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Open Roads Forum  >  Tech Issues

 > Water Heater Gas Supply Line

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ngiovas

Clarkston, Michigan

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Posted: 04/11/20 10:06am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I recently purchased a 1987 Ajilon 33' travel trailer. The propane hot water heater appears to be the original (or nearly as old) and has completely rusted out. I purchased a 6 gallon Suburban direct ignition water heater to replace it, but the original gas supply line that goes from the back of the tank to the front has different fittings and would also require a different bend at the front.

Does anyone know where I can purchase a new supply line? I have searched online, but can't find anything. Is this something I will have to make on my own (I have never made a flared fitting)? I was hoping I could just buy something pre-made. If I have to make it, can anyone confirm what the fitting sizes are? It appears that the one in the rear of the heater is a male 3/8" npt (not positive) and the fitting that would attach to the new heater at the front appears to be a female 3/8" fitting.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Nick

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Posted: 04/11/20 10:29am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You have to say what the old water heater model is exactly, and the exact model of the new one.

When I replaced a fridge in a TC we had, the gas line would not reach, much the same as your situation. I think you are not supposed to do this (use rubber instead of brass), but I made up a connection using a "rubber" hose for a BBQ and changed the ends on it. Got the connection parts at a plumbing store that also sells gas bits and pieces. You need to include a shut- off valve with the connection bits and pieces if the heater does not have its own.

Note the hole in the water heater where the brass gas supply pipe comes out front needs to be sealed so gas can't get back into the rig. There are installation manuals on-line if you didn't get one with the new heater.


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Dick_B

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Posted: 04/11/20 10:31am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Are you sure the heater you bought is an exact replacement for the old one which probably would not have DSI (Direct spark ignition) and will it fit in the same hole?


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ScottG

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Posted: 04/11/20 11:08am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The gas line generally goes through the floor and down to a black iron pipe. You could disconnect it at the pipe and run a new line or simply use the approriate fitting to splice onto the old brass line and lengthen it.


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ngiovas

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Posted: 04/11/20 11:17am Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Sorry for the lack of details. The label on the original water heater is torn and I can't read the manufacurer's name, and the rest is completely unreadable. It is a much older model with a cardboard case with fiberglass insulation between the cardboard and the tank.

Here is a photo of the original heater:


[image]

The new tank is a Suburban SW6DWE 6 gallon and is the same dimensions. I was already able to test fit it in the original location and it is a direct fit. The water fittings on the back also align. The location of where the gas supply line is run along the side of the heater is the same. The difference is that the connection on the new heater is male instead of female like the old one and the new one is at a 45 degree angle instead of 90 degrees like the old one.

Here is what the new one looks like:

[image]

I found a video on Youtube showing them replacing an older model just like mine with a newer Suburban model and they reference that you will need to swap the older style gas supply line with a newer one, but they don't say anything about where to get one or if you need to make one. The installer simply states "I have already changed the gas supply line".

ngiovas

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ScottG wrote:

The gas line generally goes through the floor and down to a black iron pipe. You could disconnect it at the pipe and run a new line or simply use the approriate fitting to splice onto the old brass line and lengthen it.


I would like to connect to it where it comes up through the floor. The old one is the right length, but has the wrong fitting on the water heater end. I am just trying to figure out if I can buy this line, or if I need to make a new one. It seems like it is a pretty common connection.

ScottG

Bothell Wa.

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Posted: 04/11/20 12:15pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

ngiovas wrote:

ScottG wrote:

The gas line generally goes through the floor and down to a black iron pipe. You could disconnect it at the pipe and run a new line or simply use the approriate fitting to splice onto the old brass line and lengthen it.


I would like to connect to it where it comes up through the floor. The old one is the right length, but has the wrong fitting on the water heater end. I am just trying to figure out if I can buy this line, or if I need to make a new one. It seems like it is a pretty common connection.


There are lines used to make flexible connections to residential water heaters and furnaces but they aren't designed for the rigors of RV use - or at least, I've never seen them in one.
The safest bet is to make up a new line. Some old hardware stores still sell flexible 3/8's line by the foot. They may even be willing to flare the ends for you and direct you to the correct style of coupling. It bends pretty easy if done slowly and with care making sure to stop if it starts to kink.

EDIT: I see the old line takes a pretty sharp turn getting to the WH fitting. You shold be able to save that section and splice it back togeher. Or, you could use some brass fittings to make those sharp turns.

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Posted: 04/11/20 01:44pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It doesn't sound like you've ever worked with tubing before. You'll need tubing cutter and flaring tool and maybe a tube bender. You can bend the tubing as needed but if you're not familiar with it, you could kink it and have to start over after cutting off the kinked section and adding a new piece on.

If you don't have the tools, get in touch with propane dealer and see if they can help you.


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ngiovas

Clarkston, Michigan

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Posted: 04/11/20 03:21pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for all of the input. It sounds like making up a new line is the way to go. I will confirm the fitting size at the water heater and then see if I can get the tubing locally. I imagine that if the local hardware store doesn't have it, one of the big box stores probably will. With everything on lockdown around here, I will likely have to wait a bit before going to look for the parts.

I am looking forward to not having to light the pilot each time I plan to stay in the trailer. Hope to test it out soon.

thanks again,
Nick

DFord

Near St Louis, MO

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Posted: 04/11/20 03:37pm Link  |  Quote  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

The tubing size is 3/8". The new heater probably has a 3/8" male flare connection meaning you'll need tubing with a 3/8" flare nut and flare at the end of the tubing. You'll need someway of connecting the original tubing to the replacement unless you have enough tubing left after you cut off the old connecting nut.

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