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Old 05-25-2011, 01:17 AM   #121
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My attack on the Blue Monster (the Univolt is de-throned)

My current project that I am working on for my daughter and her husband (and her daughter, my Wonderful Granddaughter), is gutting a bathroom and completely re-doing it. This includes smashing through the concrete floor in order to make room for moving the toilet to a new position, and removing the existing bathtub and replacing it with a standard one. More smashing of concrete for its new drain, too. As well, my son-in-law and I stripped out all the drywall so that the existing "sketchy" wiring could be removed in order to allow my electrician friend to bring it up to code.

Why am I telling you all this, dear reader? What has it to do with travel trailers?

Well, it was doing this job over a two-week period working mostly on my knees on concrete that drove me to want a change of scene so badly that I decided to finally wrestle the Blue Meanie, that humming, slowly dissolving piece of '60s equipment, out of Henri my Sovereign, and install my brand-new Iota 55 amp 120V to 12V converter I bought almost a year ago, along with the new 9-circuit fuse panel I had purchased this January to match it.

In other words, I swallowed hard and decided that the Univolt and I were to have our personal OK Corral!

I studied the Service Manual till I nearly wore out the pages showing the wiring diagram for my TT, and the one showing the face of the Univolt and its fuses. Of course, there was no direct translation from what the Univolt does to what I was about to replace it with, so I had to create one. Also, the new fuse panel was only good for up to 20 amp circuits, and the Univolt was currently dealing with 20s, 40s and a 50 amp fuse!

And one little, tiny 4A one.

Of course, all the fuses were the glass "barrel" design that was oh-so popular starting (I think) in the '40s and right up to the '80s. The new ones in my fuse panel are the little coloured plastic ones with two flat "legs" and are much easier to plug in. I hope I never need to find out how easy that is.

Now, for those of you that own early '70s larger trailers, you know where the Univolt lives: it has a hole on the right side panel on the floor of the closet between the sleeping quarters and the rear tub. It has lived there like a troll for 37 years, humming louder and louder, and slowly refusing to supply current on one circuit after another. The Purple and Yellow wires, I could see, had charred insulation for the last inch and a half as they entered the large set-screws by which Big Blue held them. No surprise then that we had NO lights at all in the rear section of the trailer!

I turned off all three 120V breakers to ensure that I would not get zapped, and turned on my battery lantern plus my trusty red flashlight and kneeled on the floor, half into the closet, with my tools arrayed beside me both on the closet floor and in the bathroom. My first shot was to loosen all the screws which held wires in place, then my second one was to label them all carefully, carefully noting where they came from.

I thought I heard the Univolt chuckle under its breath at me then! The hair on the back of my neck stood on end as I reached into it's hole with my hand and slowly pulled out all the wires except for the 120V feed. What flashed into my mind at that point was the part in that movie "2001, A Space Odyssey" where "Dave" is pulling out "HAL's" memory cards, one at a time, and he slowly goes crazy... ♫ Daisy, Daisy, give me your...♫

Sadly, nothing like that happened here.

I carefully removed the 120V feed and unscrewed the front screw that was holding it to the little platform it was sitting on. Actually, the Service Manual claims that there should have been two screws, one on each side of the front of the board, but on side was tucked under the closet floor’s edge, so I suppose that the original installer decided that one screw was enough. Apparently, it was!

Of course, because Airstream likes to assemble things in a way that is more efficient when building one, but sometimes less so when taking it apart, I had to cut about an inch of the side wall directly above the Univolt away so that it could slide out.

That thing is heavy! And the back end of it, the end with the transformer in it, was HOT!! But out it came, and I took a break and had lunch, while staring at it in wonder, watching it cool.

It’s late now, so I will close this and carry on tomorrow.

I wish I had taken pictures, but I didn’t, even of the Univolt, once it was removed. I promise that the next time I visit it, which shouldn't be long, I will get photos of the new installation and the Old Blue Meanie.

Here is a photo I took of the fuse panel a while ago, and I think you will see how the wires were degrading.

