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gomotomoto 10-08-2014 04:30 AM

The black tank. Um, need some advice...
 
So, as I ready for the adventure... Deep thoughts regarding the black tank have arisen.

Our 1964 is equipped with a black tank only. No grey tank. I think the tank is about 15 gallons - not very much holding capacity.

Initially, we'll be at campgrounds with hook ups, so I'm assuming the black tank won't be an issue.

Eventually, I'd like to do a little boondocking but wondering who what where how to dump the tank when not hooked up. I'm not even quite sure who to look for - for services.

Is it a septic service? I did find a website that offers a list of dump stations, but the nearest one is about 25 miles from me.

How is this handled responsibly and are there solutions if the tank is full and there aren't any stations nearby? Can you pay to dump in a port o potty in an emergency (ie tank full and your with the kids)

Just asking because I literally have no idea. What have I gotten myself into? Hahahahaha!

Protagonist 10-08-2014 04:55 AM

If you're truly boondocking, far from any vestige of civilization, you could do it the same way tent campers do. Find a spot with good drainage of the soil, dig a pit latrine. Dump the black tank into it. Once the liquids drain down through the soil, cover the solids with the soil you dug out of the pit.

Otherwise, hold it until you get to an Interstate rest area or truck stop that has a dump station. Civilized areas tend to frown on pit latrines.

You can stretch your holding tank capacity by doing dishes outdoors in a washbasin, and dumping the washwater outside as well, such as in your firepit to extinguish any remaining embers.

jbroedlow 10-08-2014 05:37 AM

Another couple of options. Sometimes small towns water treatment plant have a dump station that you can use. Ours does. Another option is a state park in your area. Some charge to dump and others allow you to dump for free. We've used both.

gomotomoto 10-08-2014 05:42 AM

Are there ways to expand my current black water tank capacity?

Lily&Me 10-08-2014 05:46 AM

You could get one of those wheeled blue things that some use to empty their tanks without having to unhook and drive to the dump station.

Don't know the exact name of it, but someone else here will, and they are probably available at a Camping World.:)


Maggie

AnnArborBob 10-08-2014 07:15 AM

Dumping your black tank won't be much of a problem. Do not dump the black tank on the ground or even in a "pit latrine." That is illegal in every jurisdiction that I am aware of. Some places will let you dump your grey water on the ground but that was not your question. The 15 gallon black tank is not as limiting as you might think. Your family should easily get by for a long weekend with a 15 gallon black tank. You will be able to stretch the tank by using any other facilities that may be available nearby. To dump the black tank, just ask around to find a legal dump site. You can also look online or get an "app" such as Allstays.

For your grey water, you may be able to let that go on the ground if the local rules/laws allow it. There are numerous threads on this forum that discuss the proper technique and etiquette of doing this. However, fewer places allow the dumping of grey water directly onto the ground these days so you will need to do your research. In "the old days" campers without a grey tank might have hauled along a free standing tank for this purpose and then dumped it someplace appropriate.

If you are serious about boon docking, it would probably be a good idea to investigate adding a small grey water tank to your unit to increase your flexibility. I have no idea what is involved in doing this. Others may have some better information on this.

gomotomoto 10-08-2014 07:18 AM

Thanks all. The help is much appreciated.

I tried to actually find specs on the blackwater tank, but all I could find was:
https://www.airstream.com/wp-content/...a858765a77.pdf

Not too specific :(

AnnArborBob 10-08-2014 07:28 AM

If you want to find out how large your black tank really is, just empty it (legally) some place where you have a fresh water supply and can spend a few extra minutes, and then use five gallon buckets to fill it up via the toilet until the tank is full again. Keep track of the number of buckets you put in and then you will have a good indicator of your tank's capacity. Don't forget to empty the tank again before you leave the dump station. As an added bonus, this test will also help to clean out your black tank!

:lol:

Minno 10-08-2014 07:53 AM

The name of one portable dump tank is "Blue Boy". We use it for grey water storage and dumping, but never black for us. Others do use it for black also. They come in various sizes and can hook to your vehicle ball for short distance travel. There are other brands and Maggie is right in that Camping World sells them.

Kay

Protagonist 10-08-2014 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnArborBob (Post 1522044)
If you want to find out how large your black tank really is, just empty it (legally) some place where you have a fresh water supply and can spend a few extra minutes, and then use five gallon buckets to fill it up via the toilet until the tank is full again. Keep track of the number of buckets you put in and then you will have a good indicator of your tank's capacity.

