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Old 08-20-2011, 04:58 PM   #1
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1975 Argosy 24
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Replacing Water Heater in Argosy 24ft '75 HELP!!

First of all, hello Airstream forums! I'm a new member and a proud new owner of my very first Airstream!
I've just acquired a beautiful '75 argosy which was in pristine condition (previous owner fixed a lot of things and kept all original appliances/cabinetry) except for the water heater.
So I ordered a new one and decided to take it upon myself to replace it. I got a new Atwood GC6AA-8 which is the replacement model for the original G6A3. The previous owner had disconnected the water lines from it and fitted cap ends on the pipes, as it was leaking.

Now, I managed to remove the old heater without any issue. But trying to put the new one, I realized the hole and fitting for the gas pipe were different.

As you can see in the first 2 pictures the hole for the gas pipe was at the bottom of the water heater frame and there was a matching hole in the airstream floor and belly pan to allow for the pipe to go through.
However, on the new water heater, the hole is in the back of the frame (see picture 3). I tried to punch a new hole in the frame to align it with the hole already present in the airstream floor but then, the angle of the gas connector was too hard to allow for a pipe to bend coming from the bottom hole (see picture 4)

What are my options? What would you recommend?
Thanks!
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Old 08-20-2011, 05:08 PM   #2
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I had the same issue when I changed my old water heater. You should be able to thread the elbow fitting attached to the gas valve farther forward about 3/4 of a turn so it faces down towards the new hole you cut in the water heater case. That's what I did and slightly realign the original gas line to attach easily.
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Old 08-20-2011, 05:41 PM   #3
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Thanks a lot!

I'm not sure what you mean by thread the elbow forward... I just tried to screw/unscrew the elbow a bit more and it won't move (I've tried fairly hard). I don't want to apply to much force as I don't know how tough the assembly is.
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Old 08-20-2011, 06:32 PM   #4
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Yes I do mean screw/unscrew the elbow. It will come free with enough force. There is pipe dope on the threads and that acts like locktite making the elbow hard to turn. make sure you have another wrench on the gas valve to support it while trying to free up the elbow.
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Old 08-20-2011, 07:56 PM   #5
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Okay, we managed to screw it tighter and turn the elbow to face towards the hole, but the elbow is still angled too much to the left to fit the piping on it.

I apologize for my lack of knowledge, it is my first time taking on such a project

Thanks for your help!
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Old 08-20-2011, 08:18 PM   #6
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Hey eyelashsoup that's great your'e almost there. Now all you need to do is slightly bend the copper line to match the angle of the elbow. The flare fitting should fit snug and tight all around the end of the elbow. Do this by hand and avoid kinking the copper line. It doesn't take much force to bend the copper it is quite soft. Keep the bend far enough down the line so as to allow the flare nut to slide up and down the copper line.
No need to apologize given that this is yout first time you're doing great.
Make sure you leak test that connection with soapy water before trying to light it.
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Old 08-21-2011, 03:59 PM   #7
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Thanks again Wasagachris,
after a few hours of trying to bend the copper and kinking it, I went to get a bending tool (which I didn't know existed until today...) and I finally managed to get the copper pipe to fit. First victory! (I've posted the picture of pipe fitting through the hole connected to the heater for reference )

Now, connecting the water pipes... I had a feeling it would be easier. Turns out it's also a bit of a challenge. Of the two connection, the one at the top of the tank shouldn't be a problem as I got an elbow and a flanged 5/8 to 1/2 converter (second pic). However, for the bottom one, the 2 brass bits won't do because the pipe and the connection on the tank won't align (and the copper line from the airstream is not movable/bendable) (3rd and 4th pic)

Is there anyway I could use some type of flexible material to make the connection? What would you recommend?

Thanks again for your help -

Elie
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Old 08-21-2011, 05:52 PM   #8
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I would install a bypass kit for winterizing which may solve your problem getting the original plumbing lines to reach the new fitting on the water heater.
RV Winterizing Bypass on Sale - PPL Motor Homes

I just noticed that you bought the gas/electric combo unit. Are you planning to hook up the 110VAC electric side of the water heater?
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Old 08-21-2011, 08:49 PM   #9
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I installed that water heater in my trailer last fall. The route for the gas line from inside the coach was a very easy connection. I made the connection to the heater (straight shot), made a loop inside the coach, drilled a new hole in the coach floor beside the heater, exited the pan at the original location, flared the tube, and connected to a new shut off.

For the water connections I just used two 90 degree elbows and located the bypass to the front of the heater where it's easier to access when the toilet is installed. I have a center bath model. It's very cramped when the toilet is installed.





View my gas tube loop at right side of picture.

Gary
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Old 08-23-2011, 08:42 PM   #10
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Wasagachris, I won't be installing a winterizing kit as we're planning to spend the winter living in the trailer - though it may be something I will install later on.

Seeing the picture from Splitrock, I investigated and discovered pex piping!
After a trip to my local home depot, I finally have all the connectors (adapters/elbows/etc...) and pipe I need to make the connection from the older pipes to the new water heater. I've just finished a connection test and this will work just fine.

Thank you both for your very valuable help - I hope this thread will help many others when encountering the same issues!

Now, I need to figure out how to seal the water heater to the outside of the trailer. I got some polyurethane sealant which some people recommend on other threads. I will need to drill new holes in the water heater frame to match with the existing holes in the trailer frame (is that a common issue?). So fingers crossed and hopefully my next post will be of the pictures of the installed heater!

Elie
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Old 08-23-2011, 08:56 PM   #11
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Elie I still would put it the bypass now while it`s apart. It will help as aselling feature later and you never know if you`ll need it some time yourself. Why do it twice.
Use either a butyl tape or a putty tape on the lip edge of the water heater between the lip and the shell. Then use Parbond to seal it after the install. Don`t forget to seal the original hole for the gas line and the new hole you made for the old gas line route.
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