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Old 02-22-2015, 02:28 PM   #1
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Black tank flushers compared

Found this video the other day. I had always wondered how well they work:


(We did get the tornado installed in our Axis when we bought it...Even if the dealer installed it in the wrong spot, watching this video makes me think it is still pretty effective.)

I do have a couple of nitpicks with the video, though:
  • He states the clear elbow is useless because all he sees is clear water while filling--you don't watch the water in the elbow while filling, you watch while dumping
  • The "heavier junk" that is shown left in the tank most likely won't be there after a while due to the additives you put in the tank to break down the waste
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Old 02-22-2015, 06:17 PM   #2
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Yea, that is a pretty good video. Did you watch his follow up videos? On one, he is on the roof with his tank contraption proving to a nay-sayer that the height of the tank is not an issue.

Actually, this is a project I will likely be doing next spring. As I always overkill every project I do, I bought both the Camco Tornado and the "No Fuss Flush" which was supposed to be made by Valterra, but Amazon sent me one made by Lakeview RV Supply. The Amazon ad says it's made by Valterra, but the packages do not say Valterra anywhere.

However, it looks identical to the one on the Valterra website.



I paid $23 and change for the Camco Tornado on Amazon, and the two parts of the No Fuss Flush cost $22 for the nozzle and (A70) and another $20 for the mounting accessories (A71). The Valterra version is twice the cost of the Camco one, and it still does not include any tubing.

I have had them since early last year, but have been hesitant to drill a hole in my black tank. As well, I originally wanted to mount the water hose flange under the chassis in the same compartment as the dump valve, but this winter at the RV shows, I noticed that many of these are simply mounted to the outside of the rig. So that is what I will probably do.

When it gets nice enough weather, I plan on "spin" testing both, and keep the one that seems to be the most powerful - and sell the other one on eBay, etc.

The Camco's head spins (at least initially before it gets full of gunk), while the Valerra's head is a fixed nozzle with a bunch of small holes in it. Seems the Camco might be more effective... at least until (and if) it falls off while spinning.

Also, I want to investigate the practicality of welding the units onto the black tank using HDPE welding sticks rather than using silicone to glue the nozzle onto the black tank. Only if I can find a cheap polyethylene black tank to practice on... I might have to make a trip to one of the RV surplus stores and find one. Has to be a new one though, I ain't practicing on a used tank.

I'm also thinking maybe a plastic bucket might be suitable to practice on, but I am not sure if the plastic is similar or not.

I've also got a call into Urethane Supply Company... they make several hot-iron plastic welding kits, so maybe one of those would work.

As usual for me... project overkill.
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Old 02-22-2015, 08:51 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FW28z
Did you watch his follow up videos? On one, he is on the roof with his tank contraption proving to a nay-sayer that the height of the tank is not an issue.
Yeah pretty funny. We watched a few of the videos from their channel.

On the Vegas/Axis units the black tank is behind the large door on the drivers side, circled here: (at least it is on our 24.1)

Yes that isn't a storage spot, you open the long hatch there to see the side of the black tank flush with the door. It seemed strange to me for them to put a "hatch" there.
Silly me would think that the dealer would follow the Tornado's instructions and install it opposite the tank drain (the small hatch immediately to the left of the tank hatch). Instead they just opened the panel and installed it right in the center of the tank at the top (at least its at the top like the instructions say!). With it on the side like that there is no room for anything to be connected up to the Tornado when the hatch is closed. I was able to make a water inlet plug fit, though, to at least keep it sealed up when not in use.
Oh well...We used it all last summer whenever we had a full hook-up site. So far no leaks
I also was a bit concerned about drilling into the black tank (even when ours was new and never used) which is why I had the dealer handle it. Hindsight being 20/20 I should have done it myself...sigh.
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:20 PM   #4
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I just keep the tanks closed till they fill up and then flush them - have never had the need to flush them ever! I have recently switched to the Tank Techs - All natural Probiotic Tank Treatment, which is supposed to stop the buildup of mineralization that causes misreading sensors. More expensive than other treatments so I hope it was worth the money.
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:15 AM   #5
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I know this is probably TMI, but last year I started using the enzyme stuff. And I was getting some chunks of toilet paper, even though I use the RV paper. It didn't seem to dissolve the tissue very well.

I was having some problems with false tank reading, but I think it was from residual TP getting stuck to the side of the tank.



I have been using this Camco dualflush system, and let the tank fill up with clear water from the bottom, which after the videos show it is may not be all that effective. But I was seeing more TP flush out after rinsing with the device, and after a rinse or two, when no more TP comes out, the tank monitors generally read OK.

When I had a boat, I used the cheap Thetford Aqua-Kem chemical and it seemed to do a better job of dissolving the tissue. On a boat, it is harder to dump the holding tank as it has to suck the contents out... i.e. no gravity assist. Basically you don't dump a boat's holding tank, you pump it out from above.

So I think I am going back to the Aqua-Kem and see if it does a better job at dissolving the tissue.

