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Old 09-22-2012, 10:09 AM   #1
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2012 16' International
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Black water flush

We have a 2012 16' International. It has a combined gray/black tank and a black water flush system.

Does this thing work with unpressurized water? A lot of dump stations have a hose, but the hose does not have a fitting and so we cannot attach it to the flush value. If you try to use an hose without a fitting, the water just squirts back at you.

Dump valve open or not? The trailer sticker says the valve has to be open. The manual says the valve has to be closed. We'll do what the sticker says, but they are in conflict.

I'm also calling the dealer to see what they say.

-quilter
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:22 AM   #2
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We have a separate hose for the flush system and attach it to the hose bib if the one at the domp station is 'damaged?'. Some dump sites cut the end if the hose off to prevent the use of black tank flush systems to save water. We close the dump valve, fill to 3/4 full, dump again, and repete 3-4 times until clean. I recommend that you get a clear section of dump pipe so you can actually see when the tank is clean and the water is running clear.
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:42 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Scott J-24 View Post
We have a separate hose for the flush system and attach it to the hose bib if the one at the domp station is 'damaged?'. Some dump sites cut the end if the hose off to prevent the use of black tank flush systems to save water. We close the dump valve, fill to 3/4 full, dump again, and repete 3-4 times until clean. I recommend that you get a clear section of dump pipe so you can actually see when the tank is clean and the water is running clear.
I use a very similar procedure, but keep in mind, you don't have to do this often. Unless there is a reason (an unusual plug or stubborn solids) I only flush thoroughly at the end of the season prior to winterizing and putting the AS to bed.
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:53 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by quilter View Post
We have a 2012 16' International. It has a combined gray/black tank and a black water flush system.

Does this thing work with unpressurized water? A lot of dump stations have a hose, but the hose does not have a fitting and so we cannot attach it to the flush value. If you try to use an hose without a fitting, the water just squirts back at you.

Dump valve open or not? The trailer sticker says the valve has to be open. The manual says the valve has to be closed. We'll do what the sticker says, but they are in conflict.

I'm also calling the dealer to see what they say.

-quilter
1. Nope. It is basically a hose leading to a bunch of spray nozzles, or sometimes a rotating head. It needs pressure, and a fairly good seal or as you note, you'll get wet. If they get plugged you definitely need a proper fitting.

2. Mine says to have it open (on the sticker near the flush) which I theorized was because it would pressurize the system... but the tank is vented to the roof so that can't happen. The only other reason I can think is the chance you leave it running too long and overflow the tank, which could be messy. But, there is no advantage to having it spray with a full or partially full tank - it needs to spray out to the ends of the tank. It doesn't have nearly the power to agitate the whole tank full of crap. If you had the time it would be good to let it run 15-20 minutes at the end of the season while hooked to the dump.

So, I think the reason the want the valve open is because it won't really do anything until it is in free-space.
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Old 09-22-2012, 06:22 PM   #5
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The black tank spray system seems to do very little to clean the tank, except perhaps as a final rinse. Instead, we completely fill the black tank before dumping. This gives a powerful flush that (for us) has always removed all of the solid waste. If I was buying a new Airstream, I'd skip the spray system and get a second FantasticFan, instead.
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Old 09-22-2012, 06:47 PM   #6
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I think the spray system has been included for a number of years. I believe it is just one hole in the tank and doesn't do much. I used it a few times until I got a Flush King to backflush the system; it is transparent so I can see what's coming out.

Sometimes you have to replace the dump station hose with a dedicated sewer-use-only garden hose. The Flush King has a connection for a hose to backflush.

By adding some detergent and water softener to the tank, it backflushes much faster.

The problem with backflushing is not to overfill the tank—the water will go up the vent to the roof and a waterfall will come down the side of the trailer to tell everyone who is watching that you aren't very smart (don't ask). You don't have to fill the tank to backflush, but watch out for places with very high water pressure because they can fool you and fill the tank before you know it (and someone will be watching). Fortunately with a 25' trailer, the waterfall is several feet away from the fool overfilling the tank, but with a 16', I don't know.

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Old 09-22-2012, 07:23 PM   #7
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Friday - As you say, it does need pressurized water. And the valve needs to be open because of the pressure. (So says the dealership.) The service people said to leave the valve partly open. That should prevent too much pressure and overfilling.

