When we got home, that was the first thing that was tackled. I had read the reviews of the Camco Camper Drain Trap on Amazon, and noticed several reports of leaks, but since no one else makes anything like it, and it was ideal for my use, I felt I had no choice.
The Camco Camper Drain Trap saga...
First, a few observations...this unit is designed to take the place of ALL nuts and washers that are on the bottom of the sink basket that normally holds the basket to the sink...as well as the normal "P" or "S" trap normally found under household sinks. The inside threads are very deep, and it comes with a rubber gasket to go against the bottom of the sink. It should not leak around the rim of the basket, even if no plumber's putty is used around the rim inside the sink...but I always like to add it anyway, about a half-inch diameter bead around the lip of the basket before it is set into the hole. The excess squishes out when the basket is tightened down.
The other place that I thought "might" leak, was at the flexible black hose that comes attached to the Camco Drain Trap. It's simply pushed on over a barbed fitting, with no clamp on it. However, neither of those two places was where it leaked!
After removing the Camco Camper Drain Trap, I noticed a water spot around the edge of it, where the two halves of the body come together. Also, the gap in the joint appeared to be slightly wider at that point. I proceeded to remove the two screws holding the two halves together, and saw that whoever assembled this thing at the factory had tried to put it together without lubrication, and had pinched the o-ring gasket in the edge of it!
I debated about whether to try to locate another o-ring, but it didn't appear to be hurt that badly. I had some plumber's grease on hand, so I lubricated the o-ring, and cleaned up the grooves in the two halves of the body before attempting to reassemble it.
|The Camco Camper Drain Trap opened up.|
The rubber gasket between the trap and the basket assures that water can't escape, either from the basket itself, or around any threads, so you don't have to do anything else, other than to make sure the barbed fitting is facing the direction you want before tightening the trap to the sink basket.
While I had the opportunity, I also added an aviation strap to the barbed fitting after getting the drain tube pushed back in place.
Now we have no more leak...from "that" source. I wish I could say the same for other areas!
My own error saga...
Before we left on the trip up north, I tested the pump and fittings, and found nothing. But when we got back, and hooked up the water to the outside hookup, we had water on the floor by the next morning! We shut the hose off and bled the pressure at the faucet immediately!
After emptying out the cabinet above the water pump, and removing the access floor, we could see that the compartment was wet.
|The pump compartment with the cabinet floor removed.|
|See the bead of water on the lower left corner of the fitting?|
So...I went over all the compression fittings again, and sure enough, they were not as tight as they should have been. We reapplied the water pressure, and everything was fine...or so we thought. We put a fan in the compartment for the rest of the day and dried it out as much as we could, even spraying it with Lysol to deter any mildew growth. No leak was evident at the end of the day.
The next day, we still had a little water at the base of the cabinet, but we thought it was just seepage from trapped areas under the cabinet. The next day, it appeared again!
The ZebraRV check valve saga...
So out came the contents for the third time, and this time, we dried everything thoroughly with paper towels, and then set a dry butter tub lid with a paper towel on it under the check valve next to the pump. You can see it in the photo of the open compartment above. It's the little white tube-type fitting just above the pump. Sure enough, a few seconds later, I watched as a bead of water started to build...in the middle of the check valve at one of the seams in the body of it!
I bought this check valve on Amazon, only because it was the right size for the tubing fittings. I saw a name on it...ZebraRV(dot com). So I looked them up to see if I could get a warranty replacement shipped to me by First Class Mail, and I emailed them. Their web site isn't even finished, after at least five years, as I saw many pages where products should be that still had the "lorem epsilom" verbiage on it as place holders. That didn't impress me, and I'm sure it doesn't impress other potential customers. But that's only my own humble opinion, as they say. That was a Sunday, and first thing Monday morning, they sent me a reply.
At first, they claimed they don't sell on Amazon, and didn't know of any of their dealers that did. So I sent them screen shots of both the Amazon listing as well as my own order details. The picture on Amazon, however, shows a label on the part from J & C Water Systems, while the one I received was with a ZebraRV label on it.
My contact at ZebraRV then said that J & C Water Systems had gone out of business five years ago, and they refused to acknowledge that they had anything to do with the listing, and they still refused to offer a warranty replacement, even though it was obviously THEIR part!
So I researched J & C Water Systems on my own, and web information (listings on Google) told me that it had been "sold" in 2010...but said nothing about going out of business or to whom it was sold. So I called the only number that was shown, and it was answered by someone at Elkhart RV Salvage, the company whose family had sold J & C in 2010!
In fact, I am very familiar with Elkhart RV Salvage, as they have been a regular source for my projects since long before we moved from the Elkhart area! We had actually stopped there again two years ago when we were in the area! I have met the former owner (now deceased) and it appears his son now owns the company. He was the one who used to own J & C Water Systems and sold it off!
They have always been very good to deal with and knowledgeable about the products they sell. When I questioned about the details of the sale, I was handed off to another lady (obviously much more knowledgeable), and was told that it was ZebraRV who had bought J & C, along with all the molds, tooling and rights to the name and products! Obviously they have nothing to do with what ZebraRV does these days and I'm sure, had they still owned the company that made the part, they would have had no problem with replacing it. They have always been very forthcoming and honest...as all businesses should be!
When I confronted ZebraRV with the facts, I told them that they were obviously hiding facts from me, and that if they didn't know the history of their own company, they should have someone higher up (that DID know), get back to me! I'm not used to dealing with people who don't know the facts (or try to hide them) and can't make decisions!
The same person replied, arguing that if I bought a Ford, that I wouldn't take it back to Dearborn to get warranty service...I would go to a dealer! What a cop-out! We aren't talking about multi-thousand-dollar automobiles here! We're talking about a small part that costs less than $20 retail, that could be grabbed from a warehouse or from an assembly line and thrown into a First Class padded envelope...just for the goodwill such an action would bring!
