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Old 11-26-2011, 05:58 PM   #1
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1963 26' Overlander
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Help! My '63 overlander need plumbing, hot water tank, and water supply tank!

I just brought home my first Airstream this week, a '63 overlander. It is missing all the water supply lines, water heater, water supply tank, pump, and anything else I may not be familiar with that is connected to supplying water. I am trying to locate a book that would show me how to replace everything, but have not been able to locate anything. Alternately, if anyone has a '63 overlander (with the water heater and supply tank under one of the bunks) and has pictures and info about how to install the heater, tank, pump, drain valves (if needed?), etc. I would appreciate it. (I am familiar with plumbing a house, so the actual running of the supply lines should be similar, I would think.) Thanks!
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Old 11-26-2011, 06:44 PM   #2
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Help! My '63 overlander need plumbing, hot water tank, and water supply tank!

Greetings aprilr!

Welcome to the Forums and the world of Vintage Overlander ownership!

Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilr View Post
I just brought home my first Airstream this week, a '63 overlander. It is missing all the water supply lines, water heater, water supply tank, pump, and anything else I may not be familiar with that is connected to supplying water. I am trying to locate a book that would show me how to replace everything, but have not been able to locate anything.
When your coach was built, it was equipped with a pressurized water system. Typically, there was a galvanized steel, cylindrical, pressure tank under the front lounge that contained approximately 30 gallons of fresh water under pressure. To one side of the pressure tank was an electric air pump that injected air into the pressure tank to maintain between 30 and 40 p.s.i. pressure. The operation of this system could be nearly silent, but a leak could go undetected for a longer period of time as the pump didn't cycle with the frequency that the pump on a demand system will function when there is a leak.

Unfortunately, 1963 pre-dates the release of both technical service manuals and owners' manuals for Airstreams. Airstream introduced its first owners' manuals with the 1964 model line, and much of what is in that manual would apply to your Overlander with two big excetpions -- Airstream switched to a demand fresh water system in 1964 - - and added a Univolt for 12-volt DC electric service as part of standard equipment. In 1963, the original owner of the coach would have been provided with a manilla envelope filled with a variety of instruction sheets as well as manuals for each of the options installed on the coach at the time of delivery such as: Dometic Refrigerator, Bowen Water Heater, Magic Chef Range/Oven, Air Pressure Pump, awning, etc. The factory service manuals would not be published for close to another decade.

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Originally Posted by aprilr View Post
Alternately, if anyone has a '63 overlander (with the water heater and supply tank under one of the bunks) and has pictures and info about how to install the heater, tank, pump, drain valves (if needed?), etc. I would appreciate it. (I am familiar with plumbing a house, so the actual running of the supply lines should be similar, I would think.) Thanks!
There were at least two basic floorplans offered with the 1963 Overlander with minor variations depending upon whether the coach was built in Ohio or California. Other variations may have been introduced to the coach along the road by its various owners so it may be a little difficult to be absolutely certain about its original plumbing layout. I have only closely examined one Overlander identified to be a 1963. In that particular overlander the water tank was located under the front lounge (below the front window); and the fill was found on the front streetside corner of the coach. When that coach was converted from the pressure system to a demand system, the original supply fixture (it was designed to help pressurize the tank) had to be removed and was replaced by a more modern water fill designed for a demand system. The demand pump had been installed in the streetside corner under the front lounge about four inches from the output fitting on the plastic water supply tank. The main cold water supply line was then routed along the streetside wall at floor level . . . an oak board was beveled and installed in such a way as to disguise the routing of the line until it entered the galley cabinet.

Once in the galley cabinet, there was a "T" for the cold water supply to the kitchen faucet and a second "T" had been placed for the countertop mounted water filter/faucet. From the galley cabinet, cold line ran through the storage locker below the streetside bunk to the wardrobe cabinet next to that bunk where the water heater was located on the floor -- it was originally a 10-gallon Bowen Water Heater . . . but the exterior opening had been modified for a smaller Atwood 6-gallon replacement water heater. A "T" was added to the cold water line to supply the water heater, and from there it was extended to a "T" for the cold water supply in the shower . . . to the cold water supply for the wash basin. . . and finally to supply cold water supply for the toilet.

The hot water was plumbed from the supply side of the water with a "T" with one side going toward the rear for the bathroom sink and shower, and the second side providing a supply to the forward portion of the coach for the kitchen sink hot water supply.

The city water supply function also required modification as a part of the change from pressure supply to demand. The fresh water connection was changed over to a connection similar to those utilized on 1970s era Airstreams only it was mounted on the streetside of the "A"-frame hitch with the supply tube being run along the steel hitch member to a point in the bellypan where it wat "elbowed" up through the floor of the coach near the streetside wall where a one-way valve and brass pressure regulator were installed . . . then a "T" was installed in the coach's cold water supply line after the water pump.

I am fairly certain that the conversion in that particular 1963 Overlander had been done in the late 1970s based upon what the owner told me at the time. Starting with a clean slate means that you can choose to change the location of the fresh water storage tank if you like . . . below the mid-ship bunk would center the load over the axles, but would lighten the hitch weight which might not be desirable from a balance stanpoint (assuming that the original water tank was actually below the front lounge). Whether the tank is located under the front lounge or the mid-ship bunk, the water pump would be quite happy sharing that space and it would simplify service and winterization to a degree. Since there is a rather large opening cut in the side of the coach for the water heater, its location is more or less fixed unless you plan to replace that rather large panel on your coach . . . even going with a new tank, if it is the smaller 6-gallon model you will still be faced with creating a patch to reduce the size of the opening (I am not certain whether the current 10-gallon RV water heaters are similar in dimensions to the original Bowen). I know that that the water heater opening in my '64 Overlander had to be reduced in size when my new 6-gallon Atwood water heater was installed.

