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Old 09-04-2012, 11:53 AM   #1
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Outside shower upgrade

We have the standard outside shower on our 2001 SMB and we love being able to take hot showers after a day of fly fishing or hiking. But, a major frustration with the 2001-era SMB outside shower is that it uses hot and cold facets rather than a single facet. Thus, if you need to turn up the hot water, you also increase the overall water volume, thus using up more water. So, you end up trying to adjust the temperature of the water while also trying to control the volume so that you don’t end up running out of hot water.

I mentioned my frustration to Charlie56 recently, complaining that I couldn’t find a single-handle facet (where one handle controls the temperature) which would be small enough to fit in the space I had available in our existing shower box. Charlie asked why I didn’t use the current shower fixture used by SMB which is a single-handle fixture. Because I didn’t know SMB was using a different one!

Sportsmobile now uses the shower fixture manufactured by Bullfinch, an English company. It is called the External Shower Point, part No. 6088/01. Go to

http://www.bullfinch-gas.co.uk/index.ph ... t&Itemid=1

Although I did a Google search for this US distributor for this product without success, Charlie found this stateside supplier:

http://store.adventuretrailers.com/prod ... hower.html

Since I couldn’t find this supplier, I pleaded with SMB West who sold me the same fixture for the same price.

In installing this replacement shower, I wanted to keep my existing shower box (mounting the new fixture in the old shower box rather than cutting a new hole in the side of the van). I began by removing the old shower fixture and shower box. The existing hot and cold water supply pipes are PEX lines with ½” female pipe connectors. The “Whale” fittings which are supplied with the Bullfinch shower also terminate with ½” female pipe connectors. It thus seemed to me that it would be easy to connect the supply lines directly to the new Bullfinch unit using a pair of short ½ nipples.

However, after wasting a day or more on this simple approach, I finally realized that it wasn’t going to ever work. First, the existing cold and hot water lines were fabricated by SMB to connect to a shower fixture which was mounted at the bottom of the shower box. But the new shower fixture had to be installed closer to the middle of the box due to its size and higher up. These PEX lines are relatively inflexible and there was no way that they could be bent to match the Bullfinch inlets. Secondly, I discovered that, even with the Bullfinch fixture positioned as close to the shower door box as possible without interfering with the shower box door locking mechanism, the connections from the Bullfinch fixture ended up being less than a ½” from the interior wall of the van.

After doodling some different ideas, I came up with the idea of using ½” braided water supply lines which are typically installed between under-sink shut-off valves and water faucets. These lines can bend to a minimum radius of about 2”. But to fit them in, they needed to run from the existing supply line connections, through a 180 degree turn, through a hole in the interior wall of the van, and through another 180 degree turn and through another hole in the interior wall to connect to the shower. In our EB-50, this wall is in a storage area so having water lines run through it wasn’t an issue. The braided supply lines connect to the existing supply line connections and the shower connections via short ½” nipples. Here is the setup:



The existing supply lines are on the right while the new shower fixture will be mounted to the left of center.

As mentioned, the new shower fixture needed to be mounted as close to the door of the existing shower box as possible. I therefore cut a piece of white acrylic insert to fit inside the old shower box. The bottom and most of the sides of the old shower box were removed to allow room for the braided supply lines. After cutting a hole in the acrylic insert to mount the new shower fixture, I mounted the insert in the old shower box using a pair of ½”x1/2” aluminum angles pop-riveted in place. I then chalked the open holes and seams between the insert and the shower box to keep dust from getting into the van interior via the shower box.

I was then ready to connect the new shower to the braided water supply lines and check for leaks. After that step was successfully passed, I added some foam tape to the lip of the shower box (again to prevent dust from getting into the van) and screwed it back in place. Here is the final result:



I’d like to cut the hose between the shower controller and the shower wand and insert a long piece of hose with a couple of quick-connectors. This would let us use the shower without the need to stand so close to the van. But Bullfinch hasn’t responded to my e-mail question to them about the i.d. of their hose and I’m reluctant to cut the hose without knowing for sure that I can find the proper fittings to match the i.d. If anyone has done this successfully, please let me know.
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Old 09-04-2012, 12:43 PM   #2
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

Great job, Jack. With all that H2O and the new shower setup, you are going to be the cleanest SMBer at any function!

It's easy to insert an extension to any rubber/plastic hose. Don't worry about the ID. Some short piece of metal or rigid plastic tube will press in there and then you can use a couple of hose clamps or something cleaner if you can come up with it. Plastic is flexible and a good tight press fit may not need any clamps at all (this is not a high pressure situation). Plenty of hose available at hardware stores or certainly McMaster-Carr. I'll bet you can find a similar hose in bulk and just replace the whole thing.
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Old 09-04-2012, 01:07 PM   #3
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

Thanks Jeffrey...

I'll keep that in mind. We are headed out for a week or more in mid-month. I'll wait until we are back and then tackle the longer hose issue...
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Old 09-04-2012, 02:35 PM   #4
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

Great post, thanks! I've been thinking about adding an outside shower/water port to my 98 SMB. I had to remove the sink from the inside to add a second-row captain's chair for my son, and we miss having running water available. We still have the tank inside and all the plumbing, just no way to get water out of it currently, so we've been using a five-gallon portable water tank outside the van.

Having a hose like this would allow us to both shower and easily access water for kitchen duties, etc. I like that it doesn't require a big cutout like the old-style outside shower setup.
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Old 09-04-2012, 06:08 PM   #5
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

Jack,

Nice update to your shower (and your other mods as well). Jeffery is correct about the hose, any hardware or plumbing shop can hook you up with something that will work. The hose is most likely 13MM or about 1/2 inch which is very common. They make barbed connectors and other ways you can slice it to be longer but I agree with Jeffery that if at all possible just replace all of the hose with a new hose the length you want it to be.

Have fun on your travels.
...Jamie
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:10 PM   #6
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

The flat plate heater is great, but the temperature swings while taking a shower drove me nuts.
I went with a single valve on my shower, but I took a different approach. I added an adjustable tempering valve to the hot water line. You just leave the cold water off.
I also added an adjustable water pressure regulator. Even temperature with lower pressure.
You can see the photos on my gallery.

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Old 09-04-2012, 07:58 PM   #7
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

We have a regular hot water heater (V10 rather than diesel) so temperature swings aren't an issue. My friend Charlie 56 described adding a tempering valve in a post a couple of years ago...
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Old 09-08-2012, 12:16 PM   #8
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

Tom, what brand/model did you use for your tempering valve and pressure regulator?

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Old 09-16-2012, 05:06 PM   #9
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Re: Outside shower upgrade

Hi David,
The water pressure regulator is a WATTS H560 with gauge. It was around $50.
The tempering valve is a Symmons 5-120-NT 1/2". I found it on ebay for $35.

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Old 10-27-2012, 05:02 PM   #10
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Outside shower upgrade

Jack - smb just installed the same shower for me yesterday. It's leaking already from the mixed dial. Any issues with yours?
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