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Old 07-21-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
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Mystery Hole and Leak

While looking under the Safari yesterday to see what problems I could find, I was not disappointed.

I saw a drop of water under one of the straps holding the fresh water tank (I think it is the fresh water tank) in place. I could not see how it got there and thought there may be one of those pin holes you just can find.

There was several inches away a mystery hole that looked like it had been drilled in the black plastic box with a hole saw. It had the rough edges a hole saw would leave in plastic, especially ABS. A critter would not have made a round hole.

That's all I could tell yesterday. I drained the tank, perhaps not the smartest thing since it will make it harder to find the source of the water.

Today I crawled under there with a camera, but the distance right under the hole is too short for the lens, but I did get a photo (below) of the hole from an angle and enhanced it with iPhoto. The hole seems not go all the way through the black plastic box. It feels smooth in the bottom of thr hole and looks black, but I couldn't tell exactly what it was. I think this box holds the water tank up. It is bolted to the bottom of the trailer and 4 metal straps hold and are also bolted to the trailer. It is between the axles and stretches from one side to the other. The fresh water drain is at the street side and so are the hot and cold water drains for the pipes. The fresh water tank filler is a couple of feet to the front and not directly above the tank.

I also saw a weep hole (about 3/16" in diameter) just about 1/2" from the strap that had a drop of water on it yesterday.

I'd also like to replace the awful, cheap, hard to use, plastic drain valve for the fresh water tank with a brass valve.

I've been reading a lot of threads, and have figured out that all the pipes to and from the tank are probably close to each other on the street side. Some trailers have a access plate under there, but mine doesn't. Access from inside is difficult, but people manage to do it. The filler and other pipes come loose and leaks begin.

So here are my questions for now:

1. What is the mystery hole?

2. What I feel in the hole feels like plastic and appears to be black, though it is hard to tell. If the hole went through, what would I feel? Insulation, wood, or more plastic from the water tank?

3. If you have a trailer like ours ('08 25' FB) have you found a way to access the street side of the tank to get to the pipe connections and the filler pipe? I'll start looking tomorrow under the fridge and closet, but I'd love to know where to go first before flailing around.

4. If I cut an access hole under the street side of the tank, how do I prevent myself from cutting the water tank or fittings? This would be the easiest way to get there to check for tightness of connections and to replace the drain valve.

5. If the water tank is not directly resting on the black plastic box, then I can screw covers for an access plate and the mystery hole. Will there be space for that? How much?

6. There appear to be barbed fittings for some tubing between the tank and the drain according to other threads—any guidance on what I will find?

7. I certainly don't want to take the fresh water tank out. It looks like you release all the screws holding the straps and the black box and then everything falls on you and after you stop cursing, you detach the water lines from the tank, or tighten them or whatever you need. I suppose the street side could be unscrewed so the box would fall down enough so you could get to the connections while leaving the curbside up. What do I need to know about this?

8. Is the black box ABS? If so, I can close it with more ABS or PVC and the appropriate glue.

When I find out what is leaking, and it appears to be a very small one (so far), I will think about sending a commendation to the Airstream designer who makes it so easy to fix things. From what I've read, there used to be an access plate underneath the tank, but I guess it saves 50˘ or so to leave that out.

Gene
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:32 PM   #2
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From your pic, it appears that something has been rubbing? to cause that sort of hole.
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Old 07-21-2012, 05:44 PM   #3
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I'm with Gene. That looks like a hole-saw hole.

What and why, I have no clue.
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Old 07-21-2012, 06:15 PM   #4
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Are you sure it's the tank or fittings leaking? Maybe it is rain water. If when filling the tank, it runs over, can the water get behind the skin and run down to the belly pan?
If the tank is full, can the water slosh up the fill tube and leak in behind the skin?
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:30 PM   #5
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Hi, Gene. Your 25'er was built backwards, but similar to mine. Find the thread "Fresh water tank drain valve replacement" and in post #5 you will see pictures of my fresh water tank removed. This will give you some idea of how it works. You need to disconnect all of the lines because the cover and tank come down together.
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Old 07-21-2012, 07:32 PM   #6
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Hi, someone might have drilled that hole trying to find the tank sensor.
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Old 07-21-2012, 08:06 PM   #7
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It's called a rustless cavity - did you not know that all Airstreams come with them....

Ohhh I'm just funnin with ya.

Some parts are pre-drilled for a left right or front back - so that workers don't have to choose or saving space in the parts bin on the grab bys....

