered the Reflectix insulation yesterday. I'm trying to figure out how much marine grade cabling to order and exactly which type. I'm sooo excited to start the next phase!
Our plan is to keep the floor plan for the most part. The PO removed the toilet so I can't help you there. We ordered a low profile Dometic potty from VTS for eventual installation.
I look forward to hearing more about your progress. :-)
Laura
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Old 08-26-2015, 12:23 AM   #3
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Stock 1962 Safari...how does black water work?

You are correct in that the black water tank sits under the toilet.
Not sure about your '62 but most have a fresh water line connected to the toilet with a hand or foot flush valve. Operating the flush valve part way will put water in the bowl of the toilet. If you operate the flush valve to it's full open position it will open the valve (sliding door) in the bottom of the bowl and deposit said content into the black water tank. Perhaps the sprayer is used to put water into the bowl before and after use instead of the setup with the 2 stage valve setup.
The black water tank is connected to the sewer outlet via some piping and a valve called a "dump valve" which is normally kept closed until the black water tank is around 3/4 full. Then the sewer outlet is connected via a "slinky" hose to a waste sewer or dump station inlet.
In modern trailers the grey water tank shares the same sewer outlet but has a separate dump valve. Since the grey water does not contain a large amount of solid material the dump valve can remain open when connected to the sewer.
The normal operation is to hold both grey and black water when camping where there is no sewer connection. When you do have access to facilities for dumping. You dump the black water first then the grey. Utilizing the grey water to sorta flush out the sewer line and slinky.
If you don't have a grey water tank you won't have a grey water dump valve. Since back in the last century you could let the grey water just run out on the ground. Not so today. So short of installing a grey water tank and associated plumbing. If you don't have access to a sewer or dump station. You can use a portable tank or tote to hold the grey water. Then haul the tote to the dump station to empty. Totes come in various sizes from 10 gallons to more than 30 gallons.
There are some drawbacks to totes beyond the hauling and emptying. The sewer outlet on the coach must be somewhat higher than the inlet to the tote. And you must monitor the level in the tote. Because over filling will cause a backup into the slinky and plumbing system which will make a big mess when you disconnect the slinky from the tote.


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Old 08-26-2015, 08:03 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
You are correct in that the black water tank sits under the toilet.
Not sure about your '62 but most have a fresh water line connected to the toilet with a hand or foot flush valve. Operating the flush valve part way will put water in the bowl of the toilet. If you operate the flush valve to it's full open position it will open the valve (sliding door) in the bottom of the bowl and deposit said content into the black water tank. Perhaps the sprayer is used to put water into the bowl before and after use instead of the setup with the 2 stage valve setup.
The black water tank is connected to the sewer outlet via some piping and a valve called a "dump valve" which is normally kept closed until the black water tank is around 3/4 full. Then the sewer outlet is connected via a "slinky" hose to a waste sewer or dump station inlet.
In modern trailers the grey water tank shares the same sewer outlet but has a separate dump valve. Since the grey water does not contain a large amount of solid material the dump valve can remain open when connected to the sewer.
The normal operation is to hold both grey and black water when camping where there is no sewer connection. When you do have access to facilities for dumping. You dump the black water first then the grey. Utilizing the grey water to sorta flush out the sewer line and slinky.
If you don't have a grey water tank you won't have a grey water dump valve. Since back in the last century you could let the grey water just run out on the ground. Not so today. So short of installing a grey water tank and associated plumbing. If you don't have access to a sewer or dump station. You can use a portable tank or tote to hold the grey water. Then haul the tote to the dump station to empty. Totes come in various sizes from 10 gallons to more than 30 gallons.
There are some drawbacks to totes beyond the hauling and emptying. The sewer outlet on the coach must be somewhat higher than the inlet to the tote. And you must monitor the level in the tote. Because over filling will cause a backup into the slinky and plumbing system which will make a big mess when you disconnect the slinky from the tote.


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TG, thank you so much for this explanation! It makes sense to me. I am pretty sure my camper doesn't have the grey water tank and I don't plan to add one, but will got the blue tote option. Unless I can find a cheap tank, then I'll install one. I can't believe you're no longer allowed to just let grey water flow. It's cleaner than the highway rain water runoff!

I only have a single waste valve and positive it's the original from 1962. Hopefully I can still get a connection for it to go to the slinky tube. if I have to change the valve I'll do that next month when I have the floor out.

You're right about that toilet. I can see the foot valve does multiple operation. The sprayer must be there as a bidet function.
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Old 08-26-2015, 09:27 AM   #5
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Yes, you don't have any gray tanks. The sprayer is a "rinser" but probably wasn't used to fill the toilet. At least on my 64, there was a faucet handle to fill the toilet. Modern toilets do the half down fill option. What happens is that in a modern toilet, even when you flush, it rinses water from the top. If you wanted more water in the toilet, say for an expected #2, you add water like you would from your house to cover smells and make vacuation better. However, you wouldn't want a lot of water going down the road, so you would just flush but there would be a little water to keep things moist at the seal.

