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Old 02-16-2009, 09:22 AM   #1
Kenter Canyon
1966 17' Caravel
Mason , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 2
ADVICE SOUGHT updating 1996 Caravel plumbing


I am updating the plumbing on my 1966 Caravel, after discovering some leaks in the copper fittings caused by a freeze, and vibrations, etc. (It's old!)

I have at least a partial diagram of what is involved, and wanted to get started but could use some advice about possibly adding more modern safety features that this Airstream wasn't built with. (Are there things I should be adding, like back-flow valves of some sort?) This trailer has no "grey water" capability. Either it's clean or it drains straight to the tank with the toilet waste. I don't think there is room enough to do much about that, although I am open to suggestions about saving water.

What is currently configured seems to be functional insofar as working when hooked up to city water. That much I have tested. There is pressure to the faucets and toilet, and the hot water heater seems to heat up nicely without exploding. Most of the lines are half-inch copper, but some are smaller, and some are simply rubber hoses with hose clamps on them. Is that normal?

In addition, there is misc. plumbing works and a 12v diaphragm pump in place to take advantage of the fresh water tank, but I have never used it before. I did flush out the tank as best I could a while back, and drained it via the valve installed for that purpose. I'd like to make it safe and fully functional for off the grid use. What I have not tested yet is the 12volt water system. (I need to fix the leaky copper joints first.)

Assuming I can get the power to the pump okay, and the leaking fittings re-fitted, are there any obvious modern safety features I would want to add while I am doing all this for 12v or city water use?

Take a look at the following illustrations for a guide as to what I am working with.

1966 Airstream Caravel

In the side port, near the city water hookup there is a small pressure release valve in line beyond the larger, more complex intake pressure limiter. I am assuming the pressure release valve that drains to the street is there as a safety feature to take care of the hot water as it expands - or also to let off excess pressure if the larger water pressure intake limiter fails somehow?

thanks in advance, and look for more info as I sort this all out. It's a work in progress!
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Old 02-16-2009, 10:24 AM   #2
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1976 31' Sovereign
Missouri City , Texas
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rubber hose patch

Patching copper lines with rubber hose and clamps is a common method of repairing broken lines due to freezing. When I got my 1976 Sovereign there was more rubber hose than there was copper. I replaced all of the old copper lines with Pex back to the regulator. I have never had a leak since then. It is fairly easy to install and the tubing and fitting can be purchased at most RV supply dealers and Home Deport and Lowes as well. You should be able to find out more details by searching the forum for Pex.

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Old 02-16-2009, 10:35 AM   #3
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You seem to be figuring things out fairly well so far. But yeah, wouldn't it be nice to see another model like yours.
Anyway, it's normal to have hoses from the fresh water tank to the pump. But not rubber or regular hoses, which aren't really for potable water. Mine are clear with white reinforcement. I unhook the hose from
the fresh water tank to add antifreeze when I winterize. I stick the hose that was into the fresh water tank into a jug of antifreeze , and then turn on the pump till antifreeze comes out of all faucets. It looks hard to do that with your configuration, but I might be missing something.
If you want to update, you might want to make sure you have a winter bypass configuration on your water heater. Always turn the water pump off when you aren't in the trailer, just in case you spring a leak. The pump won't keep pumping water to the leak. And maybe even upgrade to Pex water pipes. I have pex in my farmhouse, and the Pex has frozen many times without bursting. Another upgrade would be an outdoor shower. You will want to flush the entire system ( a cup or so of bleach into a full tank of water works well ) not just the fresh water tank.
Well there you have it ..........a crash course in plumbing 101 By the way...AWESOME pictures!!!
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Old 02-16-2009, 12:49 PM   #4
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1968 17' Caravel
Battle Ground , Washington
Join Date: Dec 2002
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I know someone who put a small, custom-made grey tank under the bathroom sink in a caravel. He plumbed both sinks into it, since the plumbing met there anyway, then it had a valve to continue out the regular route. It wasn't very big, but it gave a little grey water capacity for using the sinks between stops. He had all the kitchen and closet out, and possibly the water heater, so he could squeeze it in there. Pretty slick.

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Old 02-16-2009, 04:36 PM   #5
Kenter Canyon
1966 17' Caravel
Mason , Texas
Join Date: Feb 2009
Posts: 2
so far so good

Thanks for the replies, everyone. All this helps - keep the advice comin'. I kinda figured under the sink was the only place left for a grey water tank.. but would i then need a second pump to get any flow out of it? I know NADA about grey water systems, but it would be nice to be able to flush the toilet with used dishwater. And an outdoor shower is a great idea - especially if it included hot water!

I'm not ready to make the jump to pex just yet. First I'm going to get some new rubber lines where it seems best, and repair or replace the copper where it needs it. I had never done copper soldering before, but a friend gave me a quick tutorial and it's not hard once you get the hang of it.

Look for an update soon on this, maybe the info will help others.
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Old 02-16-2009, 05:00 PM   #6
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1956 22' Flying Cloud
1953 32' Liner
1955 22' Safari
Valley View , Texas
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Not needed

For me....I see no need at all for the grey tank in a Caravel. A hose from the dump cap or a Blue Boy takes care of it all and is no problem logistically.
If your up here by the lakes north of Dallas/Ft. Worth stop by and peek at my 66 plumbing. Its like yours basically.
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