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Author Topic: So, do I need tanks???  (Read 3535 times)
John316
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« on: May 14, 2009, 08:17:12 AM »

Actually, I think that we have made up our minds. We have decided to put tanks into our bus Grin. I have read the archives, on the subject, but still have some questions.

Here is what we need. I am looking at what sizes to get. Often when we travel, there will be ten people on board (large family). We have considered at least a 200 gallon fresh water, and don't know how to split the gray and the black water.

My questions...Is 200 fresh enough? Where do we put it? We were thinking about putting it under the bed in the back, but thought that much weight behind the axles might be a little much (not to mention we will be pulling a cargo trailer that is 16'/8' with a 14K GVWR). We would like to get all of our tanks in the third bay, but it will be a VERY tight squeeze. We are getting rid of the OTR AC so that will give us a little extra wiggle room. The third bay is 8 feet long, so it is our biggest bay. We also have a 20 KW generator in their (which is good sized), and 2 trace inverters (stacked). We will move our batteries into the place where the AC coils were, and save the outer part where condenser was, for a backup 8KW generator. Do we need one or two water pumps (I am thinking two, just because it would be a backup).

Also, what kind of toilet should we get. I thought that I heard Microphor (maybe?) was recommended, but I don't remember. We want to get high quality stuff. And where do we get a shower? Do you buy them, or make you own?

Any advice, or criticism, on these issues, would be GREATLY appreciated. Some of you guys have a wealth of information, and I would love some of your ideas. This is our first, and it is a little tough.

Thanks in advance,

God bless,

John
« Last Edit: May 14, 2009, 08:20:41 AM by John316 » Logged

MCI 1995 DL3. DD S60 with a Allison B500.
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« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2009, 08:33:27 AM »

As you already stated, ALL of the answers to your questions are in the archives and a little leg work on your part will put the answers in front of you! These things have been discussed over and over so if they keep being brought up, why keep archives?
My opinion!
Ace
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John316
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« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2009, 08:43:06 AM »

Ace,

Thanks for your post. I have been looking through the archives. I think that search feature is what is a little lacking. But I will keep trying. From what I have seen so far, my questions here still weren't answered.

Thanks.

God bless,

John
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TomC
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« Reply #3 on: May 14, 2009, 08:51:49 AM »

With my wife and I, we can go a week on 130 gal of fresh.  That works out to be 9.3 gal per day per person (this is taking Navy showers and washing dishes).  I think if you used 8 gal a day per person, since little people take less to shower, that would be a good rule.  So 200 gal would get almost 3 days of dry camping for you.
When I was truck driving I had a 20 gal toilet tank that lasted one week.  That translates into 2.8 gal per day per person, or 28 gal per day for you.  So to keep with the same 3 day schedule, that would be a 84 gal black tank, and with simple subtraction from 200, a 116 gal gray water tank to also get you through the 3 days (would use more like 130 gal).
For my shower I used a Kohler 36"x36" shower pan that has the drain in one corner since my shower is mounted right where the floor raises up a bit.  Then built the walls of 3/4" plywood with fiberglass panels over the plywood.
Toilet wise, I have a Sealand 510 toilet.  Looks good, but the bowl isn't steep enough-sometimes have to help the solids to go down.  I would stay with a simple gravity RV type toilet.  Macerators are nice, but I see alot of maintenance with 10 on board.  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #4 on: May 14, 2009, 08:53:01 AM »

 I think a lot of this is personal preferance. How often do you want to stop to dump, fillup water etc. Have to weighed your bus? Do you know how much room (weight) you have for these options. As far as the shower goes once again personal preferance, but I do know to stay away from any of the house hold showers with that sheeted backing you glue on the wall. It does crack in extreme weather conditions or temp. changes

Grant
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« Reply #5 on: May 14, 2009, 08:54:22 AM »

John:

To provide a reasonable estimate for your tank size, we not only need to know the number of people, but how you plan to use the bus.  Basically need to know how long from fill-up & dump, until the next fill-up & dump.  3 days? 3 weeks?   You may have already covered this in your previous threads, and I'm sorry that I don't recall.

