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Filling on board water tank

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Post by BigBertha Wed Apr 17, 2024 7:30 pm

In my Broadway van I have an underslung tank. Since the Whale socket on the side of the van stopped working I’ve been using the filling method that involves connecting the mains pressure hose to the tank drain valve. After filling from empty I am forever getting dry running of the pump and no flow at the taps. Occasionally I’ll get a splutter. Should I have all taps open when filling, only the highest shower tap, or no taps at all? 
PS if anyone has any thoughts on the Whale connector on the side of the van that would also be much appreciated. I have purchased a new hose with integral plug connector block but that also doesn’t work so I’m guessing it’s a problem with the van. Thanks.
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Post by Caraman Wed Apr 17, 2024 8:18 pm

BigBertha wrote:In my Broadway van I have an underslung tank. Since the Whale socket on the side of the van stopped working I’ve been using the filling method that involves connecting the mains pressure hose to the tank drain valve. After filling from empty I am forever getting dry running of the pump and no flow at the taps. Occasionally I’ll get a splutter. Should I have all taps open when filling, only the highest shower tap, or no taps at all? 
PS if anyone has any thoughts on the Whale connector on the side of the van that would also be much appreciated. I have purchased a new hose with integral plug connector block but that also doesn’t work so I’m guessing it’s a problem with the van. Thanks.
The taps do not need to be open when filling the freshwater tank.  However, a HW tap needs to be open when filling the HW tank from the freshwater tank using the Whale submersible pump inside the freshwater tank.  The problem you describe is an airlock inside the Whale submersible pump which is common.  A way to overcome this is to remove the shower rose and suck hard on the shower pipe with its mixer tap in the cold water position and open.  This will draw freshwater into the Whale submersible pump especially if the pump is running at the time.  

It sounds as though there might be an electrical problem with your Whale inlet socket on the side of your van.  You could try and chase this problem down or simply remove the solenoid valve inside the van beneath the Whale inlet socket.  This will allow water to flow into the freshwater tank without the Autofill function being on.  The downside is that the mains water flow will not cut off when the tank is full and the tank will overflow through its breather.  Another cause of the problem could be that the gauze filter that protects the solenoid valve is blocked and needs cleaning.
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Post by BigBertha Wed Apr 17, 2024 9:16 pm

Thanks. The air locking was worse when I filled with all taps open, and better with all taps closed. So maybe that’s my method for the future, and I’ll keep the shower sucking technique in mind. 
With the Whale filler socket, is a faulty solenoid valve a reason for no filling? 
Lastly, I’m just curious but there was a narrow  (5mm ?) plastic tube hanging loose at the back of the socket so I plugged it back in the hole it looked like it had come out of. Any idea what the purpose of that one is?
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Post by Caraman Wed Apr 17, 2024 10:00 pm

BigBertha wrote:Thanks. The air locking was worse when I filled with all taps open, and better with all taps closed. So maybe that’s my method for the future, and I’ll keep the shower sucking technique in mind. 
With the Whale filler socket, is a faulty solenoid valve a reason for no filling? 
Lastly, I’m just curious but there was a narrow  (5mm ?) plastic tube hanging loose at the back of the socket so I plugged it back in the hole it looked like it had come out of. Any idea what the purpose of that one is?
There are two separate operations.  1) Filling the external freshwater tank which does not require its Whale submersible pump to be running or any of the van's internal taps to be open. 2) Filling the internal HW tank and hot and cold water pipes which does require the freshwater tank's submersible pump to be running and the van's internal taps to be open.  Air trapped in the pump will be slower to clear if there is any resistance to flow which there will be if the taps are closed.

