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Old 07-07-2014, 07:43 PM   #1
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Replacing water tanks, holding tanks & battery?

Hi Everyone!

I'm a newbie Airstreamer, still shopping right now. I have been looking around since the start of the year, mostly at 60's & 70's model Safari's and Tradewind's (haven't seen a lot of Flying Cloud's available) to renovate and live in part time/use as a mobile office space.

I am considering buying a '58 Flying Cloud model at the moment that is mostly renovated with some unfinished projects and some original pieces as well.
While it seems to be mostly ready to go and only need aesthetic upgrades, the seller has informed me that it does not have a water tank, holding tanks or battery.

Does anyone have an idea of the cost of replacing these, what I would need and how easy it is to come by?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I'm hoping to move fast on this one. Thank you!
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Old 07-07-2014, 10:31 PM   #2
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Well, if it is just a matter of finding a tank that fits where the original one did, there are options that include getting something custom made for several hundred dollars, to buying something that will pretty much fit off the shelf , for a couple hundred. BUT if the previous owner has changed the layout dramatically, eliminated the plumbing altogether, etc., then this may be a very different challenge.

good luck!


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Old 07-07-2014, 11:43 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply Belegedhel!

I hope that they haven't changed it dramatically and there is an option of getting something that pretty much fits. Everything seems to be in the original places which is a good sign, except maybe having replaced a sofa in the back with a dinette.

I plan to drive out to take a look tomorrow so I will keep this in mind to check.
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Old 07-08-2014, 08:17 AM   #4
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Ask the seller to show you where the original tanks went, and to explain where the originals are now. These tanks do get cracked, etc. as they age, so if all he did was disconnect the plumbing from the tank and remove it, then you may be in pretty good shape. AS I recall, the 50's era trailers typically had the tanks up above the floor, and were typically simple rectangular shapes. There are various RV supply companies that sell a variety of sizes of rectangular tanks, so this may not be a big deal at all. If the tanks have to fit under the floor and have some kind of oddball shape, then things may get more complicated, but there are companies that can do a completely custom tank for you.

Also ask a lot of questions about the renovation. There are plenty of folks out there that put a pretty laminate down over rotting subfloor and call it good. Take the inspection checklist from the "portal" tab of the forums with you as a guide for things to look for.

good luck!
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Old 07-16-2014, 06:00 AM   #5
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Unfortunately I couldn't get the run down like that because it was being sold on a lot and the previous owner wasn't the one to last renovate it.

I decided to bring a restoration specialist with me to check everything out before purchasing and everything checked out. He agreed that I'm getting a great deal, repairs and renovations are fairly manageable and everything was in good condition.

So, I'm now the proud owner of my very first Airstream! I Couldn't be more excited here are some pictures from before I even got it off the lot -














(obviously the previous owner has done quite a few renovations, the only thing I think is original are the cabinets (painted) - my taste is a little different to theirs but I do appreciate everything being in useable condition already. I think once the carpet and curtains are gone it will look 50% better to me already).

While I reeeeeally wanted to bring it with me and get started making it pretty and cosy immediately, I decided to do the "sensible" thing and bring it to the restoration place to have the above mentioned things installed and make sure plumbing and electrical is running smoothly as well as some minor repairs - locks, trim around the wheel, chains on the tow hitch etc.
Hoping it will only be there about a month but it depends on how much work I opt to (can afford to) have done. Apparently, it's all good to go for "plugged in" camping, I need to figure out if I want to install a greywater tank at this time though (and check if thats something I can put off until later maybe?)..
I'm also considering having the convertible seating/dinette/bed made up as well for where the wrap around seating is now. So, when I get my hands on it finally will depend on a few things.

Thank you again for all the tips, Belegedhel. I will most certainly be asking a lot of renovation questions, probably before I get it back even because I have so many ideas buzzing around right now.
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Old 07-16-2014, 10:41 AM   #6
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Congrats on the purchase! It looks like you have a very clean trailer, and its great news that the first order of business is not to do a shell-off!

On the topic of the grey water tank, if you have the trailer at the professional's shop, now would be as good a time as any to get it done. It can certainly wait until later, now is just a convenient time to do it. You won't be able to camp without at least a sewer hook-up without a grey tank, unless you use a "blue boy," and some campgrounds frown on those, and many people find them a hassle to use. But...some folks never camp without hook-ups, grey tank or not.

Good luck!
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Old 07-17-2014, 03:14 PM   #7
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Yes, I'm glad I won't have to start from scratch, I will this amount of work is entirely enough to learn for now.

The big draw back (and reason for great price I'm sure) was that it didn't come with any tanks installed, after some research apparently it's set up as a "tankless toilet" meaning it can be used and then dumped when you get plugged in at a camp ground. I don't quite understand how this is possible without having any water tanks? maybe this is the same as a "blue boy" you were talking about (if by hassle you mean kind of gross)?

