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Old 04-19-2016, 05:00 PM   #1
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1978 31' Sovereign
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Fix cracked tank? help

Is this worth trying to salvage? I live in the Seattle area and I can't find anyone who does plastic welding. I've read a couple post about the harbor freight plastic welder but that is last resort. A new tank is 495 and I would prefer not toss this one if I can salvage it.

Thanks,
Ryan
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Old 04-19-2016, 06:25 PM   #2
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I may be wrong,so don't quote me on this.... But, I believe one cannot weld the tanks due to the type of plastic they are made from. Seeing the cost, hopefully I am wrong....
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:48 PM   #3
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I think that tank is repairable.
It could be a DIY project, depending on your skills.
Plastic welding kits are available.
Google search will turn up some interesting video.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:52 PM   #4
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Contact URETHANE SUPPLY. They are the masters of plastic repair and have the tolls to help you perform the repair, along with the required techniques.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:55 PM   #5
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Since you can get at the tank I think the Harbor Freight plastic welder should be your first and best fix. If you have it out, remember it is a 40 year old tank. I had a similar split (from overfilling) last year and tried a spray on product like Flex-Seal. We will see if it holds up to TV commercial standards. I had to cut out a window in the plywood tank support to get at it. If that doesn't work I will have to drop the tank. If I have to go through the work of dropping the tank I may go with a new tank rather than a repair.
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Old 04-19-2016, 07:56 PM   #6
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3m

That looks like a pretty big crack. But, let me give you, just maybe, some good news:

3M makes a glue that will glue polyethylene. You won't see it at Home Depot or Lowes. You will need to find a 3M Sales Rep. It comes with this nifty neato squeeze tube that meters out the resin and the hardener in the exact ratio at the same time (a double barrel squeeze tube with different sized barrels).

The fresh water tank in my 34' had a crack in the top of the tank about an inch long. I got some white polyethylene sheet, about 1/4" thick, and cut a 3" by 3" square. I then roughened up the top of the tank where the crack was with sandpaper, and did the same to the 3x3 square, then glued them together with the 3M miracle glue. Ten years and 25,000 miles later, no problems of any kind.

I don't forget the ID number of it as it's been so long. You can probably Google it and find out. But, 3M does make a glue that will glue this tank.

Best of luck,
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:40 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Contact URETHANE SUPPLY. They are the masters of plastic repair and have the tolls to help you perform the repair, along with the required techniques.
Thanks all for your response.

I will contact urethane supply and update the forum with what I choose to do.

Ryan
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Old 04-20-2016, 09:32 AM   #8
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Also - shop around for a replacement tank. That $495 sounds like it's coming from the factory. Truth? The factory contracts out for tanks - doesn't make them. So, do some Google searching IN and outside of the Forums. I've been reading here for a long time, and more than once someone found a custom tank maker who'd to a whole new tank for a fraction of the amount quoted by the dealer or factory.

Regarding patching - I too drank from the garden hose as a child - and rode a bike without a helmet - and never heard of a child safety seat until I was a teenager, so I tend to not be fanatical about using germacidal soap, etc. You're repairing a gray tank, so your only concern is that it not develop a sneaky leak any time soon. If anyone reads this thread and has a problem with the water supply (white) tank, take care with any sealant you use to make sure it's safe to use on a tank that holds drinking water.

Paula
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:08 AM   #9
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Check with Inca Plastics for a quote on the tank. They were the supplier of many of the tanks used in the 70's trailers, and they can probably make you one up exactly like what you have.

As for repairing that tank, I would guess it is a lost cause. I have one of the HF plastic welding kits and have played with it extensively. My conclusion is that it is extremely difficult, and technique sensitive to get a weld that is as strong as, say, a rotomolded corner. Your tank cracked because it is 40 years old. Even if you manage to repair that crack, it is pretty likely that it is ready to crack someplace else.

good luck
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Old 04-20-2016, 11:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirwalshalot View Post
Is this worth trying to salvage? I live in the Seattle area and I can't find anyone who does plastic welding. I've read a couple post about the harbor freight plastic welder but that is last resort. A new tank is 495 and I would prefer not toss this one if I can salvage it.

Thanks,
Ryan
Ryan.

Yes, a replacement tank is not cheap, but neither is anything else for your 1973 Airstream.

That tank crack, because it's old. Repairing it is some what foolish in that it will continue to crack. When that happens, you then will go through the same issues as your having today.

When will another crack show up ? Most likely on a trip. Then, more problems will be added along with the tank problem. Welding old plastic tanks does not cure the fact that the tank is simply aged out, and will continue to crack. Best long term correction, is to replace the tank. Why ?? You then can kick the tank issue to the curb, and perhaps find something else to worry about.

Again, it's a large sum to correct, but so is, as another example, replacing the axles. But most owners are aware that torsion axles only last about 25 years, or even much less if the trailer was parked and not moved for a couple of years or more.

Owning an Airstream, in time, does cost money to keep it going, but most owners understand that when they purchased it. Maybe not in labor, but certainly with parts.

Andy
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Old 04-20-2016, 01:31 PM   #11
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I would attempt to fix it first. Other than your time and effort to install you have nothing to lose. I wouldn't invest in the harbor freight welder. The best I have found is a soldering iron used for stained glass.

I have welded quite a bit of plastic. Mostly atv fenders. Try to find an area of the tank where you can shave some plastic off. It will make the best filler material. The filler rods that come with the welding kits may be incompatible with the tank plastic. I would drill a small hole at end of crack to stop it from cracking further. Then use your iron to tack weld the crack every few inches. Then form a v in the crack with your iron. Now you can start using your filler material to weld the crack, pushing the plastic in from the sides of the v. Now you can check for leaks and fix any problem areas. The final step is where you'll get your strength. Take a piece of aluminum window screen cut larger than the crack area and using your iron, embed it into the plastic.
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Old 04-20-2016, 02:19 PM   #12
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Many auto body shops now do plastic welding because so many cars have plastic fenders and bumpers.
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Old 04-20-2016, 03:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
Check with Inca Plastics for a quote on the tank. They were the supplier of many of the tanks used in the 70's trailers, and they can probably make you one up exactly like what you have.

good luck
I appreciate the information on Inca Plastics. That's a good source!

http://www.incaplastics.com/page15.html
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Old 04-20-2016, 08:21 PM   #14
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I believe snap -on sells a plastic welding outfit, the harbor freight one is also good....
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