Browsing "Toilet"
Mar 17, 2013 -

54 Days of Boondocking

I am just under a week shy of completing one solid month of boondocking! I’m doing one night on FHU and then it’s back off the grid I go.

Boondocking for so long didn’t seem realistic when I first started as I had so many troubles with my electrical setup. But I persevered in my troubleshooting and have been rewarded with a 12V system I now only need to monitor as it is adequate and functioning well for my needs.

That said, I’m not sure I would still be here on the beach had I not been able to borrow that generator at the beginning of February or if L and B hadn’t installed a new continuous duty solenoid in the motorhome engine compartment. It really does take the proverbial village…

I’ve got my power usage down to a routine now. I charge my computer in the morning and leave it plugged in for the entire afternoon. It still consumes a few amps at full charge, but it’s a fraction of what it needs to charge, so I’m able to charge the house batteries fully by dinner time, and I have a fully charged computer for the evening.

I don’t leave the computer plugged in in the evening because of the enormous voltage drop due to undersized wiring that I still need to correct. If I leave it plugged in, I don’t have enough voltage to even run an LED light without it flickering.

Now that I know that the wiring is undersized, I can manage my 12V use so that the system doesn’t get over loaded and the DC charger doesn’t get hot, so there are no fire concerns. I am eager to beef up the wiring, but it’s going to be a costly job and there are other upgrades in line first.

If it’s sunny out, I can use 120V items, like the printer and vacuum cleaner without a second thought. If like yesterday, it is overcast, then I need to shut some things down (usually unplugging the computer is enough) or run the engine to get the added voltage boost.

As for plumbing, the holding tanks haven’t been a problem. I could likely go a couple more weeks.

I am sorely missing having water in my on board tank, but have conceded that my 10-gallon water heater means that having instant hot water while boondocking is a wasteful luxury. Having a navy shower is no better than bathing in a basin. So, really, hauling and heating water is always going to be in my boondocking future when I am not somewhere that I can fill up regularly.

I do so desperately miss my long hot evening showers as they were my transition time to bedtime. I need to find access to showers the next time I’m off the grid this long. When I had my house and the plumbing was off in the dead of winter, I’d just go to the gym. I need to find an equally suitable setup on the road. The RV park where I am going does have showers, but I’d have to pay an extra $5 per day to access them. Much as I love my showers, they are not worth that much!

When I started reading about RVing back in 2008, I thought of all the things I would have to give up, and the first that came to mind was my daily shower. I can’t even remember the rest, but the showers hold true. That’s really the only concession I make when off the grid. Otherwise, I am living a more electrically-mindful version of my normal routine and I don’t feel deprived in the least.

Finally, boondocking is infinitely superior to staying in an RV park with all its restrictions!

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Batteries, Battery Monitor, Black Tank, Boondocking/Dry camping, Communications & Electronics, Computer, Electricity, Fresh Water Tank, Generator, Grey Tank, Indoor Shower, Inverter, Plumbing, Solar Panels, Technical, Toilet, Travel    6 Comments
Aug 25, 2011 -

Another Way of Emptying RV Holding Tanks

Disclaimer: this is a post about dealing with sewage. Read at your own risk!

This is one of those posts I really hesitated to write. I hadn’t found anybody else who deals with their holding tanks this way. Then I realised that just because no one else has done it doesn’t mean it can’t be done! So, I did it, and it worked, and it saved me a huge amount of time, hassle, and money, and I’m going to share it with you today.

I’m parked for about six months with no sewer hookup. Even if I had a macerator system to pump into a toilet ($$$) I don’t have a toilet to pump into. So, I planned on pulling out every six weeks or so to dump. The problem is that the dump is 20km away round trip and getting in and out of this spot is quite a bit of sport!

I decided after that one trip that pulling out was no longer an option. That left toting waste. I don’t have a blue boy and there’s another reason I’m hesitant to go that route: not being able to control the flow of the waste out of the tank. ‘Nudging’ a holding tank valve just doesn’t work, at least not with mine.

The main piece of the puzzle, then, was to figure out how to control the flow of waste out of the tank while minimizing the potential for making a mess.

The solution was quite obvious: empty the the tank from above, right in the bathroom.

