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Old 05-22-2019, 11:28 AM   #1
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Metairie , Louisiana
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Which Furnace or Water Heater ?

Hello,
I am brand new to the Airstream World and I just purchased a 1976 Land Yacht Trade Winds that needs a total restoration. While the guts of the furnace and water heater are in the trailer, there are no controls to be found.
I would like to replace the Water Heater and Furnace and am seeking advice.
Should I upgrade to a Tankless water Heater? Which brand?
Should I upgrade to a Catalectic Furnace Heater? Which brand?
Are there units that do both (water and air) together?

Thanks, Al
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Old 05-22-2019, 11:49 AM   #2
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Tankless or tank type:
1. Tankless costs more to install.
2. Tankless does not have the option for both propane and 120v electric heating. (Electricity heats water for free in campground)
3. Tankless = endless hot water
4. my experience with 6 gal tank = on electric possibly running out after 2 quick showers OR on propane (or propane & electric) with two people we have never run out of hot water. With three we have had to wait for recovery during the third shower.

Furnace or Catalytic
1. Catalytic will not protect water or waste tanks below floor during freezing weather.
2. Catalytic requires constant ventilation (window/vent open) due to combustion gas/waste (moisture and carbon monoxide)
3. Furnace does not require constant ventilation because combustion air intake and combustion gas are on the exterior.
4. IMO, Catalytic is intended to be a supplemental heat, not intended to be used in sleeping quarters.
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Old 05-22-2019, 12:57 PM   #3
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Al, first welcome to the asylum. AJ gave you a very good summary of options.

I want to veer off topic for one post because you said you JUST got this trailer.

I would first urge you to stop and read at least one or two full restoration threads, taking notes to plan your work. There are several vital things that need to be done before you start replacing and upgrading the interior. You may well know all this, but just in case...

Is the frame in good shape or rusted and damaged? Drop the belly pan and pull the insulation.

Evidence of rodents in the belly pan? If yes, you've got to check behind the interior walls, and read up on hanta virus.

Is the subfloor showing any rot especially where it joins the side walls? Concealed damage? Rear end separation?

Propane lines in good shape?

Water line leaks, breaks or hack job repairs with garden hose and clamps?

Electrical systems? Expect to replace the converter and batteries, but watch out for prior owners "enhancements".

If your axles are shot, they can wait until you get close to road ready to replace... and you can get them loaded with new brake assemblies. Ditto on the sewage side of plumbing that is below the floor. You may have to plan to add a gray tank, etc. But if your reno takes a year wait until month 9 or 10 to get the tanks and drains set up.
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Old 05-22-2019, 08:47 PM   #4
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Great Advice

Yes, will look for a full restoration thread as this trailer was sitting up for quite awhile and somebody replaced all the original interior with about 1000 lbs of 2x4ís, plywood, nails and screws and disconnected the furnace and water heater.
I plan on stripping it all the way to the frame with a shell removal if necessary.
Thanks for the advice.
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Old 05-23-2019, 10:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by altemplet View Post
Yes, will look for a full restoration thread as this trailer was sitting up for quite awhile and somebody replaced all the original interior with about 1000 lbs of 2x4ís, plywood, nails and screws and disconnected the furnace and water heater.

I plan on stripping it all the way to the frame with a shell removal if necessary.

Thanks for the advice.
Eeeeeuuuuuwww. So. That is a sad indicator of just what the fool might have done to the propane lines, water lines and wiring.

You can get .pdf documents from airstream.com to show what your project's systems should have looked like when new and unmolested. I wouldn't personally go all high tech and bluetooth for appliances, a 6 gallon Atwood Heater with gas and electric is fine (in the good ole days you ran outside in your jammies to light the pilot, electronic ignition is great). There are a few catalytic heaters that DO draw their air supply from outside and have a chimney on the exhaust side. If you get a heat pump it is still a good idea to have a furnace to kick in if the temp drops into the 20s.

One thing to definitely upgrade is the old Univolt converter to a modern 4 stage one. The converter converts AC to DC for all your 12 volt lighting, etc. And keeps the coach batteries charged.
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