Water Tank, filler & fill line


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No key for water tank fill

radair Junior Member # 425 posted 11-02-2000 07:54 PM

My '84 Westy came without a key for the water tank fill. Are these unique keys, or would they be keyed alike and just need to find another Westy owner with one?

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 11-03-2000 04:33 AM

Apparently, that depends on the supplier. Many came with a generic plastic key, but I've been told some models came with a regular lock type key.

If the plastic key, they are nothing more elaborate than a tab to turn the mechanism and could be homemade, although were a replaceable part from VW.

If the lock-type key, I'd sure go the duplicate key route first as even if different, they probably only had a few key patterns. But also check a competent lock-smith (if you can find one -- most are parts changers nodays). I've known some that can fabricate a key after they've picked a lock because only one or two tumblers actually do the locking.

You might also check GoWesty to see what they have since they supply new ones.

Drain Cap for Water Reservoir

Dave Junior Member # 686 posted 04-14-2001 09:36 PM

I am missing the drain cap for my water reservoir ('82 Westfalia). Has anyone fashioned one from parts at the hardware store? If so what Size caps have worked, and does it need to be attached to the van to avoid losing it again (ie. does it work free during driving)?

Thanks for any help...

KIRK Junior Member # 819 posted 05-19-2001 02:48 PM

I had the same problem, so I went to the ace hardware in town. In the garden section where the hoses are, look for hose caps or they are spigot caps. Either way they fit. They are yellow and you can't miss them, they fit perfect for the drain and the reservior.

I also bought a fitting that screws on and connects to a hose(for the drain) so I don't have a puddle under the camper . . . goodluck.

[Moderator Note: Another member says he found the OE cap at VW for just a couple bucks.]

Water tank cleaner?

mojorisin, 2/26/00 (2:18 PM)


What is a good safe clecner to clean out the water tank in a 83.5 westy? It looks like it has some rust stains in it also has anyone used any tank water purifiers or whatever they are, hmmm?


It's OK to fill the tank full and add about a 1/2 oz. of bleach. That will clean and disinfect the tank very well and may cut some of the stains. Rinse super thoroughly; see below.

I also will add some plain old baking soda to a tank at the end of every trip, drive a little to slosh it around, and then drain. This removes odors for the storage. Also effective as a refresher before filling after a long idle. I'm not above giving the empty tank a spray with Lysol if to be left closed up for a long period. Both require a good rinse before use.

For washing, any dishwashing liquid is fine. You can go down through the inner cabinet, remove the cap and insert a spray wand. Camper World & others sell a plastic wand with 90 degree spray nozzle for cleaning holding tanks -- just be sure you don't borrow one from an RVer that just rinsed his black-water tank!

I've used a couple of purifiers, but the old camper canteen tablets are as good as any. Dissolve in a little water to put in through the filler. Most are iodine based, so watch your concentration ratio.

You can also use bleach, but the amounts to disinfect for drinking are really tiny -- I'm talking DROPS to the little VW tank. To test if too much chlorine, pour a glass, cover with your palm & shake. If you can smell the chlorine, it's TOO much. You'd have to adjust for concentration of your particular supply, but we're talking 60 drops of standard sanitation grade supply to a teaspoon and a teaspoon to 200 gallons!

Capt. Mike

Water Tank Usage in Freezing Temperatures

Ruth Neslund Member # 100 posted 02-15-2001 12:17 AM

We are going to Big Bear Lake this weekend. The night time temperatures will be in the teens. I am thinking the water in the Westy tanks would freeze and damage the plumbing so I am draining all water before the trip. The westy interior is not insulated enough to keep the tanks thawed, right? Also, I figure there is no point in running the fridge. Please advise. Thanks.

Capt. Mike Moderator Member # 11 posted 02-15-2001 11:10 AM

You didn't give year & model, but there is insulation for the Westy's tanks. Those with a side galley (late Type II's & Vanagons) have a fiberglass blanket in the outer wall and also an insulating pad underneath the floor which has a plywood subfloor.

