Adding an overflow to a bathtub without one.

A friend asked me if he can add an overflow to a bathtub in a trailer home. Many of these trailer bathtubs never had an overflow, which I am aware. His elderly mother has memory loss and is constantly overflowing the tub in her trailer. I suggested just replacing the tub with a standard one from a house, but she's got little income. I considered trying to find a used one, but it turns out her tub is quite a bit shorter and much lower than the regular ones. That is also common in trailer houses. (I guess people who live in trailers are smaller) :) To change to a standard tub would require ripping apart the whole bathroom, and the water heater behind the tub would not likely fit afterwards. These trailers just dont have enough room.
Anyhow, her tub is either made of thin steel coated with porcelin, or some sort of material like a fiberglass. I cant seem to tell and will have to take off the panel under it to see for sure. If I had a magnet when I was there I could have seen if it was steel too.
Anyhow, the thought is to cut a hole and install an overflow, but I already know the pipes will need to be shortened on the overflow, and the overflow will have to be placed almost at the top edge of the tub or it wont hold much water.
Has anyone ever cut one of these tubs? I'm most worried about the porcelin chipping off. Any tips to cut the hole?
But I have another thought. Does anyone make any kind of sensor that shuts off the water when it gets to a preset level? That would be a much simpler method than cutting a hole and then trying to pipe it under the trailer (pain in the butt working under them).
Thanks for all help.
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On 8/29/2011 1:42 AM, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

If the tub is made of steel you can use a good quality hole saw. Milwaukee is a good choice. Don't even think about using any of the cheap saws. They will pretty well guarantee a disaster. I've installed a few fiberglass tubs and showers. Fiberglass can be drilled with a hole saw as well. Either way, just take you time. Don't try to force your way through. As they say let the machine do the work.
Use a few drops of oil to lubricate the saw teeth if it's a steel tub. I've cut holes in steel much thicker than what the tub is made of without any problem. Just take your time.
You can buy PVC drain kits that have all the parts you need. The kits are universal, the pipes can be cut to fit just about any application.
Typically the drain covers are somewhat larger than the hole required for the drain. There' s some forgiveness. If you take out a 1/8 "chip the cover will likely hide it.
You could probably score a porcelain surface first by running the drill in reverse and and very lightly pressing the saw into the surface until you have cut a ring through the porcelain.
LdB
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On Mon, 29 Aug 2011 07:12:24 -0700, Smitty Two

The plumbing is in an open walled enclosure where the water heater closet, so that would be fairly easy to access, versus the drain which would mean going under the trailer cutting the belly insulation, etc.
However, I like the idea of the battery powered audio alarm. The lady is forgetful, but not a total zombie. She just tends to turn on the water and go elsewhere in the house to cook or whatever, and loses track of time. She's completely flooded the house several times. An alarm going off when the water is a few inches below the top would be ideal. Seems easy to install, and not too costly. Where can such a device be purchased?
Thanks
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I think rather than adding an overflow, a high water alarm might be your better choice.
Using Google I searched for "high water alarm" without the " "
This looks like the least expensive option I found:
http://www.homedepot.com/buy/plumbing/pumps/basement-watchdog/battery-operated-water-alarm-41623.html
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On Aug 28, 11:42 pm, snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

This is interesting! I have a deep fiberglas tub w/o an overflow in my bathroom (a house, not a trailer). Often wondered what would happen if I dozed off in the tub. (I saw it happen with a relative years ago; fortunately woke them up in time.)
I wouldn't want to put a lot of money into such a project; we take very few baths; maybe in the "dead of winter" such as it is here. Just wondered if fiberglas is amenable to such treatment, so if you find out what the lady's tub is made of, I'll watch for your post..
HB
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snipped-for-privacy@myplace.com wrote:

Float switch?
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Bob F wrote:

Tres cool :)
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