Outdoor Shower & Supplimental Fresh Water System

Today we’ll talk about a big modification to our camper to make things a bit more tailored to our style of living. Fresh water and sewer capacity are our limiting factors for remaining away from services so changes were necessary!

One of the creature comforts that makes life so much more pleasant is a shower, especially for outdoor adventurers that accumulate a nice dirt patina after a few days! The indoor shower is really cramped and at 5’10” and 6′ it’s really just not comfortable at all. The Lance 815 from the factory also drains the shower water to the already small 7 gallon black water tank (most RV showers drain that to grey water). Even though we’re really conservative with how much water we use in the shower, the stock shower water configuration really limits our black water capacity in terms of number of days before finding a dump station. Plus, the 20-gallon stock fresh water tank is already small for dishes, tooth brushing, and drinking water for three.

To address our fresh water storage issue and cramped, inefficient shower issue, we designed a outdoor auxiliary water storage system with shower!

The flat bed on our truck is 9.5′ long instead of the standard 8′ so we have the extra needed room to put our water system between the camper and the headache rack. The tanks and all related hardware are separate from the camper and stay on the truck bed when the camper is removed so that if the the truck goes into town (or work or the ranger station) without the camper, it can top off with water too.

Water Storage Vessels:

A rectangular poly tank that would fit our available space retails for $300 or more so we set out to find a better option. We used 15(ish) gallon containers are 14.5″ in diameter. These food grade blue barrels can be purchased for $10-$15 just about anywhere. We bought ours at a farm supply store used (they started life as Dr. Pepper syrup containers), using three of them gives us a total of 45 gallons of extra water. Since they were used, we filled them with a dilute bleach solution, then a vinegar solution, and flushed them several times with just water. (This order was copied from several RV manufacturers recommendations for cleaning RV fresh water tanks.)

Water System Assembly:

All three barrels were connected at the bottom with 1″ PVC tubing using Uniseals then they were linked at the top with 3/8″ flexible tubing for venting. Assembling the barrels in this manner means there is just one opening for filling and one outlet for discharge. All of the fittings are 3/4″ hose so if any lines ever wear out or burst, one can be made out of any garden hose found at any store.

The water tanks are attached to a SHURflo pump. This 12 volt unit is the same as the pump in the camper so if that one ever breaks, we have a spare on board! It’s also the pump used in 99% of RVs and can be frozen. Downstream of the pump, water can be dispensed from a spigot for refilling the camper, the dogs bowl, Nalgene bottles, washing the motorcycle, etc.

Outdoor Shower

Our shower is a Camp Chef Triton 5L. It will flow 0.5 to 1.5 gallons a minute and can boost the water up to 100 degrees for a nice hot shower. We use it at 0.5 gallon a minute and it is plenty of water. Although outside can be chilly, we generally stay with the warm weather, plus being clean is totally it. Its propane use is minimal and runs off our spare 5 gallon tank.

In short, our 65 gallon system works great! We don’t always carry the extra weight but can if the trip requires it. Being able to take a shower after a ride or hike is heavenly!

Goosenecks State Park

Leaving Comb Wash behind, we headed for Goosenecks State Park. I’d never visited and was excited to check it out. F was excited to park the trailer to best a picture of a tent near the canyon rim (taken by Bob during a visit to the park recently).

After getting the trailer parked, we settled in to enjoy the view:

I believe this is called The Good Life, yes?

In the morning, I ducked in and out of the trailer trying to take some sunrise pictures amidst the wind. I got some decent ones of the light but my favorite is this shot of Sprocket contemplating the canyon:

Devil’s Canyon

After a few nights at our property, we finally hit the road. Our first night was spent just south of Monticello near Devil’s Canyon. We’re still getting used to the long train of adventure and had to look around for quite awhile to find a place to turn our trailer around! When we finally found a spot, we headed out for a bit of a walk.

Sprocket heads to safer ground while F contemplates how strong his perch is:

After the boys headed back to camp, I wandered out to the Canyon itself. I was sort of disappointed that it was rather late in the day, I would have loved to crawl down there and explore.

On The Road Again

Aaaaand, we’re back!

It’s been a busy couple of weeks around here as we prepared to leave Ridgway and head south for the winter. First we had to figure out what to live in, where we were going, and what we were taking. It turned out that we bought a toy hauler so we could bring a whole lot of gas powered toys. It’s a new experiment for us (after the Sprinter, the Scamp, and our Chevy van).

Whenever you buy a new vehicle there’s always a flurry of activity while trying to get things ready for use. On top of that, there’s the transitioning from apartment living (with a grocery store next door) to living on the road.

Sprocket for one, is totally excited to be traveling again. This is how our dog shows excitement:

As it turns out, we’re pretty used to this style of living. It didn’t take me long to be on the lookout for free coffee, an electrical plug in, and some sunshine:

Handsome is pulling wizard-like feats of giant trailer turnaround on Forest Service roads and throwing sticks for SP in reservoirs:

I’m trying to incorporate running in to the day:

And we’re back to blogging to you from McDonalds:

It’s adventure time!

1977 13′ Scamp: Before

Before we did anything to the Scamp, I took a whole lot of photos of it. The ol’ gal is in mostly original condition so we don’t plan to change too much but it’s always nice to document a beginning to compare with later!

Desert Camping

We met up with Bob of Cheap Green RV Living and some other nomads at their camp near Blythe. It was a lot of fun to see other people’s van-car-tent-RV setups and we’re looking forward to seeing more at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous in a few weeks.

We arrived in the middle of a torrential desert rain but we all made the best of it with some hot tea and when the sun came out we capitalized on it by taking some walks. In the evening, one of our fellow campers even took charge and whipped up a chili hobo stew for dinner.

Talking with our neighbors over tea.
Communal desert dinner
Sprinter in the desert


Van Updates

While I was playing in the Cabinets, Forrest hung out with Ezra in Oregon last week to work on the cabinets. It came back looking like a totally different van!

Not only did they add upper cabinets, they installed a new Fan-tastic vent, carpeted the walls, and built a box for the batteries under the bed to hold our 400 amp hour battery bank. We also have running water now!

New upper cabinets with carpeted walls and ceiling. Fan-Tastic fan installed.
Another interior view
Speakers in the cabinets. Note the passenger side cabinet is smaller for more room over the bed.
Under bed battery box at lower right

There’s a couple storage cubbies under the bed for extra water tanks and tools:

We’ll store an extra water tank in here.
Sprocket models the cabinet accessible via the rear doors.

The bed also can be moved aside so there is a 12′ cargo area for motorcycles, kayaks, building materials, etc. And the top of the big cabinet is a work bench.

Sprocket models the 12′ cargo area.

A very special thanks to Ezra and Thomas for the great work!