Water tank woes

Discussion in 'Tech/Mech General' started by sinbad, Jan 27, 2015.

  1. sinbad

    sinbad Funster

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    Took my Autocruise Starspirit to Aviemore at New year and the fresh water was freezing until I poured some hot water into it. The walls of the tank are about 1 inch thin so I assume insulated and it has an element heater in it.

    On the way down a hill one of the two metal brackets that hold the tank to the chassis snapped. Managed to use my tow rope as a temporary repair. In stripping the tank out to get new brackets made I noticed the cables to the spade female connector of the heater may not having being making a proper connection and the male spades on the element were covered in rust anyway.

    Anyway, before I rebuild it all I want to know if the element is thermostatic or not. It looks after market so nothing in the handbook. It has the following lines of text on the heater.

    30 W 12 V (all understood)
    NRXS0078
    2610021
    e1 337/29

    So questions are
    1) Does anyone have any information about the element or do I need to do a test in a bucket of ice water
    2) Do you think I need to further insulate tank if I was to take the motorhome to an Alpine ski resort or would a working element be enough with this type of tank. I know I do need to sort the short length of exposed water pipe from the tank to inside the van.

    Thanks in advance.
    Jim
     
  2. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    I would give CAKtanks in Kenilworth a call. They are an after-market supplier of many things to do with water tanks for motorhomes, caravans and ships etc. Helpful and knowledgeable people - they also supply tanks heaters and there is a chance yours may have come from them.
    http://www.caktanks.co.uk/
     
  3. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    If you plan to go to the Alps, I would frankly trade it in for another van.

    Unless of course you like your holidays to be like one of Ranulph Fiennes's adventures!:)
     
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  4. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Whoops - I missed the point about going to the Alps in the skiing season. I would give serious consideration to Jonandshell's suggestion; a carefully chosen German or French van will have 'winterisation' designed in from the start. Alternatively, be prepared to do some DIY insulating and heating. Have a look at "Haganap's" (Paul's) story of winterising his Bessacar for the Alps. He did this having previously owned an Adria that was properly designed for winter use. As I recall, The Bessie needed a fair bit of extra work.
    Winterising the Van FULLY
     
  5. sinbad

    sinbad Funster

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    I only bought it back in April. Hadn't realised about things like water tanks freezing and love everything else about the van. I had though about enclosing the tank inside a box and then taking a pipe off the warm air heating into this box and then it will be similar to a double skinned floor. I don't think there is any problem being able to heat the inside of the van.
     
  6. JeanLuc

    JeanLuc Funster

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    Talk to CAK - they sell tanks, insulation, heaters and a whole lot more. You may have to consider insulating and heating both the fresh and waste tanks (or at least the dump valve). Also, be aware that a lot of freezing water problems occur because of pipe runs that are outside the van, regardless of what is done to the tanks. British manufacturers are notorious for this. They run a pipe down through the floor then route it outside under the van. Continental manufacturers tend to ensure that all pipework is internal.
     
  7. John Laidler

    John Laidler Funster

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    It's not just the fresh tank, what about the waste and all the pipes, not to mention the loo? Of course if someone has fitted an aftermarket heater then I guess these other factors may be covered.

    If the van is not fully winterised and you go somewhere really cold the only option is to drain everything down and use bottles etc for water. Bucket and chuck it for a loo - or use a campsite.
     
  8. hilldweller

    hilldweller Funster Life Member

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    Much better than flattening your leisure battery.
     
  9. sinbad

    sinbad Funster

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    Thanks for the link JeanLuc. Seems very similar. All the pipework is inside apart from about 15 cm going from the tank to the inside. There is a heater in the waste tank also though don't know how operational it is.
    I am going to the motorhome show in February so hopefully I can see CAK at that. The trip to the Alps is not until next year though may go back up to Scotland this year.
     
  10. jonandshell

    jonandshell Funster

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    On a more positive note, if you want/need to keep the Autocruise, will the layout allow you to put a fresh water tank inside the van anywhere? For instance under a lounge seat?
    CAK supply a wide range of different sized tanks. I believe they even do custom sizes.
    What you should aim to achieve is all your water piping inside the van, adjacent to blown air ducting to keep it frost free.
    You can use all the preventative measures you like on the underslung tank but they will cost you 12 volt power. I would not advocate using a heated shroud around the fresh tank, it will keep the water lukewarm and a breeding ground for bugs. By all means do this for the waste, many manufacturers do, but not the fresh tank!
    Well winterised vans are able to cope with low temperatures using low power levels, a non-winterised van can be made to do it but you will be running a genny 24/7 to compensate.
    As regards waste pipes, these should run for as long as possible within the van and only exit close to the waste tank with a healthy fall on them. Insulation for waste pipes isn't really required because most discharges are warm anyway. Just make sure you don't allow cold water to drip down them, it will freeze and plug your waste pipes! If you dry stuff in the shower, leave the plug in and let the water go all at once with a bit of hot stuff to follow it down!
    Your waste tank is best left open and drained directly into a bucket to save energy. That is, unless you have more batteries than sense like us! We have a CAK heater in ours.
    Again, consider the design of your waste tank drain pipe. It should be of large diameter and have a healthy fall on it so no water remains in it.

    Enjoy your summer project!(y)
     
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