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Old 06-21-2013, 12:17 PM   #1
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I hate the MACERATOR system!

Forgive me if this topic has already been aired to death, but having exchanged our Flying Cloud for an Interstate, we're frustrated by the dumping process on the Interstate.
When we're hooked up, we like to be liberal with electricity and water, and my wife will happily take a 5+ minute shower - yes even in the Interstate.
So WHY didn't Airstream think about this and provide an openable grey water valve as in their travel trailers?
I'm forever worried about whether the grey tank will overflow, and consequently the macerator pump gets used several times a day when we're hooked up.
It's driving me nuts.
Is it possible/feasible to remove the macerator and go back to the valve system?
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Old 06-21-2013, 01:46 PM   #2
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I too am Leary about the "macerator only" situation. From prior experience, I know these things will occasionally fail or get stuck, and that scares me... I am considering installing a 4" valve somewhere upstream of the macerator. (no pun intended). That will give me an "either/or" option. Still studying the problem, and I too would appreciate any suggestions or ideas.
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Old 06-21-2013, 02:48 PM   #3
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We just got our Interstate and had the same concerns. We haven't gone camping yet and, before we go, wanted to know what everyone else does when hooked up. Do you leave the hose hooked up, check the status of the tanks once in a while, and turn on the pump when the tanks start to get full? Do you retract the hose after every dump? Thanks,
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:39 PM   #4
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I LOVE my macerator!

Does this mean that the Interstate has only ONE waste tank? If so, what a shame. And poor design too.

When I highly “contemporized” my 1976 ARGOSY several years ago, I had built what I call a Waste Management System. See posts 526 and 529 on my main thread here:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f227...-18448-38.html

We used the Sani Con macerator, since acquired by Thetford. See post 582 here:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f227...tml#post726471

The Sani Con has a GREY WATER BYPASS as a standard feature. You keep the grey water valve open while connected to a sewer and rarely worry about overflow.

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Old 06-21-2013, 03:55 PM   #5
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I've only had my Interstate for a couple of months but I should recount a couple of "macerator system issues" I've met so far:
1) The faucet in the kitchen sink has a design flaw in that if the water flow valve is left in the upright (hot) position, then when you close the glass lid, it pushes down on the valve and opens it. This happened once when we were connected to the City water, so the pump was switched off, and since we had the A/C running, we heard nothing. After a few minutes my wife noticed water flowing off the top of the countertop onto the floor. The grey water tank had filled completely and it was backed up into the kitchen sink and out. If the Interstate had had a conventional dump valve, that could never have happened.
2) The macerator reel and box on the Interstate is a very tight fit, and after a few uses, the hose has become severely pinched by the motor and reel, and now has a split in it. So it leaks and will need to be replaced.
I'm pretty disappointed about several details issues like that in our Interstate.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:38 PM   #6
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Does this mean that the Interstate has only ONE waste tank? If so, what a shame. And poor design too.
No. Late-model Interstates have one 26-gallon gray tank and one 26-gallon black tank. Both feed to the macerator through separate valves. Since on-board fresh water is 26 gallons in the fresh tank plus 6 gallons in the water heater, there's little danger of overflowing either waste tank while boondocking, if you dump the waste tanks every time you fill the fresh tank.

Letting the gray tank run free is not a great option even with a macerator pump that has a graywater bypass. Since the Interstate's 1" discharge hose is permanently attached, the only way the hose ever gets rinsed out is by pumping out the soapy gray water after the black water, or by using the heck out of the black tank flush fitting until the water comes out clear.

I've been using my Interstate for a year and a half, sometimes with full hookups, sometimes at campgrounds with dump stations. I'm pretty frugal about water usage, but when I have full hookups, I make a point of setting up a schedule for dumping the tanks. For me, once every four days is plenty often, since I've been known to stretch my water supply out to seven days by judicious use of sponge baths that are even more water-saving than a Navy shower (but then again, I am a solo camper).

Pumping out the tanks isn't terribly onerous. The macerator will pump out about 8 gallons per minute, so it only takes three minutes per tank to get them emptied. The black tank does take slightly longer if there are a lot of solids to chew up.

Easy way to figure out a schedule for how often to dump your tanks, go to a campground with full hookups. Then, fill the fresh tank, and don't connect the fresh water hose. Then use water from your fresh tank until you run out. That tells you how long it will take to use 26~32 gallons of water. That's also about how often you should dump the tanks to ensure your peace of mind.

Once you've used the fresh tank for one complete fill/empty cycle, hook up to the municipal water supply like normal people, and remember to dump the tanks whenever you've used 26~32 gallons of water.

