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Old 06-14-2016, 08:41 PM   #1
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Proper sizing and use of a tote

We do not have a tote yet but are considering buying one since we will be spending two weeks at a time at different state parks that do not have sewer hookup. First we thought we would just hitch and drive to the dump station whenever the grey and black tanks are full but that is not really practical. We also thought of using exclusively the park restroom and showers, again not really practical. We also consider using the AS toilet and shower until both tanks are full and then use only the park facility.

Another option was buying a tote and that is were we need your help. If you use a tote is it as big as either one of your holding tanks and are you waiting until it is full to roll it to the dump station or do you have a smaller one and make more frequent trips. Being new at this I do not know how long it would take to fill the 37 gallons grey water tank and the 39 gallons black water tank under normal use. We would rather not carry a tote but if it is the best solution we will, since they take a lot of space and the good ones are not exactly cheap we would like to buy the smallest one that would still make sense.

What size tote do you have relative to your holding tanks and how do you manage disposal of grey and black water when your are staying two weeks or longer at sites with no sewer hookup.
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Old 06-14-2016, 09:25 PM   #2
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If you'll only ever use the tote for graywater, and you leave the dump valve open so that water passes into the tote without being held in the gray tank, AND you check the level in the tote often enough to shut off the dump valve before you overfill the tote, then the tote can be any size.

But if you hold water in the gray tank, and just dump into the tote after the gray tank gets full enough, then the tote needs to be as big as the gray tank, so that you don't overfill the tote when you open the gray tank dump valve. In other words, don't use a tote that way.

Also remember that water weighs a little over 8 pounds per gallon, and the tote's wheels may not roll well on wet and muddy ground. So ergonomically, the smaller the tote, the better. If you're going to pull the tote to the dump station by hand, you don't want it to be too heavy. And if you'll pull the tote to the dump station with your truck, you still have to wheel the tote by hand far enough to hook it up to your truck.

The smallest practical size for a tote is the maximum amount of water you'll use in one day. Making trips to the dump station daily may be a chore, but doing it more than once a day would be onerous.

Don't use your tote for black water at all. When the black tank gets full, take the trailer to the dump station.

Others may have different ideas about totes, but that's the way I'd do it.
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Old 06-14-2016, 11:36 PM   #3
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We never use ours for the black tank, just grey water. Our grey tank holds 39 gal. and we can go about 2 - 3 days to filling up our 25 gal blue boy. We have an SUV for a TV so the blue boy had to be one that could be mounted on the trailer. The 25 gal. one fits perfect between the tank cover and front of the trailer. I did use some thin aluminum glued to the back of the tank cover and front of trailer to keep from scratching up either.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:15 AM   #4
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Wife, myself and daughter can go 3 days with daily showers, dish washing, etc - normal living on just the trailer grey tank. The black tank will last over a week.
I have a 18 gallon tote that seems just too big. It is towable with a dolly wheel on the front and two stationary wheels on the back. It takes up a lot of room in the truck bed. I would definitely buy something smaller if doing over again - maybe 12 gallons that I could lift into the truck.
I have the Thetford smart tote tank - which I cannot recommend. The front dolly wheel has broken off once in rough ground and I only walk the tote by hand to the dump station - never with the truck. The other problem is that the tote does not have a low point for drainage so it is very hard to get all the old grey water out of the tank. The tank design was great in theory but poor in actual use.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:28 AM   #5
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We can go up to 10 to 11 days on the grey tank (38 gallons) and nearly two weeks on the black (38 gallons.) There are only two of us and we have become pretty adept at saving water. We do shower everyday by the way. We do not carry a tote and will simply take the trailer to the dump station if needed. The entire process including hitching up, dumping and setting back up takes between 30 minutes to 45 minutes. For us it's simply not worth the hassle of carrying and using the tote which would take nearly as long to dump as the entire trailer anyway.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:42 AM   #6
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Buy a big tote but only fill it part way. Much easier to get to the dump. Make two trips instead if one, much easier. The larger tanks are easier to pull than the small ones. Only fill them part way.
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:55 AM   #7
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Advice on using tote for grey water only is good for trailer with two tanks.....but I have a 16' Bambi.....only one 21 gallon tank. So I have to use mine for both grey and black water.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:04 AM   #8
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There is no logical reason to use the tote for gray only. The tote is nothing more than a mobile version of your onboard tanks.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:26 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avionstream View Post
There is no logical reason to use the tote for gray only. The tote is nothing more than a mobile version of your onboard tanks.
I choose to use mine for gray only for sanitary reasons. I am an apartment dweller when I'm not in my Airstream, so when I'm not using my Airstream I have to store my tote either in my apartment or in my Airstream, and I do not want a portable black tank in either of my living spaces. But if your tote will never go indoors, you can use it for whatever kind of waste you choose.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:34 AM   #10
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That's a shame. You are not getting full use out of your tote. I understand not wanting it in my house, though. I would put it in a huge plastic bag if I had to store inside the unit, even if it was used for just gray water.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:40 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by avionstream View Post
I would put it in a huge plastic bag if I had to store inside the unit, even if it was used for just gray water.
I do exactly that.
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:50 AM   #12
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We got the Tote-N-Store 15 gallon and use it only for the gray water.
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Our tank is 21 gallon, we use the campground bath facilities and the gray water will fill in 3-5 days the first time. After that I draw down the gray tank by 15 gallons and I can go 2-3 days after that. The black tank is 18 gallons and we use it only for #1, it will last nearly two weeks. There are just 2 of us.

