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Old 12-29-2009, 05:22 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Bluto View Post
Gene, You say Airstreams leak a lot. Are you refering to the newer ones? Knock on wood, but I have never experienced that problem with my '87'.
Is it a common problem?
It is with the newer ones. In 2 years we have had at least 5 leaks—skylight, front and back windows, one side window, have all leaked at least once. Scotty in Oregon traded his new trailer (maybe '08) for another one because no one could stop the leaks.

Any caulk will eventually fail, so just wait. Everyone gets their turn.

Gene
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:56 PM   #16
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I want to give a shout-out to the broad and valuable input of Silvertwinkie at AIR. He noticed the fine print (that being CYA phrasing IMO) about Airstream suggesting owners are liable for checking potential leaks. http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...his-47043.html

I had a window and bathroom vent leak fixed under warranty. At about 3 years we had a new leak at the junction of our front & wing window -- turned out it was a small caulking defect at the end of the upper rail to which the middle rockguard attaches -- easy to fix with a small dab of Sikaflex 221.

I'm planning on doing a leak tuneup with a Sealtech at about the 5 year point. Google Sealtech .. or use soldiermedic at a rally if you're in the midwest.

Suggestions -
search the forum on sealtech
2airishuman's posts on use of Acryl-R for laps between exterior sheets( search google on: acryl-r site:www:airforums.com )
Sikaflex 221 ( search google on: "sikaflex 221" site:www.airforums.com )
search the forum on parbond

I'm smug because I'm lucky enough not to have a skylight...
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:58 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
It is with the newer ones. In 2 years we have had at least 5 leaks—skylight, front and back windows, one side window, have all leaked at least once. Scotty in Oregon traded his new trailer (maybe '08) for another one because no one could stop the leaks.

Any caulk will eventually fail, so just wait. Everyone gets their turn.

Gene
Gene.

Not quite.

Airstream has been using Vulkem for over 40 years.

Whenever it's applied properly, it stays, accidents excluded.

Removing sheet metal from an Airstream that had Vulkem installed on the backside, still requires "cutting" the sealer in order to remove a segment, quarter panel or side sheets.

A Vulkem seal can be destroyed however, by excessive vibration to the coach.

It's also good enough, that it's being used in a white version, to complete the installation of Vinyl framed, low "E" home type windows.

Andy
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Old 12-30-2009, 09:46 AM   #18
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Gene.

Whenever it's applied properly, it stays, accidents excluded.
Andy, what if it's not applied properly at the factory?

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Old 12-30-2009, 09:48 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
It is with the newer ones. In 2 years we have had at least 5 leaks—skylight, front and back windows, one side window, have all leaked at least once. Scotty in Oregon traded his new trailer (maybe '08) for another one because no one could stop the leaks.

Any caulk will eventually fail, so just wait. Everyone gets their turn.

Gene

That's a bummer.

Andy brings up a good point about repaired panels, etc. Could that be part of the problem on your unit? I'm real interested in this subject, although it's off topic, because I've been thinking about stepping up to a new model in the near future, but I'm on the fence about doing it. Been on the fence for about a year now and will probably wait until I hear about some good quality workmanship coming out of Jackson Center. Between aluminum corrosion and now leaky windows who would want to put down all that money?
Sorry just thinking aloud!
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Old 12-30-2009, 11:50 AM   #20
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My rear panoramic center window was one of the leakers. For that one, fixed at the JC service center, they had to remove the trim inside and scrape out all the original sealant and then apply new sealant all the way around over and over, pushing in each bead until the space was filled. This is a labor intensive job. Materials are cheap. I would guess in the factory they don't take the time to do it right. Other places the bead around the outside of the windows had small pinholes or voids in it where the bead wasn't checked properly after installation. The skylight was screwed down too tightly and cracked. The fan covers on the outside had to be resealed.

Sealing anything is labor intensive and has to be done very carefully. Anyone who has done it knows how unappealing a job it is. Sometimes a bead when drying separates or was too thin to start with and has to be filled. Someone should go back a day or two later and go over all the sealants. Complaints about leaking trailers are common on this Forum and indicate a problem at the factory with QC.

