Thursday, January 17, 2008

Plumbing

We are back in action again after a restful two-week California vacation! We didn't wait more than a day to jump right into the next phase of construction on our bus: plumbing. After much debate about what would be easiest and most non-toxic, we decided to go with copper pipes for the freshwater (kitchen sink) system instead of galvanized steel. Since our goal of the moment is to finish the bare minimum basics of our conversion first, we decided to forgo the shower installation for this phase of construction. (Eventually we plan to install a wood fired/solar hot water heater!)

Diagram of our plumbing system (click to see a close up).

First we picked up all the tools and materials that we would need to do the plumbing at our local hardware store, Jerry's: a small propane torch, flux, lead-free solder, a pipe cutter, copper pipe and fittings, two dielectric unions, a check valve, a shut-off valve, teflon thread-seal tape and a few galvanized steel fittings for the 55-gallon drum and pump. To actually learn the technique, we found a couple of copper sweating demonstrations on YouTube that were highly informative. It turned out to be easier and less dangerous than we had expected and we got a water tight seal on our first try! In the end, it also turned out to be way less strenuous than manhandling the galvanized steel fittings with vise-grips and plumbing wrenches, etc.

Sweated copper joins.

Because our system involved such a variety of pieces (copper, steel, brass, threaded, non-threaded, dielectric, etc) that each have their own set of unique needs, the most challenging part of the whole process ended up figuring out which pieces to put together first and in what order so that it was possible to put them together at all. We were working in tight places and everything was all relative to everything else. But once we had thought it out enough, it all just sort of came together. It sure was satisfying to be able to pump water out of our faucet at the end of the day with absolutely no leaks!

Shut-off valve near tank.

Check-valve below water pump.



The other piece of the plumbing involved a pretty massive bushing/bulkhead contraption that will double as a fill hole and a vent for the tank.

Our 55-gallon drum freshwater tank.

Fill hole and vent.

To secure the 55-gallon drum, we screwed down 2x2's on either side to act as a sort of cradle. Then we put four hefty screw/eyelets in and secured two tie-downs across the tank. Eventually we will put in front and back supports as well. We also plan on insulating the tank with that thin foil-bubble wrap insulation to cut down on general condensation and the possibility of freezing.


Up next: propane and woodstove!

1 Comment:

3 moons and the sea said...

yay! glad to see an update ;) your blog will be a great resource when we get our bus.
take care
nina