A big problem (at least for us) is the low slung AS drain is about the height of the fill point of the portable. I may have to pull up the front stabilizers and lower the nose to gain height. I use the "red" water hose, connect to the hose drain in the AS drain cap and put the portable at the other end of the hose, as far away as I can get downhill. Otherwise, it won't have enough speed to get over the edge of the portable's filler neck. Using the hose allows me to easily stop emptying the gray tank before the portable runs over. I disconnect from the drain on the AS, put water down the red hose and keep the hose raised, draining all the way to the portable. (This cleans out the hose into the portable. Gray water REALLY stinks, you don't want to spill this in your campsite.)

The Tote-N-Store is pretty strong but mine has only the 2 rear wheels. I use the provided hitch handle to pull it by hand to the dump station. The handle is designed for putting on a trailer hitch so it's not very comfortable, wearing gloves helps. Like others, there is no low point drain, you have to lift up the one end to dump and it doesn't completely empty. The provided hose, designed to fit inside the tank's storage box, isn't long enough to reach the dump station hole while the tank is flat and when you lift it up the hose flops out of the hole. I have learned to not use the hose and just lift the tank carefully, pouring into the dump station hole.

It is a LOT easier than breaking camp every few days to empty the gray tank. With this in place we may consider using the shower in the AS.
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:48 AM   #13
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Good ideas plus my perspective

We went from a 35' fifth wheel with three slides, automatically levelers, and fairly large holding tanks. Breaking camp to go to the dump station with the Airstream is a breeze to us. We almost never did that with the larger units. Two weeks in the Everglades with only electric hookups and we only had to dump twice but my husband used the campground showers and I showered military style. I captured the warm up water in a pan and used it for dog water, plants, and to add water to the toilet so very little was wasted. The few times that we have had to dump black in the past, I put bleach in the tote with a lot of water and then I put the hose, with bleach and lots of water, in a tub, and let it sit. Then thorough cleaning, again, when we got home. We bought a new, large tote, when we still had the fifth wheel but have yet to use it. We have an old, smaller one, that we use at home if we have to drain a little residue. There are lots of ways to go about it. Don't be afraid to add water to the black tank as it is needed and hold a lot more than waste. More to tell, I'm sure, but a lot has been said already. Oh, we have a 2007 Classic and the tanks are pretty large.
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:53 AM   #14
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Indirectly applies to tote--I forgot

We use an Oxygenic shower head. It makes a world of difference and is easy to shut off, temporarily, or adjust the flow down enough to soap up with shampoo and still stay warm. Plenty of water pressure even with low campground pressure or pump. There are other brands on the market but haven't tried anything else.

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Old 06-15-2016, 01:16 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avionstream View Post
There is no logical reason to use the tote for gray only. The tote is nothing more than a mobile version of your onboard tanks.
Our black tank will last 2 weeks, longest stay away from full hookups. We don't really need to empty before we leave. The gray tank fills up pretty fast so the 15 gallon works out nice. We have an SUV so we don't put it in there. I leave it outside until the day before we leave and then scrub it down inside and out. I leave a little bleach inside and make sure the caps are tight. It's worked out well so far.
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Old 06-15-2016, 01:52 PM   #16
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We generally fill the 37-gallon gray tank in three days, black tank about half full after four days which is the longest we have camped without full hook-ups. We have a 22-gallon tote that I fill with the provided short slinky and dump valve partially open to control flow. I then hand pull the tote to a dishwater dump point and since the tote is taller than the dishwater dump I can empty half of the tote with it standing up alongside the disposal cowling. At this point, the tote weighs about 80 lbs. so I pull it on top of the cowling on end to finish draining the tote. I am thinking about getting a small water pump to fill the tote while it is in the bed of the truck to make the process easier. This could be easily done by using the Sewer Solution dump cap with its hose to the pump.
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Old 06-15-2016, 03:11 PM   #17
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We use the Barker 16 gal four-wheeled tote. It fits upright against the back wall of the pick-up bed under the SnugTop. It seemed to be the best compromise between size and capacity. It is invaluable when needed and well made. Purchased through Amazon. Larger sizes come with pneumatic tires.

We only use it for grey water since we hardly ever use the toilet. Only used for the occasional middle of the night pee. No "solids" have ever been introduced to the black water tank. In my view, why bother when there are facilities nearby?
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Old 06-15-2016, 06:46 PM   #18
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I have the 25 gallon Tote n Store, and have the same comments as "richw46" Post #12. I have a Hensley so I have to remember to bring the small ball hitch s I can pull it to the dump station. Like Rich, I found it easier to just up-end the rig and then wash down the dump station. I have only used it for grey water. At least you can use a small hose to fill it and see the level. Filling from the AS the one time I used it was facilitated by the AS being blocked up on the street-side. Could be a problem using a sewer hose if the AS was on level ground as Rich notes there is not much elevation from AS to Tank
I would never have purchased one of these...very pricey...but it came with my Classic.
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Old 06-15-2016, 07:24 PM   #19
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We have a 19' FC with a gray water tank of 21 gallons and have installed a composting toilet. We use a 18 gallon SmartTote 2. To save my back and also to get around the lack of drop from the tank valves on the Airstream, we have a 12V pump and a hose to allow us to fill the tote while it is in the back of the TV. Then we drive the TV to the dump station and use an additional slinky extension to empty the tote. The result is no heavy lifting and no worries about weak wheels on the tote. The negative is storage space for the pump, gray water hose and tote.
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:43 PM   #20
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Not to hijack the thread, but a word of caution letting the tanks, particularly the black tank, get too full. I have had trouble with the MicroPulse sensors getting dirty and the "no fuss flush" sprayer getting clogged up after the tanks filled up. The usual remedies work, but not always. I would try to avoid all this when possible. Sometime the situation dictates otherwise and good multiple flush outs on both tanks is always a good preventive measure.
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