I believe the word "Vulkem" has become generic for any sealer, but now the factory uses a product called Sikaflex. It comes in different colors and types for different applications. There is an acrylic sealant also used but right now I can't remember if it is a Sikaflex product. All these are available through Airstream on their website where it describes what to use where. We carry tubes of this stuff and a caulking gun with us as leaks happen when traveling. Next I need to get a collapsible ladder to get on top since I can't jump that high.

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Old 12-30-2009, 01:36 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by CrawfordGene View Post
Andy, what if it's not applied properly at the factory?

Gene
Gene.

I was in the process of a post, at home, to answer your question.

Then, our complex electricity failed for about one minute.

Post lost.

A selling dealer is paid to do a PDI (pre delivery inspection) by Airstream.

It's purpose is to make sure that "everything" is ok, before the buyer takes delivery.

That's the system.

Unfortunately, Airstream trailers are assembled by humans, and the PDI is done by humans. Therefore, mistakes and over sights can and do happen, by the factory as well as the dealer.

We are again, assuming that the dealer, in fact, did a PDI.

I would suggest that you contact the dealer, tell them about the sealer problem, and that you would like to have it corrected. If they refuse, then contact Airstream by letter, and include a supporting photo.

Sikaflex, is a "FAST" setting, smooth, Vulkem sealer.

For leak fixes, Sikaflex is OK. For sheet metal replacement, the Sikaflex sets up way to fast, therefore Vulkem should be used, especially between the seams, which is what should be done. Sealing between the seams is never done during production. In field sheet metal replacement, should always be done, with Vulkem, between the sheets of metal. That provides as near a perfect seal as one could ask for.

Andy
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Old 12-30-2009, 02:11 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inland RV Center, In View Post
A selling dealer is paid to do a PDI (pre delivery inspection) by Airstream.

Unfortunately, Airstream trailers are assembled by humans, and the PDI is done by humans. Therefore, mistakes and over sights can and do happen, by the factory as well as the dealer.

We are again, assuming that the dealer, in fact, did a PDI.

I would suggest that you contact the dealer, tell them about the sealer problem, and that you would like to have it corrected. If they refuse, then contact Airstream by letter, and include a supporting photo.

Andy
I doubt the dealer, an outfit with a very bad reputation, did much inspection. They also set up the hitch badly. If I had known about them, I would have gone far away to buy one, Arkansas being a better choice given where we live.

All my leaks with one exception (I was hundreds of miles from a dealer) were fixed under warranty at JC. The service center appears to have done it right. Warranty has now expired and I wouldn't go near that dealer again as they have done more damage than anything they fixed. Although JC is aware of the many complaints about that dealer, the dealer is still selling Airstreams.

Yes, people make mistakes, but leaks seem to be chronic problem and mistakes need to be corrected during production, not after.

This far afield from the original post, but one thing to check out when buying is the reputation of the dealer as it seems Airstream does not keep a eye on them.

Gene
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Old 12-30-2009, 02:22 PM   #23
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I work with various metals for a living...Airstreams are a hobby...barely.

When we put a series of panels together with sealants we use a non-curing (butyl) sealant in the lap, typically SikaLastomer-511 is our preferred sealant. On the outside of the lap (concealed from view but quite often exposed to weather) we us a curing sealant, typically a polyurethane. Sonneborn NP-1, Vulkem 116, Vulkem Dymonic or Sikaflex221 ( I believe this is what AS currently uses). I use the same products when working on my Airstreams. I had a problem leak on one panel seam, removed the rivets, gently opened the seam up and forced the non curing sealant into the seam, riveted it back together and the leak is gone. FWIW I have disassembled some metal structures using the non curing butyl sealants that were still in their non cured state even after 20+ years, and we have taken a few apart where the sealant had dried and powdered due to improper installation. Exposed sealants will require periodic maintenance.

Yes IMHO AS has a QC problem, many manufacturers do when they concentrate on production and profits above all else.



Aaron
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