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Old 01-13-2006, 06:58 PM   #1
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Heater Hoses Replacement

I'm getting near the end of replacing ALL the heater hoses on my '89 370LE. It took about 14 feet of hose just for the engine compartment and dash heater . I'm using Gates premium heater hose bought thru NAPA at $.79 a foot . Routing the new hoses to the rear auxiliary heater is requiring almost 25 feet for EACH of the two hoses (sending and return). So we're talking almost 65 feet of hose in all! All of this was original 17 year old stuff. Can't say I enjoyed the engine part. That Ford 460 had no fewer than 6 different hoses (including the front heater), and some of it was in very tiny, dark, and virtually impossible places. Other than cuts all over my hands and arms, bruises, and sore muscles (age), I'm really no worse for wear. The rear heater hose replacement will also eliminate two 'Y' connections that had been on the coach originally when they used to make the water heaters with integral exchangers from the engine. My water heater has been replaced, and the hoses to the original had been capped at the floor. Now I'll have hoses going all the way from the engine to the heater without interruption. Less likely to leak, to my way of thinking. I've flushed the auxiliary heater thoroughly, and the last difficult task is going to be removing the rusty frozen shut-off valve, and trying to clean it up and get it working. Of course, it's located under the kitchen counter in a space so small one can't get 2 hands in at the same time . More cut hands, I suspect. Anyway, for anyone who has the auxiliary heater, I would highly recommend doing this hose replacement job. Last thing I want is a hose blowing while I'm traveling. Oh, by the way, I've also added cut-offs for both the sending and return hoses AT THE ENGINE - just in case a leak does develop later. Also, allows me to cut off the hot water to both heater cores in the summer. Coach will have that much less heat getting inside. I'll post one more time when I finish the auxiliary heater hose job, just to let folks know if there are unforeseen difficulties with that .

Tim
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Old 01-13-2006, 07:51 PM   #2
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Tim,
Good work and an inexpensive investment in troublefree Streamin'

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Old 01-13-2006, 08:52 PM   #3
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Next time you're in NAPA

Pick up a pair of Mechanic's gloves. They will help keep you from getting burned while working on a hot engine, and they have cushioning to keep abrasions and cuts to a minimum. They also keep your hands fairly clean so you don't have to soak them in hand cleaner when you are done. They aren't all that great doing intricate chores, but your hands will thank you. Also, they will help keep your hands warm while working in colder temps.
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Old 01-13-2006, 11:55 PM   #4
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5/8" heater hose? Fits perfectly over 1/2" hard copper. I use that for long straight runs and open areas where it is easy to solder. Cheaper than hose and unless it is constantly coated with salt it should outlast several hoses.
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Old 01-14-2006, 07:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
Pick up a pair of Mechanic's gloves. They will help keep you from getting burned while working on a hot engine, and they have cushioning to keep abrasions and cuts to a minimum. They also keep your hands fairly clean so you don't have to soak them in hand cleaner when you are done. They aren't all that great doing intricate chores, but your hands will thank you. Also, they will help keep your hands warm while working in colder temps.
Thanks. I have Mechanic's gloves, but in this case I didn't use them for several reasons. First, the engine wasn't hot. I'm replacing all the hoses as "maintenance", since I just took possession of this coach recently. Also, the areas that gave me difficulty were the intricate chores of very small spaces deep in crevices of the engine, or located so far from a "human" sized space I had to contort myself to reach them. Temps here have been in the 60's lately, so I didn't have to fight cold. However, I agree that I probably should have mentioned that I did use some lighter weight cotton gloves with small rubber spots on the palm side. Tremendously helpful with reducing cuts and bruises, but not perfect. Bottom line - this job is not easy, but it's also not impossible for the average backyard mechanic like me . Your points are well taken, however. Perhaps I didn't make myself clear about the conditions under which I was working.

Best, Tim
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Old 01-14-2006, 07:59 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 74Argosy24MH
5/8" heater hose? Fits perfectly over 1/2" hard copper. I use that for long straight runs and open areas where it is easy to solder. Cheaper than hose and unless it is constantly coated with salt it should outlast several hoses.
I totally agree that copper is much more durable than rubber hose. However, the run for the auxiliary heater is so long and full of curves that I was concerned about those and the jostling that is inevitable on a motorized vehicle. The issue of stress cracks is why I used the hose. I did use the best hose I could buy, and I noted that the ones I was replacing were already 17 years old and still in good shape. The runs under my 370 are long, but they really aren't very straight nor particularly open. The hose was much easier to work with, and durability seemed not to be an issue given the life of the factory installed hoses. Thanks for the information, however. I'm sure it will help anyone running hoses under the conditions you described.

Best, Tim
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Old 01-14-2006, 09:45 AM   #7
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Tim, congratulations on getting through this job! I did all of mine on a 345 last summer and was shocked when I went through more than the 50 foot box of hose I originally bought to do the job. Hopefully this is a once every 10-20 year job!

The original (20 year old) hoses to my water heater were not in great shape and having one fail under the couch while travelling would certainly have been a pain! I certainly recommend that anyone who has not changed all these hoses on an older rig get it done.