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Old 06-23-2011, 12:34 PM   #122
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Strange water: tub mixer leaks behind wall

So, when I did the opening and cleaning up of the trailer a month or so ago, I ran into one problem that annoyed me to no end: somehow, I seem to have broken something in the plumbing of the tub.

When I turned on the tub faucet, the one that sits in the rear curbside wall in the bathroom, the water coming out of the shower head was feeble, and by the sound it was making, there was water running in the wall behind the tub. I confirmed this by the smell I detected in the closet leading to the wall space, after turning the shower head off. I could smell "wet dust".

Now, this struck me as very odd, since at no other time was there any hint of a leak originating in that place! Why would water leak back there only when the shower head was turned on, and not leak ALL the time?

It's my guess that by (apparently) not completely draining all of Henri's plumbing, I managed to leave water inside the mixer valve, and the part that froze up and broke is after the valve.

MOST annoying.

However, my DW is not interested in hearing anything about the wall behind the tub being removed at this point in time, when everything else works so nicely, especially the new power supply, which gives her lighting in the rear of the coach. This is something quite new to her, and she is very pleased about the repair.

I also got the water heater working, after replacing the thermocoupler. Nice to have hot water for washing dishes, or our granddaughter.

So it may have to wait until closer to the Fall, when her need for Henri drops off.

I read up in the Service Manual on how to do it, and it sounds fairly easy to do. I'm always wary when things sound easy in the manual, since they rarely are, for someone of my simple skills. However, I am remaining optimistic.

As always, I welcome any thoughts, suggestions, or warnings from you all, dear readers. I know that there are many of you out there that have done this work, and any hints you may have will be good to have.
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Old 06-23-2011, 08:33 PM   #123
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After you don't take a shower for several days, your beloved may have a different attitude about fixing the plumbing. Be sure to work hard for those days as it will increase pungency.

I'm sure you have looked for an access plate behind the shower valve. If there is none there, you will have to cut one out, carefully so as not to go through the shower and cut a pipe. Hopefully the wall is in a place where it shows—ours is in a wardrobe. Then you can see what is happening. I think they were made with copper pipes in those days and it will be best to replace with PEX. The valve may be cracked on one side, a pipe, or lots of things. Copper is not forgiving and replacing it as you go along will be a good choice.

I'm sure you can find advice on how to do PEX, but I've never had to, so someday I will learn too.

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Old 07-18-2011, 09:14 PM   #124
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Another @!#*& water heater pilot that goes out!

You might remember (if you have a better memory that I have), that I replaced the water heater during the Run to the Sun in November of 2009. We bought a 10 gallon Atwood, which was very much like the original Bowen that was in it, at Camping World on sale. We bought the Plain Jane model, pilot light, no "boards".

We stopped in to Jackson Center on our return trip home to have it installed. All went well, it worked beautifully right up till the end of the 2010 season.

This year, right from the word go, it was difficult to keep lit. Typically,it would light right away, but after 2-3 minutes, it would go out. Occasionally, it lights up and can sometimes keep going for days,but more likely, it heats up the water then when it cycles off, the pilot goes out.

Not to be beaten, I purchased and installed a new thermocouple. Fully expecting success, I confidently lit it. No go, same exact symptoms as before.

I talked to the fellow that owns the little company I buy gas from, and he asked if the oven and cook stove were operational. When I answered that they are, his opinion was that it wasn't a propane problem.

I adjusted the thermocouple so that it is bathed in flame continuously when it's lit.

So... Anyone have any other thoughts? I am tempted to buy another thermocouple and this time with the pilot light assembly on it.

Thanks in advance,

Aage
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Old 08-30-2011, 09:50 PM   #125
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Another @!#*& water heater pilot that goes out! - Conclusion

Well, I done fixed it! The water heater will stay on happily as long as I want it to. In fact, last Sunday we were there for the windiest day I have ever spent in that trtailer, and the (now) tryusty water heater stayed lit all day!

What did I do to it to make it so reliable, you ask? The answer is: I don't know!

