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Old 05-02-2020, 09:13 AM   #1
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Dirty Water: Boondocking Prep 101

Dirty Water - Solutions Can Vary before Boondocking Prep

Trailer owners should be concerned about the expiration date of their canned food. Best Used By 8-14-1987 is probably dated and needs to be tossed.

Fresh Water is no different. The Spring Routine to flush out Dirty Water, mildewed stale fresh water tank and water lines will brighten your travels with minimal invasive, future efforts. Foul tasting water, stinky shower, mildew smelly washing of dishes and hands are not the Airstream Dream while on the road.

NEW Airstream owners of a brand new or used trailer need to fill the fresh water tank half way, after purchase. This saves you time not having to do it at home later. The drive home will slosh the chemical taste of the NEW Fresh Water Tank upon arriving home. If not... repeat. It is just a film from the manufacturing of the plastic tank. If the chemical taste remains, repeat. (You will know instantly if the new tank has been flushed, or not by the Dealership!)

Flush water through the Hot and Cold water lines, using the City Water Connection on the left side of your trailer. First run the fresh water through the hot and cold faucet sides of each sink, toilet and shower. You want to remove as much air in the water lines possible. The last purge will remove ALL air in the lines, later in the discussion.

You want to get a good flushing of fresh City Water with chlorine. You can sometimes SMELL mildew in the trailer’s fresh water. Does your under the counter sink have a ten year old ‘water filtering system’? Time to replace it, as well. Then repeat the process.

The Hot Water tank fill takes a few minutes. It fills once you are connected to the City Water Connection. You will hear water flowing from inside, and if not, outside the trailer. This is normal. When the hot water tank is full, turn on the Hot Water located in the Restroom near the sink. Let the hot water tank get HOT. The tank will shut the propane heating once at temperature.

***Check that the nylon drain plug on the outside hot water tank is not leaking. If so. Be careful and do not remove while hot. Turn off the Hot Water System, proceed to flush the system and when the tank it cool, reduce the pressure in the lines from the interior and use plumber’s tape to prevent any leaking at the nylon plug.****

You now have tested the Hot Water tank and now going to flush hot water through the hot water line.

The hot and cold water will be going into the Grey Water Tank. Newer Airstreams have grey water going into the Black Water Tank. (The drain in the Shower that can be sealed shut is the clue from my experience.) If you are having a problem getting hot and cold water pressure, check the exterior drain valves on the left side of your trailer. Make sure the exterior valve drain is closed to the Grey Water Tank. You will want water in the Grey Water Tank. The grey water in the tank needs to slosh around while towing.

Add eight gallons or more fresh water to the Black Water tank through the Toilet. I advise that you take a garden hose with a nozzle in one hand and a flashlight in the other to clean out all the 'krapola' that may have fallen into the tank, directly below the stool. This cleansing can be drained from the Black Water Tank into a five gallon bucket and disposed into your home toilet and city sewer system. If this seems like a dirty job... don't do it... it will become a massive blockage someday when you are on a long trip camping.

Toilet paper is like a building material and become 'concrete eventually', of some sort. Yours or the previous owners. This will harden and be directly below the toilet in the Black Tank.

I advise anyone buying USED.... to look down the toilet into the Black Tank and observe with a flashlight what you are getting into. If the view looks disgusting... you may want to look at other ‘servicing issues’.... like foul smelling fresh water tank, gray water, black water tank flushing and interior water lines needing more attention. OUR Airstream’s Black, Gray and Fresh water tanks are... spotless. No Sh$t. Honest Abe, I say.

Now that your hot water tank is hot and water lines primed of most of the AIR in the lines... the next BIG STEP is the Fresh Water Tank itself and the Fresh Water Pump AND... the interior hot and cold water lines need to be purged of ALL AIR.

It took me more time to type out this, than doing the ENTIRE PURGING of any Fresh, Grey and Black Water System! After a couple trips, you will be able to do it all in half the time it took to do the FIRST NASTY cleansing of the water system.

All of this is necessary. Want a short cut? Good... Lets hear it, as well. This is Part ONE just to cleanse the fresh water system and interior lines and water pump. Also freshen up the Black and Grey Water Tanks. Your nose may be your best guide.

Part TWO is no less easier to follow. How to complete the Season’s FIRST Adventure with a clean water system is the beginning. If your Airstream is NEW, used ANNUALLY or USED and has been sitting for a year... or more... other steps can be added... or ignored if you are currently satisfied that the water system is to your liking.

(I would avoid using Chlorine / Clorox as the smell and taste will out live YOU! City water should take care of most issues with a couple flushes... unless you really found yourself owning a BIGGER problem.)