The short plastic tube at the back of the Whale inlet socket should be connected to the solenoid valve which should be connected to a longer plastic tube that passes through the floor of the van to the external freshwater tank.  The solenoid valve only opens when power gets to it from the pressure switch in the Whale inlet socket which will only happen when external water pressure is applied to the pressure switch.  However, power will only get to the Whale inlet socket if the Autofill is switched on, its fuse hasn't blown, the float switch in the freshwater tank is closed, its relay switch is OK and there are no bad connections and the solenoid valve is OK.  So quite a lot to go wrong.  This is why I suggested removing the solenoid valve so no power is needed to fill the freshwater tank.  It will also take its gauze filter out of the equation should it be blocked.  This has to be preferable to filling the freshwater tank through its drain pipe/tap.
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Post by Peter Brown Thu Apr 18, 2024 2:34 pm

BigBertha wrote:Thanks. The air locking was worse when I filled with all taps open, and better with all taps closed. So maybe that’s my method for the future, and I’ll keep the shower sucking technique in mind. 
With the Whale filler socket, is a faulty solenoid valve a reason for no filling? 
Lastly, I’m just curious but there was a narrow  (5mm ?) plastic tube hanging loose at the back of the socket so I plugged it back in the hole it looked like it had come out of. Any idea what the purpose of that one is?

The output from the filler socket is 10mm.  Below is a picture of how everything should be connected.

To prime the internal water distribution system after it has been drained down, fill the external fresh water tank to at least 50% to ensure that the pump in the tank is full submerged.  Open one hot water tap and switch the internal pump on.  It will take well over 5 mind to pump the 10 litres of water into the boiler and expel all the air.  When water has been running through that tap for over a minute, turn it off.  Then go through the hot and cold options of that and every other tap in turn to purge them of air.  This works every time with me.

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Post by BigBertha Thu Apr 18, 2024 5:47 pm

Failing miserably here to upload a picture of the back of the Whale inlet socket, but basically the 5mm clear flexible plastic tube is not the water pipe. It has a small 90deg bend on it and fits into a small hole on the Whale back plate just above where it says ‘do not adjust’ - with it hanging loose I shoved it in 😅 The other end goes through the floor and just drips down, so I’m guessing it must be some sort of drain/overflow.
Sounds like taking the motorised valve out is the way to go - thanks for the advice. I’m assuming all the pipe work is mechanical joint push fit kind of stuff that can break/make over again - correct?
Thanks also for the hot and cold filling instructions. As I drain the on board water tank after every trip I always seem to have air locking to some degree, which when you’ve just pitched up after a long drive is the last thing you need.
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Post by BigBertha Thu Apr 18, 2024 5:51 pm

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Post by Peter Brown Thu Apr 18, 2024 5:56 pm

I've been descaling today so drained tanks refilled and primed water system three times with no hicups.

Please do try and post a picture of your installation, its new to me.
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Post by Peter Brown Thu Apr 18, 2024 5:57 pm

I see the picture - thanks. I'll do some research tomorrow.
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Post by Caraman Thu Apr 18, 2024 6:40 pm

I'll be interested to hear what Peter's research reveals.  My setup is the same as Peter's or at least was until I replaced the motorised/solenoid valve with a short section of water pipe.  Your (BigBertha) inlet socket appears to have a breather pipe which ours' doesn't have.
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Post by Neuvobluebird Thu Apr 18, 2024 11:21 pm

Noted this on the Autosleeper website FAQs 

There are two common causes; the tank has run dry or the pump primes but doesn’t produce enough pressure to open the non-return valve in the pressure adjustment unit.
The tank has run dry.  When refilled the pump has an air bubble in its inlet and when turned on the impeller spins in the air pocket; the fix is to dislodge the bubble.  There are a number of ways to try and do this. 
First, double check that there is water in the tank, that the dump valve is closed and at least one cold tap is open, then simply run the pump for five minutes; the water in the tank will keep it cool. 
Second, thump the bottom of the water tank, do this at least five times as close to the edge of the heater pad as possible; this is our most successful technique and we have a piece of timber the size and shape of a cricket bat to do the job with – it deliverers the good solid thump needed.
Third, with the pump running and only the cold shower tap open try sucking on the shower hose.
Fourth, drive over a bit of bumpy ground – campsite tracks are ideal - to create a good slop inside the tank.
The other problem is also associated with this tendency of air to get trapped around the impeller – the pump primes but doesn’t produce enough pressure to open the non-return valve in the pressure adjustment unit.  A good remedy is to disconnect the pipe from the pump and very briefly run the pump – this will clear the air from the impeller.  When the pipe is reconnected and the pump switched back on it will generate enough pressure to open the non-return valve.  Note that you should expect a squirt of water from the pipe, half a cup if you are quick with the off switch, so cover the end with a towel.
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Post by Caraman Fri Apr 19, 2024 7:52 am

