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.