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Question Of The Week

20 Dump Station Horror Stories

Get ready for some of the most outrageous truck camper stories ever to grace the fine electrons of Truck Camper Magazine.  Move over Dracula.  Forget about it Frankenstein.  We’re talking dump station disasters in 3D.  Thank you to everyone who was brave enough to share their dump station stories.  We gagged a little, and laughed a lot.  Happy Halloween everybody!

“Gordon, our truck camper uses a Thetford cassette toilet so we don’t have the dreaded black water tank and hose.  But we do have to dump the cassette.  Once we discovered the anti-glug valve all has been well.  We had a couple of minor cleanups as we were learning the technique.  I still try to do the dump at times when others are not watching, for obvious reasons. 

One concerning black tank experience was yesterday, and it was someone else’s problem.  We were following a travel trailer on a four lane highway.  My son was driving and I was in the back seat.  I noticed he washed the windshield twice, and that got my attention.  The trailer in front of us was emitting something from the left rear corner.  We immediately passed and, sure enough, the cover was off their sewer drain. 

Nice seeing you both at Overland Expo!” – Bob Regain, 1988 Unimog U-1300, 1970 Alaskan Camper

Editor: Good thing you weren’t in a convertible Bob!

“We just bought our first camper, so we haven’t made any special dump station memories, yet.  The funniest dump station scene ever must be in the movie RV with Robin Williams and Jeff Daniels.  If one of your readers can even come close, I’ll be amazed.

As for the scariest movie I’ve seen, that would be Event Horizon.” – Doug C. Fraser, 2015 GMC Sierra, 2014 Arctic Fox 1140

“When you are a workamper, and your lot is within view of the dump station, you have lots to tell!” – Mike Gormley, 2004 Ram 3500, 2013 Lance 1050S

“We were on our way home from our first cross-country trip in our relatively new camper.  We were in Wyoming in mid-October and got caught in a snow storm and the temperature plummeted to below twenty degrees.  We stopped at a truck stop to dump the tanks the morning after the snow.

I hooked up the hose (or thought I had), but when I released the valve for the black tank, all the nastiness came gushing
out spraying my shoes and legs.  Then the effluent ran about half-way down the gutter and then froze.  I tried washing the stuff away, but everything just froze into a gross stream of ice.

I had no choice but to explain what happened and then tucked my tail between my legs and vowed to never let that happen again.

The scariest movie I’ve ever seen is Alien.” – Larry Routt, 2005 Ford F-350, 2004 Lance 820

“I am a newbie.  I have only had a truck camper since this April.  I only have a grey water tank plus a porti-potty.

For the first trip, I stayed the third night in a northern city campground, and planned to visit an elderly relative the next day.  The manager was extremely helpful, kind, and funny.

The next morning my sink didn’t drain properly so I realized the grey tank must be full.  I dressed up for the visit, packed everything, and headed to the dump station.  The dump was beside the washroom/laundry complex.  The owner plus three roofers were on the roof of the building.  Yes, I felt stage fright.  I do hate witnesses when I am inexperienced.

Due to the location of the dump, and the roofing materials on the ground, and mostly due to my not-yet-developed truck backing-up skills, I could not get as close nor as lined up as I would have wished.  I might have tried backing up again but looked up and all four men had stopped work and were standing on the ledge of the roof peering down on me like vultures in a tree.

Stage fright slowed my brain to the equivalent IQ of a mushroom as I attached the hose and stretched it to tightly over to the hole.  Located below the duct, the valve lever was quite hard to open.  I pulled the lever and, with an explosion, the hose blew off.  All of the grey water hit me in the lap zone and poured onto the ground.

Apparently I began to moan, “Oh! Oh! OHHHH!” and tried to push the lever back in.  The manager quickly descended the ladder cursing and fell.  Then he rushed over to me and turned off the lever.  It was too late and entire grey tank was empty.  He comforted me by saying it was only grey water and he had seen worse. 

I was demoralized and standing there soaking wet, knowing I had no other dressy clothes to wear and knowing I would have to re-lift the pop-up to get clean clothes. 

