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Old 03-20-2014, 10:46 AM   #1
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awetsch's Avatar
1961 26' Overlander
Albuquerque , New Mexico
Join Date: Dec 2013
Posts: 28
Images: 48
Water heater access door a mess!

So I pulled off the sheet metal covering the residential water heater that someone had installed in my airstream only to find butchered aluminum underneath! The metal is all cut up around where the access door should be and there are dents all along the border of the exterior aluminum opening. The hole measures 20.25" x 15.5" and the piece of sheet metal measures 22.75" x 17.75". I imagine I will have to get a piece of aluminum that size to work with the current mess underneath, but my main goal is to install a new water heater. How would I fit a water heater inside with the ability to have quick access to it, i.e.. not have to remove the panel every time I need to use the heater, and also make sure the opening water tight? I was thinking of getting an electric ignition system, but I don't know how often I would have to access the water heater from the access panel if I had to screw the opening shut for weather protection purposes. Could I make a weatherproof access panel with a door out of a sheet of aluminum fairly easily? They used some kind of putty to make the current setup water tight but after I took it off, it isn't really waterproof anymore so I need to act quick before the next rain! Thank god I'm in NM. Pics are below.
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awetsch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-20-2014, 11:35 AM   #2
Rivet Master
1974 Argosy 20
2014 20' Flying Cloud
Kooskia , Idaho
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 4,591
I think the original water heater on your trailer was the very old stile Bowen 10 gal unit. It had a large hole for access, so the cover put on by your PO when they put the electric unit in actually may have just been over the original hole, not butchered up as much as you think.

A new 6 gal Atwood DSI should fit into the space with a lot of extra room around it. The access is entirely from the outside on those water heaters so you will not have any cover to remove. You will need a piece of aluminum large enough to cover the hole, with a cutout for the new smaller water heater.

I know I have seen photos of older unit openings converted to new ones here on the forum. Perhaps a search will turn them up, or someone here who has done it can post photos.

For a temporary cover in case of rain, tape a sheet of plastic over the big hole until you get ready to put the new heater in place.
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