But in general terms, a 200 gallon fresh water tank is a pretty healthy size.  Mine is close to that and even if I am boondocking for a couple of days (family of 5) I never fill it more than half full. If everyone wanted a daily shower, that might be different.

Conventional logic usually sizes the black and gray tanks to total up slightly more than the fresh water capacity.  The percentage split between the two depends on how the bus will be used.   Personally, I tend to favor making the black water tank slightly larger. Two reasons for this:  First, my gray water tank is plumbed to drain through the black water tank before exiting out the drain hose.  If I found myself running out of gray water tank and still had room in the black, I can open the valve for a few seconds and bleed gray into black (but not vice versa).    Second, gray water is easier to get rid of when remotely boondocking.  When washing dishes, you can set up two dish pans, one to wash and one for final rinse.  The sudsy wash water with it's food scraps goes into your gray tank, while the dishpan with still clean rinse water gets flung in the bushes or emptied down a storm drain.

I don't at all condone emptying your gray tank on the ground. But depending on where you are, I wouldn't have a problem with taking the water left over from cooking pasta (no food pieces) and finding a way to return it to nature.  All this adds up to saving gray tank space.  
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John316
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« Reply #6 on: May 14, 2009, 09:15:00 AM »

Thank you all so much. I have been continued to search the archives, but these answers are great!

TomC, thanks for the info. It really helps a ton. We are planning on having a regular RV toilet, and we are also considering putting a second toilet in the shower room (we are going to have the bathroom split up). The second toilet in the shower room would have a pump on it, and would only be used for emergencies (we have had the stomach flu all at once, and that includes the runs Lips Sealed, at that point I thought a backup toilet with a pump would be nice for emergencies).

Grant, no we haven't weighed the bus. Good idea though, we will do that when we pick the bus up (we are getting Jakes on it finally). Thanks for the tip about staying away from the shower wall material. We won't go with that, as we do go up to extreme weather climates (but not all the time, just occasionally).

Wec, we would like to go as long as possible. I would think that a week would be fine under "normal" circumstances, but longer would be nice. It all depends on what we are doing on a certain trip. If we are around "polite" company, then we take daily showers (at least the girls do Grin). We don't have any tanks right now, so that is why I am trying to figure out what to do. I agree with you, if it is just a camping vacation, I think that the 200 would hold us just fine. But, I am thinking that we need more....

Thank you all so much!!! Keep it coming, and I appreciate it greatly.

God bless,

John 
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« Reply #7 on: May 14, 2009, 09:29:27 AM »

We get by with 5 gallons/day per person.  "Navy shower" every day.  Water for drinking and coffee is bottled water ($0.15-0.25/gallon at water machines).  To control shower water we use a "sink sprayer" unit.  Simple and effective.  Have been doing this for 24 years.  We are 1/2 timers for the past 10 years.  Works for us.
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« Reply #8 on: May 14, 2009, 09:54:27 AM »

Since you want to go as long as possible, fill all the available space with tanks. Then your actual usage will determine the how long that is.
Extra tank capacity is easier to deal with than extra black water.

A gallon of water weighs ~8.4 lbs, so 200 gallons ~ 1680 lbs.

I'd suggest you check out sheet metal fabricators in your area & get estimates. The fresh water tank should be "food grade", the black & grey won't matter.

Plastic tanks are usually wider than tall & of such a size that baffling isn't usually required.
My preference is to build custom tanks out of 14GA stainless steel. The tanks will be vertical & baffled. I will use ball valves for the drains. The vertical tanks offer space advantages & the added fluid height aids in faster tank dumping.

If your toilet is directly over the black tank, you will greatly reduce the amount of water required to flush. That is what we have in the TT, & the 4 of us have gone 5 days & didn't fill a 30 gal black tank, the 30 gal grey required dumping after 3 days (which included 7 showers). needless to say, we are very conservative with water.
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John316
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« Reply #9 on: May 14, 2009, 10:08:43 AM »

Gary, thanks for the insightful post.

Kyle, interesting. I kinda like that idea, since that maximizes the space. With stainless steel, what do you use for tank monitors? Our main toilet will be directly over the black tank.

