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TheLex

Just retired and about to start the RV adventure but not full time

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After practicing dentistry for almost 30 years I've decided it's time to call it a day.  My wife and I got married later than most and at age 50, we welcomed triplet boys into our family. So now with the kids at 6 yrs of age, we're going to start RVing.  BUT since the kids will be in school for the next 12 years, our major RV trips will be during the 2 months off the have in the summer.  We plan on summering in Canada in B.C. and Alberta, since my wife has family there.  The rest of the time we can go out on weekends since we live at the base of the Northern California Sierras near Lake Tahoe.

Because we have the kids, I'm a major safety freak.  My wife likes the big class A DP's but she'd want the bunkhouse model. My concern is with the MH is that the kids would be belted in on a sofa. MH's AFAIK are not built to any sort of rigid safety standards. They're essentially big fiberglass boxes on a metal subframe. Yes they weigh as much as 50k lbs GVW and mass helps with accidents. But at the end of the day the driver has no airbag protection. I'm not sure if they have ABS braking. Most probably don't have ESP skid control or a lot of the other safety systems on passenger motor vehicles.

So I figured our family would be safer traveling in a one ton dually pickup.  Leaping in with both feet, I went out and bought a brand new Ford F-450 which my wife now calls "The Beast".  I actually like driving it. It's a very secure feeling truck. It took a bit to get used to the width of the rear end, but I'm fine with it now. I figure at least we're in a 9280 lb air bag protected environment built to passenger motor vehicle safety standards.

But now after looking at class a diesel pushers, my wife tells me she likes the big 40+ ft MH's with the bunkhouses and L shaped couches around a television. We'd have to buy used to afford one of those big rigs.  But I'm not sure I'm comfortable driving such a big beast. And because I've read plenty of posts about how crowded RV parks are nowadays and how difficult it is to get reservations during the summer months, we'd probably do a lot of dry camping. Most MH's have smallish grey tanks. Most are no more than 80 gals grey with about 100 gal fresh water.

In contrast, a toy hauler like the Grand Design Momentum 328m has 157 gal fresh, 104 gal grey, and 52 gal grey. That's a lot more capacity. I know people say "just take navy showers". While my kids are ok to not even shower at all, my wife will want a HOT shower daily.  I OTOH am even more problematic. For medical reasons I need about a 8 - 10 min shower daily. At 1.5 gal flow/min a 10 min shower would use 15 gals water. If we use 30 gal water/day, we'd have 3 - 4 days before we have to dump the grey tank. 

But here's the kicker. Grand Design like other manufacturers, uses two separate 52 gal grey tank. In the case of the Momentum 328m, there's one tank for the sink and another for the shower. I've read there are ways to connect the two tanks together. Perhaps that would be the solution.

The only bigger capacity grey tank in a toy hauler comes at a penalty of having a 43' long trailer. The Momentum 328m is 36' long, which for a newbie like myself, would be much easier to haul around. It would probably be much easier to find spots to park the thing as well.

So I guess my first question here on this forum is have people connected their grey tanks together to gain more total capacity? How'd you do it? 

I've also seen posts about equalizing the grey and black tanks, but I'm leery of having the black tank stuff mix with the stuff in the grey tank.

Thanks!

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They are many Full Time that home school their kids. While traveling 12 months a year.
And the traveling to different places also educate them.

For showers in a RV you need to learn how to take a sailors shower like most of us do with 6 gal water heaters.

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Re connecting the gray tanks; Another easy option would be an appropriately sized tote(s) to empty the tanks without moving the RV for months. Re mommy's HOT shower; It's fair to say that most people mix cold & hot water when showering because the hot water is too hot. Cut down on water usage by using only the hot by placing a thermometer on the hot water tank, then turn off the hot water heater when it reaches a desired temperature. A wireless or remote readout, perhaps with an alarm, is helpful here.

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Given your medical need for long showers you also need to be looking at the size of the water heater. I hope you and your wife don't like to shower at the same time of day--one morning and one evening would help with the heating of the water.

Linda Sand

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30 minutes ago, sandsys said:

Given your medical need for long showers you also need to be looking at the size of the water heater. I hope you and your wife don't like to shower at the same time of day--one morning and one evening would help with the heating of the water.

Linda Sand

The Momentum has a 12 gallon rapid recovery water heater. If that's not enough we could always upgrade it to a tankless unit with a recirculation sytem.

