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Old 05-11-2010, 12:53 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
Bluffton , South Carolina
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Unhappy 1978 Sovereign "Newbie" needs Help!

Hello, I just became a new proud owner of an 1978 Sovereign and need all the help I can get! I am in need of a original plumbing diagram so I can replace/update existing with color coded Pex. Apparently there have been many different repairs and all were substandard/shody attempts. I have many other questions for anyone willing to help me!
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:18 PM   #2
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1980 31' Excella II
Drummond Island , Michigan
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Welcome to the forums, you are going to have a good time learning about your A/S. I do not have a plumbing diagram but it is pretty easy to figure out without a diagram. All the plumbing except for the drain down valves are located above the floor level so it is pretty easy to trace. Replacing "all" the plumbing would be a major job involving some major disassembly of the interior. You can adapt Pex to the exiting stuff where needed. That's what I did to my '80 Excella. Use pex connectors with screw down nuts to connect to the old tubing. I do not recall the manufactures name. Slip on type of connectors will definetely leak if you try to use them.
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:27 PM   #3
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Welcome Fish,

Glad you're part of the group. There are many members here who are willing to share helpful information. Is yours a center or rear bath?

Kevin
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by FishHouse View Post
Hello, I just became a new proud owner of an 1978 Sovereign and need all the help I can get! I am in need of a original plumbing diagram so I can replace/update existing with color coded Pex. Apparently there have been many different repairs and all were substandard/shody attempts. I have many other questions for anyone willing to help me!
There is a service manual available that will answer many of your questions, about the entire trailer.

They are available thru a dealer.

Andy
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:56 PM   #5
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Thanks for the quick response! I have a rear bath. After hooking up the house water hose to trailer inlet, things went from good to bad in 5 seconds! The previous owner had installed a charcoal water filter under the kitchen sink and did NOT install the canister properely. I removed it all together and will install a "Whole Trailer" portable filter to keep costs down and to improve overall water quality. Then in the very tiny compartment where the hot water tank(recently replaced) is located, all the plumbing lines are of different sizes and types furthering complications. I just want to replace all with Pex and do it right without having to splice together the old with the new! It can't be that difficult, can it?
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Old 05-11-2010, 03:38 PM   #6
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Hi and welcome FishHouse

I just changed out all the copper plumbing in my 66 Tradewind. It is not that difficult- accessibility is the problem when you are trying to crimp connectors in very confined space. I used mainly 1/2" pex. I wanted to use 3/8" pex on the hot water side and I did use some, but very few fittings are available. I could find only 1/2 to 3/8 crimped reducers and 3/8 slip on connectors by Watts. I could not find elbows, tees or 3/8 valves. I used a regular 1/2 crimp tool, where possible, and then a manual crimping tool in conjuntion with a 10" set of vise grips, in the real tight locations. This tool is available from Lowes or Home Depot for $25. I am still not completely finished as I need to finish plumbing the flush valve for the old toilet. I got side tracked installing a new converter and now I will probably add a second battery to do some serious boondocking. I can send you some pictures if you PM me your e-mail address.

Dan
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:28 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Hi and welcome FishHouse

I just changed out all the copper plumbing in my 66 Tradewind. It is not that difficult- accessibility is the problem when you are trying to crimp connectors in very confined space. I used mainly 1/2" pex. I wanted to use 3/8" pex on the hot water side and I did use some, but very few fittings are available. I could find only 1/2 to 3/8 crimped reducers and 3/8 slip on connectors by Watts. I could not find elbows, tees or 3/8 valves. I used a regular 1/2 crimp tool, where possible, and then a manual crimping tool in conjuntion with a 10" set of vise grips, in the real tight locations. This tool is available from Lowes or Home Depot for $25. I am still not completely finished as I need to finish plumbing the flush valve for the old toilet. I got side tracked installing a new converter and now I will probably add a second battery to do some serious boondocking. I can send you some pictures if you PM me your e-mail address.

