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Old 08-06-2012, 10:18 PM   #1
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1976 Argosy 26
Pullman , Washington
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Replacing Black Water Valve

When I purchased my 1976 28' Argosy last fall, I found the black water valve sticking when we emptied the tank upon arriving home (yeah, I should have checked it, but hindsight is 20/20). During this spring and summer, I started noticing "black water" at my end cap with the valve slider completely closed (insert sad, embarrassing story here; I'll tell you later). Recognizing a valve change was in my future, I have spent a few hours reading up on others experiences here on the forum. But coming face to face with the small opening in my mid-bath trailer (just got back in from the trailer) has got me a lot less excited and I am wondering how difficult a job this is going to be.

So my questions:

1. Is there an easier way to get at that valve and replace it than fighting all the rusty bolts on the large pan and dropping that down? I have seen people writing about cutting a large hold in the pan, then patching it. Not sure if that is a better idea; I see drawbacks.

2. Once I expose the plumbing, any tips on getting the valve itself out? I think I have learned enough now to know which one to buy, but looking at the pipes there, I am wondering what it takes to get them apart and take out the valve.

3. Am I insane for thinking of doing it myself; should take it to the RV Center (I'm not a big fan of the one nearby; they are expensive, slow, and always grumpy about doing the job for you; odd since they're getting paid well for it...I digress...). I have done all other jobs on the trailer myself including installing a dinette, bunk beds, new converter system, and tankless hot water heater (I'm in the middle of a new butcher board countertop with sink (thanks IKEA!)). But this is the BLACK WATER tank. My brother, and Argosy inspiration (20' Minuet), said "that's what RV Centers are for".

Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hoopman
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:27 PM   #2
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I just started this exact project today on my 76 Argosy 28 center bath. I ended up having to remove my rear stabilizers so the pan could slide backwards on the frame. The pan on mine would not drop straight down because of the lip on the pan fits tightly between the frame, which also has a lip. After doing all that, I was able to get at the valves. I'm replacing both valves while I'm at it. My black tank valve is held onto the tank with a hose clamp. I cut the two inch pipe coming from the gray tank at the gray valve. I'm going to buy Valterra valves to replace my thetfords and replace all the 3" black pipe since its all glued to the valves. The hardest part of this job was removing the cotter pins that hold the valve rods onto the valves. Had to get these out of the way to move the pan.
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Old 08-28-2012, 12:19 PM   #3
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Here's some pictures of my repair job. Let me know if you have any questions. I can tell you more about it if you want. Notice the pan that slides along the frame. Had to remove the BAAL stabilizers to be able to slide the pan. Also you can see the holes in the pan for the valve rods. If these had been U shaped, then I could have removed the pan without having to use the small access holes to remove the rods prior to sliding the pan out.
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:27 AM   #4
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Thank you very much for the pictures and detailed description. I really appreciate it! The blog info was also very informative. I think that is enough information to tackle the job. I'll let you know how it goes!
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:02 PM   #5
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Before you get anal did you try cleaning out the groove the gate slides into to make a seal? Sometimes stuff gets in the crack and hardens up so the valve leaks.
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Old 08-30-2012, 01:11 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saburkha View Post
Here's some pictures of my repair job. Let me know if you have any questions. I can tell you more about it if you want. Notice the pan that slides along the frame. Had to remove the BAAL stabilizers to be able to slide the pan. Also you can see the holes in the pan for the valve rods. If these had been U shaped, then I could have removed the pan without having to use the small access holes to remove the rods prior to sliding the pan out.
BAAL stabilizers eh? Do you get other benefits from using demonic products besides just the trailer stabilization?
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Old 08-30-2012, 05:31 PM   #7
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Do you have photos before you took the old valves out? I was going to atempt this and gave up for now on my 81 center bath. It looks like a drop the pan or do major surgery to get at them. I have a 3rd valve on there for now. I think I am going to end up cutting out the end of my pan that is already damaged and put a new piece in.

