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Old 11-30-2013, 11:09 PM   #1
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'73 Safari - Here we go...

Dana and I started the renovation on our 23' '73 Safari this weekend. We are planning on spending the next year or so putting it back together and then taking off on a 3-6 month adventure.

The previous owners replaced the Furnace, Water Heater, AC, Electrical Service, Brakes and Tires - but cosmetically this thing is Frankenstein. For now, it will be known as Frankenstream. Over the past two days, we've basically gutted the interior - and have found a few surprises along the way.

The first, and biggest surprise, is that the fresh water tank is disconnected, and totally cut out of the plumbing loop. The fill hose is gone, the vents are cut, and the pump seems to be unhooked (without being in use, it wouldn't have made sense for the pros to hook it up to the new electrical service I guess). Going off grid is going to be important to us on The Adventure, and having water is kind of important, so this is the top fix on my list to start. I think the first step needs to be to test the pump, and if that seems OK, then I'll test the tank for any leaks. If that seems OK, then I'll have to figure out the plumbing changes needed to get it back into the mix.

-> Does anyone have any advice for me on how to best test the tank/pump, if we're thinking about this in the right order, and why someone would disconnect this in the first place (hopefully not due to leaks or other badness)

The second surprise came when we removed the toilet and revealed a really sloppy entry hole cut in the top of the black water tank. I'm guessing this is a replacement tank, or something... because I can't imagine Airstream letting it leave the factory this way. There was basically no seal between the floor that the toilet sits on and the tank - just a flange pointing down into this terribly cut hole.

-> Do you think this is reason enough to replace the tank or should we just patch this with something that actual seals around the entry hole?

Looking forward to many chilly workdays in there this winter and to finally having our own thread here to help on this journey and to inform others as we've been informed by so many of the threads we've read.

Thanks!
- Joel & Dana
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:58 AM   #2
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In a lot of cases, people disconnect the pump when they re-plumb because they don't understand how the freshwater system works. (That was the case with one of my trailers, and I've seen it in others.) Considering the interior photos of yours, maybe the problem was with the checkvalve in the pump and it was overfilling the fresh tank when city water was connected. That's just a guess, of course, but it's happened to people on the forums.

If/when you test the existing pump, be sure to test its ability to hold pressure, not just to pump water. You'll have to rig a valve on the end of a pipe or something similar, and make sure water doesn't backflow when the pump isn't running.
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Old 12-01-2013, 01:05 AM   #3
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Hi, the outside looks great; I'm sure you get the inside in good working order and have an enjoyable trailer to travel and camp in. Looking forward to your up-dates.
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Old 12-01-2013, 07:14 AM   #4
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First tile? I mean it a house or non mobile mobile home maybe. Second you have some leaks to address and just a suggestion I would pull just the street side rear interior panel to see the pink stuff and if there be mold forming. Third she appears to be riding a wee bit low so you may want check them axles! Awesome on the outside and you appear to be a motivated task orientated craftsman so none of these issues will be a major issue! Good find and welcome thanks for the pictures!
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Old 12-01-2013, 07:20 AM   #5
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no, that black tank isn't right; there was originally a threaded fitting there for the toilet flange to screw into; It was a weak spot--bad design. When someone sits on the throne, their entire weight of them and the toilet is being supported by that thin plastic and those threads. Mine was cracked around the flange.
I'm replacing mine with a bigger tank under the floor. If you're going to replace yours with the same model (still available from Inca Plastics), I would recommend surrounding it with a plywood box to support the weight of the passenger. the factory just laid a plywood plank across the top of the tank; that might spread the weight out a little bit, but not enough.
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Old 12-01-2013, 11:23 AM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the quick replies and the info. Working with the plumbing at this time of year in the Northeast is going to be tough, but I've got to get this stuff figured out before much else can really happen IMO.

@DKB with regard to the fresh water - your theory sounds as good as any - the plumbing was replaced at some point, and judging by the other work that was done this doesn't seem like it was done by the type of person who was all that interested in taking their time and getting it right. I'm hoping it'll be as simple as testing it out and hooking it back up. I'm looking around for a copy of the service manual, so once I have that I'll be able to get a better idea for how it should be hooked up. From the looks of it, my pump is inside the fresh water tank - I assume this is original spec?

@Robert - thanks!

@RM66 - yes - definitely some leaks and floor issues to deal with but those feel pretty straightforward to me. It's parked on a bit of a hill, so yes it does look low - the attached pic shows it on a parking lot and I think it looks fine there but let me know if you think otherwise.

@Chuck - yeah so I guess someone sat on it, broke the original flange, then must have taken it apart to get the pieces out and then put it back together without fixing... kind of a crappy thing to do if you ask me. I'm planning to build a whole frame back there with a new cabinet and shower, so yeah - it won't be resting on the tank itself anymore.

