The Girard was deliberately designed to be as inexpensive as possible. Bulkhead fittings to secure the water inlet and outlet to the case would have cost far more than a nickel.
Far more than a nickel when you buy only 1, but not when you buy thousands. By the way, it's not inexpensive in any stretch of the word.
Ever looked to see what the hot water fitting actually attaches to?
You should, because the only thing giving it any structural strength is the 1/4" copper tube coming from the heat exchanger. That small copper tube has to support the overheat dump valve and the 12" or so of 3/4" copper tube that has the water line fitting on it, and the water line itself.
It's a extremely poor design when you consider the amount of force and vibration that it will have to endure while running down the road.
labor cost? I doubt adding a couple sheet metal screws would collapse their profit margin.
I'm curious did I get one built by some of those infamous Indiana rv assemblers? Or did anyone else have a red and 2 black wires when the instructions indicated there should be a red, black, and green one coming out (green for the hi low switch)? And wheres that optional orange wire at? I bought the winterized one, and all I got was a water solenoid in a bag bouncing around in the unit (really? a $100 for a water solenoid??). Hopefully it isnt the reason the squirrel cage motor sounds like it's out of balance.
Another curiosity, anyone else's have the over heat dump valve situated directly above the electrical controls? When I put a new pipe in, that has a bulkhead connector I will move the dump valve to the other side of the unit.
I plan to add a thermal switch so it can automatically switch to low or high rather than me guessing what it needs to be set to each time I use it. Bit of an eye opener when the water goes from tasty warm to freezing and you still have soap in your hair.
just as a clarification, I spun the fitting and internal pipe as I was taking the hot water line back off to see why it had a slow drip. I didnt know it had spun until I saw the 1/4" tube wrapped around the main pipe. surprisingly the solder joint held, unfortunately the 1/4" pipe wrapped flat when the big pipe spun around. But it gives me the incentive to improve the design. Shouldnt take much.
Reading RV USA's comments I have to reply with some information/facts:
1. The Winter Use Device (WUD) consists more than just the solenoid. With your unit you should have received 2 Manuals; GSWH-1 Manual and the GSWH-1 Winter Use Device (WUD) Manual. The wiring of the WUd is in that manual.
2. I'm not sure what you mean by the "heat dump" but I think you mean the P/T valve. It will not leak/weep like a tank water heater and if it does activate it will not harm the eletrical....it is CSA approved. BTW - if it does weep/leak it is defective and should be replaced.
3. On tightening the water lines....we mention in the manual and on a label located next to the fittings not to "over-tighten". The plate attached to the fittings has slots in it to keep the fitting in place.
4. The design is durable. It was tested in actual use and on the Bendix test track in Indiana. The test consisted of a 1,000 mile run over their track with bumps, etc. They equate the test to a 75,000 mile actula use. It passed with no damage. Also, we have yet to have any damage (after installation) from use in the field. We have been out for 3 years and thousands of units in use.
5. On the wires, your are right, it may be confusing. We changed to a green wire for ther Mode switch (it was a black wire with a white tag). Unfortunately the correct manuals got mixed up so some units were shipped indicating the wrong color wire....for that we apologize.
6. On the High/Low Mode switch. We use to have a sensor which automatically selected High or Low. Over whelming feedback from consumers was they preferred the High/Low option rather than depending on it doing it automatically. Keep in mind you are making "instant" hot water so a consistant Water FLow/Pressure will give you a steady water temperature....not an automatic sensor since that is dicated by the incoming water temperature....you have 27,000 BTUS on Low and 34,000 BTUs on High.