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Old 03-21-2012, 01:35 AM   #1
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Tank monitor problems.

Hi, no surprise to most of you, but my tank monitoring system doesn't work very well. Actually it is almost totally useless. fresh water doesn't read at all, black tank only reads empty, and Grey tank reads empty and full, but nothing in-between. Battery reads normal and water pump switch works good. We have been doing just fine without it, but I hate things that don't work. And to top it off, the system sensors are hidden and I would have to drop each tank to find them. Why couldn't Airstream put access covers on the tank covers so you could replace the sensors when needed or suspected?

Has anyone replaced this tank monitoring system with something more reliable? My 1959 Ford Galaxie gauges work fine, but my 2005 Safari gauges only worked for about three years. [that was with one warranty repair done on them]
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:39 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
Why couldn't Airstream put access covers on the tank covers so you could replace the sensors when needed or suspected?
Bob, the sensors are now placed right by the dump valves, and are very accessible.
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Old 03-21-2012, 06:43 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ROBERTSUNRUS View Post
And to top it off, the system sensors are hidden and I would have to drop each tank to find them. Why couldn't Airstream put access covers on the tank covers so you could replace the sensors when needed or suspected?
What Overlander63 said.

According to the 2005 Bambi/Safari Parts Book (available for download from Airstream), your tank monitor is a Catcon Micropulse (http://www.catconproducts.com/rv.htm— you may want to download the installation manual). The Micropulse system uses a single sensor per tank, mounted as close to the bottom of the tank as possible. It would look kind of like a drain plug, threaded into a fitting on the tank, proably low on one side. The cable leading to it would look much like a modular telephone cord, from back in the days where everyone had landline phones. The problem may not be with the sensor itself; it may be the cord leading from the sensor, or road grime in the cord's socket at the sensor.
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Old 03-21-2012, 07:20 AM   #4
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Arrow What I've done...

We are the exception I guess.

I did have to adjust the "pots" on the back side of the monitor panel several times.

One thing I have done that others may not do, after every trip, with the black tank empty, add 1/3 cup dawn thru the crapper and use the tank flush hooked to city water and fill, let sit 'til next trip and empty.

Hope I didn't just jinx the procedure.

Bob
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Old 03-21-2012, 08:56 AM   #5
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I'm in a similar situation. Same year, been 'fixed' once under warranty. Black tank doesn't read at all, grey tank actually seems to work, fresh water reads half full when full, and empty when half full. So... I'm also interested in alternate solutions. The battery always shows full power. Until then, I'll continue with the flashlight method of tank reading.

On another note, my first car was a 1959 Ford Galaxie, black with red interior, and chrome fender skirts. Those gauges worked great too.
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Old 03-21-2012, 09:57 AM   #6
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I replaced the black tank sending unit in December and re-calibrated the blank tank according to the directions in the manual. Wow, it worked perfectly... for a week (register full now all the time). The fresh water indicator works but seems to need to be re-calibrated. The gray tank monitor is spot on. The battery monitor seems to work correctly also.

When I replaced the blank tank sending unit it was filled with solids and I assumed that was likely the cause of not working. When the new unit started showing full tank only, I emptied the tank and removed the sending unit expecting it to be full of solids again but it wasn't. I'm going to try re-calibrating again and see if that works, but it is so easy to determine if the blank tank needs to be dumped that it is not on my high priority list.

I have used a cup of Boraxo in five gallons of water and then filled the black tank and allowed it to sit for 30 minutes and then flushed. I was amazed how much more "stuff" was dislodged. It wouldn't hurt to use a little soap periodically, but I'm not convinced that is what causes the sending unit to read as it does.

It appears that the black tank unit is the usual offender. It would sure be easier to use an electronic method (as the dealer does) to calibrate than going through the process of manually filling the tank but it does work. Good luck.
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:17 AM   #7
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Bob, I feel for you. I had problems with my monitor system that seemed to affect mainly the grey tank. I had calibrated all of the sensors 2-3 times before I gave up. The grey tank in particular kept failing to read.

When I was at the dealer last week they found the sensor was bad. replaced it and verified functionallity and recalibrated all the sensors.

If you don't have the manual, it's available online. Word of caution, it is 'not' user friendly with regards to the calibration. Before doing any calibrations or adjustments, check the connections of the cables both at the tanks and inside the trailer. On my trailer I opened the compartment under the refridgerator and removed the board (only 2 screws). Look around and you should find some phone or Cat V cables with and adaptor. Check these connections. If you have an extra sensor you could test the system from here, (this step requires 2 people, the second to push the buttons).

The sensors are pressure sensors (transducers) that sense a change of pressure in the tank. The inner face of the sensor has little spaces that may collect debris causing false readings.

I don't know when they changed the location of the sensors. Mine are near the bottom of the tanks. The tech had to cut an access hole under the belly to get to it. He also mentioned that in the past, the sensors were located near the drain valves.

My dealer allowed me to shadow the tech all day while he was taking care of my warranty hit list. It was a great learning experience. I'm not an expert, but I got a better understanding of different items and systems in my trailer.

Good Luck

Drew
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:21 AM   #8
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Silver Ranger,

It sounds like you need to recal your transducers. There is a way to do only 1 at a time. The manual explains this, but it took me a while to get the hang of it.

Good Luck

Drew
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Old 03-21-2012, 10:23 AM   #9
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I gave up. There are too many other things wrong with my trailer. But its so shiny.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:19 AM   #10
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If it's any consolation, the monitors on SOBs isn't much better. I have started telling people they are virtual-reality gauges. The best thing is just to learn when the tanks need dumping, rather than rely on the guages.
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63 View Post
If it's any consolation, the monitors on SOBs isn't much better. I have started telling people they are virtual-reality gauges. The best thing is just to learn when the tanks need dumping, rather than rely on the guages.
If you want to change to new tank sensors, the sensors on my Airstream Interstate class B are rather interesting. They are EXTERNAL sensors, no tank penetrations, and they monitor not only the fresh, gray, and black tanks, but even the built-in propane tank. Mine is made by Touchsensor, LLC. For retrofit installation of similar systems,you may want to check out the attached article from Practical Sailor. Each tank has several sensors, glued to the outside of the tank at the appropriate fluid level. Touchsensor uses Empty, 1/3, 2/3, and Full, but other models use Empty, 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, and Full.
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File Type: pdf PracticalSailorTankMonitorComparison.pdf (224.2 KB, 126 views)
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Old 03-21-2012, 11:53 AM   #12
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On my '05 it shifted into a good phase on the last trip. The black sensor on mine, since new, would flash red after putting about a gallon of water in the toilet. It went from full green to flashing red with a gallon.

On the last trip it worked properly. Go figure. I think it is a brief shining moment of normalcy that will soon revert to the typical crappy performance.

Most of the time I don't even bother to turn the sensor panel on. I'm glad I did on the last trip or I would have missed it.
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Old 03-21-2012, 12:14 PM   #13
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The gauges on my Excella have never worked and thus I've never relied on them for any information. I watch the black tank level and evacuate at about 70% capacity. The gauges on my '59 Galaxie Skyliner work great also!
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Old 03-21-2012, 01:13 PM   #14
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Gauges that work and gauges that don't.

Hi,
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