Here's what I finally did:
  • Replaced the thermocouple
  • Adjusted the sliding pipe that controls the gas/air mix (many times)
  • Took off the thermocouple and pilot assembly, the grill over the large combustion tube, and then
  • Blew the daylights out of that tube (not much really came out, though) with compressed air
  • Replaced the main LP gas regulator
And suddenly, it began to work. Which one of those items in the list was THE one that made the difference? I have no idea, but I am now happy to enjoy hot water when I want it!

ps: While I was at it, I also installed a nifty device that is simple, but very useful. It's an indicator that flashes a little LED when the regulator switches over to the other tank.

I now have a little box with a light on it screwed to the wall under the side table where I sit, and the little light catches my eye just enough to let me know when I need to replace a tank. I love it!
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Old 08-30-2011, 10:30 PM   #126
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I did a plumbing repair!

In one of the threads above, I talked about a leak in the the wall behind the tub. Well, my grand-daughter is now 9 months, and she needs to be able to bathe at will, so it was time to tackle that repair, too since she and her mother were coming down to spend a few days with us on the lake where Henri resides. I had never done a real plumbing repair before, so this one had me up in knots.

The Service Manual was some help in helping me get going, but it refers to some rivets I was supposed to shear off to take the shelf above the pipes off, and mentions that I will not be able to replace them due to where they are. Well, they were so well hidden I never found them nor did I need to; all the rivets (and a few screws) to which I needed access were in plain view.

Here's what the plumbing looks like behind that wall:


The white arrow points to the little (~5" long) pipe that had swollen and split. I bought a simple soldering kit from Canadian Tire for $20 and an "accessory kit" for $12 and I was ready to go. The accessory kit was a tiny bit of flux with a teensy brush for applying it, and a short piece of solder. In this photo, I had already replaced it, but you wouldn't have been able to see the broken piece since it was hidden from view. FYI, the square with a notch out of it behind the white arrow is the top of the old housing for the AC to DC converter that came with the trailer when new (Univolt), that I have already replaced.

So, I cut my piece of copper, sanded one end, slopped some flux on it, then soldered on to it the new threaded end piece that allows connection to the shower handle hose. The solder got sucked into the joint, and it looked good! Now I sanded the other end, plus the insides of the existing elbow you see in the photo, and repeated my performance. Success! Couldn't believe it; I had just done my first-ever plumbing pipe repair!

The re-assembly resented more things to do than the actual plumbing repair did. I had to take all the old GE silicone off the joints of the counter top and the front panel I had removed, and clean them up. The counter top had had a piece of luan glued inside it when new, but that glue had long ago let go, so I slathered one side of it with PL construction glue, did the same to the underside of the counter, and then clamped them together and piled large stones on the whole surface to convince them they needed each other, and let it dry overnight. You can see from the next picture that the two screws coming through from the curbside closet just stopped the wood from falling, but provided no structural support, so I glued a block of 1" x 4" on that end so the two screws you see had something to do (i. e. hold it together!).

Here's the screws as they were when the counter-top was removed:


And here's the wood they rubbed on.



It's now all nicely screwed together again, with a few extra screws in critical parts, so the whole thing is much more solid than it was before. The Service Manual recommends GE Silicon II be applied, and I used up most of a fresh tube on all the joints there were, plus the tops of the brass trim you can see in the next photo.

I called this photo "Why We Fight", and those of you who have memories of WWII may remember the movie.



As you can see, it cleaned up nicely, and all I have to do is find something to put into the brass trim. As I have mentioned before, the 70' roll I purchased from a large RV parts supplier will not fit in where it is supposed to without major modification, so I am going to hunt something better down in the next couple of weeks.
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Old 08-31-2011, 11:40 AM   #127
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Aage, you did know what to do with the water heater—it required a thorough analysis which showed a thorough rebuilt was necessary. It's all in the phrasing.

And now you can take a bath too! (not that you needed it).

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Old 09-01-2011, 11:58 PM   #128
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Thanks, Gene! I will remember that, the phrasing does make it all sound a lot more scientific.

