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Old 08-12-2015, 10:27 PM   #1
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Thetford dump valve Guidance needed

I've decided on a full replacement of black & grey dump valves and supporting fittings leading to their appropriate tanks. Before I remove the supporting pan, I'd like to order and have on hand the parts & valves etc... that I'm gonna need to do the job. ( we full-time in our Airstream and I figured going a week or more waiting on ordered parts while the tanks hang wasn't ideal)
My experience with this Airstream has taught me that there was little to no consistency in the particular parts used between different years, whether same model, or even same year!
Can anyone tell me with any certainty, which Thetford Dump valves are in a 2001 "34 Limited?

Or is this a "pipe dream" and I just need to drop the pan to visually verify the valves?

Thanks for any help
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Old 08-22-2015, 11:12 AM   #2
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Well, here's what I've gotten myself into this time.........

From the little bit of research I was able to gather, I went ahead and bought a can of penetrating oil and sprayed down the 20 or so bolts holding the tank pan in place. I read a few stories about rusted bolts that either wouldn't back out, or just snapped altogether. While visually mine didn't look corroded, I figured better safe... than sorry!

There is not a whole lot of room between the ground and the underneath side of an Airstream, however we live in this thing, so raising the chassis up a foot or so would have been ideal, just not in my situation. (and I'm "lucky" enough to be a small dude that can fit in small places & work)
I let the bolts "soak" for a few days, then used some 2X4 pieces to prop the corners of the pan a bit just so it didn't just fall to the ground when I removed the bolts. Luckily enough, all the bolts came loose with no issues. The pan slowly dropped a bit to rest on the lumber supports, and one by one, I worked it to the ground.
**** Be sure that both grey and Black tanks are EMPTY, before you do this ****
From what I've read( and now seen) the tanks themselves are not terribly heavy and the pan itself does most of the support. Once you remove it, basically the vent pipes and the stool flange is all that keeps them from falling to the ground.
There is roughly an inch of cheap styrofoam laid out in pieces on all sides of the pan. These help "support & cushion" the tanks and prevent shifting during travel. I'll likely be replacing the styrofoam with something a bit sturdier. (and cleaner!.... Our tanks have been leaking into the pan.... )

So, I worked the pan out from under the Airstream and promptly into the back of the PowerWagon. It's going to the carwash for a good deep cleaning.

As a precaution, I cut some 2X4's and fashioned up some support across the middle of the tanks. Just to make sure nothing shifts, or drops out of place.
Now that I can see ALL the "workings" of the tank system I can clearly see the issue we're having. But, more importantly I can now determine exactly what parts I'm gonna need.
Here's what I've found....



So, the black tank is on the left and the grey is on the right. I was pleased to see that with the tanks exposed I can also see the tank flush fitting (which stopped working about 6 months ago)

So on closer inspection I can see that likely, the valves themselves are working as they should. The issue I believe is being caused by the (I'm going to call them tank adapters) little plastic black pieces that the valves are attached to. These Adapters are the piece that allows the valves to mount to them, in turn sealing them to the tanks. BOTH of mine are cracked in multiple places. Which I'm sure is allowing liquids from the tanks to weep out of the tanks, into the pan and out of the drain holes.
This would also make sence of the fact that the leak got worse as the tanks filled. ( higher head pressure on the cracked adapters forced more liquid through the fitting)
Here's a few pics of the valves & adapters.....

Bottom of the Grey valve/Adapter.



Bottom of Black valve/adapter


Front view of Black valve/adapter


Look closely at the pics and you can see the broken adapters. The adapters are actually what the valves attach to. The valves attach to the adapters, which in turn attach to the tank.
The breaks are on all sides. What caused them? Hard to say. We have never traveled with anything in the tanks. Never hit any bumps hard enough to bottom out the rear end of the Airstream. (shock) My best guess is age and elements.

Armed with the knowledge I needed I headed off the LazyDays here in Tucson (local Airstream affiliate) for the necessary parts.

Black & Grey valves are the same.. Thetford p/n 08709




I'll have to edit and post later.... They didn't have the "tank adapter" and had to order them from Airstream. I'll get p/n & pics up later.

The tank flush is within reach now that the pan is off. It's located on the street side of the black tank, high up towards the top of the tank, just below the subfloor.


I'm hoping the existing one is "serviceable" as it looks to be made from Brass. This replacement I picked up from Lazy Days looks to have suffered from company cutbacks & executive decision! (plastic junk )


One thing I need to figure out is what type of sealant has been used on these connections to the tanks. I can see around the tank flush and also on the adapters that they have used some type of semi-hardening liquid sealant. It looks like when I'm ready to disassemble everything, that this stuff is pliable enough that it will clean up good. Anyone know what it may be? Or, what I should be using during replacement?

More info & pics to follow at some point this week when the rest of my parts arrive.
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Old 08-22-2015, 07:09 PM   #3
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Truxpin,
Great pictures, and explanation of what you are doing. I have a problem with my '96 34', as the black water valve is leaking. We're currently on a trip, so I bought a Thetford to Camco adapter, and a Valterra 3" valve with the bayonet fitting. This will get me home where I have all the tools to do the repair.
Please keep us posted how this ends up for you.