I still had an audience of three roofers peering on me. Suddenly one of them sniffed the air and said, “You had pineapple!  I love pineapple!” 

I started to laugh and, thank goodness, so did the manager and the three roofers lent more hilarity by bouncing up and down and imitating me with loud ‘Oh! OHHHs” which of course attracted all sorts of other campers to stare at me reeking and wet. 

For the record, I did not consume nor use any pineapple!” – Michele McLeod, Ford 150 HD, 2002 Northstar TC800

“We were in the first few days of our 5,500 hundred mile 47 day journey this past summer.  We had visited a friend in central Illinois and, since we were in the rural corn belt, we did not have a clue where we could dump our holding tanks.

We have a search engine (RVDUMPS) that shows us some dump stations and it gave us the coordinates of one in Cambridge, Illinois operated by the City of Cambridge.  We found it on a back street exactly where our GPS said it would be located.

Being so experienced, I had let my guard down and failed to do something very basic to all experienced campers.  I had left the black gate valve open!  I casually took the drain cap off and all heck broke loose.  I’m in my mid-seventies and I did not know I could still dance, but I danced like Fred Astaire.

Thankfully, I got none on me and there was a high pressure hose available to wash it all down the drain.  No one was around to see the disaster so we have only told you all about this.  Please keep it secret just between you and me.

The scariest movie I’ve seen is The Thing.” – Mike Chiles, 1999 Dodge 2500 Diesel, 2013 Lance 1050S

“Actually, it was a friend of ours who was rather a newbie at the time.  We camped for the weekend.  When we pulled out, he went first towing his forty-five gallon black water tote tank behind his truck.  He pulled into the dump station a little too far, assessed the situation, got back in the truck to back up a little.

Needless to say, a plastic tote with four plastic wheels does not back up well.  The tote jack knifed, and the back tire drove over the tote spewing three days of waste everywhere.  Yes, there was even toilet paper hanging off the exhaust pipe.  It wasn’t pretty!  And, of coarse, there was a witness.

A nearby camper was having her early morning cup of coffee on the picnic table outside of her camper.  After watching the whole episode unfold her only comment was, “That didn’t go as planned, did it?”.  My friend just replied ,”Not really!” and proceeded with clean up and loading up his now smaller tote tank.” – Lawrence Ginnow, 2007 Chevy 3500, 2014 Palomino M-2910

“Well, as you know from the mod contest, we just started a business renting truck campers.  The second ever renters we had, and therefore the second ever go-round to show all the various camper functions, involved Asher saying, “And then you just take this cap off here,” bringing forth a torrent of waste.

He jumped about a foot in the air and, get this, managed to replace the cap mid-flow despite the valve having been left completely open by the previous renters.  Suffice to say Asher now does this bit by saying, “this is the cap that you will remove” instead of taking it off with a flourish.

The scariest movie I’ve seen is Pet Cemetery.  Indian burial grounds… no, no, no.” – Heidi Nicholl, 2013 Chevy Silverado, 2010 Adventurer

“Since I have a Northstar Laredo with a cassette toilet, I have never used a dump station.  Cassettes are the way to go (pun intended).

The scariest movie I’ve seen is The Pawnbroker.” – Stan Johnson, 2009 GMC, 2012 Northstar Laredo

“The timing of this question couldn’t be more appropriate for me because I just purchased my first truck camper a couple of weeks ago and was putting off the inevitable task of going to the dump station.  I was scared and afraid of a potential poop pile spread out under the truck with others waiting in line, laughing, pointing, and saying, ”That girl that doesn’t know what she is doing”.

I am happy to report that my first trip to the dump station was a complete success and there was no one in line to put any pressure on me.  I’m a happy (clean) camper!

The scariest movie I’ve seen is Carrie.” – Wanda Myers, 1999 Dodge Ram 2500, 2003 Hallmark Cuchara

“I purchased my first truck camper when I was twenty and was still ignorant.  We had acreage so I thought I’d save some time and just dump in our woods.  I was so proud of my cleverness until I parked the truck up by the house and caught the downwind breeze.  The smell lingered for weeks wafting all around the house.

