Tanks a Lot

Today I did a face-palm when I realized the RETROvan’s gas tank is directly under the galley, mounted to the chassis. The nearest mounting point for a water tank is a few feet away, under the driver’s seat. And even there the space is limited to about 24″x18″x10″. So that changes my half-baked plans for plumbing the sink with enough fresh water to survive the Trump “presidency.”

I spent the day exploring several interesting options (like a pair of cool portable containers above), and finally settled on this:

It’s a custom fresh water tank to be built by Plastic Mart. The outside dimensions of 15x15x15″ allow for a capacity of about 13.5 gallons. That may not seem like a lot of water but remember, we don’t have a toilet or a shower to worry about. This is basically a wet bar. And 99% of the time we’ll be connected to city water.

The tank will fit snugly inside the galley cabinet, under the sink. Which means it’ll always be at “room temperature.” I plan to mount the ShurFlo pump directly to the top of this tank. The 3/16″ thick polystyrene plastic, and the water it contains, should help baffle any pump noise much better than if I were to mount the pump to the metal cabinet or a piece of plywood.

So basically, the galley will be entirely self-contained except for the filler hose and the sink drain. The filler hose will be 1/2″ braided nylon leading to my ShurFlo fresh water inlet which I’ll mount through the hull, somewhat near the gas cap.The sink’s drain can run to a standard-sized tank (like this 24x16x8″ 12-gallon Valterra model) strap-mounted under the driver’s seat, connected with flex hose. Or it could just drain temporarily into a garden hose adapter and onto the ground, since it’s just grey water.

There are also plenty of portable grey water tanks that works like carts. You just park it under your RV and run the drain hose into it. When it gets full you cart it off, dump it, spray it out and reconnect it. Rinse and repeat.

Yep, this is the least enjoyable part of the project. Until, that is, I tried out my new orbital buffer on a few aluminum panels. I used Brasso metal polish and a variety of bonnets ranging from wool to terry cloth to microfiber.

The first panel turned out pretty good, but I noticed my pads were turning black for some reason. The only source of black, as far as I could tell, was the rubber backing pad on the polisher — which was always covered up by the bonnet. And it was not showing any signs of wear. But then I noticed the wall panels themselves were turning a grayish-black too, and it wasn’t just smears!

So then I googled the problem and learned that when you polish any protective coating off aluminum, it reforms aluminum oxide almost immediately and those microscopic aluminum flakes are black! So now I have to figure out how to avoid this, and I’m at a loss. Maybe it means I need a different polish that has a bit of acid? I don’t know. What I do know is that at this pace I’m going to need a truckload of expensive bonnets. I might try washing them tomorrow to see if I can get a few uses out of them. Ugh…


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