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Old 02-06-2005, 11:32 PM   #15
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Gas line

When I replaced my waterheater, I bought a gas line for a dryer (small diameter tubing - I forget the size). It came with an official seal (UA?) and specific instructions on installation. It was nice because it was a "bendy" flexible line, and it hooked right up to the on/off junction under the trailer of the main gas line. I agree - test with soap water. I did find a minor leak with mine, and just alittle more elbow grease got rid of it. Also watch where the flame comes out of. There was some residual junk in my burner orifice, which allowed it to ignite INFRONT of the water heater (not in the burner hole) from the air mixture port. THAT got my attention. After blowing throught the line, no more problem. Whew!
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Old 02-07-2005, 11:52 AM   #16
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Proabably too late to add this, but I documented my water heater replacement with an atwood on my website. You can see it here:

http://www.ldservice.com/tim/airstre...ter_heater.htm

One thing about using the flexible gas lines. When I looked into doing that I noted that they were not able to handle vibration that well. The flexible line was mearly to be able to hook up an appliance and then slide it back into place. Not much more than that.

So I opted to go with the copper line, it was a major hassle but I don't have to worry about the flex line.

I have a question for new water heater installers. My WH has only been in about two years and the exhaust is already showing signs of rust. Is there anyway to fight that?
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:00 PM   #17
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Frustrated - Water heater replacement

...or lack there of.

Just walked away from Camping World. They weren't very interested in replacing a water heater in our '72 Sovereign. They were talking about cutting away trim, talking about how it wouldn't fit the cabinet, etc. I figured they weren't interested in doing a good job and they were planning to forgo the standard install rate and charge by the hour. I decided to just walk away.

Closest A/S dealer I trust to do the service is in Iowa (4 hours).

I am tempted to try the replacement myself. I'm sure many have tried this. There is some great information in this thread. I will search the site again for more, but can anyone give me some quick tips? Do's and Don'ts?

Thank you in advance for the help.

P.S. this would have been a new thread, but I was forced to revive an old thread.
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Old 05-02-2005, 01:18 PM   #18
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Hi guys;

Don't be discouraged...if you know house plumbing and can DIY then you will be fine that end of things (just remember to put in the by pass for winterizing - that is if your old 72 did not already have it - you can by the kits from any RV dealer/Service place.

Peter temporaily installed the new WaterHeater down at the FSR it fits no problem - but he did not do it permanently as we had water issues and the hot line has to be moved back just a hair - he screwed her in just enough to get the skin door back on ( remember to keep your old door).

Depending on your model you may have to cut your skin a bit - if so then you will have to use the new door - I would recommend that you get it painted aluminum so that the white door does not stick out like a sore thumb - you see so many people go to the trouble of replacing then leave the white door. (I know it is only cosmetic but.... )

Dry fit everything and once all in place then you can go back and compete the plumbing and vulkum everything into place. There are some pretty good instructions that come with the Atwoods and they seem to replace the old Bowens really well. We chose to stick with the 6 G rather than go with the 10G and the fit is perfect.

If you don't feel comfortable doing the plumbing then just get it all ready to save on the labor costs - then find yourself a plumber to do the lines for you. Then you can hook it up your self after - making sure everything seals to your quality standards rather than someone elses. I plumber and/or gas guy will be able to do both for you and then you just have to worry about the electrics if yours is electric as well. Why you could even hire an electrician to do that part as well - you just drill all the stuff get the switches ready run the wires were you want them and they do the hook up. Saves a heck of a lot of labor costs.

Good luck - but I am sure there will be lots here that can give you a step by step - and even have pictures they could share with you.
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Old 05-02-2005, 03:32 PM   #19
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Mark and Kimber,

DIY is the way to go if you can. Take your time and it will make sense. Here is my way of doing it myself.

