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Old 09-20-2014, 08:43 PM   #15
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That's a shame, Michael. They ought to be addressing something so vital.

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Old 09-20-2014, 09:31 PM   #16
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It can't rot if it's dry. That is the remaining choice we have as owners. For less than $50 you can get a moisture detection meter and probe the perimeter of the plywood subfloor to ensure is not wet, a quarterly inspection should do it depending on climate. There are also pressure leaks tests valuable to use as you see fit.

If it is leaking, you would want to know and seal the leak regardless of floor material as unhealthy conditions such as mold, and structural corrosion will result soon enough.

The products I'm aware of used to waterproof plywood is not something I would want spread throughout the inside of the house we live in. Plywood as used by Airstream is considered safe and has been used for generations.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:06 AM   #17
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Marine plywood varies greatly between US and Lloyds standard. U.S. marine ply does not use a high level of water proof glue, allows voids between layers and filled voids in the much thinner exterior ply. Lloyds uses a higher quality glue, zero interior and exterior filled voids and equal thickness ply. Airstream only uses US marine ply in their floors. I build wood lap built boats and only us plywood that is fully Lloyds certified. Even then I still coat all ply surfaces with a thin layer of fiberglass cloth or resin. It makes for a fully waterproof surface that is resistant to bangs and dings.

During my recent visit to the factory they were leak testing a new trailer. The rear access hatch was masked off with plastic sheeting and lots of wide blue tape. This struck me as a bit strange as this an area that is oft reported as having leaking issues in some trailers. I attempted to ask a question about this and was basically ignored. Again this seems to be one of those areas that employees have been instructed to not answer questions about.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:35 AM   #18
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Hmmmmm! My little Casita is looking better by the post!
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:45 AM   #19
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We have a local military supplier here and they used at one time a very, very heavy type of plywood that had coating of fiberglass for the top and bottom ply and was also impregnated with a resin as well.
I had a piece of this stuff outdoors for many many years. It never rotted.
They used it for decking on military ramps and carriers.
I can see where the weight of this stuff would be prohibitive for use as floor material in my Caravel. The floor would weigh as much as the whole trailer.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:52 AM   #20
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Dingo Girl, that sounds a lot like the material I have on my horse chute. Yes, the weight might well be a rather negative factor.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:53 AM   #21
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There is so much a moisture detector can do. One of the members recently bought a trailer. He used a moisture meter to look for floor rot; the meter did not detect anything. He found out that he has massive floor rot only after he bought the trailer.

Floor rot is a major headache, and the solution is very simple. Why Airstream does not do anything about this is beyond me.
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Old 09-21-2014, 09:59 AM   #22
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Plywood Tip

At one time in my life I was a sign painter. One thing I did to extend the life of plywood out of doors was to putty the edges of the plywood. I would sand and prime the edges with exterior oil primer. Then use window putty to fill the edges smooth and repaint with 2 coats of exterior gloss. Un-puttied rough edges allows water to stand in the small gaps in the plywood edge and that would start to degrade the plywood over time. I would also never use anything but marine grade plywood outside. Epoxy would be a good idea also. Water and wood should never come in contact with each other. Any thing to help prevent that is a good idea. As I read about replacing the plywood on Airstreams (I am getting ready to) I often wonder if people are paying enough attention to the edges. It is where the plywood is most likely to fail.
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:09 AM   #23
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I have heard said that the guys working on the floor at Airstream in the 50's & 60's probably never imagined/realized we would be fretting over floor construction (of a trailer!) - fifty-sixty years after the fact. As I began building mine back, I slowly moved away from, "It'll last a lifetime!" - to "I'll give it a 50-year warranty, and start again when I'm 102." I call it my Fifty Year Rule, and it's real hard to stick to it, but I am guessing that actually will be a lifetime - MINE!
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:12 AM   #24
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Well, I'd check into the Coosa Composites link shown in post #10 if I ever needed to replace the floor. Of course, I've no idea how expensive it is.
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Old 09-21-2014, 10:56 AM   #25
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Airstream does quietly recognize there may be possible issues with the plywood they use. They paint the edges of the flooring before install approx 1 foot all the way around with a black paint of some kind. I asked and was told that this was a "sealant".
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Old 09-21-2014, 11:08 AM   #26
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I have a wooden teardrop trailer I built from the gound up. (I'm a custom furniture builder, so it's not only cool to look at, but it's built the right way!) When I built the insulated floor, I thoroughly coated 5 sides with a thinned solution of roofing tar while the floor was in the hot sun. (left the top side clean to coat with epoxy paint.) I continued coating all 5 sides until it wouldn't soak in any more. Then I applied one unthinned coat to the bottom side. Water won't be a problem. You'd think they'd do more than the edges and the first foot of wood all round. I can't believe they've not received plenty of complaints over the years.
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:04 PM   #27
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The black material Airstream paints around the perimeter is to discourage wicking of minor leaks on the surface plywood, not a sealant. If the plywood edges and surface are sealed, small quantities of water that enters through screw holes and cracks in that sealant will be essentially be trapped inside. It cannot dry out.

I see two problems on our Airstream (or any other rv), a shell that leaks sooner or later due to age and use, and a vinyl floor covering that does not allow it to dry out when it does. The solution I have is to monitor the plywood subfloor for dampness and find and repair the leak when I find one. Using a moisture detection meter with a probe into the subfloor is incredibly easy to do, and I do it every few months.

It is highly unlikely someone would probe a wet floor and see no indication. Unless the floor was already destroyed and then completely dried out. If it's wet it will register.

The only floor modification I would do is to remove the vinyl finish flooring, at least near the perimeter, and replace it with something that looks good, wears decently, and will easily let the floor dry out when it gets wet. The only thing that comes to mind is the removable thick Japanese tatami mats used in traditional Japanese homes. Any other ideas out there?
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Old 09-21-2014, 12:22 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by dkottum View Post
Any other ideas out there?
One suggestion would be to leave the floor uncovered beneath the cabinets, water pump space, vanity etc.

I removed the vanity in our unit to check for leakage at the rear (still dry). When I replaced it I cut out the linoleum as far forward as possible, and painted the floor with a couple of coats of deck/floor self-priming paint.
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