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Old 08-11-2009, 10:08 PM   #1
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Soft Floor Area - What to Do?

Well, I've finally decided my floor problem is fairly extensive. This was an existing problem from the previous owner. I've tried to contact him to learn the exact cause, but so far no answer. Nevertheless, I'm fairly certain there is no existing leak. We've had this trailer for almost 2 years, and I've never noticed a wet/moist spot in this area. Possibly the PO had a big storm that flooded the trailer (broken/open vent) with the water pooling at the rear end -- only a guess.

I'm in a dilemma about how to get this fixed. The diagram shows where I have noticed softness. Since the tanks are below the area, it's hard to be certain, but I think I have a good guess. Obviously, replacement will require complete removal of all the galley cabinetry, plumbing, the black water tank, and who knows what else.

I would like to get a guess of how much this might cost to have either an airstream dealer or the folks at Jackson Center to do the work. Has anyone had an experience of something this extensive?

We have used the trailer two years now, really trying to ignore the problem. It's been a lot of fun. But of course, the problem is always there in the back of our mind.

I have read many posts here where folks have done the replacements themselves, but the idea of having to pull out all the cabinetry and plumbing just seems daunting.

Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions would be welcome.
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Old 08-12-2009, 12:20 AM   #2
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Hello TankerIP,

Man.. Sorry to hear about this soft floor. Are these the same units with the frame issues?

I would say that if your not into this tear down and repair stuff and you have a life outside of airstream then let someone else tackle it. From you description it seems extensive. At very least you will have to go a bit further than the damage to make sure the new flooring is secure and it looks like you would be moving towards the comode and kitchen to achieve that. Might be extensive enough to turn it into your insurance company and have Jackson center fix it.

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Old 08-12-2009, 06:36 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by TankerIP View Post
...Any ideas, thoughts, suggestions would be welcome...
Bob Jones RV Bob Jones RV in Houston (close to Hobby) has extensive Airstream repair expertise. The shop is close to you - by Texas standards, anyway.

I would trust this repair facility to work on my Airstream.

Usual disclaimer - not affiliated, no financial ties, proceed at your own risk...
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Old 08-12-2009, 08:03 AM   #4
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1 note... a soft floor/rot does not happen from one bad storm with a window vent open. Rot takes time and multiple wet/dry cycles to happen. If plywood getting wet once was all it took to ruin it, no one around here would ever get a house finished.

edit... ok, so some newer trailers apperently don't have plywood, but some sort of particle board.. could be from one massive damp event in that case, but I don't know if your trailer has plywood or not.
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Old 08-12-2009, 09:04 AM   #5
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Ugh, particle board. I hate the stuff. As noted herein, plywood is normally pretty tough. The rot on our '67 Overlander occurred in a similar pattern to yours... but it developed over 40+ years. Places where water was not an issue, the plywood was still solid.

If you have plywood, and the 'softness' is this extensive in a 2002, then I really doubt one major leak would have created the problem. It may be that the previous owner was doing something or using something that you aren't... which was contributing towards moisture getting onto the floor. The first priority is to make absolutely sure you have fixed any possible leaks. You don't want to invest replacing the floor only to find out you're still getting water from somewhere.

We decided to have a shop do a complete floor replacement... and to repair and POR-15 the frame at the same time. My thought was... if we do it right now, it will be good for another 40 to 50 years. In your situation, I would guess you're looking at a partial floor replacement.

Think of it like jumping out of a plane. If you have complete confidence in your ability to do the job (and you have the time and tools, you're good to go. If not, you're probably best staying on the plane and paying someone else to jump out. In any event, fixing it will help you sleep better.
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Old 08-12-2009, 06:09 PM   #6
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Well the long story is that we knew there might be problems with this trailer when we found it. Three years ago we had almost decided on a new 17' Casita when oneday on Craigslist there appeared a 4 year old 22' Airstream for the same price. I jumped at the opportunity when we saw it (and fell in love with it). It was virtually spotless with no signs of wear on the interior. I'm sure anyone would agree that it is hard to compare a 17' Casita to a 22' Airstream International.

Now the suspicious part was that the PO was not doing the selling - a "friend" was helping out. The floor was covered in a quality padded sheet vinyl with a nice wood design, instead of the typical carpet. The seller said the PO had replaced the carpet because it "got too dirty". A couple of hail dings outside told me though, that the trailer had been in some "Texas storm". All this made me think that the trailer had somehow become completely flooded, causing the PO to have to rip out the carpet. Of course he could not get the carpet underneath the cabinets - it is still there. I could even envision where a Texas Hill Country hail storm with flash flooding might have consumed the trailer. Yes, it was more than just a little leak. I now wonder if it had faced a catastophic, "Katrina like" event. At the time, I did not consider the possibility of floor rot -- just didn't know about such things. Nevertheless, the price was affordable.