First issue. You will need to remove the cabinet over the heater. It can be worked around, but if it is not there the R&R is so much easier. If you are into yoga and are flexible enough you can leave it in place no problem. It should be attached to the floor and the inside walls. The floor will be rusty Phillips head screws thru the bottom plate of the door, if you have one. The walls will attached to the interior skin with rivets that will need to be removed with a 1/8 inch drill bit. Just drill in the little hole.

If there is no door, the trim strip of plastic will need to come out, it will hide the rivets that hold the top on. Remove the brassy trim and you will find the rivets that hold the cabint top on. Remove them and the top should lift off.

Once the cabinet is out of the way you can see what you are up against regarding water lines. There are only 2. One in, one out. The new heater will almost line up with the old lines. The copper is flexible, just be easy and don't kink it, you can adjust where it goes.

If you add a bypass you will need to get creative with the connections as the bypass is designed to go on the back of the heater. The instructions on the back of the bypass are good. If you forgo the bypass then you have little to worry about back here.

Use a wrench and disconnect the water lines and remove the brass fittings from the heater. You will need them later. You will likley need a back up wrench on the brass fittings to gain the necessary leverage.

On the outside, open the door and look at the hinges. They will slide toward the center of the heater. Only one has to come off to get the door off. Save the door as GT recommended.

Disconnect the gas line and place a baggie over the end of it. You do not want crud in the line later. Remove the brass fitting from the old heater to connect to the gas line, you might need it later. Remove the dum dum form around the gas line and push the line down thru the hole in the heater shroud. You may need to loosen a belly clamp on the line to do this. Remeber this if you do it, you need to reconncet the clamp when you are done.

The perimeter of the heater is held to the skin with common Phillips screws, unless someone has done a R&R already and used something else. remove them. A few may be tough.

Once you have them all out use a thin putty knife slid between the skin of the trailer and the heater to break the bond be careful to not scratch the trailer!

PULL, but go easy. Once the bond is broken you will be able to slide the old heater out. It will not come easily, it may lose part of the exterior cardboard, all you need to be careful of is that you do not bend or tear the skin of the coach.

Now comes the hard part. The new heater is designed to be slid in place from the inside. Quite often this is impractical due to all the plumbing, etc behind the heater. They are installed before the pipes when the trailers are being built. That being said there are 2 methods I have used to get the new one in place from the outside. One is to just work it in gently. It scars up the foam, but it will eventually fit. The other was is to cut the bad that holds the foam on and slip it in then go inside and re-install the foam. I have used the big tie wraps that are available in the heating duct isle from home depot.

Once you have it set I recommend the use of furnace tape to seal the joint. It is cheap, really tacky and makes a really good seal. It can be had at any RV place for 5-6 bucks a roll. 1 roll will do 2 heaters. The furnace tape can be applied to the exterior skin before you bend the metal flanges to be 90 degrees off the face of the heater. You may need to drill a hole in the heater to get the gas line routed. It all depends on how they did it originally.

Use new screws to install the heater You will notice that there are fewer holes in the new on than there were in the old one. This is because you need to add more screws . The heater is designed for a stiffer side wall. The skin of the trailer is not stiff enough so additional screws are recommended. Be sure to use a screw gun with some sort of limiter. The steel screws will strip the soft aluminum VERY easily. All you want is snug, so the furnace tape squeezes out. Once you have all the screws in you can use a razor blade to trim off the furnace tape. Note, you need to install the corner reinforcer's as you go. They sit under the screws in the corners.

You may need to either adjust the fitting for the gas line or R&R it with the old one. It depends on the routing. If you are not using the OEM hole be sure to seal it with vulcem or silicone. Install the gas line now. USE A BACK UP WRENCH or you could damage the regulator.

Now use the new hinge pins to install the old door, there are instructions on that with the heater.

Inside you will need to install the brass fittings and reconnect the water lines. Use a sealer on the heater to fitting connection. Teflon tape works fine, if you have a tub of tread sealant for plumbing it works as well. Reconnect the water lines and pressure test the system. You may need to give something a final turn.

