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Old 07-18-2012, 01:12 AM   #1
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1974 23' Safari
Mesa , Arizona
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Just removed fresh water tank need suggestions

My 1974 Safari had the 1" plywood supporting the freshwater tank rotting away in the center and the tank was bulging downward in the center.

So today I removed the front Z bar on the supporting frame and then removed the plywood. That was a VERY difficult and messy job. I actually ended up using a cable and my truck to remove it!

I removed the tank in the process.

Here are my questions:

When I reinstall the tank can I get by with 3/4 ply and 1/4" hard styrofoam instead of 1"? Or are there better alternatives for strength and insulation!

To my horror the water tank has some areas of black crude in it. I plan to clean and disinfect it while it is out tomorrow..... Any suggestions on what to use and procedures?

A lot of the black plastic hoses I removed prior to dropping the tank looked to be original and very hard and brittle. I am thinking of using replacement PEX (no experience with it) to replace clamps and hoses but leave some of the original cooper plumbing for now. Bad idea......good idea?

My Shurflow diaphragm pump was sitting on some carpet which was in turn was laying on the furnace ductwork under the galley. It was just loose with nothing securing it. I purchased some rubber grommets and plan to use self tapping screws through the carpet and into the sheet metal ductwork. I see no other areas to mount it. Any suggestions on this one?

Last question for now. My tank level monitors don't work.....so I am thinking of using Seaview (sp) while the tank is out. Anyone have experience with these? My 45 gallon tank is very shallow....maybe 5" deep.

Thanks in advance for your help!

~jerry
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:32 PM   #2
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I thought I would add some comments and photos that might help someone in the future based on my adventure with repairing the plywood support structure for the freshwater tank of my 74 Safari. I understand that many of the Airstreams for that year used the same size 45 gallon water tank.

First is a photo of how badly the 1" thick plywood had deteriorated.
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:40 PM   #3
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I was not able to find 1" thick plywood for the replacement at HD or Lowes but I did find underlayment (similar to ply) that was 1.09" thick at 84 lumber. I purchased the 4X8 sheet and then cut it to 45.5" by 57". I drilled a 1" hole for easy removal in the future and then water proofed it with 3 coats of Behr's weather proofing wood finish (purchased a gallon but took less than half for the 3 coats).

I looked into marine grade plywood but it was special order and very expensive. I was also told it would not hold up to water.

Here is the photo of the finished board:
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:53 PM   #4
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The fresh water tank REALLY had a lot of crude inside it after 38 years so after removing the fittings I filled and flushed the tank half a dozen times. I then filled it again but added one cup of chlorine bleach and let it set for 12 hours and then flushed two more times.

It still had residue in the tank so here is the trick I learned thanks to my wife's suggestion. I let the tank air dry completely and then we were able to shake out the remaining residue easily. I then flushed it with water a couple more times. I plan to disinfect it with chlorine again after everything is connected and back in the trailer.

Here are photos of the top of the tank, bottom of the tank, and closeup of the drains and fittings:
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:05 PM   #5
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In the last photo above you can see the open fill inlets (large opening upper left), a sealed fill inlet (upper right), the two vent openings between the fill inlets, black sensors and wires, the bottom supply outlet/drain outlet (bottom center). Also pictured are the two elbow fittings for the vent openings, straight fitting for the supply outlet/drain opening. More on the fourth fitting later.

This next photo is the information embossed in the plastic by the manufacture. It says INCA T1237 168 600-276. Also in black marker is the later M and the number 13777. I understand that INCA is probably not making this tank and there is only one source for new tank at somewhere between $400 and $600. Supposedly these tanks are difficult to have a lasting repair. However, someone has repaired my tank in the past (see black patch center rear on top of tank) and I so far have had no leaks from the tank.
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:19 PM   #6
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In order to remove the wood plywood supporting the tank I had to remove an aluminum sheet fastened to the bottom (roadside) of the plywood with a few screws. Also, I had to use a cable run through the hole in the plywood and fastened to my truck to pull the plywood out. Before all of that though I had to disconnect all the plumbing to the tank so it could be lowered out, and remove the Z bar at the front of the supporting frame for the 1" plywood (like the slide out of a picture frame). The Z bar has two bolts and nuts at either end of the Z bar plus rivets (very flat and wide) that have to be removed. Below is pictured the Z bar and aluminum sheet. The manual says to use 1/4 X 1" self tapping screws (instead of the speciality rivets). I plan to wire bush all the Z channel and paint with rust proofing paint before reassembly.
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:23 PM   #7
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Here are the major components on the driveway. I should also mention that the rough measurements on the tank itself is 5.5" X 56" X 44".
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:30 PM   #8
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I hope that this information might be helpful to someone in the future. Lastly I have a question. Loose inside the tank I found the fitting below which I assume went to the supply/drain outlet and acted as a trap for dirt and sediment. I would like to know if anyone reading this has the expertise to tell me if I need to fix it back in place. I assume that as long as I am using a good filter between the tank and pump I don't need to, but I would like to know for sure before reassembling everything. Below are some closeup photos.
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Old 07-28-2012, 12:56 PM   #9
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I'm working on removing my fresh tank on 1970 sovereign. I know it will probably be a little different but I'm so grateful for a heads up on what I'm in for! Thanks for taking the time to share, this was exactly what I was searching the forum for!
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Old 07-28-2012, 12:58 PM   #10
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Oh, and please update with the reinstall! I need all the help I can get.
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Old 07-28-2012, 06:25 PM   #11
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I recently finished the same job. I ended up using a come-along attached between the plywood panel and the trailer hitch to pull it out. It was really stuck in place. I replaced the old sheet with a new sheet of 1" marine grade plywood. Had to get it at a specialty hardwood supply store. It was about $100 per sheet. I put a couple coats of polyeurathane on it to help preserve it.