God bless,

John
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« Reply #10 on: May 14, 2009, 10:16:40 AM »

John, I think you are going WAY overboard for "backups", you will be dragging that "stuff" up and down hills, maintinence, lack of room elsewhere, ect, ect.  With a family of ten you ARE going to need space for other things that are more neccessary
than backup. Your present thinking IMHO is going to run you out of space.>>>Dan
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« Reply #11 on: May 14, 2009, 10:57:43 AM »

Ace,

Thanks for your post. I have been looking through the archives. I think that search feature is what is a little lacking. But I will keep trying. From what I have seen so far, my questions here still weren't answered.

Thanks.

God bless,

John

As a new member I feel your pain.  I've searched for many different subjects and the search returns 30 pages of posts but most aren't relevant or they don't answer it from my needs.  I would find it helpful if an experienced member would post a link to a thread they've found successful.  A simple example, I was looking for jacks and many results related to Jack Conrad.  He's a nice guy but I didn't contact him as I'm pretty sure he's not going to ride around with me ready to lift my bus when needed.

I didn't notice if you were planning on camping with hookups.  If you mix hookup sites into your camping trips, 200 gallons is plenty not to mention heavy.  If you are worried about your family taking too long in the shower keep your hot water tank very small.  It will only take a short time before everybody understands the need for speed.

Mike

 
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« Reply #12 on: May 14, 2009, 11:03:15 AM »

John, we have 180 gal fresh water tank 120 gal gray and 60 gals black works good for us.The Micophor is a good investment at  1000 + bucks just be sure and buy the electric flush not the air.I used a stainless tank one time for fresh water and could never get the metal taste out of the water.       good luck
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John316
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« Reply #13 on: May 14, 2009, 11:04:50 AM »

I wonder though, are we? If a water pump goes out, then everybody is out of water. Now that is somewhat okay for a couple, but a large family, that has to be somewhere that night, is a completely separate story.

On the extra toilet, that was something that I thought would be nice, if possible. I don't have to go into details to tell you guys how rough it can get with everybody having the stomach flu Shocked Shocked Shocked.

Thanks for the post, Dan. You have some good food for thought. I think that we are going to plan on pulling a trailer anyways (except for a little week vacation or something).

Mike, I agree, Jack Conrad is a nice guy, just maybe not strong enough Grin. We don't plan on using campgrounds, basically at all. We will dump, and fill up at Flying J's (or similar), and we will stay at free parking places, church parking lots, and at our host's houses.

Clifford, thank you for the post. Interesting about the SS tank....

God bless,

John

God bless,

John
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« Reply #14 on: May 14, 2009, 11:23:05 AM »

John,

I would make mockups out of plywood and make or purchase tanks that fit what space I have available. I'd let that determine how many gallons of each, fresh, grey and black would be as well as how to run the various fill/drain plumbing. My black sits on top of my grey and that really helps the gravity flow for discharge.

I had mine done professionally and it completely filled the rear cargo bay on the Eagle. They used 3 80's for fresh. (No slosh or movement with smaller tanks hooked togather). The black is 68 and when close to full puts enough pressure on the dump valve to make a new one drip when it is close to full, so if I want more I would need a better valve than the common ones used.

My grey is stainless 160 gallon and seems sufficient. I also have alot of people on often and I have showered slept and fed up to 17 people a day. Everyone showers everyday on my coach, or they walk! I could go 3 full days but needed service on the 4th day to give you an idea. I use 1 pump and just carry a new spare, they are very easy to repair, just make sure they are very accessable so you don't have to stand on your head to fix one.

I'd move the genset, but there are other ways. Just my preference. Low and heavy in that bay is good in bad weather, but it really doesn't matter what is low and heavy, I just chose the water. I would try to keep it off the steer axle though if I could.

200 gallons in the living space could go through the windshield in an accident, I have seen people do it, but I don't know how to really secure it and I personally run alot of snow and ice.

A friend and I were just out playing in California for 15 days.  I was parked on a farm so I let the grey run on the pasture. The black was about 1/2 full, and I refilled the fresh once and brought most of the refill home.

I will probably do Burning Man for a week this fall and will take a couple of 55 gallon drums extra of fresh to pump into my tanks to help the ladies in the area out. (Burning Man is all about trading). As big as your trailer is maybe some water would be OK back there when you need extra.
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