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Old 03-17-2016, 03:09 PM   #1
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1972 Argosy 20
Longview , Texas
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First time A/C install

Hi there! My husband and I have a 20ft 1972 Argosy trailer that has never had an A/C installed. We have found someone here locally who feels confident that they can do the install, but I want to make sure we have everything we need and know as much as possible before we let someone start cutting into our trailer . It is my understanding that the drain tube and Romex cable were placed in the event of an A/C install, so I'm guessing that's all up there.

We're newbies, so details are appreciated.

We're looking at Dometic brand units and have narrowed it down to the Penguin and the Brisk Air II. We are ok with manual controls, as I'm not sure that the technician is able to install a thermostat (but I can call him and double check if consensus says thermostats are a must). I've read a bit about the benefits of utilizing the Dometic drain kit, but would love to hear about anyone's person experience with this. We live in a mostly hot and humid climate (East TX) and the trailer will be used as my husband's office 8 hours a day 5 days a week. It is cold 3-4 months of the year, but rarely freezes. We're also considering getting a heat pump (not a heat strip), but aren't sure if it's worth it or if we should just use a space heater.

Would appreciate any and all insights.

Thanks!
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:31 PM   #2
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1989 32' Excella
Sharon Springs , New York
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Hi, not sure if I can help you much, but I know what it is like to be "hanging out there" on this forum hoping someone will reply. Anyway, I'm replacing an AC unit in my 1989 AS Excella which had a Coleman Delta TX with the internal drain tube already in place. I'm replacing it with a Coleman Mach 8 with a condense pump which replaces the OEM drain pan (you don't have) and ties into my existing drain tube (which you probably need). The condensation from the AC is going to go somewhere (side of TT or down the drain tube). You can either run a tube down the outside of your TT (easy but unsightly), run the tube inside the TT along the interior and through the floor (fairly easy but unsightly inside) or remove some of your interior lining and run the tube between the inner/outer skins and through the floor (difficult but looks the best). I would try to run it along the interior and through the floor unless I was remodeling the inside and removing interior panels anyway, plus you can always change it later when/if you do remodel. I looked at the Dometic units but I need to add wiring to what was already there for a thermostat. Mine will be hand controls on the ceiling panel only. I had a difficult time getting info on how to/what parts I needed for my AC update. There are some Utube videos that helped me and the factory tech was so-so but you will get some help from this forum. Just be prepared to piece it together from a few sources. I think I have a handle on my change but won't know for sure until I finally flip the AC switch on and feel the cool(hot) air. Hope this helps, good luck...
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James
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Old 03-17-2016, 07:58 PM   #3
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1963 26' Overlander
Dallas , Texas
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Im not sure if your friend is just a handy guy that could do the job or if he is a friend that owns an RV place. Assuming he is just a handy friend, I would be very careful in selection of my unit.

I have a 63 Overlander and was all set on a Dometic. After taking my unit to the shop for the install, they owner told me that the best solution for my camper was a Coleman Mach 8. Had to do with shroud size on the interior, drainage, etc. Bottom line, had I purchased one off the internet to have someone else install it, I would have screwed up simply because installing AC in campers is not something I do every day. The guys that do do it everyday have experience that in my opinion can save you a ton of grief.

Could the dometic you are interested in work in your unit. Maybe, or maybe its not the best solution. I find that labor intensive items, that are going into an old camper for the first time may be best done by the pro's. ANd yes, I am very handy and remodeled mine but I had the hot water heater and AC put in by a shop cause I felt that there experience would be handy for those items and certainly cause less stress to me.

It always cost a few bucks more for that solution, but I find its generally worth it.

Hope that helps. Good luck.
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Old 03-17-2016, 08:09 PM   #4
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Don't worry about the lack of a wall thermostat. My 2001 Safari had a Penguin that was controlled by knobs on the air conditioner panel rather than a wall thermostat. So don't worry about needed to do any extra wiring as long as you order a model with the controls on the unit itself.

The Brisk Air units are tried and true technology and I used them on two previous SOB trailers without a problem. The Penguin is a little sexier and sits a little lower to the roof line of your trailer. The outside coils of the Penguin are protected better by the shroud and are much less susceptible to damage from hail or low hanging tree limbs.

Typically air conditioners are installed though an existing hatch in the roof line. The air boxes fit right into the openings. All you typically have to do is remove the hatch hardware and presto the unit uses that hatch opening. Obviously if you do want to check and make sure the trailer is prewired at the hatch for a roof top air conditioner and whether there is a drain hose up there that will connect to the drain pan that the air conditioner will sit in.

