How New Sneakers Are Similar to RV Dump Valves

Today’s drive

We have had an interesting week of travel across Saskatchewan to the SK-AB border at Lloydminster. We lost Verizon service through a small technicality (now recovered), we had little wifi service, and couldn’t get our amateur radio-powered email working for over a week.

Things started going downhill on our way after Portage La Prairie. Our next night was in Yorkton SK, an overnight in a nice city park with water and electric. The weather alert radio started going crazy all afternoon in Yorkton. We were treated to the grandest lightning storm, almost two inches of rain, winds to 90 km/hr, and an overnight power interruption. The next morning this nice little city campground was a waterlogged mess. We dumped gray and black tanks and decided to forego filling fresh water until the next park.

Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park

Bad decision! Off to Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park we go, unaware of troubles we might face. First, the power has been off since the previous night for not only the PP but for the entire area. Without electricity, the PP has no provision for check-ins or handling reservations, and the province central reservations cannot work if the PP is down. The potable water system is electrically-driven, so no water either.

We’re battery-powered and have empty waste tanks, so everything should be good. But wait! We arrived with a nearly empty fresh water tank. We maneuver to a potable water outlet in one of the campground loops and can’t get any water from it. Trying to turn the trailer around to go find an overnight temporary site, Jim accidentally gets the black tank waste valve caught on some shrubs and damages the valve. It’s dripping now, so he squirts Vulkem caulk and wraps it with rescue (silicone) tape and stops the drips.

The PP will get the water turned on soon, perhaps. And they did, but with “boil water” warnings on every potable water outlet. Hmm, don’t want that water either. We have some part of ten gallons in our fresh water tank, and start using it exclusively for drinking and cooking. Our 6 qt pail becomes wash and flush water. We’ll not again leave without a full tank of fresh water, you just don’t know . . .

The next morning we check in with the now-powered office and find a fine grassy site in an unserviced (no hook-ups at all) campground area. The trailer lines up east-west, nicely maximizing our solar panels’ gain for the days. The biting flies have somehow followed us from Michigan’s U.P. and are cooperating annoyingly with flocks of mosquitoes.

We’re hunkered down for Canada Day (July 1 — Happy Birthday Canada!) and the “long weekend”. This makes Memorial Day in the States look pretty small — the campground was teeming and some of the younger campers were pretty wild. We bumped into Steve and Lynn, on their way also to the WBCCI Alyeska caravan, and met Terry and Kelli from Yorkton.

Terry and Kelli were over to talk with us several times and one visit brought us almost a pound of walleye they’d caught. Deb breaded and fried it just last night and it was really great eating. Thanks Terry and Kelli — it was fun meeting and talking with you and the fish was wonderful!

Good Spirit Lake is a nice PP we’d love to visit anytime other than a long weekend. We enjoyed hitting awhile on the tennis courts, celebrated Canada’s birthday with free cake and ice cream at the beach, had wonderful long hikes, and had the very campfires ever. Many provincial parks provide free firewood for campfires to discourage transport of infested wood.

Good Spirit’s firewood was dry and the most combustible we’ve ever burned. We had wonderful campfires three out of four nights and, after figuring out how thickly and widely to apply the mosquito repellent, we enjoyed the campfires greatly. We’ve never been so thoroughly bugged by mosquitoes than here, the bites on our ankles and feet pretty much all connected into one big bite.

More than anything we felt like we survived Good Spirit Lake and the long weekend. No power, plenty of flies and mosquitoes, too many people for our comfort, running low on potable water, damaging the black water drain valve — just a little like a bad RVing movie for us.

everything you need for the job

Pulling into Saskatoon, we found a bunch of RV supply stores and picked Mr RV Service Center. He sold us a 3″ and 1.5″ Valterra waste valve (matching the oem waste valves), some fuses, spare fresh water tank drain petcocks, and a cool little circuit breaker we’ll describe later. Well-provisioned, we returned to our campsite, dumped tanks, and installed the new waste valves.

This installation was easier than we expected, a breeze really. We raised the trailer’s street-side wheels three inches above ground to reduce dripping from the tanks onto Jim’s lap. Four 7/16″ head & nut bolts clamp the 3″ valve in place. Four 3/8″ nut and 5/16″ head bolts clamp the 1.5″ valve. Removing all eight bolts allowed pulling the valves straight out and down. A metal hanger retains the double-wye in place and the 1.5″ and 3″ pipes are self-supporting.

Each new Valterra valve is complete with four new bolts and nuts and with fresh seals. The seals do double-duty, sealing both the pipe joints and the dump valve blade. Jim liberally applied silicone grease on the wiping face of the seals and on the valve actuator stems. The new valves slipped into place easily and he was able to pin them into place with the new bolts.

But Jim missed an important alignment factor — the double wye doesn’t automatically index into position. All bolted up and tested, the valves worked beautifully. But he realized the wye was pointing somewhat skyward. So Jim loosened all the bolts just enough to rotate the wye downward just below horizontal and retightened everything. Still, the job is easily under one hour total for both valves.

The new valves are incredibly smooth and easy to operate, so good you wonder if the original ones were ever so fine. Just makes you want to go out and pull and push on the waste valves over and again. You don’t realize how much better new sneakers feel until you replace the old dogs and try on fresh ones, right?

Jim and Debbie
dreamstreamr odyssey, chasing 75 degrees

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4 responses to “How New Sneakers Are Similar to RV Dump Valves

  1. Richard Hunt

    WBCCI 2012 is over. The camping was beautiful as were the red brick fairground buildings. But it was 100+ for the three weeks we were in Sedalia. Glad to have flushed-out empty holding tanks (without the valve problem) and looking forward to cooler weather and posts about your Alaska Adventure.

    • Our high temp today was approx 75, we’re enjoying it immensely. The local papers are all attributing the summer storms and winds to climate change. Very convenient and not particularly refutable. Of course the climate changes. I’d wager Sedalia has seen hot summers before, eh?

      We’re in Lloydminster for tonight, tomorrow we’ll arrive Alberta Province. And in five or six days we’ll be in British Columbia. WooHoo!

      Jim & Deb

  2. Would it be possible to fabricate some sort of skid plate to protect the waste valves? I was reading the “Where is Kyle Now” blog, and he recently damaged one of his valves from rocks on the way to Alaska.

    Reader #9

    • Yes, I think so, provided we can come directly off the frame (chassis) with the protective structure. In our little event, if the valve handle assembly hadn’t flexed then the sewer lines might have had to break. It’s good to have appropriate points of failure, sort of like crush zones on the car. But I sure like your idea — it wouldn’t lower the trailer, could protect the valves and outlet from road sand/slag/gravel, and protect everything from flapping tire tread or road gators.

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