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Bryanhu 07-13-2003 06:40 AM

Water heater - keep it or replace???
I am repairing the bath floor on my 68 Globe Trotter and have most of the interior removed. I DO NOT have LP yet so can't verify if the water heater works. I see no signs of leakage however around the tank, but looking in through the access cover, some of the pipes look rusted...

I would like a few opinions as to whether I should just go ahead and replace with a new one now that the interioir has been gutted and it is easy to get to? Kind of a dumb question not knowing if mine even works but considering the age of the trailer I am wondering how much life I can expect from the present one even if it worked. I know there are no clear answers here but would like others opinions and insight. Like many, I would rather not spend the $$ if I do not have to but do not want to make a decision I will regret later when everything is back together.

How difficult is the 10 gal Atwood to install? Would it be a good replacement with regard to fit in a GLobe Trotter?

Thanks - again!

Pick 07-13-2003 07:36 AM

I say go ahead and replace it. I did mine because the bottom rotted out of the tank. The hardest part of water heater replacement for me was hooking up the water lines. It was hard to get my body into a comfortable postition to access the water lines, and get the copper lines bent so they lined up properly. Would be a heck of a lot easier with the interior gutted. I put the 10 gallon model in mine, with electric element, that I never hooked up.

Pahaska 07-13-2003 08:04 AM

I question whether you would want the additional weight of the 10 gallon heater vs the 6 gallon heater in a '67 Bambi.

I am on my 3rd trailer in 15 years and I have never run out of hot water with the 6 gallon tank.

Rog0525 07-13-2003 09:57 AM

I wouldn't put the horse before the cart until I knew if the heater works. A new Atwood 6 gal heater will cost up to $500 and the access door won't match your exterior. Replacing the pipes is no biggy.
I bought a kit from Inland RV for a previous Overlander I owned. It included the heater, aluminum panel, caulk and rivets. It was pricey but convenient.


Bryanhu 07-13-2003 10:45 AM

Thanks all for the replies. Food for thought anyway. I may give the unit I have a try and if a new one is decided upon, maybe a 6 gal would be in the picture.


Bryanhu 07-21-2003 06:42 PM

Replacing my hot water heater
With the interior gutted, I have decided to replace the water heater. I am going with the Atwood 6 gal gas only model. I assume this is a fairly easy task but have questions about the face plate. I do not know why I can't use the one from my old heater? Is there anyway to get around this or to modify my old cover to work?

Does the new Atwood protrude or something prohibiting me from using the old cover?

Thank you


Pick 07-21-2003 08:02 PM

I simply riveted the old door hinge to the new heater. I also had to "adjust" the flue, so it lined up with the opening in the door. Then I riveted the latches on.

59toaster 07-22-2003 08:12 AM

Re: Replacing my hot water heater

Originally posted by Bryanhu
With the interior gutted, I have decided to replace the water heater. I am going with the Atwood 6 gal gas only model. I assume this is a fairly easy task but have questions about the face plate. I do not know why I can't use the one from my old heater? Is there anyway to get around this or to modify my old cover to work?

Does the new Atwood protrude or something prohibiting me from using the old cover?

Thank you


PLEASE take pictures if you modify the door to fit the new heater. I'm in a simular boat. Our unit was pretty well convertetd to a park model as LP appliances failed. So I have a 110 water heater. I plan to convert it back. The camping I intend to do I will not always have 110 available.

I'm pretty sure I will go with the Atwood 6 gallon. It will get my wife and kids out of the shower faster. My wife can empty the 40 gallon gas at home. LOL

I'm still up in the air if I want to also have the 110v capability.

Silvertwinkie 07-22-2003 08:38 AM

I'd be inclined to replace while the coach is apart.


Forrest 07-22-2003 09:28 AM

Stay with the old one!
1 Attachment(s)
Is your old water heater a Bowen, and does it have the solid welded aluminum tank? If so, it is far superior to any of the new ones and well worth keeping. I kept mine and it is the best appliance in my Globe Trotter. I wouldn't go with the ten gallon heater because of the weight and it isn't necessary because the old one heats the water very quickly.