In your situation, you should have some other type of valve other than the sprayer that would let water into the toilet, but I could be wrong as yours is 2 years older than mine. And yes, the sprayer does have a bidet quality to it, but many times it was used to rinse the inside of the toilet.

the fittings have changed over the years. You may have to convert the fittings to a newer standard. If you're removing everything, you may want to consider upgrading the toilet. I know when I took mine out, the pot metal had literally -yes literally turned to dust. The new toilet is a little bigger but much more comfortable, and flushes and works better. My black tank was also cracked so I replaced everything. In the process, you may want to consider replacing the toilet and the tank. Of all the things on my trailer I wanted new, it was that. I never wanted to deal with a leak of that ... type.
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Old 08-26-2015, 09:38 AM   #6
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Rob, thanks, and good call. I'll see what the toilet and tank look like and consider a replacement. The toilet is going to be a big deal for my family, so don't want any issues there either.

Laura, I might have to get one of these gray water tanks from VTS. Did you have them install the fittings? If so, where did you vent the tank? Into an existing vent?
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Old 08-26-2015, 10:25 AM   #7
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I believe in '62 they were still using the original Airstream developed black water and sewer valves and fittings. They may be brass or cast aluminum. The transition to the newer (Thetford) fittings was made somewhere in those early '60's years. At any rate, the dump valve parts, and the fittings themselves are difficult if not impossible to come by. The outlet cover is affectionately called the "frying pan" and is cast Aluminum, and very rare.

This is one area that I would recommend you upgrade to newer parts and fittings. Unless you are doing a museum quality restoration, there is no real reason to stick with the true original sewer fittings. Even the long used Thetford fittings are becoming obsolete and hard to come by. The Valtera stile is almost universally used today by everyone, including Airstream.
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Old 08-26-2015, 11:31 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by idroba View Post
I believe in '62 they were still using the original Airstream developed black water and sewer valves and fittings. They may be brass or cast aluminum. The transition to the newer (Thetford) fittings was made somewhere in those early '60's years. At any rate, the dump valve parts, and the fittings themselves are difficult if not impossible to come by. The outlet cover is affectionately called the "frying pan" and is cast Aluminum, and very rare.

This is one area that I would recommend you upgrade to newer parts and fittings. Unless you are doing a museum quality restoration, there is no real reason to stick with the true original sewer fittings. Even the long used Thetford fittings are becoming obsolete and hard to come by. The Valtera stile is almost universally used today by everyone, including Airstream.
Awesome info! Thank you. I will definitely switch that over. I assume I can cut off the existing valve and find adapters at Home Depot if necessary?

I'm still holding out hope that the toilet and tank are good because I don't want to spend the $400 on that. I'm already $1500 over budget because the seller didn't tell the entire truth on some things.
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Old 08-26-2015, 12:07 PM   #9
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I actually see all the different fittings now on VTS. I'll wait until I get this all apart next month before ordering the valve so I know I get the right fittings.

This forums is amazing. I'm just checking off the things I need to know: water supply, sewage, electrical... I like to know this stuff well before I tear into it.
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Old 08-26-2015, 12:32 PM   #10
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Fittings are RV used only and mostly are not available at places like HD or Lowe's. A good RV parts place locally will probably be the best source. Not all RV dealers have good parts outlets though, so check out the local ones for a parts person who cares, and has a good catalog.

Common plastic drain line and sewer line fittings can be picked up at HD and Lowe's but not the speciality dump valves, close coupled combination fittings and terminations.

Someone here may have a good on line source of RV fittings, along with photos and dimensions. I am sorry, I don't.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:06 PM   #11
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I added a gray water tank from VTS to my 55 Flying Cloud. I had them install the fittings. I vented the tank by connecting to the existing vent line. I now have separate dump valves for gray and black tanks. Not period correct, but much more practical.
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Old 08-26-2015, 01:52 PM   #12
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You might look into a sewer solution as an alternative to the bulky stinky slinky google it
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Old 08-26-2015, 04:09 PM   #13
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Black Waste

I have a 72 Safari and it only has a 14 gallon black tank. AS did not put a grey water tank back then. If the waste water disposal did not have a cap then the grey water flowed directly on the ground, if it was capped then the grey water filled the pipe and overflowed into the shower floor. My AS was well taken care of so I don't have to do a shell off refurbish so I will buy a blue boy tank to hook up when boo docking.
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Old 08-27-2015, 07:34 AM   #14
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I have a 72 Safari and it only has a 14 gallon black tank. AS did not put a grey water tank back then. If the waste water disposal did not have a cap then the grey water flowed directly on the ground, if it was capped then the grey water filled the pipe and overflowed into the shower floor. My AS was well taken care of so I don't have to do a shell off refurbish so I will buy a blue boy tank to hook up when boo docking.
I'm going to skip the gray water tank and just go with a portable blue tank for now. if I change my mind I'll add it when I redo the belly pan. I'll add a valve onto the gray water line and keep an eye on backups.

My interior is well taken care of as well, but I'm not comfortable with the 53 year old wiring and insulation. That's my primary reason for gutting it.
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