Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Thetford's "Smart Drain" revisited

Back in January we wrote about Thetford's fancy "Smart Drain" holding tank drain hose system. At the time we gave your our initial "feel" for the product, and warned we might come back later after we'd had it a while to give it the real-world test. Warning! Here we are again.

The "Smart Drain" system is built around Thetford's nearly indestructible hose, which lives up to the claims. You can walk on it, drive over it, stretch it, compact it, and leave it lying around, and the thing really does spring back. We've been using ours for several months, and not even the smallest of pinholes has developed. That doesn't mean you'll never face a spill.

To the contrary. Our field testing of the Smart Drain has been done on both a fifth wheel and truck camper, the latter is one of those beasts where the RV drain connector points straight down to the ground, and forces the unfortunate user to basically climb down under the rig for a hookup. Years ago, this writer learned by an unspeakable baptism when you climb under an RV and fiddle with a sewer hose, BAD things can happen. It did to me, thanks to a tricky not-quite-snug bayonet fitting on a sewer hose.

The Thetford system doesn't hook up with a bayonet fitting, but rather, the hose fitting is snugged up against the rig outflow port equipped with a drain valve adapter, which the "SureLock" fitting on the end of the hose couples to, and then with the flip of two plastic lever tabs, providing "reliable, leak proof connections." Ahem. Maybe our SureLock has lost his Dr. Watson, because we've found of late, it's best to lock the tabs down, then quickly open and shut the gray water valve really fast to ensure that the SureLock really is locked, and not leaking. At the last dumping, two or three whacks and trying to ensure a leak proof connection failed. Only after the dirty dumping deed was done, with attendant mess at the station, did we find the station's rise hose was shut down. Really nice for the next bloke in line.

Grumbling under a camper, bumping your head, and trying to figure out why your fitting is leaking isn't the best way to enjoy an RV trip. The rest of the system works as described, but the SureLock locking mechanism may not hold up its end of the bargain. We're looking to see if we can keep that great hose, but go back to bayonet fittings.

Thetford's improved towable waste tanks

Thetford recently improved its portable waste tank, the SmartTote™. This tank features complete emptying, a more rugged handle and sturdier, stronger wheels. It is completely self-contained so no parts or accessories are required to buy or store.

SmartTote also features a self-storing sewer hose that stays connected to the tank to eliminate the need to carry and store another hose. With a cradle pivot, the hose easily extends up to 5' for a quick and clean hook-up. A bayonet cap prevents spills. In addition, the AutoStop™ level gauge/valve stops flow when the tank is full to prevent messy over-filling.

The tank come in 12-, 18-, 27- and 35-gallon capacities. Top-of-the-line LX models have four wheels for easy maneuvering, a handle that makes towing easy and stows flat for storage, and a rinse hose.