Crawford - I'm trying to image how that works on my trailer, seeing as I'm not even sure where the roof vent is. (Hmm, maybe I shouldn't admit that.) We've only had the thing a couple of months.
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Old 09-22-2012, 08:36 PM   #8
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Most of the dump stations I've used don't have a hose that can be fitted to the black tank flush system so I've rarely used it. We tend to dump then add some soapy water to the black tank (and some stuff called RV Boss) and the drive home slooshes it all around. The trailer may well sit on the driveway for a week or two but we've never had odour or any other waste related issues. When we arrive a campground (having put a bit more water in the black tank), we dump prior to camping. It works for us.
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:00 PM   #9
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I purchased a couple of male hose repair ends. One 1/2 & one 5/8. These have barbed stems on them. I just screw the male end on the RV black flush and push the dump station hose on it. It leaks a little with a hose clamp but it does the job of flushing.
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:16 AM   #10
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Gene -- Still laughing; would like to have seen that!

We fill the black water tank by stepping on the flush pedal and watching down the hole. While you would think this would avoid overfilling, one time the pedal got stuck and there was a whole lot of excitement for what seemed like an eternity, while I tried to figure out how to get the pedal to release. Then, my wife had the bright idea of turning the water pump off — Whew; close call. Nothing like watching your black water tank back up and overflow while you are standing there with a flashlight, watching it.

I do have a toilet dumping story that takes the cake; but it was in our boat. Our family commonly refers to this incident as "THE BIG BLUE BOMB":

We were at the Wahweap pumpout dock at Lake Powell, which was located some distance from the fuel dock and convenience store where all of the big boats were tied up in long-term, wet storage. The pumpouts were there primarily because of the smell, and because they really didn't enhance the summer-tourist shopping experience.

Back in the mid-80's, Lake Powell was at record-high water levels; and the docks were moved up near the top of the boat ramp. This placed the pumpout dock about 100-150 feet from the guestrooms of the Wahweap Lodge. Little did the vacationers know that while eating breakfast and having their morning coffee, the boats a few feet away from their patios were dumping their waste tanks.

When we slowed down at the no-wake buoys and pulled up to the pumpout station, there were no other large boats there; just one little 16-foot, aluminum, car-top fishing boat with a small outboard motor. Two German tourists had rented it at the marina and were trying to figure out how to operate the pump and fill the fuel tank.

My two teenage sons had both taken German in high school, so I asked them what the couple was talking about while they were pointing at the pump hose. My sons both started laughing and said that they were discussing why there wasn't an attendant there to help, and to take their money; and they couldn't figure out how they were supposed to pump the gas and pay. We all chuckled, and my oldest son went over to tell them they were at the wrong pumps, and he pointed across the boat ramp to the fuel dock several hundred feet away. More laughing; then they were back in the little boat headed to the fuel dock.

Anyway, back to the business at hand. I finished tying up our boat to the dock, and went over to retrieve the pumpout hose and read the instructions on the vacuum pump.

We have a Bayliner cabin cruiser that has a marine head near the center of the boat. After doing your business, the waste was manually pumped to a holding tank located aft and slightly above the waterline, in the engine compartment. The waste port was directly above the tank in the starboard gunwale. Consequently, as with most marine tanks, the waste was sucked out using the vacuum hose at the pumpout station; as it didn't drain by gravity, like RV tanks.

This pumpout station was different from others I had used, which had a large macerator pump that sucked out the contents of the boat holding tank and ground up the waste, like a big wet/dry vacuum cleaner. With those, once the wasted started flowing, it continued steadily until the tank was empty.

Instead, this one had a large diaphragm pump that sucked, in big slurps. Then, it paused like it was taking a big breath, after every giant gulp. During these pauses, the mostly liquid waste would start to flow backward towards the holding tank; then, suddenly, it would reverse direction again, as the next big slurp started. So, the flow was WHOOOOOSH — (pause) — plattle-lattle-lattle-lattle-lattle (the sound of the backwash running back towards the holding tank) — (pause) — WHOOOOSH — plattle-lattle-lattle-lattle-lattle… And, this reversing flow continued until the tank was empty. Anyway, you get the idea.

So, to pump out the holding tank, I dragged the vacuum hose over to the side of our boat, which was tied-up so that the waste port was dock-side and accessible while standing on the dock. My older son was stationed at the switch on the electric pump housing about 15-20 feet away, in the center of the dock — a very important function; as he was supposed to shut the pump down, if any problems arose. The younger son, who was standing on the back deck of the boat, was given the token job of holding the water hose connected to the dock, from which lake water was flowing; his job was to help get the suction started. This was not really necessary; but I explained that his assignment is an essential part of the task, and the holding tank could not be pumped out properly without his assistance.

