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Old 09-28-2013, 10:51 AM   #1
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1986 25' Sovereign
Lake Alfred , Florida
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Need advice for replacing water heater

My 25', 1986 Sovereign needs a new water heater. Problem is, I'm in central Florida and the AS is on my hunting lease in central Georgia. I purchased the new unit, an Atwood G6A-8E. Atwood assures me it is a bolt in replacement for the original G6A-4E. I'm going to replace the old unit in couple weeks when I go to up to hunt. My lease is out in the boonies and it's a long drive the nearest Home Depot. So, I'm trying to bring everything I need with me to do the job. I've never really worked with copper gas lines and the one thing that concerns me is the gas line on the old unit comes in from the bottom (looks the factory must have cut a new hole for it) but the new unit only has an opening coming in from the vertical face (see pics). That's the backstory, here's my questions:

Should I plan to cut a new hole in the WH and run the gas line in from bottom, or reroute it to use the factory hole?

Either way, are there specialized tools I should buy and bring with me for working with gas line?

The drain valve that came with the new unit is really a plastic drain plug. Is this the new standard or should I replace it with petcock valve?

If you were doing this job what tools and hardware would you bring?

Here's what I plan to bring: wire and various connectors for the electrical stuff, wire crimped/stripper, wood blocks and saws, assorted screws, drill/screw driver, butyl tape, Teflon tape, plumbers putty, TremPro 365 caulk, metal strap, pvc pipe cutter, various wrenches and pliers, hammers, hack saw, propane torch…

Thanks,
Scott
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:07 PM   #2
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1974 Argosy 20
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Kooskia , Idaho
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The gas entry hole will be a problem to deal with. The newer units assume that your gas line is above the floor. Your old Airstream brings the line up through the floor in that specific location, the left lower corner.

It would require a new piece of copper pipe, and flairing tools plus drills and bending tools to bring it through the new location. It can be easy, or difficult, but mostly I would say difficult if you are not familiar with the copper flaring systems. Also space is very tight and sometimes annoyingly difficult to get the flair threads to mate up.

My advice would be to cut a new hole in the new heater where the old hole in the old heater was, and re use the existing line. The inlet pipe on the new heater will need to be turned downward to attach the old line.

It can be a fiddly job, not difficult but everything has to line up properly to make that gas connection.

Best of luck on it going well.
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Old 09-28-2013, 04:21 PM   #3
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I used a boiler cock on my new water heater. I got it at Menards.
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:21 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by idroba View Post
My advice would be to cut a new hole in the new heater where the old hole in the old heater was, and re use the existing line. The inlet pipe on the new heater will need to be turned downward to attach the old line.
That's what I did when I replaced the one in my 1999 Bambi...I just plugged and vulcumed the other hole.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:30 PM   #5
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Your tool list looks like it is complete. You should not need the caulk but you will need the butyl tape. The jobs is not real difficult but can be time consuming when you run into problems such as the gas line. Take your time when putting in the new unit and just connect all the fittings loosely until you have them all started. Do that before you start putting in the screws that hold the unit in place. That will make it easier to line everything up.
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Old 09-29-2013, 07:40 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Scotman View Post
My 25', 1986 Sovereign needs a new water heater. Problem is, I'm in central Florida and the AS is on my hunting lease in central Georgia. I purchased the new unit, an Atwood G6A-8E. Atwood assures me it is a bolt in replacement for the original G6A-4E. I'm going to replace the old unit in couple weeks when I go to up to hunt. My lease is out in the boonies and it's a long drive the nearest Home Depot. So, I'm trying to bring everything I need with me to do the job. I've never really worked with copper gas lines and the one thing that concerns me is the gas line on the old unit comes in from the bottom (looks the factory must have cut a new hole for it) but the new unit only has an opening coming in from the vertical face (see pics). That's the backstory, here's my questions:

Should I plan to cut a new hole in the WH and run the gas line in from bottom, or reroute it to use the factory hole?

Either way, are there specialized tools I should buy and bring with me for working with gas line?

The drain valve that came with the new unit is really a plastic drain plug. Is this the new standard or should I replace it with petcock valve?

If you were doing this job what tools and hardware would you bring?

Here's what I plan to bring: wire and various connectors for the electrical stuff, wire crimped/stripper, wood blocks and saws, assorted screws, drill/screw driver, butyl tape, Teflon tape, plumbers putty, TremPro 365 caulk, metal strap, pvc pipe cutter, various wrenches and pliers, hammers, hack saw, propane torch…

Thanks,
Scott
Airstream has never used a "hot water heater".

But, they have always used a "cold" water heater.

We heat cold water, not hot water.

Andy
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:50 PM   #7
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1986 25' Sovereign
Lake Alfred , Florida
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Thanks for all the help. I'm feeling a more confident about it, now. Andy, in central GA it won't truly become a cold water heater until about December.

Thanks, again.
SBC
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Old 10-23-2013, 04:55 AM   #8
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1986 25' Sovereign
Lake Alfred , Florida
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The new water heater is in. The hardest part was getting the old one out. Airstream must have used 2 tubes of caulk to surround the old unit. It was literally glued in place with caulk.

Since I was hunting in the mornings and evenings it took me 3 days; one to get the old unit out; one to get the new unit in with everything hooked up to test; and one to drain it and finish mounting it. I couldn't find butyl tape so I caulked it in good with the Trempro.

The unit works great! Lights the first time, every time, and stays lit. Thanks again for all the advice.
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