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Old 11-17-2013, 08:28 AM   #1
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Thetford valve fail; help!

Day 3 of full timing and it looks like the pre-emptive winterizing before leaving Chicago didn't fully blow the water out of the toilet flush valve. Small geyser at the supply connection to the valve made a small flood as soon as we hooked up water here in Hot Springs NP. With water shut off at the toilet, we can at least use a bucket to flush...inelegant for sure, but workable till we can repair. Pix shows the cracked nut attaching to the valve at the bottom (right actually, sideways photo, of course).

We're headed to Livingston TX tomorrow to visit Escapees mothership and set up domicile in Polk County... and try to get this fixed.

Disinclined to self repair as my diagnosis is rudimentary at best and tools and access to obscure parts lacking should the fix be complicated. Assume the toilet has to come out to replace the valve (or worse) and reading forum posts it sounds like pulling and resetting is not easy. Thetford Aqua Magic V seems to get less than stellar reviews with some having multiple (somewhat random?) failures.

Questions: Any recommendations for repair? Several RV dealers in Livingston and an Airstream dealership in Houston pop up. Having not done repairs on the road, whether to live in the TT while being serviced (possible?) versus finding a hotel seems daunting as I'm working at my old job remotely from the road (ineffectively until I get oriented, it seems).

Other thought is whether, given the opportunity, just replacing the Thetford with a more reliable toilet might be the more economical route in the long run?

Ah well. Situation is better than an outhouse and I suppose we can keep a bucket handy for the time being. Would very much appreciate any advice or pointers to all the thread posts I'm sure I've missed.

Thanks in advance, Al & Robin
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:05 AM   #2
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If you can find a replacement valve at a dealer it is not hard to replace. But not everyone keeps them in stock. Removing the toilet is necessary but is easy as there are only two nuts holding it in place. The valve assembly is held on with a screw or two. The whole operation is easy and requires no special tools. You may want to replace the seal on the bottom of the toilet since you have it off. You'll want a rag handy to seal the hole to the black tank while you have it off.
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Old 11-17-2013, 11:10 AM   #3
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Ok ignorant Fl boy question. So the part froze while in travel? If so can/could you leave a heater/ furnace on while towing the trailer? I know people leave their propane refrigerators on.
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Old 11-17-2013, 12:10 PM   #4
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Sounds like almcate's valve froze after winterizing. But yes you can travel with the heat on, just set to 40 unless you want it warmer. Sometimes the pilot can blow out but the propane will shutoff if it does. Also open all curtains and skylights for solar warming.
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Old 11-17-2013, 04:51 PM   #5
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As long as ignorant questions are allowed... if we hit a cold spell in the trailer, say overnights into the 20s, is the heat generated inside the trailer sufficient to prevent freezing? How low is too low? And of course, if the too low temps persist, what's the best fall back to protect the water lines?
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Old 11-17-2013, 05:32 PM   #6
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On subfreezing nights be sure to disconnect the external city water hose. The propane heater is sufficient to protect your internal lines and tanks. We keep the temperature around 62-63 overnight and use either flannel sheets or a thicker polyester fleece blanket; that is comfortable for us.

If you aren't camping, then drain all your water lines and water heater, I use compressed air and a fitting on the city water inlet, and add RV antifreeze in the J traps (sinks & shower).
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Old 11-17-2013, 05:32 PM   #7
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When below freezing, it is best to run your furnace as there is ducting to the tanks and piping within the trailer. When it's that cold I set the temp about 55-60 and layer on some blankets and then crank it up when i get up. You can supplement the furnace with an electric heater when temps are above freezing.
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Old 11-17-2013, 07:10 PM   #8
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Diving into full-time streaming is probably only possible for all the good advice my lurking here has turned up (sometimes too much of a good thing as my poor little newbie head just about explodes with all the details I need to know to keep my mini-manse out of trouble. Hopefully we'll stay southish enough of the hard-freeze line to avoid freezing again, but then again I know the best laid plans... seem to turn up on a desperate post for advice on the forums.
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Old 11-18-2013, 07:41 AM   #9
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I agree with Mojo, replacing a toilet valve is easy but not particularly pleasant.
Galaxies are the most common toilet. Camping World and most rv repair shops stock the valves.
When the valve on my Galaxy failed I replaced it with a Thetford china toilet. All the Thetford flange fittings are the same but you may have to get a 1/2 inch flexible toilet water hose to make the plumbing connection fit. Dimensions of the Thetford toilets are on the internet. Some of their toilets are long and may not fit in every Airstream.
I blow out the lines to winterize and carry a small compressor. If I am facing a cold day on the road, I will winterize before I leave. It takes me about 1/2 hour.
The toilet water valve is below where the water come out. I blow it out 3 or 4 times until I get nothing but air coming out.
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Old 11-19-2013, 06:33 AM   #10
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Wondering how much heavier the china WC is compared to the plastic versions? Sounds like Handn prefers the Thetford to the Galaxy ... assume for the china. Torn between repair and replacement. As full timers from here on, hope to not face similar freezing issues, but the mentions I've I seen of spontaneous failure makes me wonder about Thetford's overall reliability. Would stock parts for the Thetford be pretty available or more likely to be an Airstream centric item?
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Old 11-19-2013, 08:49 AM   #11
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Go for the china. The weight difference is not much at all. Check the camping world website they carry both and you should be able to see the weights for each there. I just did it last spring and never looked back.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:16 AM   #12
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The issue with the Aqua V is the open chamber between the flush flapper and the black tank. Not very sanitary. If you decide to replace, china or plastic, look for a straight tube from the flapper down to the black tank seal.
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Old 11-19-2013, 10:26 AM   #13
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I have an Aqua V in our coach. It dumps straight into the BW tank. I open the flush valve after dumping the BW tank to make sure the tank is clean and empty.
Maybe there is a difference between low and high profile. This one is low profile.
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Old 11-19-2013, 11:38 AM   #14
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I installed the new Dometic 310 tall China toilet two weeks ago (in roughly 45 minutes) as a replacement for the original low height Therford plastic model. The china bowl is easier to clean, flushes better, and is a visual improvement, too. Ours came from PPL in Houston - best price available anywhere at the time. $135 including the handheld spray attachment others want another $30-35 for as an accessory. We are very happy we did it.
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