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Old 08-19-2004, 09:16 PM   #1
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Smile Airstream / extended stay questions

I'm planning an extended stay in my '75 Sovereign in the very near future and, being relatively new at this whole A/S trailer thingie, I have a few questions. I'm sure you seasoned vets, in your aluminum and riveted sportscoats and Zip-Dee ties, will be rolling on the floor and making fun of my innocent lack of knowledge. Be that as it may, and assuming, correctly so, that I will be hooked to city power, water and sewer hookups and I'll be living in it full time, 7 days a week, here goes......


1) Sewer / dump valves
In reading my '75 owners manual, I could make no sense of the whole holding tank-dump valve-hose thingie to the big hole in the ground scenario. It mentioned keeping the valves closed, but opening them once a week and flushing the tank and various ways to hose down the bowl versus normal flushing etc. etc. Bottom line, I'm parked, the hose is hooked up full time, now what needs to stay open or closed and what if anything, needs to be hosed, flushed or just generally purged with mass quantities of water?

2) Pilot lights
The lights and A/C and such will be using my attached power, some things like my Dometic fridge can go either way, although I plan on leaving it full time on electricity, but many others appear to be gas only. The stove, oven and wall heater are gas only, and each have pilot lights. I was once again completely underwhelmed by the manuals vague and secretive hints about the function of all things gas powered. Look..... I've got the secret decoder ring and I know the handshake, but I still can't figure out what they want me to do (other than change my evil ways, that one seemed pretty clear). If I'm living in it full time, do I leave all the pilots on, or just light them as needed?

3) Immediate gratification (or, my love, the microwave)
I've opened all the doors, looked in all the cabinets, checked under the carpet, I even looked behind the screen door but alas, much to my sorrow, there is no wonder toy of instant epicurean satisfaction, my friend the microwave. Now, there are available electrical outlets and I can find counterspace, but how much havoc do you think a modern, superhigh megawatt, more power than the Hoover Dam microwave would do to the wiring and fuses on something from 1975? Will it work, pop fuses, or melt my trailer down to slag? Don't make me stand in the sun with a TV dinner on a sheet of aluminum foil, holding a magnifying glass over it while it cooks. I want to take advantage of everything Thomas Edison worked for....darn it, I want my microwave.

Well my friends, that's it for now. Let the guffawing and shoulder slapping begin. If, by some miracle of divine intervention some of you see fit to answer my meager questions, rest assured you will not only have my undying grattitude, but I would be pleased as punch, might I say even a tad bit giddy, to polish your aluminum sportcoat to a mirror-like luster. I may, conditions being favorable and lacking any substantial wind, be willing to pull out your fashionable Zip-Dee blue striped tie, and prop it out with one of those aluminum strut thingies. Just say the word (and answer correctly) and all this can be yours!

John-Boy
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:32 PM   #2
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Talking

OK, you have the right attitude this is fun!

Now for an aptitude infusion, decoder rings on!

Quote:
Originally Posted by krowsea
1) Sewer / dump valves
Bottom line, I'm parked, the hose is hooked up full time, now what needs to stay open or closed and what if anything, needs to be hosed, flushed or just generally purged with mass quantities of water?
Leave the Grey valve open, close the black. Allow the black to be held until you have better than 3/4 tank full. You want the tank to be to this point so that when you open the valve the contents rush out and down the blue slinky. If you leave the valve open on the black tank 24/7 you will have a pile of solids that we refer to as the tower of terror. You may want to close the grey tank valve to fill this tank before dumping the black, so the grey can rinse out the hose and pipes.

Quote:
2) Pilot lights
Look..... I've got the secret decoder ring and I know the handshake, but I still can't figure out what they want me to do (other than change my evil ways, that one seemed pretty clear). If I'm living in it full time, do I leave all the pilots on, or just light them as needed?
If you are going to use the appliance I would light the pilot. If the furnace is wanted turn on the as to it and light the pilot, the stove likely has the cook top pilot turned off permanently. I would confirm by attempting to light it. The oven will require the pilot to be lit if you wish to bake, but this is a separate control on some ovens.

