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Old 02-28-2018, 02:48 PM   #1
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Default Replace or clean fresh water tank in my '96 Roadtrek?

Hi All,

You may remember me from the very long refurbishing thread to get rid of mildew from my Roadtrek. I'm happy to say the kids and I just did 2,200 miles on it and for the most part the smell was completely tolerable!

Onto the next project, which is tackling the fresh water tank, currently winterized.

When I left it in the fall, I had bleached it and found that this caused all the black gunk to start to come off the walls of the tank and clog the filter. After several attempts to flush and spray the inside of the tank with my garden hose, the filter would still clog. I drained it and winterized it.

I do not have a camera to look inside of it, but I can only guess that I will not like what I see.

My question is this: using one of those flexible pressure washer hoses, is it worth trying to clean the tank... or should I be considering replacing the tank? I can find no threads on replacing the fresh water tank on this forum.

Your thoughts would be appreciated!
-Pete
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Old 02-28-2018, 03:04 PM   #2
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.

Where is the tank? Inside or underneath?

You have to remove the tank to replace it.
Why not first remove the tank to see if you can clean it?

The tank is made of roto-mold. It is indestructable. It should be clean-able.


ps. what have you used to clean it so far?
Dishwashing machine detergent?
I would think 2,200 miles should be enough to swish it clean.


ps. I don't drink from the tank.
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Old 02-28-2018, 03:07 PM   #3
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I would remove the tank so it could be more thoroughly cleaned. That way it can be soaked, inverted, etc to get all the surfaces, as well as give access for pressure washing if it has a large fill hole. Trying to clean a tank in place is nearly impossible to do completely as some areas will not get cleaned without flipping, shaking, etc.

BBQ was typing faster than I was, it appears.
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Old 02-28-2018, 03:31 PM   #4
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During the 2,200 mile trip, the RV was still winterized and the tank only has some antifreeze in it.

It's under the rig... and I don't know how I would drop it as I don't have the equipment to lift more than one corner at a time.

In the fall, I did a normal sanitization of the system after smelling sulphur from the heating system. Just a bleach solution. That seemed to make the situation worse as after that, the black (is it algae or mold?) goop started to detach from the walls of the tank and clog the filter. That's when I realized it was bad inside.

Also, if I could get the rig jacked up enough to work under it, I have no idea how to remove the tank. Sure, there are two large metal bars holding it in, but it is also presumably attached at the fill neck somehow as well.

I put in a call to the service folks to see if they can get a replacement tank and an estimate. I also just ordered a cheap endoscopic camera so that I can finally look at the interior of the tank to see what I'm up against!

Crazy idea #1: Do they make a flexible high pressure hose that, with the help of the camera, I could direct at the walls?
Crazier idea #2: Have you ever heard of anyone installing a round opening at the bottom of their tank? Presumably with a screw in plug.

-Pete
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Old 02-28-2018, 03:54 PM   #5
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You should make yourself a set of 2X10 lumber ramps to get high enough to get under the van, as you likely will need it in the future also.

Don't know on your model, but most fresh tanks come out pretty easily I think. You could also have shop remove it so you could take it home and clean it up and have them put it back in.

I don't know if you could even get a tank for a 1996.
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Old 02-28-2018, 04:21 PM   #6
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:18 PM   #7
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:21 PM   #8
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That's good advice! I have some great jacks and jack stands for getting under there, but it would have to be considerably higher to drop the tank. It's a '96 Roadtrek.

The nearest Roadtrek service folks just called me back up and the plan is as follows: I'm going to start by looking in the tank to see what I'm up against. I have a camera on the way.

The service guy told me to try the off the shelf cleaners first like the Thetford brand. I'm going to try and find one of those flexible hoses that you can use to direct pressure into the tank.

So I'll start low-tech and play it by ear. He didn't think getting a new tank would be an easy option, by the way.

-Pete
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:26 PM   #9
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That's good advice! I have some great jacks and jack stands for getting under there, but it would have to be considerably higher to drop the tank.
Wooden ramps are vastly safer than any jack/jack stand setup. I use mine all the time. Makes under-vehicle service trivial.
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:31 PM   #10
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Yes, I agree, they are much better. And I will probably go make some this weekend for various uses... including my truck.

-Pete
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Old 02-28-2018, 05:42 PM   #11
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Yes, I agree, they are much better. And I will probably go make some this weekend for various uses... including my truck.

-Pete
Check out the "cull" pile in the lumber section of your local home center. You can save a lot of money.
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Old 02-28-2018, 06:34 PM   #12
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Wooden ramps are vastly safer than any jack/jack stand setup. I use mine all the time. Makes under-vehicle service trivial.
+1

Don't use jack stands.

