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Old 12-20-2009, 08:47 PM   #1
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1977 27' Overlander
Santa FE , New Mexico
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2
Water heater and Water pump, for now...

Hello all,

My name is Howard. I have a start-up construction company, and a neighbor hired me to set up a 1977 Airstream (international?) as a guest house with permanent utilities.

So far, I have sunk in around 10 hours in just troubleshooting and repairing the airstream's systems. Here is the breakdown so far:

Electrical: I used the forums to discover what a converter was and where to look for it. This is after I hired an electrician to figure out why the lights and pumps were not working. He had no clue. I finally found the converter under the front couch and plugged it in. Viola! I had to replace a couple blown fuses and that took care of the electrical system.

Plumbing: This is a mess. Many of the copper pipes and plastic fittings on the plastic tubing were busted. Every time I fix one leak, another two seem to pop up. Still working on getting all the plumbing tight.

Water pump: I was overjoyed when I replaced the fuse to the water pump and it purred nicely. Disappointed when it failed to draw water. Does anyone know if you need to prime it, or is it just old and weak?

Furnace: Fired up nicely. Smelled like burned mice.

Water heater: I had to replace the gas shut off valve under the belly. I turned the old one off to test some other lines and the old valve broke into pieces. I was unable to get the pilot on the water heater lit and figured this may have been the cause.

Nope. With the valve replaced I tried lighting the pilot again. It seems there is no gas coming out of the pilot jet. I confirmed gas is getting to the control box, but it is not coming out the other end. I thought that maybe the water tank needed to be full, as this may trigger a valve that allows the gas to flow. Nope. Also, the drain plug is dripping. I went to tighten it, and it was so calcified and corroded that the tabs dissolved in my hand.

So to finish, for now, I need help with the water pump and water-heater situation. And a prayer for the plumbing.

Howard
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:18 PM   #2
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1976 25' Caravanner
Vintage Kin Owner
Campton , New Hampshire
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 1,113
Sounds like the old girl has been neglected , you may have your hands full . That being said I'll give it a try.

water pump - if it's a permenant site you don't need the water pump. Hook up a hose the the city water connection and turn it on . If you want the pump , first fill the water holding tank . If then the pump runs and no water you probably have an are leak in the hose between tank and pump. There is an steel access cover under the trailer ( 9"x9") with a bolt in the middle . Remove it and you can see where the hose connects to the tank. Or .... the pump is no good.


Water heater- Verify you have gas to the control valve . Are you holding down the knob to activate the pilot light? If it still doesn't work shut the gas off and remve the pilot light tube . Make sure it is clear , try blowing through it. If none of that helps you will probably need a new control valve , or at least a tech to check it out. good luck
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Old 12-20-2009, 09:27 PM   #3
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1975 25' Tradewind
Dewey , Arizona
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Welcome to the forums!

Sounds like you are quickly becoming an Airstream expert...

The water pump does not need to be primed. Make sure the water tank is full, many will not pull the last several gallons out of the tank. You can put a short hose on the input side of the pump and place it in a pail of water to see if the problem is with the pump or the path from the tank.

Maybe the Water Heater is not worth saving. I would get the water pump working and see if the water heater holds water before I invest too much time on it. The pilot line from the control box to the flame might be blocked. That would be a simple solution.

Most owners when faced with multiple water line failures will replace all the copper lines with PEX. It is so much easier to work with and will withstand a freeze much better then copper.

Good luck with the project and let us know how it is going.
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Old 12-21-2009, 06:27 AM   #4
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1977 27' Overlander
Santa FE , New Mexico
Join Date: Dec 2009
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Quote:
water pump - if it's a permenant site you don't need the water pump. Hook up a hose the the city water connection and turn it on . If you want the pump , first fill the water holding tank . If then the pump runs and no water you probably have an are leak in the hose between tank and pump. There is an steel access cover under the trailer ( 9"x9") with a bolt in the middle . Remove it and you can see where the hose connects to the tank. Or .... the pump is no good.
Thanks for the info. I saw the plate, and knowing what it is is helpful.