When Boondocking, we drink the water from our fresh water tank. We need a clean tank and fresh water lines within our trailer. It is not necessary to carry bottled water, unless you prefer it... but a clean tank provides fresh water for as long as you keep adding water on your extended trip. Ahhhh... I say.

Someone may want to describe a CHEMICAL OPTION to a BIG Problem with mildew/stale FRESH WATER LINES... as I am not familiar with any options needing to cleanse the system of serious Tricks of the Trade used by experienced Airstreamers.

Reminder: If your water pump burps or runs constantly... you have AIR in the Hot and/or Cold water lines. Purge again through ALL faucets and shower and outside shower! After a long drive, you may develop some air bubbles in the system, again... but after this time your system should be 100% AIR FREE. The water system has plumbing going up, down and sideways... leaving plenty of locations for AIR to remain in the system.

All of this should take less than 20 minutes. Once you are good... you will not post on the Airforums your... Pump RUNS all of the TIME. It is not the pump, in most cases... but YOUR lack of purging air out of the system.
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Old 05-02-2020, 10:03 AM   #2
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Finished Flushing System....

Finished flushing in less than ten minutes. Took a five gallon buck around, drained the collected water into the bucket and watered our outside plants. We have a plastic sink pan I take around to the bathroom sink to flush air out in that tight situation, flush the toilet until silent water flowing, shower water into five gallon bucket (very little water), and kitchen sink.

I start with the outdoor shower FIRST. When the first valve runs clear, then go to the other. I use the five gallon bucket, again.

You will HEAR the system filling with water and pushing the air through the system. You will imagine the trailer is filling with WATER. That is normal... the sound. IF you find water running out somewhere... you did not close a hot/cold exterior water line drain, the black/grey/fresh water valves to closed... If so, you will get better. This seems simple, but describing it takes more time than the speed of the water filling the system!

Now filling Fresh Water Tank.

Will add several gallons of Fresh Water into the Black Water Tank and also into the Grey Water. This will take longer due to the volume of the Fresh Water Tank.
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Old 05-02-2020, 10:30 AM   #3
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Finished Filling Fresh Water Tank

Fresh water tank is filled.

Flush out your WATER HOSE... first. When the water runs cold and you do not smell mildew, etc... good to go. Otherwise... replace the hose. Have a spare, new inexpensive water hose as a backup with the one being used. Before using the 'new spare hose'... flush it out first. Always something... to do.

Avoid those with cheap connections as they leak, not sealing well.

I have an extension I add to the end of the water hose that has a on/off valve. It may come with each Airstream or I bought it at Walmart or Lowes.

You need to be near the fresh water inlet when filling... if you are in the RV Garage at home filling and purging!

You will HEAR the fresh water fill entry... getting close to full! You will hear the down spout to the tank beginning to back up to the entry. With good timing you will not get... wet.

Bad timing... anything less than wet is good.

Our trailer is fully watered, purged of air, fresh water tank filled and now I will take a five gallon bucket and add fresh water to the Black and Grey Tanks. Today... I will add about three gallons. We use very little grey tank as we toss water out of the kitchen sink with the dish pan. The toilet is used only when needed, as we use the Shovel Method in the Off the Grid camping.

If anyone has a question, please ask. Someone may be able to give you a great cure or response. There are MANY tips out there. Experience is a great teacher, so pass on some tips.

I carry five gallons of fresh water for two Blue Heelers. I put the water jug on a plastic milk crate, their water bowl below and when it needs water... I turn the valve and fill. It sits until we are ready to move.

I carry a water container Igloo with a gallon or so for water at gas station stops for the two dogs.

Forest Service offices in the Rocky Mountains usually have Well Water. It is COLD, FRESH and better than water we have from Lake Mead, above Boulder Dam. Sometimes the FS locks the water pump so the locals do not fill a 1,000 gallon tanker on the weekend. Monday through Friday are best. Ask. Emergencies... use the water outlet next to the building... behind the bushes.

Truck stops... often have City Water with chlorine and safe. Some may use well water for the facility. Take out the five gallon bucket, check for sand/silt and taste. I have never had a problem... yet.

IF you smell SULFUR... pass. Out West some areas get their ground water from the Cretaceous formation that the ground water is above the shale. North of Crawford, Nebraska has the worse well water and the SULFUR is easily smelled. It is not harmful, but.... be aware. Gillette, Wyoming... same Sulfur issues in the 1970's... but may have improved since then. If it smells... odd... check the next stop.

New Mexico FS office water. Wyoming FS office water. Montana Parks and FS office water. Colorado... It is tested often. Fort Robinson, Nebraska water...

