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Old 07-14-2004, 10:29 PM   #1
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Question repair or replace a/c?

I'm a newby - first time post.
We've had our 74 Excella 31' for some time. The rooftop a/c shroud is almost gone. Expensive to replace, too - most want almost $300 just for the shoud, new.
The a/c has seen better days. Fan blades are very rusted; fan gurards are rusted badly. What's the trade off to just replacing the whole works, to repairing the existing one?
If we replace the existing unit, is there a preferred model, size, btu, with and inside drain line recommended?
Thanks to all for your suggestions.
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Old 07-14-2004, 11:06 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forum!

I am a lover of the Armstrong units. They were made better than 90% of the AC units on the market today. They have commercial components. They are loud, and sometimes the compressor start will wake the dead, but they work and work and work, even on marginal power (don't ask). If they quit they can be fixed. New ones are disposable for the most part. I am an advocate of repair but that is me.

If you wish to replace it and have the drain thru the wall you will need to use a Dometic Penguin model. The drip pan is an additional item but available from any Airstream dealer.

If you have an Armstrong model you are in for a bit of a chore. They are not attached like the current crop of AC units are. Remember it is an Airstream they did things different.

If you wish to use Camping world for the install you will need to arrive with the pan in hand as well as the old unit removed. If you want them to remove it they will charge 2-3 hours to do so at shop rates. Once you get up there and remove the shroud, you will see that there is a square flange that is screwed or riveted to the exterior skin. These fasteners need to be removed and the holes refilled with rivets sealed with vulcem. USE ONLY VULCEM! Any other sealant will turn the coach into a terrarium with the water that can enter through all the holes. One tube of vulcem is less than 8 bucks and will do the job.

Size of the new unit is a judgment call. They come in 12500 and 15000 BTU units. Since the trailer is over 28 feet if you camp in the south in the summer I would spring for the larger AC. Nothing like having a cool trailer to escape the noonday heat
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:33 AM   #3
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Going through the same thing

I have a 32 excella that has the coleman delta TX air, its a 13,500 BTU unit, It quit working last weekend and on the gulf coast we have 2 kinds of weather, hot and hotter. I am just going to replace. i would say a 13,500 BTU would work fine in your case, it cooled my trailer ok. i am stepping up to the 15,000 btu and dropping the 5000 btu heating option ( you might want that though for fall and spring). i found the units new for $400 + 65 for ceiling adapter from www.pplmotorhomes.com the shipping is 60 bucks to a business but no sales tax outside Texas. i am handy so am going to try the install myself and save the labor charge.
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Old 07-15-2004, 11:41 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJbyRequest
...I am handy so am going to try the install myself and save the labor charge.
Welcome to the forum!

If you do end up doing the installation, would you mind posting a picture of how you got the roughly 200 pound old unit off, and the new one in place? Short of building a scaffold, a forklift is the only way I can think of to safely move that much deadweight around the top of an Airstream.

Thanks,
Tom
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:13 PM   #5
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Remove air conditoner

I have done some thinking on the removal and have came up with an untried but logical solution. I am going to take my 16' extension ladder, pad the face with foam using duct tape. Lay some scrap carpet on the roof then the ladder flat on the roof on top of that. I am going to use a second ladder to get on the roof. My old unit weighs 130 lbs. The ladder should distribute my weight(200 lbs) and allow me to put the old air on the ladder, slide it to the back and over the edge where gravity will help get the old unit to the ground. The new unit 15,000 btu weighs 110 lbs so with 2 people it should not be hard to get it up the ladder. Will photo document for posterity. Hope this will work OK, I come from a long line of people who's last words were " hey! Watch this!!!

If you do end up doing the installation, would you mind posting a picture of how you got the roughly 200 pound old unit off, and the new one in place? Short of building a scaffold, a forklift is the only way I can think of to safely move that much deadweight around the top of an Airstream.

Thanks,
Tom[/QUOTE]
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJbyRequest
... My old unit weighs 130 lbs. The ladder should distribute my weight(200 lbs) and allow me to put the old air on the ladder, slide it to the back and over the edge where gravity will help get the old unit to the ground.
You can COUNT on gravity helping!

Good luck with your plan,
Tom
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:21 PM   #7
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Genie Lift

Quote:
Originally Posted by tcwilliams
Welcome to the forum!

If you do end up doing the installation, would you mind posting a picture of how you got the roughly 200 pound old unit off, and the new one in place? Short of building a scaffold, a forklift is the only way I can think of to safely move that much deadweight around the top of an Airstream.

Thanks,
Tom
Here's what I used, http://www.genielift.com/ml-series/ml-1-3.asp

I replaced the one on my first Airstream, an Argosy Minuet actually. Sorta kinda regretted it. It was a pain in the butt. When faced with a similar problem just as you are experiencing with my ex-74 Overlander, I just rehabbed the existing Armstrong.

So I am with NewKid, fix the old one, rusted grilles can be rust treated and repainted. Rusted fan blades are no big deal either, replacements can be had for both.

If you still would rather just replace it, I would figure a competent installation, changing over to a current Dometic or even a Coleman would run nearly as much in labor as in the equipment.
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tcwilliams
If you do end up doing the installation, would you mind posting a picture of how you got the roughly 200 pound old unit off, and the new one in place?
Tom,

I have not taken one off, but I put an Armstrong on a Trailer that had no previous AC.

