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Old 01-29-2011, 12:31 PM   #1
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Rotten floor never a maybe?

This is Mrs Dan R here. I'm really the one who reads all of these messages, on and off since 2006. We were considering an airstream back then, got cold feet and bought a small SOB. It's too small, so we are back to dreaming airstream. The past few weeks of reading the forums have really got me concerned about the floor rot situation. It's not found in just older models, but in relatively new ones. I was considering a 1996 Excella 25 foot model, now have second thoughts about what condition the floor would be in once the carpet was pulled. Does anyone know if the new models are being built with these leak issues in mind? I saw a thread years back where some sort of black membrane was attached around the edges of the inside wall. I really want an airstream, but I don't want to face pulling the trailer apart. Another thing, where can I go to find out exactly what part is belly pan, banana peel, skins, etc?

Cheers from sunny Texas,

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Old 01-29-2011, 03:30 PM   #2
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Debora I think almost any trailer can be subject to leaks. SOBs leak too. They can suffer from rot in the roof underlayment, the wall framing or the floors. I speak from experience! I think some folks think because Airstreams are alum and cost $$$ that they will be leak free. Nope. New models are subject to leaks also. If you read the forums you will see folks frustration with the factory seemingly not taking action on some of these common leak areas after decades problems in certain areas. Give any prospective trailer a very close look. Some folks recommend poking through the carpet with an ice pick to see if their is rot. But again, you can suffer the same woes with an SOB.

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Old 01-29-2011, 05:33 PM   #3
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You can check the floors when you're looking... We bought our '88 in 2003, and did the poke through carpet testing around door and beside the couch, and in bath and bedroom.. Also look caefully in each of the storage areas and under carpet in closet, if possible..

When we pulled carpet to replace in 2006, we were pleased to see dry plywood everywhere.. We also monitor trailer after heavy rains, looking for dampness inside, and did find a tiny leak behind front couch.. After worrying about rivet holes and lights, we finally discovered leak coming from lower corner of front window, which wasn't 100% latched and sealed...

In Theory, there's no difference between Theory and Practice, but in Practice, there is usually a difference...
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Old 01-29-2011, 07:07 PM   #4
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Thank you for your responses. We found another Excella to take a look at, this one with replaced flooring ( no carpet) I will make sure to look in the storage bin area. I was thinking how freaked out I would be if someone pulled an icepick out and started in on our trailer floor!
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Old 01-29-2011, 09:28 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Dan R View Post
Another thing, where can I go to find out exactly what part is belly pan, banana peel, skins, etc?
Basically, the "skins" are the exterior aluminum shell of the trailer. For the most part, when someone says skins, they are talking about the vertical panels and the roof. The "belly pan" is the horizontal flat aluminum panel(s) underneath the trailer. The "banana wraps" are the curved/formed pieces that connect the belly pan and the skins.

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Old 01-30-2011, 05:36 AM   #6
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I took a tour of the mothership at christmas time and when we got to the leak test area I noticed that they didnt have any sealant onthe inside of the shells at the caps. I ask one of the employees why and he said they are using a new foam like tape, they have a new engineer on board and he wants to end the "all airstreams leak". IMHO I dont think the tape will hold up way down the road.
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Old 01-30-2011, 09:14 AM   #7
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Leaks happen! IMHO the well cared for trailer will have the leaks found and corrected before severe damage is done! I had a 68 trailer that had no leaks, a 78 tradewind with leaks at the windows, corrected, no floor damage. A 78 soverign with slight floor damage at doorway and under windows on curbside. severe damage in rear bath area. ( this trailer was set up and not used for three years prior to my purchase). A 63 Safari severe floor damage, trailer had sat unused for 5 years. A 97 34' used as winter home and traveled extensively no floor damage!
If trailer is used leaks will be found and hopefully corrected before damage occurs!
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:01 AM   #8
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Or, you could look for a trailer in Arizona where it probably would have seen very little rain or snow, except on brief road trips into wet country...

Lots of car collectors search Arizona for old cars that haven't been eaten up by road salt and rough winters. You rarely see a vehicle here that is rusted out, unless it came from outside the state.

Fiberglass boats have a lot of wood below decks, but it is treated, marine-grade boards and plywood that has been "glassed in". This would definitely increase the cost of Airstream flooring, but it would be extremely water-resistant. Has anyone tried this in the past? Would buyers be willing to pay more for an Airstream if this was standard, or offered as an option?

I wouldn't think it would add too much to the price percentage-wise, compared to entire cost of an Airstream, but it could add several hundred dollars and an additional manufacturing process to construction.

Of course, eliminating the root problem, leaks, would be preferable; but this might help the flooring survive until the leaks are discovered and fixed.
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Old 01-30-2011, 10:24 AM   #9
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Regular maintenance - and knowing the weakest spots.

You can also have a pressure test done where air is forced into the interior and soapy water poured over the outside. BUBBLES = Leaks.

It's a travel trailer, vibrations happen and that causes new leaks to start. Also some components need to be replaced periodically like shower and bath vents, those cheap vent covers Airstream has started to use (Best fix - get one with fantastic fans at every vent position!). Plastic parts go bad due to sunlight. If you get a ladder, use the proper sealant and reseal your seams once a year you'll keep the situation well under control... of course the same is probably true with an SOB.

You're in Texas I notice. If you look as others have stated in Arizona, New Mexico, or the dryer parts of Texas you'll be more likely to find one that never got enough water to leak seriously.

Happy Hunting. Paula

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Old 01-30-2011, 04:57 PM   #10
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Thanks so much for all of the useful information. The trailer that we viewed today was in great shape for its age and there was no evidence of any leaks, no rust under the trailer or in the outside storage bins. Of course, the owner has always kept the trailer under a large shed. I was impressed with the trailer and the owners were very good at explaining how things work. There is so much for us to learn if we want to go the "update an older model" route. During the next cold spell, I can see me spending many afternoons reading the specialized forums. Surely some kind of new super duty paint can cover a multitude of wallpaper sins.

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