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silver suz 03-28-2004 02:21 PM

New clean water tank
Hi, My husband says we don't need a clean water tank that water from the campground hose will be plenty enough. We presently have the original 1971 "clean" water tank and I have a lot of reservations about it. First, plastics in the early 70's werent all that great. With the technology of the astronauts, we now have food grade plastic. I am assuming the new tanks today are food grade. Since chlorine is not an option for me (deadly). I would rather replace the old tank with a new one so
1. do we need a fresh water tank?
2. we now have the original 50 gal. fresh water tank, can we turn it into a grey water tank? Is 50 gallons an appropriate size?
3. Are the plastics in a new fresh water tank better now than they were 30+ years ago?
4. What size fresh water tank is suggested for a 31' 1971 airstream?
5. What items drain into the grey water tank and how do you connect them if they are on opposite sides of the airstream?

Thanks, silver suz.

Van 03-28-2004 02:39 PM

By chance, i just had my water tank out last weekend. My trailer is a '78.

I inspected the tank closely and it appeared to be in great shape. It was clean, smelled fine and was sturdy yet. I had no reservations about putting it back in keep on using it.

If your tank placement is anything similar to mine, it is easy enough to replace if you feel it is warrented or just want the peace of mind of a new one.

Chuck 03-28-2004 02:54 PM

Interesting questions.

1) only you can say if you "need" a fresh water tank. if you will never ever ever camp anywhere that there isn't a fresh water hookup, then "no". If you might do some dry camping, or want the option...."yes". the POs of my unit never used the fresh water tank. didn't even have a key to open the filler door.

2.) 50 gallons is probably bigger than most grey water tanks. I believe the fresh tanks from that era were 44 gallons, and it was the same for all models. (mine is 44 gallons, according to the owner's manual). The problem is that they're mounted in an area that may not be convenient to get all the sinks/shower to drain to...too far away from some fixtures to drain by gravity, and still keep the pipes concealed within the belly. this isn't a concern for "fresh" water, as it is pumped to the fixtures. also, you'd have to add vents and drain inlets...more trouble than its probably worth.

3.) I seriously doubt it. there were astronauts in 1971, too, and also, chlorine isn't deadly if used in the appropriate amount. There's no need to constantly chlorinate the water stored in there; it only needs to be flushed occasionally with an extremely diluted mixture of once a year at the most. fill it with "swimming pool water", let it sit overnight, then empty it and flush it with a couple of tanks' worth of fresh water. Lord only knows what will be in the city water supply hookup wherever you happen to go. Many, if not most municipalities chlorinate the drinking water anyway, and you may not even know it.

4.) the one that you have, probably between 40 and 50 gallons.

5.) the sinks and shower go to the grey tank. It'll take some creativity to retrofit a grey tank, and figure a way to run all the drains to it...and be able to drain the tank itself. do a search on the forum; you'll find plenty of discussion on it. with your looooonnng trailer, you have to be very careful where to place the grey tank; you probably want it as close to the rear axle as possible, as the frame was not designed to support the weight of a grey tank. "rear end separation" was a common problem on the longer 70's trailers for this reason. they added tanks in '74, but didn't make any changes to the framework to support that weight, which is considerable.

another thing to consider on the "fresh water" subject: even though I don't have any particular fear of my 30 year old tank, or of chlorine...I use bottled water for drinking. doesn't take up much space in the interior; I don't really need very much, so its an easy solution to the "????" factor, whether you're talking about city water, OR tank water.

Navigator 03-28-2004 04:14 PM

The molecular structure of polyethylene of 30 years ago is no different than the polyethylene of today. There is no chlorine in polyethylene. Now if you want to get real technical, then, as today, there are a myriad of different versions of polyethylene, difference being the degree of density, cross linking and crystallinity, but no chlorine. Any trace of peroxide catalyst to polymerize the polyethylene gas is long gone.
Drink hearty, me lass.

wahoonc 03-28-2004 04:20 PM

I believe that suz was refering to the use of chlorine for sanitizeing the tank. And from what I recall from a previous post has extreme senitivity to certain chemicals. We don't use our our tank for drinking water. We carry filtered water from a known source, in a pinch we will buy bottled water, but are particular. For overnite stays we will typically use the campground water unless it is so foul we are afraid it will cause problems in the lines. BTW our AS has an inline filter under the sink, and I will use a filter between the campground water supply and the trailer. We only use the holding tank for washing dishes, showers and toilet flushing. We do sanitize it on a yearly basis then flush with a vinegar solution to help kill the chlorine smell, per the AS service manual.