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4 hours ago, rm.w/aview said:

Re connecting the gray tanks; Another easy option would be an appropriately sized tote(s) to empty the tanks without moving the RV for months. Re mommy's HOT shower; It's fair to say that most people mix cold & hot water when showering because the hot water is too hot. Cut down on water usage by using only the hot by placing a thermometer on the hot water tank, then turn off the hot water heater when it reaches a desired temperature. A wireless or remote readout, perhaps with an alarm, is helpful here.

Actually we plan on only staying a few days at each site. We want to see as much of B.C., Alberta, Oregon and Washing as we can in the two months we have. We figure we'll stay at each location until we exhaust the tank capacity. Some places we probably won't stay more than a couple of days. I don't have a problem driving 4 - 5 hrs each day.

The thermometer is a good idea.

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7 hours ago, Biker56 said:

They are many Full Time that home school their kids. While traveling 12 months a year.
And the traveling to different places also educate them.

For showers in a RV you need to learn how to take a sailors shower like most of us do with 6 gal water heaters.

We considered home schooling. At the end of the day we feel that socialization is just as important as learning their ABC's.  Since they're triplets they're very used to socializing with each other. But we want them to able to have relationships with other kids without their other brothers being around constantly.  Right now they're in soccer and karate as well. Another consideration is stability. We feel it's important for the kids to have a stable constant environment where their friends and teachers are the same through the school year.

I know there are a lots of successful and well rounded home schooled kids. We just don't feel up to the task with 3 kids and see a lot of reasons why they're better off at traditional schooling.

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Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are happy to have you with us and hope that we can be of some assistance. I think that you will find there to be a lot of very experienced RV folks in our group as well as a healthy number of newer travelers. 

On 11/18/2017 at 11:46 PM, TheLex said:

So I guess my first question here on this forum is have people connected their grey tanks together to gain more total capacity? How'd you do it? 

Like most things in life, there is no one answer to this question. To answer in a way that will be useful one has to see the RV in question and examine the location of the two gray water tanks and determine the amount of access to each one and to the plumbing associated with them. In addition, if one tank is mounted physically higher than the other and you connect them, the lower one will always fill first and whatever drains into it will not drain but back up into the sink/shower before the upper one is full. If the two tanks are at the same physical distance above the ground you could pretty easily install a line to cross-connect the two tank drain lines and they would then equalize naturally. If one is above the other, that line would need to have a dump valve installed to prevent overfilling the lower tank, thus you could empty part of the upper one to it, but if the tank which fills first is the low positioned one, the cross-connect would not work. 

On 11/18/2017 at 11:46 PM, TheLex said:

I've also seen posts about equalizing the grey and black tanks, but I'm leery of having the black tank stuff mix with the stuff in the grey tank.

 

What the are doing is that nearly all RV users tend to fill the gray tanks first and they drain part of the gray water into the black tank to increase usable capacity. I have never heard of anyone draining the black tank into the gray and have no idea why one would wish to. It used to be quite common for the RV builders to install two tanks of the same size, one for gray and one for black. In such a situation, the gray tank will always fill first. 

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9 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

It used to be quite common for the RV builders to install two tanks of the same size, one for gray and one for black. In such a situation, the gray tank will always fill first. 

Never say "always". Those of us who have learned to do sponge baths and navy showers but have bladder and/or digestive problems often fill the black water tank first if it and the gray water are the same size. As always in RVing, as in life, the answer is "It depends."

Linda Sand

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On 11/20/2017 at 1:58 AM, Kirk Wood said:

Welcome to the Escapee forums! We are happy to have you with us and hope that we can be of some assistance. I think that you will find there to be a lot of very experienced RV folks in our group as well as a healthy number of newer travelers. 

Like most things in life, there is no one answer to this question. To answer in a way that will be useful one has to see the RV in question and examine the location of the two gray water tanks and determine the amount of access to each one and to the plumbing associated with them. In addition, if one tank is mounted physically higher than the other and you connect them, the lower one will always fill first and whatever drains into it will not drain but back up into the sink/shower before the upper one is full. If the two tanks are at the same physical distance above the ground you could pretty easily install a line to cross-connect the two tank drain lines and they would then equalize naturally. If one is above the other, that line would need to have a dump valve installed to prevent overfilling the lower tank, thus you could empty part of the upper one to it, but if the tank which fills first is the low positioned one, the cross-connect would not work. 