I would assume (I know ) That getting it down is the opposite of how we got it up.

Take a 30 foot extension ladder and run it out to 25 or so feet. Pad and lean it against the trailer where AC will go or is. The end of the ladder should be very close to the AC itself as it leans on the trailer. Now you have a ramp. Remove the shroud, and AC from the hole. I know easier said than done. Place the AC on the sheet of plywood you took on the roof with you and cinch the AC to the plywood. Make sure the strap is parallel to the sides of the ladder! With a helper on the roof begin sliding the AC down the ladder. Use the remaining cinch strap as a hold back. Allow helper to climb off, and climb back up the long ladder. Continue sliding the lashed together unit, one from the top one from the bottom, guiding it so it does not damage anything.

Getting the new one on the roof is the reverse of this.

You will need a helper to do this. One person alone will not be able to handle that much weight IMHO.
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Old 07-15-2004, 12:59 PM   #9
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This post may need to be moved to a separate thread.

I recently took my trailer into an Airstream dealership near my home. This is relatively new dealership, but the technician with whom I dealt seemed well trained and was very personable. I had asked the dealership to just go through the various systems and check everything out. I also made a few specific suggestions. One of those suggestions was to check whether the foam rubber seal under the air conditioner might need to be tightened slightly to prevent leaks. When I went to pick up the trailer, we were going over the service order as to what he did and did not find. When we got to the part about the seal on the air conditioner, the technician's face became quite serious. He said, "I hate to tell you this, but your air conditoner doesn't have a seal under it. It is glued directly to the panels. It looks to me like it is the same kind of glue that I've seen the factory use on other applications when I've been up there. It is awfully strong stuff. If you ever have to replace that unit, I don't think your air conditioner can be removed without damage to the roof panels."

I know beyond any doubt that this is the factory installed air conditioner. I have talked specifically about this to the previous owner prior to finding out this information and I am in possession of all the receipts, service, owners and various systems manuals. My unit matches up to the specs and brand of the original.

Whether it was factory installed or not is really not the issue though at this late date when we are talking about a 1982 unit. My issue is, does anyone know of a way to loosen the glue holding this air conditioner should I ever have a need to remove it? I'd like to gather this information now rather than try to do it after the air conditioner has failed and I'm really wanting to get it replaced or repaired and get on with my business at hand. Any thoughts by anyone would be appreciated.
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Old 07-15-2004, 01:37 PM   #10
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GStephens

I don't doubt that he found Vulcem under the unit, sort of. The unit you have (based on your pictures in your gallery) is a Colman unit. When Airstream was using these they made a pan for them. The pan is somehow inside the shroud and attached to the roof since it is between the AC and the roof sheet.

The AC itself should be held on with 4 bolts that clamp the AC to the roof. The ends of the bolts are normally accessible form the inside once you remove the inner shroud and the metal plate for the air deflector (sometimes there is no plate). You can verify this buy looking from the inside yourself.

The drain pan may be sealed to the roof with Vulcem. When you change the AC out you will be able to remove the pan, it may be in pieces, and the vulcem to install the new unit. The foot print of the new unit with a drain pan (Dometic Penguin) should cover the affected part of the roof so it will look nice too.
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Old 07-15-2004, 01:43 PM   #11
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I am not sure what year they stopped using Armstrongs but it sounds as if your 82 still has one. The tech who although seemed well trained appears to not have worked on many vintage Airstreams either. Most of the older Airstreams will stump just about any hotshot youngster trailer techs, Airstream and otherwise, they were that different.


On edit,

Good eye Brett, it does look like a Coleman. Wonder of it drains off the roof or between the skins. As to the glue or Vulkem, I bet someone just glued the shroud down, I have seen that before.
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Old 07-15-2004, 01:52 PM   #12
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Brett was correct as to the kind of unit I have.

My unit has the Coleman RV Air Conditioner with heat strip Model # 6746R707; Serial # 038203322 Wt. 133 lbs. BTU 13,500 //1800 - 2350 Watts Cooling // 2350 Watts Heating.

Bret was incorrect in assuming that the unit is sealed with Vulkem, at least according to the technician. I made that inquiry. The technician answered, "No, its glue."

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Old 07-20-2004, 12:37 AM   #13
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hopefully this makes sense

just replaced the original on my '69 Overlander with a Coleman.
myself: 6'0 240 lbs
step dad: 6'2 250 lbs
younger brother: 6'5 350 lbs
we employed the ladder trick.
after undoing everything i got up on top, carefully stepping, tied a rope around the old unit and set it at the top of the ladder with a good 60 degree slant. step dad was waiting there to catch the unit and steady it as i lowered it down. at the bottom, my brother helped my step dad tote the old unit away and quickly tied the rope around the new one and slid it up the ladder. it was pretty simple: the major modifications we made were to use treated lumber as a brace and frame/ support for the new unit.
We built a "box" the size of the lip of the unit that would be protruding into the coach out of treated lumber, fastened it to the outer skin, and blocked it to as many pieces of the frame as we could find. ( It sits directly behind one of the trusses.)
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