During my last trip (Denver to Victoria, CN, to Monterey Bay, CA, and back to Denver) the Caribou Lite’s water system started having problems.  Specifically the water pump would not pump even with significant water in the holding tank.  This issue happened once before when I traveled to Florida in February ’15.

What seems to happen is air is leaking into the system and a ‘vapor lock’ occurs at the water pump.  Another cause could be I’m getting ‘gassy’ water that is releasing bubbles that collect around the pump.

During this past trip (July ’15) the ‘no water’ issue happened three times: once in California, then in Nevada and the third in Utah.  The first time the pump had worked fine in the morning.  Second case I hadn’t used the water system for five days.  The third happened after traveling for ten hours … and like the first time worked in the morning, drove to the next place, and wouldn’t work that evening.  In all three cases I had gone through some significant altitude changes such as Siskiyou Summit on I-5 and the many passes on Hwy 50 in Nevada and Utah.  Is the altitude change causing the air in the water to create bubbles?

When I arrived in Denver I checked the pump and it wasn’t moving water.  This is after crossing through the Rocky Mountains on Interstate 70 that includes crossing Vail Pass, at 10663 feet, and Eisenhower Tunnel at 11158.  Where I live the altitude is about 5,800′.  I didn’t fix the problem this time as I was done traveling … I just dumped all the water remaining in the holding tank.

The pump isn’t difficult to access as it is located under the dinette.  To access the pump I remove the table & post, remove two wood screws and lift off the ‘floor’.  To get the water to flow I flex and wiggle the hose that leads from the water tank to the pump.  After about a minute, or so, of me flexing the hose (I can see the bubble(s) moving) the pump will suddenly ‘suck’ and the water will flow.  The pump’s owner’s manual states the unit can run for up to two minutes ‘dry’ with no damage … I hope this is true.

The water pump installation under the dinette 'floor'.

The water pump installation under the dinette ‘floor’.

I believe the pump is of better quality than most items found on a camper (I build boats for a living so I find camper building standards to be very low).  The pump is a SHURflo 105-013 that is used both in boats & RVs and my Internet searches speak well of the SHURflo line.


– Dave

4 thoughts on “Waterworks

  1. Dave, I had similar problems 10 years ago when I had a popup tent trailer. The hand pump never seemed to work, so I bought an electric pump. Don’t remember the model but the diameter of the pump was probably a good 3-4″. The electric pump did not solve the issue. I suspected a kink in the water line, as well as vapor lock. I finally gave up and started using those 2 1/2 gallon store bought rectangular bottles with the handle on top little spigot on the bottom, elevating the bottle so as to just rely on gravity to draw water.

    I feel your pain.



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