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Old 05-16-2018, 05:44 PM   #1
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Default Black/gray tank drain connection & valve access

Tired of having to lie on the ground on my stomach to reach up under the skirting to connect the tank drain hose and operate the valves, but don't want to change the trailer's appearance by removing a section of skirting.

Thinking perhaps the best means of improving access to the black/gray tank drain connection and valves may be to modify the skirting by reinforcing the ABS skirting material and fabricating a hinged swing-up panel in the area that covers the valves.

Anybody made an access modification they've found works well but doesn't change the trailer's exterior appearance?
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Old 05-17-2018, 12:04 AM   #2
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My drain outlet is below the skirting. It's accessible enough that I just have to squat down to reach it. My skirting material is aluminum too, not plastic.

I certainly think your idea would work, though. You shouldn't need to make the reinforcement TOO strong, because the door would not have much mass. The trick would be how you fabricate something to keep it closed. I think I'd use a piano style hinge at the top.

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Old 05-17-2018, 08:17 AM   #3
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I had the most problem when the top was down when having to use a dump station. I had to raise the top part way to make access easier. While hooking up at a campsite it was not a problem.
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Old 05-17-2018, 04:35 PM   #4
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On the late 23C, the drain is pretty low and recessed several inches back from the skirting, so it's not easy to get to.

Assuming the skirting plastic is abs that reacts with solvent acrylic cement (appears to be, but I haven't tested it yet), the intent is to cut a door vertically down through the rolled under bottom edge, glue a 1/8" reinforcing strip on each side of the cuts, then glue about a 3/4" flange onto the back of the reinforcing strips on the body portion of the skirting material for the hatch to close against.

As suggested, the "hatch" would be hinged to the skirting with a stainless piano hinge, backed up with a strip of stainless material on both sides of the hinge for rigidity and durability. Should be able to get the same or similar key lock and twist latch that are used on the other hatches to lock it closed and fabricate a little prop rod to keep it open when needed - only time it's going to be open is when the drain hose is being connected/disconnected or the tanks drained.
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Old 05-17-2018, 06:13 PM   #5
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The skirting on my HiLo is ABS. When repairing cracks in the skirting or the waste tanks I use fiberglass cloth and ABS cement I get in Lowes plumbing dept. Clean the surface with MEK then a good coat of cement then the fiberglass cloth. Work the cloth into the cement with a wood stir stick then another coat of cement over the cloth. The cement sets up fast so if added strength is needed add another layer of cloth cut a little larger than the first. When repairing cracks drill a 1/8 in hole in the end of the crack.
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Old 05-18-2018, 11:46 AM   #6
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Have done quite a bit of ABS fabrication over the years (photos of the instrument panel for our '66 Nova wagon, in-dash housing for the gauge and control switch for the rear axle air bags on our '02 GMC tow vehicle and console panel and cup holders for the BMW 2002 I owned a few years ago are attached - all were fabricated from black ABS sheet and plumbing fittings).

I use primarily acrylic solvent cement (#4, fast set, clear, water thin) for bonding sheet material and structural shapes together - it's chemically pretty "hot" and works by literally melting the surface layers together. If used properly (and particularly if the surfaces are clamped after gluing and left clamped until the cement cures) the glued joint should be nearly as strong as the surrounding material.

The cement should be available through any plastics supply house (I usually get mine at TAP Plastics); it's most easily applied with a syringe and blunt-end needle that should be available in same place as the cement.

I also save all my small scraps of ABS when doing a fabrication project - they can be put in a small sealed glass jar with lacquer thinner and dissolved into a pudding consistency paste that's great for filling small voids and gaps.
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Old 05-18-2018, 12:17 PM   #7
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Great looking work! I'll have to check to see if there are any YouTube videos on that process.

Thanks
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Old 05-20-2018, 12:31 AM   #8
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It's really pretty easy stuff to work with - ABS is relatively soft, so it can be cut by scoring and bending or with almost any saw from a razor saw to a coping or scroll saw (it can also be heated and bent or formed into fairly complex shapes, but that's a different discussion).

Once the pieces are glued and cured, it can be sanded and polished to pretty much any finish from satin to full shine - I've had good luck with Mother's Mag and Alloy Wheel Polish. If you want a flat or matte finish, just go over the surface with 0000 steel wool and wipe it down with Vinylex.
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