The house that I owned really taught me to think outside the box. I remember one night when I had to empty the toilet to be able to remove it so that I could get a mechanical auger into the drain (fun times). That night, through a combination of trial, error, and conversations with my dad, I accidentally ‘invented’ the siphon. And that’s what I decided to do with my current holding tank situation.

Now, I have to say that since I went to dump I haven’t been putting paper in the tank so that I could prolong the tank getting too full. So I was dealing with a fairly liquid sludge, for which the siphon would work just fine.

These are the tools I gathered:

-newspaper for protecting the floors;

-disposable gloves;

-a large (6 gallon) bucket with a screw on lid;

-a piece of hose long enough to hit both the bottom of the tank and that of the bucket;

-paper towels;

-a garbage bag;

-a disinfectant;

-a wet/dry shop vac

First, I turned off the water pump, then I put newspaper down in both the dressing room and the toilet room to contain spills (unnecessary) and put the bucket into a garbage bag in case it leaked (unnecessary).  I then inserted the piece of hose into the tank, leaving enough out for it to rest on the bottom of the bucket.

A siphon is quite easy to make. The trick is that the liquid levels in the recipient container have to be lower than those in the donor container. So the ideal thing would have actually been to have the bucket outside, below the rig, and the hose snaked out the door, but I wanted to be able to keep my eye on the whole operation. So, I decided to siphon as much as I could and see where I got.

The other thing a siphon needs is a primer. In some cases, sucking on the hose would work, but not in this one! I used my wet/dry shop vac to create the necessary suction.

My set up worked perfectly and I was pleased to be able to fill up just a bit more than three quarters of the bucket before my siphon stopped working. The tank hadn’t been full to overflowing to start, so that freed up plenty of space. I made a note of how full the tank was when I siphoned it so that I’ll know when to repeat the exercise.

I screwed the lid on tight, brought the bucket outside for disposal at the dump station on the way to work tomorrow, cleaned the the shop vac, and then cleaned the bathroom and dressing room thoroughly for good measure. Done in about ten minutes with no mess.

Now, I can’t wait to hear from all the horrified people who will tell me that I shouldn’t have done that! 😀

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Black Tank, Plumbing, Technical, Toilet    11 Comments
May 12, 2011 -

The Deed is Done

I think that only an RVer can appreciate how much work is needed to pull out of a spot just to go dump. I was completely packed up, unplugged, and fed by 5:30. Jody had said she’d arrive ‘sometime after six’ so I curled up in the back with a novel and my two kitties to wait. She arrived around 6:15 and with very little fanfare helped me out of my spot. I then headed downtown on nearly clear roads. I love driving the rig by itself!

The dump station at the Chinkook Travel Centre was super easy to get into. It’s not a bad setup, but their dumps are about three inches off the ground so waste can back up the hose which was to be an issue…

I went into the rig to flush with clean water, misjudged my angle of approach with the jug, and ended up having to mop up two inches of clean water off the toilet room floor. But at least the black tank was empty! And my floor is clean!

I then went out to flush the grey. Before I could do that, I somehow dislodged the hose from the piece that screws onto the motorhome and, wham, I had a small mess on my hands because the hose was still full, and no hose handy for rinsing except for my white one! I decided to deal with the sewer hose first, screwing it back onto the connector properly, and then I spent about five minutes guiding the contents down towards the dump. Once the hose was empty I pulled on the grey valve to flush and that happened uneventfully. This was by far the worst dump I’ve done since Kapuskasing!

Thanking my lucky stars that I had no witnesses (at least, I hope), I moved the rig ahead away from the mess and spent about ten minutes washing the pad clean with gallon after gallon of fresh water. Satisfied that all was good, I packed up and headed back to Jody and Gary’s arriving around 7:30. I’d been gone only an hour!

Jody and I had a little snack and gab while waiting for Gary to come home. When he did, he wasted no time getting me settled back in. Since we wanted Miranda in the exact spot I was in two hours previously and there were tire ruts to guide us it was very easy to get me back in. We set up my porch and then I reconnected everything.

Neelix was unimpressed by this exercise. Soon as we pulled in front of the house to park and wait for Gary he did his little “Mom!” meow as though to say “Wait, we were just here!” Tabitha seems to have napped during the whole event, though.

Well, it’s been a day I’ve been dreading, but it’s done and I know I won’t have to do this again for another six weeks!

By which point I plan to have mortgaged the rig to buy a macerator pump… 😀


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