Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
 
Old 03-12-2015, 07:23 AM   #1
1 Rivet Member
 
1975 31' Sovereign
san Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 19
Tanks! Water heater! Oh my!!!

I'm about to do a re-haul on the plumbing (pex), water heater, gas lines, and black, gray and potable water tanks! The more I read, the more this seems daunting. So I need a starting place.

What kind of pex crimper is recommended? I see things about shark bite, etc. but there are a variety of crimpers out there and I sure they aren't all the same.

I know what kind of hot water heater I'm going to purchase and I found someone on the forums who has installed it and has hints/tips. Am I suppose to insulate the compartment that its in?

I've been reading about the tanks. I've been trying to find the location of the black and potable water tanks and have been getting mixed areas. I have a 1975 LY sovereign center bath. Is the black tank under the toilet? I know there is a black PVC pipe that vents through the roof between the wall and the kitchen. There is another vent pipe in the closet as well. I would like to upgrade these and maybe re-use the existing potable water tank for a new black tank if it isn't cracked etc. Has anyone done this? Is it an easy mod? What about upgrading the size of the tanks? When I add a gray tank does it need a special box or insulation for it? Where is a good/ cheap place to buy them at?

What is the easiest way to get to these tanks? Do I have to go through the belly pan to get to the potable water tank? Could I go through the floor on the inside?

I don't have a clue where to start with the gas lines... I'm guessing I need all new ones. Anything specific I should be looking for or looking to upgrade or modify?

Any help would be great! I have three weeks to complete this project and I'm looking to start this weekend if at all possible. What would you do and in what order?
__________________

__________________
Kiera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2015, 09:47 AM   #2
Rivet Master
 
Belegedhel's Avatar
 
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,198
Well, here are some answers to your questions, in no particular order:

Your black tank will be located directly below the toilet. It could be above the floor covered with some kind of plastic shroud, or below the subfloor.

Your fresh water tank is located just in front of the axles. To access this tank, look underneath your trailer, and you should see an angle iron frame that supports a 1" thick piece of plywood, with aluminum sheet underneath it to make it look like part of the bellypan. You will remove one piece of angle, that forms the supporting square, and then slide the sheet of plywood forward. The tank is on top of the plywood, so make sure it is completely empty and disconnected from fill lines and the pump, as it will drop straight down. These panels can be a serious bear to move, as the wood rots/expands, and the angle iron rusts.

Some people repurpose their fresh water tanks as grey tanks. You would not want to repurpose it as a black tank. Primarily, you don't really want 40 gallons of black water hanging off the rear of your trailer, but also because the fresh water tanks in these 70's trailers have "features" shaped into them which would guarantee that you would always have black water remnants in the tank. Additionally, you would have to "spin" a flange onto the tank for the toilet, and one for the dump valve--the hassles add up quick.

For grey tanks, it is a question of how important it is to you to keep the tanks inside the frame rails, and above the bellypan. The cheaper tanks will be "off the shelf" tanks from RV suppliers such as PPL RV or Americart, but they will hang well below your bellypan, reducing your clearance, and giving your trailer less of a clean and sleek appearance. You could repurpose your fresh water tank as mentioned above, but then you will have to buy a new FW Tank, and that will run you over $400, so that isn't really a cheap alternative. Vintage Trailer supply now sells tanks that are specially sized for 70's trailers. You can get two of them, which will give you about 40 gallons of grey water. I wouldn't call them cheap, but they are very specialized for your Airstream. You don't need to insulate your grey water tanks--most people just don't run water into them when temperatures are freezing.

Any tank that is below the floor should be accessed from below (ie., through the belly pan). You don't want to cut into your floor unless you have to (ie., you are replacing a section of rotting floor). Have you thoroughly evaluated the condtion of your floor, and confirmed that your trailer does not suffer from the dreaded "rear-end separation?"

You should not need to insulate the compartment that your water heater is in. The water heater itself should be encapsulated in all the insulation it needs.

