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nickcrowhurst 12-29-2003 10:09 AM

Replacing black and gray tank level indicators
For the 4 years we have owned our trailer, the 1/4 level black tank level indicator has lit when the tank is empty, in spite of using the recommended ways of cleaning the indicators. (commercial level cleaners, travelling with washing-up liquid and water, and ice cubes in the tank). The 1/2 level indicator is now doing the same, and a very slight leak has started in the gray tank dump valve. I therefore decided to begin by making the access panel in the under-belly tank cover. I expected problems (challenges?), and I was not disappointed! The Airstream manual says to use aircraft style snips to cut a hole. The first surprise is that this is zinc plated sheet steel about ).05" thick. The three aircraft style snips I bought were inadequate, but after a couple of hours struggling, I had a hole which gave access to both dump valves and the level indicators. It looked as if an armour piercing shell had come down through the floor, and I was ashamed of the job I had done. I eventually straightened out the edges, and now it's covered up with a large sheet of aluminum, and only I (plus 5000 of you!) know the truth! There must be better ways of cutting this hole ( the factory, when it is assembled....), and one way is at
However, I was on my back in a field full of fire ants, with no access to air tools.
Fixing the new aluminium access plate is done with sheet metal screws, but drilling for these has to be done with great care, as the tanks are only 1/2 inch above the metal. I slipped a 1/4" socket over the end of the drill bit, so only 1/4" was showing.
When I examined the level indicators, I saw that each one is embedded in a plastic plug about 1" in diameter, which is screwed into the side of the tank, using what is apparently silicon as an adhesive sealant. To clean or replace the indicator, these plugs must be removed. There are two small soft plastic spigots sticking up 1/8" from the top of the plugs. Perhaps some special tool with 2 holes drilled in the end was used to insert these, or perhaps they are inserted by hand. In any event, the spigots are soft, and will break off if removal is attempted. I tried with a screwdriver blade wedged across between the spigots, but I had no success. Has anyone any experience of removing these indicators, or any suggestions as to how it might be achieved? The replacement indicator I purchased does not include the plastic plug. If it did, I would be able to damage the old one by drilling or cutting. I will put in a call to Airstream Tech Support when the factory re-opens after the holiday, but I thought some of you might have some experience to share in the meantime. Thank you. Nick.

Inland RV Center, In 12-29-2003 10:53 AM

The problem may or may not be within the tank.

Remove the wires from the tank. If the problem goes away, then the problem is in the tank, if not, the problem is external to the tank.

Do that test, then let me know the results and I will try to help you from there.


nickcrowhurst 12-30-2003 08:49 AM

Andy, thank you for replying. When I removed the wire from the indicator at the tank, my wife observed that the light went out at the panel, so I assumed the problem was with the probe. Nick.

Inland RV Center, In 12-30-2003 09:22 AM


There really isn't anything that can go bad with a tank probe, such as you have.

Foreign objects have a way of adhering to the probes, especially when the black tanks are drained, but not properly flushed.

As a suggestion, fill the tank about 3/4 full, with soapy water. Leave the water in the tank for a week or two, then tow the trailer someplace, just to make the water move around in the tank.

Then empty the tank, but also flush the tank a few times using your garden hose, "WITH" a nozzle on, so that you can maximize the agitation of the water.

That should ;)take care of the problem.

If not, then probes will have to be removed.


nickcrowhurst 12-30-2003 09:42 AM

Andy, I'll give that another try. Thanks. Nick.

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