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Old 11-02-2015, 04:07 PM   #1
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Milford , Michigan
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Addition Of Gray Water Tank 1970 Safari

Hello all. I am a new airstream owner and a newbie to referbing them. I have a 1970 23' Safari that had a rotten subfloor at the rear, so after reading many threads on the subject (thanks for the help! what a great site) I have removed the last 8' of subfloor and am looking at my options to put it all back together. I want gray water tanks, so the two bays closest to the axle look suitable to me. They measure roughly 22" x 60". Picture attached. Also attache is a rough sketch of my idea on the new bathroom, in the back corner is a shower then the head and up front a sink. Here are some questions for those of you who have done this before:

1) Because of the frame it looks like I will need to put the black water tank above the floor, fabricate a compartment for it and get a low profile toilet. Is this correct? I don't suppose you can plumb the drain from the toilet to a black tank amid ship and then back to the dump valve right? Not thinking it would work right.

2) I am wanting to get as much capacity as I can for the gray tanks, so I am planning on plumbing two together in which the kitchen sink, lavatory sink and shower will drain to. What issues am I going to run into with this plan?

3) How are the tanks generally attached to the frame?

4) I know there are issues that have not occurred to me yet. What are they?

I appreciate any help you folks are willing to give. I am amazed at the knowledge and willingness to help out there. Thank you.
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Old 11-03-2015, 10:20 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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I did essentially the same thing you are planning with my '73 Globetrotter. I used the shallow Vintage Trailer Supply tanks (now they have slightly larger ones optimized for 70's frames), and put them in the same two bays that you are looking at using. I'll address your questions by number below:

1) Trailers have been set up both ways, with the black tank above the floor and a low profile toilet, and with the tank below the floor and a taller toilet, so you could go either way. My '73 originally had the tank above the floor, and since I am putting the bathroom back together in essentially the same configuration, I found it easiest to buy the exact replacement tank from INCA Plastics and have my tank above deck. I suppose there is also the benefit of keeping the tank warm(er) in cold weather with it above deck. Regardless, you will want your toilet to dump straght into your black tank, and to have the drain (dump valve) come right off the tank. Running black water fore and aft in low angle, small piping is just a clog waiting to happen. Maybe you could get away with it if you had a macerating toilet, but it doesn't seem worth the complexity.

2) As described above, I used two tanks in two adjacent bays as you are planning to do. The drawback I worry about at night is that the flexible coupling that links the two tanks together is only a couple inches long. I can't help thinking that if I had put one tank in the bay above the axles, then skipped a bay before installing the next tank, that my flexible coupling would have had lots more room to breathe (flex). I don't have many miles on my set-up yet, so the jury is still out. I might just get away with it. You will need to modify the cross member in between the tanks so that you can install the coupling hose as low as absolutely possible. I cut out a section of the cross member, and then made a bolt-in thick strap to restore the bottom support of the cross member.

3) Lots of people use metal straps covered with rubber to both support the tanks and to attach them to the frame cross members. I built a support system that is essentially just like the plywood and angle iron support that is used under the fresh water tank. I guess I thought that these tanks are pretty fragile and could use the full support of a sheet a plywood, much like the FW tank.

4) You are going to have to order your tanks with the threaded holes spun in, so you are going to need to have your whole plumbing completely thought out before ordering the tanks. At the time I did mine, I just used a pencil sketch, and I came out alright. Right now I am designing some kitchen cabinetry, and am learning to use the free-ware Sketchup to do the drawing. This would have been a handy tool to visualize my plumbing in the design phase. It has really helped me to see the complexities of my cabinetry (including accommodating the sink draining into my new grey tanks), as it produces a 3D picture.

good luck!
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Old 11-03-2015, 10:58 AM   #3
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1967 26' Overlander
1955 22' Flying Cloud
1964 17' Bambi II
Clear Lake Shores , Texas
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Did the same thing in my 55 FC but just added a single gray tank (16 gallons) due to space constraints. I put the black tank above the floor and mounted a low profile toilet on top. Both tank came from VTS and nothing extends below the belly pan (luckily my frame is 4 inches deep). I used galvanized strapping covered in rubber hose and bolted to frame members to support the gray tank.
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:02 AM   #4
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Good stuff. Thank you for the input!
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Old 11-04-2015, 09:33 AM   #5
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Richmond , Virginia
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There are a lot of great posts here. One thing I used a lot in my tank work was "t" nuts. I couldn't find galvanized, so I painted mine once they were in. This is important to think ahead.

You can get a roll of galvanized hurricane strapping from Amazon. I cut it, put it in my vice, then hammered it and made the shapes to follow my tank, then bolted through the floor. I used large headed elevator bolts, that were dropped into a recess i cut in the floor with a forstener bit, then leveled over with bondo. In some places, I bolted a strap to the cross members. Search by my handle and you can find some posts. I made my tanks from 1/4" abs because VTS didn't have them at the time.
Anyway, on the T nuts: you drill the hole, and hammer them up from the bottom. That way you have great attachment points for all kinds of things if you plan ahead. I put my gray tanks between my axles, but also wanted to center my batteries and fresh water tanks there. The only way to do that was to strap them down, but you can't drill through your new gray tanks, so you can use the t nuts to anchor them to the floor appropriately. When I put in the black tank below the floor, I put a piece of angle iron on the top side, which allowed me to stiffen up the floor since I couldn't have a cross member below. I'm a little particular about all this stuff, but I have no worries about the trailer this way.
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Old 11-05-2015, 09:36 AM   #6
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Milford , Michigan
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I did essentially the same thing you are planning with my '73 Globetrotter. I used the shallow Vintage Trailer Supply tanks (now they have slightly larger ones optimized for 70's frames), and put them in the same two bays that you are looking at using. I'll address your questions by number below:

1) Trailers have been set up both ways, with the black tank above the floor and a low profile toilet, and with the tank below the floor and a taller toilet, so you could go either way. My '73 originally had the tank above the floor, and since I am putting the bathroom back together in essentially the same configuration, I found it easiest to buy the exact replacement tank from INCA Plastics and have my tank above deck. I suppose there is also the benefit of keeping the tank warm(er) in cold weather with it above deck. Regardless, you will want your toilet to dump straght into your black tank, and to have the drain (dump valve) come right off the tank. Running black water fore and aft in low angle, small piping is just a clog waiting to happen. Maybe you could get away with it if you had a macerating toilet, but it doesn't seem worth the complexity.

