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Water System upgrade for better water flow & pressure


jd1923

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Been thinking about this for a while, reading posts, and collecting parts. So, this is what I'm thinking (see pic). The OEM water pump is a basic model, at 55 PSI (not bad) and 3 GPM (pretty bad). I had the same model in our sold Bigfoot class-C, which I replaced as well. Now I will have 2 basic back-up water pumps! Those of you with newer models have an accumulator, older hulls did not.

When done, we will NEVER lift a mattress to switch a water valve. Some who know me, know that I already have a 35-gallon water tank mounted to my truck. We love our water out here, in the SW, where it is scarce!

I will increase the PSI a little to 60 and add volume 5 GPM (huge), also addind dual .75L water accumulators. Some may get worried re manufacturer specs, although design tolerances have considerable room, often up to 50%. I will add 9% more PSI and PEX is rated to 160 PSI (although not all the fittings are). We run our home at 60 PSI water pressure. Take a look! Please let me know what you think. I'm tearing old parts out asap tomorrow! 😋

Water system upgrade parts.jpg

Edited by jd1923
Removed "Accumulator" from title.
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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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9 hours ago, jd1923 said:

Take a look! Please let me know what you think.

Seems like a good plan, really like the power flow control switches. I assume you will be using clamps on the hose barb fittings. 

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Good luck.

I assume that you are going to need a new/additional mounting board for the second accumulator.  I managed to squeeze my one accumulator onto that same board that Oliver used to mount the water pump but there certainly wasn't enough room for two.

Bill

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16 hours ago, jd1923 said:

Been thinking about this for a while, reading posts, and collecting parts. So, this is what I'm thinking (see pic). The OEM water pump is a basic model, at 55 PSI (not bad) and 3 GPM (pretty bad). I had the same model in our sold Bigfoot class-C, which I replaced as well. Now I will have 2 basic back-up water pumps! Those of you with newer models have an accumulator, older hulls did not.

When done, we will NEVER lift a mattress to switch a water valve. Some who know me, know that I already have a 35-gallon water tank mounted to my truck. We love our water out here, in the SW, where it is scarce!

I will increase the PSI a little to 60 and add volume 5 GPM (huge), also addind dual .75L water accumulators. Some may get worried re manufacturer specs, although design tolerances have considerable room, often up to 50%. I will add 9% more PSI and PEX is rated to 160 PSI (although not all the fittings are). We run our home at 60 PSI water pressure. Take a look! Please let me know what you think. I'm tearing old parts out asap tomorrow! 😋

 

I changed my valves over to electric about 6 years ago because of the difficulty of changing them from Normal flow to Aux Fill. You can vastly simplify that aspect of your project by using two of the 3-way valves and only one DPDT (wired for reversing) switch.

Steve, Tali and our dog Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie, Lucy and Reacher (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD SRW Diesel 4x4 

 

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22 minutes ago, ScubaRx said:

I changed my valves over to electric about 6 years ago because of the difficulty of changing them from Normal flow to Aux Fill. You can vastly simplify that aspect of your project by using two of the 3-way valves and only one DPDT (wired for reversing) switch.

First, I thought I would need only one DPDT switch. Though I purchased a set of 3 anyway. I also purchased one SPDT switch to activate the simple open/close ball valve for the fresh tank drain. 

There are Three (3) water valve configurations, the normal setting to 1) pump from the fresh tank, 2) the winterizing setting to bypass the fresh tank and push to faucets, and 3) the boondocking setting to draw water from an auxiliary tank to the fresh tank. I'm thinking I would need to wire 2 DPDT switches to switch each 3-way ball valve independently, to work all three combinations.

Steve, perhaps you do not use the winterizing combination? Am I thinking this correctly? I will not add RV antifreeze ever, instead will blow out the lines with air, even though OTT does not recommend this practice in their video. I will however use the winterization mode to descale lines and faucets with vinegar and sterilize lines with bleach (not at the same time of course).

