OK, I admit it. I am just too rough on these plastic faucets that come with the SMEV/Dometic sinks in some Sprinter galleys. I’ve just broken my third one in four and a half years of fulltiming in my 2014 CS Adventurous. The last plastic one I put in came courtesy of Amazon since I didn’t want to make an appointment and schlep to an RV dealership and sit around in the waiting room while they took all day to do a 30 minute job, and that was ten months ago. It’s still usable, but a crack at the base of the spout has started, and it’s only a matter of time before it starts leaking. I know from experience.
Having nothing to do all day, I started Googling around for RV faucets, zeroing in on the fold-down, one-hole, hot and cold mixer specifics of these Sprinter faucets, and stumbled upon this supplier in China who had a faucet which looked like it would fit – and it was chromed brass! Maybe this one would stand up to my robust approach to dish-washing. Nobody is importing these, so you have to order them from the Chinese supplier. I know many of you are somewhat leery of giving your credit card number to someone in Shanghai, but we have had very good luck with ordering things from China, thanks to Sharon’s exotic tastes in clothing and jewelry.
One thing I have noticed about the current trade in goods is the resourcefulness and marketing skill of the Chinese manufacturers. They spot niche products which they can produce cheaply and make them available through websites like Aliexpress. A few years ago, my sister’s large propane barbecue cooker was shot – it needed new burners. They’re just cast iron but the grill company wanted so much for them that you might as well buy a new cooker. However, someone in China was making them and they were online for $40 a set. Problem solved. It’s just a chunk of cast iron with minimal drilling for the gas jets – very low tech, and something you can produce without too much trouble. It’s not worth anyone’s time here to produce it. It is for the Chinese, bless them. Because of the lax regulatory environment in China, I’d be leery of foodstuffs, but how can you screw up a faucet?
Aliexpress had two faucets, both around the same price. One had a swiveling spout, but I opted for the plain one – fewer moving parts, and one less fragile attachment of the spout to the body. Shipping is 12-20 days, and expensive, but at $70ish for the faucet and shipping I’m still coming out under the $100 the plastic faucet costs. Fifteen days after I order, here comes this exotic looking package with my new faucet. It was very reassuring to feel the heft of the metal construction when I unwrapped it. The hoses were a bit different (and longer) than the ones that came with the plastic faucet, but were better – there’s a threaded fitting with o-rings where the hose attaches to the faucet, instead of the plastic barb and crimped hose connection I was used to. No way of telling which one was hot and which one was cold, so I guessed, and installed the new faucet.
One thing that’s different about the new faucet is that it’s like one of those one-lever shower controls – the control only moves in one dimension, so it’s off-cold-hot. You can’t vary the hot-cold mix and the flow rate independently like you can with the plastic faucet. My guess as to which hose was which left me with off-hot-cold, which is fine; I can trickle hot water to rinse dishes this way. The longer new hoses had a female connection at the end, not male, so I just left off the two female-to-female PEX line connectors that used to be between the plastic faucet’s hoses and the brass check valves in each line. No leaks and no mess- the installation went smoothly.
I’ve been using this new faucet for a week or so and no complaints so far. We will see how it goes as my enthusiastic culinary activities test its durability. It’s a little more peace of mind knowing I have a brass faucet just like in a sticks and bricks house, so I don’t have to be so timid when I cook and clean up.
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