Boats that have self contained fresh water systems have watertight access ports, why not RoadAbode? I found a few RVers (who were also boat owners) that had added their own ports, so I did some reading on boating forums and planned how to do this project.
Below are the parts I purchased on Amazon, had at RoadAbode, or purchased at our local Big Box Hardware Store:
- SeaDog Screw-Out Deck Plate - 6"
- "Sharpie" - Indelible marker
- 6 - #6 x 1/2" Stainless Steel Screws
- Phillips head screwdriver (I used my pocket multi-tool, like always)
- Loctite Silicone Waterproof sealant - Aquarium safe
- Retractable Utility Knife
- Hand towel or rag
First I had to access the fresh water tank. RoadAbode's is under our queen bed in the back, so even though the under storage is hinged with hydraulic lift arms to hold it up, it was easier to get the mattress and bedding out of the way. I just pulled the whole mess forward to the living area and leaned it against the refrigerator.
|Bed without mattress. Plywood not finished in any way!|
Once the tank was accessible, I wiped it down with a clean hand towel to remove the residual dust that was sitting on top of the tank. I opened the access port, and using the outside mounting ring as my template, I drew on the tank with the marker. I drew around the inside diameter, knowing I would need to cut a little larger to fit the mounting ring into the hole I was going to make.
|Tank marked, now comes the scary part - cutting!|
First, and most important, the top of the tank sloped inward to the center. When I was testing various places to put the port, it would not lay flat in the center. The best place where it laid "flush" on top of the tank was closer to the front.
Second, to access the port while camping, it would be easier near the opening of the bed. If one person holds the mattress up, the other can even work there - to visually inspect the tank, or just to add some bleach, or a few gallons of water.
Cutting the hole was about as difficult as I expected, maybe easier in some respects.
The blade of my utility knife was brand new, and sliced into the plastic easily. The tank material is not as heavy as I expected. I cut approximately 1/8" outside the marker line, knowing I would have to trim a little more for a nice, snug fit. First I worked around the making slits around the mark. I just pushed the knife in for each slit, and extracted. I did not want to twist the knife, which could crack or break off the thin blade point. Then I worked to connect together the slits made using a sawing, or "old-fashioned can-opener" motion. The hardest part was thinking about "I'm cutting a hole in a perfectly good tank. Hope this is not stupid!"
|Here we go!|
|Half way done|
|20 minutes later, a hole appears!|
|They are hard to see, had to darken in the photo - "sand ripples"|
|Hole trimmings - eww - look like toenail clippings - dime for scale.|
|Test Fit - Now to apply the sealant|
After that first pass, I did do again after the screws were all fastened down. I tightened the screws evenly across from each other, so the port seated nicely, and some sealant was seen coming out of the outer top edge of the ring.
The sealant needs to cure for 45 minutes, so I left the port open allowed that to set while I sat with a drink and some reading. I did check the fit of the port and felt the underside of the hole for any more sealant pushing through. (no problems)
The hardest part of the cleanup was remaking the bed! There was sealant left, but from my previous projects, I knew the tube would harden before I got to use the little bit left. Throwing it away is still cheaper than having someone else do it! I had a few stainless screws left, and used them to hold down a piece of loose moulding in RoadAbode's rear bedroom.
|New Fresh Water Tank Access Port In Place!|
Only thing I would have changed was using #8 size screws - the #6 Screws were small, but seem to hold fine. 1/2" length seemed about right. Time I guess will tell.
Thanks for reading, hope this description of the install is helpful if you are planning to do the same job. Happy and Safe Travels, see you down the road!