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Old 07-28-2004, 02:05 PM   #1
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Question Copper pipe help

I am a new AS owner and recently bought a 75 LY 25'. When I hooked a hose to the rear I noticed a balloon split in one of my copper pipes in the closet. It was the smallest of the two line. I cut the section out and went to Home Depot and they didn't have anything so I went to Camperland and the repair guy said that AS uses odd size pipe. Here are my questions;

1. Does AS use a rare size copper pipe or did this just expand? It almost matches up to 1/2 " flex tube but not workable.

2. Should I anticipate more punctures lines? If so, should I just try a temporary fix on this first one to see what else I am up against? I might have to replace the entire plumbing (sucks).

3. If I have to replace the plumbing, what does that entail or how much (est) would it cost to have done?

I am also getting ready to repair a leaking grey valve as well. Looking forward and thankful for your responses. Bob
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Old 07-28-2004, 03:15 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazyland
I am a new AS owner and recently bought a 75 LY 25'. When I hooked a hose to the rear I noticed a balloon split in one of my copper pipes in the closet. It was the smallest of the two line. I cut the section out and went to Home Depot and they didn't have anything so I went to Camperland and the repair guy said that AS uses odd size pipe. Here are my questions;

1. Does AS use a rare size copper pipe or did this just expand? It almost matches up to 1/2 " flex tube but not workable.

2. Should I anticipate more punctures lines? If so, should I just try a temporary fix on this first one to see what else I am up against? I might have to replace the entire plumbing (sucks).

3. If I have to replace the plumbing, what does that entail or how much (est) would it cost to have done?

I am also getting ready to repair a leaking grey valve as well. Looking forward and thankful for your responses. Bob
Find a ACE or plumbing suply. Most of those chain places couldn't find a clue with a big neon sign over it saying clue.

For the record most of us that are doing restoration are replacing all the lines with PEX. It's a flexible plastic product that is more resilieant in hard freezes. There are several good posts on the product in pumbing section.

I have as yet to use the product but will be in then next couple months once I reinstall the interrior of our coach. THe copper I took out it was rare to find more then a 4ft section without a repair LOL.
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Old 07-28-2004, 04:10 PM   #3
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It has frozen and expanded. More leaks? Hard to say. I replumbed my coach with PEX, but it had plastic plumbing already. I'd be loath to give up on copper unless it was just too badly damaged to use. If it were mine, I'd repair what was broken with copper and see how it goes.

Mark
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Old 07-28-2004, 04:12 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by 59toaster
THe copper I took out it was rare to find more then a 4ft section without a repair LOL.
How many of those were due to accidental discharge of a firearm?
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Old 07-28-2004, 04:17 PM   #5
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How many of those were due to accidental discharge of a firearm?
heheheh, Hay it's possible. The hole in above the rear window I have not found the exit. Pretty sure the reefer stopped the other.

I should have taken pictures...I'm Still trying to figure out some of the crazy stuff that was done by the PO.
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Old 07-28-2004, 04:36 PM   #6
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Sweet, I actually can offer someone else some help! At least on the first question.

We just purchased our first A/S and before the ink on the title is dry (the check for the trailer hasn't been cashed yet), I have already fixed 4 splits (3 in the trunk and 1 under the curb side twin). I purchased 1/2" ID (inner diameter) soft refridgerater copper at Home Depot. The pipe cuts in my trailer were a fair distance from the actual split as the ice swells the pipe quite a distance from the split. The fittings on both ends of the worst split had to be heated to pull out the whole section. I recommend using a very wet shirt against the wood floor and any wiring you want to protect, and a metal heat reflecting shield between the wet shirt and the pipe being heated.

I assume the pipes didn't change too much between '72 and '75. It might not be a good assumption.
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Old 07-28-2004, 05:01 PM   #7
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I had the same problem with my '72 Argosy, only the split was under the Bath Tub. I used a 1/2 inch repair coupling I got from my local Lowes store. It was about 8" long so I cut out about 3 1/2 inches on each side of the split, sanded the ends and the coupling fit just fine, soldered on with no leaks.

I did not find any other splits after the repair. I would keep the copper if I could, but if not PEX is what I would use.