One other point to remember, even though you can use the macerator pump without unreeling all of your hose, go ahead and unreel it all anyway. Pumping out while the hose is partially spooled up traps water in the hose that would otherwise drain out.

I've never had the hose bind tight enough to split it. The fuse for the take-up reel should have blown before things got that bad. I've blown fuses three times on my take-up reel, but two of those times were on my very first trip, before figuring out how to reel the hose in more slowly— one hand on the hose to guide it, one hand on the switch to stop the reel if the hose doesn't spool up properly on the reel. That gives me the opportunity to pull the hose back out partway and try again before it binds. The other time I blew a hose reel fuse, it was in a howling thunderstorm but I had to get back home so I could report to work the next day, and I got in a hurry and forgot my own technique. Lot of good that did, because I had to change the fuse and go back out into the storm to finish reeling in the hose.

Airstream could have put in a better hose reel with a built-in guide roller. They could have put a second set of tank level gauges outside by the macerator pump controls so you don't have to go back inside to make sure you've pumped the tanks dry. They could have put in a screw fitting so that you could unscrew the hose and remove or replace it more easily. They could have made the hose reel compartment bigger so the nozzle fits inside more easily. But they didn't. I don't mind, much. It's what I'm accustomed to, now.

And, at almost every campground I go to, I see people with slinkies who tell me they wish they had a macerator pump instead, because the discharge hose is so clean and easy to handle compared to a slinky.
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Old 06-21-2013, 04:59 PM   #7
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Has anyone successfully converted from the macerator system?
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Old 06-21-2013, 05:09 PM   #8
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Has anyone successfully converted from the macerator system?
Should be doable. If you look under the Interstate, you'll see that the hoses from the black and gray tanks to the macerator pump are the same size as a slinky hose. You'd have to figure out where to store the slinky; it wouldn't go on a hose reel, but if you remove the hose reel you might be able to fit some kind of storage box in its place.
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Old 06-21-2013, 05:27 PM   #9
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How does Pleasure Way do it? I recently parked next to an (almost) identical 2010 Pleasure Way. While the Airstream had many features he liked, we both agreed that his traditional drainage system was preferable.
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Old 06-21-2013, 06:36 PM   #10
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I don't see any real advantage to a macerator; my Flying Cloud didn't have it and I stored the slinky hose in a plastic tube underneath, and an extension inside the rear fender compartment. The salesman said I could use the macerator to empty my Interstate at home (really?), but he must have been told to say that at an Airstream seminar.
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Old 06-21-2013, 07:31 PM   #11
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I don't see any real advantage to a macerator; my Flying Cloud didn't have it and I stored the slinky hose in a plastic tube underneath, and an extension inside the rear fender compartment. The salesman said I could use the macerator to empty my Interstate at home (really?), but he must have been told to say that at an Airstream seminar.
You can use a slinky to empty your holding tanks at home, too, as long as you've got a sewer cleanout plug within reach that can be used as a dump station. That's all a dump station really is, a cleanout plug with an easy-open cover, and a hose nearby for rinsing purposes.

Really, I don't see where a slinky or a macerator is superior. Both have their good points, both have their bad points. It all comes down to personal preference. Early-model Interstates had slinkies; I don't recall exactly when they switched to macerators.

I'd be entirely happy with my macerator pump, if only it had a better hose reel.
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:27 AM   #12
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I can't imagine anyone wanting to be in the shower any longer than a Navy reg shower let alone five minutes or longer. It's just not that much fun when the shower curtain wants to become one w/ you.

I agree w/ Protagonist in that you have to guide the hose back on the reel to prevent binding. The dealer still hasn't figured out why my "Valve Open" lites on the switches don't illuminate.

I bought some 1" tubing and put a fitting on the end to screw in to the macerator hose and I stick the other end in the deep sink drain in the garage and pump away.
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Old 06-22-2013, 12:59 AM   #13
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My trailer colleagues convinced us to look at, and then we went with the Sewer Solution. It does use more water, but I keep the grey valve open since there is only a 1" smooth hose and the water hookup that is used for black tank disposal also cleans the hose. I was also told that macerators can jam up and need to be pulled off and have the impeller manually cleaned. The Sewer Solution only has a water jet and so far has been 100% dependable.
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Old 06-22-2013, 05:15 AM   #14
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I didn't pay a lot of attention to what was going on but: At an AS rally I was parked next door to an Interstate. We had pump out service one day. To do the pump out, he borrowed my stinky slinky, and hooked it directly to his system. The pump out truck put his wand in the open end of the slinky and it pumped out. I wish I'd payed more attention as to what was going on.
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