Fixing the Airstream’s plumbing

My view today is all about the broken water system in my Airstream. Life with a vintage trailer mean occasional repair jobs, and refurbishment. We’ve gotten away with not having to do anything for a couple years, but this winter I didn’t get all the water out of the pipes, I got lazy because I always keep a spaceheater running in there. Unfortunately the GFI plug switched off, the heater stopped running, and the pipes froze and cracked. So now I need to get it all fixed in time for our next camping trip in May. So I began with an inspection of the system.

Here is the waterpump. The freshwater tank is on the right, and a variety of different types of hoses come from the tank outlet, through a drain valve I’ve never had cause to use, through a little filter (which I have never messed with) to the water pump inlet. The pump goes out through another hose which connects up to copper pipe. There are two drains that allow you to drain the tank out onto the ground, or to fill the tank when the trailer is hooked to city water.

The copper pipe runs back behind the couch, I have already pulled out the city water hookup because it leaked.

The pipe goes straight back to the bathroom closet. where it T-s off to go to the toilet. The brass connector is a ‘gatorbite’ I tried to use to connect PEX to the old copper but it still leaks. The cause of all my problems.

The piece that goes to the toilet connects to a small bit of PEX my friend Darol installed when he put the new toilet in for me a few years ago.

The main pipe continues under the shower and comes out on the other side of the trailer, where it T-s to the water heater. There is also a drain which drains to the ground. There is a T right before the drain which splits off two cold water lines for the sink.

The hot and cold pipes come up in the front corner of the cabinet and split off in two directions – one goes around the front of the sink, one goes around the back…I had a leak in one of these pipes on our big OK trip and it was a real bear to fix!

And they come back to nearly the same place, because the bathroom sink has two faucets – one for the sink, and one with a hose that goes up to the shower head.

Theres also hot and cold pipes continuing on to the kitchen.

And they go right up to the faucet. I’ve messed with these pipes before when I replaced the faucet a few years ago.

So I think a simplified plumbing layout without the ‘city water’ hookup would look something like this. I don’t have a problem with losing that hookup because we never used it anyway. I prefer to get all my water out of the freshwater tank and refill it every few days when necessary – we rarely stay anywhere long enough to worry about that. This might be over simplified, I’m still doing some research.

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