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Old 11-26-2014, 09:46 AM   #1
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1968 17' Caravel
Noblesville , Indiana
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AC Replacement for 1975 Safari

Alas, it's time to replace the air conditioner on my 23' 1975 Safari. Any advice on the best 13,500 BTU unit to purchase?

I've heard good things about the Coleman being a good fit for the Airstream, but it's so darned tall. I think the proportions could be really off on such a small trailer.

The Dometic / Geotherm is lower profile, which I prefer, but only if all else is equal.

I won't be doing this install myself.

Thanks, Airstreamers! You are a wonderful resource.

Carolyn
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Old 11-26-2014, 10:08 AM   #2
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1976 31' Sovereign
Oswego , Illinois
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The armstong ac can be rebuilt & it's lots bettewr than on market today, also no fab. to install the new units that are throw aways. research forums & this si what you will find about armstrong & new units
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Old 11-26-2014, 10:50 AM   #3
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The armstong ac can be rebuilt & it's lots bettewr than on market today, also no fab. to install the new units that are throw aways. research forums & this si what you will find about armstrong & new units

Here is a link to the Armstrong rebuild thread. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f427...dor-76432.html
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Old 11-27-2014, 07:10 AM   #4
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1973 21' Globetrotter
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If you don't plan to install a new AC yourself, then I would assume you don't plan to climb up there and rebuild your old Armstrong either. I'm guessing finding a local AC professional interested/willing to do it is going to be tough as well. Maybe you can offer the Armstrong carcass as a parts donor for the rebuilders out there.

Anyway, I replaced my old AC with a low profile Dometic Penguin a couple years ago, and have been happy with it. I bought the plastic condensate pan specifically made for the Dometics, but the "drip cups" seem to be the preferred solution these days, and can probably be adapted to other models as well. For smaller trailers, I feel that the low profile units definitely improve the aesthetic. If you are going to have something perched on your roof, then it might as well be small.

One bit of advice I would offer would be to buy the roof unit and the interior ceiling unit at the same place and time. I bought mine separately because a deal came along, and ended up with some argument as to whether a heat strip is compatible with my combination of units.

good luck!
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Old 12-05-2014, 07:56 PM   #5
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1975 23' Safari
Ambler , Pennsylvania
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Hey Belegedhel,

I would like to replace mine with a low profile one too. Could you tell me why you choose Dom/Pen? And what is a "drip cup'? So the interior unit is separate? How does one know if it is the top or the bottom one that is faulty?

Sorry to bombard ya with a bunch of questions, but I am a newbie who just got his first AS today.

Thanks!
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Old 12-05-2014, 08:04 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Merlelowe99 View Post
Hey Belegedhel,

I would like to replace mine with a low profile one too. Could you tell me why you choose Dom/Pen? And what is a "drip cup'? So the interior unit is separate? How does one know if it is the top or the bottom one that is faulty?

Sorry to bombard ya with a bunch of questions, but I am a newbie who just got his first AS today.

Thanks!
The 'drip cups' referred to above are the Dometic Auxiliary Drain Kit part #3107688.016. It consists of 2 plastic drain cups with fittings that are attached to the bottom of the A/C unit with screws. There is also a length of drain tube with fittings and an additional 14 X 14 gasket that is applied to the original A/C sealing gasket.

The instructions are very simple and all required hardware is included in the kit.

In my professional opinion, these drain kits far surpass the usefulness of Airstream's proprietary drain pan and are not subject to the leaking and cracking of the drain pan. Airstream is a bit slow in accepting technology that the rest of the RV industry has been installing for years.
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Old 12-06-2014, 08:49 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Merlelowe99 View Post
Hey Belegedhel,

I would like to replace mine with a low profile one too. Could you tell me why you choose Dom/Pen? And what is a "drip cup'? So the interior unit is separate? How does one know if it is the top or the bottom one that is faulty?

Sorry to bombard ya with a bunch of questions, but I am a newbie who just got his first AS today.

Thanks!
I chose the Dometic Penguin for two reasons. First, at the time I bought mine, the Dometic was the only low profile on the market that had much of a track record. As I recall, the Coleman low profile had just been introduced. The Dometic Penguin was also the model that Airstream was installing at the factory. So I felt pretty confident that the Dometic couldn't be too bad of a choice.

The second reason is that the condensate has to be dealt with. Airstream made a plastic tray that was specifically designed for the Dometic Penguin to seat into. This tray catches the condensate and brings it right to your factory installed condensate drain tube that runs through the wall. Again, as I recall, the condensate drip cups mentioned above had not been on the market long, and didn't have much of a track record, so I took the "the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know" philosophy and went with the AS drain pan, which further dictated using the Dometic Penguin.

The Dometic Auxiliary Drain Kit part #3107688.016 (drip cups) may be compatible with other brands, so would afford you the option to go with something other than the Dometic. I can't say for sure.

So, a little more information on the heat strip issue. The outside unit (the actual air conditioner that sits on top your trailer) is typically sold separately from the interior ceiling assembly (which has the switches or thermostat connections and some ducting). My exterior unit has a sticker on it that clearly states that it is compatible with heat strip part number XXX. When I went to buy my interior ceiling unit, I wanted one with manual switches rather than a thermostat (since I have a small trailer and want manual control). The interior unit that is compatible with my exterior unit has no connection or control of the heat strip. I ended up calling Dometic tech support, and they told me that my exterior unit is, in fact, not compatible with a heat strip because it would need an additional circuit board in it. I didn't see any additional circuit board, and assume they must know what they are talking about, but it makes it rather confusing that there is a sticker that says the unit is compatible. I did call around to another RV parts dealer, and they told me that there is a ceiling unit that would do everything I want it to, and be compatible with the heat strip, but when I looked it up in the catalog, it did not show that it was compatible with my exterior unit, so I ended up going with the interior unit that was advertised to be compatible with the exterior unit I had, but did not have any connection with the heat strip. Not sure who, of the folks that I talked to, really knew all the right answers, but I figure if I had bought all the parts from the same place at the same time, there would have been less confusion.

good luck!
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Old 12-06-2014, 08:13 PM   #8
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Thanks Lew, I have been educating myself with your posts for a while (electric, solar & batteries) now and I trust and value your opinions. Just brought her into the shop last night by inches at best. So she has to roll out with room to spare. I am thinking of DIY for the A/C so I appreciate your optimism and insight on the install of the drip cups.
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Old 12-06-2014, 08:38 PM   #9
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Thanks Belegedhel,

That was quite an insight from Lew and you. Thank you! I will try to keep it brand centric with both items and buy at the same time. Not sure I need both but now I understand why. I grew up on Coleman via the Boy Scouts but I hear many good things about Dometic. You made a compelling case for the choice and I will do my best to make sure they are compatible. I would also like to go manual as I find it will be less to go wrong. And you are correct, as it is a small trailer.

Thanks again - happy trails!
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