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Old 02-26-2007, 11:58 AM   #1
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1969 31' Sovereign
Los Angeles , California
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 22
new owner question - how to use plumbing?

Howdy folks - new owners of a nice 69 sovereign, rear bath...wonder how to use this thing...We figured out flshuing the toilet alright...but a couple more questions:

1. Valve open or closed?
I think we only have a holding single tank as I only see a single valve to the left of the battery - but should we leave it open or closed? (We are parked at a park that has hookups) If closed, when to open?

2. What if it leaks?
The valve appears to let a little liquids go by...does that change your answer for #1? From what I've been reading, I don't think I want to change that valve if I don't really, really have to!

3. Strategies for stink-free and trouble-free?
Is there a chaser to send after each use, like a cleaner-bomb (if they exist) that will clean everything down there and bring it along down the tubes? My wife thinks she smelt a bit of stink back there....are we just novices?

Any other tricks/tips? When we leave, how best to clean out? Any diagrams out there on what the internals of the system is like?



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Old 02-26-2007, 12:15 PM   #2
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1988 25' Excella
Sunnyvale , California
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Welcome Novices...

That was the easy question...

Here are some starter answers until plumbing wizards get online...

I believe you have two tanks, one for sink/shower water and one for under toilet. May either have two outlets (one on left side and one at rear) or single outlet with two slide valves to open and close.. Fittings (at outlets and on hose end) are not typical RV, but Thetford brand, available at Camping World or Airstream dealers. General practice even while parked with sewerlline hookup is to keep slide valve CLOSED, and then drain when you're about to leave or tanks full. Drain toilet tank first, then dish/wash water to rinse out hose somewhat. If fluid leaking, that likely means some "stuff" is stuck in channel where valve slide closes, and it's not closing all the way. It should be fixed. If you can't reach it with something to flush and maybe scrape loose items (bent end of coat hangar? it may mean trip to RV service center.. You can also try valve "lubricants" per directions, and you should keep some fluid and tank chemical in tank while traveling, as motion will work on anything that may have dried in there, and loosen it up...

We use small amounts of either liquid dish detergent or toilet chemical and a gallon or two of water down each drain after emptying tanks, to keep tanks wet, and minimize odors. May also be worthwhile to get rubber or fitted sink and shower drain stoppers to avoid venting back into trailer...


In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:41 PM   #3
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1968 28' Ambassador
1982 24' Airstream 240
Ventura , California
Join Date: May 2006
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1969 models did not have a gray water tank

Unless you or a previous owner has added a second tank, I believe you only have a black tank for sewage. The waste water from the sink, shower, bath and lavatory all drain through the same outlet as the waste tank, so you need to make only one connection when hooking up in a trailer park.

My 1969 Overlander owners manual says: "Keep the holding tank dump valve closed. Empty the tank every few days or whenever it becomes almost full. The idea is to send a large volume of sewage through the tank and drain hose at one time. This practice sets up a swirling action and high currents which floats the toilet paper and other solids completely away."

I think that your gray water will bypass the black tank and just go into the sewer connection.

The manual said, "you can add a little soap or tank deodorizer (Pink Magic), but nothing else. Do not add detergent."

Also do not use any additive with formaldahyde.......that is becoming a big no no in parks. I am not sure what Pink Magic is but again, this is from my 1969 owner's manual.

Hope this helps, pj
Paula & Ed
Suite Spot
WBCCI # 8252 Air#13593
1968 28'Ambassador
2011 GMC Yukon Denali
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Old 02-26-2007, 12:50 PM   #4
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2002 25' Safari
Dewey , Arizona
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pjpoll is righton about your tanks. Grey tanks were not installed untill around 1974. Let the Black tank fill top remove the solids when you dump. I use this:

in my Black tank and it appears to work well. No foul odors and it does not contain any harmfull stuff! I buy it at CW.


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Old 02-26-2007, 01:00 PM   #5
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1956 22' Safari
Vintage Kin Owner
Conifer/Evergreen , Colorado
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It's a dirty job...but doesn't have to be!

Unless it has been retrofit by a previous owner, you only have one tank. Grey (wash water) tanks were not "standard" until 1973-4.

That being said, here's what we do when camping with hook-ups:

Our drain has a "Y" which allows the grey water to bypass the tank. So we leave the sewer hose attached for the grey water to flow all the time. We do leave the black tank valve closed though to keep the liquids in with the solids. When the valve is left open, the liquids drain leaving the solids to dry out and possibly become "stuck" either in the tank or in the hose...either is yucky! When the tank is full or has some volume, then fill it with water and open the valve to clean it out. Then follow with a fresh tank of water. We leave about a gallon of water in the tank to "keep things floating" so you don't get a "cone" developing. We usually do this every day or every other day. We do add chemicals in between dumps...but a lot of people don't like to. If your valve will not hold a seal thus all your liquids draining out, even when cleaned & closed, it may be time for a valve re-build.

Before leaving or storing, we usually close the valve, refill with water & dump again 1 or 2 more times. So it's good & clean.

If you have some residue build-up it's a good idea to add a bag of ice to the empty tank right as you're getting ready to travel, the rough ice and the movement of the trailer scrapes the inside of the tank, then you can empty it until arrival at your next stop.

Each trailer model/year plumbing is a little different so someone with the same model/year may be able to give you better specifics on your valves & bypass configuration.

There are lots of threads in the plumbing section that can give you other people's routines or info about chemicals & cleaning/rebuilding the valve in the meantime.


<edit> looks like they beat me to the punch...basically same info confirmed.
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