Good Luck!
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Old 07-28-2004, 05:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazyland
I am a new AS owner and recently bought a 75 LY 25'. When I hooked a hose to the rear I noticed a balloon split in one of my copper pipes in the closet. It was the smallest of the two line. I cut the section out and went to Home Depot and they didn't have anything so I went to Camperland and the repair guy said that AS uses odd size pipe. Here are my questions
(snip)
Bob
I concur that you might just be seeing expanded pipe on either side of the split. I managed not to get all the water out of the copper water line leading from the fresh water tank (front of rig) to the kitchen area. The split was about halfway between, but the whole of the rest of the length had expanded as well. I wound up replacing a section about 6 ft. long.

Lynn
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Old 07-28-2004, 07:23 PM   #9
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Thanks

Thanks to everyone for all the advice. I am sure I will be calling again.
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Old 08-07-2004, 03:07 PM   #10
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Unhappy Re-plumb job??

It seems I will need to re-plumb my 75 25' Tradewind. I fixed three of the pipe burst and just found two more. I could sure use some feedback on the following:

1. Can I trust a generic trailer svc ctr to do the job or should I stick with an AS dealer?

2. What should I expect to pay?

3. Should I continue to patch and find the end of this madness?

4. Is this a tough job? Do I have to take apart the trailer to plumb it? Not sure if I am up to it.

I will start checking other post. Thanks in advance for any advice you might have. Bob
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Old 08-07-2004, 05:11 PM   #11
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You can do it!

If you can plumb in patches you can handle the replumb job.

All the lines are above the floor and pretty easy to access. Just take your time and plan it out. Build a section at a time and then set it in place.

Now's a good time to add a water heater bypass or a water tank fill valve from the city input.

Expect to pay about $250 in parts.

You can follow the links to my website and see some info on how I did mine. Although I uses cpvc instead of pex. But I don't want to start that debate :-)

Good luck!
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Old 08-09-2004, 01:26 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crazyland
1. Can I trust a generic trailer svc ctr to do the job or should I stick with an AS dealer?

2. What should I expect to pay?

3. Should I continue to patch and find the end of this madness?

4. Is this a tough job? Do I have to take apart the trailer to plumb it? Not sure if I am up to it.

I will start checking other post. Thanks in advance for any advice you might have. Bob
If you have a plumber that you trust in your home, you could use them. This isn't specialized, just copper water pipes. The only difference would be the back-flow valves which are all separate pieces, screwed into male and female ends. There may be a rivet or two associated to working on the faucets, which wouldn't be normal plumbing.

There really isn't that much pipe in these trailers. The key is getting access. I haven't come across anything that I couldn't handle - and my plumbing knowledge is exactly equal to my A/S knowledge. All pluming experience is with this Airstream.

Getting Acess to pipes...
I did have to take out the curb side twin (galley sink side of our coach) to get access to the pipes. This isn't too tough of a job. Just remove the screws and pull the plywood, remove the screws and pull the crossbar supports for the bed, and remove the storage pans (they hold the storage tubs that you have already removed) by pulling the 4-8 staples from the backside of the frame for the tambour doors. I didn't have to remove the doors or the door frames, just the staples. You shouldn't have to pull any rivets, although the staples can be more work. (I replaced the staples with screws in case I ever need access again)

I removed the screws and thus the closet floor behind that bed and then moved to the trunk. I was able to pull out the shelf in the trunk (this time drilling out rivets) to get access to the pipes along the back of the trailer. In this way I was able to have access to nearly everything. The pipes under the tub were ok for me, but had they needed replacing, I would have run a longer pipe under the tub and joined it on both ends in an area that I had access.

At this point, I have replaced 5 sections of pipe in our 31' A/S. I still have a pump that "pulses" on occasion, so I am guessing that I have a very small leak somewhere and I will keep looking. It could even be a washer in a faucet.

I would have had to get a darn trustworthy repair job to get much better than I have now. I wouldn't begin to guess what it would have cost me, but it would have been far more than the $75 and the 5 or so hours I have in it. (Included in that $100 is the tools that I needed, such as $39 for Map gas and self-igniting torch)

I spent more time getting access to pipes and putting things back than I did actually plumbing.

Tools: Map Gas, self-igniting torch, flux, 20' of 1/2" soft copper pipe, any required joints, sand paper or wire brushes, etc... Don't forget a shield to keep the flame/heat from the torch from unwanted areas. You can't go wrong with a fire extinguisher just to be safe.
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Old 08-09-2004, 02:10 PM   #13
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I have a leak below the bathroom sink at a T junction where the hot water pipe from the water heater splits off to the bathroom sink and shower faucets. The drip seems to be coming from the connection, not from a hole in the pipe. I took out the wal of the closet to get a better look at it. It is very close to the cold water T junction also, and the wall of the fiberglass cupboard. I am concerned about heating the junction with a torch to take it apart. Will I have to redo all three sides of the T, because they will all get hot if I am heating one side? Also, what do you use for a heat shield, is this something I can get at the hardware store?
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Old 08-09-2004, 02:43 PM   #14
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Heat shield, etc.

