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Old 05-08-2005, 09:57 PM   #1
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'85 Water Tank Leak

We brought the 1985 25' Sovereign home from storage this weekend for it's spring cleaning and preparation for it's maiden voyage in a couple of weeks (to the WBCCI Indy 500 Rally!). Unfortunately, we discovered our first (and hopefully only) big surprise – the fresh water tank leaks. Well, the water pump also won’t shut off, but that is a relatively minor issue.

The leak is coming from the fitting on the tank where the hose to the tank drain valve attaches. The fitting on the tank is split allowing water to seep into the belly pan (actually into the rectangular metal enclosure that surrounds the tank). My questions are several, so please bear with me:

1. Can this fitting be repaired or replaced? If so, using an epoxy of some sort or by “plastic welding?

2. Can I just remove the drain hose and plug this hole permanently? There is a big (1.5-2” plug just below the drain fitting that I could use to drain the tank at the end of the season if it’s not glued in place. What is the purpose of this big plug? My best guess is that it allowed access to the back of the drain plug during tank manufacture.

3. Are “drop in” replacement tanks available for a trailer of this vintage? From Airstream or somewhere else? How much do they cost? I would think that they might be available, because Airstream has built 25’ models with essentially the same floor plan continuously from 1985 thru 2005.

4. Is water tank replacement a reasonable “do it yourself” job? It looks like the metal tank surround can be dropped by removing a number of bolts around it’s perimeter. Is this metal surround what holds the tank in place, or is it directly attached to the frame somehow?

Oh well, that’s probably enough for now. If I get some good answers to these questions, I’m sure I think up some more. Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-08-2005, 10:46 PM   #2
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Wish I could edit my post!!!

I just thought that I should change the title to something like "'85 Water Tank Leak" to make it clear that this is about an '85 Airstream, not a '66 Airstream as some might assume from my Forum Name (which I have debated changing). I want to make sure that the people "in the know" about mid-80's Airstreams, not mid-60's Airstreams have be best chance of reading the post and replying.

I wish I could edit my post.
I wish I could edit my post.
I wish I could edit my post.
Please bring back the abilty to edit our own posts.
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Old 05-09-2005, 12:17 AM   #3
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joe,

changed the title for you.

as for your tank, i cannot see why just using the bottom plug would hurt anything. other than being a little inconvienent, it shouldn't be a problem. you might be able to fashion a drain into the large plug to make it easier to use.

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Old 05-09-2005, 01:10 AM   #4
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Thanks for changing the title!

John,
Thanks for changing the title!
Thanks for changing the title!
Thanks for changing the title!

Yeah, using that big plug would be more inconvenient as I would have to remove an access panel on the bottom of the tank surround to do so (about eight screws, laying on your back under the trailer), but on the other hand, that plug would definitely drain the last ounce of of the tank with no chance of a little water left to burst the drain fitting.
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Old 05-09-2005, 06:44 AM   #5
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joe

no problem, thats what us mods are here for!

here is how i repaired my drain, i got lucky it was the drain fitting that was broken not the tank fitting.

http://www.airforums.com/forum...ead.php?t=5206

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Old 05-09-2005, 07:57 AM   #6
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Not a big deal ...

On the '85 the tank vibrates and the drain fitting that penetrates the tank enclosure is held in place, usually cracking the 'spud' that is threaded into the tank.

It shouldn't be a big deal. (I know there is a lot of room to work from the inside - NOT) There may, or should be, an access plate just below that area of the tank enclosure. You can replace all the fittings like John did (if you want easy access to drain for winterizing) or just back out the fitting that is threaded into the tank and replace it with a 1/2" (?) plastic plug. Be sure to provide a wrap of teflon tape to the threads. (I prefer to use a plastic plug and not steel or brass)

You don't have to glue the plug in, just thread it in and gently tighten. You can then remove it for winterizing. [Or spend the winter in Florida!]

If you find your problem is greater than that I can provide you with tank sourcing information.
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Old 05-09-2005, 08:36 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by driftwood
On the '85 the tank vibrates and the drain fitting that penetrates the tank enclosure is held in place, usually cracking the 'spud' that is threaded into the tank.

It shouldn't be a big deal. (I know there is a lot of room to work from the inside - NOT) There may, or should be, an access plate just below that area of the tank enclosure. You can replace all the fittings like John did (if you want easy access to drain for winterizing) or just back out the fitting that is threaded into the tank and replace it with a 1/2" (?) plastic plug. Be sure to provide a wrap of teflon tape to the threads. (I prefer to use a plastic plug and not steel or brass).
Thanks for the quick reply. What's a "spud" - something like a "boss" with internal threads? The part that is cracked is as far as I can tell bonded to the tank somehow. If the crack continues, the tank istelf will begin to crack. I beleive it does contain internal threads. I think there is some sort of fitting screwed into this "port" and that the drain hose is "hose clamped" to that fitting. I am guessing that the part that the hose is clamped to is metal (brass?), but I haven't disassembled it yet to find out. If it is assembled as I think, both could have expanded from a poor winterization, or if it is cracked from vibration (another option I had considered as the drain hose is pretty short so any vibration stresses would work on the tank pretty hard), probably only the boss on the tank is affected.

