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Old 10-12-2017, 09:22 AM   #1
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1971 23' Safari
Calgary , Alberta
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Question Important considerations when reconfiguring the 71 safari bathroom

Hi, this is my first post and first airstream, so I may not get all of the terminology right. We purchased a 71 airstream two months ago with extensive rear damage. We gutted the entire bathroom and will be starting from scratch. There was extensive rust and so we have had the chassis at the back reinforced and rebuilt and we have redone most of the plumbing with Pex. Our airstream doesn't have a grey water tank but we are considering putting one in, since we only get one opportunity to do this right. Previously the toilet was on the driver's side, with the shower over the floor in the middle of the bathroom and a storage closet on the passenger side. I am considering moving the toilet to where the storage closet used to be and putting a full shower where the toilet used to be. The sink, under the window at the back will be considerably smaller and more narrow. I am wondering if anyone sees any issues with this? I would essentially be lengthening the plumbing to the toilet and lengthening the plumbing to the shower. Does anyone have any diagrams for how they configured the plumbing in a similar arrangement? Thanks for everyone's help!
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:07 AM   #2
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Hi

Lengthening the water feed lines to shower or toilet is not a big deal. Making the drain lines longer *is* a big deal. You either need to move the tank(s) so they are close to the shower and toilet or raise the toilet and shower to keep the water flowing towards the tank.

If you move the tank(s), do you plan on driving down the road with water in them? That's not an easy question. A couple nights on the road stopping at Walmart could have an impact ... Water in the tanks adds weight. The balance of the trailer matters. Tanks are normally near the axles. That reduces their impact on the balance of the trailer as you fill or empty them. If they are always empty .... not an issue ...

Bob
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:15 AM   #3
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One thing that could help is to use Hepvo valves on the sink and shower drains in place of P-traps. My Interstate uses Hepvo valves and has no p-traps at all. A Hepvo valve is a check valve that allows water to drain and doesn't allow it to back up. It also does as good a job as a p-trap in blocking tank odors from entering the trailer through the drains.

There is an interesting side effect to using these valves. If you overflow the gray tank from the bathroom sink, water will not back up in the shower pan. It just fails to drain from the sink.

And because you no longer need p-traps, you can go with a slightly longer drain line and still get an adequate slope on your drain lines.

More info can be found at http://hepvo.com/
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:50 PM   #4
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Greetings Kristen82, and welcome to the vintage Airstream hobby. Judging from your post, you folks are well on your way to renovating this old Safari. Rear end moisture damage is common in the vintage you own, and my 75 Overlander has similar issues.

Rebuilding a rear bath in a vintage Airstream is a big project. I did so in my 66 Trade Wind. There are many factors so you need a detailed plan. Here is a copy of my plan, but it wasn't detailed enough and I had to adjust along the way. One thing I learned is I spent way too much time and money to provide a small shower in my Trade Wind. Most campgrounds have a bathhouse which I prefer over a cramped Airstream shower stall. I regret installing that shower. Some folks install a warm water sprayer outside of their trailer to spray off sand and dirt after a long hike. It kinda looks like your Safari has a "wet" bath where everything gets wet when the shower runs. That idea was never one of my favorites. Really messy.

As mentioned, you have to start from the bottom up. Your trailer will need a "wash" water, or gray water tank to conform to modern camping standards. Your Safari may have a rather small black water tank, and it may be above the subfloor. I don't know the Safari layouts very well. Then you will have to position the tanks, find and buy the configuration you want, design the tank mounting system, design the tank drain piping, and figure out how you will route drain plumbing and vent lines to the tanks. Most folks even heat the tank area to prevent freezing in cold weather camping. Airstream normally does, and I did so on my project.

Completing such a large project is fun. Airstream Forums has many participants who have completed just such a project. Folks here are happy to answer any questions you may have based on their experiences.

David
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Old 10-12-2017, 09:53 PM   #5
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On the other hand...we have never stayed at any camp that provided showers.
Our order of importance In a camper is...comfortable bed for two, a refer to hold a weeks worth of frozen and fresh food, and a shower with warm water. Everything else is an extra.
Don't stress on the length of drains, keeping them pitched is ideal but lots of Airstreams out there with flat graded runs, mine being one. Typically the toilet sits on top/over of the black tank and not piped to. The shower floor can also be raised above trailer floor to provide drainage to grey tank if needed.
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:26 PM   #6
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In addition to the Hepvo, there are Genova: 1-1/2 Anti-Siphon P-Traps that can be used without a formal hookup to the vent stack. I've started using these on all sinks that I install, as you can't have too much venting.

Gray tank: Depends on your style of camping. If you're going out mostly to campgrounds, maybe you don't need one? Camping with a large family, tankage is important.

Installing a composting head, and converting the black tank to a gray tank is a good way to go. I moved my bath from the back to the side, and that's what I did. It's a wet head, so the whole floor is the shower pan.
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Old 10-14-2017, 08:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SuzyHomemakr View Post
.....

Gray tank: Depends on your style of camping. If you're going out mostly to campgrounds, maybe you don't need one? Camping with a large family, tankage is important.
........
Hi

We're sitting here in a petty nice state campground. It's quite modern. 50A electric, paved pads, water hookup on all the sites. Paved pads and a laundry over at the camp store..... hmmm .... one thing missing from that list ... errr ... yes indeed, no sewer hookups on the sites. I don't know if this is the "new thing" for campgrounds. This one was re-done in the last few years.

I would go with a gray tank.

