Repairing 50 year old Bowen water heater
I found the dreaded dripping under my '61 Tradewind last weekend. After reading many other threads about this, I was prepared to replace my otherwise pefectly functioning Bowen. I removed it from the trailer, not too bad, only a couple of hours to get it out. I was about to order the new water heater but after reading a reply from Colin Hyde suggesting someone repair theirs, I decided to pry the cover off. I was surprised to see the aluminum tank was in very good condition. The bracket welded to the bottom which provided a mounting stud for the "foot" of the tank had cracks at the edges of the welds. This would be easy to fix! I cut off the old bracket, ground down the old welds and welded the cracks. Next I leak checked the area with soapy water and compressed air. I fabricated a new bracket out of some aluminum bar stock and welded it back on. I sand blasted and repainted the cover, reinstalled the foot, and leak checked the tank by filling it with water and what do you know? No leaks. No retrofitting with a lesser quality new unit, no plumbing or anything! I replaced the fiberglass insulation on the bottom and added two rigid foam blocks for more support. I suspect this is what happens to many old Bowen's. The design places all of the weight in one small area and it's no surprise that mine was cracked.