Yeah access from the inside is poor, as is access from underneath. I had to remove that little panel from below to see where the water was coming from, as all I could tell from inside was that the was water "down there". I may cut the access hole from below a little bigger to give myself more room to work, but I'll also have to put the trailer up on a few boards to give myself room to crawl under there.
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Old 05-09-2005, 01:09 PM   #8
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Spud

If this picture posts, then it is what I refer to as a spud.

This fitting is screwed into the tank on the side, down low, adjacent to the larger plug you saw. There is an increase of the tank wall thickness (female fitting) that the 'spud' threads into.

A short hose is clamped (this is what breaks it) to the spud ... the hose then penetrates the water tank metal shroud and is hose clamped to the white colored pet cock that you can see in John's posted pictures that he referred you to.

Most likely (and if your lucky) the 'spud' is broken and it is what is leaking. Find a proper sized open end wrench and remove the 'spud' Then just get a plastic 1/2" (?) plug and install it. [Take the 'spud' to the local hardware and match the threads & diameter] If for some reason the female fitting that is molded into the tank is cracked, then we need to discuss this further.
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Old 05-09-2005, 01:19 PM   #9
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By-the-way ...

You may not have to increase the size of the access panel!! (if your lucky)

Loosen the hose clamp that secures the hose to the 'spud', ...(through the access panel or from the top) remove the (3) screws that secure the pet cock to the exterior of the tank shroud ... twist & pull the pet cock and hose out together (the pet cock has the hose clamped to it also) ... this should give you a good visual at the 'spud' and just enough access to get your wrench in to remove it.
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Old 05-09-2005, 07:15 PM   #10
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if you remove the hose clamp and the three mounting screws just try to unscrew the whole works!

if you get lucky with it like i did, the whole thing spud, pipe, and petcock will come out in one piece! the hose clamp will need to be removed so the assembly will fit through the hole in the water box.

take a second look at the pics i posted, you will get the idea....

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Old 05-09-2005, 08:20 PM   #11
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Well . . .

John & Driftwood,
I just got "in" (done for the night) from removing the petcock, the short peice of hose, and the spud. All were in OK shape, except very dirty and covered with sticky plumbers goop. That left the "boss" or "bung" or "nipple" or whatever you call that internally threaded thing on the tank. That is the thing that is cracked, and the crack has just started to extend past the protruding part into the flat side of the tank. Actually the crack is still contained in the boss/bung/nipple thingy, as it does not extend all the way to the perimeter of it, so it is still not cracked out where it is glued or bonded into the side wall of the tank.

Given that this thing looks like it was glued (epoxied?) into the side of the tank, I'd think there might be something that would bond the crack back together. My current creative thinking is that if I could put some epoxy (or whatever) in the crack and around the perimeter of this thing and then put a hose clamp around the whole thing and tighten it down to close the crack, that I might have a shot at repairing it after I get it dry (so far it is still weeping).

There are other options I can imagine, but this one seems the most likely at the moment. What are your thoughts? Where do I find out what type of glue/epoxy/resin that might work on the tank? I'd sure like to fix this without replacing the tank if at all possible.

Thanks again for all your help and ideas.
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Old 05-09-2005, 09:06 PM   #12
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Smile Ouch!

OUCH! That hurts!

Just a few weeks ago there were some threads that discussed tank repairs of a different sort. Mentioned were melting plastic into the cracks and various different materials others were attempting to use. None that I remember had your exact problem. (I searched but couldn't find them)

I am not sure but these tanks may have been manufactured by Roto-molding. That type of plastic usually requires a special material for repair. If thats the case then one vendor I know that could supply the proper repair material (glue) is:

Scotch-Weld Structural Adhesive, DP-8005 (off white or black)
Ellsworth Adhesives 1-800-888-0698
about $14.00 per set (2-part, duo-pak cartridge)

Just maybe you could glue in a plastic plug (permanently) and eliminate the leak. You would have to prove the larger (bottom) drain/service plug in working order for winterizing.

Good luck ... we are all pulling for you!
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Old 05-09-2005, 09:16 PM   #13
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I need help with fresh water tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by driftwood
If you find your problem is greater than that I can provide you with tank sourcing information.

Ok gimme the sourcing info, as my tank has a big crack around the filler neck. I have a 1974 28' Argosy. It is the fresh water tank in the nose of the trailer. Thank you.
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Old 05-09-2005, 09:27 PM   #14
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Thumbs up Will this fix my tank

Quote:
Originally Posted by driftwood
Scotch-Weld Structural Adhesive, DP-8005 (off white or black)
Ellsworth Adhesives 1-800-888-0698
about $14.00 per set (2-part, duo-pak cartridge)
I just posted that I have a crack in my tank, and then read your post. Will this repair cracks too?
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Old 05-09-2005, 09:33 PM   #15
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Tank source ... etc.

If that's the tank mounted above the floor, a local RV supplier may be able to get one that will suffice. Make sure it has a vent thats not integrated to the fill.

