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Old 02-08-2021, 12:20 PM   #1
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1966 26' Overlander
Medford , OK
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Full soaker tub & hot water heater

I am remodeling a '65 Overlander to be a mobile photography studio. I need to know what hot water heater to get. I'm assuming a tankless? I will not have a full size soaker tub in it for boudoir and baby session. It is a 78 gallon bathtub. There is not a full kitchen or even a bathroom in this unit. But, I do need to be able to fill the tub with hot water. I had planned on all electric for this unit as it is just a studio, not live-in trailer. But, was told today that with a tub this large I would pretty much have to have propane also. Please advise what unit I will need to heat my bath water. Thank you all so much!
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Old 02-08-2021, 01:48 PM   #2
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Not sure how happy the trailer frame would be with over 600 pounds of water (not including a person sitting in it) in one place. Tippy? Structurally? How well will a fiberglass (?) soaker tub hold the heat while the tankless (Alde?) system fills the tub using a 50 psi pump or regulated city water.

I'm curious to know more about this setup

Glenn
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Old 02-08-2021, 02:16 PM   #3
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1966 26' Overlander
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Reply to gln826

Thanks for your reply Glenn!

Let me see if I can give you some more info. I am just now beginning this restoration, so any help is great! The tub alone weighs 110 lbs. I will never fill it all the way up as it will just be used for photographs. In fact, most of the time photos will be taken even without any water. But, when I do fill it, I will fill it about half way or just over half way. So, that would be about 40 gallons or so...making it about 333 lbs not including the person or the tub itself.
The frame is in excellent condition, and I'm having the entire subfloor replaced. I can reinforce the frame as much as you all think I need to to hold the weight. I would love to be able to put it on the back of the airstream right in the middle. There use to be a window in the back, but I will be just filling that in with aluminum. There will not be a window back there. The only other thing in that area will be the stand alone faucet.
I too do not like the idea of having to wait 30 min for the water to warm up, but it won't need to stay hot, hot for long. Again, I'm just trying to avoid women and babies from sitting in cold water when I do use it.
Some other things...there is no toilet or shower in the airstream. There will be no interior walls or rooms. All tanks have been removed. I am literally working with a shell and a frame. Have any other ideas? Should I just throw a livestock tank water heater in when I use it haha? Does this help or give you a little more info to go on? Thanks for your input!

Evie
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Old 02-08-2021, 02:33 PM   #4
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So if my math is right, the potential exists for about 550 pounds along the back side of the trailer, under the windows. That places a significant upward force on the hitch side (like a seesaw), so you would need to stabilize the rear end, or attach the hitch to a tow vehicle. I'm also thinking you would want the trailer to have heat and AC from a heat pump for days when its either hot or cold? Sorry, I was thinking out loud. To your original question, I think the Alde system would be able to provide 30-40 gallons of hot water, but I would check the specs on the velocity of the delivery (gallons per minute). There may also be less expensive domestic solutions that would be less complicated.

Not sure I'm helping LOL

Glenn
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Old 02-08-2021, 02:41 PM   #5
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1966 26' Overlander
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2nd reply to gln826

Glenn,

Do you think I should put the tub on the front of the trailer? Would that make a significant difference? Would the floor need to be reinforced then? Would the floor or frame still need to be reinforced for 600 lbs? I wanted it in the back so that you don't see it the second you walk in the door, but it is not set in stone that it has to be back there.

As for heat and A/C, I just planned on doing an overhead unit and electric space heater inside when it's super cold. I might also add a Dyson fan for when it's super hot. What do you think of that? I want to avoid 2 heating/air units if possible since it's just one big space and not used daily or even to live in.

Also, if you don't mind...what do you think about these things:

I need a quiet generator. A Honda EU7000 was suggested, but might be overkill. What do you think? I will be running 1 heat/cool unit, compact fridge, lights, hot water heater, and audio sound system off it. A few plug ins for camera chargers or lamps but nothing big. Maybe a coffee pot, but no stove or microwave or anything like that.

