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Old 06-08-2004, 10:55 PM   #1
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Horror Story - Floor Replacement - Help

All, I recently took my trailer to an Airstream dealer in Buda, Tx (Camper Clinic) to replace a corner section of the floor. They quoted me $700 and when I went to pick it up it was absolutely horrible. We had discussed the accepted method of removing the rotted section back to the first frame cross members, notching the plywood around the original carriage bolts and sliding it in. What they did was remove the old flooring and replace the wood with pine 1x6's with some type of grey wood filler over the cracks. Additionally the technician decided to seal my trailer all around the beltlines with silicone caulking.

Needless to say I did not pay a single red cent and immediately left their dealership and hauled my trailer to another Airstream dealer in Denton, TX (North Dallas RV). I spoke with Randy (service manager) and he was about as amazed as I was at how they repaired the floor and that they had sealed all three beltlines with silicone. That's about a 100 feet of beltine in total with good old silicone. What the heck? Doesn't everyone, especially dealers know that silicone doesn't go on an Airstream? The dealer in Buda agreed to pay the $750 that North Dallas RV charged to remove it all. At least that's one positive thing Camper Clinic did....they owned up to royally screwing up.

While at North Dallas RV I asked them to repair the floor correctly ($370). They agreed to remove old carriage bolts, use correct flooring material, OSB or plywood, and use self tapping screws in the Aluminum U channel to put it back together. When I pick up the trailer I see that they have used MDF and that they say they notched around the old carriage bolts and slid it in. I advise them that MDF will expand and turn to mush if it ever gets wet and they say oh no, this is specially treated MDF and we will give you a 2 year warranty on the work. So I think ok, even if it does leak I'm covered.

So I drive back to Austin and spend the rest of Saturday and Sunday resealing every beltline on the trailer with Parbond (the right way). Monday it rains and low and behold the trailer leaks and the "specially treated" mdf expands and I realize oh no this is going to have to be done right, and it will probably be me that has to do it right.

This evening I decide it (new corner section of rear floor, MDF) has to be removed and I have to see where the leak is coming from. Turns out they never even notched the MDF to slide it under the Aluminum U channel. They used 3/4 inch and simply angled the edge to make it look like it went under. Additionally North Dallas RV complained about the clean up job that the Camper Clinic did stating they had just swept a lot of scrap into the belly pan and then sealed it up. He stated "but I went ahead and cleaned it all out for you and replaced the insulation". Guess what.......when I removed the floor tonight I now had both Camper Clinic's trash in there plus North Dallas RV's and I did not have new insulation. I hate it when I get lied to! Especially when someone trys to make someone else look bad and then does the same thing. I've taken lots of pictures of both repair jobs and plan to call North Dallas RV tomorrow and request my money back.

Ok enough ranting. I need someone with a lot of experience to help me determine if I really understand where this leak is coming from. Let me start by stating my understanding, from what I can see, of how the trailer in that section (rear wall) is stacked toghether:

1. Frame
2. Aluminum type angle iron, with sealant between it and frame
3. Plywood or OSB flooring
4. Aluminum U channel

I believe that the seal has been split between item #1(frame) & #2(aluminum type angle iron) and that water is entering the trailer at this section.

Am I correct that those two pieces are supposed to be sealed?

Joe
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Old 06-08-2004, 11:36 PM   #2
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Joe, leaks in Airstreams can be difficult to chase.
In my case, the leak was up high...way up high on the roof even though it was showing up at the floor.
I resealed with ParBond at every seam entry point on the roof for each vent, and resealed each vent for the black and gray tanks properly with seals and vulkem. Also, I resealed at each seam on the curved panels, and at each clearance light. Also where the awning rails attach to the body.
There is a limited number of points and seams that water can enter the coach and once they are all sealed, it won't leak.
Just because the water shows up at the floor doesn't mean that it is entering the coach at the floor level, or even at a point directly above the wet spot. Water can find a way to enter the coach at one point, find it's way to a rib, and then wick through insulation and wiring and framework to a point far removed from the enter point.
My recommendation is to seal everything you can think of and find to seal....and then hope that you have found all the possibilities.
Just my 2 cents....
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Old 06-08-2004, 11:36 PM   #3
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Can you post a few pictures? I would be wary of OSB, it swells and expands to, although not quite as much as MDF. I'm not sure about item #2 on your list, I don't remember seeing any angle on mine.
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Old 06-09-2004, 04:35 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Barkingspider
...Ok enough ranting. I need someone with a lot of experience to help me determine if I really understand where this leak is coming from. Let me start by stating my understanding, from what I can see, of how the trailer in that section (rear wall) is stacked together...
Joe,

After reading your original post, I leaned back in my chair, shook my head to clear it, and re-read the post. I still can not believe what happened to you at two different repair places. You have a right to rant.

Here's what I found/did on my Overlander to deal with this problem: Sealed all the aft, lower exterior seams with Parbond, and around the tail light assemblies with Vulkem. Although it still leaked , I could see water leaking down from the tail light assembies. New lense gaskets fixed that; Found it leaking at back-up lights; Fixed that. And of course it was leaking at the rooftop sewer vents.