Ever since I’ve properly disposed of all camper waste.  I even use disposable rubber gloves now.  So far, no major catastrophes like a hose coming loose… Whew-eee!

The scariest movie I’ve seen is Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory at a very young age.” – Skinny Badger, 2005 Chevrolet 3500, 1991 Hideaway

“I needed to winterize my Coachmen camper, and paid five dollars to dump at a local RV dealership.  First the black, then the gray, leaving each valve open until no more flow was detected.  However, the black tank still read two-thirds full.  The station rinse water hose could reach into the camper, and I had paid five dollars for the service, so I filled the black tank through the commode, then re-drained.  Still two-thirds full it indicated.  I then half filled the black tank with water, and drove around for the day.

I went back to the dealer and re-dumped, paying another five dollars.  The tank still read two-thirds full, and now there was someone waiting behind me to use the facility.

So, I took the camper into my backyard, removed the commode, and used a garden hose to spray around inside that tank, dumping the now clean effluent into a nearby garden of ground-covering vines.  Spraying high-velocity water into that tank through a hole in the floor was, well, I was glad that it was a wet bath.

Did you know that the commode pipe extends nearly to the tank floor, so that if you need to spray the sides of the tank, you have to really get down into the hole?  This was an undocumented design feature.

I finally had the empty indication I was looking for.  I put everything back together, winterized the camper, and went out and bought a 2014 Lance 1050S that had a proper black tank rinse hose water hookup.  The Coachmen is going up for sale.

The scariest movie I’ve seen is “A Night To Remember” from 1958.” – Gary Possert, 1998 GMC K3500 Sierra, 1998 Coachmen 115RD

“My scariest story was not my dump.  Another officer and I were going to a firing range down a dirt road on Fort Hood Texas just off a public highway to do an inspection.  The road was improved dirt and, as we came around a sharp curve, there was a very large RV sitting in the road.  A guy was outside and we stopped to ask if everything was okay.  He said it he had just taken a wrong turn and was heading back to the highway.

We drove on, did our short inspection, and headed back.  There is no traffic on the road other than to go to the range, which is rarely used.  We going fast and then reached the curve.  Despite no rain in some time, we skid and spun around in a scary moment.

Finally we stopped and everything was okay.  We did not go into the ditch, so we decided to get out to see what was that we slid through.  Instantly we noted the retching smell.  Yep, it was a complete black/gray dump and our US Army sedan was covered in it.

The scariest movie I’ve seen has got to be the original Alien!” – Don Pryor, 2011 Ford F350, 2009 Arctic Fox 1150

“We don’t have a scary dump station story because our Northstar has a cassette toilet!  However, we will enjoy reading the stories of what others have endured.

The scariest movie I’ve seen is The Exorcist.” – Steven and Jane Abbate, 2014 Northstar 8.5 Arrow

“My story is no different than Gordon and Angela’s, and only happened once, too.  What I find scary is that most all dump stations are sloped away from the inlet, so any spillage will not run into the hole, but away from it.  I guess the folks that build these things never have to use them.  It doesn’t seem like rocket surgery that sewage, like all fluids, runs down hill.” – Tom Watson, 1999 Ford E350, 1999 Four Winds 5000

“I had been camping for four days.  On the last day, with full black and grey tanks, I went to the dump station in an unarmed park in British Columbia, Canada.

I positioned the dump valve almost directly over the hole, and hooked up the hose securely.  Just about then a truck and trailer unit pulled up to dump after me.  I checked to make sure the hose was securely on the bayonet and twisted fully, and that the hose was in the hole, with the cover over it, and a rock to help hold it in place.

Then, like normal, I pulled the black tank valve fully open.  Hydraulic pressure from a full tank emptying out all at once is apparently more than this slow draining dump station could handle.  A plume of black stuff rocketed up out of the hole a full two feet and turned into a brown fountain. Needless to say, I was standing right next to the hose, and got both feet covered.  I tried to shut off the valve immediately, but did I mention that hydraulic pressure is a quick thing?
I did get it shut off, put the hose back into the hole, and slowly emptied the rest of the black tank and then the grey tank, while hosing down the area as best as possible.

