Monday, July 27, 2015

Trailer Life: Portable Grey Water Tank

When we travel in our trailer, I prefer to go to more natural areas, such as state and national parks. Such parks usually offer natural beauty and a quiet environment. Unfortunately, such parks often lack full hookups that commercial campgrounds offer, especially sewer connections.

Our trailer has 33 gallon tanks for grey and black water. That is sufficient for several days for black water, but the grey water use limits us. We like to shower every evening when camping. After all, we normally are pretty active, as we like to hike, fish, and enjoy camp fires. Most campgrounds provide bathroom facilities, but we prefer the privacy and comfort of our own facilities. So, taking daily showers, washing dishes, and using our sink can put quite a bit of water into our 33 gallon tank on a daily basis. If we are unable to dump that grey water, then our stay can be limited.

Once a tank is full, you have to empty it, which basically means you have to unhook all your connections and drag the entire trailer to the dump station. That's a lot of work. To alleviate this, we recently purchased an 18 gallon Thetford portable grey water tank. 18 gallons weighs roughly 144 pounds. We will only dump grey water (sinks and shower) into this tank. When full, it can then be attached to the trailer hitch on the truck and towed very slowly (5 mph or less) to the dump station and emptied. The trailer stays put where it is, and all connections stay intact. I figure I will probably empty the tank every morning while Donna is doing things inside getting ready for the day.

This will now free us up to stay in parks we might have avoided before. Texas is blessed with a number of state parks with full hookups. In fact, most we visit have full hookups. But in looking at parks in other states we like to visit, like New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah, I see that most of their parks have only electricity and water; seldom do they have sewer connections. In the long trip we took over the Southwest in 2012, we always stayed in commercial campgrounds, for we normally stayed at least 1 week in each location, and 1 week would have been too long for the size tanks we had on that trailer.

With the portable tank, we can now stay in places without sewer connections a bit longer, at least until the black water tank nears capacity.

The Thetford SmartTote Grey Water tank in its carrying position. It has 2 large rear wheels and 2 smaller wheels in front. It pulls quite easily on our smooth driveway.

The tank opened up. On the left is the tow handle. On the right is the hose that connects to the trailer for collecting grey water and later to the dump station for emptying the tank.
Overhead view. The hose on right will fold down for use. The short white hose in center is for rinsing the tank. Just above the white hose is the vent. As you empty grey water into the tank, a valve will pop up in the vent as the tank nears capacity. The rinse hose will also connect here.

The tank connected to my trailer hitch to be towed to the dump station.
On our recent trip, we used the tank at Lost Maples SNA and at South Llano River SP because we stayed at each park 3 nights. I found the tank generally easy to use, though it does take a bit of work to completely empty. I found I had to stand the tank up and slosh the water around to get it completely empty. But it served its purpose and allowed us to stay in parks we might normally avoid.

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