How to Make a Shaker Siphon for Adding Fresh Water

BrianZBrianZ Member Posts: 1,194
edited November 2019 in Tips & Tricks
When camping without hookups, it can be a challenge to add water to the [email protected]'s fresh water tank from a large container, like a 6-gal jug weighing close to 50 lbs.
While some have used a drill-powered pump, myself included, questions have been raised about the possible health risks of this method if the water may be consumed.  

Others have successfully relied on various self-priming siphon hoses, by placing the water jug above the level of the water inlet, like on top of the nearby front tub or the rear counter in CS models.  One popular siphon which is easy to use is called a "shaker", "jiggler", "easy", or "self priming" siphon.  This type of siphon uses a ball check valve and is inexpensive to buy, and for any DIY types, I wanted to show you how I built my own..
(This may or may not be cheaper, depending on what supplies you might already have on hand)

This method uses about 6ft of half inch clear vinyl tubing, a barbed hose fitting, a few low cost PVC plumbing parts, a short piece of 3/4" PVC pipe, a small nail or piece of nylon string, and a marble larger than 1/2" diameter..

Left to right above 5 parts:
1:  1/2" barbed to 1/2" threaded 
      (I used stainless, or could use brass if "zero-lead", not "lead-free")
2:  1/2" threaded coupler (if needed)
3:  1/2" threaded to 3/4" slip adapter
4:  1.5 to 2" long piece of 3/4" PVC pipe
5:  1/2" threaded to 3/4" slip adapter
      (same as #3)


The marble is placed as shown, to act as a one-way check valve where water enters.  Its movement inside the tube needs to be limited by placing a small rod through both sides of the tube.  I used a piece of nylon cord, or it could be a small nail, and it needs to be cut flush to fit inside the end cap that prevents it from falling out.  The marble should be able to move inside the tube at least a quarter inch or so, but not block the other end.

I drilled a tiny (1mm) hole for the nylon cord, and counter-sunk with a slightly larger drill bit so that I could melt the end of the nylon inside the hole to form a head that was flush with the surface.

This shows the finished nylon bar inside the pipe which fits snugly inside the fitting with the marble.  When pushed down in the water, the marble rises to let water in, then when pulled up it falls back down to plug the hole.  Rapidly shaking the device up & down causes water to rise inside the attached hose, such that when enough water gets into the tube (in a few seconds), gravity takes over & the water flows quite fast.

This photo is just a reminder that the marble must be large enough so as not to fit inside the 1/2" part of the fitting, but no more than 3/4", so between 1/2-3/4" diameter.  This one was just big enough at 9/16".  If you have a big enough marble, you could use a fitting that is 3/4" at both ends.
You may also not need the PVC adapter I used to connect my stainless hose fitting which I already had on hand, if you used a barbed fitting with a female connector.

If your parts fit snugly enough, you may not even need PVC cement to glue them.  I'm waiting to see how my nylon string holds up, before gluing.

And it works great - very easy to use and a better solution than the drill pump, which is more bulky to pack & wastes battery power.

Source of stainless barbed tube fitting:

CONCORD 304 Stainless Steel 1/2" Barb Hose to 1/2" NPT Home Brew Fitting. 2 Pack https://www.amazon.com/dp/B075VF861W

PS:  The use of PVC parts is not my original idea, as I adapted it from a video for building a check valve..


-Brian in Chester, Virginia
TV: 2005 Toyota Sienna LE (3.3L V6)
RV: 2018 [email protected] 320S, >70 mods 

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