And yes, I could take a bath, but I find it somewhat cramped for me (you might remember that I am 5'17" tall). To be honest, I haven't really tried it, and maybe I will to see if it really is possible for me or not.

Don't hold your breath though, I won't be posting photos of that!
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Old 10-14-2011, 09:48 PM   #129
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Finally got a new furnace! Suburban NT-30SP

One thing after another has been repaired or replaced on Henri the Sov since I bought him, but almost since I bought him, I wanted to replace the furnace. It was a teaser, the old one; it would light, and stay going for a while, but in cold weather, I never once had it stay lit all night long, and after reading up on them here, I came to the sad realization that, like the water heater, it's just One Of Those Things You Replace, since repair would be dodgy at best, and downright dangerous at the worst.

But the price was the stopper. Up here in Canada, it runs around a thousand dollars plus HST which is 13%. Yep, that's right: $1,130! I had been watching an ebaY seller for quite a while now who had it for $596 + shipping of $99, and I thought that wasn't bad. But just recently, someone mentioned that LDV had a good price on them, so I checked them out. Well, to make a long story short, it wound up costing me $506.40 shipped to me here, with tax and duty!

That's less than half of what it would cost here!

I opened it up when it arrived yesterday, and all was new, shiny, and in perfect condition. It even comes with a new thermostat, which I never saw mentioned anywhere in the ads.

Very pleased not only with the price, but also the service from LDV, Inc..

Can't wait till next spring to put it in. I plan on tearing down the entire cabinet that the furnace, cook-top and sink live in, since I need to reset the cabinetry (doors don't open all the way), and I want to seal the wheel well on that side. I can see daylight through it, and I'm sure the insect and rodents love that!

Just thought I would pass this one for those looking for a deal on a new furnace.
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Old 10-15-2011, 10:06 AM   #130
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Thanks Aage. My little Boler needs a new furnace, but I couldn't justify it with the prices here.
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Old 10-15-2011, 10:36 AM   #131
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Lisa and Paul,

I don't know what size was in your TT originally, so if a 20,000 BTU is too much, I know that Suburban makes a 16,000 one. You might want to email or call to see if they sell that one.

800-558-5986 Ext 2412

ps: I have absolutely no connection with this company other than being a very satisfied client.
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Old 10-16-2011, 10:39 AM   #132
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Thanks Aage,
I know that 20,000 BTU would be too much. The interior is only 10 feet long. I'll get in contact with them when we are ready to see how small we can go. We have a little Coleman catalytic heater in there now, but so many people say they are risky. We are careful with it (leave a window open), but I'd like a real furnace in there.
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Old 05-05-2012, 07:58 PM   #133
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Exclamation HELP: install of furnace: Suburban NT32

Well, SWMBO has told me that the Time Has Come to do the install of the new furnace. Her sister, who owns the trailer next door in the camp where Henri The Sovereign lives, returns from Florida week after next, and thus we will begin to actually use Henri again. It being none to warm here yet, the furnace is likely to get a good workout.

Monday, we go to see Henri and bring him a furnace he can't refuse.

So: another New Adventure. I haven't replaced a furnace before. Have you?

Here is what my 1974 year Service Manual says:


See the part highlighted in yellow? Is that talking about removing the "track" and the tambour door which hides the furnace? "Tract" sounds like something to read in a bus station when you have exhausted everything else.

I don't like the part about cutting the 3"X3" hole, but I can understand why. When I'm there, I will see if there is another way around that, but my jigsaw will accompany us.

And so, dear readers: does anyone have any hints or suggestions as to how to best change out a 38-year-old furnace with a brand-new one?

I look forward to your help, ideas, and interesting stories about how you replaced yours.

I am thinking that this might be a good time to replace the gas pipe to the unit. Now to do that, I think I will get the local LP gas merchant to do for me, since he has all the tools and experience necessary. I seem to remember reading somewhere that, with time, some gooey gunk builds up in the lines. For those who have done this: did any of you you change the supply pipe as well?