If you only have 3 weeks to get this project done, I hope you are working on it full time! It is a big project. My advice to you would be to leave your fresh water tank alone if it is not leaking, same with your black tank. Installing and plumbing in the grey tanks will require dropping the belly pan, at least partially.

good luck!
__________________

__________________
Belegedhel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2015, 10:21 AM   #3
Rivet Master
 
Minno's Avatar

 
1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,323
I agree, don't use fresh tank as black tank. Your black tank is angled down towards the dump valve, and the fresh tank has "baffles" in it to keep the water from jostling around too much. You could use the fresh tank as grey. We built our own grey and black tanks because we could get exactly what we want and it's cheaper. That was before VTS came out with tanks. Fresh water tanks are a different plastic and need to be purchased. They run about $500 or so for a new 45 or so gal. tank, so aren't cheap. Ours came from Inland RV. Since you have a center bath, I'm not sure where your fresh tank is; ours is a rear bath, and the fresh tank was between the axles (and still is). We positioned the greys between the rear axle and behind the rear axle and ganged them together to keep height low enough to fit inside the belly pan. We did not insulate our tanks or water heater. Of course we only camp in summer right now since we're still working and MN is not exactly winter camping friendly unless you're REALLY hardy...
We used PEX with crimp connecters and have had no problems for 5 years.
Gas lines need to be run UNDER the belly pan, NOT inside. We covered ours with PEX to keep possible stone hits to a minimum.
Good luck! If you work like a fiend, you'll make it.

Kay
__________________
Minno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2015, 01:32 PM   #4
1 Rivet Member
 
1975 31' Sovereign
san Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 19
Yes. My fiancé and I will be working on it full time for the next three weeks. However, if we run into problems, run out of money, lol, is there a way to use the water, etc without having a grey tank? I'm not exactly. We did an inspection on the rear end. We dodged a bullet there because we have the center bath (whew)!

I'm pretty sure that the tanks haven't been used in about 5+ years.
If I keep the tanks (if they are usable) what kind of cleaning/inspection/typical issues will I need to look for? My real concern is that the potable water tank is somehow unsafe. Therefore I was thinking if I had to replace it than could I use it as a grey tank. It would technically fit in the belly pan because it already does. Just build a support area for it like what's around it now.
Great idea on putting the PEX on the gas lines! I was figuring that Styrofoam that goes around pipes would be a good idea but I like that too!

Am I missing anything else? Concerns or issues I should be looking for?

THanks!!
__________________
Kiera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2015, 03:04 PM   #5
Rivet Master
 
Belegedhel's Avatar
 
1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,198
Having a grey water tank is only necessary when boondocking (ie., not parked at a facility with "full" hook-ups). So if you go to your typical RV park and attach the "stinky slinky" hose from your dump valve to the sewer connection, your grey water will just go straight down the hose, rather than being accumulated in the tank.

Many state parks do not have full hook-ups, so the grey tank is a necessity. Another option is to have one of those portable plastic tanks on wheels, typically known as a "blue boy," which you can drain your grey water into and then haul to a dump station.

Many people don't use the water in their "fresh" water tank for drinking, only for washing dishes, showering, etc.. This may be because of the taste, or just the thought that it is hard to get that tank completely cleaned out (so there is always the chance there is something unsavory growing in there). Some folks sanitize their tanks with bleach or similar chemicals. Even if you buy a brand new tank, eventually it can get slimy too. If your only reason for replacing the tank is to start fresh, I would suggest starting by cleaning it out (which is hard, as you can't reach into the tank and scrub it).