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Still want a reply from @ScubaRx on the electrical switches...

Made some headway today. Anybody, yes ANYBODY who has an older Oliver with these 3-way brass water valves MUST change out these valves, even if you do not want to motorize or upgrade!

I cannot believe OTT installed these valves! The opening in only 1/4" WT*!
See pic, this is crazy! What were they thinking? The OEM water pump is 3 GPM. I measured water flow at the kitchen sink and the shower, cold side came in at 48 seconds to fill a gallon container. That's 1.25 GPM down from 3 at the pump due to multiple restrictions along the path! OMG! 🤣

Oliver 3-way water valve.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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2 hours ago, jd1923 said:

I cannot believe OTT installed these valves! The opening in only 1/4" WT*!

Thanks for pointing this out!  In my recent repairs on my water heater I did not remove this valve, so didn’t know.  I will be going back in and replacing with higher flow valves. 

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12 hours ago, Hokieman said:

Thanks for pointing this out!  In my recent repairs on my water heater, I did not remove this valve, so didn’t know.  I will be going back in and replacing with higher flow valves. 

Given hulls 113 and 797 have these, from 2016 to 2021, that's a lot of Olivers. Later they went to dual inline valves to achieve 3-way functionality. Having these restrictions on BOTH the pull and push side of this 3 GPM water pump, is likely the biggest reason for getting less than half the stated flow rate. I would suggest you time filling a gallon water bottle at both faucets. 48 seconds was my result, on both after 2 trials each, which calculates to 1.25 GPM.

The electric 3-way valves I am using have near 1/2" openings (12mm). However, they are not going to be easy to install for two reasons. First OTT does not mount their valves, as one was dangling airborne and the other was wrapped in foam, leaning against the inner wheel well! The motorized valves are somewhat heavier and should be mounted.

Also, this model motorized 3-way valves does not have a straight-through position. One position is 90 left and supply 12V+ and the other position is 90 degrees right. This will take some realignment of the PEX connecting the two valves. Or I believe a 90-degree fitting on each valve should work. More on this later...

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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On 11/18/2023 at 11:28 AM, ScubaRx said:

I changed my valves over to electric about 6 years ago because of the difficulty of changing them from Normal flow to Aux Fill. You can vastly simplify that aspect of your project by using two of the 3-way valves and only one DPDT (wired for reversing) switch.

I finally understand what Steve was saying here. I purchased the wrong switches! The DPDT switch wired in a cross-pattern (must have 6 leads), allows for switching the +/- leads to the motor. After you run the motor one direction, switch the other way to reverse polarity and the motor runs backwards.

I will need two DPDT switches though. One is enough is all you want to do is switch from pulling from the fresh tanks while running to the faucets (normal dry-camping position), then switch both valves at once, to pull from the rear port and push to the tank (for boondocking, fresh tank fill). One DPDT switch will do this. But I will install one DPDT switch on each valve motor to achieve the third position, for winterizing (or to push sanitizer to the faucets).

I decided on a momentary DPDT switch: TWTADE 3 Pcs Momentary Heavy Duty Rocker Toggle Switch 6 Pin 3 Position (ON)-OFF-(ON) DPDT 16A 250VAC Spade Terminal Metal Boat Switch With Waterproof Boat Cap And 6.3mm Terminal Wires TEN-223MZX-B223: Amazon.com: Industrial & Scientific

This switch rests in the middle (open/disconnected) position. Hold it up for 5 seconds to set the valve one way, then hold it down for 5 seconds to turn the motor and valve the other way. With the momentary DPDT switch, the center fallback position makes it that there is no current draw at the motorized switches when not in use.

You would want to do this differently if you wanted to utilize the LED light features of these 5-wire motorized ball valves, but I decided no lights, Keep It Simple Silly (KISS)! Was ready to wire up the valves today, but the new switches will get here Friday after Thanksgiving.

