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Old 01-31-2012, 03:37 PM   #1
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1972 29' Ambassador
quitman , Georgia
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New and have some questions about '72 ambassador 29' twin

Hey everyone, my name is J.R and new to this whole forum thing.
sunday evening we just bought a 1972 airstream ambassador 29 twin for $2000 thats in need of some work, i was told the water lines froze last winter and caused a few leaks. worst place far as i can see is the rear bath with some floor rot... my biggest concern is will i need or should i need to replace all water lines including hot water or just try to cut and patch leaking areas? The people we bought it from were in the process of installing an electric hot water heater. The outside looks pretty good to me, just want to get her ready to go weekending!!!! Im willing and able (as money comes) to do most of the work just not really sure where to start. hopefully ill do it right im tryin to post pics as well.
thank you!!!!
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:06 PM   #2
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Morrill , Nebraska
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If you want to do it right, I would recommend replacing all of the copper with PEX. The only copper that I didn't replace in our trailer is the two lines that supply the shower faucet. These lines would have required removing the tub. When installing the water heater you should also install a bypass to make it easier to winterize.

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Old 01-31-2012, 06:22 PM   #3
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JR... I saw that one listed, but it was quite a ways from me, so I didnt go look at it. Comgraulations on the purchase. I am new here also and in the market for an older airstream.
The problem with just repairing one spot leak is the copper when it freezes it expands. Thus the new fittings dont fit the old pipe. I would replace all of the plumming with pex. Pex is sold as a freeze resistant product. Doesent mean that the brass elbows and connections couldn't freeze and split. But it is closer to foolproof than anything on the market. Its what I plan on doing in one when I find her. Also going to put it in the older part of our house when I can get all the parts together.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:28 PM   #4
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The floor rot is going to become an issue sooner rather than later, so you might start doing some searching and reading here.. Pulling out and replacing sections of flooring is a non-trivial task, but necessary when sub-floor gets spongy...

You'll be able to tell a lot about integrity of water pipes by running water pump, and noting how frequently it cycles as pressure drops.. Pump startup every 10 or 15 seconds is a bad thing.. Means pressure is leaking rapidly somewhere.. Once every 20 minutes is a good thing, measn system is holding pressure...

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:34 PM   #5
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Maybe all the copper is bad, but maybe not...

Howdy and welcome to AIRforums, JR! You came to the right spot to ask any questions about your new-to-you Ambassador.

You're right, the exterior looks pretty nice! And the interior, while it needs some things RE-hung, REpaired, and even maybe REplaced, it doesn't appear to be terribly dirty, like some of them are. All in all, it looks like you have just bought yourself a nice new hobby!

Of course, as Twinkie says, you are probably best off if you replace all the copper with PEX, but that isn't always the case. Last winter I didn't properly drain the shower wand hose, and that left a bit of water in a 5" piece of copper behind the wall in the shower, directly behind the shower valve.

Lucky for me, I just didn't use the shower, and that eliminated a water leak until I could get some time to take the bath apart and figure out what went wrong. What I did starts at this post.

I didn't find that removing the two rear panels of the tub was a big deal, and I can't remember seeing any pipes that would need to take the actual tub out. Taking the tub out WOULD be a bigger job, that's a fact, but what I did could be done by most anyone. In fact, you will see the little pipe I'm talking about. I put an arrow to it in one photo. That job was my first-ever pipe soldering!

So, all that to say, maybe it's just one pipe like I encountered, or maybe it's a bunch of them. Once you start to look at the copper, you should be able to tell pretty quick, since a burst pipe does NOT "hide it's light under a bushel", as the old saying goes. You can see splits and bulges, even at my advanced years.

Let us know what you decide to do, and like you have started to do, don't spare the photos!

Two last points: the first thing we always recommend to new folks is to get the outside all sealed up so that no more leakes can happen. Very important, because leaks can make more work for you faster than you can fix things up.

Also, I'm guessing from your photos, that you will be looking for new axles pretty soon. Take your time on that one though, it's a popular subject here, and you want to be able to savour it properly...
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:49 PM   #6
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An easy way to find leaks is to listen for them. Buy one of the fittings from Camping World or just make one like I did that allows you to hook the hose from an air compressor to the fresh water inlet. You will need one this fall anyway to blow out the lines so they won't freeze again after you fix them. Then go through the trailer and listen. You will be able to hear the air leaking at all the major holes in the copper. Many years ago I had a college job working on HUD trailers headed to the flooded out Mississippi Delta. They had been in storage in PA for several years. All had water leaks due to busted copper pipes. Using air was fast and easy and not messy. I fixed water leaks in hundreds of trailers that summer. We would water test them after fixing them and almost never missed a leak using air to find them. Sometimes the hissing would be faint but just listen carefully along all the lines.
Hope this helps.
Bruce & Rachel
68 Trade Wind
2001 Toyota Tundra
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:57 PM   #7
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One of the issues that you may encounter when trying to repair ruptured copper lines is the size of the pipes. Many people will post here that they can not find fitting that fit. It is not that Airstream used an odd size. The problem is that the pipe has stretched to a larger diameter making it very difficult to repair.


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Old 01-31-2012, 07:32 PM   #8
1 Rivet Member
1972 29' Ambassador
quitman , Georgia
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 12
Thank you all soooo much for responding so fast. Im pretty sure that ive got my mind made up to go ahead and replace all piping.. With that being said, how tough of a task is it going to be? Will i have to remove wall panels, flooring or the skin that is underneath our Silver Dream? As for axels, is that a must? What kind of axels? Do they have to be airstream or just a trailer axel with brakes? Another problem that i know for certain is all external running lights including brake lights dont work....I have sooooo many a kid in a candy store.... Is freezing lines really an issue here in Georgia and northern Florida?

thanks again
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:37 PM   #9
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1972 29' Ambassador
quitman , Georgia
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Mrflegal, we watched it for quite some time on Craigslist and talked to them several times. We drove about and hour or so to pick it up. Im so glad we decided to get it. Just hope that we can get "her" ready enough to camp by spring.

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