What the are doing is that nearly all RV users tend to fill the gray tanks first and they drain part of the gray water into the black tank to increase usable capacity. I have never heard of anyone draining the black tank into the gray and have no idea why one would wish to. It used to be quite common for the RV builders to install two tanks of the same size, one for gray and one for black. In such a situation, the gray tank will always fill first. 

Thank you for the warm welcome!

Equalizing the two grey tanks makes sense, especially since the one from the sink is likely to fill much more slowly.

I'm not even going to consider mixing the black with the grey. That's a recipe for a lot of bad things IMO.  With 104 gal of grey, we should be ok for several days. Then it's on to the next destination!

Now if I can only talk my wife out of a 45 foot long Class A DP! Those things typically have no more than an 80 gal grey tank max, with many being in the 60ish range.

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8 hours ago, TheLex said:

Thank you for the warm welcome!

Equalizing the two grey tanks makes sense, especially since the one from the sink is likely to fill much more slowly.

I'm not even going to consider mixing the black with the grey. That's a recipe for a lot of bad things IMO.  With 104 gal of grey, we should be ok for several days. Then it's on to the next destination!

Now if I can only talk my wife out of a 45 foot long Class A DP! Those things typically have no more than an 80 gal grey tank max, with many being in the 60ish range.

Look at some of better quality used diesel pushers. Newell, Foretravel, Country Coach. Many of them had fresh water tanks well over 100 gallons with gray water tanks equal to fresh.

This chart is foretravel  by the year.

http://beamalarm.com/Documents/foretravel_capacities.html

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On 11/22/2017 at 1:38 AM, TheLex said:

Now if I can only talk my wife out of a 45 foot long Class A DP!

Be very careful when you approach this part as you will not be happy on the road for long if she doesn't like the RV you travel in. I'm wondering if your wife may just be telling her friends "Now if I can only talk my husband into selecting a motorhome!"

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The second paragraph of your original post reminded me of something I read... When a truck gets into a bad accident, it looks like a truck was in an accident. When a class A gets into a bad accident, it looks like a tornado went through a trailer park.

On the other hand... Listening to a couple that now has a class A, on travel days the three boys are further back in the vehicle giving them more pleasure to the drive up front.

This is a difficult decision to make, especially for your first RV. Arguments for each type with regards to your family are valid and, as many here have done, you may change RVs at least once to experience the other type before standing firm on the choice you've finally made because it "checked the most boxes" for you.

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On 11/22/2017 at 5:57 AM, jcussen said:

Look at some of better quality used diesel pushers. Newell, Foretravel, Country Coach. Many of them had fresh water tanks well over 100 gallons with gray water tanks equal to fresh.

This chart is foretravel  by the year.

http://beamalarm.com/Documents/foretravel_capacities.html

Thanks for the link. Wow the Foretravel units are very nice! But they're also very expensive! Looking at RV Trader there is only one unit under $180,000 that would work for us. It's a 2008 model.

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9 hours ago, Kirk Wood said:

Be very careful when you approach this part as you will not be happy on the road for long if she doesn't like the RV you travel in. I'm wondering if your wife may just be telling her friends "Now if I can only talk my husband into selecting a motorhome!"

Yeah I'm starting to get that. My mistake was I went out and bought a brand new Ford 450 dually with the intention of pulling a toy hauler. The combo is less expensive then a motorhome and a toad. We shall see if she'll be okay with the toy hauler as I am loathe the selling a brand new truck.

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6 hours ago, rm.w/aview said:

The second paragraph of your original post reminded me of something I read... When a truck gets into a bad accident, it looks like a truck was in an accident. When a class A gets into a bad accident, it looks like a tornado went through a trailer park.

On the other hand... Listening to a couple that now has a class A, on travel days the three boys are further back in the vehicle giving them more pleasure to the drive up front.

This is a difficult decision to make, especially for your first RV. Arguments for each type with regards to your family are valid and, as many here have done, you may change RVs at least once to experience the other type before standing firm on the choice you've finally made because it "checked the most boxes" for you.

Exactly right. As I stated my impression is a 9000 pound truck with airbags all around and proper seat belts is safer than a fiberglass motorhome despite the fact that that motor home weighs 40000 pounds. That being said when I review the statistics about motorhome fatalities, the rate is is extremely low.

