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Old 10-13-2011, 06:17 PM   #1
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Red face Remodeling for a New Life - 1973 Ambassador

Hello all, we are new to the forum and have read several of your posts. They have been greatly appreciated and have helped guide us in the right direction as we begin our journey to remodel our '73 Ambassador.

We purchased it in June 2011 thinking we were going to hook to the back of our Avalanche and take a vacation on the July 4th weekend. So we went out and bought everything we thought we needed to camp with and enjoy a week with family at our annual family reunion.

So we went to test everything; bought a battery, water pump ran, lights came on, we are doing well. Checked the outside running lights, not so good – need bulbs. No problem, bought bulbs…still not working, needs cleaning…nope they break. Hooked up a water hose to test the plumbing. Water starts pouring from under the trailer almost everywhere. Determined that nearly every copper pipe and drain pipe was leaking. We went on the trip without the trailer.

So it’s time to start a full remodel. I’ll add pictures later.
Repair leaks in roof
Replace flooring
Replace all plumbing
Replace all wiring
Replace both tanks and add a gray tank.
Replace steps
Add new cabinets, bed, bath etc.
And purchase correct towing equip.

We are pacing ourselves to complete this project within 3 years.

Current status; removed all appliances and walls, removed all inside skins, working on tearing out plywood flooring. Looking forward to hearing from all of your tips and tricks you experienced people have already encountered.
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Old 10-13-2011, 06:37 PM   #2
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I'd say your best bet for replacing plumbing would be sure to get the 'flex-type' plumbing. Don't know if that's what you have now, but if not, I'd recommend the flex tubing. With all of the bumps and potholes along your travels, having something with some give would be a definite plus. Of course, your drain pipes won't be of the flex type. Still, going with plastic type hard drain pipes (PVC) is your best bet. I've got a friend of a friend who bought a '66 Airstream trailer, and she also installed a black and separate gray water tank. If I can find out who she purchased the tanks from, I'll try to get back to you with the suppliers name and phone number.
Sounds like you have your work cut out for you, just remember in the back of your mind your goal, and what you'll have when your finished. A Classic Airstream!
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:02 PM   #3
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Thanks crazeevw. You are not the only one that I've heard suggesting the flex plumbing. It just makes sense. I would appreciate that contact for the gray tank.

We are also changing the entire floor plan and putting a full bath in the front. Anyone suggest against this? I ask because in all the remodels I've seen, no one has the rest room in the front.
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:25 PM   #4
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Tworetire,
I'm not an expert but it seems that I read somewhere on here that the reason for the bath to be on the side or in the back is due to the tongue weight on the front. It would be to much. I'm sure there will be others who will correct me on this or point you in the right directions.
It sounds like you have a big project in front of you. Good luck.
Meredith
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Old 10-13-2011, 07:29 PM   #5
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PEX water lines are great. Easy material to work with. We used the crimp fittings, and the only challenge was planning enough space for the crimping tool to work. Built a lot of sub-assemblies to put in the tight spaces, then planned one last fitting where there was room to connect the last part.

Make drawings of the original water lines, valves, etc. before you take anything apart. PEX compatible valves took up more room than the originals in our trailer, but the re-design to accommodate them was easy once we figured out how the system was supposed to work.

Three years later, no trouble with the PEX at all.
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:06 PM   #6
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You may be right meredith, but I can't find it being more weight than a sofa with lots of storage under it unless we fill the bathtub up really full, and I can't see us ever doing that. My fear is the plumbing. I haven't taken the floor out yet so I can't see where/if the plumbing will work out for drainage. The largest debate is to pipe it to the back where the original drain came out or to make the drain up front. Anyone...anyone... LOL
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Old 10-14-2011, 11:59 PM   #7
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Removed the first sheet of plywood flooring today. Found very little insulation and rat bones. I'm so glad I decided to strip this thing to the frame. The wall bolts are a bit of a challenge. I cut them with a chissel between the plywood and wall plate but the rest of them I will use a grinder to remove them. Cause when you miss that chissel, it puts a really nasty dent in your outter skin. More repairs.
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Old 10-15-2011, 02:58 AM   #8
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Hi, most of what I've read about bathrooms, concerning location, is that your tanks are usually around or close to your axles. For you black water tank, it would have to be directly under your toilet. Don't think I've ever seen a TT or moho that didn't have black water tank under toilet. Just not enough water with RV toilets to get enough 'flush' to move waste through a 3" or 4" sewer pipe.
So, I'd start with locations of your tanks. Of course, you have a gray/black water tank now, with plans to go to separate tanks, so their location will be up to you.
Personally, a center bathroom isn't all that bad. Think about it, when camped, your only view out front of the TT will be from the bathroom. I truly never understood why Airstream continued to produce rear bathroom only floor plans. Maybe the waste tank locations? But, thank goodness better sense prevailed and Airstream started making better layouts on their floorplans, in my opinion anyhow.
With you ripping your Airstream to bare bones, your decision for your floorplan layout is only limited to your imagination. Just remember, your needs for electrical, 12V and 110V, any other wiring that you want (cable, phone, etc), plumbing for your lp gas lines (water heater, stove, fridge, furnace) and finally your piping for water from your water tank, to your bathroom, shower and kitchen, plus waste water drains. It's almost as if your building a brand new house, confined to the space of your TT.
Good luck, post pix of your progress. You'll go back one day and look at what you've created from start to finish.
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Old 10-15-2011, 10:51 AM   #9
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Remodeling for a New Life