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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On 11/18/2023 at 7:44 AM, topgun2 said:

I assume that you are going to need a new/additional mounting board for the second accumulator... Bill

Got some plumbing done today. Decided a mounting board was unnecessary and instead connected the accumulators on an old bracket I had, everything wrapped in pipe foam. It should sit nicely on the interior wheel well (see build pic). 

Yes @Ronbrink just 4 hose clamps, found some automotive compression clamps that fit tight, too bad I didn't have 4. You want a few feet of soft hose by the pump and accumulators so that it runs quieter.

I also spent an hour at Depot, figuring out their PEX and SharkBite supplies! I'm thinking some of these will help with the motorized valve installation: SharkBite 1/2 in. Push-to-Connect x MIP Brass 90-Degree Elbow Fitting U280LFA - The Home Depot

New water pump install2.jpg

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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@jd1923 Is the valve with the blue housing a Misol brand or US Solid brand.

If it is a US Solid brand the threads will be 1/2" NPT (National Pipe Thread - tapered threads)

If it is a Misol brand be aware that the threads may be 1/2" BPT (British Pipe Thread - straight threads)

Both of these brands are manufactured in China. I'm pretty sure that neither brand valves are using lead-free brass. However, the US Solid brand does have a SS version available.

My original valves have BPT. knowing that there was a slight difference in the thread pitch, I used Teflon tape (several wraps) to make a watertight seal with the 1/2" NPT plastic nipples that I used to join the valves to the rest of the plumbing. I have never had any seeping or leakage, but I wanted you to be forewarned that it might be a good idea to seal those threads well.

I like your plan to also be able to control the valves in such a way that you can also use the system to suck antifreeze into the pipes. The use of momentary contact switches is clever as well. The reason I did not include these functions into my system is because I don't use antifreeze here in the Deep South. I just blow out the lines with air pressure and keep a small electric heater going during the colder months (December thru January) to keep the entire trailer including the basement at about 60 degrees. The reason I did not use momentary contact switches is because the electric valves I used do not have any power draw while they are at rest. I have recently installed a compressed air system in the trailer that lets me flip one switch and it opens two electric valves that allows 40psi compressed air into the plumbing system to purge all the lines and the water heater for my minimal "winterization." There are back flow preventer's in the air lines to keep water from entering the air system when in normal use. I also extended the air lines to quick-connects in the wheel wells to make the checking and filling of the tires easier.

 

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Steve, Tali and our dog Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie, Lucy and Reacher (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD SRW Diesel 4x4 

 

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11 hours ago, ScubaRx said:

Is the valve with the blue housing a Misol brand or US Solid brand? ...

The blue one is US Solid brand, and the two 3-way valves are HSH-Flo brand. All have 1/2" NPT threads, so all good there.

I wasn't thinking China brass still has lead, though that makes sense. These appear to be modern brass in color, but their ad does not specify. The amount of exposed brass is minimal once threaded in place, and we don't drink RV fresh tank water anyway. The internals include a SS ball valve with a PVC bushing and sleeve. Perhaps we should have gotten the SS model for $123 ea vs. these for $65 ea? The Misol with the BPT threads are cheaper brass and under $30 ea.

All of these valves claim no power consumption when not in use, but I thought why not have the 12VDC+ feed open, when not in use, and the momentary switches facilitate this. I will install all switches where the down position is the default position for what OTT calls normal camping position. Truly love your onboard compressor installation! So convenient having air right at the tires. I will have onboard air on our TV soon, which is a component of an exhaust brake system. 

Like you, I have never truly winterized, can't see that chemical in the lines, "safe" or not, and the weather here is also mild. We blow out our lines prior to any consistent overnight extreme lows. When I was on the Bigfoot forum, a knowledgeable long-time member from Calgary BC only used air to blow out his lines. No issues whatsoever up in that extreme cold, where their daytime highs are often colder than our overnight lows! We were born and raised in Chicago. Lived south for 24 years now, and we're never living real winter weather again. 

