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Old 12-08-2011, 08:49 PM   #1
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Leaks and Floor Rot in '91 34' Limited

I'm starting a new thread to document my leaks and floor rot in my 1991 Limited and the approach that I'll be taking to diagnose and repair this issue. This thread will be very similar to the thread "Lots of Rotten Floor" thread by HiHoAgRV http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...oor-54952.html and probably numerous other threads. However I'm doing the thread in an effort to add to the body of knowledge and to enlist the helpful suggestions of others.

I'll be adding pictures as I go. One difficulty that I face is the fact that winter is setting in here in Wichita, KS. However, probably with some luck, I can continue working a good number of days until I can at least tow my trailer back to the storage lot in good enough sealed up condition to be water tight until the spring when I can continue work.
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:24 PM   #2
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OK, now for some of the first pictures. BTW, I believe in taking and using photographs as a tool that allows one to not only document the situation, but I can study and think about how I want to approch the repair after dark, on a bad weather day, etc. Also, I have taken a number of detail photographs to show me how things came apart and to be helpful when putting things back together again.

Also, one thing that I feel bad about is that I have owned this trailer for six years and have used it very little and have not adequately kept tabs on things like roof caulking, etc. But sometimes, events overtake us and we just need to make the best of it and move forward.

OK, here's the first photo, the evidence of the floor rot which allowed mice easy access to the trailer (Oh Happy Day ... NOT).
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Old 12-09-2011, 10:24 AM   #3
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Hello and welcome to Airforums.com, Steve! You can look forward to finding answers here to just about any question you can think of.

We look forward to seeing your saga of the rotting floor. No, you're not the first, but there's always a new twist ready to be revealed for any procedure, I feel.

If you need a few pointers on how to post photos, have a look at this post, one of Janet's terrific newbie helpers.

All the best, and remember: there is nothing such as too many photos; we love them!
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:02 PM   #4
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It seems that I can't edit post 2 right now, so I'm trying a different method to insert photos.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Bryant View Post

OK, here's the first photo, the evidence of the floor rot which allowed mice easy access to the trailer (Oh Happy Day ... NOT).


The next photos show a crease in the right rear and left rear corners which indicate some likely rear frame separation to me (note: cracks in caulking). I've verified that the crease on the curb/right side was visable in a picture six years ago when I bought the trailer, but I didn't know to look for further problems.

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Old 12-09-2011, 06:49 PM   #5
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Here's what the floor looks like beneath the carpet (furniture removed).



I'll soon add a full shot of the rear bedroom subfloor and the bathroom subfloor, but I haven't taken these photos yet. I suspect that my basic problem is rear separation of the frame and semi-monoque body structure. However, I've also got some leaks in the rear, most notably the Kool-O-Matic fan has self-destructed and where the rubber isolators have torn away, they've punched holes in an external doubler/chimney structure.



I've bought a Fantastic Fan and talked to Rodney in Customer Service there (he is on a team that often installs these fans at Airstream Rallies and gave me suggestions for the conversion from the Kool-O-Matic.



Then, I've got caulking/sealing issues on top that must be addressed ... take a look.


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Old 12-09-2011, 06:58 PM   #6
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Up front on top I have some minor leak issues to address (really compared to the back, I'm not being facetious) like this:



It's amazing how little this fella has leaked. I've ordered and have on hand this replacement vent lid Airstream Solardome Vent Kit SKU3419Kit - $46.07 : Out-of-Doors Mart!, More Airstream Parts on-line than anyone!. Additionally, I have on hand new gaskets and screens for the grey and black water vents. Next Monday and Tuesday, the weather is supposed to be back into the mid-forties and I have a friend coming to help me do some of the work on the roof.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:24 PM   #7
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Once I get the obvious leak sources fixed on top, I'll remove the interior lower side panels in the back, peel off the rear banana fairings and remove the sub-floor from the rear bedroom and bathroom and get everything cleaned up so that I can inspect for the extent of the damage. Then I plan to repair the floor using AB Exterior plywood. I plan to do this in four sections using HiHoAgRV's basic approach. I plan to coat the plywood with marine epoxie top/bottom/edges. I'll use new hardware to secure the bottom shell extrusion (C channel) to the frame rails and outriggers and to screw the floor to the frame and outriggers.