Your biggest worries with the tanks is leaks. After 40-50 years these plastic tanks can develop cracks, even if they aren't being particularly stressed.

good luck!
__________________
Belegedhel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-12-2015, 03:33 PM   #6
4 Rivet Member
 
Eagle & Bear's Avatar
 
1976 29' Ambassador
Madison , Officially SD but are traveling full time.
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 251
Images: 1
I spent a lot of time researching PEX before installing the Wisbro/Upanor plumbing. The only difference is the cost of the "tool". I bought the Milwaukee cordless expander on ebay for $275. It is a lot easier to use in the tight quarters of our Airstreams than the crimp tools. I took out all of the copper plumbing. We got through this winter with temps of 0F - 7F.
__________________
Eagle & Bear is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2015, 07:03 AM   #7
Rivet Master
 
dbj216's Avatar

 
1986 34' Limited
1966 24' Tradewind
Conifer , Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,119
Kiera, it might be best to do a thorough assessment of your trailer and then repair the items that need it most. It takes some time to learn the Airstream systems and how to repair them. Many folks clean up their old trailer and use it as an "aluminum tent" for quite a while until they learn about all of its parts.

If you have good tires, and the brakes work and the exterior lights work, then clean it up and go find a campground. Use the campground bath house, use battery powered flashlights, use ice coolers for food, and make a campfire if needed.

I fear you may start tearing into your trailer and then say "oh my god" at all the things needing fixed. Gee, I have almost $9000 in parts and about 1000 hours of my time in my 66 Trade Wind. It's been fun, it's a hobby, and I am nearly ready to take the maiden trip after I buy a $1000 fridge, a $300 cook top, and $800 for two mattresses.

The previous owner of my trailer made sure they had a solid 115v AC system and that's all. Lamp, microwave, and space heater and away they went. They hooked up to shore power and enjoyed themselves.

I don't believe you can accomplish a major replumb, holding tanks, water heater, etc. in a three week blitz. I fear you'll get it torn apart and get real disappointed.

Carefully plan your project.... As always, advice is free on these Forums!

David
__________________
dbj216 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2015, 07:20 AM   #8
Rivet Master
 
BambiTex's Avatar
 
1967 26' Overlander
1955 22' Flying Cloud
1964 17' Bambi II
Clear Lake Shores , Texas
Join Date: Nov 2013
Posts: 1,141
Quote:
Originally Posted by dbj216 View Post
Kiera, it might be best to do a thorough assessment of your trailer and then repair the items that need it most. It takes some time to learn the Airstream systems and how to repair them. Many folks clean up their old trailer and use it as an "aluminum tent" for quite a while until they learn about all of its parts.

If you have good tires, and the brakes work and the exterior lights work, then clean it up and go find a campground. Use the campground bath house, use battery powered flashlights, use ice coolers for food, and make a campfire if needed.

I fear you may start tearing into your trailer and then say "oh my god" at all the things needing fixed. Gee, I have almost $9000 in parts and about 1000 hours of my time in my 66 Trade Wind. It's been fun, it's a hobby, and I am nearly ready to take the maiden trip after I buy a $1000 fridge, a $300 cook top, and $800 for two mattresses.

The previous owner of my trailer made sure they had a solid 115v AC system and that's all. Lamp, microwave, and space heater and away they went. They hooked up to shore power and enjoyed themselves.

I don't believe you can accomplish a major replumb, holding tanks, water heater, etc. in a three week blitz. I fear you'll get it torn apart and get real disappointed.

Carefully plan your project.... As always, advice is free on these Forums!

David
IMHO three weeks with two people working full time should be enough if the parts are available and the job is properly planned.
__________________
BambiTex is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2015, 10:19 AM   #9
Rivet Master
 
Glenritas's Avatar

 
1969 25' Tradewind
Shasta Lake , California
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 686
Remember : "It takes five times as long and four times as expensive as you thought it would."

Start with the running gear Axles, bearings , brakes.

When you say 2 guys working full time on your project, they had better be experienced Airstream professionals ! With a realistic timeline !

Ok, so you just replumb with PEX, use the Shark Bite fittings. They cost more then the other fittings but the only tool needed is the PEX cutter at about $10. Be sure to seat the PEX tube all the way into the Shark Bite fitting.

