I am not a restorer... however I admire the persistence and sense of style of those people who do restore vintage units.
My first response when I see someone trying to repair a vintage water heater or furnace is "WHY?"
Nothing lasts forever. Even the pyramids are showing a lot of wear. Water heaters and furnaces get a lot of wear and tear just from heat expansion and contraction... and then there are the lime deposits, rust, etc.
I look at one of these two old appliances and think two things
- carbon monoxide poisoning
- fire hazard
About a year ago a member left her "vintage" furnace on in the A/S while she made a quick run to the store - and came back to find her Airstream burned and totalled in her own driveway.
A new heater with the convenience of an electronic ignition might be the best money you ever spend on your Airstream.
I live near Williamsburg Virginia and there are lots of people who re-enact the lifestyle of colonial times... Did you know that during that time the average woman lived to be only 37 years old? Childbirth and infection following childbirth killed 3 out of 10 women; hearth fires (women catching their clothing on fire while cooking on an open hearth) caused nearly as many deaths among women. Point? Sometimes progress is GOOD.
Be safe and see you down the road.