5-minute modification: Replacing 12V Power Outlet with USB Ports

Every once in a while, you have a nagging project that you put off because it’s easy.  This is one of those.  I’d had a problem with the mount for the factory 12V power outlet on the dashboard of the Grey Ghost–the mounting tabs had worn to where it didn’t stay put.  Since there’s a second 12V outlet right next to it, and this one always had a USB charger in it, I decided to make that more permanent and fix the sloppiness at the same time.

The replacement part was this round power port with 2 2.1A USB ports.  It’s just slightly larger than the power port it replaced, and with a locking nut from behind, won’t have the same problem with falling out:

To install it, I used a sanding drum on my Dremel tool to just slightly enlarge the opening, put the power port through and locked it in place. For the wiring, I simply took the two female spade conectors out of the factory plug and fit them over the male spade terminals on the power port–they were conveniently the same size.  So no cutting or splicing, and now there’s one less thing flopping around in the cab.

Garbage Disposal Macerator Update

As I close in on 2 years using this macerator setup, built around a garbage disposal and first outlined back here, I can say I’m still pretty happy with it.  I recently even pulled it out at a dump station, when the RV at the station decided to have lunch, clean house, and walk the dog or something–after waiting a while, I simply dragged my hose up to the sewer connection, and pumped right on by them.

The main reason for this quick update though is that I happened to notice one of the best-rated garbage disposals show up in a list of sales items.  Just for the day, it’s only $41.24 (with Prime delivery too).  With 4.4/5 stars on over 1,000 reviews, it’s pretty popular.

Make the Water Pump Run Less Frequently

More than likely, you’re used to the water pump cycling on as soon as you turn on a faucet.  Even if you just need enough to swallow a pill, or that tablespoon for your cookie mix, you’re worried about waking up the poor soul whose pillow is right above the water pump.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  With the addition of a small accumulator tank, you can run as much as a couple of gallons of water without the pump needing to run.  When it does run, it’ll cycle on and run long enough to rebuild that same volume.  It’ll also go a step further than last time in reducing the amount of noise the pump makes, as it will absorb some of the pulsating inherent with a diaphragm pump.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Accumulator tank.  The 1 or 2-gallon size is probably what you’ll be looking at in most RVs.
  • 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 3/8″ Add-A-Tee fitting
  • 1/2″ FIP x 3/8″ compression flexible hose
  • 3/4″ FIP to 1/2″ MIP adapter and pipe thread sealant

Like last time, once you see the parts list, it’s pretty straightforward.

  1. Turn off the water supply, drain the lines as before.
  2. Install the Add-A-Tee on the water pump outlet, between the hose added last time and the pump.
  3. Connect the new flexible line to the 3/8″ outlet on the tee.
  4. Attach the adapter to the accumulator using pipe thread sealant
  5. Connect the other end of the new flexible line to the accumulator.
  6. Check for leaks, and mount accumulator in place.

Making Your Water Pump Quieter with Flexible Hoses

This is perhaps the simplest of the modifications, and perhaps the best bang for the buck.  This simply involves replacing the rigid pipe connections to your water pump with flexible hoses, so that the pump’s vibrations don’t rattle your pipes as much.

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 hoses with 1/2″ NPT ends.
  • 2 1/2″ NPT hex nipples
  • Pipe clamps to secure rigid pipe
  • Open-ended wrenches to fit the hose ends and nipples.

At this point, it should be pretty self-explanatory, but here goes:

  1. Turn off the pump, and the city water supply.  Close off the freshwater tank, or if there’s no valve, empty it. (If there’s no valve, add one while you have things apart.)  Open a faucet, toilet, and/or low-point drain to minimize spilled water.
  2. Prepare for a little bit of spilled water.  A couple of towels and/or shallow pan should work.
  3. Disconnect female pipe fittings from both sides of pump.  Leave the pump strainer in place.  You shouldn’t need any tools to do this, though a wrench can help.
  4. Install one hex nipple on each of the flexible hoses, using wrenches to make sure you have a snug fit.  The hoses seal with an O-ring, so you don’t need any pipe thread sealant, and don’t need to get carried away tightening.
  5. Hand-tighten one of the flexible hoses onto each side of pump.
  6. Connect the original pipe fittings to the ends of the hoses with the nipples.
  7. Tighten everything up, and with the valve still open from step 1, turn on the pump.  Make sure the tank valve is open and there’s water in the tank.  If there are no leaks at this point, close the faucet/drain valve, and let pressure build while watching for leaks.
  8. If everything checks out, secure the rigid pipe so that it doesn’t contact the pump or rattle against anything around it.

 

Making your Water Pump Work Better

Every time I visit someone else’s RV and hear the water pump kick on right when a faucet opens, the rattling of pipes, and the pulsating trickle of water from the faucet, I can’t help but think about how much better I have it in my rig.  Given that I’ve never seen a few of the things I use in other rigs, I thought I’d explain what they are and how to put them to use in the next few posts.  Here’s the list…

Continue reading Making your Water Pump Work Better