Also with my boat, the tank level monitor used the capacitive metal strip sensors, which are installed outside of the tank. That system was flawless, and it's too bad RVs don't go to that kind of system rather than the garbage tank monitors they come with.

Here is one of the sensors in my boat (I had extra channels left over for the monitor, so I put a sensor in the toilet's deoderizing tank).



The two aluminum adhesive strips are a capacitive system that produces a linear tank level reading, not the Empty - Half-full - Full system the RV uses. The copper strips are the connections to the sensor module (the little square black thing in the photo).

At any rate, it was a superior system to the RV tanks. I actually had several correspondence letters with the owner and engineer of the company (it's a small company) and encouraged them to design one of their sensors to replace the RV sensors (but use the same display).

That way we could have an accurate sensor on the tank but not have to re-wire the wiring to the display unit. The resolution would not be as good though since their sensors had around 10~15 data points if I recall rather than the three points the RV systems have.

But they never got back to me, so I am not sure if they will make such an adapter or not. I should try and contact them again.

Otherwise, I am thinking that using their sensor with a microcontroller such as an Arduino board (which I have some experience with) could allow using the external sensor and adapt it to be monitored with the RV's OEM monitor so you don't have to replace the monitor or run wires to a panel.

Otherwise, I could probably figure out a way to install one of their units and rebuild the monitor panel, but the wife wants to trade up to a Class A in a couple of years, so I don't want to put a bunch of money into our RV as long as she has that idea.

I am not all together opposed to going Class A, but I like the size of our coach as I can get into just about any campground. Any larger and that would be more challenging.
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FW28z View Post
I know this is probably TMI, but last year I started using the enzyme stuff. And I was getting some chunks of toilet paper, even though I use the RV paper. It didn't seem to dissolve the tissue very well.

I was having some problems with false tank reading, but I think it was from residual TP.




Also with my boat, the tank level monitor used the capacitive metal strip sensors, which are installed outside of the tank. That system was flawless, and it's too bad RVs don't go to that kind of system rather than the garbage tank monitors they come with.
Were you using the same Tank Tech that I have!?

Do you know if the marine system is available aftermarket and can be installed!?
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FW28z
I am not all together opposed to going Class A, but I like the size of our coach as I can get into just about any campground. Any larger and that would be more challenging.
(Obvious plug warning): Well now you can get a Vegas/Axis and get a Class A about the same size as your Class C!
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:05 AM   #8
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Were you using the same Tank Tech that I have!?

Do you know if the marine system is available aftermarket and can be installed!?
No have not tried that brand of chemical.

The monitoring system in of itself is not strictly marine, as some have used them on RVs. There should be no problem in installing one in your RV, provided you have the ability to run a few wires for power and to the sensors.

Here is their webpage:

Home Page

On the "testimonial" page, you might notice my photo like the one above, along with the article I wrote when I installed it in my boat.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:12 AM   #9
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(Obvious plug warning): Well now you can get a Vegas/Axis and get a Class A about the same size as your Class C!
Not sure we'd be buying another Thor.

While I like the Axis well enough, they are just a bit on the small size for us. The 25.2 would be the only one that would come close.

Our Class C is actually 29'-11"... essentially 30ft. If we buy used, a Newmar BayStar 2902 is at the top of our list. They no longer make this floor plan, so it would probably be a 2011 or 2010. If we buy new, we could go with the smaller Newmar BayStar 2707 or even the Forest River 30DS.

We saw the Newmar coaches at the Hershey RV show last year. The Bay Star are their entry level Newmars, and they don't have all of the luxury features the higher-end coaches have. But they are still built well.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:20 AM   #10
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Jamie, do you have a close pic of your install location of the tornado on the AXIS? Curious
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:28 AM   #11
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Unfortunately I don't have a pic and that side has a substantial amount of snow on it at the moment.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:47 AM   #12
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Unfortunately I don't have a pic and that side has a substantial amount of snow on it at the moment.
No problem, thanks anyways. Stay warm.
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Old 02-23-2015, 01:05 PM   #13
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Well I heard back from Urethane Supply. They told me that unless the tank flush nozzle is made from the same material as the tank itself, a plastic weld will not hold.

I can probably contact both Valterra and Camco to find out what the nozzles are made of, but chances are that they won't be made from the same material. So it's probably going to have to be silicone sealer or nothing.
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Old 02-23-2015, 07:13 PM   #14
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After talking to a few people I know, I am making the commitment to explore the possibility of building an interface device to allow using the more reliable external tank sensors with the existing tank level display monitor in my coach.

They use two different technologies; the external sensors use a linear voltage while the KIB sensors (the existing sensors in my coach) use a simple ground system (the well nuts short to ground when in contact with water).

I will design an interface using an Atmel Mega microcontroller (commonly used in Arduino Uno boards), as all it has to do is accept an analog input from the external sensor and convert it to a low/high logic output. This is easily done with the Atmel microcontrollers.