Greetings Tworetire!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tworetire View Post
We are also changing the entire floor plan and putting a full bath in the front. Anyone suggest against this? I ask because in all the remodels I've seen, no one has the rest room in the front.
There were a few Vintage Airstreams in the 1950s that had small bathrooms located in the front, but if my notes are correct, most did not have waste holding tanks and most of these coaches were under 24-feet. Considerations to be made prior to relocating the bath to the front might include:
  • You will almost certainly have to sacrifice your below-floor spare tire/wheel mount that most 1970s coaches had installed at the factory. This would raise the question of where to store the spare tire/wheel.
  • Placement of the windows and window size could complicate placement of the shower or tub/shower combination as well as presenting issues when locating the black water tank vent.
  • Dump valves for waste tanks would be at opposite end of the coach when compared to most "typical" RVs. This likely wouldn't be a huge issue when dealing with a "tow-through" dump station, but when utilizing three-point park connections there could be a significant problem with distance and pitch of the drain line.
  • While I don't think that the weight difference between a front bath and a front lounge would be huge, there are potential issues that would need further investigation:
    • If your current floorplan has a front mounted fresh water tank, a front bath would likely require its relocation. With Argosy coaches of this era the front mounted fresh water tank can provide valuable help in keeping hitch weight optimized for stability by permiting hitch weight adjustment by how much fresh water is carried.
    • With a "typical" black water tank location below the toilet and if your design includes an assumption of traveling with empty waste tanks, there could be a question of what the impact of having to travel with a full or partially full tank might have on the hitch weight. Unlike the front mounted fresh water tank, it wouldn't be acceptable to dump the excess "fluid" on the ground if the hitch weight needed to be lowered.
Your idea of a front bath is quite intriguing. With careful pre-planning and attention to overall weight balancing and hitch weight maintenance at 12-15% of overall coach weight . . . you could have a very unique coach.

Good luck with your re-design!

Kevin
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Old 10-15-2011, 11:17 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tworetire View Post
You may be right meredith, but I can't find it being more weight than a sofa with lots of storage under it unless we fill the bathtub up really full, and I can't see us ever doing that. My fear is the plumbing. I haven't taken the floor out yet so I can't see where/if the plumbing will work out for drainage. The largest debate is to pipe it to the back where the original drain came out or to make the drain up front. Anyone...anyone... LOL
The weight of the fixtures isn't that much more than a sofa with storage as long as you don't use porcelain fixtures. But that leaves you with the choice of adding the black tank, at least, under the toilet or piping it all the way to the back.

To pipe it all the way to the original drains would require standard plumbing drain and at least a couple of gallons per flush. You would also have to make sure that your trailer was dead level front to back so that the sewer pipe angle was just right to drain well and carry the solids with the liquids. The amount of water this would use would pretty much tether you to campgrounds with water and sewer hookups.

If you leave the black tank in front, you are greatly increasing the leverage that tank has on the tipping of the trailer and giving it much more influence on the tongue weight than it would have near the axles. A full black tank would add more to tongue weight than an airstream sofa with storage.

Weight distribution in the trailer is something to consider carefully as you put stuff back together.

That being said, have fun with your project. We've been redoing our '71 piece by piece while camping with it. We've been lucky to able to replace the plumbing in smaller chunks and still had it functional. It's been a lot of fun personalizing it and making it work just the way we want it.
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Old 10-16-2011, 12:59 PM   #11
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Thanks Overlander, your information "but when utilizing three-point park connections there could be a significant problem with distance and pitch of the drain line." is what I needed to know. Since we have never hooked our trailer up to any camp site, we were not sure of the importance of the drain location. You helped clear up some of the doubts I had. I have attached our idea of a floor plan. It does not have a spare tire located under the fron and the fresh tank goes from the door and towards the rear.
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Old 10-16-2011, 01:20 PM   #12
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Thats kind of a cool layout.....
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Old 10-16-2011, 03:56 PM   #13
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Greetings Tworetire!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tworetire View Post
Thanks Overlander, your information "but when utilizing three-point park connections there could be a significant problem with distance and pitch of the drain line." is what I needed to know. Since we have never hooked our trailer up to any camp site, we were not sure of the importance of the drain location. You helped clear up some of the doubts I had. I have attached our idea of a floor plan. It does not have a spare tire located under the fron and the fresh tank goes from the door and towards the rear.
While there are no absolutes in RV park design, the typical RV park with 3-point connections will have the sewer connection between 3 and 6 feet from the rear of the parking pad on the streetside. Then, to add complications to the situation, many will have the actual sewer connection as much 3 to 6 inches above the surrounding ground level (not a huge problem for motorhomes and RVs designed with high ground clearance, but an issue to be dealt with in Airstreams with the ground-hugging design). Even with the stock rear exit on most 1960s and 1970s Airstreams, today's RV parks can pose some issues with getting the waste hose oriented so that it will flow properly to the park sewer connection. The greater the distance between your dump valve and the park connection, the greater the issue may be in obtaining proper orientation for effective draining. While I haven't really ever considered the possibilities, I suspect that anything further forward than just ahead of the front axle would almost certainly cause issues when using 3-point connections in a typical RV park.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin
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Old 10-16-2011, 04:38 PM   #14
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What about a sailboat toilet, they are remote tank and a macerator pump to dump the tank at any level.
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