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Old 10-15-2011, 10:24 AM   #1
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Fresh Water Tank Location & Size

Hi Everyone & thanks for taking your time and trying to help.
We have 2 projects going on right now.
Never owned an Airstream before but within 48 hrs we have 2 now but we don't know where to begin!
The funny part is that one has the parts that the other is totally missing!
1) 1969 23' Safari totally gutted except the bathroom.
2) 1972 31' Sovereign International with a rear bathroom that is totally gutted and it need full plumbing job. No holding tanks & Can't see the fresh water tank as well.
So here are the first couple of questions:
1) How many gallons the holding tanks should be?
2) Where is the fresh water tank? under the sink ? What size it should be?
3) Can we swap the bathroom or at least tanks from the Safari to the Sovereign?
If pictures are need it we can post them.
Thanks
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:34 AM   #2
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Fresh Water Tank Location & Size

Greetings VeggieBullet!

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeggieBullet View Post
So here are the first couple of questions:
1) How many gallons the holding tanks should be?
Both coaches that you have would have come from the factory with only one waste water holding tank. At the time of production for your coaches, it was acceptable to allow the wash water to flow onto the ground so they were only equipped with black water tanks. The black water tank would have been mounted immediately below the toilet. These black water tanks were typically less than 20 gallons . . . with 13 gallons being a fairly typical size. I am more familiar with the Argosy line, but I do believe that the black water tanks on both of your coaches were likely located above the floor immediately below the toilet . . . if the toilet sits on an above floor box, the tank is mounted above floor. During much of the 1960s, Airstream utilized a below floor mounted black water tank, but I believe that they switched back to the above floor mounted black water tank in 1969, but am not absolutely certain.

With the rear bathroom coaches, wisdom dictates smaller capacity waste tanks as the frame/body structure does not react well to concentrations of weight on the rear of the coach. Ideally, the waste tank(s) in this arrangement should always be emty when traveling (particularly on the large coaches) as traveling with contents in the waste tanks can aggravate rear end separation difficulties as well as aggravate "tail droop" that in worse case scenarios can includ frame cracking near axle mounts (a greater problem with the large coaches after gray water tanks were added in 1974).

Quote:
Originally Posted by VeggieBullet View Post
2) Where is the fresh water tank? under the sink ? What size it should be?
During the late 1960s through the 1970s, most Airstream fresh water tanks were between 25 and 35 gallons. It seems that 30 gallons was the most common water tank size. Placement of the fresh water tank varied, but a clue can be found by examining the exterior of the coach. Typically, the filler location was very close to where the tank itself was located. My suggestion would be to begin your investigation in the front streetside corner of the coach for the filler . . . if it isn't found there, then the next probable location would be on the streetside of the coach either just ahead or behind the axles. The three "typical" locations for the fresh water tank were:
  • Above the floor mounted below the front window of the coach.
  • Above the floor mounted above the axle(s) on the streetside of the coach.
  • Below the floor mounted in a frame bay ahead of the axles on the streetside.
Quote:
Originally Posted by VeggieBullet View Post
3) Can we swap the bathroom or at least tanks from the Safari to the Sovereign?
The answer is that it "depends". With Airstream, there are a number of "transition" years where various components of new and old were combined in manners not fully understood today, and 1969 was one of those "transition" years. An added factor that can also play into this scenario is the factory where each coach was built . . . Cerritos, California and Jackson Center, Ohio factories didn't necessarily build identical units . . . with each factory's coaches potentially having unique variants attributable to the factory of origin.

Careful measuring of fixtures will be necessary to determine the likelihood of an easy swap. My suspicion is that the holding tanks are likely to be interchangeable, but I have reservations about how easily the bathtub/shower unit might transition . . . primarily due to the size difference between the two coaches.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 10-15-2011, 03:14 PM   #3
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On our '72 31ft sovereign, the black tank was (and is) located under the floor directly under the toilet. The fresh tank is a 50gal and is located in front of the axles and spans across the width of the trailer. Our fill was on the curb side behind the entry door. The fresh tank is on top of a piece of plywood that is covered with aluminum as part of the belly pan. If your belly pan is in place, you won't be able to see the fresh tank from under the trailer. Our drain valves were under the kitchen sink that was located to the left of the entry door as you enter the trailer. Our kitchen had been dismantled when we bought her but the drains were still in place. We didn't like the location of the fill for the fresh tank and have relocated it to the other side of the trailer (along with a new tank, flipflopped to align with it). We used the old fill hole to house an outside outlet.
Ours is a rear bath trailer. Hope this helps.

Kay
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Old 10-15-2011, 06:32 PM   #4
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Thanks guys for the input and great help.
We got to locate the water tank thanks to your help.
The PO said that he didn't want the use of the tanks since he was planning on camping only with full hook ups.
Based on that as you can see on the pics the acces to fill up the fresh water tank was eliminated.
Went under the AS and removed the bally pan and see the plywood and the fresh water tank!!
Will like to remove it to do some water leak tests and to re-connet the fill up connection.
Same procedure on the rear bathroom. belly pan out and no holding tanks neither any plumbing connections. So I guess is better for the full re-built project?
Now the only concern is the dimensions for the tanks. It looks like there is plenty of room for 2 tanks of a decent size. We don't need 2 tanks of 30 gallons each and specially the black water can be half size.
I can't slide that plywood out to remove the fresh water tank.
It just supposed to slide out forwards or any particular procedure?
Please advice.
Thanks
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Old 10-15-2011, 07:20 PM   #5
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veggie,

There's a member that knows a lot about what you are doing, and I seem to remember him telling a couple of other members to use a brute force method that involved a tow vehicle, rope, and screw-eyes into the plywood. BUT, please contact him yourself, I'm pretty sure he will fill you in with the correct details.

