Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holding Tank Level Monitor

 I wrote previously about Gobius Tank Level monitoring. You can review that blog here.
On my forward holding tank, there is no way to easily place an inspection hatch for level monitoring (as per my previous blog). That is because to get at the tank, I have to remove a heavy mattress and covering board to see the tank. We also use the forward berth a lot, to store our extra equipment and sometimes supplies. So it can be a real hassle getting to the forward tank.
We use to empty the forward tank whenever we emptied the aft tank; but that was a
waste of tank treatment if the tank was say only 1/4 full.
So for me the solution lay with this new tank monitor device. You can see in the three photo's, the installation of the three main components of the device. The level indicator was placed just over the head electrical switch. The "computer" was placed on the side of a locker, next to the holding tank and the sender unit on the side of the tank as indicated in their web site tank calculator. Everything was easy except the sender unit. I followed their direction to the letter, but it would not stick. Sanded level, made sure tank surface was above 20 degrees C, and wiped surface prior with their special towel. Didn't stick! They supplied a spare sticky patch with the kit, so I tried the spare. Still no stick! So I wrote to their support email and two days later got a reply. The insinuation was that I had not followed with their directions
but they would post a new sticky patch out to me. Well, that wasn't going to help much, being on a boat, "cruising the world". So I took matters into my own hand. This they didn't recommend, but I did it anyway. I sanded the sticky patch that wouldn't stick so that it had a rough surface. Next I applied a very thin layer of 3M 4200 and applied the sender unit to the tank. I had duct tape ready to tape this unit to the tank until the 4200 set up. Next morning, the sender unit was attached "rock solid" to the tank. I proceeded to change the default settings and calibrate the unit as per their directions. And the unit works great. I may at a later date put a buzzer in the analog circuit which is detailed in their instructions. In the mean time, the 3/4 warning light comes on when the tank is 3/4 full. You can add extra sender units to have a 1/4 and 1/2 level light as well, but I'm very happy with this at the moment.

Friday, April 6, 2012

One Stop Shop

Here's a web site that seems to sell almost anything. They claim over 490,000 products. Great stuff for your boat project and that hard to find piece of hardware. Take a look here

Holding Tank Level Inspection Window

I have a holding tank gauge with sender unit for some years now, but have never enjoyed removing the tank sender unit for a clean from time to time. Even when the unit is especially designed for black water, it would eventually clog up and need to be cleaned. My aft holding tank was easily accessible, so I decided to put a view port in so as to "see" the level of the tank. You can view the old sender unit here at WEMAUSA. It is the one on the right.
First, I had to design my window and decided for simplicity sake, to use a beckson hatch with a clear screw lid. These have a "O" rind for sealing. To this I mounted it on a half inch piece of ply cut to shape and given 3-4 coats of clear epoxy. Screws were mounted so as not to protrude through the other side. I also didn't want screws to go through into the holding tank and the mounting wooden plate adds some stiffness to the tank. Why wood instead of GRP? I like the idea of being able to reverse anything I do and the wooden base plate would (no pun intended) be easier to cut off.
After removing the sender unit, which was now showing signs of corrosion, I had to remove the screw in adaptor. This had a "C" shaped backing plate, so I lassoed it with a cable tie before undoing the last screw which held it there. I was then able to remove the backing plate with some ease.

I marked out the location of the new base plate, takeing out the old hole. But it was somewhat off centre, so to help with the hole saw, I screwed on a scape piece of wood and held it in place with screws through the piece of GRP that was going to be discarded.

To the right you can see how easy it is to drill a new hole where an old hole already exists.

Next, I sanded the paint off with a Rolok sanding disk.

The back of the backing plate was also sanded. Then I mixed up some epoxy with a silica type "Glue" additive to give a peanut butter viscosity. This was applied to the tank and then the backing plate pressed into the mix. Some squeezed out to the inside and I was able to get this before it fell into the tank. (wearing rubber gloves). The out side was smooth filleted with just a finger and left to harden overnight.

Finally the beckson hatch was bedded with 3M 4200 to the base plate.
And the finished inspection/view hatch to the left. It helps to shine a small flashlight up to one side of the clear hatch to get a better view of the level. Plus, now if I want to, I can put a hose in the tank to give it a wash out from time to time.