As a practical rule of thumb, your waste tank capacity should be at least as large as your fresh water capacity, so that by the time the fresh water tank has been emptied, the waste tank isn't quite full to overflowing.

I can't guarantee that's the case; Airstream designers never have been omniscient and may not have figured out such a simple rule. But it wouldn't hurt to check and see if that's the case. If so, then while boondocking, start with a full fresh tank and empty waste tank, and by the time you're ready to dump you'll have run out of water anyway, with no risk of overflowing the waste tank.

If you're unfortunate enough to have a waste tank smaller than your fresh tank, though, you'll have to devote more effort to monitoring your waste tank status.

Jewel65 10-08-2014 08:55 AM

If you are looking for a good roll around tank (Blue Boy) I might suggest this one...

Thetford Smart Tote

It has some nice features like a self contained hose system, pull handle to attach to your hitch ball and heavy duty wheels.

Gearheart 10-08-2014 09:17 AM

If you are truly boondocking, boys at least can do #1 outside. The toilet flushes with a minimum of water, about a pint per flush. Dish washing will use up most of the fresh water tank. 15 gallons of sewage is a lot of capacity. While you are camping with full hookups leave the dump valve closed and see how long it takes to fill the black tank. On the old trailers the gray water goes straight through so no problem there. Use the toilet only for "business" and see how long it takes you to fill it. Everybody is different so you will have to experiment to find out how long you can last before something needs to be done.

HowieE 10-08-2014 09:42 AM

The rest area at the bottom of 295 in >Jersey still has a dump station in the back. The Pa. turnpike have them but are charging. FlyingJ and most truck stops have dump stations.

When I went from septic to city sewer I placed a clean out at the curb and dump at home.

What I have done on my daughters SOB was add a tank and cross couple them. Don't forget to cross couple them top and bottom.

Janet H 10-08-2014 09:56 AM

The Black tank in our 64 overlander is about 15 gals and we can make it almost a week if we are careful (find a bush during daylight hours). gray water is another deal entirely...

I would look into adding a small gray tank if you can - even 10 gals. We found space in the bottom of a rear closet and plumbed the sinks to that tank. This gives us the flexibility to use the trailer at places that don;t allow blue totes or when it's pouring rain at set up time and no one is interested in coping with the tote. 10 gals is a lot of tooth brushing and face washing and a couple of rounds of food prep and dish washing.

We recently spent 7 days boondocking and forgot the blue boy. The black tank was sufficient for the entire time although we were out an about during the day and used other facilities..
I used a small bucket in the kitchen sink to catch dish water and emptied it outside. We brushed teeth, shaved, etc (to the gray tank) and never had to dump. We were careful, however. On day 5 we had to bucket fill the fresh tank (35 gals).

Cannonball 10-08-2014 10:02 AM

There is a free website, Sanidumps: RV Dumps, Sani Stations, Dump Points a comprehensive directory, that list various dump stations. By way of example, our 22 FB Sport has the following tanks/capacities: black water, 18 gal.; fresh water, 20 gal.; grey water, 24 gal.. For the two of us, a long weekend will bring the black tank to 1/2 to 3/4 full. If we are not careful, we can fill the grey tank in less than 24 hours. Showers & dishwashing are the main culprits. You can really save if you seek out alternatives on those fronts. W/O a sewer hookup, I am relegated to the campground facilities, but DW really likes the privacy of showering in the Airstream.

I just bought a Thetford 18 gal smart tote which I intend to use to manage the grey water only. Depending on your circumstances & moral outlook, there is a cap for the sewer outlet that is available with just a garden hose fitting. You can just attach a junk garden hose and run the grey water wherever you wish. You can also Google the concept of a "leaky bucket" which is something I understand campers did before the popularity of grey water tanks. Essentially, you drained your grey water into a bucket with one or more holes and it slowly seeped out.

Protagonist 10-08-2014 12:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cannonball (Post 1522137)
You can also Google the concept of a "leaky bucket" which is something I understand campers did before the popularity of grey water tanks. Essentially, you drained your grey water into a bucket with one or more holes and it slowly seeped out.

The idea is, don't dump it faster than it can soak into the soil. Uncontrolled runoff is one of the bigger environmental hazards of dumping your gray tank directly on the ground since it can cause soil erosion.

Cannonball 10-08-2014 12:21 PM

Yes, exactly.