The Service Manual stops short of removing the outer case that the heater lives in. I suppose this is because they expect that the existing heater will be repaired and replaced. I doubt that this is possible though; how could I have that much dumb luck that everything will match up given that what I am putting in is thirty-eight years newer than what I am taking out!?

I really do feel fortunate to have access to the depth of information available here. Thanks in advance to anyone that has a pointer or two to pass on to me.
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:50 AM   #134
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Assorted interesting FURNACE REPLACEMENT comments

REMOVING FURNACE – HINTS & TIPS
Lumatic
On my 73 which had a Suburban furnace the furnace mechanical parts are mounted as a unit on a track which slides out of the furnace. As I remember the steps:
1. take off outside inlet /outlet cover
2. disconnect gas and electric lines
3. take off furnace cover
4. remove 2 screws which hold furnace mechanical unit to cabinet
5. slide out furnace

It may not be worth fixing your furnace. Parts are difficult to find and most service techs will not work on furnaces of this vintage. New furnaces are just less of a hassle and you know they are safe. There are several threads on furnace replacement in the forums.
I can only speak on my ‘71 and ‘73. Hopefully yours is similar. On the top of the furnace cover in the front of the furnace is a latch to release the front. But you can't get at it. The service manual says cut a hole in the shelf above it so you can operate it. The furnace is set up as a downdraft. The plenum is the collection chamber at the bottom of the unit the ductwork comes out of.
____________________________________
Overlander63
If your Sovereign is an International, you will probably have to remove the tambour slide near the floor in order to gain room to slide the furnace out.
You should have the gas line, some wires (mark them with tape labels so you know where they go), and 4 screws holding it inside. There will also be one or two screws on the outside of the trailer, you will need to remove the exhaust cover outside (4 screws) to access them.
____________________________________
fotochop
Not sure if my '69 Safari furnace is comparable, but it was quite simple to get the furnace out. After carefully shutting off/removing the LP tank it's a simple matter of removing the LP feed line (use two wrenches) at the furnace, removing the exterior vent cover (mine was screen) and the exterior screw that holds the vent assembly to the trailer wall. Then I went back inside and removed the one screw that held the furnace from inside and it slid out. If your rubber vent seal is brittle be careful with it, or have it replaced. Much easier to 'bench test' the furnace outside the trailer. Mine was actually recalled by Suburban back in the day and the very unsafe recall issue had never been rectified by any of the PO's, it was a disaster waiting to happen.

Before pulling you may want to check a few other issues (battery voltage, thermostat etc) as recommended by a good repair manual like Woodall's. Would be a shame to go thru the pulling if it was something other than the unit itself. good luck
____________________________________
Aluminumb
Thank you. That helps. So the unit comes out without the box itself? So I don't have to remove the air duct lines from the box?
____________________________________
Zeppelinium
no, the box comes out. The air ducts should be slip fit--just slide them up about 1/2" and see if they come loose.
____________________________________
Lewster
The problem with removing the NT30 furnaces without removing the case is that there is a retaining screw in the front of the unit holding the frame of the furnace to the box, and if long enough....to the trailer floor. This screw is very easy to get to ....if you have access to the furnace from the outside, as in an outer door.

Unfortunately, most Airstream installs do not use this mounting method and only reveal the intake and exhaust ports thru the skin. This requires you to remove the ducting ( only a quarter turn fitting) and then the entire furnace and outer casing as a unit, as you can not access this pesky little retaining screw from the rear of the furnace. Don't forget to unplug the 4 wires leading to it (assuming you have a plug) or mark the wires before cutting and add 1/4"insulated spade connectors for re-assembly.

Also, you have to turn off the LP at the tanks BEFORE you disconnect the LP feed line. If you are going to use the trailer, be sure to add the appropriate size flair plug to the line before returning the trailer to service.