Do you think I should get a hydraulic hitch?
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Old 02-08-2021, 03:22 PM   #6
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1966 26' Overlander
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Just looked up the Alde system. That's very nice! But, it seems like that might be overkill since I won't be spending a ton of time in the airstream. At the most I will spend 1-4 hours in it at a time. Never more than that. And, I'll never be staying in it over night. I'm wondering if that system would be more suited for conventional airstream remodels and rvs. I think with good insulation, I can heat the entire trailer with even a space heater. I just wanted a ceiling unit as a backup. Thoughts?
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Old 02-08-2021, 03:44 PM   #7
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Are you moving the trailer to locations or just using it at your studio location? If not moving, you may want to consider just plumbing it in to a normal residential water heater outside the trailer in an out-building adjacent.

Otherwise, you might consider a insta-hot water heater - we have a ShowerMate M-500 (which has since been replaced with a ShowerMate M-550 NSP EC) and it works great - we can have all the hot water we want anywhere - depending on the water source. Fresh Water Tank = 30 gallons while boondocking, spigot = unlimited. They make both Propane & Natural Gas versions...

Shari
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Old 02-08-2021, 03:48 PM   #8
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Comanche,
Will you be taking this studio on the road? How much of the interior is given over to backdrop purposes?
If you check a big-box store site, you can find a gas continuous water heater that delivers almost 10 gpm, but it uses 180,000 BTU/hr at that rate. (as much as a pound of propane to heat 40 gallons. I doubt you’d get that amount of propane out of the tank without freezing it up) An electric tankless unit will deliver 4 gpm, using 18kW. An electrically heated tank model draws about 4 to 5 kW, which you can handle with a jumbo generator, but the generator will not be quiet or cheap or light, and it takes about an hour to heat the 40 to 50 gallon water heater contents.
Any of the above will be a space wasting eyesore inside the trailer. If your studio is permanently parked, you might be better off piping water in from a small utility shed.
You are right to be concerned about the heat loss, much of which will occur as evaporation, meaning humidity and condensation problems. A section of solar pool cover cut to shape would be a good investment, to keep the water warm and the air inside bearable.
Good luck!
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Old 02-08-2021, 07:26 PM   #9
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Yes it will move

Yes, the airstream will be taken on the road. Otherwise I would have just purchased a building to remodel. It won't be taken every day, but it will be pulled to locations at least an hour or more away at least once a week.

I am looking up that insta hot water heater now! Do you have a holding tank for the water and also a fresh water tank I assume?

Thank you
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Old 02-09-2021, 06:50 AM   #10
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Alde has a 3 gallon holding tank. Wouldnít be able to fill a tub with it. Most hot water heaters that are needed to fill a tub that large will be a residential setup which will need to be customized for your setup.

Iím not sure a 600 lbs tub would cause the trailer to tip over. Just make sure your weight is counter balanced or the total weight of the trailer is substantial enough where the 600 is just a drop in the bucket (We have a classic that weighs 5 Tons)

When these trailers are designed, a majority of the weight is placed over the axles which also usually includes a fresh water tank of about 50 gallons for the 30 ft units. This is for towing purposes as well as weight distribution.
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:31 AM   #11
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Yes, the airstream will be taken on the road. Otherwise I would have just purchased a building to remodel. It won't be taken every day, but it will be pulled to locations at least an hour or more away at least once a week.

If you are going to tow this trailer, it's absolutely essential that the balance be considered when you build your interior. Trailers that have too much weight behind the wheels (i.e. no tongue weight on the hitch) are guaranteed to sway dangerously.
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Old 02-09-2021, 08:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BigSxyWhtGuy View Post
Alde has a 3 gallon holding tank. Wouldnít be able to fill a tub with it. Most hot water heaters that are needed to fill a tub that large will be a residential setup which will need to be customized for your setup.

Iím not sure a 600 lbs tub would cause the trailer to tip over. Just make sure your weight is counter balanced or the total weight of the trailer is substantial enough where the 600 is just a drop in the bucket (We have a classic that weighs 5 Tons)

When these trailers are designed, a majority of the weight is placed over the axles which also usually includes a fresh water tank of about 50 gallons for the 30 ft units. This is for towing purposes as well as weight distribution.
The Alde 3020 is a tankless heater in the sense that it provides a "limitless" supply of hot water, and isn't constrained by its 3 gallon size.