Your RV is heavy.
Also, you need a good footprint to support the weight. You do not want to see your jack stands sinking into your driveway while you are under there.

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Old 02-28-2018, 06:43 PM   #13
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+1

Don't use jack stands.

Your RV is heavy.
Also, you need a good footprint to support the weight. You do not want to see your jack stands sinking into your driveway while you are under there.

And BBQ, wouldn't you agree that if in Florida prior to using any solution, you do this: Take out your drill with extra long drill bit to be certain your B is not parked over a sink hole.

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Old 02-28-2018, 07:45 PM   #14
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And BBQ, wouldn't you agree that if in Florida prior to using any solution, you do this: Take out your drill with extra long drill bit to be certain your B is not parked over a sink hole.

Bud



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Old 04-29-2018, 12:15 PM   #15
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Hi All,

I ended up building some great ramps from 2x12 boards. Wonderfully heavy, but they feel like they could support a house. I still chock, use the E-Brake and slip my jack under a shock just in case.

It took a long time, but I dropped the water tank out. I clipped the wires going to the tank level sensors and added butt connectors to re-attach them later. I disconnected the fill hose. That required removing the plastic panels on the passenger steps.

Then I removed the nuts on the four hanger rods holding the tank in place.

It didn't want to drop; something was holding it up on the outside-side of the tank. It took me several hours of peeking an viewing with my endoscope to feel comfortable that nothing was attached still, so to finish dropping it, I ended up adding water to the tank to make it heavy. It ultimately dropped down with a bit of a satisfying "pop" and I quickly noticed it had been "stuck" up there because there was about a foot long strip of black adhesive or perhaps butyl on one side of the tank. Maybe they added that to help protect the tank from chaffing. Either way, it ultimately didn't stick to the tank enough to withstand the downward force of gravity once I put water in the tank. I had tried simply pulling down on the tank, but it wouldn't come free. Adding water was the trick.

Once the tank was removed, I cleaned up the outside of the tank and removed the old hoses. Then I made a 3 foot long hose with a garden hose attachment on one end and a brass plug on the other. In the brass plug I drilled several 1/16th inch holes around the outside to create a high pressure multi-directional jet. When connected to town water pressure, it created a pretty awesome cleaning tip.

Then it was just a matter of using a variety of detergents; mostly dawn dish soap, to loosen and remove the black junk from the tank. I also used some powdered pool shock, but it didn't sit in the tank. I liked using it because the small granules take about 30 seconds to dissolve and they add a bit of friction to the mix.

In the end, I could use my endoscope to view the inside and it was super clean! I spent a good hour just moving the hose around in the inside of the tank hitting every nook and cranny. Worked great! It might have been possible to do this while the tank was still on the RV, but it was certainly easier being off!

Later I filled a glass of water from the tank and it was crystal clear and had zero odor. I would have no problems drinking that water now.

Now I have to put the tank back in... which is a bit tricky because I want to replace the filter and I'm not sure how the plumbing attachments work. I'm going to post another "help me" on that topic.

-Pete
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Old 04-29-2018, 03:14 PM   #16
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Great report. Thanks! You are clearly on the "can do" side of the spectrum.
It is always satisfying restoring a piece of original equipment to like-new operation.
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Old 04-29-2018, 03:43 PM   #17
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Great report. Thanks! You are clearly on the "can do" side of the spectrum.
It is always satisfying restoring a piece of original equipment to like-new operation.
Thanks! I forgot to mention that the U-Beams holding the tank in place were VERY bowed. A good 2-3 inch bow over the length of the beams. I stepped on them to straighten them, but figuring they'd just bow again as soon as I filled the tank, I decided to replace them. Local Home Depot and Tractor supply stores didn't have 48" long U-beams or anything else I could use. I considered welding some angle iron to it, but in the end found a local welding shop that had some amazing 2x1 inch galvanized box beams. They cut and drilled necessary holes for me for a total of $60. I estimate they will add another 10 pounds to the hanger bolts, but they will be more than strong enough to hold the tank without bowing. (I inspected the hanger bolts and they're in good shape with strong welds, so I think I'll be ok.)

-Pete
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Old 04-29-2018, 05:08 PM   #18
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Nice write-up with useful information.

Glad to hear the rig is now odor free and sounds like you had an enjoyable trip.
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Old 04-29-2018, 06:43 PM   #19
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Nice write-up with useful information.

Glad to hear the rig is now odor free and sounds like you had an enjoyable trip.
Not quite odor free yet. I think I would have to replace everything behind the kitchen area as well as the head liner to get rid of all smells, but right now the smell of new fabric is pretty much the primary smell. I never replaced the panels next to the driver as that area was the smallest problem and it's probably going to be tough to tear out (around and including the closet.)

-Pete
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