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Old 11-26-2013, 09:56 PM   #1
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Roof Rust and Leaks

Hello! & thanks in advance for the help.
I have a 2004 Interstate that I picked up this year. On the trip home from buying it in January the roof leaked and because I was on the road had to get the work done at camping world. Well 6 tubes of Dicor and $700 later I was driving down the road just happy with not having to deal with roof issues for some time. I was wrong, last week as the first rains came to my area so did the leak.

At first I thought the new leak might be from the fridge vent. After getting on the ladder, looks like it could be the seam that runs across the width of the roof area in the front area of the AC unit. I am just not sure this is an area that can cause leaks but the seam has developed rust along its groove. In fact the other seam towards the front of the roof also has rust developing.

Does anyone know what I should do? Is this seam part of the original structure or is it something Airstream added when doing the roof? I am concerned because the rust runs down the seam groove all the way into the paint. Would using Etrnabond tape over the seam and rust solve the leak problem. Would using Etrnabond even be recommended on the metal roof with rust. I don't believe the roof has rubber but i could be wrong. I know once you use Etrnabond it is nearly impossible to take it off, so I have make sure access to the seams is never needed. After I figure out the roof I am going to tackle the rust on the paint.

One last question, how long should a new Dicor job last. Mine was done in January and now Dicor has visible cracks around the roof fan and roof rack bases. I am getting up on the ladder tomorrow to spot patch with Dicor.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:35 AM   #2
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Does anyone know what I should do? Is this seam part of the original structure or is it something Airstream added when doing the roof? I am concerned because the rust runs down the seam groove all the way into the paint. Would using Etrnabond tape over the seam and rust solve the leak problem. Would using Etrnabond even be recommended on the metal roof with rust. I don't believe the roof has rubber but i could be wrong. I know once you use Etrnabond it is nearly impossible to take it off, so I have make sure access to the seams is never needed. After I figure out the roof I am going to tackle the rust on the paint.
The seam is factory original. So is the whole roof, for that matter, except for openings such as for vents, a/c, and antenna leads. Most likely the corrosion came from leaves, pollen, and other detritus from trees collecting in the seam and trapping water. Newer models don't have that seam.

If it was me, I'd take it to a body shop to get the rusting metal (and leaks) taken care of, and THEN put Eternabond tape over it when the body shop was done with it to keep detritus from collecting in the future.

If you elect not to go to a body shop, the thing to do is to remove the rust and paint to a condition called "near white metal." Get a professional welder to build up the seam with weld metal; welding thin sheet metal like an automotive body panel is not something for an amateur to attempt. The weld metal not only fills any leaks, but it fills any pitting from the rust.

You can't properly weld painted metal; that's why the paint has to come off around the seam as well. Then, when the seam has been rewelded, you can repaint with a matching automotive paint. When the paint has properly cured, then you can Eternabond the seam if you choose, but you shouldn't have to. In other words, you'll have to do what the body shop would have done.
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Old 11-27-2013, 08:55 AM   #3
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I am not too familiar with Interstates, but I would try the least invasive (and cheapest) remedy first. This is what I would do. Clean up the rust as best you can. Spray the seam with aerosol rust treatment. Go over the seam with Silkaflex or Alcoa Gutter Seal.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:06 AM   #4
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I am not too familiar with Interstates, but I would try the least invasive (and cheapest) remedy first. This is what I would do. Clean up the rust as best you can. Spray the seam with aerosol rust treatment. Go over the seam with Silkaflex or Alcoa Gutter Seal.
There is that option, I suppose, but what a way to treat a Mercedes!

The seam is actually a welded joint between steel body panels, so I didn't even consider treating it like a riveted trailer seam. Guess I've got tunnel-vision in my old age.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:13 AM   #5
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Don't even think about welding the roof. You would have to remove the inside and all the insulation so that you do not set it on fire. Also you would need access to the inside so that you could hammer weld the joint to keep it from warping. Any long seam like that will warp all over the place if you just laid a weld bead on it. Clean it up, paint it and put on some tape sealant and your done.
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Old 11-27-2013, 09:21 AM   #6
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I would also opt for the rust remove & tape option.

I've had very good results with 3M Extreme Sealing Tape.

I used it on the Skylight, FF Vents and two sections of the awning rail.

Good Luck....

Bob
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:01 AM   #7
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Don't even think about welding the roof. You would have to remove the inside and all the insulation so that you do not set it on fire. Also you would need access to the inside so that you could hammer weld the joint to keep it from warping.
Forgot about that part. You would have to dismantle the interior in that area first. Never mind, then.

The next option (since I still hate the idea of a taped seam on the exterior of a Mercedes) is the bodyshop's best friend, red lead putty, which despite it's name doesn't contain red lead anymore. AKA "spot putty" and "Bondo." Not only used by body shops, but also by boatbuilders and pipefitters, and can be painted to match the original finish. But you still have to remove all the rust, and any paint adhering to the rust, before applying the putty, in order to get good adhesion between putty and metal.
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Old 11-27-2013, 10:09 AM   #8
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I have redone seams like that as part of automotive restoration. Typically we cleaned them out to bare metal, used small amounts of filler to smooth out the pits, then primed, used a self leveling sealant that could be painted.

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Old 11-27-2013, 10:09 AM   #9
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It seems that earlier sprinters have rust problems. I see a lot of first gen commercial units locally with rust streaks coming from the rear door windows, side windows and rocker panels.

I suggest checking out the T1N forums at Sprinter forums for more info.

T1N Talk - Sprinter-Forum
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