Dan
Hello Dan, Here is my email addy: fishhouseart@yahoo.com Please feel free to send any and all info you want! Why can't I find any diagrams or schematics for my particular unit? It seems to be a big "Secret" or are they only available to certified service technicians? I am disabled and have inoperable lower disc damages and have limited mobility inside the tiny water heater and water distribution compartment. Now wouldn't it be easier to remove the water heater from the outside to replace all the miss-matched hoses and replumb it correctly? I cannot afford to pay someone to do this work for me. I use to install irrigation and all related work, so I find it a new challange not a pain! Also, any ideas why the rear looks like it is sagging? The manual leveling jacks, are they strong enough to use a pnuematic tool on them?
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:05 AM   #8
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Andy, please tell me where and how much for service repair manual? I have visited many RV sites and STILL cannot locate a manual, Please help before I press the self destruction button! Also why aren't there any websites that have PDF files to look through? Many appliance and other manufacturers have made these very accessible to the general public. Are AirStream service manuals "Top Secret" files and only available to "Certified" repair specialists? Argh! Thank you FishHouse Jay
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Old 05-12-2010, 11:41 AM   #9
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Andy, please tell me where and how much for service repair manual? I have visited many RV sites and STILL cannot locate a manual, Please help before I press the self destruction button! Also why aren't there any websites that have PDF files to look through? Many appliance and other manufacturers have made these very accessible to the general public. Are AirStream service manuals "Top Secret" files and only available to "Certified" repair specialists? Argh! Thank you FishHouse Jay
You ask some questions that a dealer cannot answer on this Forums, because of rules, such as prices of anything that they sell, which is considered "soliciting".

There is no secret files, but they are not there because of costs involved, plus publications are available.

Service and owners manuals of any major degree, usually are not free.

However, you can call a dealer, or PM them for answers to some questions.

Andy
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Old 05-12-2010, 10:51 PM   #10
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1980 31' Excella II
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Jay- I had recently had the water heater replaced on my A/S at a A/S dealer. Our A/S is '80 rear bath so it is very similar to yours. Should have done it myself but the water heater started leaking on the way back home and I also have some L4,L5 problems and I'm also 6'4" and pretty wide. I think the tech that did the water heater replacement was either in training or did not really know his ahh..backside from a hole in the ground. I ended up with leaks in the plumbing on both the hot and cold sides in that tiny water heater compartment. Actually we are pretty lucky if you think the rear bath water heater space is small and hard to get to you should see the center bath model with a side access panel. Pulling the water heater and redoing the plumbing connections and then reinstalling it will not work because you wil have to have several feet of extra tubing attached to the back of the water heater in order to do the connection outside and when you try to put everything back into that small hole there is not enough room for the extra pipe in the remaining space behind the water heater. There is barely enough room for all the pex Tee's and connectors stacked on top of one another. I did it by reconstructing the stack of fittings and then laying on on the floor on my side while hooking it up to the water heater and the plumbing. You might also try a firm cushion under your shoulder or arm to get enough height to do the job and take some of the strain off your back.

Rear end sag is a problem with some rear bath trailers because the waste tanks are suspended way back there behind the axle. The frame rails on the late '70's early 80's A/S were also a smaller cross section to save weight. The stablizers on the corners of the trailer are good for taking the bounce out of the suspension and the frame but I would not use them to try to lift the rear end. What you can try is putting jack stands or cribbing made from wood blocks under the rear frame and then raising the front end with the tongue jack. There is a repair to correct rear end sag but it entails removing the belly pan behind the axles and welding a reinforcement to the frame after the sag is removed.
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:33 AM   #11
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FishHouse

I will email you pictures of my plumbing work. I made as many connections as I could outside the trailer and then inserted the Pex sub-assemblies into the trailer from the rear opening. I had access to the top of my wh which you may not have. The hand tool crimper from Lowes or HD is essential. It is only $25 and you can crimp 3/4, 1/2 and 3/8 Pex. Just be thankful you don't have a side bathroom. It would probably be easier to re-plumb using cpvc and glue, but I just don't like cpvc. But I would consider it if you think installing Pex may be to difficult.

I bought an owners manual from AS for about $20 I think. I would order one from them. Just go to the AS website.

I can not help you with the rear end sagging problems. There are lots of Forum members that can though as they have had to deal with this problem.

Dan
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Old 05-13-2010, 08:48 AM   #12
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Thank you, I always seem to jump into things and get frustrated when simple information should be available. I appologise for my ignorance! I now have a "New Outlook" on this whole RV thing! Thanks again!
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Old 05-13-2010, 09:04 AM   #13
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Ahzmyrah, I sincerely appreciate our simiular physical diisabilities and your time to sharing your RV plumbing expertise! I have a close buddy who is 5' 6" and is an expert in working with Pex, he is a home repair/maintenance mechanic. His wife works at a local high end plumbing supply company and my parts expenses will be less than retail. Thanks for helping a stressed out comrade!
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Old 05-13-2010, 07:46 PM   #14
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Have you looked at the "Flair It" PEX tubing fittings? They make a wide assortment that will do everything you need. Even connecting directly to the faucets and the water heater.
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