Stephanie,

If the drip is coming from the joint itself you may very well be able to fix it by brushing on some solder flux, heating the joint and applying a bit more solder. The key is that you need to get all the water out of the line - otherwise the water draws off the heat from the torch too much and you will not get the area hot enough to do the job right. If you have to disassemble the joint the two remaining connections will not necessarily disconnect when you remove one connection. I think I would just brush on some flux and add a small bit of solder to all three joints when I put it back together.

As far as a heat shield is concerned pretty much anything that will not burn would work. Something like a piece of sheet metal, an old cookie sheet or baking pan would work fine. The main use is to keep the flame of the torch from touching anything flamable. The idea mentioned earlier about using a wet cloth behind the heat shield is a good idea if the pipe is close enough to something for there to be a worry about heat transfer to the wood or other items.

Malcolm
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Old 08-09-2004, 03:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
I have a leak below the bathroom sink at a T junction where the hot water pipe from the water heater splits off to the bathroom sink and shower faucets. The drip seems to be coming from the connection, not from a hole in the pipe. I took out the wal of the closet to get a better look at it. It is very close to the cold water T junction also, and the wall of the fiberglass cupboard. I am concerned about heating the junction with a torch to take it apart. Will I have to redo all three sides of the T, because they will all get hot if I am heating one side? Also, what do you use for a heat shield, is this something I can get at the hardware store?
My first 3 leaks were splits where I cut out the pipe. My forth leak was a joint. I too had to remove a single pipe from a T. This can be done without ruining the other two connections. The key is to make sure the "old" connections are "cleaned" using a wire brush or sand paper to remove as much of the old solder as possible. You can get the joint to re-sweat if it is clean enough.

I don't have any experience with adding solder to the same joint, but it wouldn't hurt to try it first.

Malconium is correct, you want to drain the water if at all possible.
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Old 09-15-2004, 07:52 PM   #16
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I finally got around to tackling my leak today. I was unable to get all the water out of the pipe, and ended up removing the leaking pipe from the junction, which I was able to do without disturbing the other pipes. I installed a new bathroom faucet while I was under there. Then I cut off a quarter inch of the copper pipe, which was pretty rough looking, sanded it clean and shiney, bent it to fit back into the T, cleaned out the T and made sure they were all dry. I put flux on, heated it up with a torch, and applied the solder, sure enough it pulled it all around the joint, and smoothed out so it looked like the other good joints. I was feeling pretty proud. Then I let it cool and applied water pressure. The term 'fountain' comes to mind! Suddenly water was squirting, spraying, and dripping everywhere around that joint! I'm dissapointed to say the least - what did I do wrong?
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:05 PM   #17
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Ok, I took a couple hours off to cool down, and went back out and tried it again. I did the same stuff as last time, but made sure I heated the pipe really well and put more solder all around it. Let it cool off, and now - apparently no leaks! I'll have to go sit out there with it for a while to be sure, but I might have actually fixed a plumbing problem with my own two hands (I'm so proud)! Thanks for the advice on how to do it!
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:17 PM   #18
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Make sure you do not touch the cleaned copper with your fingers. The oil from your skin will not allow solder to stick. Heat the work, not the solder. When the work is hot enough then apply solder to the work.
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Old 09-15-2004, 10:23 PM   #19
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I definitly touched it with my fingers the first time. That's probably the problem. The second time I sanded it all down to shiney copper, wiped it with a rag, put on the flux, assembled it, and started heating it up. Now that I've done it a couple times, it probably wouldn't be too bad to do on the road if I had to. Too bad we had to put up with that leak from Colorado to Oklahoma and back!
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Old 09-30-2004, 12:22 AM   #20
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Well, my fix lasted one short trip to the repair shop (for an axel checkup) and when I turned on the water at home it was dripping again. So tonight I pulled it apart and this time cleaned the inside of the junction as well with a dremel tool until it was shiney, and the outside of the pipe, being careful not to touch anything, and fluxed and soldered everything back together again. It's watertight again. We're taking a short trip in a week or so, so I guess we'll find out if it can survive the five hours on the road. I am determined to fix this leak myself!
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