Desert Living – Barrels

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When you live in the desert you may live like we do, completely disconnected from any pipes or wires. Just setting out in the bush. We have our solar, so power is not a problem unless we want to bake a turkey in the convection oven, or it clouds over during the day. For that, we have a diesel generator. It is a matter of pride and etiquette to not turn the generator on. however, this generator contention between the spouse and the neighbors can cause extra heat from time to time. Nothing compares to the panicked notification one receives from time to time from a family member declaring the waste tanks are full! Or the dissension that occurs when someone is in the shower and you hear the pump go into overdrive, and the water stops flowing. If it is your turn to get water, it is your fault, and your home reputation points sink to that of a Taliban leader. No one wants to be in this position and to get out this position, wastewater must leave and the fresh water must return. This means lots of water is carried to various places. We looked into the Something called a Blue Buddy, but it was expensive and we feared the wheels might come off. We looked into placing the Blue Buddy on a hand truck, but those tip over from time to time and the integrity of the waste tank would be at risk. Being about ten miles out of Quartzsite Arizona, our options for purchasing anything are near zero. We drive a 2010 Honda CRV with no tow package so towing anything is not going to happen for a while.

We saw others hauling water and wastewater barrels in their trucks and on trailers. We saw a few barrels and blue buddies on handcarts behind cars, but after about a month we no longer saw this method in use.There are few Blue Buddies around being towed conventionally. Those still able to survive out here seem to use barrels on trailers, or trucks that are much taller than the rocks on the roads.

We found a 55-gallon waste barrel at Lifestyles RV in Quartzsite, Arizona with a gate valve that we use for draining sewage, a white barrel for fresh water, and a flow jet pump. We got it all used, from an employee for $175. Normally the waste barrel would set one back $65, the fresh barrel $20 scrounging craigslist, the pump $220 if shopping really hard, the fresh pump he included was worth about $60. The deal for $175 was a no-brainer. So, now we looked like everyone else out here, so we thought we were good to go, and we were until…  Athena was on a call, water was out, and I was sure I could handle it!

Dory the fish said, “Fill my trailer with water!”  I was fresh out of the water, but I did have sewage! Now if only it had been Dory’s car! The following video illustrates the problem and provides a near bulletproof solution.

You might be a Redneck if you have the same problems as me… Just saying…


We will use Amazon for our parts list for a few reasons, (1) if you go and buy something from Amazon after opening one of the parts ads, we might get a little money back from Amazon which we will use to finance this site. (2) The ads have pictures that way you know what you are looking for. (3) This listing method is easy for me. Don’t like ad’s, I don’t blame you, but you will just get a bunch of blanks here. I figured this out without a blog to spoon feed it to me, but the ads would have been worth it to me when I was building this, I would have made fewer mistakes. Now for the disclosure, I am not a brainiac and do make mistakes, I am, however, smart enough not to take responsibility for outcomes that you have while building your barrels. Shoot, I could have forgotten something critical. OK, let start building:

Build your barrel

Get a blue 55 Gallon barrel with a gate valve preinstalled. (You can build it yourself if you like.)

The bungs have rubber gaskets, which deteriorate in sun and air. Buy your bungs new. Also, make sure your barrel has course threads.

Verify the barrel has course threaded hole(s) on top. If you do not have lids for the holes you need these:

Do not screw the bungs into the barrel! We have to modify them first!


We are building the fill nozzle

Cut the center out of the bung, then screw the riser below into the bung until the set of threads is no longer visible. Be sure and use pipe tape to discourage leaks.

Now that the riser is in the bung screw on the 3/4″ ball valve below, again using thread tape.

Now add a hose adapter to the outside threads of the ball valve:

Add a garden hose gender changer to use a standard hose on your barrel:

Now build the air vent

Drill a 1/2″ hole, push and twist this adapter into the hole. Then remove and do this again with thread tape. Make sure the barb points down.

Place these clamps over the clear tube and the barb. Tighten down hard.

use this clear tubing

Now put the barbed end of this adapter into the tubing and clamp it down.

Screw a ball valve on the adapter you just installed. This will prevent leaks during transport:

Add a bucket and the vent/overflow tube is complete

add a fill gauge by using 2 right angle adapters and a piece of tubing. Place the right angle barb adapters any distance apart in a place you can drill properly then link the adapters with clear tubing. Be sure and use clamps, and be sure the tubing runs verticle up or down the barrels.


lastly, you will need a flojet pump and some hose.

You now have an awesome sewage collection system. You can transport your waste without getting it on the carpet.


If you are reading this because you put sewage in your car. I am sorry. We got about a quart in the trunk. Scoop out all you can into a plastic bag. Fill the carpet with baking soda, then vacuum out the soda. It will still be awful. We removed the carpet and hung it up. Sprayed it with soap and water, then let it dry. Then filled it with Lysol disinfectant. We repeated the soda, vacuum, disinfectant routine for a week or more. Eventually, the carpet did recover, and the car is normal again. We did not enjoy this process. For those debating this new barrel process we are using, in our minds, it is a short debate. Now we are hoping to come up with the cash for a 6′ x 4′ trailer and tow package for our car. No matter how good your system is, sewage belongs outside the car.


Have a good evening and a good night…
Jacob and Esau meet…



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