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robwok 10-08-2014 12:30 PM

I have a 64 and recently installed my own gray tanks and a new black tank. Just search for my posts and you can see some of my work in that area. Before you go camping, even with full hookups, I would suggest filling your black tank all the way up and check for leaks. I thought mine was fine and found out I had a huge crack that only showed when there was some weight of water in the tank. If you do have a cracked black tank, you may be able to do a fiberglass repair depending on where it is. Mine was at the valve, and I just decided to replace it, but the option is to drop the pan, then get a fiberglass kit from an auto body shop and make the repair for $20.00. You can also get a porta pottie. They can be $100 and you can dump them at a bathroom. Buy a shoulder bag (or get one from Goodwill) that you can carry the tank in. We also used a bucket loo on our first couple trips. Bucket, seat, bags with absorber and kitty litter, and tossed them in the dumpster. The last thing you want is sewage leaking into the pan under your trailer. (unless your black tank is above the floor)

Rob

AnnArborBob 10-08-2014 02:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Protagonist (Post 1522190)
The idea is, don't dump it faster than it can soak into the soil. Uncontrolled runoff is one of the bigger environmental hazards of dumping your gray tank directly on the ground since it can cause soil erosion.

Also, make sure your "leaky bucket" or discharge hose is not near any body of water or stream. Running your grey water dump so it discharges under a shrub or bush will not only water the plant but also help mitigate any runoff.

:angel:

Foiled Again 10-08-2014 04:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnArborBob (Post 1522277)
Also, make sure your "leaky bucket" or discharge hose is not near any body of water or stream. Running your grey water dump so it discharges under a shrub or bush will not only water the plant but also help mitigate any runoff.

:angel:

Here on the east coast, there isn't all that much truly rural land where dumping gray water won't affect anyone else. Out west, in semi-arid or arid areas you can make an "evaporation pool" basically any biggish divot covered with plastic or a tarp. Drain the water out and let sunshine do the rest.

I hadn't actually realized there was a cap with a hose fitting - but if I had one, I might even be tempted to use a short regular hose attached to a longer soaker hose so that the water could drip out over a wide area and immediately water the greenery. Thanks for the knowledge - and now I know what I could have done with those leaky old white hoses I've thrown away!

Paula

gomotomoto 10-08-2014 05:21 PM

The black tank. Um, need some advice...
 
So this might be kinda sorta (totally) a dumb question, but...why don't people set up their trailers to drain grey water directly to the campground sewer hook ups? This way they could use whatever was needed without having to babysit tank levels.

In our case we have a combination grey/black tank that has some sort of valve that allows grey water to run out, or run into the black tank if chosen. I haven't actually seen it yet, but the seller has explained this to me.

I figure if I could do that (drain grey water automatically), it would make things a bit easier when at the full hook up sites.

Am I missing something?

Lily&Me 10-08-2014 05:27 PM

Yes. :)

Black water is dumped first. Grey water is flushed second, which cleans the hose.


Maggie

Cannonball 10-08-2014 05:28 PM

If you have separate grey and black tanks, technically you can leave the grey valve open when fully hooked up. I think it is not really recommended, if for no other reason than you need the grey water to rinse your sewer hose after dumping the black.


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gomotomoto 10-08-2014 05:46 PM

The black tank. Um, need some advice...
 
With one of those sewer solution assist things that use the Venturi effect -- you don't really need it to clean the hose with the grey water. The fresh water does it, and pretty well too.

Also the ridges in the line are soooo nasty. What's up with that? Not really good with all those nooks and crannies. Wouldn't you agree?

AnnArborBob 10-09-2014 07:03 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gomotomoto (Post 1522363)
With one of those sewer solution assist things that use the Venturi effect -- you don't really need it to clean the hose with the grey water. The fresh water does it, and pretty well too.

Also the ridges in the line are soooo nasty. What's up with that? Not really good with all those nooks and crannies. Wouldn't you agree?

We use the Sewer Solution for just this reason. Much tidier. :)

gomotomoto 10-09-2014 07:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnArborBob (Post 1522545)
We use the Sewer Solution for just this reason. Much tidier. :)


Totally. Do you leave your grey water open so it drains at it flows in?

Protagonist 10-09-2014 07:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnArborBob (Post 1522545)
We use the Sewer Solution for just this reason. Much tidier. :)

But not terribly useful for boondocking unless you dump at a dump station with a non-potable water hookup.