Perry
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Old 08-30-2012, 06:04 PM   #8
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I don't have pictures before I took it all out. But I will be helping a friend do the same job on his 88 center bath. His pan looks like it will drop straight out instead of having to slide it back, so that should make it easier. I will be sure to take before pics with his trailer.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:23 AM   #9
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When you remove the pan do the tanks just fall out breaking the toilet and vent flanges off so you have to destroy the trailer to get to all the broken stuff? It seems like when I start something like this, it balloons into a project from hell. Can you tell I am suffering from Airstream burnout?

Perry
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:37 PM   #10
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With the sliding pan, I only slid the pan far enough to get to the valves. One side of the pan was still holding up the black tank. The grey tank is forward in the trailer, all I saw was the 2" pipe coming from it and the valve. We had planned on having one person reach above the pan and hold the black tank in place until the other person could get the pan out of the way and get a jack stand to hold it up. That was the plan until we figured out that the pan wouldn't drop out and had to slide along the frame.
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:51 PM   #11
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I don't think my pan slides. It is bolted all the way around.

Perry
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Old 08-31-2012, 01:54 PM   #12
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So is mine. Lots of bolts! But the lip on the frame, coupled with the lip on the pan wouldn't allow it to drop straight down. Unbolted it and it dropped about 2 inches to rest on the frame.
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Old 08-31-2012, 05:44 PM   #13
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If you take a Airstream to Jackson Center for a valve replacement or rebuild they cut a whole in the pan instead of dropping the pan. When we went 5 years ago valve rebuilds were $500 at JC. I did a valve in my 32 footer. I cut a hole in the pan about 20 inches square. In Florida last winter in the season Camping World was not much interested. They said they would do it for $1000 and it would take a week. Living it it at the time, not much interested in that. I bought a nipper at HF to cut the hole and was very careful not to drill or cut into the tanks or lines.(Stop blocks on the bit for every hole) After the hole it was actually a very easy job. Though in a bad place to get to. I put the wheels up on 3 layers of 2x8's screwed together on that side. If you could find a site that slopes towards the rear of the trailer it would make access easier than on a flat spot. When it ended up I had less than $175 in the job including the nibbler and the 2x8's. Neighbor bought the little ramp the day after I finished. I work about 3 hours a day. A day for the hole, a day to do the job, a day to finish. Toilet was closed 3 hours.
No, I do not think you are crazy to do it yourself. I do not know what a "sliding pan" is. I did not go far enough in to tell what holds up the tanks. I just assumed they are iindependent of the pan but I think you need to find out for sure before dropping the pan. I like the hole method. And the hole is there when it needs to be done again. I think the pan is 16 gauge steel, and it is heavy.
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Old 03-30-2013, 11:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by saburkha View Post
I just started this exact project today on my 76 Argosy 28 center bath. I ended up having to remove my rear stabilizers so the pan could slide backwards on the frame. The pan on mine would not drop straight down because of the lip on the pan fits tightly between the frame, which also has a lip. After doing all that, I was able to get at the valves. I'm replacing both valves while I'm at it. My black tank valve is held onto the tank with a hose clamp. I cut the two inch pipe coming from the gray tank at the gray valve. I'm going to buy Valterra valves to replace my thetfords and replace all the 3" black pipe since its all glued to the valves. The hardest part of this job was removing the cotter pins that hold the valve rods onto the valves. Had to get these out of the way to move the pan.
Many thanks for all this good information. It's finally spring again and I'm tackling this job. Last fall we just used the Park potty (sadly; didn't appreciate the late night sprints with 6 year old). Today I tackled the pan and have it all dropped and moved out of the way (fell of the rails after some sliding...not sure if that's a bad sign). I have a couple more questions.

1. I see a coupler on the gray water tank. Did you try to cut that as close to the edge of the opening as possible to make the whole assembly fit?

2. Can you tell me more about the Valterra valves you bought to replace the Thetfords? Did you get a 3 in. Hub to 3" spigot? How did you extend the tube assembly. Pretty simple questions, but it beats ordering things and not getting them right.
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