There aren't enough fittings needed to justify buying a special tool.

If you do think you have to have the tool, the best one is the expanding type but its the most expensive . The crimped type is less, but if not crimped properly the fitting can leak over time and vibration.

I've used Shark Bite fittings on two trailers and have had no problems or leaks. They are quick and easy. They can also be removed easily .

Your plan and timeline is unrealistic !

You will most likely find some floor rot hidden behind the cabinets and this will blow any fast timeline to pieces and require stripping the interior to replace the offending section of floor.

I found this when I had to get to the hose clamp that held the valve to the black tank . Airstream installed it from above the floor. That required stripping the interior from the door back to gain access. Once the interior came out I found floor rot behind the trim panels, that led to replacing a section of floor then new floor covering through out the trailer.

Which led to all new plumbing, appliances, holding tanks, fresh water tank,pump, water heater BTW relocated also, new power inlet ,new water inlet, new braker panel, surge protector, drain system, gas lines, A/C,digital TV antenna, tinted windows,blinds, curtains, refinishing the wood work, etc,etc,

That leads to 'I might as wells' and got to haves' and now your into a full restoration.

Ask me how I know !

Replumbing the Propane system is another project best done by experienced tech's.

BTW this $5500 '69 Airstream Tradewind will end up some where around $30,000+ three years after we brought it home.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3632.jpeg
Views:	91
Size:	69.0 KB
ID:	234114   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3636.jpg
Views:	86
Size:	121.2 KB
ID:	234115  

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3640.jpeg
Views:	85
Size:	36.4 KB
ID:	234116   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3648.jpeg
Views:	87
Size:	64.3 KB
ID:	234117  

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3652.jpeg
Views:	84
Size:	80.9 KB
ID:	234118   Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_3656.jpeg
Views:	88
Size:	61.8 KB
ID:	234119  

Click image for larger version

Name:	IMG_0738.jpeg
Views:	97
Size:	83.2 KB
ID:	234120  
__________________
Glen & Jane 1969 all electric Airstream 25' TradeWind
2014 Toyota Tundra
1998 Chevy Tahoe
2001 Casita 13' Patriot Deluxe

My Build Thread https://www.airforums.com/forums/f11...ml#post1997059
Glenritas is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2015, 01:00 PM   #10
3 Rivet Member
 
ole81's Avatar
 
1981 31' Excella II
Richmond , Texas
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 129
Images: 17
When you plumb your hot water heater, make certain that you have valves to isolate it from the rest of the system. Our '81 Excella II did not have any valves and when the hot water tank developed a bad leak, we were unable to use the commode, sinks or shower.
__________________
Bob (K5RPS) and Gail (MAAAA)

31' 1981 Excella II
2001 F-250 7.3D Crew w/8'bed and Pullrite 180degree

"Ask the Man Who Owns One" (Packard, Of Course)
or
"Ask the Woman who lives with one...or more!" (Gail)
'
ole81 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2015, 03:40 PM   #11
1 Rivet Member
 
1975 31' Sovereign
san Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 19
When we bought our AS it was "tore up from the floor up" LOL! We had two weeks and just the two of us but we gutted the inside and got her weatherproofed. Repaired the floors. Waterproofed the whole trailer. New gaskets on all the windows and doors and glazed all the windows. We (my fiancé did this part) put all new tires on it as well. Insulation, all new exterior lights...[ have been staying in it for 3 weeks with just a space heater, apartment size fridge, and mattress on the floor.(our AC still works and blows super)! But we have time off from work and want to have running water at the next site (been using a wash tub for dishes) and using the shower house at the current campground (this one is real nasty- I'm ashamed to say I have to use it).

