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Old 08-28-2009, 09:50 AM   #1
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Overlander Pex project

The Overlander has been in dry dock for almost 4 years. What started it was freezing the shower valve, which caused the forward part of the brass housing to fail, so it had to come out. That looked like a big project, something that could be put off till later. In the mean time, down came the ceiling skin and one side skin,(taking out vista view windows and looking for the source of "trailer odor.") Putting it back together just seemed like too big a task. Well, later finally arrived this summer.

Getting at the shower valve is pretty painful, partly because I had previously cut the bathtub down by 12" in order to slide the bed aft and get some space on the kitchen counter (guess I like counter space a lot). So part of the shower surround is sealed by silicone to the new shower wall (FRP on 1/2" birch plywood--Shari, are you impressed I remembered "FRP"?). Getting at the back of the valve seemed like a good time to replace all the copper with PEX. (Now would be a good time to mention that I had also replaced all the copper a few years ago with a "freeze-proof" system that had a third loop for recirculating hot water.)

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The new shower valve needed to be oriented with the water-out pointing up. The previous valve had the water-out pointing down. So what? Well, turns out there was a vent line for the black tank running high under the shower surround, which interferred with the new valve arrangement. I cut and capped the source end of that vent and modified the rear sink drain to provide "wet air" for the black tank.

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The new valve plumbing required a new hole for the flexible shower fitting and some modification of the handle plate to fit.

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more....
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:00 AM   #2
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PEX continued

The installation of the PEX was pretty straightforward after getting the shower valve in, except you have to be careful to plan ahead and not plumb yourself into a corner where the swaging tool can't operate. I only had to take out the rear section twice because of this. The good news is that you can carefully cut the copper rings and take the PEX apart. This was particularly important (the planning ahead part) in the rear compartment under the sink.

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You can see that the PEX installation is much simpler, with only two dump valves (visible in the rear compartment) compared to the previous six! The bends were a natural--no 45 degree fittings! It was a real piece of cake to snake the lines under the shower up to the front sink and around to the street side toilet and water heater. And the shower is back together! I still need to trim it out a little and get a plug for the old shower flex fitting hole, but it's functional.

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One very big consternation is getting the 3/8" FIP toilet fitting adapted to the more standard 1/2" MIP found on faucets. I'm finally pleased with the simple 3-piece adapter shown here.

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I like to have a valve for the toiler for the simple reason that the toilet valve is EXTREMELY sensitive to cold--I think it freezes solid well above 40 degrees. So even when I'm willing to fill the rest of the system when the weather is cold, I blow the toilet lines out and turn it off and keep it dry, using jug water to flush and a little anti-freeze in the holding tank.

The PEX continues around the rear compartment to the street side to service the toilet and water heater (not shown). I left some short lengths of copper on the water heater--I figure the heat conductivity in the pipes near the water heater will keep them from freezing in any weather.

Zep
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:43 AM   #3
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First Class!!!

As easy as PEX is to work with, as resistant to freeze damage as it is, and as accessible as the crimping tools are becoming I suspect that PEX users will become more and more common here on the Forums.

Great documentation and great craftsmanship.
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:08 AM   #4
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Thank you very much for sharing this project. In the next several weeks I'll be starting the plumbing on my TW and I homed right in on your thread title.
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:14 AM   #5
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In the photo of the shower valve above, you see a small square plate on the water-out fitting. This was on the original fitting, which allowed the chrome fitting on the visible face to screw tight to the brass fitting on the inside--the plate provides a surface for the plastic surround to press against, so don't lose it or make another one.

Zep
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:22 AM   #6
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Very nice installation ZEP, thanks for sharing.

I know this isn't your first PEX posting, but will share that I found the PEX really easy to work with as well. What was extremely time-consuming for me, was figuring out the various valves and transitions needed to link into the actual fixtures of various ages, like my original 1963 shower mixer (3/4" MPT as I discovered) versus my brand new 2009 vanity faucet (1/2" MPT). But I could do it all in probably less than half the time if I had to do it again.

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Old 12-12-2009, 11:48 AM   #7
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Zep,
Im in the big middle of my PEX project and on your photos,
Im trying to understand "goes to new water inlet mounted on shell" is this something special you added? Is another thread available that explains this in detail? Thanks, Cynthia
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Old 12-12-2009, 12:05 PM   #8
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There was a change of plans. Originally, I was going to put a female hose fitting on the shell about 15" above floor level, just on the street side of the back access door. That's what I did on the Caravel and it looks OK.

But I changed my mind and used copper to run the same line as in the original, down through the floor and out, just to the street side of the extended frame and as close to the back as possible. Since it's going down, I didn't have to worry about freezing, since it self-drains. I put a ball valve in the line to seal it when I'm running the internal 12V water pump.

It's a little complicated to explain, but I used copper in that short "L" shaped section so I could also run a stiff copper pipe over next to the toilet. This has a vertical pipe that is capped with a ball valve and male hose fitting. This allows me to flush out the black tank by attaching a hose and pipe doodad to that fitting and sticking it down into the toilet. For safety, I use a brass cap on the male hose fitting, just in case the ball valve gets jiggled. This whole arrangement drains itself if there is no street water hooked up.

Zep
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:37 PM   #9
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Hey Zep...

Question, do you think that the water lines are too close to your access panel, It would seam to me that they would no do so well in colder weather that close to a non insulated opening!

I would had some sort of thermal something!

Todd


P.S. what did you decide to do on the vent stacks?
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Old 12-13-2009, 10:58 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinstream View Post
Hey Zep...

Question, do you think that the water lines are too close to your access panel, It would seam to me that they would no do so well in colder weather ...

P.S. what did you decide to do on the vent stacks?
I don't have water in the PEX if it's below about 26 degrees. I use 1-gal plastic bottles of water and just put anti-freeze in the J-traps. The PEX is great because in this kind of weather you can just drain it without worrying about blowing it out completely. Cold weather camping requires some sacrifice!

I haven't decided how to handle that vent stack, yet. I need to take out the kitchen counter top so I can get at the pipes there and see if I can route a vent to replace the one I took out. (Man, I wish I hadn't taken that one out...) If so, I'll completely remove the one in the rear. It'll have to wait until warmer weather.

Zep
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