Quote:
The water pump does not need to be primed. Make sure the water tank is full, many will not pull the last several gallons out of the tank. You can put a short hose on the input side of the pump and place it in a pail of water to see if the problem is with the pump or the path from the tank.
Good to know it does not need primed. All my water tests to date have been with the "city connection." I found the water pump problem when I went to winterize the lines. I ran a hose from the supply side of the pump into a gallon of antifreeze. It was my ingenious plan to have the pump draw the antifreeze and pump it through the system. Of course, no such luck. The pump could not draw it.

I then filled the water tank about 1/4 full and reconnected the supply hose that runs to the tank. Again, no luck on the pump.

I ended up disconnecting the waterlines in a couple places so I could "pour" antifreeze into the lines and blow it through the system with an air-hose. (not a tidy method).

I think I am safe to assume the pump is junk.

Quote:
Water heater- Verify you have gas to the control valve . Are you holding down the knob to activate the pilot light? If it still doesn't work shut the gas off and remve the pilot light tube . Make sure it is clear , try blowing through it. If none of that helps you will probably need a new control valve , or at least a tech to check it out. good luck
I have verified I have gas to the control valve. I unscrewed the supply line from the side of the control box and opened the in-line valve under the belly a crack and a got a good blast of gas. So I know there is gas as far as the box.

Yes, I held down the red pilot button and attempted to light the pilot. No dice. Listening for a hiss and smelling for gas also provided nothing.

I will try removing the pilot light tube and checking for blockages. Thanks for the suggestion.

Quote:
Maybe the Water Heater is not worth saving. I would get the water pump working and see if the water heater holds water before I invest too much time on it. The pilot line from the control box to the flame might be blocked. That would be a simple solution.
As I mentioned, there is a small leak where the drain valve should be. Unfortunately, the drain valve is now just a corroded nub. I was thinking if I got the burner working I would just patch the valve area with some epoxy cement and just put antifreeze in the tank when I need to winterize it.


Quote:
Most owners when faced with multiple water line failures will replace all the copper lines with PEX. It is so much easier to work with and will withstand a freeze much better then copper.
I wholeheartedly agree. I have begun to replace the broken copper lines with PEX. I think it is great stuff but the problem is that so far I have been buying it at my local Lowe's, and their selection for fittings is small. They have no 3/8" fittings, for example, which seems to be the size off all the under-sink and toilet fittings. The guy sold me some cheap plastic "push-fittings" and copper couplings. He suggested combining the two with the PEX-pipe. This resulted in more spraying and leaks than before I replaced the broken copper!

I thought I may order the proper fittings if I can find them. The cheap plastic push-fittings may work with poly-tube or other soft-tubing, but the PEX is too stiff and just tweaks the fittings too much.

Thanks for all your help guys!
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:33 AM   #5
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1976 31' Sovereign
Missouri City , Texas
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Flair It Pex Fittings

Quote:
Originally Posted by howardtbell View Post
I thought I may order the proper fittings if I can find them. The cheap plastic push-fittings may work with poly-tube or other soft-tubing, but the PEX is too stiff and just tweaks the fittings too much.

I replaced all of the copper water lines in my 1976 Airstream several years ago, no problems since then. I used the "flair it" fitting and they work graet. No leaks and easy to work with and they come in all shapes and sizes to fit any configuration that you need. If you can't find them locally here is a site that you can order them from.

When I installed the PEX I left the old water regulator in which was at the rear of the trailer and started at that point. You may find as I did in my center bath model that the water line runs down the drivers side of the trailer above the floor and then goes under the floor over to the kitchen sink. That can cause a problem since you cannot get to the section under the floor without cutting a hole in the floor in front of the kitchen sink. I was luckly when I pulled back the carpet some PO had already cut a trap door in the floor to pach a leak previously. But I decided since then if for any reason I ever needed to re-run that section of PEX I would just simply go from the regulator along the back of the trailer then along the passenger side up to the kitchen sink since all of this is above the floor. No under floor crossover needed. I don't know why Airstream ran the original installation along the other side and under the floor to begin with. Good luck

Don
1976 31' Sovereign

Flair-It Fittings : Mobile Home Parts Store
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