I want the two 3-way valves to be switched independently so that I can use the winterization mode to draw vinegar to the faucets to descale the lines and after rinsing thoroughly, add bleach water to sanitize the lines. Why not, for the cost of an extra DPDT switch? (package of 3 for $14)

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Found an issue with our fresh tank. Even though I have drained it twice to date (since our June purchase), this week it would not drain. The trailer is also not quite level. So, I filled the fresh tank, leaving the drain valve open and water came out of the overflow, and not the drain. 🙃

I understand OTT suggests blowing air up the drain opening. I can try that. I have to cut the PEX to replace the drain valve with a simple motorized valve. It would sure be good to have the tank drained first. Any other ideas?

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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jd1923

I had the same condition 2 years ago. I used air to blow out the drain line. It has been draining fine since then. It does drain somewhat slow. Raising the front of the trailer helps drain most of the water out of the tank.

2018 Oliver Elite II, Twin Bed, Hull #354 

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On 11/22/2023 at 1:42 PM, jd1923 said:

Found an issue with our fresh tank. Even though I have drained it twice to date (since our June purchase), this week it would not drain. The trailer is also not quite level. So, I filled the fresh tank, leaving the drain valve open and water came out of the overflow, and not the drain. 🙃

I understand OTT suggests blowing air up the drain opening. I can try that. I have to cut the PEX to replace the drain valve with a simple motorized valve. It would sure be good to have the tank drained first. Any other ideas?

There's a good chance that construction debris has found its way into the drain line and probably all the way down to the valve itself. If there's water still in the tank, I'd raise the front of the trailer several inches, open the drain valve, use an air nozzle to blow air into the drain tube from under the trailer to try to force the junk back into the tank. You'll know you've been successful if water flows out of the drain. Of course there's always the chance of re-occurrence, but it might be a long time coming (like in that CSN song). You'd be more likely to be able to get it out if, when you cut the drain line to install the electric valve, leave it draining for a bit to see if it will come out the straight line without the valve in it. Yes, you will be draining the water into the hull, but it will quickly run out the hole left from removing the line where it goes out through the bottom of the hull. Besides, to the best of my knowledge, there's no wires in that area of the bottom hull, just water lines.

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Steve, Tali and our dog Rocky plus our beloved Storm, Maggie, Lucy and Reacher (all waiting at the Rainbow Bridge)

2008 Legacy Elite I - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #026 | 2014 Legacy Elite II - Outlaw Oliver, Hull #050 | 2022 Silverado High Country 3500HD SRW Diesel 4x4 

 

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Well, this project has not gone as smoothly as I thought at first. The Seaflo water pump had a bad shut-off sensor, would not stop running after being bled. I bypassed my dual accumulator setup (pic above) thinking they might be keeping the pump from achieving cut-off pressure, but same thing.

Found out on iRV2 Forum that this is perhaps common to the brand. They make their colors look made in USA, but CHINA is in fine print in the corner of the box. Many on that forum like the Remco, Made-in-USA brand, more on this later.

Turns out my fresh tank drain was pushed up so that the plumbing was as high as the top of the tank. OTT does not strap this down. The weight of my new motorized ball-valve should keep it down. I did blow compressed air too. Honestly, our fresh tank only drains well when the nose of the trailer is steeply uphill.

There are many reasons for slow water pressure at the faucets. Check out what the incoming water pump filter/screen looked like on the original pump! Should be cleaned annually.

Water Pump Dirty Filter Screen.jpg

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Replacing the Fresh Tank drain was not a fun task, being very difficult to reach down at the bottom to work PEX! Also, my first time with PEX.

I wanted to just cut out the drain valve, but after doing so there was not enough length to make a PEX connection, so I had to go upstream and cutoff the elbow. This is my valve assembly that just barely fit and then a picture of it installed.