As noted, it is a difficult job and hard work in warm weather) but is certainly doable by anyone with some patience and a willingness to endure the scrapes that result from the tight spaces.

John
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Old 01-14-2006, 10:27 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by shadejo
Tim, congratulations on getting through this job! I did all of mine on a 345 last summer and was shocked when I went through more than the 50 foot box of hose I originally bought to do the job. Hopefully this is a once every 10-20 year job!

The original (20 year old) hoses to my water heater were not in great shape and having one fail under the couch while travelling would certainly have been a pain! I certainly recommend that anyone who has not changed all these hoses on an older rig get it done.

As noted, it is a difficult job and hard work in warm weather) but is certainly doable by anyone with some patience and a willingness to endure the scrapes that result from the tight spaces.

John

John,

I had exactly the same experience with buying the 50 foot box of hose thinking that would be ample (and I had done rough measuring beforehand), but finding that I still needed more. I think with the longer coaches (345 and the 3 known 370s ) that more than 50 feet will be needed. Perhaps the 310s and 280s can get by with less. The auxiliary heater run is the killer for eating hose. I would say that having a hose fail UNDER the coach would be bad, but having one fail up where they connect to the heater would mean a catastrophic flood of the INSIDE of the coach! That potential alone makes the hose replacement job worth the effort. As you noted, the hoses do appear to have a healthy life span, so it's not something that should have to be done very often. One side benefit - I became very familiar with the underside of my coach, and discovered a few places (up above a slideout storage drawer where the hoses enter the coach) where there is some minor corrosion I need to prime/undercoat. Also found out that Airstream did not undercoat the areas above the slide out compartments , so that's another small project I will do now. All in all, I must say I was very impressed with the condition of the under belly. After 17 years it generally looked very good, almost new. I do wonder why something that originally cost over $135,000 doesn't have an insulated floor . They could at least have done a sandwich type floor of top plywood, Styrofoam, bottom plywood, and then the galvanized sheet metal. A single layer of composition plywood under covered with galvanize is really hard to believe for such an exquisite coach .

Best, Tim
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Old 01-14-2006, 06:05 PM   #9
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our 280s do not have an auxiliary heater. Just another luxury item we have to do without. But then again less to maintain I guess.
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Old 01-14-2006, 06:30 PM   #10
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Cool Tell me why...

Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
I do wonder why something that originally cost over $135,000 doesn't have an insulated floor . They could at least have done a sandwich type floor of top plywood, Styrofoam, bottom plywood, and then the galvanized sheet metal. A single layer of composition plywood under covered with galvanize is really hard to believe for such an exquisite coach .

Best, Tim
Tim, there are a couple of resons why this was done. First, for easier access under the floor if it was ever needed (yeah, sure). Second, for a weight savings. Insulating the entire length of the coach would probably add at least a couple of hundred pounds of weight. Third, most RV users travel in the summer, and the insulated floor is not needed as much.
Fourth, and probably unofficially most important, it cost less to not insulate the floor when building the coach.
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Old 01-14-2006, 08:17 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overlander63
Tim, there are a couple of resons why this was done. First, for easier access under the floor if it was ever needed (yeah, sure). Second, for a weight savings. Insulating the entire length of the coach would probably add at least a couple of hundred pounds of weight. Third, most RV users travel in the summer, and the insulated floor is not needed as much.
Fourth, and probably unofficially most important, it cost less to not insulate the floor when building the coach.

I'll vote for reason #4 . I agree with you on all, but I think we all know it was cost, but that still leaves a question about the rest of the coach being built with such expensive items. At least the single plywood layer made pulling the hose thru the floor very easy .....

Tim
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Old 01-14-2006, 08:22 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by ALANSD
our 280s do not have an auxiliary heater. Just another luxury item we have to do without. But then again less to maintain I guess.
Everything has a price. Two engine-supplied heaters means two places to get heat, but also two places to get leaks . Also, I have always had vehicles that were shorter than the 370, and have never felt the need for two heaters until I got this coach. That extra 9 feet is a blessing and a curse, depending on what the issue is at the time. I'd take either coach and be perfectly happy . (but this is not an official offer )

Best, Tim
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Old 01-14-2006, 09:05 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by noiva
However, the run for the auxiliary heater is so long and full of curves that I was concerned about those and the jostling that is inevitable on a motorized vehicle. The issue of stress cracks is why I used the hose.
I just straighten out the run and mount it with cushion clamps inside the frame rail and use hose at either end. Hard copper was used for plumbing for years in rvs without any real problems. As long as it is not solid mounted and put under stress it shouldn't be any different.
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Old 01-14-2006, 09:06 PM   #14
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My 28'er has an aux. heater but it's below the navigators seat. I've been avoiding sorting out the hose loop that I need to replace . I removed the original two cooling hoses with the bus type a/c unit that was hung 2/3 of the way back in the coach when I got it. The hose mess served the a/c unit and the large dual fan condensor that also got trashed and is now the spot where my generator sits. That was a mess of hose.
I'm gonna' get my mechanics gloves out this week and tackle it as Tim has inspired me. I've got to get the rig ready to head to Orlando a week from Monday to start my year at the PGA Merchandise Show.
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