Be aware that drain pans are not always part of an air conditioner and you may have to order one. My SOB's had flat roofs and no drain pans. Condensate drained onto the roof and then found its way down the side of the trailer. It always left a line of deposits where it ran down the side.

So you may need to do a little preliminary looking at that hatch to verify power and the drain hose are truly there before you place your order for your air conditioner. Make sure the person you hire understands that you need a drain pan installed that will connect to that drain hose. You might want to inject some water into that drain hose to see where it comes out and that truly does drain. Also make sure the person doing the installation understands where the safe places are when he goes up on the roof. If the Argosy is like the Airstream, your feet stay on the rivet lines. Anywhere else leave a big dent.

Heat pumps are nice but that unit may require a wall thermostat.

I have installed an air conditioner for my trailer that came pre wired from the factory. It was a Hi-Lo trailer and had no drain hose. It really was a piece of cake and it was a Duo-Therm Brisk Air unit. When I sold the trailer 13 years later, it was still running perfectly, never requiring any service under my ownership. That unit was 80 lbs and was 8,100 BTU's.

Jack
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Old 03-18-2016, 06:45 AM   #5
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1989 32' Excella
Sharon Springs , New York
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Hi again, a few more bits of info I picked up when I was looking at installing a rear AC through my rear vent opening. The vent opening is usually the same size as the AC duct/frame work (14' x 14") on older models you may have larger openings. However, if you do use the vent opening, don't forget to reinforce around the opening for the added weight of the AC, folks have used wood to frame it out or so I've read. Insofar as the electrical (110v) hook-up, a solution included running a separate line for the AC(outside the interior wall and through the floor) so that you can either use it with your unit's AC plug or leave it unplugged when you don't need it. This goes back to the remodel/non-remodel phase and how much you want to upgrade your electrical. As stated before, you can change your electrical connection/wiring when you remodel and put your drain tube behind the walls. Most campgrounds have a couple of outlets at the site so you can plug in the TT and AC to separate outlets or you can use a splitter connector to plug into a single outlet. Finally, to account for the curvature of an AS's roof some have suggested using two AC roof gaskets which will provide a better seal. I put that question out on that technique myself and am waiting for confirmation on this forum, however, I did order a second roof gasket when I ordered my AC unit so I would have it if this practice proves valid. Hope this helps and good luck!!!
Regards,
James
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Old 03-18-2016, 07:06 AM   #6
65will
 
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1969 25' Tradewind
Greenwich , New York
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 37
Been there done this

Hello,
I installed a Penguin 2 on my 69 Trade Wind. I also had to cut the hole, I called Airstream and they gave me the location to cut the hole at, they also told me I would find the wires there. When I cut the hole the wires for the power and thermostat where there, also in my breaker box over the front gancho is where the wires went all I had to do there is install a breaker in the box, I cut and installed wood bracing in mine. Outdoors mart in N.C. sell a kit with premade metal bracing. It has to be braced. There are forums on this topic. Try searching for them.
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Old 03-18-2016, 12:29 PM   #7
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1970 25' Caravanner
ft collins , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 8
Mike

Quote:
Originally Posted by EER388 View Post
Hi there! My husband and I have a 20ft 1972 Argosy trailer that has never had an A/C installed. We have found someone here locally who feels confident that they can do the install, but I want to make sure we have everything we need and know as much as possible before we let someone start cutting into our trailer . It is my understanding that the drain tube and Romex cable were placed in the event of an A/C install, so I'm guessing that's all up there.

We're newbies, so details are appreciated.

We're looking at Dometic brand units and have narrowed it down to the Penguin and the Brisk Air II. We are ok with manual controls, as I'm not sure that the technician is able to install a thermostat (but I can call him and double check if consensus says thermostats are a must). I've read a bit about the benefits of utilizing the Dometic drain kit, but would love to hear about anyone's person experience with this. We live in a mostly hot and humid climate (East TX) and the trailer will be used as my husband's office 8 hours a day 5 days a week. It is cold 3-4 months of the year, but rarely freezes. We're also considering getting a heat pump (not a heat strip), but aren't sure if it's worth it or if we should just use a space heater.

Would appreciate any and all insights.

