Plumbing / by Ray Phung

Sometimes the best ideas come in the form of a pink post-in note with doodles on it

I was not super stoked on figuring out the plumbing.  If you've ever done a plumbing project, you know it always takes a million trips to the hardware store to get all the right fittings.  So I waited until the end to get it done.  But having running water and a working sink is important, and in all reality, it wasn't super difficult. 

The faucet that came with the sink was pretty simple, but has two handles for hot and cold.  I wanted both to work so there isn't a dummy handle.  I thought this would be convenient because McKinley is left-handed, so having the option for either handle would be nice.  As stated in the Electricity section, I installed a water pump for constant water pressure.  The real tedious part was planning out the route for both the fresh and grey water and getting all the right sizes of fittings. I also measured the sink area of the cabinets based on using the 7-Gallon Reliance Jumbo-Tainer.  These are tall and narrow jugs, and were the biggest capacity jugs i could find at a reasonable price.  

Items Needed:

What I had to work with: Facet inputs, drain pipe, jugs.  

  • Water Reservoir -  7-Gallon Jumbo-Tainer
  • Water Pump (3/8" barb fittings)
  • Custom fittings to pump water into and out of jugs
  • Compression splitter (routes from standard hose to compression hose and splits it for the 3/8" faucet lines)
  • Hose Barbs (to both garden and standard hose, various sizes)
  • Hose tubing.  I used thick walled tubing that cost a little more but are very nice and sturdy
  • PVC to hose adapter (from PVC drain pipe in the sink to hoses to route into jug)
  • Hose clamps and teflon tape

The first order of business was to figure out how to get a hose connected to the jugs.  The jugs come with these large white caps with a removable spigot.  The white cap, with spigot removed, left like an inch diameter threaded hole.  However, I couldn't figure out the right thread size to screw directly onto the threads.  I ended up finding a 3/4" male garden hose to threaded PVC adapter that fit almost perfectly into cap.  I used a female to female threaded coupler on the inside of the cap, with a 0-ring to make the inside water tight.  I also used epoxy putty to seal and secure the fitting into the cap.  Then, for the fresh water, I attached a hose barb and hose to the female thread. This acts as a straw to suck up the fresh water.  

Female  coupler inside cap.  You can see the o-ring between the coupler and cap, sealing the gap.

Cap with garden hose adapter, epoxy puttied into place.  Compression splitter in the foreground, strainer in the back.  

At first, the fresh water line had a strainer, which prevents particulates from getting sucked up into the pump.  However when installed, the pump could not get enough suction to pull the water through the strainer.  I figured we wouldn't have crap in the fresh water so i took the strainer out.  From the freshwater tank, it goes from 3/4" garden hose to 3/8" barb, into the pump, and from the pump into the spitter (via a barb). All these barb connections get a hose clamp.

Compression splitter going into one faucet line.  The other screws on top.  Bottom connection is a hose fitting, which is connected to a 3/8" barb.

For the grey water system, the hardware store sold a 1 1/2" drain reducer to 1", and also had a 1" PVC to hose.  This allowed me to connect a hose to 1/2" barb, and this connected a hose from the drain to the grey water tank.  

Lastly, I used framing stud braces and installed a piece of leftover 2x4" cedar to act as a barrier to prevent the jugs from moving when in transit.  After that, plumbing was complete! It required some creative problem solving to custom fit something to the jug's caps, but after that it wasn't so bad.  On our test trip to Bishop, we had some minor water leakage that was able to be fixed.

Everything installed! Fresh on the left, grey on the right.  Splitter and pump are attached to the right side of the cabinets, with some galvanized pipe brackets holding tubing into place.  

Pump with hoses installed

Lessons Learned:

  • When traveling, plug up the air holes in the jug.  Dirt roads cause water to splash out of them
  • There are many different types of pipe fittings:
    • PVC - plumbing fittings that first come to mind when you think of plumbing
    • Hose Fittings - threaded fittings, seals by using teflon tape and screwing on tight
    • Garden Hose Fittings - for garden hoses
    • Compression Fittings - have an interior rubber grommet, seals by tightening
    • Flared - used for gas i think? 
  • Don't try to connect one type of fitting into another without the appropriate adapter
  • For hose connections, use teflon tape and screw on TIGHT with wrenches.  Same with compression fittings.  I did not cinch mine down tight enough and the pressure from the pump made them leak. 
  • Always use hose clamps with barb connectors.  Otherwise they will leak
  • Put a rubber waterproof tray underneath your water jugs, or try to water proof your water compartment. Condensation and possible leaks can ruin your wood working (I had a little damage from the first trip).  
  • Your local hardware store should sell tubing in bulk.  You can save some money this way and get exactly what you need with little waste.