Start with these ...

http://www.incaplastics.com/

http://www.accutanks.com/ronco_water.htm

On the repair side of things, call these vendors and discuss your particular failure. They may have specific repair techniques for different applications.

If you can talk with a technical person and not just sales at Ellsworth Adhesives 1-800-888-0698 you may be pointed in the right direction.
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Old 05-10-2005, 07:47 AM   #16
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I fell asleep immediatately after posting last night (up too late the night before researching this topic). Now that I know more what I'm dealing with here are some links I want to investgate further. Do any of you have any experience with any of these products/techniques?

http://www.ehow.com/how_7770_repair-rvs-freshwater.html

http://www.permatex.com/products/ind...0Tank%20Repair

http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/c...ants/21326.htm

http://www.rv.net/forum/index.cfm/fu...g/15330543.cfm

I also confirmed that I could push on the tank and make it move, so I'm pretty sure that it is just held up by the metal surround which is a thicker steel (I think) than the rest of the belly pan. It is more or less held in position by the sheets of styrofoam insulation wedged between the tank and the surround. Given this discovery, I am thinking that it is possible that there is realtive motion between the tank and the sorround as the trailer travels down the road. Even though just the hose was just a peice of clear PVC tubing, eliminating the hose connection to the petcock might be a good idea so that it doesn't continue to "work" in whatever repair I am able to put in place. Thoughts?

That would mean I would have to get a big enough allen wrench to get that 1.5" plug (I think John was correct in calling it a "cleanout") out when I need to drain the tank.

On the other hand, if I could put a new spud in and was able to overlay the boss area with enough fiberglass patch (as noted in one of the above links) to really beef it up, maybe I could keep the petcock.

I'm so confused. Anyway, off to work now.

P.S. I also wonder if I should investigate marine repair kits/techniques. Those boat guys have to repair tanks and such, too.
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Old 05-10-2005, 02:49 PM   #17
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Joe, I would try the Permatex kit. You could reinforce the repair with a piece of thin plastic from a bottle, glued over the Permatex repair with a large dollop of Lexel. Tubes of Lexel fit a frame gun, and are available at Home Depot, etc. It is the adhesive used by some manufacturers of plastic rotomolded Kayaks to bond-in bulkheads. I wouldn't use it straight into the crack, as it contains some chemicals which Californians, at least, find noxious. Rather than attempt to source a large Allen key, I found a bolt, about 3 inches long with a head that fitted the socket. I locked two nuts against each other at the end of the bolt, and I use a wrench on the nuts. I found the correct size bolt at my local Ace hardware store. Good luck. Nick.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:11 PM   #18
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Post Fresh water tank on 74 28' Argosy

I had already looked into Inca Plastics and they are too pricey, and I just looked into Accutank, and they have a tank that would work if it only had rounded corners along one long edge. The two tanks that might work are rv52w and rv53w, the aforementioned being the shortest at 60 inches and the later being 70 inches, besides that they are as tall at 8" and deep at 16".

I have measured and found that the maximum measurements without modification to the front goucho or to the tank is 10" tall, by 16" deep, by 54" long, but it may be possible to go as far as 60" long. After that it's back to the engineering drawing board.

These measurement allow for reuse of the existing water input and the vent, you would most likely have to redrill a drain hole, and the output to the pump would have to be located on the curb side of the tank.

I have found a like replacement from a local Airstream dealer though and if I cannot fix mine I am going to buy that one from them. Thank you for these threads.
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Old 05-10-2005, 03:12 PM   #19
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Talking To Driftwood

I called Ellesworth today and they are sending me a free sample of the product you mentioned, Yeah!!!!. I will let all know how the repair went in a few days.
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Old 05-10-2005, 10:03 PM   #20
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Nick, Thanks for your input. I had more time to look over the links that I posted above. Upon a further intenet search, the Permatex Plastic Tank Repair Kit is available retail (I posted the link to the Permatex Industrial web site above). I think I'll check around tomorrow and see if I can find this kit at a local hardware, auto parts, or marine store as I really don't want to wait for mail order. Worst case, there are several options for mail order, but then this repair would probably miss our maiden voyage (we leave in about a week).

Of course the kit on the PPL Motorhomes site by Versa-Chem that includes resin and fiberglass cloth also looks interesting. That fiberglass cloth might really help reinforce everything.

My thought still remains to hold the crack closed with the hose clamp and perhaps permatex right over the top of the clamp. Or Permatex it and then tighted it up with a hose clamp. Either whay the hose clamp become a permanent part of the repair.

Also good tip on the bolt head for the clean out, but I am now leery to remove it because if I found I had to replace it like John HD, the new plug with the protruding square wouldn't fit if I wanted to put the access panel back on.

Oh yeah, and one more update. After further inspection I do beleive that the "boss" was "spin welded" to the tank. There are a couple of ribs on the boss that would be used to spin it and the inteface between the boss and the side of the tank is round. Both facts support spin welding. The stuff that looked like glue has probably just melted plastic.
Thanks again.
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