When this all happened, the couple behind me just grimaced.  The fellow got out of his truck, found rubber boots and full arm-length gloves and patiently waited for me.  It was a scene right out of RV, the movie with Robin Williams.

I threw away the tennis shoes, and took a long hot shower.  Needless to say, I know carefully open the black tank to make sure the dump can handle the flow.

The scariest movie I saw as a kid was The Wizard of Oz and the scary flying monkeys.” – Jervis Swannack, 2005 Dodge Ram 3500, 2012 Northern Lite 10.2CD

“Bill and I have been camping for years, so you would think we know all there is to know about holding tanks.  Well, this past summer we went to a state park in Maine near Acadia.  After a long trip north from Georgia and visiting along the way, our holding tanks were very full when we reached the park.  A visit to the dump station was necessary before we set up.  So, I went to register while Bill drove around to the dump station nearby.

After I registered I walked back to the camper and was shocked to see water all over the ground and Bill frantically spraying the ground around the camper.  Then I realized Bill was soaked from the waist down, and the smell!

Apparently, when we were getting ready for our trip, Bill had rinsed out both holding tanks and had forgotten to close the valves.  The entire contents of both tanks was waiting behind the sewer outlet cover.  Surprise!

We put towels on the truck seat so he could drive to our site, he stripped off, threw his clothes on the picnic table, and headed for the shower.

The next morning it was raining so we left the clothes and shoes on the picnic table and left for our day’s adventure.  Unfortunately we had vehicle problems and couldn’t get back to the park, so I called them and asked them to hold our belongings we had left on the site until we could get back to pick them up.  We got back to the park two days later to get our things.  The park ranger was very nice and retrieved Bill’s clothes, stuffed in a bag in a little storage building away from the office.  I wonder why they put them there!” – Audrey Ruccio, 2008 Ford F-450, 2008 Host Everest

“We’ve never had as great an experience as yours, Gordon!  I’m still trying to get that picture out of my mind.

Several years ago we were sitting in a campsite in Florida when the service crew came to clean out a plugged sewer line in the site across from us.  They snaked and snaked with no success.  They left and returned with a pressure washer with a rubber ball that expands in the line and releases the pressure when it gets high enough.

As we watched, they inserted the ball in the line and started the pressure washer.  There was a bit of a pause and all of a sudden the sewer hose in the adjacent campsite blew out of the pipe and a geyser of sewage blew into the air covering the next door camper in sewage.  When we got done laughing we asked to move to another site down the road a bit.  Thanks for the laugh.” – Dave Miller, 2015 Ford F350, 2003 Bigfoot 10.6E

“Dump station?  What’s that?  The stories are sure to make me happy that I chose a cassette toilet.

The scariest movie I’ve seen is Jaws.” – Steve Standefer, 1996 Dodge 2500, 2009 Outfitter Apex 9.5

“Many years ago the flip phone was the new cool gadget and I had just purchased one the day before we left on on camping trip.  My camper at the time did not have a gray water tank so I was using one of the blue portable tanks.  The area where we were camping did not have a dump station so, on the way home, I stopped at a rest area to dump the blue tank which I carried on the floor inside the camper.  I had my new flip phone clipped on my belt so I could show it off.  I had already drained my black water tank in to the dump station so the cap on the sewer line was open.

I went into the camper to get the blue tank and as I was exiting the camper while carrying the blue tank, my phone caught on the door frame.  It went flying through the air (seemed like slow motion) and flew directly into the open sewer line.  It was a perfect shot that any basketball player would envy.  It didn’t even touch the rim or take a bounce or roll.  It just took a direct line to the open sewer line as if there was some sort of magnetic force.  My wife and I both stood there for a few seconds in shock.  I almost started crying, my brand new flip phone was gone, literally down the sewer.

The scariest movie I’ve seen is Scream.” – Mike Borrego, 2005 Ram 3500, 2008 Host Yellowstone

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