RoadKingMoe 03-28-2004 04:45 PM

Some owners don't use the fresh water tank, but if you ever have to sell the trailer and it doesn't have one, could seriously hurt your sales potential. A self-contained water supply is a good thing to have when you roll into a campground with nasty looking/smelling water. It's also handy during hurricanes, or evacuation from them.

My Spring de-winterizing/sanitation instructions are in this thread. For a 50 gallon tank, the 4 hour contact time sanitizing concentration is about 6.4 ounces of regular (non-Ultra) bleach. That's only one ounce per thousand ounces of water! It needs to be in the tank, the water heater, and every water line and fixture for at least 4 hours. I leave it in overnight. By the time you've rinsed the tank, lines, and fixtures two or three times, it's probably less than one part per million. You can even start with a lower concentration with a longer contact time.

Do NOT put filtered, unchlorinated water in your tank unless you want to start a jellyfish aquarium in it. There's a reason fresh water supplies in this country are chlorinated. If you must filter the chlorine out of municipal water, do it after the water pump, preferably at the point of use, if you want clean pipes.

silver suz 03-29-2004 10:45 AM

Good, because I wanted one and my husband appreciates your advice. I suppose all the water at campgrounds are heavily chlorinated. I just hate to get chlorine vapors in the trailer. Chlorine wipes our my immune system.. Needless to say we have a big quadruple water filter in the house. We'll have a mini version in the trailer. Our pool has a non chlorine system. so what do you think about using the original for grey water?. Water storage plastic has changed in 30 years. Just look at the nalgeine (sp?) packback water bottles and polycarbonate. Thank you ,silver suz

wahoonc 03-29-2004 10:55 AM


Originally Posted by silver suz
I suppose all the water at campgrounds are heavily chlorinated. silver suz

The chlorination of campground water will depend on the location of the facility. I have stayed at campgrounds that the water was sooo bad the family dog turned his nose up at it. (remember these are the guys that consider toilet water a delicacy :p ) Some campgrounds are served by a muncipal water source and yet others are on their own well systems. We stayed at one in Elk City, OK that had it's own water tower, and no the water was not chlorinated there.

Aaron :cool:

Chuck 03-29-2004 10:57 AM

check out Inland Andy's website. on his parts page, he has a picture of a 70's era water tank. its kind of a funny shape, meant to fit between the frame members. I don't think it will fit anywhere except where the factory put it. and where the factory put it, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to run drain lines and vents. Its fairly far forward on the frame, too, which could be a problem with running a drain line so you can get rid of the stuff.

is your trailer a rear-bath model? if so, usually, the poop-chute is all the way to the back. you really wouldn't be able to tie a drain line from the front of the trailer all that way to the back.

silver suz 03-29-2004 12:48 PM

I really laughed about the dog turning up his nose- even our cats have been known to partake!!!
Chuck, we are changing the layout of our airstream, I get the ideas and my husband trys to impliment them. :) . we had trailer sag and rot in the bathroom area in back.
I had the bright idea that we move the bath near and over the wheel well- for weight balance. Since just about nothing is going to be reused, I get these flights of fancy., balanced by my ignorance of the innards. We were going to move the black tank forward of it's present position about 8? feet so it's under the toilet (a sealand marine) The bath will have an instantaneous hot water heater- electric. the back bedroom wiill have bunks and a desk for the computer and not much else except for another airfilter, and a well insulated door. the kitchen sink and fridge ( then again the washer/dryer might share the electric fridges vents. will be about in the same place 1971 31' soverign. a washer/ dryer combo, dehumidifier, aircleaners will be over the other wheel wells., across from the new bath. There will be a small hot water heater and the water filters under the sink. And I want a clean new freshwater tank and use the old one for grey water. My husband is worrying about doing the piping (to me, it's details, details!) The reason for the shifts that it will divide the AS into 2 quiet compartments with the bath between- important with 2 teen boys. Or if I have a friend visiting. My husband is worrying about these things. we still havent ordered the service manual from Andy because we keep making lists of needed parts! So you think moving the toilet forward 6-8' forward and on the same side will be a problem? The toilet will be next to the wheel well, then sink and shower heading to the back. The royal "we" are still in the planning stage. Nothing serious has been done as we (not me!) are trying to get that toxic black glue (under the Pink formaldehyde insulation.) off on the inside of the outside aluminum. Get that? : ) Are you talking about the water tank for sale? We were thinking of getting it. silver suz
P.S. I am getting a letter from my docs stating I have to use the washer/dryer due to my disability, and I truly do.

