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Old 05-17-2024, 04:03 PM   #1
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Fresh Water Tank Adding Support Straps?

So I see many previous posts about freshwater tanks and bulging pans, but none that I've found cover my situation. We have a 2017 Classic and have no leaks and all works well, I'm just worried that eventually my water tank will fall out (see pics). I want to do the "Ronnie" Mod (see screencap from recent KYD episode) and install U-Bolts and two metal strips across the bottom. Does anyone here see an issue with gently raising the bottom of the tank up with a floor jack with a 2x6 and then install the straps across the U-Bolts? Thank you in advance for you info.
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Old 05-18-2024, 07:01 AM   #2
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I saw this on KYD as well. A few years ago Ronnie has posted regarding this mod to his Airstream. He as seen the issue mostly in the 30' and above Airstreams as their fresh water tanks are larger than small Airstreams. The larger tanks carry more weight and are prone to the issue.

I have a post addressing this mod that Ronnie Dennis did. See my post 5 in the link below.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44...ng-247138.html

I have a 27' Globetrotter and did this as a preventive maintenance item.

I do not have a lifted axle so my tank hangs lower than the axle. I used 6 1/2' U-bolts for this. I saw Ronnie used a jack to raise the FW tank bulge before putting the straps on in the KYD episode. He did not do this in his earlier post so I did not. Currently I would be hesitant to do that as would be worried I might damage the tank.

My straps just follow the bulge in the tank and support it from dropping further. I installed them when the tank was empty of water so they shouldn't drop any further.

I've attached pics of what I did. My RV sits on top of a couple of stacked 2
x 6's when parked to give easier access underneath. I lowered my tongue jack all the way down to raise the rear to attach the bolts at the back and then raised the jack all the way to give more clearance up front to attach the front.

At the time I did not put any additional support under the front tongue (since that time I have read I should have done that in case there was any failure of the tongue jack while I was underneath)
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Old 05-18-2024, 07:56 AM   #3
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First question I have is whether it's actually your tank bulging down like that or just the belly pan??

If the tank is bulging down like that, I'd be in the market for a new tank. It may not be leaking today, but this is a good sign that things are getting weak. You might buy a few months or even years by shoring it up, but tanks are not intended to bulge or have need of additional support.

However, I suspect that something struck the edge of your belly pan causing it to bend/deform and give the appearance of a tank bulging. It could have been debris on the road or something in a campground that stuck up too high.

Remember that you're looking at the metal belly pan and not the tank itself. Even if it is your tank which is bulging, you're not going to be pushing directly on the tank - there is a metal belly pan and then some foam insulation. Might be some electrical running under the tank as well for monitors and such.
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Old 05-18-2024, 10:32 AM   #4
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I’m not sure if you wanna call it a belly pan or not. However, I believe there is a metal rectangular pan/box Support that encloses the freshwater tank. This pan screwed up into the subfloor with 4-5 screws or bolts on each side. There have been instances where the screws or bolts come loose in the entire enclosure falls to the road along with the freshwater tank.

This enclosure has an access plate right under where the freshwater tank drain is. The picture is not clear, but it looks like what is bent may be that access plate and not the rest of the metal enclosure. If it is just the access plate and the rest of it should still be structurally sound. If that enclosure is bent all the way down the middle I agree with you that It probably needs to be replaced. If it’s not bent and just sagging, then I think the straps would work to support it.
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Old 05-19-2024, 05:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GOUSC View Post
I saw this on KYD as well. A few years ago Ronnie has posted regarding this mod to his Airstream. He as seen the issue mostly in the 30' and above Airstreams as their fresh water tanks are larger than small Airstreams. The larger tanks carry more weight and are prone to the issue.

I have a post addressing this mod that Ronnie Dennis did. See my post 5 in the link below.

https://www.airforums.com/forums/f44...ng-247138.html

I have a 27' Globetrotter and did this as a preventive maintenance item.

I do not have a lifted axle so my tank hangs lower than the axle. I used 6 1/2' U-bolts for this. I saw Ronnie used a jack to raise the FW tank bulge before putting the straps on in the KYD episode. He did not do this in his earlier post so I did not. Currently I would be hesitant to do that as would be worried I might damage the tank.

My straps just follow the bulge in the tank and support it from dropping further. I installed them when the tank was empty of water so they shouldn't drop any further.

I've attached pics of what I did. My RV sits on top of a couple of stacked 2
x 6's when parked to give easier access underneath. I lowered my tongue jack all the way down to raise the rear to attach the bolts at the back and then raised the jack all the way to give more clearance up front to attach the front.

At the time I did not put any additional support under the front tongue (since that time I have read I should have done that in case there was any failure of the tongue jack while I was underneath)
Thank you for your info on this. I ended up doing pretty much what you did except I pushed up the tank with a floor jack and length of 2x6. Worked out well. I'll be checking it often on our next trip
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Old 05-19-2024, 05:40 PM   #6
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So this is what I did

Ended up gently lifting the tank with a length of 2x6 and added two support straps attached to u-bolts on the axles. I opened the drains on the tank to prevent pressurizing the tank as I lifted it. Afterwards, I filled it to 100% and took it for a little test drive down the freeway. So far all is good. Didn't leak and the level sensor works fine.
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Old 05-20-2024, 05:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopJockey View Post
Ended up gently lifting the tank with a length of 2x6 and added two support straps attached to u-bolts on the axles. I opened the drains on the tank to prevent pressurizing the tank as I lifted it. Afterwards, I filled it to 100% and took it for a little test drive down the freeway. So far all is good. Didn't leak and the level sensor works fine.
Thanks for the clearer pic. That is what I did as well. The pic shows that the big bend in the metal is the small access plate. You can see the foam insulation, Richard referred to, that sits underneath the actual water tank. I dont see any buckling behind that in the main part of the cover. However, there is a little buckling in the edge of it where the access plate separated. I guess the question is, did the access plate separate due to something coming up from the road or, from the weight of water in the tank? If the later it may be compromised.