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2 hours ago, TheLex said:

Thanks for the link. Wow the Foretravel units are very nice! But they're also very expensive! Looking at RV Trader there is only one unit under $180,000 that would work for us. It's a 2008 model.

http://motorhomesoftexas.com/

Most of the Newells have fresh water tanks over 125 gal and gray/black tanks the same.

Edited by jcussen

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To clarify a bit on Newells, the fresh water tanks are typically 150 gallons, the waste tank is typically a combined gray and black tank of about 160 gallons.  The waste tank has a gray water bypass if you're in an area where you can dump gray on the ground.

When we full timed in our 45' 1998 Newell we could easily go a week without conserving water or having to dump.

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11 hours ago, folivier said:

To clarify a bit on Newells, the fresh water tanks are typically 150 gallons, the waste tank is typically a combined gray and black tank of about 160 gallons.  The waste tank has a gray water bypass if you're in an area where you can dump gray on the ground.

When we full timed in our 45' 1998 Newell we could easily go a week without conserving water or having to dump.

Thanks for the tip. I just looked at the Newell MH's on rvtrader and those cost even more than the Foretravel units.  There's not much to choose from in the under $180,000 range. How does the quality compare between the two brands? 

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Lots of 5th wheels and trailers around. Not so many Foretravels or Newells. Chances are you will need to travel to see one in your price range. 

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If you plan on long showers, don't worry about the size of the water tanks.  You will be spending your time in RV parks with full hook ups.

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2 hours ago, JimK said:

If you plan on long showers, don't worry about the size of the water tanks.  You will be spending your time in RV parks with full hook ups.

I figure if we use about 30 gal a day, we can be out and about for 3 to 4 days. That's enough before we move on to the next spot. 

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On ‎11‎/‎27‎/‎2017 at 1:10 PM, TheLex said:

I figure if we use about 30 gal a day, we can be out and about for 3 to 4 days. That's enough before we move on to the next spot. 

If you do not stay in RV parks, it can be difficult to get water.  I just finished a 3 month trip and had numerous times where it was difficult to get water.  Here are some examples:

Getting water while doing Interstate travel can be very difficult.  Walmart and similar places we stopped did not have water.  Gas stations typically do not provide access.  Nor do highway rest stops.  I got water by filling a 5 gallon jug at rest stops and using a funnel to add water.  From NY, the first rest stop we encounter with a convenient water fill (and a dump) was in South Dakota.

Badlands and Yellowstone National Parks - no issues.

Glacier (2 Medicine) NP - water system was not working for the RV station.  Again had to fill jugs and dump into RV.

John Day NM - dry camping only outside the monument area.

Zion NP - campgrounds full, RV parks extremely expensive.  Dry camping in the nearby BLM lands.

Vermillion Cliffs - primitive camping, no water

Bryce NP -  Dumps and fill stations closed by the end of September.  Again had to use a jug.

Boulder Mtn, Dixie Forest, Burr Trail, Escalante - Either no water or systems closed for the season after Labor Day.

Capitol Reef NP - no issues

Colorado River Recreation Area - No water!  Getting water in nearby Moab is a PITA with only a few inconvenient choices.

Hovenweep NM - Water fill for RVs has been permanently closed.  Needed to use jugs.

Mesa Verde NP - All water access points were closed for the season.  I stealthily used a water thief on a rest room faucet but made a serious mess on the floors.

Return drive to NY - again needed to fill using jugs at rest stops.

I would say during my 3 months of travel, I had water access about half the time.  The rest of the time access was difficult and typically I needed to fill a 5 gallon jug numerous times to top off my system.  Needless to say that system is not going to work for handling 30 gallons per day.  I have not even mentioned dump station issues.  I have a cassette toilet that I can dump almost anywhere including into rest stop toilets or outhouses or dump stations.  Dumping gray water is also easy because of the small volume.  I often just use my trash bucket to dump into an outhouse.  It is pretty easy with less than 5 gallons of gray waste per day. 

 

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Moab UT - there is a feed store/rv parts business on Hwy 191 with 24 hr water and dump facilities and propane during business hours. Water and dump fee is $5 on the honor system after hours. Enter the south side the water is behind and two dump stations on the north side. Parts and feed are inside the store. 

Maverick fuel south end has nice access for dump and fuel, oops the water is a tap on the building. Awkward access with a big clumsy rv for water. 

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