wahoonc 03-29-2004 12:59 PM

PM me your email and I will send you a scan from my 75 Service Manual of the center bath Sovereign, it will give you the location of the tanks and the toilet, etc. for reference. The 75's came with both black and grey water tanks.

Aaron :cool:

Chuck 03-29-2004 01:42 PM

Ok, that makes more sense. you're "redoing" the whole thing. Ok...

yeah, you definately want to change it to a center bath layout in that case, and within the context of a major project like that, I'm sure anything is possible. Aaron's idea is best: see how they did it on a newer model. getting pictures (or at least "diagrams") of how the frame is shaped, and how the tanks fit into the spaces is important, too. if you're going to have the interior walls out (to get rid of the toxic glue ??? what's that all about?), then you can probably tie new vents into the old one's ok.

But that tank is a funny shape...and its hard to describe verbally. (which is why I directed you to the photograph on Andy's site). Its sort of half-split by one of the cross members in the frame. It might fit elsewhere, but then again it might not. like I said before, it may be more work than its worth. Might be easier to get a tank custom made to fit into the appropriate space, wherever that space may be. Since it sort of hangs down a tad below the belly, it probably can't be put right over the axles. You could also say that its bigger than it needs to be in terms of "dry camping". If you've got 50 gallons of fresh water capacity, you only need 50 gallons of black+grey tank capacity. I suppose you could fill one faster than the other, but in general...Then again, though, if you're at a water/electric only site, where supply is unlimited, you could make use of an extra huge grey tank. But you might not want to drive around with such a large tank full of water. (very heavy).

silver suz 03-29-2004 02:34 PM

Thank you very much for your advice : ) ! I did see in the 2004 Airstream brochure a similar plan as I wanted. just 2 bunks on one side and a desk by the window. Bunks to be are popular wood slats with an organic cotton (probably futon not mattress) and organic bedding. I know my life must seem very wierd to you, but I've been doing this stuff for many years, so it's normal to me. Why Glues? look at Tad Taylor's site: (lots of airstreams!) You will probably be blown away. : ))
Yes, people need to live like that. I have blood tests, double blind testing, brain scans, lung scarring, on and on to prove this is real. I am not psychosomatic. I can get as well as a paraplegic can grow his limbs back. Maybe some medical miracle in the future!!! Meanwhile I have to make it through tomorrow. See that site and tell me what you think? Am I too ignorant of RV parks to consider living in one by the ocean?? I truly would appreciate your feedback.
I know that tank's shape-it's got me worried. I'm trying to convince my hub to drop the pan.
Of the bell curve of chemical sensitivity I'm way, way out there on the end. I am the "Bionic Nose" (nickname my friends gave me). I am the canary in the coal mine. When the canary died, the miners knew the air was getting too toxic to breathe and they left. Cheap warning system for them but hard on the canary! cheep. : )
Right now the trailer is stripped to the outside aluminum and the underfloor, so now is a good time to make decisions!!! or at least after he finishes the rot.
My trailer came with a 50 gallon clean water holder. And if you looked at it you'd have doubts about it too. yuck. we plan on adding lots of drain valves so if we are going park to park we wont drive with water. But if I find a good place I'll be there for a couple of months a year. Thank you very much, silver suz

Chuck 03-29-2004 03:34 PM

Oh, yeah, I'm familiar with the whole chemical sensitivity concept. I just didn't know about this particular glue, and what its original purpose was.