Hoping the SharkBite fitting connected fully (if not, our Fresh Tank could just empty while traveling). I should have marked the PEX tubing with a Sharpie, so that I could see how much is recessed (this thought came too late). To be sure, I lubricated the tubing exterior and hit the valve assembly with a short hammer! I can't pull them apart, so the SharkBite must have engaged. No leaks!

Fresh Water New Drain Valve.jpg

Drain Valve Installed.jpg

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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FYI, sharkbite makes another line of connectors (evoPEX) that gives you a green indicator when you have a true connection. 

It's a little more pricey than sharkbite, but could be worth it in certain situations.  I bought a few by accident, when lowes was out if stock on typical sharkbite.

Especially on hard to reach areas, it's a little added insurance.

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2 hours ago, jd1923 said:

I should have marked the PEX tubing with a Sharpie, so that I could see how much is recessed (this thought came too late).

Always a wise precaution when using a Sharkbite, to verify proper penetration.

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

ARCOIDNMOKORTNTXUTsm.jpg

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On 11/17/2023 at 6:57 PM, jd1923 said:

I will increase the PSI a little to 60 and add volume 5 GPM (huge), also addind dual .75L water accumulators.

60 PSI is an acceptable pressure level for most home plumbing.  But, your home plumbing system does not get towed on bumpy roads.

I would ask the Oliver Service Department if 60 PSI is acceptable for the plumbing parts they install.  For example, I note that Oliver uses plastic push-to-connect fittings for many of its pex connections these days.  Are those rated to 60 PSI?

As you noted in other text, the more likely source of low faucet water flow is clogged filters, screens and aerators, not the pressure at the pump.

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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Thanks @SeaDawg and @Rivernerd but as of today this job is finally done!

Ha, I ended up with a 65 PSI pump and if one day the Fresh Tank drain leaks, I will need to cut the PEZ back further, add a coupler, but so far so good.

RV pumps are spec'd anywhere from 45 to 65 PSI. I even noticed one model at 70 PSI. PEX is rated at 100 PSI. Not sure about any "plastic push-to-connect fittings." At least not on this old hull from 2016. They used only the copper looking crimp rings (see pic).

I've had the Oliver plumbing pressurized at 65 PSI, for two full days now, no leaks and I was inside for hours, and the water pump did not cycle once, without turning a faucet on, so no leaks. 

Yes, the screens, faucet flow restrictors, etc. will constrain the flow (actual GPM). However, I am not impressed with the PEX fittings and valves used by OTT on our Oliver. The valves are 1/4" ID and the PEX plastic elbows have barely a 5/16" snug opening (see the drill bits in the picture). I find drill bits easier than using a caliper for ID measurements.

This is NOT a 1/2" plumbing system! Flow rate at the kitchen sink, faucet restrictor removed was 1.25 GPM (filled a gallon bottle in 48 sec) with the OEM 3 GPM pump (Shurflo made in Mexico), and Now I have 1.67 GPM (36 seconds) with a 3.4 GPM variable-speed pump. More on the installation in a post coming soon!

OTT old plumbing parts.jpg

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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Here is our upgraded water system now completed. New water pump, Remco Made in USA, 3.4 GPM variable speed advanced RV water pump: AquaJet PUMP – Remco (remcoindustries.dreamhosters.com) Remco suggests that accumulators are not necessary for variable speed water pumps. This pump works better and is quieter than the OEM installed Shurflo, and they do cost more.

Motorized water valves were installed for 1) fresh water source (Fresh Tank or Boondocking port), 2) pumped water direction (faucets or Fresh Tank), and 3) Fresh Water tank drain. I had to build a bracket to hold these valves as OTT had not mounted the manual brass valves (one leaned on the wheel-well and the other was suspended in air held only by the attached PEX plumbing).

I was able to shape a bracket hung by two screws drilled into the internal fiberglass of the bed support (just off pic to the bottom). As you can see, the other end is held by the water pump mount. I cleaned up and taped the pump wiring and spliced 12V to the ball valve switches.