Once you are sure it will hold water, fire it up

Once you have verified operation, and are certain of no leakage, reinstall the bathroom cabinet. I recommend new screws and of course you will need some pop rivets.

This is a weekend project at the most. One day for a first timer going slow. I do it in 2 hours, but I have done 3 of them in the last 3 years.
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Old 05-02-2005, 08:42 PM   #20
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Thank you so much for the tips and supportive encouragement. I am ok with the copper plumbing work and as long as I donít need to do too much modification to the LP lines, I think I am ok. I have connected a few gas appliances in my time.



I have a fair concern about the saving the door. It appears that the new water heaters are different than the Bowen (by Atwood) that is currently in the trailer. The greatest concern is the bottom door hinge edge. The door hinge edge on the older heater is deeper (or has a deeper lip on the water heater) and is covered by the bottom segment trim piece (blue line).



The trim will have to be removed to pull the water heater out of the trailer. This I think I am ok with, although Iíve yet to attempt to replace any of the larger rivets on an A/S. The door hinge rests just above the trim line. The depth of the lower hinge on the new heaters appears to be different than the old heater. I fear that I will need to cut the old water heater hinge and attach it to the new heater.



I havenít yet pulled anything apart and am only using visual observation at this point.



Thank you again for all of the help!
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:08 AM   #21
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Water Heater Plumbing Pic

Mark,

Given some of the stories I've read here, there aren't many dealers I'd trust to do much of anything on my unit(s). Airstreams require a bit more love and attention to detail.

I replaced the water heater in my '72 Overlander (rear bath) a year ago and I kind of remember doing it (in the midst of total bathroom removal/restoration). I don't think it was that hard, though I didn't try to make the old door work with the new water heater. (I still have the door and am going to use it, with some modifications, on my "new" '73 Sovereign.)

The Atwood 10 gal fit right in, although I did cut out some of the trim (beltline) to make the new water heater door work. (If I'd have done it this year, I'd probably have figured out a way to make the old door work without cutting the belt line. Oh well!)

I used the gas/electric with pilot (manual light) and have been happy with it. (I seldom use the gas.) I did add a 15 or 20 amp breaker to the panel for the 115v power to water heater (went to electrical supply place as it is a very skinny breaker).

The existing plumbing matched up pretty well as I remember. Below is a pic of my water heater without the cabinet. (The cabinet doesn't leave much room for any other plumbing such as bypass.)

I'm about to install a Suburban 10 gal in my '73 Sovereign (center bath) and will take pics/notes as I do it.
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Old 05-03-2005, 07:52 AM   #22
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Thank you Ron! Knowing that you didn't actually make the old door work, any ideas on how it could be done if you had tried?

I am hoping to keep from changing the trim, other than to remove and replace it.

I don't know if the bottom lip (that includes the piano hinge) can be cut off of the old heater and welded to the new heater. I am of course open to any other thoughts on potential ways to do this.
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Old 05-03-2005, 09:49 AM   #23
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I replaced my water heater 2 years ago. I had to rework the vent to make the old door work with the new heater. Was not too hard, just time consuming.

Brett is right about removing the cabinet for easier plumbing hook up. I think I spent more time hooking up the plumbing on the inside than anything else, without the cabinet removal. You may need to find a contortionist or yoga instructor to help with the plumbing on the inside!
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Old 05-17-2005, 10:45 PM   #24
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Well the saga continues. Took apart the cabinet (great recommendation, thank you). Pulled the water heater in the first 2 hours. So far, so good.

Spent the next 8 hours determining the best way to get the old door to work.

Option 1: Cut new hole in old door
Option 2: Make new old door with new correct holes
Option 3: alter fins on the new heater to allow the old door to close.

I went with Option 3. I decided that Ĺ inch of fin was ok to trim. Got the heater back into the trailer, and water hooked up. New problem is found. We have a split pipe to the toilet. How many gallons must a guy use when winterizing? Thinking of having a pallet delivered next year.