Good luck with your investigation and research! I am sure that you will have years of great camping experiences with your 1963 Overlander!

Kevin

P.S.: A drain valve with a tube exiting through the floor to the ground was located between the water pump and fresh water tank. Low-point drains were located below the kitchen sink, near the water heater, and near the toilet/vanity in the bathroom. When winterization is done only with blowing-out the lines, the low point drains are an absolute necessity -- when an RV antifreeze regimen is applied, the fresh water tank drain is critical, and one or two low point drains definitely speed the process of evacuating water when winterizing.
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 11-26-2011, 06:55 PM   #3
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I am restoring a 1960 airstream. I put in pex water lines yesterday. I bought blue and red pex (cold hot). If you want to make it simple buy shark bite fittings. They make a plastic version of sharkbites and Lowes sells them. The water tank you should be able to replace. It will go under the front couch. You will need a water pump. I would recommend you put in a converter and fuse panel. It sounds like you are over your head but you are not. I did not know squat about these trailers. Airstreasm forums has taught me everything that I did not understand. Take your time be patient and go slow. My water tank, water pump, refrigerator, and converter are all used. Check out craiglist.

Working on the Airstream is my therapy from my work stress. It is a good outlet.

I am one of many on this forum who have fixed up a trailer. Just follow all their threads. Here is one of my threads.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f109...ion-70006.html



Brian
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Old 11-27-2011, 05:59 AM   #4
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How about some input that is offered up while inside of a 1963 Overlander?

I've been camping for the last 3 days, headed home in a bit.

Mine had the previously mentioned steel tank under the street side bed and the air pump under the galley. The plumbing had been "fixed" so many times that there was no resemblance of the original plumbing schematic.
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Old 11-27-2011, 08:27 AM   #5
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1963 26' Overlander
Plainwell , Michigan
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Thanks for all the great info! It looks like the water supply tank was originally under the street side bunk in the middle of the airstream. I'm putting it back in there and it sounds like I should put the pump in the same location. I'm just not familiar with pumps, their location, and anything else related to plumbing that is not typically found in a city-water-supplied house. I'll have to find a diagram of how to install one. Thanks for clarifying about the need for drain valves. How about draining the water heater? Is there a drain valve just like in a typical water heater in a house? I just open that up too?
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:37 PM   #6
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Greetings aprilr!

Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilr View Post
I'll have to find a diagram of how to install one. Thanks for clarifying about the need for drain valves. How about draining the water heater? Is there a drain valve just like in a typical water heater in a house? I just open that up too?
The water heater has a nylon/plastic drain plug that is removed when winterizing - - at least on the new water heater tanks - - the old Bowen water heater tanks utilized in the early 1960s had galvanized drain plugs (at least my '64 did when I first purchased the coach in 1995).

You might try the Airstream corporate website for diagrams of water systems as installed on the newer models - - the process has changed little in the past 40 plus years - - the geometry may be different but the basics of the system and its operation have remained somewhat constant.

Good luck with your research, investigation, and planning!

Kevin
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Old 11-29-2011, 06:46 PM   #7
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1963 26' Overlander
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I have a 1963 Overlander that I am restoring. All of the original plumbing is intact (although I do plan to upgrade to Pex plumbing). I can take some pictures of the layout and e-mail them to you. Mine has the pressurized tank on the street side under the gaucho bed. Just send me your e-mail address and I should be able to send them to you some time this week. It will at least give you an idea what it's supposed to look like. Oh, and good luck...the more you work on it the more you'll find that needs to be repaired or replaced.
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Old 11-30-2011, 05:51 AM   #8
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Pictures would be great! Usually if I see a diagram or a clear picture I can figure things out. My email is april.northstarpm@yahoo.com. And, yes, I've already encountered the problem of having to fix more things once you get going - several of the windows seem to be leaking.
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Old 11-30-2011, 06:56 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aprilr View Post
Pictures would be great! Usually if I see a diagram or a clear picture I can figure things out. My email is april.northstarpm@yahoo.com. And, yes, I've already encountered the problem of having to fix more things once you get going - several of the windows seem to be leaking.
You are on the right track every airstream I have restored I change to Pex and people are right use shark bite or gator bite both found at Lowe's or home depot. you can lay the line like you would configure a house what I do is change the water intake from the mount on the frame and buy a new inlet from any RV supply and put it through the body directly into the trailer that way no exposed line out side other than the hose run your cold and hot like house t to your faucet's and commode and hot water and also don't forget your storage fill tank use all pex you will need and out side regulator for when you hook up at a RV park and that you put in at the park facet before the hose you can handle 80psi with this . The trick is not to use any copper or plastic fitting and have a dump valve for winterizing. best of luck
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Old 11-30-2011, 08:52 AM   #10
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Hi. I have a 64 International Overlander. I worked with Steve at VTS to get a slightly larger water tank in mine. The tank was located under the twin bed on the street side. What's tricky about these tanks is the hold down brackets. I had a local shop fabricate bigger ones for me for the new tank, but if you consider that you might be driving down the road with a 100 lb tank, and it hits a bump, you're giong to need a bracket that can hold it down, and keep it from moving. My water pump was in the rear compartment along with the battery. I moved anything that had any weight to it up under the twin beds right next to the axles. With the battery opposite my water tank, the weight is right over the axles. I just had to run a thick battery cable around the rear bath. Pex is definitely the way to go. Pex fittings are nice, but with all the elbows the price adds up. Lowes sells a stainless steel ring system that goes with their pex fittings. I was very happy with how easy that system was to use, and if you make a mistake, you can pop the rings open with a screwdriver and tear the ring out with a pair of pliers. In the end, I think the price is similar, but I think the rings look better than the pex (IMHO).
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