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Old 05-26-2014, 09:47 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1978 25' Tradewind
Birmingham , Alabama
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 24
1978 Tradewind A/C replacement: Help!

Recently purchased '78 Tradewind, which is in very good condition. After recharging A/C by HVAC tech and replacng relay, it worked well for about 3 days. Now the on/off switch will not turn and it is blowing warm air. First question, is it best to replace unit? Next question is with which unit? Any help to help avoid "gotchas" will be appreciated.

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Old 05-27-2014, 08:00 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 2,261
You might want to take it back to your tech and see if there is anything more they can do before pulling the trigger on buying a replacement unit.

Is the AC unit the original unit, or has it already been replaced with a more modern one?

If it is original, then it will be a bit of an operation to replace, as you have to remove the 50 zillion screws/pop rivets that hold it to the roof, patch it all up, and then put the new unit on. You will find plenty of debate on the forums about whether to rebuild the ancient units, or just replace them. For my time and money, I fall in the "replace it" camp.

I replaced mine with a low profile Dometic Penguin. I felt that the lower profile I could get, the better, just for aesthetics. At the time I did mine, there wasn't much to select from in the low profile category. Coleman had just come out with one, but they had no track record for that model, so I decided to go with the unit that the factory is installing. At the time I did mine, I bought a plastic drain pan that the Dometic installs into, which allows you to catch and siphon the condensate water down your drain tube. It seems that the more popular option now days is to use a kit that consists of a couple of "cups" to catch and direct the condensate.

If you replace your AC, go with the biggest unit you can find. You will never regret having more cooling capacity than needed. If you are seriously planning on running your trailer from a small generator, then you might consider getting a high efficiency, low power draw unit. Problem is, last I checked, these aren't available in low profile, and typically not in high BTU ratings either.

good luck!

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Old 05-28-2014, 05:44 AM   #3
2 Rivet Member
1978 25' Tradewind
Birmingham , Alabama
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 24
1978 Tradewind A/C replacement: Help!

Thank you! It is the original and when it worked it worked very well. I'm in the "replace it" camp, though, as I need it to be reliable with the deep south heat. Thanks again for the helpful info.
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Old 05-28-2014, 05:56 AM   #4
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1976 25' Tradewind
Tulsa , Oklahoma
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 96
Images: 1
a/c repair

If you are handy and can do the work yourself, I would at least try to fix it before replacing. My 1976 Armstrong unit went out and after working on it with help from this website I got it running. If you take your time and go through it step by step you can always get a new one when you find something you can't fix yourself.
If I were to guess, your problem is in the condenser. Have you checked your capacitors?
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Old 06-14-2014, 01:30 PM   #5
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1978 25' Tradewind
Metro Phoenix , Arizona
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,430
If the on-off switch won't turn, the first problem is the switch. Replace or fix the switch, and then see what the next problem is.

"Between what matters and what seems to matter, how should the world we know judge wisely?" - E.C. Bentley, Trent's Last Case
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Old 07-17-2014, 06:07 AM   #6
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1978 25' Tradewind
Birmingham , Alabama
Join Date: May 2014
Posts: 24
Smile 1978 Tradewind A/C replacement - not so fast

Thanks for the replies. After much research and a fortuitous visit with the Airstream sage, Sonny Hare, I went the 'fix the original A/C' route. The issue was rusted connections to the compressor, which have been replaced. I also had the switch replaced. So far, so good and much cheaper route.
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Old 07-17-2014, 07:15 AM   #7
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1978 31' Sovereign
Texas Airstream Harbor , Zavalla, in the Deep East Texas Piney Woods on Lake Sam Rayburn
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,435
Images: 292
I, also, have been fortunate to have visited Sonny's place a couple of times.

If your AC loses a Freon charge again it might indicate a leak - my experience is that they (leaks) are hard to find, more difficult to fix, and one leak will usually be followed by another one.

I found that it is not that hard to replace or install AC's - have done three so far.

I have always used Dometic heat pumps - the one most difficult thing I have found is to get the proper drain pan for the thing.

My experience is that the unit provides capable heating well down to the mid-30's.

As an aside, I have been living in the '78 Sovereign for the last month while on a contract job in the Eagle Ford in South Texas. No shade anywhere and unable to put the awnings out. A single Dometic 13.5K will only cool to 10 to 15 degrees below ambient with the trailer in full sun.

This means that when I get back to the trailer at about 5:30 PM, ambient temp is 98 F, inside the trailer it is 86 F. The installation of the second AC in the rear was a huge benefit. With the front AC on all of the time, when I return to the trailer in the evening, I turn the rear AC on the inside temp drops from 86 to the mid 70's in 15 to 20 minutes.

The park owner sent an electrician around the other day to do some maintenance on the electric boxes and the electrician left my breakers turned off. Outside temp was 96 F, full sun, inside temp was 106 F.

Only vent left open was the bathroom overhead vent with no fan.

Did you know that Ghirardelli chocolates will melt at 106 degrees?

What a mess! The bag of Ghirardelli's was in an overhead cabinet over the sink, and melted chocolate and delicious creamy interior were dripping everywhere.


"Suck it up, spend the bucks, do it right the first time."

WBCCI # 1113
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Trailer '78 31' Sovereign

Living Large at an Airstream Park on the Largest Lake Totally Contained in Texas
Texas Airstream Harbor, Inc.
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