Bob
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Old 10-14-2017, 08:25 AM   #8
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Hi

We're sitting here in a petty nice state campground. It's quite modern. 50A electric, paved pads, water hookup on all the sites. Paved pads and a laundry over at the camp store..... hmmm .... one thing missing from that list ... errr ... yes indeed, no sewer hookups on the sites. I don't know if this is the "new thing" for campgrounds. This one was re-done in the last few years.

I would go with a gray tank.

Bob
I think the key word is "state". Taking a nice park and running sewer lines and building a leech field and septic system to code is prohibitive.
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Old 10-14-2017, 09:40 AM   #9
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no sewer hookups on the sites. I don't know if this is the "new thing" for campgrounds.
Not a new thing at all. Corps of Engineers campgrounds, State Park campgrounds, and National Park campgrounds almost never have sewer hookups, only a dump station somewhere between the campsites and the exit. The farther away from a city the campground is— and the closer to a lake or river— the less likely you'll find sewer hookups.

The price difference between a Corps of Engineers campground with water and electric but no sewer, and a commercial campground just a few miles away with water, electric, and sewer, will surprise you. The Corps campground will typically be less than half the price. A sewer hookup is not worth paying double, as far as I'm concerned.

The campsite density will surprise you, too. Corps campgrounds tend to have about 4 campsites per acre at most. A commercial campground may have two or three times as many sites per acre.

Personally, I find that needing to break camp in the middle of my stay to swing by the dump station is a small price to pay to save money and camp at a beautiful wooded campground on a lake, that looks more like a park and less like a parking lot.

You should not only consider adding a gray tank, but if possible make the gray tank the same size as the fresh tank. That allows you to manage your water efficiently. Instead of using the water hookup, you can fill your fresh tank. Then, when your fresh tank is empty, your gray tank is almost full, and it's time to hit the dump station. No worries about overfilling the gray tank that way.
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Old 10-14-2017, 10:49 AM   #10
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I would not want to have to use a camper with no gray water tank. Have been on caravans with older trailers without one and it seems to be a real pain. Stopping for a few days in a fairgrounds or school parking lot is almost impossible.

We really discovered the beauty of Core of Engineers campsites this summer in MN. With the Golden Age passport, about 13 bucks a night. Well maintained. Well laid out. Like the Forest Service campgrounds only electricity as a hookup. The reservation system depends upon having internet access (okay, some could do it by phone, but not me).

Even when the sites have a sewer hookup I do not often leave the line hooked to it. I like to have plenty of fluid in the tank when we dump and I like to flush the hose with the gray tank.
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Old 10-15-2017, 09:28 AM   #11
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Not a new thing at all. Corps of Engineers campgrounds, State Park campgrounds, and National Park campgrounds almost never have sewer hookups, only a dump station somewhere between the campsites and the exit. The farther away from a city the campground is— and the closer to a lake or river— the less likely you'll find sewer hookups.

The price difference between a Corps of Engineers campground with water and electric but no sewer, and a commercial campground just a few miles away with water, electric, and sewer, will surprise you. The Corps campground will typically be less than half the price. A sewer hookup is not worth paying double, as far as I'm concerned.

The campsite density will surprise you, too. Corps campgrounds tend to have about 4 campsites per acre at most. A commercial campground may have two or three times as many sites per acre.

Personally, I find that needing to break camp in the middle of my stay to swing by the dump station is a small price to pay to save money and camp at a beautiful wooded campground on a lake, that looks more like a park and less like a parking lot.

You should not only consider adding a gray tank, but if possible make the gray tank the same size as the fresh tank. That allows you to manage your water efficiently. Instead of using the water hookup, you can fill your fresh tank. Then, when your fresh tank is empty, your gray tank is almost full, and it's time to hit the dump station. No worries about overfilling the gray tank that way.
Hi

Get a National Parks pass and camping at a COE campground is even less expensive ....

The cost of septic varies a lot with the ground water / soil drainage situation. One happy process buying a lot is having it tested for that. Here by the coast, no sewer. Last state park by the coast had sewer. The COE campground in the mountains in two weeks has sewer.

"List price" on all of them was very close. With the pass, COE wins by a wide margin. We've lived in a lot of states and used a lot of state parks. It is rare to ever find a state park that measures up to a COE facility.

Bob (no affiliation with or payment by the COE ...)
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Old 12-17-2017, 10:34 PM   #12
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my '71 Safari needs the bathroom sink replaced

We love our '71 23 foot Safari Airstream. But the bathroom sink has already a couple of holes, because it is so brittle, and......old. We'd like to replace the sink, but the size is rather small.

Does anyone know if I can order a new or used sink that will fit? We had a fiberglass fix done to a hole previously, but we can't keep patching such and old and brittle sink.

Thank you for any feedback!
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Old 12-18-2017, 07:11 PM   #13
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Hello from Colorado. Welcome to the Airstream Forums 1947Dutchman.

Yep, the thermoformed plastic in our old Airstreams does get brittle and start to crack. I have that problem too, especially the tub. I don't know the configuration of your bath sink vanity. My 75 Overlander has a big molded piece that serves as the counter and sink. It was kinda the same thing in the 66 Trade Wind. That said, I made a new counter top with an oval hole in it and then mounted the plastic sink I purchased. See photo in post #2. I do not know of a source for replacement Airstream thermoformed plastic parts from 40 years ago. The Airstream factory Service Center in Ohio would have the answer to that one.

I wonder how Kirsten82 us doing. She just wanted advice on her 71 Safari bath ideas in her original post. This thread has meandered more than my beagle does on her walk. Probably scared Kristen82 away. Or maybe she is laying under her Safari fixing rusty frames and hanging waste water tanks.

David
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