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Old 03-27-2008, 12:45 PM   #1
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How to Replace Hot Water Heater in '75 Ambassador?

I have removed the Bowen Water Heater, Model G10B, in my '75 Ambassador and want to find a replacement. Here's a photo of the old Bowen from the exterior prior to removal.

At this point I have very little knowledge about hot water heaters or how to choose a replacement. Will new heaters will fit the measurement specifications of the old heater? Do new heaters include a new external access cover? If the new heater vents differently the access cover will need replacing?
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Old 03-27-2008, 02:17 PM   #2
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Bowen water heater?

Are you sure that you have a Bowen water heater? I replaced two Atwood water heaters that look very similar. Anyway, I checked the Camping World catalog for dimensions and found a direct replacement. The old cover fit the new unit without modification. (Of course, your results may vary!)

I think that there are two sizes, 6 and 9 gallon, that may have different dimensions. I stuck with the same size and had no problems except for making the plumbing connections. (Not a whole lot of room.) On the newer trailer I replaced the plumbing with PEX, more flexible but still a bit difficult due to cramped quarters. Your trailer is larger so perhaps you will have more room.

One last thought: You might wish to consider electric spark ignition. Very handy on a windy, rainy night; the boss flips the switch and I stay dry!

Good luck, let me know if I can provide any additional information.

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Old 03-27-2008, 02:55 PM   #3
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Bowen was the name until about 1976. Then for a short while it was Atwood-Bowen, and now, simply Atwood.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:02 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by monocoque
I have removed the Bowen Water Heater, Model G10B, in my '75 Ambassador and want to find a replacement. Here's a photo of the old Bowen from the exterior prior to removal.

At this point I have very little knowledge about hot water heaters or how to choose a replacement. Will new heaters will fit the measurement specifications of the old heater? Do new heaters include a new external access cover? If the new heater vents differently the access cover will need replacing?
Any 10 gallon Atwood heater will replace your old Bowen 10 gallon without body modification. You should install a bypass kit while you have the plumbing apart if you didn't have one before. A 3 foot section of 3/8th flex gas line from Lowes etc. will make your install much easier - you can spray paint it silver where it shows under the trailer.

Save the small square of foam from the heater packaging - it's great to shove under the bottom rear of the new heater to firm up the installation. This is the one we just installed last fall and it seems to be a nice unit - heats up quickly on electric. WATER HEATER GC10A-4E-10 GALLON GAS/ELEC-ELECTRIC IGNITION available here and elsewhere online

RV Water Heaters and Parts


The old door and vent will not direct fit the new tank and to use it, on the new one, will take more work than I was willing to do anyway. The new one should come with a door that is white - you can sand it lightly and spray paint it.

Don't throw away the old door and vent and hinge. You may want to fiddle with it later - if not - put it out on Ebay and watch it sell.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:02 PM   #5
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Although this thread describes the replacement of a 1966 Bowen with a new Atwood, it may be of some help to you.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f445...ood-36653.html
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:06 PM   #6
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Gary, can you please describe the bypass you mentioned? What is the purpose? Sorry, I'm not so bright when it comes to these sorts of things.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwnash
Anyway, I checked the Camping World catalog for dimensions and found a direct replacement. The old cover fit the new unit without modification. (Of course, your results may vary!)

I think that there are two sizes, 6 and 9 gallon, that may have different dimensions. I stuck with the same size and had no problems except for making the plumbing connections. (Not a whole lot of room.) On the newer trailer I replaced the plumbing with PEX, more flexible but still a bit difficult due to cramped quarters. Your trailer is larger so perhaps you will have more room.

One last thought: You might wish to consider electric spark ignition. !

Whit Nash
What was the brand and model of the direct replacement you found and used? Unfortunately I tossed the old unit and the access cover. Not thinking at the time that a replacement might not have an access cover. Live and learn. So if there is a direct replacement heater available that doesn't require modification of opening in the shell...I'm now in the market for a replacement access door as well! I suppose if they are making direct replacements somebody has an access door that will match the old door.

What is PEX? And how do you mean that more flexible requires more space?

Is electric spark ignition an option that can be ordered on the direct replacement model you used?
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:17 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin
Any 10 gallon Atwood heater will replace you old Bowen 10 gallon. You should install a bypass kit while you have the plumbing apart if you didn't have one before. A 3 foot section of 3/8th flex gas line from Lowes etc. will make your install much easier - you can spray paint it silver where it shows under the trailer.

Save the small square of foam from the heater packaging - it's great to shove under the bottom rear of the new heater to firm up the installation. This is the one we just installed last fall and it seems to be a nice unit - heats up quickly on electric. ATWOOD WATER HEATER- G10-3E 10 GAL LP GAS-ELECTRIC IGNITION available here and elsewhere online

RV Water Heaters and Parts


The old door and vent will not direct fit the new tank and to use it, on the new one, will take more work than I was willing to do anyway. The new one should come with a door that is white - you can sand it lightly and spray paint it.

Don't throw away the old door and vent and hinge. You may want to fiddle with it later - if not - put it out on Ebay and watch it sell.
Gary, this is what I was hoping to hear. Unfortunately I tossed the old heater including the access door before I thought the process out. Spray painting is an option but I really liked the stainless steel access panel on the old model. Does Atwood make a stainless steel door? If not I think I'll look around for a business with stainless steel fabrication abilities and see what a door would cost?

