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Old 08-06-2013, 04:45 PM   #1
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1969 27' Overlander
St. Louis , Missouri
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Best water heater?

I removed my old water heater in my 1969 overlander. There is a large hole in the side of the airstream. What is the best water heater I can get to not have to modify the outside of the airstream?
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Old 08-06-2013, 06:08 PM   #2
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1972 25' Tradewind
North Vancouver , British Columbia
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If I remember correctly, your model would have had a Bowen (I'm not sure if it was a 6 or 10 gallon model). You can replace it easily with a new Atwood model of the same size. My trailer had an old Bowen 6 gallon and the new Atwood 6 gallon was a straight swap and took hardly any time at all. You can take advantage of the new technology and get one with electric start and even an electric element to heat the water to save on propane.
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Old 08-06-2013, 06:15 PM   #3
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1975 31' Sovereign
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Better yet - go with a flash water heater (direct swap). Only uses propane when you use hot water, has no tank of water to keep constantly hot, even when not using hot water. No lighting - always on and ready to go. Saves 90 lbs. of weight (weight of water in tank). Cost not that much more and lots of down the road savings on propane. Should last longer - no tank to rust out.
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Old 08-06-2013, 06:30 PM   #4
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1978 31' Sovereign
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A lot depends on how you use your trailer....

If you plan to travel on weekends and mostly boondock it stands to reason that an instant heater would be optimal (if you can convince yourself that it sufficiently heats the water and will be reliable).

I stay in mine for extended periods at a full hookup.

In my opinion the best things I did to the '78 are:
  1. Installed a second 20 amp electric service to the unit.
  2. Installed a second AC unit on the trailer - a must in the South.
  3. Installed a Propane/Electric water heater - switched to the AC
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:38 PM   #5
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I've read posts about the instant (or flash) water heaters not working well for navy showers. It was said they are designed to turn the water on and keep the water on till your done, each time you shut the water off, the water in the heater gets hotter and when you turn it back on then you get hotter water, then cooler water, then it stabilizes again.
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Old 08-06-2013, 07:53 PM   #6
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If you have the instant water heater, you don't need to take navy showers because you won't run out of hot water (this doesn't apply to boondockers, of course).
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:23 PM   #7
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1973 23' Safari
1970 27' Overlander
1959 24' Tradewind
1975 20' Argosy 20
Phoenix , Arizona
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You lose water capacity with instants

Don't forget you will lose 6 gallons (or 10 even) of water capacity if you switch to an Instant Water Heater. That extra 6 gallons comes in handy boondocking.

I would be sure to save the outside of your old water heater to attach to the ugly new door that comes with your nice new water heater. It even covers any patch you may have to add if the new one is much smaller, AND it just looks right.

John -Airstream Renovations of Phoenix
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Old 08-06-2013, 08:36 PM   #8
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I do not know what is the best. But I put in a new Atwood Direct Ignition and could not be happier. I also got the electric element built in. I would not get the electric element if I was doing it again. The propane works so well that I do not use the electric. Plus the unit with the electric element is deeper than the gas only I replaced and it was harder to put in because there was not quite enough room for it. With a 30 amp trailer I am not looking to increase electrical load. The heater is well insulated. We run it about 20 min in the morning and again at dinner. Water is warm all day.
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Old 08-06-2013, 10:23 PM   #9
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1969 27' Overlander
St. Louis , Missouri
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Girard Adjustable BTU Tankless Water Heater - NEW MODEL!! - RV Water Heaters - Water Heaters - RV Appliances
The Atwood directs are pretty pricey, anyone use the new girard in line, no stainless door available but I guess I could paint it???
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Old 08-06-2013, 10:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a4rent View Post
Don't forget you will lose 6 gallons (or 10 even) of water capacity if you switch to an Instant Water Heater. That extra 6 gallons comes in handy boondocking.
I don't think that this extra 6 gallons is actual water that you can use when boon docking or any other time in fact. When a manufacturer says that a trailer has a 36 gallon fresh water capacity they should say it is only 30 gallons as the other 6 will sit in the heater. To use that you have to push water into the heater from the fresh water tank. When the tank is dry there is no more water coming out of the faucet even though there are 6 gallons sitting in the hot water tank. I suppose you could drain your HW tank to get at the water if it were an emergency.

Because we boondock a lot I don't think I would want a tank less heater. There have been some good arguments made both ways.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:29 PM   #11
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1975 31' Sovereign
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"The Atwood directs are pretty pricey, anyone use the new girard in line, no stainless door available but I guess I could paint it???"

I just painted my door (it was white), with Rust-oleum Aluminum Metallic. Looks great - looks just like the rest of the airstream. If I didn't know it was paint I would swear it was aluminum. Don't know how it will weather but can always re-coat down the road. Would not work as well on a highly polished AS.
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