I also had ancient crud in my tank, plus it seemed impossible to get it completely empty. I installed a 4" "deck access port" I bought at a boating store to make it possible to suck all the nasty out with a wet-vac. The new port is shown in the attached pic. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I didn't just create a new potential leak.

I also installed SeeLevel gauges on the fresh and grey tanks. SeeLevel sells an especially short version of the gauge that can be used as short as 4". I tested them on the tanks, and they seem to work pretty well.

These tanks are made of polyethylene, so it is very hard to find any adhesive that will stick to it. If repairs are needed, it might be possible to "plastic weld" a crack closed. I think I have seen the tanks available be from Outofdoors Mart, and possibly also at Inland.
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Old 07-28-2012, 06:51 PM   #12
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Man, they really wedged that sucker in there tight. How many were lucky enough to get fiberglass insulation?! Itchy and found more rats' nests. Yay!
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Old 07-28-2012, 08:24 PM   #13
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In the last two days I made some progress and would like to add what did and did not work along with some suggestions of what to look out for.

After hooking up the vent tubes, gravity feed tube, and water supply tubes to the tank end only I filled the tank on the level driveway and checked for leaks. After two hours there were none.

My plans were to use the PEX system of piping and fittings but the tubing was too stiff and so I went for black PVC for the vent lines and braided clear PVC for the gravity fill and water supply lines. I used the crude but apparently effective stainless steel screw clamp bands. The PVC inside diameters did not always match to the fittings on the tank and the 1974 manual did contain errors on the sizing. I would suggest taking the fittings to the store with you for sizing and only purchase a short length of the gravity feed tube to see if it fits correctly before spending the big bucks. The manual says it is 1 1/4" but my tank opening measured 1 3/8" and the actually sizes of inside diameter at Home Depot varied.

I had originally wanted to go with 3/4 ply and 1/4" insulation (foam board) between the plywood supporting piece and the tank. The underside of my Airstream like SeaSideSteph had fiberglass attached to the underside of the trailer flooring plywood but nothing to protect the tank. I kinda wish I would have gone that route. I think that a good multiply birch plywood from Russia would have been strong enough.

It makes the job MUCH easier to push the supporting plywood back in place if you remove the propane lines that travel across the trailer in front of the plywood and if you also remove the stabilizers. That way the insertion angle is not so sharp. I also removed as much rust and debris from the c channel frame. Reconnecting the propane lines was easy.

One other very important tip!!!!!! Make sure the tank is completely shifted to the galley side of the trailer as far as possible before trying to put the plywood back in. If you don't the bulges on the tank near the vent lines will be against the trailer floor and will not allow the plywood to slide back in. If they are positioned in the flooring cut-out where the piping runs through the plywood has enough room to slide. There is just barely enough clearance.

Belegedhel, I really like what you did with the 4" deck access port. Please tell us how you installed it and whether it leaks or not. I would like to do that next time around. The only issue I see is that it probably will only work when you have the tank out of the trailer because of where it is located and also because of the center concave area that splits the tanks. But when the tank is out it sure will make cleaning the tank SOOOO much easier. Also, show us a photo of the installed SeaLevel gauges and probes.

That's it for now.

~jerry
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Old 07-29-2012, 09:32 PM   #14
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Well, I looked through all the pictures I had, and attached a few illustrative ones. I cut the hole in my tank using a Rot-zip type tool with a "hole cutting arm" type attachment, and that worked really well. I filled the tank with water after installing the port and sealing with marine grade silicon, and it hasn't leaked so far. I harbor no illusions about how well the silicon will seal to the polyethylene, but so far, no leaks. I actually cut a hole in the floor of the trailer to access the port. This should end up under a gaucho. I have attached a picture of some of the unmodified SeeLevel gauges as I was op-checking them (they are 6" long in this pic, and simply adhere to the exterior of the tank, no penetration). Of course the one installed on the water tank is not visible in this pic.
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