Back to the Whale filler socket.  BigBertha - does the outside of your socket look like mine (the photo is on its side):

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If it does, you could try removing the screws on the blue plate to reveal the pressure switch mechanism behind it to check it is functioning properly and clean.  I also found that the pressure switch adjuster screw on the inside needs to be fully unscrewed so it closes at the lowest pressure.  If it is screwed in too far the external mains water pressure my be insufficient to close the switch and therefore open the solenoid/motorised valve.  Of course, if you remove the solenoid/motorised valve it doesn't matter whether the pressure switch is working or not.
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Post by Caraman Fri Apr 19, 2024 8:24 am

BigBertha wrote:Failing ....I’m assuming all the pipe work is mechanical joint push fit kind of stuff that can break/make over again - correct?
Thanks...
Yes - sometimes called John Guest fittings.  YouTubes show how to use them.  They need to be 'break/make over again' so the valve can be removed periodically to clean its gauze filter.
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Post by Peter Brown Fri Apr 19, 2024 2:03 pm

Interesting news hot off the press for me. Whale is now a Navico (Norwegian) Group brand and Navico is owned by the American Brunswick Corporation.

My Whale contact for the last 10 years or so has left the company much to the disappointment of her colleagues.

I've spoken at length to a customer support engineer who, in a nutshell, has no idea what the hole is for or why a tube should be connected to it. I've looked at the Whale installation instructions and their is no mention or picture of such a connection and of the many installations I've viewed over the years I haven't seen (lets call it) a breather tube.

The Whale engineer is going to query his colleagues next week and will get back to me if he finds any info.
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Post by BigBertha Fri Apr 19, 2024 7:00 pm

So here’s a picture of the external part of the socket. No hole! [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
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Post by BigBertha Fri Apr 19, 2024 7:14 pm

Neuvobluebird wrote:Noted this on the Autosleeper website FAQs 

There are two common causes; the tank has run dry or the pump primes but doesn’t produce enough pressure to open the non-return valve in the pressure adjustment unit.
The tank has run dry.  When refilled the pump has an air bubble in its inlet and when turned on the impeller spins in the air pocket; the fix is to dislodge the bubble.  There are a number of ways to try and do this. 
First, double check that there is water in the tank, that the dump valve is closed and at least one cold tap is open, then simply run the pump for five minutes; the water in the tank will keep it cool. 
Second, thump the bottom of the water tank, do this at least five times as close to the edge of the heater pad as possible; this is our most successful technique and we have a piece of timber the size and shape of a cricket bat to do the job with – it deliverers the good solid thump needed.
Third, with the pump running and only the cold shower tap open try sucking on the shower hose.
Fourth, drive over a bit of bumpy ground – campsite tracks are ideal - to create a good slop inside the tank.
The other problem is also associated with this tendency of air to get trapped around the impeller – the pump primes but doesn’t produce enough pressure to open the non-return valve in the pressure adjustment unit.  A good remedy is to disconnect the pipe from the pump and very briefly run the pump – this will clear the air from the impeller.  When the pipe is reconnected and the pump switched back on it will generate enough pressure to open the non-return valve.  Note that you should expect a squirt of water from the pipe, half a cup if you are quick with the off switch, so cover the end with a towel.
It does make me smile that the high quality manufacturer that they are (Autosleepers) can recommend hitting their products with ‘a piece of timber, a bit like a cricket bat’ to make it work 😅💪
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Post by Caraman Fri Apr 19, 2024 7:35 pm

BigBertha wrote:So here’s a picture of the external part of the socket. No hole! [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]
So it's the same as mine and presumably Peter's except that mine has a sliding cover rather than your hinged cover.  My guess is that the internal 5mm clear pipe that we don't have is some sort of vent or breather tube for the freshwater tank whilst its being filled through the Whale filler socket and perhaps emptied by the tank's internal Whale pump but how that works with the Whale socket's pressure switch and Whale solenoid valve is beyond me.  It may well be superfluous as I believe the tank will have its own breather.  Let's hope Peter gets some sort of explanation.  If not, you could contact Whale in Northern Ireland.  I have done this in the past and found them helpful.
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Post by Mike187 Fri Apr 19, 2024 9:14 pm

How strange, ours is the same year as BigBertha’s but doesn’t have that  pipe, can’t see a reason for it either. If it was a breather pipe wouldn’t it let water out when filling the tank?