I'm not saying insulation is good enough for Arctic winters, but it can usually handle dips well below freezing. In practice, use and your occupation keep things well above freezing inside. I've been in snow storms and down into the low teens (°F) many times. My only freeze was the flexible drain line to a portable graywater tank far outside the camper.


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Exterior water tank cap

john Junior Member # 226 posted 08-02-2001 11:34 AM

I did not get the exterior cap with my new 87. I tried one form an earlier camper but it was too small. Went to Home D and Lowes hoping to get a hose fotting with an east on off. VW doesn't have the part. Is it metric ,what size, can I get it at a camper store with an on off, where to order cap???

rgarrettjr Junior Member # 1561 posted 08-02-2001 03:35 PM

Until you find the exact match, can you try a cork or a rubber stopper, a variety of sizes are available at most well stocked hardware stores.

Water Tank?????

Benzel Junior Member # 1604 posted 08-02-2001 08:57 PM

I have a 68 wasty, I've fix the drain. So can someone tell me where oh where my water tank is, or maybe a good book to tell me.

John: I assume you are talking about the drain line since the outside filler is a complex box and lid arrangement that would never be available through a hardware/plumbing chain. Most Westy equipment was US manufactured and supplied to Westfalia, so the chances of it being a US pipe thread size are good. Further up in this post are owners' experiences in both finding one locally and getting one through VW.

Benzel: A requirement of this site is you have the factory shop manual by Bentley (Guideline #2) which shows the water tank in the '68-73 era buses. Sources for original owner manuals (both reproductions and used) are discussed at length in several other posts. Last, per Guideline #7, your dealer can show you the Camper parts fiche with all Camper parts on it.
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Capt. Mike

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TIKIBO Junior Member posted June 11, 2002 03:29 PM

I have an 87 Westy an am going to be going camping for a couple of days at the end of this month.

I was wondering if I could fill my clean water tank with ice most of the way to the top, and then fill with water till full. That way we could enjoy cold water out of the faucet while camping in the heat.

Would I be causing any damage to the pump/tank by doing this? Thanks for the help!

Capt. Mike

In principle, no, but in reality it poses a risk. If you stop the pump as soon as the tank is out of water with just ice left, it shouldn't hurt.

Your risks are two: First the lid of the tank is marginal as to seal. Opening & reopening means you could have leak. These leaks are sneaky because obviously you don't see them when you reinstall the lid. They do their damage when you travel and the sloshing of a full tank lets it seep where it runs down to the plywood subfloor and starts rot under the surface and out of sight.

The 2nd risk is that the pick-up & sender will be down among the ice and that same sloshing will have it taking a pretty good beating. That is an expensive part!

Not worth the risk. Many of us take a 5-gallon water cooler that we keep filled with ice. Coleman makes a square one that packs tighter in the cargo area and is smaller than the traditional round ones. The melt provides continuous clean water and I usually keep half-a-dozen cans of pop or beer in there as well. Ice is usually available even when clean water to fill the tank becomes scarce. This gives us cold drinks for lunch or meals, clean ice water for drinking or cooking, and reduce tank consumption considerably. If you add campground or creek water that you boil for washing dishes and baths, a tank fill will last up to a week. Downside? Fishing for that beer when you set up camp is coooold!!

Capt. Mike


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For those wishing to disinfect a water system in a Westy or any other RV, use a disinfectant that beer and winer makers use.

These disinfectants are oxygen-based rather than chlorine-based. They are made to be used in plastic and are less likely to cause rust or degrade rubber.

There are two brand names that I am aware of: B-Brite and One Step. I use One Step when I make beer because it says you don't need to rinse. I rinse anyway, but I figure if the company (in these cover-your-tush days) says you don't have to rinse, you probably don't.

A tablespoon of either of these cleaners added to one gallon of warm water and left to clean for five minutes is adequate. Then rinse. It leaves no taste. The cost of a small package is $1 or less.