Ohhh again just funnin with ya....

Don't you just love a good mystery...

No context to the photo so have no clue as to where that is.

Best guess - someone missed the mark with a hole - and never figured us AS'ers will crawl under their trailer to see the possible nightmares that await...

I was under mine again yesterday...I need a lot of new rivets with those big heads and a lot of new screws for the black pipe hangers. I need a lot of those glass/diamond grinding wheels and a new variable speed drill - I have a lot of Maintenance to do once my frame gets fixed....

Hope I did not get you all paranoid Gene
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Old 07-22-2012, 09:45 AM   #8
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The mystery hole (which may not be a hole) is close to the center. I don't remember ever seeing it before, but maybe I never looked very closely. I have been under the trailer adjusting brakes, checking for rivets that wore through the belly pan, but never paying that much attention to this plastic box.

It is maybe 1/8" deep and the bottom of it is smoother than the plastic box. When I push up on that smooth surface, it does not separate from the box, so I think it does not go all the way through. And it were really cut with a hole saw, there would be a pilot hole in the center. There is none. I don't know if the box is ABS, but it looks like it and the edges of the mystery hole resemble cut ABS because it shreds easily. If I knew how thick the box is, I'd know whether this goes all the way through it, but maybe I can tell from putting a wire through the weep hole and investigating how far it goes. Then reason to know whether it is ABS is then I know what type of glue to use to put a cover plate on it.

One guess is someone was trying out some tool on this and then they needed it to install on a trailer and figured by the time the unsuspecting buyer found it, it wouldn't matter. But, there's another possible explanation—

Bob, I did see the thread showing your black tank an that helped me understand where all the pipes are. That was helpful. I would expect the tank comes down with the plastic box and hangers, but how do you disconnect all the pipes beforehand? And, I don't want to disconnect most of it, but tighten the connections while also replacing the drain valve. I think, depending on the model, access is either difficult or nearly impossible except for those with older trailers that did have an access plate. I read somewhere the tank sensors are near the drain, though it is possible a employee of the dealer did start drilling under the tank. I did tell them the monitor was working badly long ago when it was under warranty. Some of their employees were certainly not competent and caused more problems than they solved.

Mike, the photo is bad. It is not the type of thing caused by rubbing, but I have actually seen it and know that and the photo was the best I could do without a macro lens. The photo could be of a galaxy millions of light years away if I didn't know what it was.

TG, I cannot be sure of the source of the water. After a torrential rainstorm about 2 week ago, I had two leaks inside. One was from the rear Fantastic Fan and I suppose some of the water could have migrated between the skins, but it would have had to also go diagonally at least 5'. The other leak stayed inside and was the bathroom fan—it seems to all come down on the handle, overflow and drip on the floor (I just resealed the fan 2 months ago, but not well enough). The tank is under the fridge and rain could have come in through the vented door behind the fridge and leaked down, but I would have had to check 2 weeks ago for that. I can look for a place where water can leak down from that compartment. More likely, I surmise, is one of the connections to the tank is loose. This is a frequent complaint and seems to be the place to look for it first.

I may put some water in the tank today and see if the leak returns. The drop that was hanging on the bottom of the plastic box dried and was not replaced after I drained the tank. I may have to put a lot in and that means moving the trailer and I'm not sure that is the best way to go. I'll mull that over.

Under the fridge is a shallow storage compartment. At the back is a board that cannot be removed without cutting it out. I don't like that, but other than taking out adjoining cabinets, that's the only way. I want to see whether I can see anything below. Under the wardrobe is the water pump and lots of other stuff. I have to see whether there is any access from there.

The mystery hole may be a distraction, but I'd sure like to know how it got there and whether I should worry about it.

Lew(ster) told me there's a sharkbite fitting that fits right on the drain line so I'll either find one at the hardware store, or he can send me one. He also told me about a tool that will nibble through the box, but I still don't know how much clearance I have between the box and the tank and its fittings. So, he and I are messaging about solutions too.

I also have to fix the two roof leaks. And that's first, then check fridge compartment for places it could leak down to the water tank, crawl under again and see if it can find out more about the mystery hole, check the weep hole with some mechanics wire, try to obtain access from above by exploring the compartments under the fridge and wardrobe, possibly refill tank and see if drip comes back and hope some more posts tell me more information.

Thanks everyone for your suggestions. Nobody ever mentioned leaks when I bought this thing. Life is an adventure.