I've seen that guy's website before, but I just noticed his location. I know where Wardsboro family near there. I'll have to swing by and check out his place. looks like it would be an interesting sight.

he mentions insulation and the rodent problem of almost "all" old airstreams...I would think that you'd want to remove/replace all your trailer's insulation, too, which means your hubby is going to have to drop the pan on it at some point. What would you replace the insulation with? or are fiberglass batts ok? probably not.. I guess its not just the material itself, but that its attractive to rodents.

I don't understand what the potential problem of living in an RV park near the ocean might be.

silver suz 03-29-2004 04:17 PM

Wow you live near him? I've heard he's been selling off a lot of his airstreams to concentrate on homes only. I am following his manual on how to redo the trailers. who wants to take a chance that one thing is bad? We have a choice of white formaldehyde free fiberglass and cotton batts with aluminum reinforced foil on each side and a couple of other.s The problem is I am so sensitive right now (the pollen is in yellow drifts across the sidewalk!) That it's hard to test things.
I am extremely sensitive to propane or charcoal firestarter to the point of stopping breathing- syncope- that's one of the things that makes me wonder if I can make it in an RV park : ) If it's the glue I am thinking of- its asphalt or tar based like old railroad tracks- the smell never goes away. All the insulation is already out the black glue has to be ground off. Didnt see any evidence of rodents I think they just like the warmth in winter.there is also aluminum bubble pack like stuff and an interesting glass bead paint that looks interesting. Soerry if I'm repeating myself. I'mn running out of energy. thanks, suz

Tripp 03-29-2004 04:23 PM

Silver Suz,

Give Randy or Pat at North Dallas RV a call. They've done some "allergy" conversions before and can install a grey tank into your trailer. They are a Airstream service center. The facility isn't much to look at, but they do outstanding work and are very honest.

Tell them Tripp sent you. I'm up there all the time.


Chuck 03-29-2004 04:30 PM

No, I don't actually live near him, but I have family in his neighborhood that I visit occasionally. (130 miles, +/-). I'd be interested in seeing his tape on finding leaks!

I was just wondering what the glue was put there for. what was it holding in?? I would think that the fiberglass bats would have just been a friction fit between the ribs...that, and the interior skin would hold them in place. :confused:

there's probably no shortage of charcoal fire-starter at campgrounds...certainly no shortage of campfires, which are enough to aggrivate my DW's asthma. Propane?....I hope not. its highly explosive. there shouldn't be any for you to inhale, although, there's certainly plenty stored in people's LP tanks. I suppose you must need the propane systems removed from your trailer, too, eh? :( I mean, there would always be a teeny amount that escapes into the air when you go to light the stove, etc...

silver suz 03-29-2004 08:38 PM

wahoonc, I am totally confused by the new system, and I was just understanding the old one, old age must be creeping up on me. I don't know how to PM yet. I talked to Inland Andy and the 72 manual is the one we need. the 1971 has no grey water tank. Thanks for your offer, but I think we are ordering the 1972 from Andy
and Tripp, thanks for the info on North Dallas RV. It makes sense there would be someone around to rennovate AS , given Dr. Rea's office is in Dallas. I wonder if they have the almond porcelain wall panels??? :). I'll call tomorrow, Thanks, silver suz

wahoonc 03-29-2004 08:45 PM

Senior Moments?
What I was offering was a scan from the 1975 manual so you could see how the tanks and plumbing were laid out. It shows the location of the various tanks, plumbing as well as the location of the vents. I can also get you the center bath floor plan. If you are going to the trouble to customize I would go ahead and add the gray water tank for the quick overnite stops? You can send your email to BTW I am still getting the hang of this new forum too :eek: The easiest way to PM is to click "Private Messages" at the top right side of the screen right under the "Welcome, silver suz" then fill in the blanks. :p

Aaron :cool:

Over59 03-29-2004 09:16 PM

When I visited said builder of Airsteams to check out a 1957 he had I found him a very fine fellow. He wants too much for said AS. What I did see was the in process removal of said black stuff. It appears to be a seam sealer in the inside of the end caps and was already removed other places. He grinds it off. It was an overwhelming experience to see a fully gutted trailer. No interior walls, holes cut in the floor, bare ribs (which are far thinner than I expected). I am rethinking the whole frame off project idea. At least I am going to hold out for a 54-57 which will be worth the time and money.
He does have trailers.

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