Have a great camping season and do not let water spoil the experience. Keep it clean and you will never have one bit of trouble.

Some like the filtering systems that attach onto the hose... which is also great. We do not... but are careful not to add water where there could be SAND or fine SILT in the water. This would be at Boondocking Sites... Get you five gallon white bucket, fill it 25% of the way and look at the color and if anything is in the water that should not be.
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Old 05-02-2020, 02:06 PM   #4
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Wow Ray, you're in a verbose mood today.

Good job on all of this. One small disagreement though. A sulfur smell is usually not something to worry about too much. It is actually hydrogen sulfide and is caused by the breakdown of organic material or a bacterial contamination in the aquifer. It will kill you in seconds in high concentrations. It is harmless in low concentrations, though continual exposure will reduce ones ability to smell it. It is held in the water through hydrostatic pressure, so it de-gasses from the water once it is pulled out of the ground and the water warms up. The gas is heavier than air, so it sinks to low places, therefore it could hang in low areas around your water tank, but a little ventilation will fix that. It won't effect the taste of the water once the smell is gone.
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Old 05-03-2020, 10:21 AM   #5
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I like a man with details ... dots the "i" and crosses the "t" - now all I need is the time to go through it all word by word. Glad the dewinterizing is a week or so away
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Old 05-03-2020, 11:59 AM   #6
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Excellent guidance! Thank you!
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Old 05-03-2020, 02:20 PM   #7
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water

Thanks for the detailed water and holding tank ideas. Well, it all just water. Many good reminders.
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Old 05-04-2020, 09:48 AM   #8
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Hi Ray. Thanks for sharing many tips. I use my fresh water tank all the time and drink from it without qualms.

I put a filter on the campground tap (I've had at least one case of brown water from a campground tap). From the filter, I run the water through a softener to greatly reduce mineral buildup on the fixtures and then I put about a 1/4 tsp of extra strength non scented Clorox into the end of the hose before I put it into the fill port on the trailer.

1/4 tsp of 8.25% Clorox ("extra strength") in a 50 gal tank is about 0.5 ppm. Normal city tap-water is 0.1 to 0.5 ppm Chlorine with the norm around 0.2 ppm. Even with city water, I like to give the chlorine a little boost since it will sit in the tank for a little while.

My 2007 Classic has a built-in filter under the kitchen sink for drinking water, although at these low concentrations I can't taste the chlorine even without the filter.

I use the water every month and usually use water from the tank even at full hookup sites just to keep the tanks and plumbing fresh. I fill up every time I hit the road.

To those that worry about me carrying a tank of water, I reply that that's what the tank is for and then ask if they fill their Diesel tank or just put in enough to get the next destination. What!! And carry all that heavy fuel that you don't really need?

55 gal of water between the axles lowers the center of gravity and allows me to stop without having to worry about a water tap at the campsite.
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Old 05-17-2020, 04:52 PM   #9
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Water, water every where... we found frost and snow drifts

Just returned from a Rocky Mountain Adventure, as well deserts and mesa country.

Western Nebraska. Fort Robinson. Empty. Closed. Big restoration projects of fort being done while empty. Freezing fog at night. Headed to the Black Hills... to warm... up.

-Bighorn Mountains... BURIED in SNOW. Did not have Thalweg's information and did not have a shovel to find his frozen corpse, if I had...

- Black Hills... nobody. No traffic. Saw all the sites, as long as you did not climb over the gated entrances. Wonderful roads and weather was excellent.

- Wyoming WIND. Fifty to sixty mile cross winds from the NW on I-25, some highway traffic was closed for high profile lighter trailers. WE were loaded and a Full Tank of Water. Not one sway issue. Had not collected any rock specimens... either. Flaming Gorge... better have good brakes!

- Nevada. Nothing worth commenting. Not going to do much more Boondocking searches as there are few roads to anywhere you would want to go.

- South Dakota. Silver City, Deadwood. Whooo Hoooo. Empty, great roads and everything pretty much shut down. All the mountain sites were also free of traffic... but also closed.

- Wyoming. Devil's Tower. Saw it and probably one car in the area.

- Utah. Wonderful, as usual. Snow on all the High Peaks. Frost in the morning... warm and nice during the days. We warmed the trailer to 50F in the morning after mornings in the upper 20's. Record Lows... in the Rockies and to the East. Yea... no kidding. We had frost a number of times on the Airstream... exterior. The interior was nice at the upper 30's to mid 40's with no heating until 6AM.

