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Old 03-20-2012, 10:22 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
2012 27' FB International
Boulder , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2011
Posts: 66
Black tank gate valve doesn't close all the way

5 month old 27FB. The black tank gate valve will not push all the way in, maybe 1/2" shy of closing fully so that I can snap the clips on. The gate is sealed and not leaking and the tank completely drained and was flushed prior to closing. I notice there is a nut and thread on the end of the T handle. Is this to adjust the T handle so that the clips can be snapped in place as the handle doesn't close completely over time? It feels like the valve is seating and that nothing is caught in the slide...although this is subjective, it is not leaking at all. I'm stumped.

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Old 03-20-2012, 10:54 AM   #2
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2005 19' Safari
Phoenix , Arizona
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That valve is like a knife blade sliding into a groove in rubber-like gasket material. If the handle won't fully close to the position it previously did, most likely there is some debris trapped in the groove. From previous experience, this is usually toilet paper or some other non- or less-soluble material, or a small item that dropped in the black tank (we have grandkids). In my experience, the trapped material doesn't usually flush out on its own. The valve will eventually leak, if it doesn't already; and you'll have to disassemble the valve assembly enough to remove the debris.

You may wish to purchase a replacement valve (which is only a few dollars); and have it on hand in case you need to replace it. Since your Airstream is new, the valve most likely is OK; in which case, you can save the new part as a spare (you'll need it at some time in the future).

While clogs are not entirely avoidable, this occurrence can be greatly reduced by only flushing the black tank when it is full. Before dumping, if necessary, fill the tank with fresh water to get a strong, powerful flush. Also, close the black water valve before flushing the gray water, as food debris can backwash into the black water valve area.

In addition, make sure that everyone knows that the toilet is not a trash can; and it should not be used to deposit facial tissues, baby wipes, feminine products, cotton swabs, cotton balls, and other items that may consider flush-able at home.

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Old 03-20-2012, 10:58 AM   #3
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1988 25' Excella
Trumbull , Connecticut
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 192
Tank Gate Valve

Hello. If the gate valves closed before then there is something stuck in the grooves that the gate blade closes into. You are right the threaded shaft and T handle can be adjusted but if it did work before adjusting them now would only be covering up a problem.
The gate valve housings, on me 1988 Excella., are held togeather be 4 screws. Making sure the tank is empty take the housing apart and remove what ever is stuck in the grooves. Very easy to do.
Good luck Happy camping nm1oqrz
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:00 PM   #4
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2010 30' Classic
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South of the river , Minnesota
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Posts: 4,020
My Airstream when new had the handles adjusted so that the valves were closed extremely tightly when the clips were on. You are correct that the locknuts can be loosened and the handles screwed in a little further to adjust things. If they closed all the way before without excessive force and now do not well maybe there's some debris in there but if it's been more or less of a problem since new and they could only ever be closed with considerable force then maybe they were set too snug at the factory.
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Old 03-20-2012, 12:10 PM   #5
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2011 25' FB Flying Cloud
Peculiar , Missouri
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Posts: 464
Motozen, I had a similar problem with my black drain valve. As previously mentioned, make sure the valve is fully cleared. The nut can be loosened in order to close the valve completely. If this completely closes the valve,then this could be the fix.

My problem was either the extender between the threaded portion of the valve and the handle was too short (about 1 or 2 inches), or the plate was too far outward. I thought adding a longer extension would have worked, but the simple fix was to drill out the rivits holding the plate in place and moving it inward.

I found this out on our first trip. As I was dumping the tanks after a piece of plywood was flushed out, I noticed I couldn't close the valve completely, even though the nut was stopped against the plate. I adjusted the nut by the tee handle and the valve closed perfectly. (I'll reserve my comments about the wood and valve for a different thread).

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Old 03-20-2012, 12:44 PM   #6
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2007 30' Classic
Albuquerque , New Mexico
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After dumping your black water tank, always flush two, full toilet bowls with the dump valve in the open position before you close it. This usually clears the toilet paper residue from the valve.
If you had X-Ray vision you would see toilet paper residue and man wipes left behind in the bottom of the drain pipe and valve.
Two flushes will carry this residue out the drain and down into the sewer.
Then, dump your gray-water tank to clean the line.
Ken L
2007 Classic Limited 30 (Sold)
2007Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Duramax/Allison
Four Corners Unit WBCCI #8654, Affiliate NM Unit
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:25 PM   #7
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1992 29' Excella
Asheville , North Carolina
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possible fix

On my excella the valve is contained inside the metal cover around the tank and has a 90 degree bend in the pipe before the valve so visually inspecting or easy access is impossible. When I had the unfortunate "stuff" stuck in the valve I began by flushing the tank repeatedly until clear water was coming out. I was then able to insert a water jet power snake (as seen on T.V.)from the outside until it hit the closed valve. I then turned on the water, opened the valve and worked the snake in and out and was able to dislodge some of the bits and pieces out enough to get it to close completely. The end has 4 sideways jets in addition to the jet out the end. While this was not the cleanest job there is with an AS it was surly a whole lot easier than dropping the pan and disassembling the valve.
It may work for you also.
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Old 03-20-2012, 01:37 PM   #8
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2008 25' Safari FB SE
Grand Junction , Colorado
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Never assume the valve handle was adjusted properly when you took possession of the trailer, but if it closed completely when new, it should do so now.

I backflush the tank with a Flush King. That should loosen anything caught in there, but it may not. There is also available valve lubricant to make the slide work better and I use that periodically. The lubricant works somewhat, but is not magical. In the winter I put some RV antifreeze in the black and grey tanks to keep them lubricated.

Sometimes I can't get the handle in quite all the way and sometimes I can. It works stiffly, but can be used. I am avoiding taking it apart for obvious reasons, but that would be the best thing to do to look for debris after backflushing and lubricating.

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Old 03-25-2012, 11:15 AM   #9
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2005 19' Safari
Phoenix , Arizona
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Just found this video on It covers several brands of waste valves and shows how the seals, etc. fit together: : B004RCXC1G
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Old 03-25-2012, 12:23 PM   #10
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1962 19' Globetrotter
1963 19' Globetrotter
1961 19' Globetrotter
Wheat Ridge , Colorado
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It sounds like to me that the rubber seal is bad and needs to be replaced. You can do this your self by removing the rubber seal by disassembling the valve and replacing them. Or because it is so new the dealership should in my mind fix it for you for free.

If the seal is not pinched in place just right when installed this is a common problem!

Hope that helps!
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:28 PM   #11
2010 25' FB Flying Cloud
Danville , Pennsylvania
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How do you get at the valves to repair them? On my 2010 Flying Cloud, the valves are completely enclosed.
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Old 04-24-2012, 08:44 PM   #12
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2006 23' Safari SE
Biloxi , Mississippi
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Would this be covered under warranty? Knowing what a new Airstream cost I would make Airstream fix every little problem.
WBCCI 10656 Southeastern Camping Unit
Associate European Unit
2006 Safari LS 23 ft
Formerly 1964 Bambi II

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Old 04-25-2012, 07:47 AM   #13
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2012 27' FB International
Boulder , Colorado
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I have an app't at Windish in Denver next month to take it in to fix a laundry list of items...including a failed refrigerator! I will post what they do to fix the valve problem.
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Old 05-05-2012, 09:32 PM   #14
2010 25' FB Flying Cloud
Danville , Pennsylvania
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Posts: 10
I tried to purchase a Drain blaster water powered plastic snake drain cleaner. The web site lists these, however, no prices are given, and clicking on the Drain blaster does not add it to the shopping cart. Any one know how to purchase one of these?

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