I won't probably get too serious about this until a few months from now, and I will post my progress. But today, I did order an external sensor and KIB monitor system (which is the same thing used in Thor coaches). I have a fair amount of experience with these microcontrollers, and already have a few Arduino boards lying around, so there is nothing else to obtain.

I will use a 5 gallon bucket and attach the sensors to make a mock-up, and "reverse engineer" the signals so that I can mock up an Arduino board.

Whether or not this turns into a bona-fide project, or just some uneventful tinkering remains to be seen. But being retired, I have to do something to keep my mind sharp.
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Old 02-23-2015, 07:21 PM   #15
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I'm not so convinced that any flusher is all that worth it..... although I would like to have a bypass line somehow to fill my tank for flushing.....
but IF i were every going to do what you are planning, I'm not sure I would use silicone caulk. I really don't like that stuff. it never sticks where I want it and it does stick where I don't want it. I find that it's generally a very poor sealant, with much better options on the market.
We used to use bulkhead fittings on HDPE industrial tanks all the time when I was in the paper chemistry business. No sealant required, only a good thick gasket.... and we were dealing with far great head pressures and all sorts of chemicals that are far harder to deal with than dirty water....

...in my case the better approach i think might be to plumb it into the lavatory drain pipe so that I don't have to penetrate the tank. I would use mine, not for trying to jet the tank clean, but for what I just did this weekend... had far too little liquid in my tank for a proper dump, so I filled it up most of the way with a hose, so that I could then dump the tank. I could more easily accomplish the same thing with one of those valtera connections with hose adapter. I'm convinced that is all that is needed.
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Old 02-23-2015, 08:32 PM   #16
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When I talked to the Valterra people, they recommended using silicone as it allows you to remove the nozzle and clean it if necessary... which is something I'd rather not do. They did indicate that their product is used by various OEM manufacturers; some use silicone, but some use an adhesive sealant.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found a suitable product that can effectively glue HDPE. 3M makes some stuff (Scotch Weld) that kind of works, but it is expensive to buy.

They also indicated they have not seen where the silicone has failed as the nozzle is attached to the tank via sheet metal screws so the silicone is just the seal.

And the Camco version recommends using only clear silicone, with an admonition to not substitute it. I don't know what is different between clear silicone and other colors that would make any difference.

I suppose another option is to buy one of those O-Ring kits and make your own O-ring to fit under the flange.

Many of our RVs do have a built-in fresh water flush if you think about it. On my coach for example; the bathroom sink drain is plumbed to the black water tank. I am sure that Thor did this for convenience.

However, you can use Thor's cheap way out to your advantage as you can simply turn on the bathroom sink while you are flushing the black tank and viola; a built in flush system via the bathroom sink.

Of course not all bathroom sinks are likely plumbed into the holding tank; it depends on the RV model. But check and see if either your shower drain or bathroom sink drain goes into the black tank.
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:01 PM   #17
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I just keep the tanks closed till they fill up and then flush them - have never had the need to flush them ever! ...
I follow your method!

Since 2004 I have owned several RV's, of various brands, classes, sizes and have never flushed a single tank. No need to. And I use regular, (Angel Soft, septic safe) toilet paper.

I was very entertained though, watching the videos and all the weird simulated stuff floating around.

I'm also a little curious, (OK, not really... just making conversation), as to what people actually put into their grey and black tanks that require them to be flushed out? And a macerator system, seriously!?
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:22 PM   #18
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The issue I am having is that if I do not flush the tank after emptying, the tank level monitor is not reliable. The monitor system on my coach is made by KiB, and use what are called well-nuts for the sensors, which protrude into the tank (i.e. they are not flush with the inside).

This can cause toilet paper to cling to the sensor nuts, which can foul the reading. If I flush the tank with fresh water until I no longer see clumps of toilet paper exiting (by viewing on the clear plastic hose segment) then the tank monitor system will eventually begin to work again.

I am not sure if everyone is having similar sensor faults, but it does seem to be a very common problem, especially with the well nut type sensors, which have been described to me as pretty much useless.

But these sensors are used extensively in RVs... not because they work, but because they are cheap.

Of course, possible alternative solutions may be to use a more aggressive tank treatment or different TP that will dissolve more and not hang up on the sensors.
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Old 02-23-2015, 09:57 PM   #19
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I am not sure if everyone is having similar sensor faults, but it does seem to be a very common problem, especially with the well nut type sensors, which have been described to me as pretty much useless.
We had our 5th wheel for 10 years. For the majority of those years the sensors were unusable even though we regularly flushed the tank (this was with the flush king although we know how good that works from the video above).
I did pick up a set of these probes:
Horst Mircacle Probes - Get accurate reading on your RV's holding tanks
but never got a chance to install them to see if they would work.
Now that we have the Axis + Tornado I'm not too concerned and with the tank "exposed" all I have to do is open the hatch and give the tank a tap or two to see how accurate the reading is.
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Old 02-23-2015, 10:32 PM   #20
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You can dump a bag of Ice cubes into the toilet and drive down the road. I do this a couple of times a year, and it seems to clear the mess away.
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