I've read a number of posts on the causes of rear and front separation and I do believe that the frame structure is an inadequate design for these trailers as they got longer and heavier over the years. I plan to set up my equalizer hitch using a minimum amout of tension on the equalizer bars. I'll also be pulling the front carpet, the parkay flooring in the galley, etc. to inspect for further damage (rot/frame separation, etc.) Then, I'm going to use a light-weight laminate flooring system that floats on the sub-floor.

This whole thing is very disheartening. I'm working through the various stages of grief / / / as others have before me and now I'm in the "reconstruction and working through" stage according to this website 7 STAGES OF GRIEF.
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Old 12-09-2011, 07:32 PM   #8
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Your photos have some viruses attached. I just tried to open one and got one of those fake virus check programs. The leak is caused by that plate at the back of the bumper that leaks and does a great job of funneling water under the sub floor. My 81 had the same issues. The plate won't go back. I had to replace the last 4 ft of floor.

Perry
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Old 12-10-2011, 10:01 PM   #9
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Perry,
I don't know about the virus issue. I run Norton 360 on anything that passes through my computer and my definitions are automatically kept up to date. I'm glad that you didn't fall for the fake virus check program.

Thanks for your input. After you replaced your subfloring, what did you do to address the leak on top of the bumper sheet metal?
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Old 12-11-2011, 08:22 AM   #10
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When I put the floor back in I removed the plate. I am going to make a rear banana skin back there so the water can shed off the back. So mine will have about a 1in gap back there so water can shed off the rear of the trailer and go straight to the ground. I have not completed putting the rear skins back on yet. I will make a new box for the bumper compartment that is separate from the rest of the trailer. The old design also allows any water that leaks around the bumper to end up under the belly skins and we don't need anymore water problems down there. I have coated the rear sections with Vulkem to protect them from water. The belly band will seal the top of that area where the C-Channel meets walls. The only area where water can pool now is right over the frame rails. I think I will make some flashing so water will shed off that area and not pool there. This may end up being part of the new banana wrap back there. That plate is too much of a risk to leave. Once the belly band is back on, you can't see what the state of the seal is back there. I have seen others try to make a dam to keep water off that area but my solution was to get rid of it.

I had a big leak in the back after I replaced the floor. It was either the bathroom vents (air and sewer) or the rear awning window area. That leak is gone now. I am working on the one to the right of the door below a big fixed window. I think the window to frame interface is bad on that one. The door frame and the frame of that big fixed window were leaking as well. I would seal the window frames on all windows ASAP. The gasket on the pop out windows is not as critical because there is a gutter that will catch small leaks. These are leaks that you can see and are less of a priority. The air vents on top are potential leaks as well.

The rear tail light buckets can leak as well. You can seal these from the inside when you remove the tail lights. I recomend you don't cover the floor in areas where you don't need it. All 4 corners are a place to see leaks. There is a gap in the C-channel where the corners meet the straight wall and any water that gets in there will come out at those locations. This is why the floors always rot in the corners. Awning attach points are leakers as well. Mine were not sealed and they use Olympic rivets. Awning caps can leak and if the leak is not internal it will contribute to rotting your awning.

Perry
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:36 AM   #11
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Perry,
Thanks so much for your detailed response. It's more than I can digest on my first reading and I'll have to ponder this for a while. Do you have any pictures or a thread that documents the repairs that you have made in this area? I really appreciate your input, sir!

Steve
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Old 12-12-2011, 08:48 AM   #12
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Here is a link to some full resolution unedited photos. I have not had time to properly edit them yet. They are in chronological order.

Index of /AS-Temp/81-ExcellaII-31ft/Floor-Repairs

Perry
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:09 AM   #13
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Perry,
Thanks for the link. I've studied your pictures carefully and now I know what to look for on that rear bumper sill plate. I'll be checking that out when I get to that point.

Yesterday, my friend Ralph and I removed the Kool-O-Matic Vent assembly (including the external doubler and installed the Fantastic Vent (Model 6000). Weather permitting, we're going back up top to work on re-caulking and replacing the forward vent cap, the sewer gaskets and screens, etc. I'll be sending pictures.

Steve
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:06 PM   #14
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It's lookin like you are on track Steve. I didn't see any need to start re-engineering my '91's original design as I went through the process. I simply repaired the damage and sealed the leak areas. If anything was lacking in the original build it was attention to details when they were sealing, well, and the fact that I have no idea who managed to convince them that OSB was a good choice for flooring

Keep us 'posted', you will get LOTS of feedback!
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