-> Another question on the Black tank - when I get underneath to look at the exit valve I only see one... right in the middle. I think it must be the black tank (this is what the PO told me) but I don't see one for the gray tank. Does it handle both? I'm sure they teach this in Airstream 101 but I guess I missed that day.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrb3000 View Post
-> Another question on the Black tank - when I get underneath to look at the exit valve I only see one... right in the middle. I think it must be the black tank (this is what the PO told me) but I don't see one for the gray tank. Does it handle both? I'm sure they teach this in Airstream 101 but I guess I missed that day.
You don't have a grey tank. (unless a PO modified it).

The drains from the shower and sinks just connect to the side of the pipe that drops down from the black tank; they connect below the valve, so there is nothing to stop the grey water from just falling on the ground. (which was ok in 1973; not ok today).

Take a look at the pics in my gallery; mine is more torn-down than yours; you should be able to see how everything fits in there. (if you didn't notice in my profile info, I have the exact same year/model that you do).
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:35 PM   #8
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@Chuck - ok - interesting - I'll take a closer look underneath mine next time I'm there working on it... I'll have to consider how I want to handle the lack of a gray tank - I guess I just assumed it had one. Surprise #3 from Frankenstream!
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Old 12-01-2013, 03:05 PM   #9
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The pump is *NOT* internal to the freshwater tank on any '70s Airstream or Argosy that I've seen. It's a conventional 12v RV water pump that is usually mounted near the fresh tank but outside the tank and plumbed to the tank with a flexible line. There should be a screen or filter in the suction line between the tank and the pump.

A little extra line on the output side with a loop in it can help manage noise, as long as that line isn't itself vibrating against the floor or a wall. Careful mounting of the pump affects noise as well, but at this point noise is probably not a primary concern.

The service manual is available from Airstream.
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Old 12-08-2013, 10:07 PM   #10
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Bathroom/Floor Progress

I was able to spend today in the Airstream. I took out the most of the plumbing (going to re-route things a bit and needed to get it out of the way), removed some of the floor in the back which was water damaged from water leaking in from the bumper. I pulled all the bumper trim apart, cleaned it out, and put a good seal of silicone in there before I put it all back together. I think it should be good back there now. In the process of tearing out the shower pan I broke the trap, so I'll have to go under and fix that... hopefully I can get to everything and don't have to pull the bottom skin off.

I'm trying to figure out what to do about the black tank... wondering if I can fix it instead of buying a new one. Going to ask a question in Plumbing about this.
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Old 12-09-2013, 07:22 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck View Post
You don't have a grey tank. (unless a PO modified it).

The drains from the shower and sinks just connect to the side of the pipe that drops down from the black tank; they connect below the valve, so there is nothing to stop the grey water from just falling on the ground. (which was ok in 1973; not ok today).

Take a look at the pics in my gallery; mine is more torn-down than yours; you should be able to see how everything fits in there. (if you didn't notice in my profile info, I have the exact same year/model that you do).
I realized this weekend that it must be the tank sensor wires that I saw making me think the pump was inside... duh!
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Old 12-01-2014, 11:51 AM   #12
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What a difference a year (and a TON of work) makes!

Well - it's been a little over a year since we got the Safari and started tearing it apart... thankfully, we're nearing the final stages of construction now... and I'm just coming back to Air Forums to update this thread (it's just soooo much easier to post on Instagram!)...

We spent most of last winter/spring gutting her and removing 40 years of lackluster DIY work/gunk. Here's a pic of the totally gutted version, pre-paint:



... and ... after paint with some of the bathroom structure started (the bathroom could comprise of many posts by itself):



We did a combination of gray 2x2 tile and glass subway tile in the bathroom... I'm still fighting this residue left from my somewhat crappy grout job on the bathroom floor, but the glass came out great.







I made a DIY barn door and we did pallet wood on the wall, and we're doing a single full-height closet followed by a slew of drawers for the kitchen:



... built a pull-out bed:



... booth up front:



... and finally, whitewashed & sealed everything, added countertops, sink & cooktop, flooring, and a custom made aluminum exhaust hood:





Also fixed leaks along the way, re-screened screens, did all the guts (water pump, new water heater tank, all plumbing) and still have a lot to do - Drawers, Cushions, Lighting, etc... but we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel!
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Old 01-14-2015, 01:22 PM   #13
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Looking good! Impressive amount of work shown in one post!
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Old 01-17-2015, 11:32 AM   #14
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This is great! I am hoping to do the same thing.. The step by step photos are a huge help as I am planning this undertaking!! Any advice you can share now that you have finished your remodel?
Mahalo!
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