Here's a photo of the bare tank after I'd taken it out of its casing. It would be a sin to discard such a work of art.

Forrest 07-22-2003 09:34 AM

Keep the old
1 Attachment(s)
If your tank is the welded aluminum one, it is practically indestructable. All the rest of the heater is made of things that are easily replaced. The jacket or outer casing is just galvanized sheet metal and can be repainted or you can replace those parts that have rusted too badly. Here's a photo of mine after doing that, partially reassembled and with new fiberglass batting insulation.

Pick 07-22-2003 09:34 AM

My old one had a welded aluminum tank. It was completely rotted out on the bottom. Someone must have had some acidic water. The new one is also aluminum, 10 gallon, and has an electric element. It was a "pull out" from somones RV factory. Got it for $269 with a 1 year warranty.

Silvertwinkie 07-22-2003 09:51 AM

Those are some cool looking water heaters! :)


Bryanhu 07-22-2003 06:40 PM

You all are the best!
What a great forum!
You all are the best, I really appreciate the thoughts about my water heater.

After I saw the pictures Forrest added, I changed my mind-again. I went outside and popped the lid and the tank looks so clean - and retro! Wow, I love that. Last week, I had already removed and replaced the pilot light, and cleaned what I could see and now I am curious if it will work.

My biggest issue with this thing is I get a little overwhelmed becasue there is so much to do. I know what the answer is. Stay focused on one area/project at a time. I have replaced several inches of the bath floor and used the Rot Dr products which I am really happy with. The floor is rock solid. Help me stay focused everyone! Next issue will be to re-install the vents and pipes I removed to work on the floor.

My new black water tank from all-rite will be arriving this week and I will be dying wanting to get that in!.

Thank you all again. I always look forward to your thoughts.


Forrest 07-22-2003 11:40 PM

You're doing good work!
Sounds to me like you are on the right track. Everything you're going through is what most the rest of us have or are going through. So, hang in there, eat it one bite at a time.

While your tank is accessible be sure to give the interior a good cleaning. I discovered, after some trial and error, that the best way is to first flush it with lots of fresh water, then fill the tank with pure vinegar and cap all the outlets. Vinegar is pretty cheap. Then let the bare tank (filled with vinegar) sit in the hot sun for several days or even a week. After that, drain and flush. Don't be intimidated by what comes out. With a small flashlight shining in one inlet you can visually inspect the interior by looking in an outlet (and vice versa). You may want to repeat the process depending on the degree of mineral deposits and sediment. Then reassemble.

One of the PO's caulked the bottom of the jacket or casing, probably in an attempt to keep dirt and debris out of the fiberglass batting, but if you're tempted to do that don't! the bottom of the casing acts as a drain pan in case the tank starts to leak. A leak would hopefully drain to the outside of the trailer instead of pooling inside. When you reinstall check to make sure that the bottom is level or even a bit slanted to drain outward.

The tank is the same basic design as the new ones except that it must be lit manually. I don't see any reason why an old water heater couldn't be updated with electronic ignition if you wanted to go that way.

Good luck!


Lexxy 08-01-2003 02:33 PM

WH quandry...among others.
I would like to get in on this forum cuz we might be installing a WH in our '67 Safari ourselves. All we have is a hole in the wall and the gas pipe that comes to the stove. I don't know when the WH was taken out or where the gas line is to it. We have removed everything so we are starting from scratch and it's easy to get to.

I had an RV shop guy look at what it would be to make our plumbing workable and install one but he was concerned that there are water pipes that run right under where the WH goes. there are no valves in the pipes so I would have to cut them and add one. He said the pipes need to run above the WH.