I know this is a tall order! I've been known to take on big projects that seem like they won't get done...but I'm a firm believer that with careful preparation and great people (like you all here) I can get it done. I'm praying my tanks are good but realistic that they aren't. I'm not 100% that my hot water heater doesn't work but being that it's that old and I don't have time (I work 12+ hours/day 7 days a week when I'm on a job) to fix it if it happens to go out, so I'm replacing it.
I'm just trying to get an idea of what is likely going to be bad so I can anticipate it. I'm planning to spend no more than 5k on just this part of the renovation. I'm wanting to do it cheaper of course but I have a contingency in place in case things are worse off than expected.

I've included some pictures during the first renovation they aren't as far along as it really is now but a good example of what it looks like now.

Did I mention I LOVE My AS!!!! Very much!!

Thank you for all your thoughts and comments!! All are appreciated!!

ATTACH]234137[/ATTACH]Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426279079.215481.jpg
Views:	112
Size:	86.8 KB
ID:	234138

Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426277891.103297.jpg
Views:	117
Size:	85.2 KB
ID:	234134Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426277926.334642.jpg
Views:	111
Size:	89.0 KB
ID:	234135Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426277946.952725.jpg
Views:	112
Size:	88.6 KB
ID:	234136
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426279001.612357.jpg
Views:	84
Size:	86.1 KB
ID:	234137  
__________________
Kiera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-13-2015, 04:53 PM   #12
Rivet Master
 
Minno's Avatar

 
1972 31' Sovereign
Lexington , Minnesota
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 3,323
I would not leave your sewer connection open for grey water at a campground. You may get sewer gasses up into your trailer that way. A blue boy portable is better. Our fresh water tank was a pretty green color when we took it out - it had also been full of water for probably at least 2 years... That's why we put in a new one. You can bleach your tank and it will probably be at least ok for flushing the toilet, etc. until you can get a good look at it. If you use baking soda after the bleach and let it sit in the system for a few days, it will take care of the bleach taste. We drink our water and have never been sick from it this way. I would try to get a look at your tank before you drink the water though.

Kay
__________________
Minno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-2015, 04:32 PM   #13
1 Rivet Member
 
1975 31' Sovereign
san Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 19
I just removed the potable water tank from below the AS. It looked like at some point, someone had braced the underbelly. I know that the AS has some damage from running over something so I'm thinking they did a repair to the underbelly. So my question is does this tank look like a replacement? I'm thinking it could be because it's in really good shape...
However when we pulled the metal off and revealed the plywood, the plywood was rotten and falling apart.

My main concern is that it doesn't leak...
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426800567.340085.jpg
Views:	84
Size:	93.7 KB
ID:	234558  
__________________
Kiera is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-19-2015, 05:11 PM   #14
1 Rivet Member
 
1975 31' Sovereign
san Antonio , Texas
Join Date: Dec 2014
Posts: 19
Another question....

My 1975 originally can with just a potable water tank and a black water tank, right?
I found another tank that is located in the middle of the AS and it spans across to the shower area. Is this a gray water tank? If so did it originally come with that or do you think a PO put it in?
Click image for larger version

Name:	ImageUploadedByAirstream Forums1426803062.374287.jpg
Views:	103
Size:	89.5 KB
ID:	234559

Thanks!
__________________

__________________
Kiera is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
water heater to heat fresh tanks? truckasaurus Water Heaters, Filters & Pumps 11 02-01-2015 12:42 PM
Replacing water tanks, holding tanks & battery? AussieGirl 1956 - 1959 Flying Cloud 57 10-19-2014 09:21 AM
Bowen water heater door with newer suburban water heater durans54 Water Heaters, Filters & Pumps 37 11-19-2008 08:17 AM
LP Gas Tanks: Replacing 20# with 30# tanks? Pete Vermont LP Gas, Piping, Tanks & Regulators 28 01-30-2008 09:34 AM


Virginia Campgrounds

Reviews provided by




Copyright 2002- Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 05:46 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

Airstream is a registered trademark of Airstream Inc. All rights reserved. Airstream trademark used under license to Social Knowledge LLC.