I have dealt with MANY other reputable companies who would be happy to replace a defective part, just to retain a good reputation...regardless of who sold it! And as far as Ford, I know that if there is a warranty issue that can't be solved by a dealer, they have factory reps who will step in and make a decision to replace a defective car with a brand new one if necessary! Other companies (often much smaller) will gladly replace a defective part, without question!
And besides, how can I take it back to the "dealer" when ZebraRV has already told me that J & C Water Systems doesn't exist (even though they know darned good and well that they bought it themselves), and yet someone, ("the dealer"), who is selling this part on Amazon, replaced the J & C part with one with ZebraRV's name on it? How did they get it, if they aren't a dealer? No one in their right mind is going to buy parts at retail cost to turn around and sell them on Amazon at a discounted price!
Amazon isn't the "dealer"! They are only listing the part FOR a dealer, that supposedly doesn't exist (according to ZebraRV)! They aren't any different than eBay in that regard! Someone may have sent a shipment of parts to sell through FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon) but Amazon is still not the dealer for those parts! So who is fooling who, here? The only way those parts got on Amazon, is if someone at ZebraRV (authorized to do so or not) is listing them there! Maybe they'd better find out what their employees are up to, since they still won't openly admit that they bought out another company to get these parts!
But the whole point, is that it is obviously ZebraRV's part, and yet they absolutely refuse to warranty their defective part! It would cost them less than the retail value of the part to simply grab one from their warehouse (at their cost, which is probably less than 50% of retail value) and add First Class Mail costs to it! They've wasted more labor time than that in answering my emails and arguing about it! Whether they are legally right in their decision or not, the readers here can make their own determination as to their ethics, but as for me, I will not be buying anything they make...EVER again!
If they want to argue about the honesty of this post, they can take it to a judge and see what he thinks of how they treat their end customers! I have copies of all the correspondence to back up my complaint, plus the part with their name on it!
And rather than argue with Amazon about making it right, the cost of the item isn't worth my time. I went to our local plumbing supply shop, and spent 2-1/2 times more money for a brass-bodied check valve, with replaceable valves in it! (Also American made, by the way.) Sometimes cheap plastic RV parts that are built for the original manufacturers are built so cheap they aren't worth messing with! And now that I know what I'm looking for in regard to check valves, I wouldn't buy an RV that uses that brand!
|The faulty ZebraRV plastic check valve above, and the new Watts brass check valve below.|
So now that the fittings are tightened and the leaking plastic check valve has been replaced, everything has remained dry for that past few days, AND with city water pressure applied the entire time.
What else we have been dealing with...
Now on to other topics...for the past few weeks we have gradually been going through our desks and filing cabinets...something that was long overdue. We don't have a commercial document shredding service anywhere close, so we have to crunch and burn our paperwork. In the photos below, you can see Sharon lighting on fire the last of about eight piles this size. This came from a 55-gallon contractor trash bag that we refilled that many times!
|Sharon setting fire to the last of eight bags of crunched paperwork this size!|
|It made quite a bonfire, although short-lived!|
|The platform for our interior Bivouac Buddy shower enclosure.|
Just to the lower left of the red plug in the photo, you'll notice a barbed fitting sticking up. This is where the clear Polyvinyl hose will be attached that will carry the waste shower water up to the kitchen sink, where we then have a choice as to let it drain outside, or direct it back to the on-board gray water storage tank. I have a fitting that will go on the end of it to weight it down, so water pressure doesn't push it out of the sink or spray water all over when the pump kicks in.
These pumps have their own float switch inside the tub, so they remain off until the water level in the tub gets high enough. Then it will turn on long enough to pump the water back down. During a shower, it will do this several times, as it needs to. All we have to do is set the pump in the pan, put the end of the hose in the sink and plug it in.
We also have a special shower wand with a shut-off on the handle. It will attach to the kitchen faucet in place of the aerator presently in place. The hot water will be supplied by a Zodi brand portable camp shower that will set outside the trailer by the water hookup. The temperature of the water can be regulated both on the Zodi unit and by the introduction of some cold water (if necessary) from the trailer's water tank.
The Zodi unit is also capable of pumping it's own water out of any container (the case for it serves as a sump, also), or it can be attached to a water hose. In our case, we most likely will only use it when boondocking, and in our case, we can pump out of the secondary Hydroller that we keep in the van as a spare. It holds eight gallons...more than enough for two showers. The outgoing side of the Zodi unit will attach to the city water connection on the trailer, and pump straight into the hot water faucet on the sink, already at the right temperature for a shower. It is also a "demand" type unit, so when the water stops, the pump and heater stop. It uses propane only when actually heating the running water, and it runs off the one-pound propane bottles.
If there is no water available nearby, we will take the second Hydroller with us to refill it when we leave camp, so we will always have an extra eight gallons of water with us (in addition to the on-board Hydroller and any bottled drinking water we may use).
And in case you think otherwise, each of the last two (8-gal.) containers of water that we have gone through has lasted us more than 2-1/2 weeks, and we could even do better if we tried!
In the next few posts, and until we get on the road again, I'll be talking and showing our vehicle loading progress, and also giving some reviews of some of the products we have been using recently, including the WeBoost 4G-S cell phone booster we have been forced to use here, the 1000 amp-hour Stanley jump starter that has been extremely useful on more than one occasion, the new induction cooktop, and maybe a few other things. We have (arriving today) a Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane catalytic heater with carrying case, so if we have a chance to use it before we leave here, I'll report on that, too.
As soon as we can get on the road again, we'll get away from the building and product reviews and get back to more travel stories. Thanks for reading, and as always, relevant comments are welcome.