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Old 10-26-2009, 02:39 PM   #1
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how much rot is too much rot?

I'm in the process of "gutting" my '78 Sovereign and discovered two areas on the subfloor under the front sofa that are rotted. I pushed a screwdriver into one area and a swarm of ants came out, not termites, ants. The other area seemed to have the same type of damage. I didn't see any water spots.

Anyway, both areas are about 4 to 5 inches square. Can I cover them, or do I need to remove the entire section of subfloor?
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Old 10-26-2009, 02:44 PM   #2
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First find the leak. The ants will not live in dry wood.

Then replace the floor. If it is a small area and not structural you might consider cutting it back to GOOD WOOD and putting a shelf around the edge, screwed and glued to the underside of the floor and then dropping in a patch to level thing out.
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Old 10-26-2009, 04:51 PM   #3
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Wouldn't the "Rot Doctor" product work well for small areas?

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Old 12-13-2009, 11:35 AM   #4
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I've discovered more rotted wood. I guess "cutting back to good wood" is not the best thing to do here, right? I don't know. Trying to educate myself on this.

My other concern is how is water getting in? Well, it doesn't appear that the battery access doors are sealed in any way. I can see light coming through when I shine a flashlight up to it. Also, the banana wraps have gaps...seems like water could get in there too? What's the best way to seal all this?
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Old 12-13-2009, 11:37 AM   #5
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here are the pics...







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Old 12-13-2009, 12:06 PM   #6
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The battery access door is not supposed to be sealed. It has to vent the fumes that come off the batteries, otherwise you have a bomb in there.

Now that is not to say that the battery box itself has not lost it's seal to the body. Look inside the box and look from the inside of the trailer around the box.

Other places to check for front floor leaks are the windows just above and the seal on the banana strip outside. Most likely you will find the insulation under the floor is wet and that is the source of water for the ants between rains.
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Old 12-13-2009, 01:05 PM   #7
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Quote:
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I'm in the process of "gutting" my '78 Sovereign and discovered two areas on the subfloor under the front sofa that are rotted. I pushed a screwdriver into one area and a swarm of ants came out, not termites, ants. The other area seemed to have the same type of damage. I didn't see any water spots.

Anyway, both areas are about 4 to 5 inches square. Can I cover them, or do I need to remove the entire section of subfloor?
Bad window gaskets, bad vent cover gaskets, warped entrance door, bad entrance door gaskets, missing rivets on the roof, leaky vists view windows, leak stack windows, can all contribute to the water damage your Airstream has.

The battery compartment covers, are supposed to be sealed so that exterior water cannot enter the trailer.

Andy
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:03 PM   #8
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The battery compartment covers, are supposed to be sealed so that exterior water cannot enter the trailer.
Maybe under the Airstream badge. It seemed my '74 Argosy was open at the top of the door for hydrogen venting purposes. The battery sat in an aluminum tray sealed to the side of the internal plastic battery enclosure .... until that seal aged and the floor rotted out from under the aluminum tray. I'm willing to admit that this was a Versailles, OH, oddity...
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the advice. Additional question...can i apply some sort of sealant around the banana wraps and other areas? THey are a couple of area on the exterior aluminum that have a slight dent where seams meet. Inside the trailer in those areas are where I'm seeing floor rot. Could I apply a sealant or something?
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:31 PM   #10
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Oh, and I'm replacing all the window and door gaskets/seals. Haven't looked into this just yet, but I'm wondering if this is an item I can purchase at a home improvement store. Buld-type seal or something. Or, does it have to be an Airstream OEM seal?
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:39 PM   #11
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Don't use hardware store gaskets. Contact maybe Out of Doors Mart, Inland or VintageTrailerSupply.com.
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Old 12-13-2009, 02:43 PM   #12
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Against aluminum use only butyl caulks like Sikaflex 221. Vulkem is another popular choice. Silicone is an absolute no-no! It sticks like heck where it sticks and unpredictably doesn't seal other areas at all.

We've seen problems with beltline & rubrail rivets being sources of leaks. But the bigger problem area is getting a good quality seal at the back bumper.
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Old 12-13-2009, 03:02 PM   #13
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The ants coming out of the wood could be carpenter ants. They harvest cellulose wood fiber to feed their colony. I have seen them as high as second floor roof eating the wooden roof sheathing. The best way to eliminate them is to purchase ant control poison designed for "Carpenter Ants" It is not a spray like traditional insect poisons but rather poisoned bait pellets that they eat and carry back to the colony where it consumed by other ants and the queen which eliminates the ants. The destruction they cause looks like dry rot. They burrow just under the surface of the wood chewing and carrying off the softer wood fibers so the wood eventually becomes soft and punky. So there may be more damage that is not as evident. Best thing is to eliminate the ant problem which will stop further damage. The good news is that generally they will remain concentrated in one area and spread that area only as they consume the wood.
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Old 12-16-2009, 05:28 PM   #14
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Ok, I'm going to replace all the window gaskets and look for any seam separation. Now, back to the floor...I have a service manual for my model, and it actually lists instructions for repairing rotted/damaged subfloor spots. If I'm reading it correctly, it recommends only cutting out the rotted areas and splicing in new. Is this a good idea? Again, if I'm reading it correctly, the instructions say to cut 4-inch wide pieces the length of the area you've removed and secure them under the existing subfloor allowing for a 2-inch "lip" into the open area. Then, lay your new piece in securing it to these strips you cut. Would love to do whatever is easiest and quickest. Any thoughts on doing this instead of replacing an entire area/section?
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