To explain in a little more detail, the end of the suction hose was like a pool vacuum hose — smooth, semi-rigid rubber/plastic. There was no threaded connector or locking coupler, etc. that mated the hose to the waste port. The only thing maintaining suction was me holding the hose firmly in flush contact with the flat, polished, stainless steel hole in the gunwale. And, just like siphoning fuel or water, a good tight seal had to be maintained, or vacuum would be lost; and the siphoning action would stop.

OK; ready to pump — “Switch the pump ON!”

As the whooshing started, my youngest son was standing on the rear deck of our boat; and I was on the opposite side of the gunwale, on the dock. I had him squirt water in the open end of the vacuum hose to prime it. — Not enough volume; dang-it!

OK — I pointed to the waste port, and got a puzzled look. So, I grabbed my son’s arm and shoved the water hose down into the port. Then, I stuck the pumpout hose in the lake; and it started sucking lake water. Quickly, I yanked the pumpout hose up and pushed my son’s hand (and the water hose) out of the way; and I pressed the end of the pumpout hose down on the waste port opening to seal off the vacuum from the WHOOOOSH that was still in progress. Then, everything stopped; and the hose went slack. Plattle-lattle-lattle-lattle-lattle – What the heck? Then, WHOOOOOSH! The hose filled up with fluid again and got really heavy. Then, plattle-lattle-lattle-lattle-lattle — it went slack and got light again. OK, now I got it; we’re in business!

My youngest son was standing at arm’s length holding the water hose that was now pouring all over the back of the boat. No problem; boats were made to get wet. I pointed over the transom, and he moved to spray the water overboard. I turned around and gave the thumbs up to my older son who was manning the pump switch. He waved, and I saw the audience that had gathered on the guestroom patios; all watching the big show at the dock, and none suspecting what we were really doing. Ha-ha-ha; the laugh’s on them. I saw that there are some teenage girls waving to my oldest son at the pump switch — He waved back. What a beautiful morning…

Then, I heard another big boat coming off plane out at the no-wake buoys, a couple of hundred feet away. He wasn’t slowing to no-wake speed — “Hey, slow down!” I waved my arms; he waved back… “Hey, A$$H0L3! SLOW DOWN!” — He couldn’t hear me above his engine noise.

He maneuvered around, and his wife jumped onto the dock to tie-up. For a couple of seconds, I hadn’t been listening to the WHOOOOSH — Plattle-lattle-lattle-lattle-lattle… Then, the wake from his boat hit our boat and the dock. It was only a foot or two high, but the boat deck went up, while the dock dropped down. I tried to hold the pump hose to the waste port, as the gunwale rose a couple of feet.

Plattle-lattle-lattle-lattle-lattle… The hose went slack and weightless as the boat dropped and the dock rose. Now, I was leaning over trying to hold the pump hose to the waste port…

Then, the next wave hit; and the boat started to rise as the deck sank. WHOOOOSH! — The pump hose instantly gained about 15-20 pounds in weight as it filled with waste, and the gunwale rose to waist level. I lost my balance, dropped the pump hose and leaned over to grab the gunwale to steady myself. AND, the WHOOOOSH was still on the way up!

I looked at the pump hose flopping on the dock; and that’s the last thing I saw…

WHOOOOSH! — Right in the chest! The wave of sewage ricocheted all over my son who gasped in horror! Yes, I was yelling when it hit; and I got a mouthful of THE BIG BLUE BOMB!

The first thing I thought of was to jump in the lake; evidently a common theme, as my son and wife, who were also on the rear deck, quickly joined me. I came up sputtering and gagging, and not from the lake water…

As I climbed up to the swim ladder, using the lower drive unit as a step, I saw the other people jump back on their boat and quickly pull away from the dock! No need to observe the no-wake zone, now! They were headed away from the dock, full-throttle, as far from the pumpout station and us, as possible.

My oldest was still manning the switch — “Want me to turn it OFF, now?”

The entire back-half of the boat, from the helm to the transom, including the instrument panel, steering wheel, all the seats and the back deck were all covered in bluish-brown liquid, and corn. (Guess what we had for dinner the night before…)

As previously mentioned, boats were made to get wet, so we just sprayed the entire back of the boat down with the water hose; and then, we finished pumping out the holding tank. However, we now have a new, very important function: One person acts as a guard and watches for boats arriving and departing the pumpout station. I just wish that pump had been reversible; and that the other boat had hung around a little longer…
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Old 09-23-2012, 09:30 AM   #11
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Phoenix, I shouldn't have read that before breakfast.

Quilter, the vent for the black tank on ours is a round black object on the roof. There's another one for the grey water.

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