Gene
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Old 07-22-2012, 10:54 AM   #9
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where do the condensate lines from the A/C and frig go? I heard that they come down the inside wall, but than where? Could this be the water you are seeing?
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Old 07-22-2012, 11:41 AM   #10
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Airtandem, the reefer drain is the hose with a 'bug' screen in the reefer box. The A/C drain is inside the skin, and drains along the front of the street side wheel well.
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Old 07-22-2012, 12:01 PM   #11
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Good questions Air'. The fridge line comes to the vented door and drains under it, but the fridge hasn't been on in weeks. The A/C comes down right in front of the streetside tire; it hasn't been on either. We returned home on July 3.

It occurs to me that the weep hole is there because water does collect on the bottom of the plastic box. Does Airstream expect leaks there? Condensation certainly would seem to be an issue with cold water in the tank, but how does it get to the bottom if the tank rests on plywood and there is insulation too?

I went through the old threads again and found one where someone had 3 leaking weep holes and promised to post when he found the problem, but never did. I also found Bob Sunrus story of his leak, a story that will make just about anyone not want to remove the tank—this is the thread http://www.airforums.com/forums/f443...-it-79079.html Post # 10 has the photos of the tank.

Bob, under the white tank there is a black thing with brass fittings in it—is the tank 2 colors? Is the grey thing under that the plastic box that is seen on the outside? I am confused just how this thing is constructed.

Gene
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Old 07-22-2012, 06:07 PM   #12
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I found out a lot today. I should have jacked up the trailer the other day and then I would have seen more underneath because it wouldn't be as difficult to move around under there.

There are 2 access plates at the streetside of the black box with the fresh water tank inside it. I first checked the weep hole in the center of the box with a piece of wire and found about 1 1/4" space between the box and the fresh water tank. That tells me I can screw a piece of flashing to the mystery hole to cover it without hitting the tank. It is not really a hole or I would be able to feel the tank above it.

Then I saw the access plate to get to the drain tubing from the tank and a 2nd plate on the front side of the tank where the sensor is. The dealer cut a hole in the bottom of the plastic box to get to the sensor (and may have started the mystery hole in the center of the tank). The problem here is the tank isn't flat on the bottom and there is a space on either side of this 2nd plate for mice and bugs to get in. I will fashion another piece of flashing to cover it properly.

Space is tight, but I removed the plastic drain valve and will look for a brass one tomorrow. When I looked up there it looked familiar from the photos Bob Sunrus posted of his tank; thanks again Bob.

Then I can start adding water, maybe 5 gal. at a time, to find the leak. The idea is that a leak in one of the lower fittings will show up right away and I don't have to keep looking, maybe. I suppose there could be two leaks, but the drip was so small I doubt it. It could also be condensation from a cool tank in the mornings.

I'm not sure what to do about the sensor. I could try to clean the contacts if they are easy to get to. I don't want to remove the sensor and clean it because I may get a leak I didn't before. I'm tempted to ignore it.

I also sealed (sort of) the bathroom fan and the rear Fantastic Fan, but it started raining very hard and I ran down to the trailer to close the door. The bathroom fan seems ok. I tried to seal the FF from the inside (I have the fan guts hanging down) where the flange is set in the roof cut. Sometimes that works; it didn't. There's a hairline crack in the side of the housing and I assume is runs outside to the flange. That's where the drip is. I'll work on that tomorrow, hoping to find a way to avoid getting on the roof. This fan needs to be sealed annually.

Gene

Photos:

1. OEM access plate partially unscrewed. Rear of mounting for drain valve is behind it and in front is one of the straps holding the black (grey in this photo) plastic box up.

2. Drain tubing inside access hole with clamps at each end—though the one has been moved and the other at the tank can't be seen. I could see up into the trailer, probably under the fridge. The weep holes provide a path for ants into the trailer.

3. Trash found in access hole—piece of aluminum. Bob Sunrus found a lot of trash when he pulled his tank out.
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Old 07-22-2012, 06:30 PM   #13
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The FF on my parents trailer had to be resealed every year until my brother and I removed it and replaced the chunks of rust (formerly screws) with stainless steel screws. As they rusted more they expanded and caused new leaks.
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Old 07-22-2012, 07:47 PM   #14
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Gene, wishing you the best on sorting this out. I'm off to the friendly local ex-AS-dealer shop again to get a similar leak fixed. Very slow but constant drip, somehow dependent on water level...

Tom
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