A big leak resolved

Full-timing includes performing maintenance on an along-the-way basis. But some jobs are so much easier with tools we might not have in the truck. We borrowed a creeper, great for sliding around under the trailer. We used my father-in-law’s heat gun to remove old caulk and to shrink tubing and wiring connectors. And he has tools I lack and a great work bench. It is really great to have a place to stop a few days and work on things before we hit the road again.

We removed and reinstalled the stove vent and caulked it, a window, and two awnings. Replaced three missing large-head 3/16″ bottom pan rivets. Cleaned and silicone-sprayed the flagpoles and awning arms and spindles. Rebuilt the hitch head to increase the tilt on the hitch ball. We need this to compensate for the increased hitch weight from adding two batteries — we weren’t getting enough weight transferred off the hitch. We’ll re-weigh in a few days and see how we did.

The big deal, though, was to find the leak from our fresh water tank. Yesterday we ruled out the hose clamps and the petcock, but the leak continued. Today I started by increasing the access hole size under the fresh water tank at the petcock location. Cutting an access hole in the fresh water tank’s outer pan was pretty easy. I used a cordless Dremel tool with a carbide disk and sliced readily through the thick plastic. Very helpfully, the water tank doesn’t occupy the last four inches of the pan, so I had no risk of cutting into the water tank.

The final size is less than three inches by three inches, and the access hole is at the end of the tank immediately under the petcock. I was able to more easily see and operate the hose clamp on the petcock’s barbed end, immediately inside the tank cover’s curb side. Removing this clamp and the adjacent clamp on an ell from the tank, I easily removed the petcock and vinyl hose from the ell.

The petcock was broken right at its flange

We examined the petcock yesterday but thought the clamps were our problem. New clamps didn’t resolve the leak though. Looking more closely at the petcock, we found a fine crack between its flange and barbed fitting. Aha! This must be the leak we’ve been suffering for over six months.

A couple of phone calls later, we found a matching petcock at the Tom Johnson Camping Center only ten miles away. We paid $3.82, including tax, for the petcock, 30 cents for six inches of vinyl 1/2″ tubing (we only used three inches), and the clamps were $3.00 for four (we used two). Refilled the tank and the leak is resolved. Cut a piece of 1/8″ aluminum to cover the hole, attached it with three self-tapping screws, and the job is complete.

Two big deals from this experience: one, do NOT unbolt and lower your fresh water tank. It has nothing to do with arranging the tank drain petcock; and two, it’s purely amazing how much faster we can drain the fresh water tank if we open not only the petcock but also the two plumbing system drain valves under the fresh water tank and turn on the pump. Instead of over four hours, we drain the tank in under 1/2 hour this way. Awesome!

Our list is getting shorter. It’s a good thing, too — we’re planning on hitting the road early next week if we get everything done.

Jim and Deb

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2 responses to “A big leak resolved

  1. Richard Hunt

    Thanks, Jim, for the advice on my petcock problem. My 25′ is a 2007 with original batteries. It seems not to be holding a charge as long as it should. When I went to take it out of storage, I had to plug it into the truck before it would raise the jack stand. Any advice for replacing the batteries?

    • Five years is pretty good for batteries, I think. I would shop for new ones. You didn’t mention how long you store it but normal trailer batteries in good condition should get a day of charge at least once every thirty days. A timer is available for this, if your storage location has an electrical receptacle. You can connect a float/trickle charger. Otherwise some people remove their batteries from their stored trailer and maintain them at home with a float/tricke charger.

      Jerry Hall has had very good luck with a pair of Optima batteries in his 31′ Classic. You might email or call him for his recommendation. His email has changed since the caravan, I think. I will privately email you his contact info.

      Jim & Deb http://dreamstreamr.com

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