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Old 03-24-2015, 02:15 PM   #1
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External Waste/Fresh Holding Tanks

I'm a student working with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach FL on renovating a 76 Airstream Sovereign into a mock deep space habitat. The plan is to work with other universities and NASA to simulate long term space travel/team studies for confined environments.

In order to replicate what a habitat on Mars may be, we are looking into having all of our water tanks external and transportable (bed of pickup).

The trailer is completely stripped and some pics are below.

Any help/guidance would be awesome and truly helpful. We are learning as we go! Below is a link to our Facebook Page

Embry-Riddle Star Lab - MEERS Project







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Old 03-24-2015, 02:40 PM   #2
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Wow, hope you get lots of advice. Keep us informed please. Looks like lots of batterys and solar needed. Will propane work on Mars? Peace,jim
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Old 03-24-2015, 04:17 PM   #3
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Wow, hope you get lots of advice. Keep us informed please. Looks like lots of batterys and solar needed. Will propane work on Mars? Peace,jim
Here is a picture of our AGM batteries and controllers

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Old 03-24-2015, 04:19 PM   #4
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Welcome to the Forums!

You asked specifically about water and waste tanks so I'll address that first. Simple answer is that this is easy. Keep your fresh water tank in the bed of the truck, and create an external connection on the trailer (you could probably use the fresh water fill port for this). Gravity will get the water into the trailer, but you will likely need to use an electric pump to get it up to the kitchen sink and very high in the shower. The grey water tank and black water tank can be foregone, and you can plumb the grey water drainage and toilet (black water) directly into a dump valve, in a "park trailer" configuration. Then you need only to put your waste tank low (I would recommend a fit for purpose large, low tank on a low trailer, and run the dump hose from your dump valve to the waste tank. Just realize that you will be dragging the waste tank off to the dump station quite frequently (which is why I suggest putting it on a trailer, and making it large).

Your pictures look like you are in the middle of a full floor replacement. Just realize to do this properly, you need to remove the lower interior skins so that you have access to the heads of the bolts that go through the floor. Likewise, you would want to remove the "banana wraps" that conceal the edge of the frame under the body. IMHO, doing a full floor replacement without lifting the body off the frame is the hard way to go.

good luck!
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Old 03-24-2015, 04:40 PM   #5
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Thanks! That is what I had figured for the waste/grey tank. I wanted to look into around a 50gal waste tank and a "garbage disposal" type pump for the waste tank. (sorry i forgot whats its called)

We have stripped the frame and addressed the rust throughout the trailer frame except for the rear bumper section which is so rotted through that the rear frame rails flex when you stand on them. That and the electrical is our next issue to be addressed.

And yes we are doing a drop floor in sections. Possibly to be used as storage.

If anyone in the central FL region is well versed in RV renovations we would love the help. We are even offering sponsorships (advertising on the exterior) for companies or businesses that help.

With students going to use it, we want to find an electrician who is certified. No need to burn it down full of students!
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Old 03-24-2015, 04:42 PM   #6
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Your pictures look like you are in the middle of a full floor replacement. Just realize to do this properly, you need to remove the lower interior skins so that you have access to the heads of the bolts that go through the floor. Likewise, you would want to remove the "banana wraps" that conceal the edge of the frame under the body. IMHO, doing a full floor replacement without lifting the body off the frame is the hard way to go.

good luck!
Here is the interior with the floor mocked up.

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Old 03-25-2015, 10:37 AM   #7
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Having given a little more thought to the tank question, you could have a "macerator pump" (this is the garbage disposal type item you refered to above) preferable installed as close to under the toilet as possible, so that flushing the toilet activates the macerator as well as the rinse water. It would be handy/strategically advantageous to be able to rinse your macerator and drain hose prior to disconnecting from the waste tank. One way to do this would be just to continuously flush the toilet with fresh water, which would waste your fresh water, if that is of any concern. I have seen some handy "water conserving" shower enclosures designed for home use. The feature that makes them water conserving is that as you shower, instead of the "grey water" going down the drain, it is pumped into vertical tanks that are higher than the toilet tank. The grey water is then used to flush the toilet. This does have the disadvantage of taking up space inside the trailer, and if the point of your experiment is more about living in a tube than worrying about water, it may not be worth thinking about.

good luck!
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Old 03-25-2015, 02:06 PM   #8
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Having given a little more thought to the tank question, you could have a "macerator pump" (this is the garbage disposal type item you refered to above) preferable installed as close to under the toilet as possible, so that flushing the toilet activates the macerator as well as the rinse water.
This describes a standard macerator-type marine toilet. The two-stage (fresh water in, waste out) macerator pump is mounted in the base of the toilet. The output of the macerator contains a "joker" valve to prevent backflow, and uses 1" sani hose. You'd have to check the specs to see how much head can be tolerated on the output to determine if you could pump uphill to a holding tank in the pickup bed.

There are many designs of this standard toilet type available.

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Old 03-25-2015, 08:28 PM   #9
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There are portable external wast tanks available that fit to the bayonet connectors on travel trailer plumbing. Here's an example http://http://www.globetrotter-rv.com/brochures/tote-n-stor%20product%20page.pdf
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Old 03-25-2015, 09:16 PM   #10
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If anyone in the central FL region is well versed in RV renovations we would love the help. We are even offering sponsorships (advertising on the exterior) for companies or businesses that help.
Have you considered or have you tried contacting Airstream directly?
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Old 03-26-2015, 08:57 AM   #11
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Here is a picture of our AGM batteries and controllers

Go to YouTube and search for Long Long Honeymoon; LoLoHo Show; Airstream Camping in Germany. Brilliant design and built at Jackson Center!
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