I certainly want to get it all hooked up for dry camping and it sounds like they will need to drill up the floor to install the tanks so definitely doing it now rather than after replacing the flooring seems like a better option but the rough estimate was about $3000 (three days labor and parts).. do you thats a good price or installing fresh water, grey water and black water tanks?

It may mean putting off the dinette/seating/bed option for a while to stay in budget..
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Old 07-17-2014, 04:47 PM   #8
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Ahhhhhhhhhh! It is all becoming very clear to me now. The previous owner set up the trailer so that the entire plumbing system is only useable when the trailer is attached to city water and a sewer connection. That is why there is no fresh water tank and apparently no black and grey tanks. I assume that the toilet you have there is plumbed straight into the dump valve, with no tank in between.

You had originally mentioned that it didn't have a battery--now understanding that the PO seems to be setting it up as a "park" model, the question is, has he physically removed the DC electrical system (ie., no battery, no converter, all lights and fans have been converted to 110 v only)?

So this sheds new light on what you are up against. In your original posts, I thought it was just an incomplete project, now I see...
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:06 PM   #9
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Is this bad news?

I don't know for sure about the electrical, only know what my restoration guy is filling me in on but when I asked about volts (to look into replacing interior lights) he said he "thought it was 110v but will check" so I think you might be right
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:25 PM   #10
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Well, it all depends on how much of the infrastructure the PO removed. For example, it really shouldn't be a big deal to put a water tank in there and plumb it into the existing system. BUT, if the place that the original water tank used to sit is now being occupied by something not easily moved, then this increases the challenge. Similarly, with the black tank, you could use the toilet that you have, and put a relatively small, flat tank under the floor, or you could remove the toilet, put the tank above the floor, and get a shorter toilet that mounts on top the tank. Minimal major surgery will be required to do this. You could also replace your toilet with a "port-a-potty" type toilet that has a small reservoir of water built into the top half, and a few gallons of black tank storage built into the bottom half. The downside of these style of toilets is that you have to manually dump the tank when it gets full. They are gaining popularity, though.

Your trailer wasn't originally built with grey water tanks, so the belly has to be opened up, and the tanks plumbed in if you decide to go that route.

For the electrical, modern trailers typically have two systems, one that is 110v, and runs the large appliances (refrigerator, electrical water heater, 110V outlets, air conditioning), and a 12 V system that runs all the lights, the vent fans, the 12V outlets, etc.). The 12 V system runs off a battery that is charged by a converter that plugs into the 110 V system. All the wiring is inside the walls, so if your PO merely disconnected the 12V wires, and replaced things like the ceiling light fixtures with 110V lights, this is not a huge deal. You can restore your 12V system to functionality without too much grief. If he snipped the wires flush with the wall, or actually rewired the trailer without a 12v system, then it will be much harder to fix.

good luck
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Old 07-17-2014, 05:34 PM   #11
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On the price tag for the tank installation, I suppose $3k feels steep, but I don't know what has to be done to make it happen. You could spend close to $1k on parts alone, so $2k for labor might not be extreme.

Give some consideration to your refrigerator as well. It is probably set up to run on 110V electric only. It looks suspiciously like a "dorm" style fridge. If you want to dry camp, you will need an RV style fridge that can run on propane or electrical. Ask your tech to tell you what kind of fridge you have, and whether the propane lines that go to the fridge cubby are still present. For that matter, an RV fridge needs to be able to vent, and typically has a vent at the bottom, and a "chimney" at the top. Ask if this architecture is still present.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:29 PM   #12
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That's a nice looking trailer! I agree with Belegedhel that it sounds like the renovator set it up as a "park model" and not for traveling. HOWEVER, it can be changed! After doing our own tanks and putting them in, plumbing them and all that fun stuff, $3K doesn't really sound too bad, considering that the belly pan will have to be dropped to do it (and that's not a real fun job). Depending on your plans and lifestyle, you might want to do that.
But NOW YOU OWN AN AIRSTREAM!!!!! And that's so kool!
Welcome!

Kay
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:54 PM   #13
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Congrats, I too think it will look much better without that carpet and window coverings. If it was me, having it at professional restoration shop already, I would do all the upgrades that you are thinking about at this time and save yourself time and money in the long run. Obviously none of us have insight to your circumstances and your pocket book but if they are going to rip the carpet out and uncover the floor it would seem as it would be a perfect time to install the tanks in question. Overall it looks like in great shape and I am sure its going to turn out beautiful. Good luck and keep the pics and progress updates coming.
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Old 07-18-2014, 01:31 AM   #14
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Sorry about the huge pictures, I didn't realize until I looked at this on my laptop earlier. Oops.

Thanks for all the replies!
After all this insight into the functionality and installation process I am leaning toward prioritizing the tanks and electrics. I can always redo the dinette area later on, maybe put a free standing table in the mean time.

I paid 11k for the airsteam which I keep being told was a steal and am hoping to keep these initial restorations under about 7k.
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