Water Pump and Valves Installation.jpg

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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More detail to follow. In the next pic you can see the electrical switches and wiring. Yes, it's a bit complex to keep them all straight. A shout-out and thank-you to @ScubaRx for suggesting motorized valves wired to DPDT switches. Once you get the X-pattern of the wiring they're not complicated. After taking the picture, I wrapped each switch with electrical tape to keep the terminals in place.

Each motorized valve has a rubber-lined steel U-bracket underneath the main bracket for support. It was the only way to do it considering the height of the plumbing and the installed bracket height. The structure is rather solid once it was all tied together.

Lastly the toggle switches to the exterior. I drilled three 12 mm holes about 2" apart, in a straight line just 3" below the bed frame. The default setting is ALL switches up, for what OTT calls "Normal Camping Position." I wrote up an instruction sheet (PDF below, with a borrowed OTT graphic), but believe me, after all this work I have the settings down!

Water Valves Installation Close-up.jpg

Water Valve Switches.jpg

Water Valve Switches.pdf

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Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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15 hours ago, jd1923 said:

This is NOT a 1/2" plumbing system!

No "1/2" PEX crimp system has a true 1/2" inside diameter (I.D.).  No 1/2" PEX system has as much I.D. as a 1/2" copper system.  That is why I installed 3/4" PEX lines, instead of 1/2", to high-demand fixtures in our home, such as the bathtub filler valves.

That said, the 1/2" PEX crimp system in our Hull #1291 has worked fine for us. I would not want a water system capable of higher flow.  Why?  The limited size of the gray tank.  We try to use water sparingly, to minimize how often we must dump the gray tank.  With a plumbing system that small (compared to most homes systems), and with distances from the pump to the fixtures relatively short, we have not wanted increased flow rates at the kitchen or bathroom sinks.

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Hull #1291

Central Idaho

2022 Elite II

Tow Vehicle:  2019 Tundra Double Cab 4x4, 5.7L with tow package

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After working this project, I feel like I spent so many hours and considerable money, as they say, "putting lipstick on a pig!"

Others may prefer a limp water system, great if that's your preference, and keep lifting those mattresses! I like mechanical systems to perform, allowing the user freedom to choose how it's used. At home, I widen or remove all the government-imposed restrictors in faucets. We conserve in our own way, eliminating slow drips, minimal water for dishes, not rinsing recyclables, using the diverter to stop water flow when not needed, and in other ways. But when I'm going to spend 3-4 minutes in the shower, I want a true shower and not dribble!

The new pump is extremely quiet, while the OTT plumbing system is not, at least in our hull. There is more noise under the kitchen and bath sink cabinets, by far, than the pump itself. All that rigid PEX is likely part of the cause as well as other restrictions. The bathroom vanity is really bad. I was able to increase flow at the kitchen sink by 33%, but only 5% at the bathroom sink which means the shower!

Any ideas on where the restrictions lie in both hot & cold-water lines the bath sink? I will say the toilet bowl fills a good twice as fast with these improvements.

The plumbing is so LOUD when running water. Loud inside the bath vanity, where there is no access panel! I'm not really wanting to tear that apart now has many here have done. Perhaps some do not notice, but after years of auto mechanic work and troubleshooting, I hear every little sound anywhere.

I'm going through the sanitize procedure today and will then pull the trailer to my driveway where I can get the rear downhill slant necessary to drain the fresh tank. Then blow out the lines again, since it's getting colder the next few nights. We might even get a little snow tonight. No antifreeze in ours, since next week we're camping at Burro Creek and Vulture Mountain at Wickenburg! (We were going to go before Christmas, but this and other projects went long.) 😌

Chris & John in Prescott, AZ | 2016 EII #113 | '01 Ram 2500 Cummins!

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  • The title was changed to Water System upgrade for better water flow & pressure

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