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Old 09-24-2021, 06:39 AM   #1
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1966 17' Caravel
Riverview , Florida
Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 22
1966 Caravel AC install questions

I have a 1966 Caravel. I read around on the forums everything I could find about adding install. I purchased a Penguin2 and took it Airstream Tampa to have it installed. He came back and said they couldnít install in roof vent because it would hang off. I already knew that and had told them that when I booked. I explained all I had read about wires being run and the spot to cut. That there was a drain tube right were everyone had said and they were wires next to breaker box no connected.
He came back and said he researched but no wires and the drain tube was to drain the compartment. He wasnít to install a new breaker box add 110 wire and charge $4200 to do that and install AC. Seems like an awful lot to me. I am still not sure the wires are not there because he didnít look. Does this sound reasonable price? Has anyone had this done? Seems to me if the breaker box needs changes then that can be done , just the cabinets above the sofa could be pulled and the wires run there and then after the hole for ac is cut the wires could be fished it out between the roof and inside panel.
Any words of wisdom, experience with this?

Laurie
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Old 09-24-2021, 07:12 AM   #2
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1973 21' Globetrotter
Houston , Texas
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My words of advice would be to go somewhere else. Sounds like you know a lot more about your trailer than the "pros" do.

I have never heard of a drain tube that "drains the compartment." Now, I did have a second drain tube looking thing on my '73 that was there for some kind of external thermometer, but it was toward the front of the trailer, not near the middle, where the drain tube would be.

Typically in trailers this small, they only had 2 AC circuits: one for the AC unit, and one more for everything else. But even if your breaker box only has space for 2 breakers, and they are both in use, you could possibly replace one full width breaker with two half width ones, or change out the whole box. It is less than $50 in parts, and maybe an hour of time.

If someone had to snake a new wire and a new drain tube down through the wall, I could see this job taking more time. But that being said, it still feels like an 8 hour job. If tech time is at $125/hr, that's $1000. I would like to see their itemized estimate.

All of this being said, I have seen posts recently for things like axle installations that seem ridiculously high to me, but other users affirm that they have paid as much. So maybe this is just the price of admission these days. I hear horror stories about not being able to get a trailer in for service for months in advance, so maybe they are just quoting you a high price as a polite way of saying "go away with your vintage trailer, we have warranty work to do."

good luck!
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Old 09-24-2021, 11:59 AM   #3
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1966 17' Caravel
Riverview , Florida
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I agree with you on the go away part. I thought the same. Thanks for your input!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belegedhel View Post
My words of advice would be to go somewhere else. Sounds like you know a lot more about your trailer than the "pros" do.

I have never heard of a drain tube that "drains the compartment." Now, I did have a second drain tube looking thing on my '73 that was there for some kind of external thermometer, but it was toward the front of the trailer, not near the middle, where the drain tube would be.

Typically in trailers this small, they only had 2 AC circuits: one for the AC unit, and one more for everything else. But even if your breaker box only has space for 2 breakers, and they are both in use, you could possibly replace one full width breaker with two half width ones, or change out the whole box. It is less than $50 in parts, and maybe an hour of time.

If someone had to snake a new wire and a new drain tube down through the wall, I could see this job taking more time. But that being said, it still feels like an 8 hour job. If tech time is at $125/hr, that's $1000. I would like to see their itemized estimate.

All of this being said, I have seen posts recently for things like axle installations that seem ridiculously high to me, but other users affirm that they have paid as much. So maybe this is just the price of admission these days. I hear horror stories about not being able to get a trailer in for service for months in advance, so maybe they are just quoting you a high price as a polite way of saying "go away with your vintage trailer, we have warranty work to do."

good luck!
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Old 09-24-2021, 12:49 PM   #4
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LaurieB,

PLEASE, don't cut a hole in the roof of that trailer. IMHO, you doing so will destroy the value of that trailer. Nothing worst than seeing a huge AC unit onto of a tiny 1960's Caravel.

Please do what I've showed many others to do. Here's my 1966 Safari with it. It's easy, cheap, and makes no lasting changes to the trailer.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f42...ner-64741.html