Beer and wine making stores are more prevalent than you might think. I'd wager any city over 50,000 probably has one. Another place to try is food co-ops, becasue frequently they deal with people who make their cheese or cider or whatever, and the natural, non-checmical cleaner would be the one organics would prefer.

Oxygen-based disinfectants are milder than chlorine-based disinfectants, so if you open the tank and smell something really foul, you may want to go with chlorine bleach. But if you just want to make sure that the "fungus among us" is gone, these cleaners are great.

Capt. Mike

Transferred to consolidate same topic.

boatdrinks Junior Member posted November 22, 2002 03:09 PM

Anybody recomend a decent way to clean the water resevoir without damaging the pump inside, finally pulled mine out and it actually had water in it...Some type of sanitizor work well????

Bajatacoma Member posted November 22, 2002 11:07 PM

Is it scuzzy or just need to be cleaned to make you feel better? If it has "stuff" growing in it that is much tougher. I have used a long bottle brush with some success. You can sterilize it using a small amount of bleach or other sanitizer mixed with water and swished around in it. Do not let bleach remain in contact with the pump as it will destroy the rubber seals in it. Be sure to flush the tank well to remove taste.

There is a product made for RVs that you add to the water to keep it "fresh", but I'm no fan of chemicals in my water. Walmart sells it as well as any RV supply place.

When you aren't using the tank, drain it and the pump and leave the fill cap off to allow it to air dry.

Kill your TV!

magowanc Member posted November 23, 2002 02:47 PM

Cleaning Water Tank

A 10% bleach solution is what hospitals use and will kill almost anything. You will definately need to run a couple of tanks of water through after to get rid of the bleach. Leave the access hole on the top of the tank off to let the tank dry after you are done and you should be ok.

I would also run the bleach solution through the faucette to clean out any bugs that may be there as well. Then run the faucette with the straight water to clean it out.

'85 VanagonGL Westy
1.9L Wasserboxer

zookz Junior Member posted November 23, 2002 03:23 PM

Cleaning Water Tank

I agree with all of the above. I think it's a matter of the degree of sediment or slime.

After a trip, I usually add a small amount of baking soda to my water tank and allow it to slosh around in the water for a couple of hours while I run errands. Upon my return, I'll run some of this solution through the pump, faucet, and sink. Next I usually use a small clean cloth to wipe or scrub the pump depending on degree of slime, if any. Then I'll drain and rinse the tank a couple of times to get rid of residue and any sediment left in the bottom of the tank. I leave the screw top off the tank and prop the cabinet lid open to ensure a flow of fresh air and allow the tank to dry.

'87 Westy

Capt. Mike

Those lines are fairly generic and should be US sized since Westfalia used a US supplier. The risk of changing them is that they have hardened with time and the part that fits over the barbed nipple will no longer just slide off, which risks breaking the barbed nipple as they have also hardened with time. If replacing, you may want to consider cutting the hose and be sure to adequately lube the replacement; a cooking spray is fine.

They stain you see is probably a mixture of mold, dirt and mildew. It will clean adequate for use but may not totally remove the stain.

Avoid the harsh acidic or alkaline cleaners common to the bath & tile field. Stick with dishwashing liquids, Lysol and the like. It's OK to use a light de-stainer like 409 if you are following with soap, disinfectant and rinse.

Finally, disinfect with a bleach product like Clorox. Since this can be poisonous in concentration, do a repeat cleaning with dishwashing liquid and rinse following to avoid any pockets. Most of us just use the vehicle's pump to do this. Do NOT use compressed air or high-pressure water as it may rupture a line or seal, or start a fitting leaking.

You can sanitize your water in the tank via the use of the common chemicals available from most camping supply sources. I do so regularly when I'm getting water from questionable sources like garden hose fittings. It is available in tablet or liquid. Tablet can be disolved before for ease in filling the tank.
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New member
Does anyone have a tip/trick for filling the water tank on a '89 Westy? It seems that either the back pressure or the little rubber flap in the fill tube don't allow a quick and easy fill of the tank. I have resorted to using a chopstick pushed partially into the fill hose to hold the flap open and filling from a garden hose VERY slowly.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Capt. Mike

Filling is not particularly easy or neat -- lots of spill. First, check that your tank fill vent is clear -- if it's not, then you won't get a decent fill regardless of method.

