MogTug Build – Part 4: Plumbing & Water

The water system on MogTug was designed to maximize the carrying capacity for fresh water and also utilize the empty spaces along the frame and chassis.

Tanks

We have a total of 5 tanks in the system. The box has three skids on the bottom, used by the military to drag or load it on the back of a truck or train for transport. We decided early on to leave the skids and make use of the voids they create. The skids are about 3.75 inches high and the box is 12ft long. We had four stainless steel tanks made to fill the voids, this gave a total of about 80 Gallons of water storage. We split the tanks to allow some to be gray water and some to be fresh water. Two of the tanks are longer than the other two, this was to allow space under the box for plumbing connections and other accessories. 

Frame Tanks

In addition to those tanks, we have an additional tank that sits in the frame rails in a void. This tank was made by the guys at Atlas4x4.

Since the tanks are outside of the cabin, we had to protect them against frost. All of the tanks have a silicone heating pad installed that’s thermostatically controlled. We have switches on the inside to activate them and then they will regulate themselves based on temperature. Technically we could leave them on at all time, but we like switches.

All in we have about 80 Gallons of fresh water and 40 Gallons of gray water storage.

Sterilization & Filtration

We wanted our system to be able to take in water from any source available, be it a stream, river, or water purification centers. To fill the tanks, we use a pump, the shape of our tanks and the placement, ruled out a gravity fed system without it being cumbersome.

We have a water inlet connection at the rear of the truck. It’s terminated with a garden hose fitting in stainless steel, and we have a set of dedicated drinking water hoses. We have a 5 micron filter assembly that we can attach when drawing water into the tanks, that filters the water. 

Once the water is in the tank, the water is then UV sterilized as it exits the tank going to any of the consumption points, whether it be main sink faucet , washing machine, or the bathroom. We have been impressed with our set up from Aquasana. As a company they have been a pleasure to work with as I always have a ton of technical and usage questions, and they were quick to answer and respond. The unit is very well built and has a stainless steel chamber and its robust enough that hundreds of miles of bad roads/ no roads haven’t broken the UV lamp. The unit has a nice led read out that tells you the days remaining on the bulb, as they are rated for 365 days and then should be replaced. The unit is oversized for the average camper as its rated at up to 15 gallons per minute of water flow, and most camper water pumps are rated <5 gallons per minute. There are really only two considerations in incorporating this system in your build. One is the size, it’s about the size a two liter coke bottle in height and a little bigger than a soda can around. The second is the power consumption, to sterilize water, it has to be turned on. The unit is designed for home usage where it would be connected 24/7. In our case we just put it in our energy budget and run the unit when camped and we know we are going to use a lot of water. But when we are traveling and not using water, we keep it turned off. The unit uses 60 WATTS of power. You can read more about it here. They also now offer the ability to get one wired directly for 12v DC!

In addition to UV sterilization of all water points, we also installed a drinking water purified tap. Though the first filter that all the water passes through to reach the tank + the UV sterilizer should render the water safe to drink. We wanted another physical means of ensuring safe water. We have used Seagull water filters in other instances and we have come to trust them.  We use this tap for all drinking water. 

So all water is filtered on intake, uV sterilized at all points, and then the drinking water is filtered again.

Pipes & Tubing

We used PEX tubing extensively for the plumbing and PVC for the drains. We purchased most of everything from Home Depot, and we centralized the water system under the sink. We used a pex manifold from VEGA to simplify the plumbing and take advantage of the all of the benefits of have a central point to service and individual cut off valves for each line.  We highly recommend it. Due to the flexibility of PEX, we were able to run the tubing with a minimal number of joints, and where we had to put a right angle, we tried to place it at an easy to reach inspection point.

For tank drains we used garden hose fittings on the tanks to make it easy to direct the waste water, and we have found this invaluable. We also keep a small piece of wire to clean out any drains that may clog. We are also very careful to limit the food particles that enter the tanks. We use very fine strainers on all drains.

Hot Water

Since we have an engine coolant heater on the chassis, we wanted a hot water option that would allow us to use the heat from the engine or the coolant heater. We found several solutions from isotherm, but the cost was a bit prohibitive for us. We found our perfect solution in an Atwood Marine Electric & Coolant compatible water heater. The unit has a 6 gallon capacity and it can heat water with either 110v or a coolant loop. You can check it out here on amazon. The unit draws up to 100 AMPS of DC via an inverter, so you want to be sure you are thoughtful when on battery power, but the unit stays hot for days and the element doesn’t run constantly when on. We tend to have it on while driving during the day and then shut it off. We initially thought we would plumb it to the engine coolant, but we have had no issues powering with, so it has been moved to a future work list. The unit fit nicely under the sink

In process

IMG_0006

Fixtures

We shopped at standard kitchen and bath stores for our fixtures with the exception of one. In the shower/ bathroom, we wanted a removeable shower head and wand. While the shower is spacious by camper standards at 3 x 3 ft. It is still small and compact, since the toilet is also in the room. We didn’t want something sticking out of the wall that we would bump into or rip off. Also, if we could relocate the connection from a permanent position, then we could dramatically simplify our plumbing. We found our solution from the guys at Adventure Trailer. Its a quick disconnect shower head, with built in temperature control. It has been reliable and leak proof. You can check that our here. We have a second one to install a outdoor shower, but like the hydronic plumbing, I think that’s on a future worklist.

Just your average camper sink 

  

Hidden Quick Release Shower   

 

Toilet

We knew for this build we wanted to have a toilet on board, but we also ruled out having a black tank, both for space concerns, and for facility concerns on the road. That left us with the cassette toilet option. We ended up with a Thetford 92360 Curve Potti. Its the latest from Thetford, with power flush and a generous 5 Gallon capacity. You can check it out here. The long and short of it, is that the toilet works, but we haven’t liked it. The actual comfort and useability of the toilet are great. The problem is that we don’t use it frequently enough, The problem if you use it infrequently is that the waste matter breaks down in the toilet and it off-gasses. That gas pressurizies the holding tank, and when you go to use it, you have to both be careful to not open the valve too quickly to avoid getting a face full of poo. Also, you have to deal with a horrible blast of smelly methane rich gas. It’s really bad. One option is to try and create some type of vent to the outside and connect that to the holding tank and hope you don’t get any spillage or leaking of contents. The other option is to just get in the habit of periodically venting the toilet even when not in use.  This is one item we are looking to change out in our build. When possible, we use facilities at restaurants, gas stations, etc. So we only use our facilities when we HAVE to. This makes us the perfect canidates for a composting toilet, which can go a long time between dumps and use. We will post a new post when we have made a decision. For now we are making due with the thetford and just venting it every other day or so. 

The Thetford…

  

***Update***  We have decided to replace the Thetford with a Nature’s Head Composting toilet, look for a full review in a seperate post!

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