OTOH, I have seen some Suburban models that have this little screw at the rear, or interior side of the furnace. In this case, the units can be removed without removing the casing. It sort of depends on the mounting method and specific model. The screw should be obvious to you (if you have it) once you remove the interior cover of the unit. It is locateed right inside the cover smack in the middle of the unit at the bottom position.
New Furnace Questions
________________________________________
Well I have decided to purchase a new one, does anybody know which model I should get as the original is a Suburban NT 22-A and the dimensions were
14w x 17h x 23d and all the new ones seem to be 12x12x23. I want the exhaust and intake to line up with a new one so I assume I will have to build something to raise the new one to meet the old holes in skin. The other thing is the old one had the ducts underneath; one went to the rear bath and the other out to the right side of the cabinet. thanks again for any information.
James
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Old 05-10-2012, 10:53 AM   #135
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Still wondering if I can use the existing shroud (case) from the old furnace for the new ones. In other posts, a lot of people have mentioned shimming it to meet up with the holes in the exterior. I do NOT want to put any more exterior holes into Henri the Sov, so any further comments on that operation would be very welcome.

Also, as to opening the front (from inside the TT) of the case, the SM talks about a 3"X3" hole, and somebody mentioned that the hole should be at the front centre of the shelf above the furnace.

"Can I get a witness" on that issue?

Thanks again,

Aage
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Old 05-11-2012, 06:21 AM   #136
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I think DKB_SATX is going to use a plasma cutting torch to get his out of his otherwise contemporary Argosy.

Your thread starts in the way we all wish ones of this type would: clear goal, references, etc. While the torch gives one the gleam in the eye, the interior might not survive that method (or others contemplated in his thread).

But pics are always good.

Look forward to this

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Old 05-11-2012, 06:42 AM   #137
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You can call customer service at the factory in Tennessee it you need info on the new furnace. I don't think it will fit the old cabinet. Also, make sure you get the correct model. There are variations of the same model where the air is all ducted out the sides and one that ducts the air down into the floor ducts. I called the guy several times during the rebuild of my Trade Wind as I tried to decide what to do and he was very helpful. I decided not to replace my NT-22. Freed up a lot of cabinet space. Since we don't do a lot of camping in real cold weather here in Mississippi a small electric heater works fine down to around 38 degrees. We have a small catalytic for when we are camping at the farm.
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Old 05-11-2012, 08:55 AM   #138
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Mine was about 2" too short.




I added 2x4's and 1/2" plywood.

Outside vent lined up perfect.

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Old 05-11-2012, 09:31 AM   #139
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Comparing the size of my old NT22 and the new NT20S, I have no interest in trying to re-use the existing case. The NT20S is roughly the same length as the old furnace, but much smaller in cross section. I think the NT30 has shrunk compared to its ancestor as well, but don't have the same first-hand knowledge of that. If Splitrock's photo is of an NT30, it looks like it's just slightly smaller than my NT22 CO machine (and much larger than the NT20S) which might make re-using the original case more difficult, since you'd have less room for modifications.

Perhaps this summer when it's too hot for pleasant camping in Texas and we've no time to get to the mountains, I'll take apart the galley cabinetry and do the switch. I already bought the new furnace, after all. Hot weather isn't motivational for working on the heating appliance, however.
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Old 05-11-2012, 11:35 AM   #140
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On the original furnace, as I recall, the guts did slide on a track inside the metal case. That has not been a feature of Suburban furnaces for many years.

I would not consider trying to keep the original case if you get a new furnace (and you should). Over the years there have been many little changes in venting for the circuit board (which the old furnaces did not have), electrical connections, gas inlet locations etc. You may even find the inlet and outlet holes to the outside in slightly different loacations (usually lower than original) and have to build a small platform or shim the new furnace up to meet the old hole locations.

If you are not familiar with gas hookups and flair fittings, I would agree that having a professional do that is a good idea.

The hardest thing about furnace change out can be what DKB_SATX has run into, the location inside the cabinet and how to get the damn thing out to begin with. That can be a really tough problem in some AS products of the 70's. *(makes note to self, never get a 1975, 24' Argosy which needs a new furnace)
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