Mike

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Post by Caraman Sat Apr 20, 2024 7:42 am

Mike187 wrote:How strange, ours is the same year as BigBertha’s but doesn’t have that  pipe, can’t see a reason for it either. If it was a breather pipe wouldn’t it let water out when filling the tank?

Mike
If it was me I would have that blue plate off to see what's going on behind it and I would substitute a short section of hose for the Whale solenoid valve, if only temporarily, to confirm water will flow through the socket.  I would also check that power is getting to the Whale inlet socket on its external brass contacts.  Another theory on the vent tube is that it is connected to a valve in the inlet socket which is open when no water flows but closes as soon as the water flows.  This would help clear an air lock in an external submersible Whale pump in a water barrel.
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Post by Peter Brown Sat Apr 20, 2024 10:27 am

Caraman wrote:
Let's hope Peter gets some sort of explanation.  If not, you could contact Whale in Northern Ireland.  I have done this in the past and found them helpful.

It was the Whale customer support in NI that I was speaking to and who is going to investigate further.

Another thought; 2013 was the time that AS started to install the Whale Autofil system and all of the production models had the slide cover for the filler point rather than the hinged one. At one NEC show - I think Feb 2013, but may have been October 2012 - The first AS van to be fitted with the Whale system was displayed on the Whale stand, it maybe that bigbertha has that van now?
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Post by Peter Brown Tue Apr 23, 2024 9:48 am

Response from Whale

"Hi Peter,

Thanks for the photo. This breather pipe is very much a creative add-on/ modification.

Struggling to see its purpose but definitely not a Whale conception blush

Best regards"

Another thought of mine is that the corner of what looks like a battery box can be seen in bigberthas's picture. If that is the case then the breather tube is likely for the battery.


Last edited by Peter Brown on Tue Apr 23, 2024 12:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Caraman Tue Apr 23, 2024 11:19 am

An odd response from Whale.  Their catalogue shows a couple of water inlet sockets with vent tubes.  One is for an un-vented freshwater tank and the other, which I think is more likely in this case, is a vent tube for an external water pump in a water barrel.  

I got through two external water pumps during my first year (both replaced under warranty or as a goodwill gesture) and I didn’t run either dry.  The problem may have been an obstinate air lock in the pump which prevented it from generating enough consistent water pressure to close the inlet socket’s pressure switch and therefore open the Whale solenoid valve.  The effect was the external pump convulsing as the valve kept opening and closing until the pump finally gave up the ghost.  My solution initially was to cable tie a knitting needle to the pump to ensure it was always at the bottom of the water barrel and unscrew the pressure switch adjuster but then I removed the solenoid valve altogether.  Haven’t had a problem since.  The OP’s vent tube may well cure this problem.
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Post by Peter Brown Tue Apr 23, 2024 12:55 pm

My last post was not what I intended - now edited.
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Post by Caraman Tue Apr 23, 2024 4:51 pm

Peter Brown wrote:....
Another thought of mine is that the corner of what looks like a battery box can be seen in bigberthas's picture.  If that is the case then the breather tube is likely for the battery.
In other words the breather tube has been made in the photo to look as though it's associated with the Whale inlet when it isn't.  That's a possibility and would be easy prove by examining it.  On your photo there appears to be a white screw hole where the OP's breather is.  The OP should check that his battery breather is correctly connected through the floor to the outside.
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Post by Molly3 Sun May 19, 2024 2:40 am

I often have difficulty using the whale pump , swish the pump around in the    water barrel to dislodge air trapped in the pump
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