All that fixed what was leaking directly on the floor. The last leak was a slow one dripping off the edge of the bathroom window shade. Sealing what appeared to be perfectly good seams on the curved part of the roof fixed that. So, if nothing else, do not trust that a seam does not leak simply on appearance. Apparently, when dealing with roof top seams, the better looking seams that are hard to reach will be the ones that leak the most

Any type of wood product will expand when it gets wet. MDF would be my next to last choice in spite of any warrantee offered (particle board is my last choice. In my opinion, OSB is the best, easily available choice for decking as it manufactured using water resistant glue. So I used that for decking instead of plywood. Other threads point out the existence of better materials (plastic decking, etc.), but none of that is easily available around here.

Good luck!
Tom
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Old 06-09-2004, 08:15 AM   #5
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Pictures of the two Floor Repairs

All - You asked for pictures. The first one is of the floor repair from Camper Clinic in Buda, TX. This repair got torn out by North Dallas RV. The second, third & fourth are of the floor repair from North Dallas RV in Denton, TX. Apparently "Factory Authorized" service center does mean a whole lot.

FYI - I've also sent a note to Airstream customer support regarding this. I'll let you all know what they say. Joe
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Old 06-09-2004, 10:54 AM   #6
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Joe,

I am SHOCKED at the repair done by N Dallas RV. I have never had any issues with them and have recommended them many times. Did you talk with Pat or Randy after the repair swelled? I would make sure they know about it and request they redo it. I am surprised that they would even consider MDF. Plywood is the only acceptable option. Good Luck!

Tripp
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Old 06-09-2004, 11:12 AM   #7
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Oh, What a horrible horrible experience!

Tom, do you know what is used in the glues for the OSB? I guess I mean what chemicals.

The recent delay we have and lots of rain have showed us new spots that leak. But the MOST discouraging is the leaking from the two new fantastic fans. I'm not talking about installation but with the manufacturing of them- anyone else had this problem?` This means taking them out after the very careful installation jobs, (read very time consuming), taking them to camper's world, re cleaning and re-installing. Very discouraging. suz
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Old 06-09-2004, 12:00 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by silver suz
But the MOST discouraging is the leaking from the two new fantastic fans. I'm not talking about installation but with the manufacturing of them- anyone else had this problem?` This means taking them out after the very careful installation jobs, (read very time consuming), taking them to camper's world, re cleaning and re-installing.

Have you called the Fantastic fan Warranty number. If there is a part needed or a problem with the fan they will move mountains to get the repair parts to you and will walk you through the process of installation of the parts or execution of the necessary repair.

I have had 5 of the fans and have never had a leak post installation with any of them. And I did the installs myself.
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Old 06-09-2004, 12:02 PM   #9
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The poor service you received is why I always try and do any repairs I can myself. Usually it means learning as I go with help from this list.

And when I can't do it like the tires, I make sure the repair shop knows at least what I do like the location of the jacking plates.

Good luck with your final repairs, but I bet to be right, your going to have to do it yourself....
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Old 06-09-2004, 12:20 PM   #10
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Looks like Camper Clinic used #2 pine for their repair and didn't even finish sealing the seams. Doesn't matter it wouldn't have worked anyway. Never heard of using MDF as flooring. What a botched job. Seems sometimes that no one really cares about pride in their work. It's what you can't see that can determine the quality of a persons work. These's aren't professionals: just hacks.The work speaks for itself. Doesn't Airstream have atraining program and standards for the people that service their products? If not, it's something that they should seriously consider.
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Old 06-09-2004, 01:00 PM   #11
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Thanks, Brett, we will do that. suz
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Old 06-10-2004, 08:09 AM   #12
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All - Looking into replacement plywood and have a question. The original flooring is 5/8 OSB with about 1/8 - 1/4 inch skimmed off of the thickness around the edge in order for it to fit under the aluminum U channel. How do I do that to the new piece of 5/8 in that I am going to stick in there? Looks like there is only room for about 1/2 inch or less under the U channel. Joe
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Old 06-10-2004, 11:22 PM   #13
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I purchased some 5/8 inch A-C grade exterior plywood this afternoon and plan to cut it to size this weekend. Will not screw it down until I'm satisfied I've found and fixed the leaks. Additionallly I removed the remainder of the floor that North Dallas RV had installed. It looked even worse under this piece. Basically a bunch of wood scrap and big mushy bunch of wet insullation in that section of the belly pan. The good news is there is basically no rust at all on the beams.

I also called Inland RV and ordered new vent pipe gaskets. I'll be resealing the TV antennae & bathroom fan this weekend and will redo the vent pipes probabably next weekend after the new ones arrive. Hopefully this will take care of any remaining leaks.
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Old 06-10-2004, 11:37 PM   #14
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You might look for more damage, the 5/8 OSB should fit into channel. Can you see frame crossmember or outrigger when you cleaned out trash from previuos repair to see if it is sagging or rusted. Just a thought.
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