Enjoy,
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Old 09-24-2021, 04:17 PM   #5
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2005 25' Safari
1968 17' Caravel
1967 22' Safari
Leawood , Kansas
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If you didn't have a rooftop AC on your Caravel I'd go with what others have said and not install a rooftop unit. I found a DC mini-split system that would allow you to install the condenser in a lot of different places and have a clean rooftop look. It would run you about $3600 for the parts, but would be a lot more quiet than a conventional rooftop RV unit. There are under bench units also that would work and you could have your condenser and compressor under your front bench. The unit I seriously looked at is the Fresco 9000, which has a 40,000 hr service life as a tractor trailer cab sleeper unit that runs when the engine is off. Here's the web address as of last summer. http://www.autoclimana.com/ Hope that helps, Jerry
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Old 09-24-2021, 08:49 PM   #6
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1966 17' Caravel
Riverview , Florida
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I have looked into the mini-split a/s units. I bought a Penguin 2 that someone had returned on Amazon and by the time all was said and done my total investment was $400. It is brand new. I hate to cut into the roof but I did get the low profile one so I am not sure it will look that bad. Can't beat the cost if I can install or find someone a little more reasonable.
I didn't see the mini-split that could be put completely under the bench. Does anyone have the name of that unit?
My thought on not ruining the roofline is if I sell, or even change my mind that panel could be replaced.
I struggle with keeping it as authentic as I can and making it enjoyable. While I respect that is is 55 I did buy it to go camping an enjoy it. Thanks for all of your input!
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Old 09-24-2021, 09:03 PM   #7
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurieB View Post
I have looked into the mini-split a/s units. I bought a Penguin 2 that someone had returned on Amazon and by the time all was said and done my total investment was $400. It is brand new. I hate to cut into the roof but I did get the low profile one so I am not sure it will look that bad. Can't beat the cost if I can install or find someone a little more reasonable.
I didn't see the mini-split that could be put completely under the bench. Does anyone have the name of that unit?
My thought on not ruining the roofline is if I sell, or even change my mind that panel could be replaced.
I struggle with keeping it as authentic as I can and making it enjoyable. While I respect that is is 55 I did buy it to go camping an enjoy it. Thanks for all of your input!
We had a Dometic truck unit that was installed underneath the rear bed, but that was unsuccessful. We opted to go with a mini split and hid the air handler inside under a bed. But in a Caravel thereís just not that much room to hide stuff. With a roof top Penguin, I guess you could paint the shroud with an automotive silver paint to make it less conspicuous. Thatís what we did on our 66. Good luck on whatever you decide. Just make it comfortable.
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Old 09-25-2021, 09:36 AM   #8
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1960 24' Tradewind
dudley , Massachusetts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LaurieB View Post
I have a 1966 Caravel. I read around on the forums everything I could find about adding install. I purchased a Penguin2 and took it Airstream Tampa to have it installed. He came back and said they couldnít install in roof vent because it would hang off. I already knew that and had told them that when I booked. I explained all I had read about wires being run and the spot to cut. That there was a drain tube right were everyone had said and they were wires next to breaker box no connected.
He came back and said he researched but no wires and the drain tube was to drain the compartment. He wasnít to install a new breaker box add 110 wire and charge $4200 to do that and install AC. Seems like an awful lot to me. I am still not sure the wires are not there because he didnít look. Does this sound reasonable price? Has anyone had this done? Seems to me if the breaker box needs changes then that can be done , just the cabinets above the sofa could be pulled and the wires run there and then after the hole for ac is cut the wires could be fished it out between the roof and inside panel.
Any words of wisdom, experience with this?

Laurie
I installed a Dometic Penguin in my 1960 Tradewind. Removed the center 14x14 vent. Opened up the interior skin to ad framing support. New electrical panel. Ran wires through flexible conduit under bed area and through closet to get to ac. Also installed Airstream ac drip pan. Ran pex drain through closets. BIG JOB !!
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Old 09-25-2021, 10:43 AM   #9
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The difficulty I always have with low mounted (ie under beds or in cabinets) AC units, be they mini splits or some kind of modified window unit, is that you end up with a layer of nice cold air from about your knees down, but your head is sweating (because cold air does not rise). That, and with a very small trailer, you really can't afford to lose any storage space.

So, to the original poster, it sounds like you got a good AC for about half price, you have done your research and have a good idea of what is going on in your trailer, you have already spent the time making your decision, now you just need a tech that can make it happen without abusing you. They don't have to be an Airstream specialist, but there are things about the installation (ie., cutting the hole in the roof, bracing the hole for installation, rigging up the condensate drain--speaking of which, you will need the drain cups), that are vintage Airstream specific, and the tech needs to know what they are doing.

Check some independent shops, the kind that don't have a Service Advisor (AKA service salesperson) between you and the tech doing the work and do a bit of comparison shopping. If the wiring and drain tube really are already run and just waiting to be connected, this is a job that could be done in less than a day.

When it comes to resale value, for every purist who cringes to see your AC unit on the roof, there is a pragmatic person who will appreciate the practicality of a tried and true design, and a unit that can be swapped out in a matter of hours if something goes wrong. If a potential buyer really has heartache over your choices, they can always replace the AC with a Fantastic Vent, and then invest another $4k in an AC system more to their liking.

good luck!
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Old 09-26-2021, 05:59 AM   #10
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1966 17' Caravel
Riverview , Florida
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Di you have wiring already there or did you have to wire for the A/C?
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Old 09-26-2021, 06:27 AM   #11
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1966 17' Caravel
Riverview , Florida
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Thank you all for the wonderful advice. While I love keeping things as original as possible, I want to really enjoy the camper, I did buy a Fantastic fan for the current vent opening. With cooler months coming ahead I may just install that and then try to find someone to do the other work. Adding a new breaker box and running wires doesn't scare me at all. Cutting a hole in my roof terrifies me.
I have a list of other things I want to do as well.
I will update when I finally do the AC and let everyone know how it went.
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Old 09-26-2021, 07:41 PM   #12
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1966 Caravel AC install questions

Sorry that you are having such a hard time finding someone competent and yet reasonable to install the air conditioner that you have purchased in your 66 Caravel.

I agree with your decision to hold off on installing an AC unit in the roof.

I am probably biased since I own a 66 Tradewind, but I think the 66 Tradewind is the best small Airstream ever made especially when you consider weight, appearance, layout and storage. I would not want to cut a hole and install an air conditioner on top. My first option would be to install a small 5k window unit in either one of the side windows or the back window. We have done this on our 66 Tradewind and it works great. I would try this first before making the decision to install a roof unit. I might be able to help you do this. Here are photos of the installation in our 66 Tradewind.

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