AnnArborBob 10-09-2014 07:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gomotomoto (Post 1522546)
Totally. Do you leave your grey water open so it drains at it flows in?

No, when we have sewer hookups, we leave both valves shut. Typically I drain the grey tank daily (we are MUCH less careful when we have sewer hookups :lol:) and dump the black as needed followed by the grey. This generally allows me to skip using the Sewer Solution's water-driven macerator when dumping the black (which I always use when we are ready to leave a campsite with full hookups to thoroughly clean the sewer solution system.

Many (most?) people leave their grey closed even when hooked up to a sewer serviced site to help dump the grey tank. While not as bad as the black tank, the grey tank can also build up solids if you leave the valve open all the time (think, grease, food particles, hair, etc...)

Like the choice of type of tow vehicles, Ford, vs. GM, vs. Dodge, gas vs. diesel, Honda vs. Yamaha generators, vintage vs. new, lager vs. ale, everyone has their favorite method for dumping their tanks and many will swear that if you do not follow their specific methodology you will be risking life and limb. My recommendation is to listen to all the advice, look for any wisdom in the suggestions, and come up with an approach which works for you! :)

gomotomoto 10-09-2014 07:22 AM

Can you guys tell I've been thinking about our first trip in the airstream? 😜

gomotomoto 10-09-2014 07:46 AM

Another dumb question... If my house has a curbside sewer cleanout. Can I simply dump there?

robwok 10-09-2014 07:52 AM

Yep. If you go to Walmart, they have a RV sewer hose setup, and one item in that is an elbow that has different sized threads. One of those threads should match the threads on the inside of your cleanout (provided it's the right type - has a cap with a big square in the middle that twists in and out. That set can provide you pretty much a water tight connection between your trailer and your septic system. One thing you may want to do though is close off your tank until it's about half full. Leaving it hooked up is great for the gray water, but if you open the black tank, you'll have dry... "crud" piling up. It's better to keep everything wet, and then let it kind of flush at once. Make sure your connections are tight when you pull the valve. It can be a decent amount of pressure, and you don't want that hose to pop off.

Rob.

AnnArborBob 10-09-2014 08:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gomotomoto (Post 1522569)
Another dumb question... If my house has a curbside sewer cleanout. Can I simply dump there?

If you are hooked up to City Sewer then that will be fine with no caveats.

However NOTE TO OTHERS: beware that if you are on a private septic system (i.e., with your own holding tank and leach field,) your septic system may not have the capacity to accept the 70 - 80 or so gallons that a full grey/black dump from a modern mid to large size Airstream might send to it in a short period of time.

However, in the case of the OP, who indicated that he only has a 15 gallon black tank, he will be fine even on a private septic system.

gomotomoto 10-09-2014 09:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by AnnArborBob (Post 1522590)
If you are hooked up to City Sewer then that will be fine with no caveats.

However NOTE TO OTHERS: beware that if you are on a private septic system (i.e., with your own holding tank and leach field,) your septic system may not have the capacity to accept the 70 - 80 or so gallons that a full grey/black dump from a modern mid to large size Airstream might send to it in a short period of time.

However, in the case of the OP, who indicated that he only has a 15 gallon black tank, he will be fine even on a private septic system.


All I can think of is the scene from national lampoons vacation when cousin Eddie is dumping his rv in Clark's sewer 😂😂

Cannonball 10-09-2014 10:37 AM

Eddie is a true Renaissance Man.

AnnArborBob 10-09-2014 03:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gomotomoto (Post 1522617)
All I can think of is the scene from national lampoons vacation when cousin Eddie is dumping his rv in Clark's sewer 😂😂

We actually had such a moment last weekend when we were departing UrbanAir in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. We were invited to use the City's waste water treatment plant dump station and there must have been some sort of blockage in the plant's vent system because all of a sudden I head a "gurgle & gargle" and during the time it took me to reach the dump valve to close it, a good two or three gallons of "post digestive material" had accumulated around the dump drain. :sad:

Fortunately for all involved, there was an unusually generous concrete pad (recessed thankfully) so the damage was easily cleaned up with the nearby non-potable water hose. :lol:

The people in line behind me appreciated the heads up for their turns at the dump station.

I should add that for this particular dump, we did not use the Sewer Solution but rather the stinky slinky we also carry so that we could dump quickly (who knew how quickly!) and not hold up the people behind us.

Phew. :blush:


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