Larry C
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Old 08-22-2015, 08:53 PM   #4
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Truxpin,
Great pictures, and explanation of what you are doing. I have a problem with my '96 34', as the black water valve is leaking. We're currently on a trip, so I bought a Thetford to Camco adapter, and a Valterra 3" valve with the bayonet fitting. This will get me home where I have all the tools to do the repair.
Please keep us posted how this ends up for you.

Larry C
Larry, we replaced both. Not worth repairing and trying to "save". I cut the bellypan so I could access. Now I can remove and inspect/repair.

Truxpin, don't know why the rinser failed... Perhaps the check valve?

As for "clearance"... I raised ours with an 8'ton bottle jack then set auto 6 ton jack stands under the main plate where the axles bolt.
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Old 08-29-2015, 11:17 PM   #5
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Well, today went good. (I think ) Went out to Lowe's this morning and picked up some ABS glue and believe it or not, they had all the exact ABS 3" waste fittings I needed.
I started by drilling out the rivets holding the pull handle supports, and just let them hang for the time being. Next I removed the 4 screws on each valve holding them to the adapters on each tank. Being that the tanks have a bit of "play" in them I wiggled each connection out of it's tank inlet and dropped the entire plumbing assembly down in one piece.



The only pieces being reused here are the valve pulls and the last 18" or so of the outlet pipe. Gotta have the fancy connector end for the WasteMaster connection.

New assembly on top, old on the bottom. It should go right back in and everything should go right back in place. (in a perfect world anyways!)



I also addressed the tank flush fitting while I had everything out of the way and it was so easy to get to. It stopped working while back and I had previously did some troubleshooting to make sure it wasn't any of the obvious failures. I removed the vacuum breaker and replaced it with a 90 degree fitting. I also removed the check valve that was buried inside the water closet. (I will replace it, but in a more accessable location) With that all done I, in essence, had an open water line to the spray head and still no flow. I removed the 3 small screws holding the head fitting into the side of the tank and used a putty knife to gently pry it away & out of it's hole in the side of the tank. Cut the PEX copper clamp and pulled it off the end of the tubing. (sorry, I forgot to take pics) Pretty straight forward though. Unscrewed the brass fitting from the spray head and as I thought, it was clogged and had such bad mineral build-up that it was completely plugged. Used an old toothbrush, dawn soap and a plastic stiff bristle brush and cleaned it up good. I also took a 1/16" drill bit and routed out all the existing holes and even added a few new ones to help it along a bit. Put it all back together, clamped the fitting back onto the water line, put a good healthy coating of 100% silicone on the inner side of the mounting flange and screwed it back in place.
I reinstalled the plumbing drain assembly tonight, but it was too dark for any pics. I'll finish up tomorrow with a few more pics.
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Old 09-08-2015, 08:27 PM   #6
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I finally did get everything put back together. Just haven't had time to post the "rest of the story"
reassembly went pretty much straight forward. I re-attached the brackets that held the pull levers in place and upon glueing all the fittings and fitting them together, don't forget to make sure the valves are lined up so that the handles will line up with the valve rods. (you have to work quickly, the glue sets up in less than a minute)
Once everything was lined up, I used some scrap 2X4's to support it all and let the glue set overnight.
Before re-installing the support pan, I decided to install an access area, so if I ever had to get back into the area, I wouldn't have to pull the entire pan again.
I measured out an area large enough to access both the valves and cut a section out of the pan. Using some thick aluminum flat stock and rivets I attached the panel back in place. If/ when I need to get back in there, all I need to do is drill out the rivets. (easy enough)



The real tricky part came when I decided to replace the styrofoam "padding" around the tanks. I went with a much stiffer poly that hopefully wont be crushed quite as bad. UGH!! I should have left well enough alone!
After the better part of the day I managed to get the pan back in place and before re-installing all the bolts, I gave them all a good coating of some antiseize as insurance. The hardest part was getting the center support beam lines up with the pan. The bolts around the edges weren't too hard, the 3 bolts through the center..... not so easy.

All in all, this job is not impossible to do yourself. Probably much easier with at least 2 people. most importantly..... empty the tanks before you drop the pan. and have some 2 X 4 pieces handy to support the tanks while the pan is off. The rest is basicly a piece of cake
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Old 09-10-2015, 09:24 PM   #7
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So you were still FTiming when you did this?
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:33 AM   #8
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Thanks for the photos and the explanation of the project...Good job! Mine was pretty simple compared to yours, I just rebuilt the old Thetford valve, and change the Thetford bayonet fitting on the termination end of the pipe with a Valterra fitting that is more commonly used.

Larry
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Old 09-11-2015, 08:23 AM   #9
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So you were still FTiming when you did this?
Yup, still FTiming. We're "planted" in a retrement community here in Tucson , AZ. It afforded us to be able to rely on the parks showerhouse and restrooms to accomplish the job. We kinda stretched the rules a bit (no working on trailers while parked in the park) but I kept the mess to a minimum and did most of the work in the evenings and on the weekends while management was away ;-)
I kept from attracting too much attention by not putting the entire AS up on jacks, which in hindsight may have been a good idea, but wreaked havoc on my shoulders & neck......... #smallspaces
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Old 09-11-2015, 07:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for sharing.
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