Comanche said the trailer would generally be bare except for the tub, so there wouldn't be any weight to counterbalance a filled tub in the rear, like a sofa, dinette, kitchen, etc.

Putting the tub more towards the middle over the axles would seem impractical, leaving a bunch of empty space behind it towards the rear, inaccessible without climbing over the tub.

Glenn
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Old 02-09-2021, 09:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by comanche65 View Post
Yes, the airstream will be taken on the road. Otherwise I would have just purchased a building to remodel. It won't be taken every day, but it will be pulled to locations at least an hour or more away at least once a week.
Your opening post didn’t state this, so I had to ask...

Quote:
Originally Posted by comanche65 View Post
I am looking up that insta hot water heater now! Do you have a holding tank for the water and also a fresh water tank I assume?
Yes. Our trailer has both a 30 gallon fresh water tank and a 30 gallon gray water waste tank. Our fresh water tank is about 12”x12”x5’ and fits under a bed. You will need more than that to comfortably fill your tub to the desired level.

As others have mentioned, weights & balance are extremely important when moving a trailer down the road...both when full of fresh water, empty of all water & with your fresh & grey tanks full. I guess depending on where your shoots are, you may not have to haul your fresh water to the location if there is a hook up on site. But it is not legal in most areas to just dump that much used grey water on the ground when you’re done.

Good luck in whatever you decide to do!

Shari
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Old 02-09-2021, 09:31 AM   #14
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I hate to be “that guy” but this is a really impractical idea. The realities of water, being extremely heavy, and extremely resistant to heating, make this idea impractical for a portable lightweight trailer.

The amount of fuel, and rate of delivery is much larger then anything built for the RV world. The static weight of a bathtub full of water it’s just not what these trailers are designed for.

With enough money, anything is possible, but be prepared for serious sticker shock.
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Old 02-09-2021, 09:36 AM   #15
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BigSxyWhtGuy
Alde has a 3 gallon holding tank. Wouldn’t be able to fill a tub with it. Most hot water heaters that are needed to fill a tub that large will be a residential setup which will need to be customized for your setup.
I’m not sure a 600 lbs tub would cause the trailer to tip over. Just make sure your weight is counter balanced or the total weight of the trailer is substantial enough where the 600 is just a drop in the bucket (We have a classic that weighs 5 Tons)
When these trailers are designed, a majority of the weight is placed over the axles which also usually includes a fresh water tank of about 50 gallons for the 30 ft units. This is for towing purposes as well as weight distribution.

- Unfortunately, 3 gallons won't even come close. I have a 78 gallon soaker tub in this unit...or will. But, I will only be filling it with about 40 gallons at a time. I have decided to go with a 12V battery and the RV-550 NSP EC Propane Tankless Water Heater thanks to the help I've got on here.

mimiandrews
If you are going to tow this trailer, it's absolutely essential that the balance be considered when you build your interior. Trailers that have too much weight behind the wheels (i.e. no tongue weight on the hitch) are guaranteed to sway dangerously.

- I am putting the bathtub at the very front of the airstream in the middle. So, luckily it won't be behind the wheels. The other thing is that the tub will never have water in it when I am pulling it. The tanks will hold the most weight I believe. I've decided on the tankless water heater I mentioned above. I shouldn't need too much fresh water luckily I don't believe. In fact, I'm wondering if I need a fresh water tank at all as I will have bottled water for my clients. The only thing I'll need water for is to fill the tub (only on occasion) with about 40 gallons of water and for the small sink at the bar if someone is mixing a drink or filling a baby bottle. Thoughts after knowing this?

gln826
The Alde 3020 is a tankless heater in the sense that it provides a "limitless" supply of hot water, and isn't constrained by its 3 gallon size.
Comanche said the trailer would generally be bare except for the tub, so there wouldn't be any weight to counterbalance a filled tub in the rear, like a sofa, dinette, kitchen, etc.
Putting the tub more towards the middle over the axles would seem impractical, leaving a bunch of empty space behind it towards the rear, inaccessible without climbing over the tub.