I use a rubber shut-off nozzle. Look like a straight brass nozzle except rubber with a ball in it that shuts of water when released. If you bend the nozzle slightly, water will flow and the amount depends of the degree of bend. However, I doubt there's much chance of doing so quickly or without some spill.

The rubber diaphram is usually not the problem -- it's pretty soft so bends easily and serves mostly to keep dust, dirt & bugs out. The design and cross-piece is there for a purpose -- to keep folks from inserting a higher pressure nozzle inside the filler and perhaps doing damage to the lines. The tank is NOT a pressure tank. They want it to be close to 'gravity' feed.


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This may seem really dumb, but I've got to ask. In a 78 Westy, what is the best/easiest way to fill up the water tank. There is a screw-off cap on top of the counter next to sink where you can fill up the tank. There is no city water connection. My first hunch is to fill up a "carboy" container at a campsite and lug it back and pour it into the tank. This sounds messy. Any other ideas? Thanks.

Capt. Mike

I'm surprised when you say "no city water connection" as they were standard on the NA models. Then, it was easiest to just hook-up to the city connection, then use a rubber hose off the sink faucet nozzle into the tank. Pick a hose that tight fits the nozzle, usually a piece of soft vacuum hose. Fill using the faucet to control flow; it's a little slow but no hose or water inside the camper.

If you don't have a city water connection, use a regular garden hose with one of the rubber nozzles that has a built-in shut-off. They are 'always off' until you bend the nozzle slighly, which opens the flow. The have the advantage the amount of bend can be infinately adjusted down to very slow at the end of the fill. The disadvantage is you still have a hose inside the camper and the possiblity of a leak at the junction of the nozzle to the hose end. These nozzle are fairly common in both hardware stores and in auto-parts places for radiator filling.


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I've heard several people talking about blank gunk in their water lines. My clear lines (filler line, breather line, tank to faucet line) are covered with black mold and bacteria colonies that would sometimes break off in little curved sheets shaped like the inside of the tube. Must have been the Mexican water. This clogged one faucet completely. Its high time to replace the lines but I'm not sure I can get them out with removing the whole cabinet assembly. But while I have the fridge out I will try.

If not, I found a really cool little device. Its made for aquarium enthusiasts who need to clean their tubes, and is a small bottle brush on a string that you can pull through the hose. I think that, dish soap, and a little bleach should take care of the gunk.


Capt. Mike

An unfortunate installation procedure glued some of the lines (primaily filler) and thus unless all are clean, the contamination will continue to regenerate. The corrugated fill line is probably the most difficult to get clean.

Using sufficiently harsh cleaners to dissolve contamination could also damage the lines or cause them to harden and eventually fail. No easy solution. Since you can chemically 'sanitize' the water, you might be faced with installing a filter. Whenever I get water from any dubious source, I do put the military style water purification tablets in there -- at least hopefully putting off new contamination and a dependency on the port-a-john.


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Water tank leak: My water tank is leaking when it is more than half full. I have checked the hose seal and sensor areas but they are dry, and looked inside the tank with a flashlight and mirror but cannot see the problem. I just know if I fill the tank more than half way, it starts leaking out the floor boards. How hard is it to get the tank out and is it most likely something that can be repaired if it is a small hole/crack or is replacement more likely? Any tips?

Capt. Mike

Insufficient information (Guideline #3). Go back and edit your post with year & model. If Vanagon, which tank you have -- side sensor or top cap sensor. Removing tanks are described in their respective Bentleys -- 76.8 or 76.10 for Vanagons and R76-32 for Eurovans.


