Driving with full fresh water tank?

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RvChristy

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Jun 2, 2019
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Do you all fill your tank at home, or do you try to find somewhere to fill up closer to your destination? I have always filled up at home, but my neighbor is trying to convince me to fill up closer to the campground. I stress about not being able to find somewhere, will it be clean, will there be a huge line. What do you all do?
 
We usually fill up at home, so we have water, and know where it came from, and dont have to go looking.  The difference in weight is negligible.
 
I only carry a third of a tank put in at home just before we leave.

We always stay at RV parks so water is not an issue.  Third of a tank is good for rest stops and overnight if we got stranded somewhere. 

We always have at least two cases of bottled drinking water too.

So a lot of it depends on where you are going.
 
I typically carry between 1/2 to full tank of fresh water depending on the destination and length of the trip.  In the case of my coach I can carry about 86 gallons of fresh water, which will weigh about 720 pounds, my coach has a GVWR of 17,000 pounds, and when loaded for travel it typically weighs in around 16,500 (including 2/3 full tank of fresh water).  I would not consider traveling with no fresh water, at a minimum I would want 30 gallons, in case of unexpected events (getting stuck overnight due to mechanical issues, etc).  So at best we are talking abut a 500 pound difference in total operating weight (or about 3% of the total weight of the coach), which I doubt would effect fuel economy significantly.
 
It depends on where we are going. If we're going to dry camp for several days, I'll make sure the tank is full. For example: we are headed to Gros Ventre the has no hookups other than electric, so I'm making sure we have a full tank for the four days we're there. If staying in parks or campgrounds, it isn't that important.
 
Arch Hoagland said:
I only carry a third of a tank put in at home just before we leave.

We always stay at RV parks so water is not an issue.  Third of a tank is good for rest stops and overnight if we got stranded somewhere. 

We always have at least two cases of bottled drinking water too.

So a lot of it depends on where you are going.

X2, maybe only a 1/4 tank to start.  We always have a case of bottled water, and 1 or 2 gallons of water from home.  We generally don't drink our Trailer water, although we can.  My tank is in front of wheels, so it adds to my tongue weight, and along with firewood etc, gets a bit heavy on my 'not the best' payload on my YuxonXL.
 
Thanks for all the responses. I'm glad that you all agree with me!! I have a 50 gallon tank which equals 417 lbs. I don't think that's rough to make a huge difference. My CCC is over 2700 lbs.
 
RvChristy said:
Thanks for all the responses. I'm glad that you all agree with me!! I have a 50 gallon tank which equals 417 lbs. I don't think that's rough to make a huge difference. My CCC is over 2700 lbs.

Since your sig line indicates you're into dry camping, I'd ignore your neighbor. 
We tend to stay in one place for the summer, travel a while in the spring and fall and then stay one place for the winter.  Everytime we move the coach, it's with a full water tank.  When we travel, we do a lot of dry camping, so we carry our water with us.
 
When we had the travel trailer, we always traveled with a full tank. Due to the position of the tank, the rig actually drove better. With the motorhome, we still travel with a full tank. We like to dry camp too, and knowing the tank is full gives me more options. I prefer the confidence of knowing the water source I use is a quality one.
 
I'm parked for the summer right now, and my tank is about 1/2 full.  Even though it's a National Forest campground, you never know when something is going to come up.  They always warn us to be ready to pull stakes in case of fire, flood, earthquake or alien invasion.  Who'd want to take time out to pump 100 gals of water into the tank?
 
1. If you know you will need a full tank on arrival, fill it before you leave. Why take a chance on something critical when the reward for the risk is small?


2. The effect is full vs empty varies with the trailer, but is mostly small.  Water is heavy (8.4 lbs/gal), but increased trailer weight is usually a just a tiny factor in towing.  It has little effect on fuel economy except when towing uphill. Depending on the tank location, it can effect balance (tongue weight) up or down, but you compensate if needed with your WD hitch adjustment.


3. It's wise to carry at least some water at all times, "just in case". You might get stranded somewhere for hours or overnight, or might need to add water to the radiator.
 
When we go to FL for the winter, I put in about 30 Gallons of water. That's plenty for us to get there. The CG we stay at has excellent water so I usually add more water to the tank just in case and it's happened a few times. The CG has to shut down the water supply for plumbing issues and we still have water.
 
We fill at home 100% of the time.  However, a caveat.  Water tank Mounting brackets for a lot of campers are often inadequate to handle the stresses of towing and not uncommon for water tanks to fall out.

First thing I do on all of my trailers is reinforce and/or add additional support to my water tanks.  Prior to this, I lost a fresh water tank (it was empty and failed pulling out of a boondock camp spot after a week long vacation in the woods) and a second time, I had a blackwater tank fall off that was 1/2 full.  Since I have reinforced and upgraded mounting of water tanks, haven't had a problem towing with all tanks full!
 
Drewd said:
We fill at home 100% of the time.  However, a caveat.  Water tank Mounting brackets for a lot of campers are often inadequate to handle the stresses of towing and not uncommon for water tanks to fall out.

I'd like to see proof that it's not uncommon for tanks to fall out. I've been rv'ing for nearly 35 years and I don't believe ever hearing about a tank falling out but I'm sure it has happened. You don't want to start panicking members like I said unless you have documentation to back that up. Just saying. I think using the words "not uncommon" would frighten people.
 

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