Upgrading The Sink In Our Airstream Interstate

Updated: Dec 9, 2018

It was only a matter of time. My wife had long complained about the very small sink in our very small motorhome. Tiny living should not require tiny ambitions.

The BEFORE Picture

These sinks are everywhere in RV land. The faucet folds to the side and gets concealed under a hinged glass lid. Nifty. Close the lid and look at all that prep space. It photographs well and helps sell motorhomes by the tens of thousands... but there is a flaw in this design.

The tiny faucet control lever is situated so that, if you leave it in the Hot position and close the lid, the lid hits the little faucet lever and turns on the water, draining your hot water tank, which is fed from the cold water tank or the incoming city water hose line. It all flows right down the drain and into the grey water tank.

Most of these smaller Class B RVs do not have a free flowing sewer hose running outside and into a campsite drain. Instead, the RV holding tanks are manually evacuated with the help of an electric macerator pump that grinds and spews the effluent through a small hose similar to a garden hose. If you are not watching your tank level, once your grey water tank is full it will back up through the lowest drain, which is the shower. If the water is left running at the sink, the shower pan overflows and spills out onto the floor of the RV. I've read that more than one person has received this unwelcome surprise.

If water is running when you are boondocking, you will hear the water pump operating and quickly realize that water is flowing and you can remedy the situation. However, if the RV is hooked up to an incoming city water supply from a hose, you may never hear the flow of water.

For us, the main reason for replacing the sink was to gain more work space in the sink itself and make washing of dishes an easier task. We went to a local specialist of RV repairs and upgrades because I was chicken to tackle the job myself. We waited for an estimate to come back, called and emailed again. Nothing. Springtime for an RV guy is crunch time to get everyone's issues taken care of. No time for small jobs evidently. So I set about looking at dozens of sinks on Amazon.

Hard to believe these are the same diameter !

We were thinking of going with a rectangular sink but wanted a residential faucet installed in the counter top. Space for drilling a hole was the limiting factor and I decided the only way we were going to get there was to stay with a round sink so that a corner, ideally the right rear corner, could be used for mounting the standalone faucet.

We had extra room underneath the sink to go deeper. The original sink is 5.5 inches and the one we bought is 7 inches deep. Plus the area inside is a little larger and we're no longer sacrificing some of the space to accommodate the faucet. I'm pretty sure the total volume inside is at least double.

And the best part? I did not need to enlarge the hole for the sink. In fact, there is plenty of room left over. The new sink dropped right into the existing hole. Although it is described as a 17" sink, the bowl is actually 15" and the outer lip is what measures 17".

The faucet required a new hole, which was easily accomplished with a 1.5" hole saw. It took a few sips of rum to work up the courage to cut the faucet hole in the Corian countertop in just the right spot. Measure, analyze, measure, visualize, measure and mark the damn spot.

Once the faucet was mounted, I threaded the water lines so they would stay against the cabinet back and keep away from the hanging weight that bobs up and down to help the faucet head extend and retract. There is just enough room for it to rise and fall freely and to not hit the drawer that slides into this area that holds the wastebasket.

This particular sink has a very deep well with a bail that catches debris which can be lifted out and cleaned. So we added about 1.5" to the bowl height plus another 3" due to this deep well. The drain hole was also in a different spot now. The plumbing had to be lowered about 4.5" and the horizontal piece needed to be longer. The white object is a waterless trap that eliminates the need for a P-trap and prevents odors from getting back up to the sink.

I thought about replacing the first 90 degree elbow with a T valve fitting so I could manually redirect the water flow straight down into the wastebasket. This would allow capturing wastewater and re-using it for toilet flushes, thereby reducing both water consumption as well as keeping the small grey water tank from filling up so quickly. Maybe I'll still do that someday.

Here's the end result and we're really happy with it. This project was inspired by a YouTube video series from George Mauro called Humble Road. Thanks George !!


But wait !! What about that prep space we lost now that there is no cover lid that folds down over the sink? Ha! Got it covered. A neighbor of mine makes fine furniture and fills in his workload gaps with custom projects. We collaborated on the design and came up with a great solution: a cutting board that provides prep space and covers the sink. The hand hold serves as an opening for trimmings to be pushed off and down into the sink.

There is a lip that allows some of the board to be submerged into the sink to hold it in place. Quite by accident, this lip and the curved hand grip area also ends up fitting perfectly against the little 1/2" Corian backsplash that Airstream puts in. This makes the cutting board function as a much more effective backsplash to protect the screen door. It weighs about 3lbs I'm guessing. We selected Light Maple for the main wood with a Cherry stripe flanked by two strips of Walnut.

If you would like to duplicate this project in your RV, here is a link for the same sink that drops right into the existing hole. If you want the same cutting board manufactured for your new sink, contact Shea Vollstedt. He's a custom furniture maker in Oregon. csv.furniture@gmail.com

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