His user name is wasagachris, and here is his profile, from which you can contact him.

good luck!
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Old 10-15-2011, 08:36 PM   #6
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On my 73 safari the black tank is above the floor on the curbside(ohio build) My 69 tradewind has a black tank below theflood and on the streetside.(California build) Years ago cal builds generally the toilet was on the streetside while Ohio builds were on the curbside. A small bit of info I learned at the Resto Ralley a few years ago.
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Old 10-16-2011, 02:32 PM   #7
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I had my '73 27' FW access plywood welded tight by ever helpful Joe Somewhen's Vulkem caulk. Zero movement even w/ mechanical advantage, hand sledges, levers and the rest.

One thing to do is tilt the whole trailer over a bunch, 2-3-4 inches, to force the water over to the drain side, I assumed it was drained after a couple of years but nope, there was still 80-100 pounds of water in it - that bent the tank to a 45-60° angle as soon as it was unsupported. Since I was trashing the tank I drilled a couple of holes in the lower corners that the slime mat inside merrily plugged in seconds but I finally got the tank empty.

What I ended up doing is using the bottle jacks to lift the one-inch plywood sheet straight up which broke the polyurethane caulks weld and inserted two strips of craft paper with a plastic sheet inbetween them into the gap - about twelve feet total. Just delightful busy-work when on a schedule!

I then scabbed on a 2x6 (1-1/2" thick) board to the face of the plywood using a bunch of 1/4-inch wood screws/bolts, but cut a groove in the backside of it to trap/clamp a short bicycle lock steel cable inbetween them.

I then used a $25 4-ton (hah) mechanical ratchet from harbor freight looped around the hitch A-Frame back to the bicycle cable and inched it forward (kinda flush with power and laughing)... Note: the deck we are sliding out is small enough inside the tanks' cage to cock diagonally just enough sideways to bind up, it may be resting that way when you start. When it binds you must fix it, easy enough once it drops off the back support frame to reach in and pry it over a half-inch.

NOTE 2 - beware using too long of bolts, sure enough I was busy ratcheting the thing forward and caught a long one on a spar, made it bow out a bit and pulled up a neat little dent on the belly skins side flat of the sheet metal that took more than a little work to relax back to original.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f443...3-a-64621.html
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Old 10-16-2011, 03:01 PM   #8
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Before trying the ratchet methods, ours actually came out fairly easily. After removing the front angle iron, Chris ran a stiff putty knife/scraper around the entire perimeter of the plywood between the plywood and the angle iron. Tight fit but doable. That cleared the minimal caulking that was on ours and the plywood then slid forward with only minor brute strength and a couple of prybars. The forward stabilizing jacks did not need to be removed on ours. We were able to re-use the plywood when we put the new tank in.
For tanks and sizes, it's on our thread "Little Girl Refurb" in the 1972 Sovereign section of the forums. We had originally an 18 gal. black water tank and Chris made a new one roughly the same size. We bought a new 50 gal fresh tank since ours was a really pretty algae green color - they are expensive! Chris also fabricated grey tanks for us.
I HOPE your tank comes out as easily as ours! Maybe we were just blessed that day...

Kay
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Old 10-19-2011, 04:08 PM   #9
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That tank better be goo!!

Wow!!!!!
Well it seems like a lot of struggle on getting that tank out ! but after checking on some prices, I'm serious: that tank better be good enough to re-use it!!
Well we will try some gentle soft touch with some jacks and pry bars and after that I get a torch!!!
Well another question.
Since there was no holding tanks on for the bathroom and there is all that empty space between the floor and the baly-pan. Can we just get 2 regular grey or black tanks and adjust the plumbing? and also
Since I measured a low clearance of less than 8" for the tanks. Do AS need special tanks ?
I'm pretty sure that someone already went thru all this already so it will be nice to see some floor and plumbing plans.please help.
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Old 10-20-2011, 06:23 PM   #10
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Kinda depends on exactly where you want to add tanks and if you want to keep them inside the belly pan or not. Your frame is 5 inches tall. So, if you add gray tanks and want to keep them inside the belly pan, then 5 inches is the max height you can use. The space between the main frame members is 58 inches. The average space between the frame cross members is about 22 ½ inches. That gives you a maximum tank size of say 56 x 21½ x 5 to give some working room for getting the tank installed. Now, if you want to move frame members, and extend below the belly pan, then you can pretty much get what you want and make it fit. But we did not want to move any frame cross members, which is why I made two gray tanks. Once is in the space directly above the rear axle, and the other one is in the space directly aft from that. The rear tank is 1 inch taller since it does not need to clear the axel. I will run the belly pan down a bit to cover the tank.

The black tank is a totally different dimension. It needs to fit inside the metal box, if you still have the metal box that used to hold the black tank that is. You may need to fabricate a new one.

If you check out our thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f185...-50967-14.html, I built new gray and black tanks starting at post 183. The dimensions for the tanks are in there somewhere… No guarantees those exact same tank dimensions would work for you. Like I said, it depends on where you want to mount them and how you want them to look when it’s all buttoned back up.

Chris
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