I’ve been showering in the Squatch lately, and I have to say: I love it! To many people, the small motorhome bathroom is too cramped and claustrophobic, but I think it’s cozy and efficient. Everything is within arm’s reach and the small space forces me to design the use of the available volume to maximize it’s utility. The pressure from the water pump isn’t great, but its enough for me to take a decent shower. I’ve been doing the NAVY shower thing. Get wet, turn water off, suds up and scrub, turn water on, and rinse. How much water this uses, I don’t know, but once I have a water meter installed, I can determine just that.
The Pressure Tank
What bugs me about the water system is that as soon as there is a pressure drop (I open a faucet), the pump immediately kicks on. As I see it, this can’t be efficient. I grew up with well water and we always had a pressure tank. That is, a metal tank that holds several gallons of water at the system pressure by the pneumatic action of an inflated diaphragm within the tank. Essentially a balloon of air within a water tank. This provides a bit of “cushion”for the water pump to push against. Without any faucet open, the pump will run until enough water is pumped into the tank squeezing the air volume down to the point where the pressure exerted by the diaphragm onto the tank water is more than the pump cut-out pressure, and the pump shuts off. When a faucet is opened, the diaphragm will push the water out of the tank until the air pressure, and thus the water pressure, drops below the pump cut-in pressure, and then the pump kicks back on until it once again reaches cut-out pressure. This way, the pump runs for longer periods of time per cycle, rather than in short bursts, starting and stopping. These tanks are normally installed by a tee fitting after the pump and before the faucets.
And that is exactly how I intended to install it, but since the pressured line from the pump comes up through the floor near the middle of the coach, it made it difficult to plumb the tank in right there. It’s a bad spot and prime real estate for storage. I chose to strap the tank underneath the kitchen counter in an area that wasn’t easily accessible for storage purposes. The pressured line originally ran to a series of tees starting with the water heater, on to the kitchen sink, the outside spigot, and finally the bathroom. I chose to divert the line up to the pressure tanks and then down to a tee in the middle of the system. Originally I was going to just tee the pressure tank in the middle of the system and leave the pressure pump line feed where it was. I opted against this because at certain times when water was being used and the pump kicks on due to low system pressure, the water in the line would suddenly change direction. That is a bad idea for a number of reasons, the least of which is just bad design.
So anyway, I used some PEX tubing and a few push together fittings to do the job. First time using these things and I have to say I really like them. I installed one shut off valve directly after the tank. Without a pressure tank, I could just shut off the pump in the event of a plumbing leak somewhere. With the tank installed, there could be two gallons or more of water pressured from the tank, regardless of pump operation. Shut offs are good. Install shut offs.
So I’m pretty happy with the results. The pump doesn’t short cycle anymore, and without any pump, there’s about two gallons of water at decent pressure available at the taps. I can do a lot with two gallons. The pump needs some adjustment on the cut-in / cu-out pressures though. It may not even have an adjustment. I have limited access to it. That will change in time.
One thing I was somewhat surprised about, was an increase in pressure at the shower head. I’m happy about that. In the near future I’ll be adding a pressure gauge, a water meter on the cold line, and a water meter on the water heater as well. Later this year will be foot pedal operated sinks!
A Hide Away Table
Well, it’s not completely hidden, but it does fold down. I built a litter box cabinet recently in the rear room, and attached to this is a repurposed table originally in the front of the coach. I used some piano hinge from the old bed and hung this table from the edge of the cabinet. I wanted to put a single fold up table leg under it, but the dimensions of the materials wouldn’t allow it. I had to go diagonal and with two legs. I reused some cabinet door hinges and cabinet door latches on the 1″x3″ legs. Added a pice of weather stripping to protect the cabinet doors from the legs scratching them, and a spring compressed chain that holds the table in the upright position, granting better access to the cabinets below, especially for removing the litter box itself. Which is what this whole thing started as…a shit box.
About two weeks ago I attempted to start the generator in order to do some vacuuming. It failed to even turn over. I added the task pretty far down on my to do list, but yesterday, with a multimeter, I notice the starter was only seeing about 4VDC from the coach batteries. Seamed to me to be a good place to start investigating. I started with the batteries themselves, considering I’ve done nothing to them as long as we’ve had the coach. About 9 weeks. They are rather hard to get at, and that’s why I haven’t screwed with them. Well, upon looking into the compartment, I pretty quickly realized what was happening. The wing nuts holding the lugs on were about 3 threads loose, and the lugs were all corroded and rusty. It might not be the problem, but it sure wasn’t helping. So I pulled all the leads off, removed the batteries, check the electrolyte, cleaned all the terminals, and re-installed with dielectric grease. The generator started right up.
The battery compartment is going to get some changes to it. For one, it will only hold two batteries, and in the future there are going to be at least four. The other reason is that they aren’t easily accessible for checking the water, and they are exposed to the outside temperature. Not good. So eventually a new battery tray will be designed in one of the basement storage compartments. Vented, of course.