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Old 08-07-2014, 06:55 PM   #1
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1966 28' Ambassador
Austin , Texas
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AS in shop & need to make some decisions.

Took my 1966 Ambassador in to Crestview RV to find a gas leak. They found a gas leak in the heater's burn chamber and another one in the wall near the water heater. I do NOT want to replace the heater with an ugly, white, plastic one. Is it possible to find a replacement that is - or at least looks - vintage? They don't think it can be repaired. Can I replace the "guts" and leave the old exposed heater cover? I don't know how hard it is to replace the leaking section near the water heater, but I'll probably tell them to go ahead and do that if they don't have to tear into anything that will show.

Next up... my refrigerator is on the fritz. If I replace it, I'm thinking about going with a larger/taller one (three teen boys in my family) that extends about 8" above the countertop. How hard is this? What happens to the vent? Is this a DIY job?

Last, I need to replace the A/C. This seems like the easiest decision - I'm not hearing good things about low-profile models. I'll probably just have the dealership do this. Anything else I need to consider?

None of these repairs are surprises. I got a really good deal on my AS, so I was planning to replace the A/C and refrig... I just want to do it right. The interior is VERY original, and I don't want to screw it up.

Thanks!
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Old 08-07-2014, 07:00 PM   #2
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This is what I have now.

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Old 08-07-2014, 08:36 PM   #3
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Shhhooot! That's a nice AS!

All that stuff is fixable. Bigger fridge... Do you need propane model?

Andy on here has always been a great source for parts. Also Out-of-Doors Mart. Airstream, Salem, & Rockwood RV's for Sale - Out of Doors Mart

Where did you leave your AS?
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Old 08-07-2014, 08:49 PM   #4
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If you have the old standard Bowen 6 gal water heater the new ones will fit in the exact same space, and you can either use the original SS cover (if you had one) with a few modifications, or get a new SS one for it from Airstream, or other vendor.

The larger refrigerator, where yours is located, will require both a countertop change and a cabinet (above) change. I put a larger one in my 20' Argosy but only had to raise the countertop as there was no cabinet right above it as you have. The vent scoop in the back will need to be shortened, but otherwise will work just fine, like the original. You may need to run +12 volts to the refrigerator, new ones use some 12 volt power for the control system, while your original did not need any 12 volt power at all.

I have no real opinion on a quiet AC unit. The old one in my Argosy is pretty good, but the new Dometic in my 2014 FC 20 is quite noisy.
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Old 08-08-2014, 10:09 PM   #5
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The water heater is fine... it's the furnace/heater that has a gas leak. The dealer thinks they can replace it and leave the old cover exposed, so it won't look any different.

Probably going to replace the A/C. 15,000 BTUs - is that right?

Dealer doesn't want to cut into anything for a larger fridge b/c they are afraid that if they damage something, they won't be able to get parts. I would like a larger one, but they might be right. Maybe I should just replace with the same size. I do need it to use propane, too. I like to boondock. Opinions?
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Old 08-08-2014, 10:50 PM   #6
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I would keep as stock as possible. You will miss the counterspace.

For boondocking, we use good coolers with the freezer packs so we don't soggy things. We "pre cool" all items before loading the trailer. For more cooling dry ice works well, just be careful using it as, yes, it can cause frostbite.

What you spend on a YETI may be a better choice than to modify your nice AS.

We keep items in the ice chest in bags which. An be quickly lifter out, don't just leave it open and browse. If it helps, put the names on your sons on each bag... That is their meal to set up.

Hope y'all work it out!!
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Old 08-09-2014, 12:05 PM   #7
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Have you thought about just doing a new HP that will cover both the new ac and heat down to 32 degrees? You can just close off the current gas lines and down the road replace the furnace.
We bought the Dometic 15K BTU HP and being in NC hope not to need it below 32 degrees. If so, a good floor electric heater or the Pendleton blankets.
We replaced our new suburban furnace when we were in Vermont 12 years ago and have only used it twice. The HP was a good option, but did not exist back when we had the need.

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Old 08-09-2014, 12:22 PM   #8
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If furnace is bad don't even yhink about fixing it co2 or gas can and will kill you, many frigs. can be rebuilt w/new parts keeping orig. shell if ac is armstrong they can be rebuilt & they are better than any new ones, lastly any severe mods such as raising frig hgt. and losing counter take away from vintage and reduces value, and you stated don't want to screw it up as all original. My 76 is orig. would not even think of mods. you are talking about.
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:06 PM   #9
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I don't think a heat pump will cool well enough for the hot Texas summers.

I am considering capping off the furnace. I would only use it on rare occasions - like camping in the mountains - and I could use a portable gas heater when I need it (and take it in the canned ham, too).

Probably going to stay with the standard size refrigerator and use an ice chest. Are Yeti's really better? Anyone use a portable refrigerator?
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Old 08-09-2014, 08:25 PM   #10
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Either heat pump or a/c one or the other will cool the same.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:20 PM   #11
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The new heat pumps are pretty good as long as the outside temps are above 25 degrees.
That would be my choice.
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Old 08-09-2014, 09:28 PM   #12
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Save the vent if plastic, they are crazy expensive.
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Old 08-09-2014, 10:17 PM   #13
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Generally the cooling part of a heat pump is the same as on an AC unit.
Heat pumps "cool in reverse" to heat the space. This means different valves and some other mechanical difference that to be sure make them more mechanically complex than straight AC. But the cooling capacity, per se, should not be different for an AC or HP of the same nominal capacity.

Running in heating mode on an HP at temps around 45 degrees outside generally is 2 to 3 times more energy efficient than an electric heat strip. If you are paying per KW, you may care. If you are paying the same per night fee at the campground regardless, you may not care much.
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Old 08-10-2014, 06:21 PM   #14
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We replaced our Carrier V with the new Dometic 15K. WE also replaced the old lights with LEDs and the heat signature dropped tremendously.
We know the Texas SW heat as we lived in El Paso and lived out of the Airstream in 2001-2002. We also know the extreme cold temps between Vermont and Colorado Springs. This HP is the answer IMHO if you want to wait to maintain the integrity of the current systems, but also be able to be comfortable with the use of the Airstream. I wish (1) they were available when we were doing this in 1999 with the cold temps and (2) had them in 2005 when we replaced with the Carrier V before they went out of business.
Your call, but after owning ours 20 years with the many upgrades, we can now look at the dometic refrigerator and continue upgrades as we know that the current system, based on OUR needs and with the use of a 13KvW generator will provide what we need. Something we take into consideration at all times is the self containment.

Best of luck,
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