- I agree about putting the tub in the middle. Thank you for understanding the aesthetics of what I'm doing. There will be no kitchen or anything like this. I have a dresser that I will convert into a bar, and a couch. Other than that, it will just be random seating and props/decor etc. These will be the only large pieces. I may add a light weight coffee table. What do YOU think about putting the tub at the front and keeping the water tank under the airstream at the back? Thoughts? You've been so helpful thank you!

InsideOut
Yes. Our trailer has both a 30 gallon fresh water tank and a 30 gallon gray water waste tank. Our fresh water tank is about 12”x12”x5’ and fits under a bed. You will need more than that to comfortably fill your tub to the desired level.
As others have mentioned, weights & balance are extremely important when moving a trailer down the road...both when full of fresh water, empty of all water & with your fresh & grey tanks full. I guess depending on where your shoots are, you may not have to haul your fresh water to the location if there is a hook up on site. But it is not legal in most areas to just dump that much used grey water on the ground when you’re done.
Good luck in whatever you decide to do!

- the idea with this unit is that I'll never have to hook up anywhere at all. I could have it parked in a field or at a lake or anything and invite my client to bring their baby to me providing all the props and a comfortable atmosphere that I they can relax in while I photograph their baby. And, it's a way to take all of my baby and boudoir props to my clients instead of making them come to me or only taking what I can fit in my car. That is the biggest issue. I am a traveling photographer, so I needed a studio on wheels (keep in mind I shoot 90% of my sessions outside but most boudoir and newborns need to be done indoors). Going to peoples houses to shoot does not allow me to control the backgrounds, or the flooring, the lighting etc. This does!

EVERYONE - I understand this is such an odd thing to do with an airstream and I'm having trouble finding any presentence or help b/c it really hasn't been done before or very often. But, I know it will be totally worth it and it's a big dream of mine to be part of the airstream community as a photographer! I'm super excited that there's not a ton of these airstream mobile studios out there! I am a natural light photographer that does not use any special lighting or even reflectors. So, having the right setup is essential to my aesthetic. But, I know very little about airstreams...learning as I go. So this is why you are all so appreciated for helping me through it! I need all the help I can get!
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Old 02-09-2021, 09:50 AM   #16
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Reply to doughpat

I hate to be ďthat guyĒ but this is a really impractical idea. The realities of water, being extremely heavy, and extremely resistant to heating, make this idea impractical for a portable lightweight trailer.
The amount of fuel, and rate of delivery is much larger then anything built for the RV world. The static weight of a bathtub full of water itís just not what these trailers are designed for.
With enough money, anything is possible, but be prepared for serious sticker shock.


I understand your hesitation, but I have seen it done. They've been made into air bnbs with full size tubs. Again, what people aren't thinking of is that the tub will never have water in it when it's moving and the tank will be at the other end of the trailer. In fact, overall...my trailer will weigh much less than most people on here b/c there is no toilet, no walls, no oven, no stove, no microwave, no closets, etc. There will be no bed. Just as some examples. The tub alone weights 110 lbs. That's much less than I weigh and I'm not worried about walking around in the trailer lol. Plus, though it is a 78 gallon tub, I will only need to fill it with about 40 gallons at a time when the unit is parked and sitting. This will be for about an hour while I photograph the client in the water. After that it will be drained on the land I'm on with permission. There will be no septic holding tank as no one will ever be using the restroom in the unit (no toilet). Here's an example of one I have seen. Mine will be similar but different as hers has an entire bathroom and mine will not. Check out @thesandingblonde on TikTok and IG. She also has a full size tub and even an vanity and toilet in hers. Does this change your mind about it being a bad idea?
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Old 02-09-2021, 12:43 PM   #17
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So excited!

EXCELLENT NEWS EVERYONE!
Airstream of Oklahoma has agreed to take on the project and has me scheduled to start renovations next month! Thank you for all your help! I was able to figure our what hot water heater I wanted, and now we can get my tub and studio plumbed and reinforced and renovated perfectly according to the airstream ďrules.Ē
Iím so excited! Hope youíll follow my journey!
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Old 12-22-2022, 07:05 PM   #18
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hey! im thinking of putting a tub in mine to actually use. did you ever get this finished? just wondering if you would share the results?
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