Spent hours getting that reworked and set up so it can be replaced easily if there is ever another problem. The job included compression joints, sweating copper, flexible reinforced hose: the whole nine yards. Have now found that the toilet itself is also leaking. Off to Camping World, before the floor is ruined.



Back to the water heater install. I have a bulge in the outside skin in a corner of the water heater where I had to pull the aluminum back out to meet the face of the heater. I hope that someone pushing from the inside of the trailer will allow me to put screws in and get the skin flat again.


I'm looking forward to testing the LP connections and getting the electrical run.


I have also managed to replace the pump head, gaskets on the kitchen sink (couldnít find a new core), used gorilla glue on the table ledge.

While working tonight the bathroom lights all stopped working. Outlet is fine.

Two steps forward, 5 steps back. I sure hope I can get this bath back together before Memorial weekend. Iím super tempted to replace the carpet while I have the whole bathroom torn up. That will have to wait for another day. The good news is this is a huge educational experience for me and I'm going to be prepared to fix nearly anything on this trailer before I am through. Thank you all for the encouragement!
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Old 05-18-2005, 12:11 AM   #25
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Fear not. You'll get through it.

I remember after doing a ton of work to mine, I had the water hose hooked up at the house.

I stepped away from the trailer for just about ten minutes and came back to water pouring out of the bottom of the trailer. Just gushing.

I was totally frustrated. I had just laid new vinyl tile. Turns out the PO replaced busted pipe with heater hoses and clamps.

I was so upset I wanted to just get rid of this old trailer right then! Soon after the help of friends here, I calmed down. And got a plan to replace all the plumbing.

Now all is well again. But in the back of my mind no matter how nice I make it, I realize it is 34 years old and it will break....

Humm... I don't think this helped. I'm gettind depressed again....
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Old 05-18-2005, 08:01 AM   #26
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Actually, I know that the more I take on the more I will know how to fix next time. I'm from the disposable generation, so knowing how to fix things may well come in handy someday. I certainly am counting my blessings as the floor is good and solid around the toilet and the waterheater. This could certainly be far worse. Knowing that I have to replace the toilet isn't such a bad thing to know. Far better to know it now and get it done before the floor is damaged than to find out a year or two from now that it has been leaking for a long time, and I have to then replace both the toilet and the floor.
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"When you come to a fork in the road, take it"
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Old 05-18-2005, 09:38 PM   #27
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Yes, You Should be Thankful

Mark,

You're very fortunate that your floor isn't rotten. Left unattended, it certainly would be.

If you haven't done so yet, you might want to have a look under the belly pan to check the condition of the frame and black tank supports. An ounce of prevention, you know.

I'm slowing down on my Sovereign progress, though I've got the new Suburban water heater in place and plumbed, just not fastened to exterior walls yet (still haven't really worked out the door issue yet).

It is really easy to slip into the bog of depression as unexpected complications arise. I have installed the fridge, started reassembling the bathroom, and have the electricity up now. I have a few nonworking circuits though.

Good luck...you're almost there.

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Old 05-19-2005, 08:57 AM   #28
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The major issue with the door for me was making the decision on how to move forward. If you have the old door, it can be fit to the new WH. I don't know if you have the issue with the trim as I did on the Sovereign.

My mods on the new heater consisted of drilling new holes for the hinge and bracket for the old door and holes for moving the latches to the new heater. I also had to trim the center edge of the exhaust fins to get them to fit through the vent opening in the old door. I took the grate off of the old door and bent the tabs over the edges of the old door vent hole.

What is the best way to get inside the belly pan. I havent looked, but I'm assuming that I go at it from under the trailer. Are the tricks to avoid tearing the pan? I've spent very little time looking at the pan, except to remove the cap for the bathroom vent.

I took the time to put some gutter leaf guard over the vent cap under the trailer.
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