How does the water line attach to a basic Atwood pilot unit? I downloaded the brouchure but it doesn't show them in place. I also need to know if I can "t " off the stove gas line for it and how that attaches. Can you solder gas lines just like water pipes? I've done that but they may need special solder or other requirements.

Does anyone have a picture on one in place. I have no idea how it sits in this hole in the trailer....or is supported. The shop guy said that he did think the airstream wall would hold the bolts that hold it in place but I have read where lots of folks install them. He said the wall would have to be reinforced.

I'm about to just boil water on the stove and take baths like in the old days!!! I can operate a stove!!!

thenewkid64 08-01-2003 02:56 PM

First issue is the opening in the skin. In the 60's the water heaters were huge. There is a retrofit kit that fills in the hole and makes it the right size for a 6 gallon attwod. If the hole is the right size for a 6 or 10 gallon attwod you are golden. :)

If the hole is the right size and you can set it on the floor the skin will support the heater fine. There are screw holes in the flange from atwood, airstream adds a screw in between each of theses factory holes. I have done 2 heaters myself and the inlet/outlet hookup was harder than mounting in the skin.

The water lines running under the heater are not an issue as long as the heater is not sitting on top of the lines. Most RV's including Airstream mount the water heater so it sits on the floor or 1/2 inch up on a peice of plywood. If you are mounting it in the big honking hole with a filler plate of new aluminum then you can position it up an inch or two and save a bit of work. If not then it's just copper pipe. Cut and sweat in new to route around or over the heater. The inlet and outlet fittings are on the back and are 1/2 inch threaded pipe inlets.

Gas, funny thing on gas in the older models, they ran it inside. Newer ones the tubing is all outside, so it is easy to tap into. I would try to follow the gas line from the stove back to where it joins the main line and tap in there. If the stove tube is 1/2 inch then you could just buy a flare T fitting and go from there to the stove and the water heater. both the stove and water heater are considered high volume users or propane, that is why you want to be in a prpoer size line.

Copper for gas should be 1 piece from connector to connector. I do not think soldering is a good idea on a gas line. 1/2 Flex copper tubing is not that costly and you will need a flare tool for the ends. You can get the tool and the flare nuts at home depot.

74Argosy24MH 08-01-2003 03:00 PM

Don't solder gas lines, you will never be able to work on them again without purging the system. A simple repair that can be made with a couple of wrenches will become a major headache.


hhuber 08-01-2003 03:32 PM

I am probably going to have to get a new water heater
in my '67. I think the one in it is the original but I'm not
sure. The door is the original and thats what I'm
worried about. I called Airstream customer service for
a recommendation for a service place. They reccomended
North Dallas RV. The person I spoke to was rude and
unknowledgeable. He insisted that there was no way
to modify the existing door and I would have to have a
big white door on my trailer. He was supposed to call
me back with info but never did.
Any solutions?? I want to retain the original door.


Forrest 08-01-2003 11:14 PM

Heater door

The design of the door goes with the heater. They can't be fitted to different brands. If you get a new water heater it will come with a white door, but that isn't too big an issue since you can either repaint the door silver or since it will probably be made of aluminum anyway you could strip the white paint off to bare metal. Older doors were anodized, but there are shops that do anodizing. However, I would recommend having a white door stripped and powder coated silver. It's not too expensive and the powder coating is a baked on, high temperature, durable finish.


My '66 Globe Trotter has it's gas lines attached to the underside of the pan. This was the original, factory fitting. The main line running underneath shouldn't ever be fitted inside your trailer, and the fittings to branch off lines to the stove, water heater, furnace, etc. should likewise be on the outside. This is to reduce the possibility of a gas leak filling the interior of the trailer. Better it leak outside for obvious reasons. Use flexible copper tubing with flare fittings. Don't over-tighten on flare fittings as you can pinch the copper tubing to the point that it splits, producing a leak. But making the connections is an easy DIY project. Reduce the possibility of kinking the lines by using a tube bending tool. These are coiled springs about a foot long that come in different diameters and slide over the tubing.

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