Ronnie Dennis sees this issue in the larger tanks on the 30 and larger Airstreams. He goes by GMFL on the forum. You may want to reach out to him and refer to your post and picture to see what he thinks as he has the experience in repairing any potential issue.

I feel the straps will keep the tank from falling but it may not prevent potential issues Richard referred to where the tank may separate from the drain valve if that outer box shell is compromised where the access plate separated.
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Old 05-20-2024, 08:07 AM   #8
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Ronnie Dennis also said the strap idea works best on trailers with a 3" lift. That puts the axle even with the pan.
When I watched it I wondered if a 2" angle aluminum would be much stronger in flex than the strap.

Meanwhile, I'll continue to drive with the fresh water tank at 20%.
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Old 05-20-2024, 09:26 AM   #9
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You know, a while back someone told me, fill the tank slowly and I use one of these with low flow. I was told filling it with a 1/2" sized hose at even 1/2 volume, the air has a hard time escaping from the vent hole and the tank will expand as there is more water entering than the little vent can handle to displace the air in the tank.

Also, I read somewhere here that attaching things to the axle tube is not a great idea......
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Old 05-21-2024, 09:43 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfranklin View Post
You know, a while back someone told me, fill the tank slowly and I use one of these with low flow. I was told filling it with a 1/2" sized hose at even 1/2 volume, the air has a hard time escaping from the vent hole and the tank will expand as there is more water entering than the little vent can handle to displace the air in the tank.

Also, I read somewhere here that attaching things to the axle tube is not a great idea......
I had a hard think about attaching things to the axles and was a bit worried at first (I still am a bit). But then I thought - the weight placed on the straps from the water tank is the same weight the water tank would put on the axles if the straps weren't there. Either way, the axles will carry the full weight of the water tank.

I think, with advice taken from this great forum, I'm going to: 1. Leave the straps on as a precaution. 2. Travel with fresh tank at 50% or less. 3. Check the straps and for leaks frequently. 4. Check the tires for unusual wear because of camber impact from the strap weigh.

At the end of June, we will be leaving on a pretty big trip: Mesa, AZ to Seattle to Sturgis, to EAA in Oshkosh to Denver then back home to Arizona. I'll check frequently to see how the config works in keeping the tank from sagging and in place over such a long trip.
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Old 05-21-2024, 03:59 PM   #11
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I envy those with the 3 lift which allows the straps to fit closer to the axles. Unfortunately ours isnt lifted and the tank had a little dip if you held a straight edge to it.

I got the idea to bend the straps around the tank so the u-bolts would be recessed. I started with four foot x 1-1/4 wide x 1/8 metal strips from Menards. The tank measured 25 so I made a wood buck out of 2x2s to use as a pattern.

After measuring out from the center I clamped the strip in a vice and heated it with a MAPP gas torch then bent the two 90 degree angles. I held the newly bent strip up to the tank and marked the holes for the u-bolts.

After a coat of Rust-Oleum I applied a strip of rubber window flashing tape to cushion between the tank. The straps pulled up snugly but not enough to bend.

Overall, an easy project and Im happy with how it turned out.
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Old 05-22-2024, 07:13 AM   #12
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I have the access plate separating as well. When I sent pictures of it and the tank to Airstream they said some flexing of the tank is normal and not to worry about it. I have a dealership appointment to look at it in a few weeks. Not sure I trust Airstream's answer but if a larger problem develops at least I have them on record calling it "normal."
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Old 05-23-2024, 09:40 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffmc306 View Post
I envy those with the 3” lift which allows the straps to fit closer to the axles. Unfortunately ours isn’t lifted and the tank had a little dip if you held a straight edge to it.

I got the idea to bend the straps around the tank so the u-bolts would be recessed. I started with four foot x 1-1/4” wide x 1/8” metal strips from Menards. The tank measured 25” so I made a wood buck out of 2x2’s to use as a pattern.

After measuring out from the center I clamped the strip in a vice and heated it with a MAPP gas torch then bent the two 90 degree angles. I held the newly bent strip up to the tank and marked the holes for the u-bolts.

After a coat of Rust-Oleum I applied a strip of rubber window flashing tape to cushion between the tank. The straps pulled up snugly but not enough to bend.

Overall, an easy project and I’m happy with how it turned out.

That is some nice work right there! I was in the process of putting the bends into my strips but ended up not. I wasn't sure the bend alone beyond the point where it bolts up would have not eventually pulled out (or somewhat straightened out). Either Way, this is something I will be checking on a routine basis before we go wheels up.
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Old 05-23-2024, 11:52 AM   #14
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Thanks HopJockey!

I think the tight bends close to the tank help support it better than a flat bar if your trailer isnt lifted. I used the plates that came with the u-bolts to spread the load. I tightened the inside nut first then the outside until they were even.

Well see how it does on the next trip!
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Old 05-26-2024, 04:36 PM   #15
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I have to ask, what is the two 1" straps going to do? would it not be better to place wider strap for support? 4" or so will provide better support for the tank.
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Old 05-27-2024, 08:27 AM   #16
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I have to ask, what is the two 1" straps going to do? would it not be better to place wider strap for support? 4" or so will provide better support for the tank.
In my case, the straps are about 19-20 inches in from the outer edges. They provide pretty good support balanced out like this. I've seen other Airstream models where they have the narrower staps installed from the factory, they are just under the sheet metal pan. Yes, a 4 inch strap would provide wider support, but bending it would be a bear!
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