Quote:
3) Immediate gratification (or, my love, the microwave)
Now, there are available electrical outlets and I can find counter space, but how much havoc do you think a modern, super high megawatt, more power than the Hoover Dam microwave would do to the wiring and fuses on something from 1975?
If you can find a place for one, go for it. The only thing is that I would not do is run the Air Conditioner and the Microwave at the same time, the draw will pop breakers. No fun looking for the breakers in the dark

My Aluminum sport coat is in the mail, I want 3 coats of wax when you are done polishing
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:41 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
Leave the Grey valve open, close the black. Allow the black to be held until you have better than 3/4 tank full.
So then, that begs the question(s), which valve is which, are they color coded, and how do you know when the tank is 3/4 full? Is there some indicator or telltale?

Concerning your aluminum sportcoat, carnuba or liquid wax?

John-Boy
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Old 08-19-2004, 09:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krowsea
So then, that begs the question(s), which valve is which, are they color coded, and how do you know when the tank is 3/4 full? Is there some indicator or telltale?
From the pictures it looks like you have a rear bath coach. The valves should be in the rear trunk, normally there is some sort of label attached, but based on my experience with my own 74 rear bath I will make an edumicated guess. Standing at the rear of the coach the valve to the left will be the black tank. The valve on the right, the grey.

Over the stove in the roof locker there is a control panel, it may have been mentioned in the manual. The tanks may have one switch or multiple switches. If there is not a panel over the stove then it is in the front of the trailer over the couch. When the switch is depressed the needle will move and indicate the level of liquids in the tank. There should be a gauge for all 3 tanks.

The black tank can be inspected thru the bottom of the toilet. Hold the flapper open and shine a flashlight down the tube. The level will be self evident The grey tank will back up into the shower first, when it is full This is not a fun experience when taking a shower.

I prefer glass wax on the jacket, thanks.
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Old 08-19-2004, 11:26 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
Standing at the rear of the coach the valve to the left will be the black tank. The valve on the right, the grey.
I do in fact have a rear bath model, and I know the secret door of which you speak. I will look for the mentioned handles in the appropriate positions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
Over the stove in the roof locker there is a control panel, it may have been mentioned in the manual.
It was, it is, and I simply assumed it was magic and did things that would strike fear in my heart and have me quivering in my boots. Glad to hear it has a purpose, and if used correctly it seems, can keep all kinds of disgusting stuff off my boots, quivering or not.


Quote:
Originally Posted by thenewkid64
The black tank can be inspected thru the bottom of the toilet. Hold the flapper open and shine a flashlight down the tube. The level will be self evident
Uhhhhh, thanks, think I'll pass on that little bit of trailer lore.

Thanks!
John-Boy
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Old 08-20-2004, 05:35 AM   #6
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John-Boy, moisture is one point you didn't address. We humans tend to produce a lot of moisture. To prevent condensation in your Airstream, you will want to open a vent and run the vent fan while taking a shower. You should also open a vent or window while cooking. We have spent the past four winters in Florida where moisture is more of a problem than in Julian, CA. It would still be a good idea to have a vent and/or window open as much as possible to reduce the moisture level in the Airstream even though your humidity levels will be lower than Florida.

We also purchased the plastic vent covers from Camping World. These allow us to leave the vents open while we are away from the trailer and not have to worry about a rain event.

We also learned the hard way that if there is even a remote chance of a rain, you shouldn't leave the awning extended, unless one end is much lower than the other. Awnings can hold a lot of water if they are not positioned so they can fully drain.

Our Airstream doesn't have a valve so you can wash out the black tank with city water after dumping. We added a plastic adapter that we purchased at Camping World. It connects to the sewer outlet and the "slinky' hose connects to the adaptor. There is also a connection on the adaptor for attaching a city water hose. This valve allows city water to be introduced into the black water tank, after it has been drained, to help flush it out. There is also a back flow prevention valve on the water connection to prevent cross contamination. While traveling down the road, the normal motion of the trailer will keep solids from accumulating in the tanks. When you are parked for an extended period of time, this adaptor aids in keeping the tanks clean.

Sam
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