Bowen Hot Water Heater Covers

Hot Water Heater Covers

Some 1950′s-1960′s trailers have had their Bowen hot water heater covers removed in past HW heater replacements, and the installer failed to reuse the Bowen cover, installing the modern flimsy painted cover instead. To help restorers fabricate, or have sheet metal shop fabricate one for them, I’ve started collecting a series of pictures on the 3 styles of Bowen covers – plus some thoughts on fabrication.


Style 1


An exploded view of a similar one from ebay showing the parts. There is a square chunk cut from the upper closeout plate. The top drip cap/retainer is shown at the bottom.


Side view of the chimney side


Reproducing a cover


End result (reusing old data plate)


Another view


Dimensions of the chimney from the side (lower access door removed)


and front


Close up view of the upper closeout plate and retainer (drip cap) detail


View with the bottom access plate removed


View looking up the chimney with the lower access plate removed. On a new heater replacement, the exhaust pipe would not be present. Instead, the heater exhaust would direct to the opening in the lower access plate and would exit at the top of the chimney.


View of the back side of the lower access plate and the cutout for the exhaust.


One of the 2 Camlocks that holds the lower access plate installed


Dimensions of the lower access plate (perforated aluminum)

Most any sheet metal shop can fabricate one from novelty and perforated aluminum stock on a Pan Brake from these pictures and dimensions from your trailer opening. They also have sources to get the unique rolled aluminum. Extrusions for the opening surround are available from Hoskin & Muir.


Example 2 (courtesy of Herb Spies)




Here’s what Herb did to get a newer 6 gallon suburban water heater to fit the space of the old Bowen:

  1. cut a hole in the old cover to get to the valve (lower image)
  2. add an extension to the new Suburban exhaust for the exhaust to go into the old Bowen chimney
  3. patch the old gap (under the new vent)
  4. installed a piano hinge on the front side of the chimney so as to easily gain access to the gas valve when lighting the heater
  5. patched the open space around the newly mounted Suburban with aluminum as the new heater is much smaller than the old Bowen.

Example 3 (courtesy of Scott & Megan)



This is a really ingenious install that reutilized the old cover mounted on a hinged door.


Style 2



View with the lower access plate removed


With the cover entirely removed showing the heater, which was inserted from the outside and the flanges sealed into the openings. You can also see the big old heater exhaust – the reason for the larger external HW heater shrouds.



Front view of the lower access door – made from perforated aluminum formed into the shape of a pan on all four sides, except the top has a lip – see next photo.


Backside. Almost any latch mechanism can be adapted to hold it in place. The top has a lip shown here that tucks into the shroud opening.


Style 3


This was a newer Bowen with the smaller opening replaced with a 6 gallon Suburban. The chimney was missing, so the white cover supplied with the new heater was painted silver, and the old cover was flipped upside down to form a closeout of the space around the newer (& smaller) heater.


Most any sheet metal shop can fabricate from novelty and perforated aluminum stock on a Pan Brake from these pictures and dimensions from your trailer opening. Extrusions for the opening surround are available from Hoskin & Muir.


Check out this replacement of a bowen HW heater with a new Atwood:

http://www.ldservice.com/tim/airstream/wacky_water_heater.htm

The same concept would also work for the older style covers too. Reinstall it back on instead of the the cheapy replacement.