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Old 02-08-2010, 01:01 PM   #1
2 Rivet Member
1978 25' Tradewind
Blaine , Washington
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 31
Air Conditioner Tradewind

We're going to splash out and replace our air conditioner on our '78 Tradewind. I've read some of the archives here but still have questions.

Would love your opinions on the following issues:

1) Who to install it?
Our 2 options--
a) drive only 45 mins, convenient, Camping World installation
b) drive 3 hrs, thru congested city traffic, installation by Great American RV (Fife, WA) who sells Airstream.
In other words.... How much "inconvenience" is it worth?
How much better would the installation be at Great American RV, that isn't Airstream exclusive, yet most likely services more Airstreams than ole Camping World.

2) What size A/C unit is adequate for the 25' Tradewind?

3) Which brand?
Dometic's Penguin vs. Dometic's other options (or do you think some Carrier models might still be available?)

4) Remind me of the Airstream-specific details to be addressed:
- Is the current opening in my 25' TW the same size as the new one requires?
- Do I remember that a drainpan has to be ordered separately or something?
Help me think thru all the details that could delay the project once "they" get up there and into it.

Humbly and gratefully,
By the Bay

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Old 02-08-2010, 01:40 PM   #2
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1976 31' Sovereign
Missouri City , Texas
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 1,231
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Installing an AC on an Airstream is not difficult but should be done by someone that has experience with Airstream's. If your current AC is the original Armstrong then there are a bunch of rivets/screws that hold the unit on the top that will need to be removed before you can get the AC off. These will all need to be sealed properly as well. In order to install the new unit the opening between the outer and inner skin will need to be reinforced since the new AC will be attached by tightening 4 long screws from the outside unit through the opening and the inside unit to compress the gasket on the bottom of the outside unit. There is no support there now and wthout the additional support you will have problems. The opening for the new AC should be 14" square which is the same size as in your 78 Tradewind. The other issue is that the inside cover for the AC is designed for a flat surface, not the curved inside ceiling of the Airstream. So steps will need to be taken to modify the cover in order for it to fit flush. The newer model wide body Airstream's do not have as much curve as your 78. The Dometic Penguin low clearance AC is the unit that Airstream currently uses and a special drip pan that can only be ordered by an Airstream dealer/service center and will allow hoop up to the existing drain line. Drip pans are not available for the other Dometic units or any other RV AC. If you can still find Carrier AC that would be a good choice as well. Although a drip pan is not available there is a way to attache the existing drain line to the unit by added a small brass fixture. I have the Carrier on my 76 Sovereign and I can provide all of the details for doing this if you go that route. When I had the Carrier installed by a local RV service center a few years ago they assured me that they were familiar with Airstream's and knew what to do. When I got the trailer home I found out that they had not reinforced the ceiling and had not even tightened the long screws down to compress the gasket. When I called to ask what was going on the response was that if they had tightened the screws any more then they were not able to attach the inside cover because of the curved ceiling!! I demanded my installation fee back and finally got half of it back. So I ended up reinstalling the unit, reinforcing the ceiling and finding a means to install the inside cover to the curved ceiling. So you might want to think about doing this project yourself. There are a number of threads covering the project from start to finish.

Although you say there is an Airstream dealer that you could use don't just assume that they will do the job properly. If they do not have experience with older Airstream's then they won't be any better Camping World. Also it won't be cheap. I still see new Carrier units on E-bay.

Hope this helps.


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Old 02-08-2010, 02:04 PM   #3
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1957 22' Caravanner
Port Hadlock , Washington
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 861
I'd be pretty negative about having Camping World touch it, unless you really just want to spend a lot of money.

I've not had any service done with them, but Wholesale Travel Trailer Sales in Lynden would be worth talking to. Only bought some parts from them, but they seem pretty organized. I think there is an independent RV repair shop in Bellingham, just north of the freeway on Iowa, I think. Been there a long time, but don't know anything about them.

Seems to me, if you read the threads and decide you don't want to do it yourself, at least arm yourself with the info here on the structural issues and go see and talk to those local places.

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Old 02-09-2010, 11:05 PM   #4
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2006 25' Safari FB SE
1972 25' Tradewind
Houston , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 1,122
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Carrier 5 and Tradewind 72

My 72 TW came with a Carrier 5 unit that does a nice job. There is a recall notice on the heat strip on some units from a few years back. Two things often forgotten is to wire in the thermostat mounted on your wall in the kitchen, at least that's where mine is. Also there is a drain hose that runs from the roof to under the floor fro water drainage from the evaporator. Keeps the water from running down the side of the trailer. These are two things I hope to track down some day. Til then I have several more pressing items to address, like installing a new furnace.
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