2) As described above, I used two tanks in two adjacent bays as you are planning to do. The drawback I worry about at night is that the flexible coupling that links the two tanks together is only a couple inches long. I can't help thinking that if I had put one tank in the bay above the axles, then skipped a bay before installing the next tank, that my flexible coupling would have had lots more room to breathe (flex). I don't have many miles on my set-up yet, so the jury is still out. I might just get away with it. You will need to modify the cross member in between the tanks so that you can install the coupling hose as low as absolutely possible. I cut out a section of the cross member, and then made a bolt-in thick strap to restore the bottom support of the cross member.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
3) Lots of people use metal straps covered with rubber to both support the tanks and to attach them to the frame cross members. I built a support system that is essentially just like the plywood and angle iron support that is used under the fresh water tank. I guess I thought that these tanks are pretty fragile and could use the full support of a sheet a plywood, much like the FW tank.
4) You are going to have to order your tanks with the threaded holes spun in, so you are going to need to have your whole plumbing completely thought out before ordering the tanks. At the time I did mine, I just used a pencil sketch, and I came out alright. Right now I am designing some kitchen cabinetry, and am learning to use the free-ware Sketchup to do the drawing. This would have been a handy tool to visualize my plumbing in the design phase. It has really helped me to see the complexities of my cabinetry (including accommodating the sink draining into my new grey tanks), as it produces a 3D picture.

good luck!

I like the angle iron /plywood option but the VTS tanks are 4 3/4 and the bay measures 5. So that leaves 1/4 inch plywood. Is that enoufg to support the tank? Or maybe I can add some cross member support under the plywood?
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Old 03-06-2016, 04:46 PM   #7
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1967 22' Safari
1977 31' Sovereign
Narvon , Pennsylvania
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So how did the gray tank install work out?
I have a 67 Safari that I have apart now and I am thinking of doing this.
Sounds easy but......
Thanks, Ken
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Old 03-08-2016, 06:48 AM   #8
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Milford , Michigan
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Hey Ken,

I am almost done. The floor is back in and I am fitting the black water tank now, above the floor. I went with two gray water tanks from VTS. I used some heavy angle iron to form cross members and some strap iron to support the tanks. It's a tight fit!

I live in Michigan, so I have not leak tested anything yet....the real test has yet to come....other that lots of man hours and bloody knuckles, everything seems to have worked out ok.

Here are some pictures and I will post a picture once the black tank is in. Let me know if you have specific questions and I will help in any way I can. Good luck!
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Old 10-04-2016, 01:17 AM   #9
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1972 23' Safari
Hereford , Arizona
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How difficult would it be to add grey tanks from underneath. My 72 Safari is in great shape so I don't want to tear the floor up.
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Old 10-06-2016, 01:54 PM   #10
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Milford , Michigan
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Originally Posted by BScott View Post
How difficult would it be to add grey tanks from underneath. My 72 Safari is in great shape so I don't want to tear the floor up.
I never looked at doing it from underneath because I was ripping up the floor. So, my best guess is that it would be even more difficult because of the extremely tight fit of all the components. The inlets to the tanks are from above and the side, it's a big 3D puzzle. I don't think I would try it from below, but I bet someone has (and maybe has posted about it). As they say, where there is a will, there is a way...
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Old 10-06-2016, 02:50 PM   #11
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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I installed new grey tanks as I was rebuilding my trailer during a shell-off. With a bare frame, I first installed the floor on the frame, then flipped it over so I was looking at the underside, and then I installed all insulation, put the tanks in, and finally installed the bellypan.

In your case you will remove the center section of the belly pan, and then do the installation from underneath, and then put the bellypan back in place. If your Safari is anything like my Globetrooter, then you can remove just the center of the belly without futzing with the banana wraps, edges, or lower beltline trim. Yes, it will be painful to do all this work from underneath, but it would make no sense to tear up perfectly good floor and then have to replace it, as then you would have to remove lower interior skins and the edges of the belly pan in order to access the bolts that go through the outriggers, the edge of the plywood, and the bottom of the walls.

Good luck!
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Old 10-20-2016, 12:41 PM   #12
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1967 22' Safari
1977 31' Sovereign
Narvon , Pennsylvania
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Hi Chris,
How did it work out? I am about to do mine now and have some questions for you.
How did you run the drain pipe to the rear dump valve? There is no room on mine between the cross members??? Did you have to run the pipe outside of the "warm" area? I am leaving the black water tank below the floor, so I guess that takes up all the wiggle room....
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Old 10-23-2016, 07:09 AM   #13
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Milford , Michigan
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Hey Ken,

Sorry for the slow response, i wanted to get a picture for you. It worked out well. We have been out camping twice this season and everything is working as expected. To answer your question, yes, I ran the drain a short distance beneath the belly skin to the dump valve. I moved the dump valve forward so it would sit right beneath the black water tank. Attached are a few pictures.
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