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RE: Leaky tank... I figured out the problem today on my 1986 Westy Vanagon GL. The leak was not coming from the tank (which a 13.2 gallon with side sensors) but higher up in the fill hose/tube-- which one cannot see since it is behind cabinet. I figured this out by removing the fill hose from the tank and putting a rubber cork in the fill hole. Sure enough, it did not leak-- so I knew the leak was in the tube... I wanted to avoid pulling out the tank and am sure glad I figured out the water was not actually coming from the tank. Anyway, the hose had been replaced by a prior owner that looked something like a vaccuum cleaner hose. After removing the hose from the tank, I removed the rest of the hose (it is about 20 inches) from the outside of the van by taking the screws out of the little black box on the side that covers the lock/ hole to fill up. Since I was doing this, I went ahead and replaced the moldy clear tube that also attaches to the lock box. I got both tubes at home depot. I just brought the lock box with me to make the best fit which cost just a couple fo bucks, plus clamps since the old ones looked shot. The clear tubing was 3/8 diameter inside, and also just a couple of bucks.

Replacing both was easy, just took time as I was figuring it out as I went along.

I've thoroughly tested it and there are no more leaks! (nor mold!)

Question: I see several posts about filling the tank. I used an extention from a funnel without the funnel part-- the kind that screws off the funnel. It fits into the fill hole and I just stick the hose into the extention piece. If I'm in a hurry, I just drag the hose into the inside and stick it in the tank. I watch the water level while I have someone else stand by the faucet to turn it off when I say. Is there anything wrong with doing it this way? I find either way quite easy and non-messay.


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I have an on-off switch attached to the end of a hose and often I fill the tank from inside my Westy.
I also replaced moldy water hoses about two months ago. I got the tubing (restaurant grade) and clamps from Home Depot. I was able to get angled connectors for teh water tank from a local marine supply store. I think everything cost less than US$10.

Welcome to the boards.

Capt. Mike

I"m glad it wasn't a tank -- they are expensive and difficult to replace. What you call 'vacuum cleaner' hose may be the original. It is corrugated and mine was green.

I'm always a little surprised with complaints of mold or sour smell. I would presume draining, cleaning and disinfecting the tank to be routine tasks after a camping trip. The tiniest bits of bleach (½ oz. in a gal. of water) is an excellent disinfectant and running a gallon through the fill lines and into the tank should be a great preventative measure. Since the vent line exits just above the filler, you could even use a syringe to run some down the vent tube. Of course rinse thoroughly before next consumptive use.

zook has an excellent idea of using the screw-off end of a funnel, but there are now screw-on ends with short hoses for most sizes of plastic bottles, too. Usually sold as oil or A/T fluid fillers. I've even got one that pumps from such a bottle. (Don't mix use -- oil in the water isn't tasty!) One of those hooked up to a bottle of disinfected water should do the trick. I then fill the tank with water with a box of baking soda dissolved in; let it sit for an overnight and then drain & rinse. Eliminates the musty or 'old water' smell and rinses easily prior to the next camp trip fill with no residual taste. I also leave the top and drain open for several days to dry the tank out.

I will suggest you look at your fill line again. The fill line on a Vanagon had a dust/insect resistant one-way trap over it. It was like a disc with cross-supports and then a floppy membrane. The membrane would flex away while filling, but the design prevented inserting a nozzle down into the fill line. Yours may have been broken out by a previous owner. The filler trap-door is a poor protector from dust & insects -- I find the inconvenience of the trap an acceptible precaution.
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What is the general opinion on removing the water tank? I've never used it, and don't plan to. I have the rear seat out, so am halfway there. I would keep all parts for a future owner.

I'm sure the space could be put to better use than carrying an empty water tank around the country.

what's the opinion?


I have been know on an occasion to fill my water tank with other stuff. ( We drive coast to coast a couple of times a year, and more often then not we are crammed to the gills) You can get a lot of stuff in there if it is the right size. I wouldn't remove it however. In my case there are way too many times I use it.

I suppose the argument could be made that if you stay in campgrounds with potable water available most of the time it would be nice to get the space.