I am posting this in hope that it may help someone with the same project.
This adventure began on our trip from Maryland to Florida in the fall of 2011.
We stopped to see our friends at Magnolia RV Park in South Carolina. After a couple of days hanging out, we prepared to depart. I pulled on the Black Tank drain valve handle to empty the tank and the whole rod, rod extension and handle pulled out of the valve!
The valve has been hard to operate and I knew a new Waste Valve was in my future, but I was hoping it would wait until we where parked in Florida.
Now I know what the first fun thing will be for me to do when I get to The Sunshine State. And I have something to think about for the rest of the trip; how am I going to get the valve open to empty the tank and flush it so we can put in the new valve?
Here’s the “poop” on the project:
Valve: Black Tank Waste Drain Valve - Valterra 3” (blade type gate valve)
RV: 1995 30’ Land Yacht LE Motorhome
We arrived at our new winter home, met the new neighbors, and apologized in advance for what may be some bad smells and language.
Depending on the RV, the access to the valve will vary, but if the valve is a Valterra Bladex waste valve, the replacement procedure should be the same.
Gaining Access To The Valve
On the 30’ Land Yacht LE Motorhome the valves are located behind a locker that contains the water and sewer hookups and an out-door shower.
First you have to remove all the hardware; shower, fresh tank fill y-valve, hot and cold drain valves, city water hook-up, sewer hose storage and valve handles.
Then you remove the back of the locker that all this stuff was mounted on and you have access to the tank drain valves. The black tank valve is deep in the back (of course).
There was not much space around the valve to work and someone with short arms would be in trouble. You can not see the two bolts on the back side of the valve so they had to be removed and r-installed by feel alone.
Open the Valve without a Handle
The first task is to open the valve and drain the tank. Then after flushing the tank, I can remove the old valve and install a new one. The main goal here is to do this with as little mess as possible.
There is no way to reconnect the rod to the valve. The rod has a detent or groove and must have been molded into the plastic blade of the valve.
Here’s what the blade and valve looked like after we got it out.
The plan is to cut the blade housing away from the valve and use vice grips to grab the blade and pull it open and drain the tank.
I used a Dremal tool to cut off the end of the blade housing to see what I could find but you can’t see much peering into that little slit.
I removed the rest of the blade housing. By cutting about 1” at a time, I wound up cutting away the housing right down to the valve.
At this point I could see the end of the valve’s blade and the place where the rod was attached. I looked like the right side was damaged.
I used a Dremel high speed cutter like this one to cut away enough of the housing to get a grip on the blade.
I used a set of needle-nose Vice Grips to grab the blade.
Then, very carefully, I pulled the blade out of the valve. I was afraid if the blade came all the way out I would be doing a Robin Williams moment with the poop fountain.
I got the valve open, with little mess, and drained and flushed the tank. Then removed the old valve and installed the new valve.
Spreading the two pipes on either side of the valve to install the new valve was one of the hardest parts of the job. The gaskets need to be carefully seated to avoid leaks and make the valve work smoothly. I used generous amounts of Vaseline to hold the gaskets in place during installation.
It’s all back together and no leaks!
Upon inspection of the old valve after removal, it appears one of the old gaskets was not installed correctly. It was pinched and crimped and may have been the reason the valve was hard to operate. It’s the one on the right…
I can’t tell you how glad I am that this job is done!
I hope this will help someone with this same project in the future. If anyone needs more help or advice, you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org