What does this have to do with water? We were down to 25% by the time we hit Virginia City, Carson City and Reno. Like Wanderer2604... travel with full tank of water if you are Boondocking. It also helped to keep the trailer not swaying in 50mph to 60mph steady cross winds in Wyoming.

Visited friends in Reno. Topped off the water there, spent most of day in the Silver Mining areas of Central Nevada to Boondock... found nothing that was not at a 25 degree dip and goat head stickers to add.

If you ask where we had been. Where we stopped. Which towns we drove around to get a good look. Laramie, Wyoming with thousands of junk cars to be crushed to put onto Union Pacific trains... was surprising. What an experience.

Next time. We will wait until JUNE!

Dumped the fresh water on our way home today. Could find nothing in Nevada to set the trailer and look around.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:15 PM   #10
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Water Pump: Quiet to Noisy with Burping

When we followed the process of the first two posts... quiet water pump.

After a couple days of rough road, the pump was was noisy in comparison. Actually sounded like a jack hammer was operating in the area!

Once camped, to get the quiet pump... travel will create bubbles of air in the system. Quiet returned once we used the system and back to quiet.

The lower the water level in the Fresh Water Tank, the better the chance of getting air into the system... again. We travel with the Water Pump OFF. We will stop some times, turn on the Water and it runs a couple seconds to pressure.

On smooth paved roads, we stopped and turn on the Water Pump and it was AT PRESSURE already.

If you plan to stop for a few days and want to return to the quiet pump... run water from everything until you notice some 'frothy bubbles' coming out and returning to smooth clear flow.

If the noisy water pump does not bother you... like I don't really care as long as it is working... go through the process.

Our water system did not freeze up with 19F mornings on this Trip. This 27 International 2019 is insulated very well. Frost on the end caps... only. The interior was cold... but the warmed up to 50F easily and we dressed for the interior and added blankets on the bed.
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Old 05-17-2020, 05:28 PM   #11
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Amen to traveling with a full fresh water tank. With all that weight down low I can feel the difference in handling. Like a heavy keel on a sailboat.

And thanks for this Ray. We also drink water from our fresh water tank and I’m just getting ready to set the trailer up for the season. Lots of great tips here.

Cheers,
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Old 05-17-2020, 09:38 PM   #12
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Wait - the water pump isn't supposed to sound like an A-10's guns? Brrrrttt! Brrrrrrrrrttttttttttttt! for the entire time you're taking a shower? And also makes the lights flicker?
We were thinking about trying to change/insulate the hoses and/or add an accumulator....
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:22 AM   #13
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Hot Water Tank... water drips when turned on

Quote:
Originally Posted by SnooMc View Post
Wait - the water pump isn't supposed to sound like an A-10's guns? Brrrrttt! Brrrrrrrrrttttttttttttt! for the entire time you're taking a shower? And also makes the lights flicker?
We were thinking about trying to change/insulate the hoses and/or add an accumulator....
*******

Yep. It was embarrassing setting up for the evening at a truck stop in Wyoming, turn on the water pump and truckers were diving for cover. Just kidding.

As long as our water pump works, we are happy. The water was cool when it was 70F, and flowing at 19F one morning. The low center of gravity stabilizes our trailer in cross winds, as well as the bed of our pickup with hardware, lawn chairs, dog water, dog food, enough tools to rebuild the bearings and brakes of anything that moves, DEF, plastic buckets for rock hunting, a ramp so the dogs can exit and enter their pet porters on the back seat in the F350, two shovels, three outdoor mats when camped under the awning and... well, left the bathroom sink at home.

Not ONE problem in or out of our Airstream. After using the water system on a two day campsite... purring water pump. Air in the system is most likely what gets the pump and pex lines shaking... from what I noticed.

One thing to mention. Someone noticed water drips from their hot water unit from the exterior when firing it up. I noticed it by accident walking around the trailer. It was from condensation at the burner. I dropped the exterior door and let it hang... this dried up and solved a question read on the Forum somewhere.

What does this have to do with water? If it... DRIPS... check it out anyways.

Crickets on Utah two lane highways. Thousands. Coated my interior fender wells, mud flaps and stuck many onto the stainless steel front trailer panels. The Blue Beacon truck wash for $41.50 took care of thousands of Cricket victims and the Ford and Airstream looked like they never left home.

Car and Trailer Wash... Water. See... it all ties into a nice bundle.
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Old 05-19-2020, 10:15 AM   #14
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The pump works well, tons of pressure generally - but if that's a purr, I don't want to meet the cat

Annnd it appears we may have knocked something loose on this last transit of eastern Colorado...this morning's purr was much, much louder than normal. Pretty sure a hose is knocking against the side of the shower stall, so that'll be fun to fix.
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