Thanks!
I installed a Dometic Brisk II in my 1970 25' A/S. in 2013. It replaced the org. ac and was smaller than org. so had to reframe inside to accept new ac. framed out w/oak 1"x 2" worked out ok. Yes, by all means make sure you use the drain pan, I was not aware of this being separate item and didn't install it thinking I would not need it here in "dry" Co. Wrong? We took a trip to IN. and Mi. in the summer, and yes it was running down the sides and on the new awning we installed. Bucket list, this year remove ac and install drain kit.
There are a couple of things I don't like about it, #1 Noise, what we did was run the ac when we were outside until it cooled down enough to go inside, but even on the low setting, it's still kind of loud. #2 the size of it, it sits rather high on the roof, but I looked at other units, and this one was the only one I found where the inside trim would fit the curve of the roof. I think if I was going to be working inside this in the summer as an office, I would first like to find someone who has the same thing and visit w/them to see if it would be to loud for your situation.
Mike.
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Old 03-19-2016, 12:54 AM   #8
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1999 34' Excella
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Hillsboro , Texas
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BTDT.... without existing 'condensate' drain line present in the AS walls, you face a challenge of epic proportions.

1- let condensate run on the roof (it will leave streaks where it runs off the roof onto the exterior skin
2- rig up a 'condensate pump'...it does exactly that... still pump overboard...
3- Do what I did... I ran my power and condensate lines on the inside wall to a place I could get it out of the AS. Now, wrap the lines in a weave wire management sleeve.
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Old 03-20-2016, 02:54 PM   #9
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1972 Argosy 20
Longview , Texas
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Thanks MAJORJDB for your insights. I am interested to see if there is a drain tube already up there. I've heard that some do have a drain tube already placed at the time of manufacture in the event of an install, but I have no idea which models this may apply to. I think I like the idea of running a drain tube down the inside and out the floor the best. Thanks again for your response and good luck with your install!
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Old 03-20-2016, 03:00 PM   #10
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1972 Argosy 20
Longview , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcoa Roller View Post
Im not sure if your friend is just a handy guy that could do the job or if he is a friend that owns an RV place. Assuming he is just a handy friend, I would be very careful in selection of my unit.

I have a 63 Overlander and was all set on a Dometic. After taking my unit to the shop for the install, they owner told me that the best solution for my camper was a Coleman Mach 8. Had to do with shroud size on the interior, drainage, etc. Bottom line, had I purchased one off the internet to have someone else install it, I would have screwed up simply because installing AC in campers is not something I do every day. The guys that do do it everyday have experience that in my opinion can save you a ton of grief.

Could the dometic you are interested in work in your unit. Maybe, or maybe its not the best solution. I find that labor intensive items, that are going into an old camper for the first time may be best done by the pro's. ANd yes, I am very handy and remodeled mine but I had the hot water heater and AC put in by a shop cause I felt that there experience would be handy for those items and certainly cause less stress to me.

It always cost a few bucks more for that solution, but I find its generally worth it.

Hope that helps. Good luck.


Thanks for the response! The local guys is a tech at a small RV place here in town. We live in a small town and of the 3 local places, he was the only one that would even consider doing the work.The other placed "don't work on Airstreams...". He said he actually sold an Argosy trailer on his lot earlier this month, so that made me feel al little better. Another user mentioned making sure to build a brace/frame to support the unit before we install it, and I am wondering if the tech would know this detail. It seems like an important one. Also, I have read that it may be an option to do the install in the hole where the center roof vent is. It would be nice not to have to cut into the trailer, but I'm sure someone out there has a reason why we shouldn't use the vent opening .

I agree with you on the point that some things are best done by professionals, and we're really hoping that this local guy is knowledgeable and a good choice. If not, we'll likely have to do it ourselves or take it to one of the larger cities here in Texas.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond!
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Old 03-20-2016, 09:05 PM   #11
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1972 Argosy 20
Longview , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 65will View Post
Hello,
I installed a Penguin 2 on my 69 Trade Wind. I also had to cut the hole, I called Airstream and they gave me the location to cut the hole at, they also told me I would find the wires there. When I cut the hole the wires for the power and thermostat where there, also in my breaker box over the front gancho is where the wires went all I had to do there is install a breaker in the box, I cut and installed wood bracing in mine. Outdoors mart in N.C. sell a kit with premade metal bracing. It has to be braced. There are forums on this topic. Try searching for them.
Thanks 65will. I called Airstream last week and the Technician that I spoke with didn't give me any specifics about my trailer, but said he would recommend installing through the rear vent opening. I'm not sure if that's the best idea, but I like the thought of not having to cut anything. I know that another member here with the exact trailer as ours did install using the rear vent with no problems. Regardless of where we install, we will definitely make sure that it is properly braced. Thanks for the tips and insights!
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