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Old 08-16-2003, 04:28 PM   #1
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Tampa , Florida
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Need new plumbing?

I have been trying to learn the ins and outs of our newly aquired 77 20' Minuet. It appears that I have several leaks in my plumbing. Under side couch and through closets. Pipes that deliver water are all hard, grey pipes with metal clamps. not radiator clamps. It appears to be quite old.
My question is if this is something I should try and tackle myself or send to a dealer. I consider myself quite handy, but have never worked on a RV before.
I'd hate to take everything apart and now know how to put it back together.
Also, would I use a new flex tubing or stick with pvc type?

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Old 08-16-2003, 05:11 PM   #2
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1978 25' Tradewind
Metro Phoenix , Arizona
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Don't let the fact that it's an RV scare you from doing common sens things. You're just as handy on your Airstream as you are everywhere else!

The consensus seems to be NOT to use PVC, as the trailer is subjected to a lot of movement, which PVC doesn't handle very well. I'd use some new kinda flex stuff. You might check around to see what's used on boats, as they also have plumbing systems.

RV manufacturers (not necessarily including airstream, but maybe) seem to use whatever gives them the lowest cost out the door. You don't want to make that mistake!

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Old 08-16-2003, 08:42 PM   #3
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"Pipes that deliver water are all hard, grey pipes with metal clamps"

This is polybutelene. Good stuff but the joints and chlorine did not like each other and the joints were often a different material than the pipes so leaks at joints were common. A big lawsuit put a lot of plumbers to work in mobile homes doing replacement. RV's, since they don't have the always on city water connection weren't part of the suit.

The replacement is PEX. you can get it color coded, even.

You can repair the grey stuff or the pex and even copper with Quest fittings or similar. These provide a standard half inch pipe fitting to standard 3/8 od tubing.

see for some information and links. Lowe's is often a good source for PEX tubing and connectors. It also may be crimped (with special tools) for permanent fittings but occasional repairs in accessible places may find the Quest or similar fittings workable.
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Old 08-17-2003, 05:17 AM   #4
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FYI, those PEX crimping tools run around $100 at Lowes and HD.
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Old 08-17-2003, 07:03 AM   #5
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I would recommend using PEX; that is what Airstream currently uses. I get mine at Lowe's, although they only stock white. The crimping tool is expensive (about $100), but there is also a small crimping tool that you screw down with wrenches that can be ordered on the net.

If you use the big crimping tool, you need to preassemble most of the joints since it takes a lot of space to swing the handles (I learned that the hard way!).
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Old 08-17-2003, 10:08 AM   #6
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"there is also a small crimping tool that you screw down with wrenches that can be ordered on the net.

If you use the big crimping tool, you need to preassemble most of the joints since it takes a lot of space to swing the handles"

Which is where the small one that tightens down with bolts comes in handy. Or you can use the plastic Qest or Flair-it fittings, which can still be difficult in tight quarters.

As noted above, preassemble everything you can.


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