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Old 05-10-2002, 02:09 AM   #1
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Water lines in '73 Overlander

Hi. I just found out that the '73 airstream trailer I bought 3 weeks ago failed an "air pressure test" of the water lines. The airstream dealer I took it to said that the water lines did not hold air preassure, and that there appeared to be a big leak towards the bathroom and several smaller leaks throughout the rest of the system. I am wondering if anyone has done this sort of work? If so, could you please give me some advice?
Thank-you, sincerely Bryan
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Old 05-10-2002, 05:22 AM   #2
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Are you water lines copper? I am guessing they are. This many leaks and their locations would indicate to me that the trailer was not properly winterized at one time or another and the lines froze with water in the low spots. This will cause a multitude of repair problems. What happens with copper is that it will expand and make refitting new fittings and section patches challenging if you go back with copper again. It can be done; it just makes it harder as the new fittings will have to be forced on. This is if you go back with copper.

Current travel trailer construction methods are to use PEX tubing or braided reinforced tubing with either brass, plastic or copper fittings with a copper crimp ring around the fitting. The tubing and fittings are relatively inexpensive. It is the crimper that is expensive. If you can rent or better yet, borrow a crimper you are ahead of the game.

Another option is Quest Flare-it fittings. These can almost be installed with hand pressure but a neat little wrench is available and it that sells for around $5. Don't use Channelocks or pliers as these put uneven pressure on the flare nut. The problem I have with this type of fitting is that like any screwed connection they have the possibility of working loose over time as the trailer is moved and bounced around. Also expansion and contraction of the tubing occurs. This is why the manufacturers use the crimped method.

I get my plumbing parts locally, but for an online catalog and for educational purposes this link is provided;


For complete refitting I like the color coded tubing. Blue for cold, red for hot.

Also, air testing of water lines is a dangerous practice. Hopefully this is not how the repair center did the test. Hydro-static (water filled) testing is the safe procedure. With the lines filled with air and if a failure occurs under pressure, material can go flying. The recommended procedure is to fill the lines with water completely venting off the air in the high points, then add pressure 1 and 1/2 times the normal operating pressure. If the lines fail during a Hydro-static test, all you have is a puddle of water.

Good luck and let us know how you proceed.

-Bobby Wright
AIR# 123

-"You want to make it two inches - or, if you're working in centimeters, make sure it's enough centimeters for two inches."-Red Green
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Old 05-25-2002, 06:49 PM   #3
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74 ARGOSY 28

I have repaired a ton of breaks in the copper with some real neat stuff but keep finding more breaks.

Now that there are more breaks then I can get to it's time to replace the whole shotting match. Out with the copper and in with the braided hose. Heres the catch. I need some sort of diagram on how the rear bath was assembled so I can remove it. Replace the water lines and put it all back together again.

Does anyone have a service manual or something along that line to show me how the bath was installed?

Any help would be appriciated.
Darryl Elkins
74 Argosy 28
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Old 05-25-2002, 09:14 PM   #4
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If you are looking for manuals, service or owner manuals, you can get reproductions from Helen Davis at Secretarial Services, PO Box 484, Sidney, OH 45365 (937) 492-8885.
The service manuals will give you a good idea on dismantling and reassembly for the various parts of your trailer.

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Old 05-26-2002, 11:58 AM   #5
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I did get the owners manual. What a waste of paper! There is no service manual available for the Argosy. That is why I was posting here hoping to find someone with some experience in this matter.

Last night I took a chance and started removing panels and found the water lines I want to replace. Oddly enough they run directly under the univolt that adds an interesting challenge. Today I intend to pick up some braided hose and replace those lines.

So far I am not real impressed with the Argosy Trailer I honestly expected an Airstream less some bells and whistles.

We'll see what happens.
Darryl Elkins
74 Argosy 28
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Old 06-03-2002, 10:49 AM   #6
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how did it go?

I'm facing the same thing in my '77 Sovereign, but I'm a little scared to start pulling panels. did you take any pictures? The service manual just has a schematic for the plumbing, no real info on exactly how the lines run and where the Tees and other connections are.
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Old 06-03-2002, 12:50 PM   #7
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Trailer plumbing

Plumbing trailers is NOT rocket science. It is NOT required to be replaced or repaired as the factory did the original job. Y have complete freedom to route the water lines in any fashion that pleases. There are not hard fast rules or requirement. You may even want to insulate the lines with pipe insulation or add an outside hot/cold faucet. My preference is for soft copper lines. The plastic has not been in the field for a long time test. Copper is very easy to either sweat with torch and solder or compression fittings. Compression fittings really assemble easily if all the parts are lubed with a little grease. The use of line wrenches is recommended.. The use of an air gage and an air supply is great for checking any repair.
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Old 06-04-2002, 03:58 PM   #8
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Excuse me while I pat myself on the back...

Well I did replace most of the copper plumbing with reinforced clear plastic. I removed the panel under the toilet and in front of the bath tub and then stood on my head while working in the closet to replace the lines.

Getting around the tub was the hardest part so I left the copper there.

It was a little awkward at first untill I learned how to lay where to get the best working position.

All is working great! I have not put the panels back yet but that should be a task for this weekend after I see about insulating everything.

Darryl Elkins
74 Argosy 28
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Old 06-05-2002, 11:42 PM   #9
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Well I did replace all of the copper plumbing with reinforced clear plastic. I Had about 31 blowouts, thats one perfoot!!!!! Will try to finish thurs so i can go test her out for the weekend!!!!!!!
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