Now to answer a question, I can't collect from my insurance. In fact, I believe the PO probably collected on his insurance and might have sold this at "book value" less his loss payment.

To answer Vinne's question...yes these models are the ones that are giving some folks frame issues. It was reading those frame problem posts that me made get under the trailer and investigate. That's when I found that my frame is in real good shape - no cracks, bends, breaks or rust. However, the flooring is soft under the kitchen cabinet in the areas I noted in my original post. In fact, there is only one small area that is soft and noticeable in the exposed interior floor just adjacent to cabinet edge. So the trailer is still very much useable -- and we really do enjoy it.

So...this floor rot problem is largely hidden by the kitchen cabinet on the top and covered by the tanks underneath. And yes, the flooring is OSB. On the underneath there is some kind of fiberglass/nylon filment black fabric that is laminated to the OSB. This forms a waterproof barrier and, at this moment, is what is "holding" the soft pieces of wood together.

I am concerned that the one piece bath might also have to come out to do a complete repair. Pulling out over 8' of galley, appliances, cabinets, and plumbing just seems like a big task. I haven't seen any posts here of owners telling what they to to pull out kitchen cabinets. I guess I'll have to get on the phone to Jackson Center and possibly our local dealer here. And thanks Dennis, I may investigate your recommended source.
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:22 AM   #7
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Ok, then... osb damaged.. but not in the area you walk or use... and you are sure its from a single catastrophic event, and not an ongoing leak, I would either:

A) live with it.. get a fan under the cabinets for a few days if you are not sure its completely dry, to stop mold... spray with lysol or something if there is some.

B) Flood the area with "rid rot" or some other wood hardener, and after it dries, live with it.

Yours is newer than ours, but pulling out cabinets and such is probably the same as on ours.. remove screws, remove rivets, remove screws, remove rivets, attempt to remove object/panel/whatever, remove rivets, remove screws, attempt to remove object.. repeat until object is in shed.

remember, it ALL went in there after the shell was on, it WILL all come out that way...
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Old 08-13-2009, 08:48 AM   #8
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Live with it

Do what Dakotas Dad said. Get Rot, or substitute hardener, will stabilize the area your talking about.
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:27 AM   #9
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Reseaching rot fixing/epoxy compounds

Thanks for the suggestion. I started internet research about wood rot and how to fix it. Really interesting. This may be solution. I'll look into working on this like folks do with wood boats. Maybe I can stabilize this with liquid epoxies.
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Old 08-13-2009, 11:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
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... Get Rot, or substitute hardener, will stabilize the area your talking about.
I would be very careful using a soaking hardener over a large surface.

Check out "Rotdoctor.com", this is the manufacturer of the most popular "hardener" here in the Forums.

There is not a lot of strength in the resin itself - the strength comes in when the expoxy will bond to the wood, and then allow a bond to fierglass layers or additional (new) wood inserts.

If an OSB area is already rotted, there is just no strength left in the wood fibers, thus nothing left for the resin to bind to.

Melody Ranch is correct, these epoxy hardeners will stabilize an area, and certainly seal the wood from further water damage, but I question the product's ability to return any strength to the wood itself, especially over a large service.

If what the epoxy is binding to is rotten, then the repair will have the strength of the epoxy only.

I would suspect that any large area repaired by epoxy (fiberglass) hardeners only will soon fail due to epoxy cracking and pulling away from the good wood (if there was any there to bind to in the first place).

Plywood works so well because of the layered strength and the binders used to hold it together - once the cellulose wood strength is gone (rotted away) there is nothing left for the glue (epoxy) to latch on to.

You could always strengthen the large area with several layers of fiberglass mat, but you are still left with the problem of loss of integrity of the wood (or OSB) under the "C" channel, where the real joining of the floor/frame/shell takes plane.

There really is no compromise (from a strength standpoint) other than tearing out the rotted area back far enough to make a proper splice to an area of undamaged floor medium.

Check out HiHoAgRV's current thread on OSB floor rot:

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f36/...oor-54952.html

He has posted some great photos of just how insidious (and dangerous) OSB degradation can be. There is potential for LOTS of damage here - most of it probably hidden beneath cabinets and behind beds.
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