When we purchased Lucille from Morehead, KY we were very confident that our 1976 28 foot Center Bath Airstream Argosy was the way we wanted to go. We had always liked the “center bath” design since our Argosy came with front and back panoramic windows. We also, didn’t want to be walking through the bedroom to go to the bathroom. But what we didn’t know, what we never could have foreseen, was the gift that the center bath gave us.
The 28 foot 1976 Argosy Center Bath has two tanks in the center of the frame. One is the Black Water Tank, and the other is the Gray Water Tank. They are both located in the center of the frame. Now let me digress for a minute…
The Belly Pan is riveted to the frame of the older Airstreams. (I imagine they still do that on new ones also) The problem with this is that Tin and Steel don’t necessarily get along. For example, when using a bare steel with a zinc rivet, the ratio of the cathode surface area to the anode surface area can be large, and the rivet will fail rapidly because of accelerated corrosion. This is why most Frames underneath the Belly Pan have the most rust, and belly pans fall off. So I’ve read.
Ah, but I digress. The “center bath” has a unique build to it. There are two galvanized metal pans that are bolted to the frame with the Belly Pan tucked under the galvanized metal. It is NOT touching the frame. You can see from the picture on the right, those pans underneath the tanks take up almost the entire length of our Argosy. When I first was ready to take the belly pan off, the whole center of our Argosy’s belly pan was in really good condition and the frame underneath the bathroom was in really good condition. In fact, the two metal pans holding the tanks in were bolted to the frame and strong enough to almost stand it. I said “almost”. To take the belly pan off, I would have had to remove both metal pans since the belly pan was tucked underneath the pans. In other words, the center of our Argosy had the belly pan bolted into the frame, with NO rivets.
I am posting this because in my humble and newbie opinion, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I have since taken the Black Water Tank out and have sprayed the metal pan with Rust-Oleum Leak Seal Flexible Rubber Sealant. The bolts are strong with barely any rust, and bottom of the center frame was in very good condition. I believe that the “28 foot center bath” argosy’s helped in preventing additional frame rust underneath. Without the belly pan touching the steel frame, it never oxidized and prevented the frame from rusting. I was even amazed that there was NOT a lot of water damage under the bathroom floor. In fact, the sub-floor was in really good shape. For this point, I believe the Argosy’s Center Bath may hold a bit of an advantage over the rear bathrooms. OR, I’m completely loosing my mind after 4 months of renovation. Ariane would probably vote for the latter.
Here is a picture of the Black Water Tank completely removed with the Metal Pan bolted to the frame that is still in place. We are going with a composting toilet so we removed the tank, (it was 40 years old anyway and nasty). So, what to do with a metal pan bolted to the frame? I vote…WINE CELLAR. Ah, but I digress…again.