I assume that you mean that the new Atwoods will replace the Bowen without modification of the opening in the shell? So the measurement dimensions are the same? Is electric ignition the same as spark ignition? What is a bypass kit? Drainage?
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:27 PM   #9
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Here's an inside rear picture of the Bowen before removal and a few more during and after the removal process.
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Old 03-27-2008, 03:55 PM   #10
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A new 10 gallon Atwood will slide in there like a glove. Use butyl tape between the flange and skin - some of the screw holes will even line up - the rest you'll tap with a drill.

Atwood does not make a stainless door - they make white and polar white only. Last year Airstream had doors in their shop that were baked aluminum paint on an Atwood door - not too ugly - but 6 gallon only. They just in the past few months introduced a stainless door - 6 gallon only. I already checked with the gang in parts - no plans for a 10 gallon.

I share the vintage desire but we did ours late in the year and had to get it done - so I did bright aluminum paint. I hope to have a stainless one made also - a local shop I use here can do it I'm sure. In any event - you need the new door as a template.

The bypass let's you drain the tank and then pump your lines full of antifreeze without it going into the tank. That way you don't have to fill the tank with forty bucks worth of RV antifreeze. Here is a pic. of the back of ours showing the bypass in place. They cost like 20.00 at any RV shop - we replaced the lines that came with the kit with the stainless flex you see. Good luck....
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ganglin
A new 10 gallon Atwood will slide in there like a glove. Use butyl tape between the flange and skin - some of the screw holes will even line up - the rest you'll tap with a drill.

Atwood does not make a stainless door - they make white and polar white only. Last year Airstream had doors in their shop that were baked aluminum paint on an Atwood door - not too ugly - but 6 gallon only. They just in the past few months introduced a stainless door - 6 gallon only. I already checked with the gang in parts - no plans for a 10 gallon.

I share the vintage desire but we did ours late in the year and had to get it done - so I did bright aluminum paint. I hope to have a stainless one made also - a local shop I use here can do it I'm sure. In any event - you need the new door as a template.

The bypass let's you drain the tank and then pump your lines full of antifreeze without it going into the tank. That way you don't have to fill the tank with forty bucks worth of RV antifreeze. Here is a pic. of the back of ours showing the bypass in place. They cost like 20.00 at any RV shop - we replaced the lines that came with the kit with the stainless flex you see. Good luck....
Definitely let me know if you get a door fabricated. And I'll share my experience here when I reach that point. I like the flexible stainless. Looks like it mates right up to the existing copper. Thanks for the tip about the bypass. That's something I want to do as well.
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Old 03-27-2008, 04:31 PM   #12
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Another Thread

There is another thread out there called "Paint for Water Heater door". It has a bunch of posts with pictures for what other people have done with their water heater cover. I have a post in there that shows what it looks like when a piece of 2024-T3 is epoxied to the standard white Atwood door. There are several different approaches to take.

If you decide to go with an electric ignition model, you will need to tie into some DC wiring somewhere in the trailer. Ours is a rear bath model, so we had an easy spot to tie into right in the water heater closet.

There is also a 6 gallon Atwood that is the same width as the 10 gallon Atwood and Bowen, but not as tall. We went with that size with the electric ignition, and had to do some patching in the outer skin. The patch hides pretty well behind our rub rail, which does not seem to be case on your '75. At the time we put ours in, we did not know that Atwood offered a 10 gallon with the electric ignition. All the new Airstreams come with 6 gallon tanks, even the big ones. Since there are just two of us, we hope the 6 gallon will be plenty, but we may have a different opinion at this time next year. We are newbies.

One thing I would suggest when you put your new one in: put down a piece of flashing to cover the wood floor that has a small lip over the outside skin. It's good insurance if there is a leak. Good luck with the project.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:11 PM   #13
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There is another thread out there called "Paint for Water Heater door". It has a bunch of posts with pictures for what other people have done with their water heater cover. I have a post in there that shows what it looks like when a piece of 2024-T3 is epoxied to the standard white Atwood door. There are several different approaches to take.

If you decide to go with an electric ignition model, you will need to tie into some DC wiring somewhere in the trailer. Ours is a rear bath model, so we had an easy spot to tie into right in the water heater closet.

There is also a 6 gallon Atwood that is the same width as the 10 gallon Atwood and Bowen, but not as tall. We went with that size with the electric ignition, and had to do some patching in the outer skin. The patch hides pretty well behind our rub rail, which does not seem to be case on your '75. At the time we put ours in, we did not know that Atwood offered a 10 gallon with the electric ignition. All the new Airstreams come with 6 gallon tanks, even the big ones. Since there are just two of us, we hope the 6 gallon will be plenty, but we may have a different opinion at this time next year. We are newbies.

One thing I would suggest when you put your new one in: put down a piece of flashing to cover the wood floor that has a small lip over the outside skin. It's good insurance if there is a leak. Good luck with the project.
That's interesting and a surprise that AS's uses 6 gallon tanks on the new models. I wonder what's the reasoning behind that. I plan to go back in with a 10 gallon tank in my case. Apparently doing so will also avoid the sizing problems. I'll look for the Paint thread for ideas about what to do with the door. I do plan on the electric ignition too. The interior of my shell is completely stripped right now so when everything goes back in it should be easy to run a new line directly from the DC fuse box to power it.
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Old 03-27-2008, 05:18 PM   #14
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Water Heater Door Replacement

Here's the thread for painting the water heater door, mentioned above, if you're interested:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f445...oor-40005.html
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