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Old 09-17-2008, 09:21 PM   #1
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Preventative Maintenance For No Future Leaks!

I've been reading the threads and have learned so much from all of you! Thank you! In perusing Toasties and other threads, it made me think of my new Safari 23' FB and what it would be like in 10-20-30 years. Are the new Airstream's skin sealed the same way since time began, or are they engineered better?

Should there be a maintenance routine that should be followed to not have any "leaks" and spongy floors in the future? We have been through horrible rain storms since picking up the trailer 3 weeks ago, and no leaks have presented themselves. Short of seeing dripping water, how do you investigate without ripping up floors, etc.

Thank you in advance for your advice. I would like to think that maybe my routine sealing and maintenance will create a trailer that will not have rot 30 years from now for the vintage trailer fan in 2038!
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:29 PM   #2
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As long as airstream uses a wood sub floor on top of steal there will always be rot! Sorry they all seam to leak... ;( But indoor storage, and maintence should keep "Her" around for a long time...
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:31 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ncbambi View Post
I've been reading the threads and have learned so much from all of you! Thank you! In perusing Toasties and other threads, it made me think of my new Safari 23' FB and what it would be like in 10-20-30 years. Are the new Airstream's skin sealed the same way since time began, or are they engineered better?

Should there be a maintenance routine that should be followed to not have any "leaks" and spongy floors in the future? We have been through horrible rain storms since picking up the trailer 3 weeks ago, and no leaks have presented themselves. Short of seeing dripping water, how do you investigate without ripping up floors, etc.

Thank you in advance for your advice. I would like to think that maybe my routine sealing and maintenance will create a trailer that will not have rot 30 years from now for the vintage trailer fan in 2038!
You are definitely on the right track when looking at leaks for the major cause of Airstream problems. Definitely.
Second would be vibration from porly balanced wheel hubs.
I have had good luck finding leaks with a strong flashlight, in the dark, after strong rainstorms, or after hosing off the trailer as if it was raining.
Look inside cabinets, under all the windows, and touch the carpet to see if it is wet. A napkin might sense moisture better than your fingers, just rub in on the carpet and see if it shows water.
Visually inspect the window and door gaskets regularly. Replace if they tear or become hard. Rubbing them with a rag that has silicone spray on it helps them from not becoming stuck to the window.
Also, check the roof regularly. Make sure the vents, fans, a/c etc, are all sealed properly.
I would spend at elast 6 hoursa per year checking my new trailer for leaks and/or loose screws, missing or misaligned hardware, hinges, fittings etc.
It's hard to believe how much of that was present on a 2 year old CCD I was working on.
Plus, check the forums for corrosion problems, it seems to be a big deal with new Airstreams. And, there isn't a real fix out yet, to my best knowledge.
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:33 PM   #4
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It seems to me they just aren't built like the use too... Our friend has a '04 safari that the latches are breaking, slow battery drain he can't find, always something each year... Mine is '68 I expect stuff to break... treat in nice, and it should last....
They do have 3 kids... all under 6...
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:38 PM   #5
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Thanks Area63. Should the seams on the outside of the trailer be touched up? There seems to be more sealant on some of the seams than others (vulcom is that right?)

Thanks for all the other ways to drive myself nuts in a rainstorm! Just kidding, the info is greatly appreciated. Short of building a new garage for the yet named trailer, maintenance will have to be ongoing.
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:42 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by ncbambi View Post
Thanks Area63. Should the seams on the outside of the trailer be touched up? There seems to be more sealant on some of the seams than others (vulcom is that right?)

Thanks for all the other ways to drive myself nuts in a rainstorm! Just kidding, the info is greatly appreciated. Short of building a new garage for the yet named trailer, maintenance will have to be ongoing.
Right you are, it is ongoing.
Seams are usually not a problem, and bucked rivets are self sealing for the most part. I wouldn't spent too much time on the seams, unless there was an accident with body damage.
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:42 PM   #7
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Purman, I can see where 3 kids under six would test not only the trailer's durability but the sanity of the other inhabitants! Went tenting when our kids were just little, did more work than I would have at home. Wish we would have had the Airstream back then, would have been a better experience.
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:45 PM   #8
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Area63, then where does the water come from that everyone with vintage trailers are replacing the wood floors. I know of windows, vents, etc, but what would cause water damage in the front for example around the front floor. Seems that is a real popular place for the water to do its thing.
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Old 09-17-2008, 09:56 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ncbambi View Post
...Should there be a maintenance routine that should be followed to not have any "leaks" and spongy floors in the future? ...
EXTERIOR

yes and the basic/effective approach is to INSPECT the exterior annually.

go over all the seems, panel edges, window frames and EVERY OPENING topside...

the antennas, ac, skylights, vents and so on.

the tiniest gaps need acryl-r added regularly, larger gaps sikaflex and butyl sealant is some spots...

window and door gaskets should be water tight seals...

i find that the best way to inspect and 'test' for water venerability, is REGULAR washing and detailing.

after washing, during the drying, clay, wax, sealant, detail spray steps, one can REALLY get a good look at the surface...

it is ALSO important to GO TOPSIDE 2-3 times a year and look at all the sealant, gaps and holes.

the TRUELY ANAL owner could have sealtech testing done on some regular basis and reseal as needed....

it might be useful to go this route ONE TIME, for a really hard to find water issue, but more than ONCE is just more....

INTERIOR

ALL of the plumbing, fixtures, tank vents, toilet seals, and drainage pipes should be checked regularly too....

pay special attention to shower leaks, or dripping pipes under the sinks...

tighten, seal, replace or otherwise deal with EVERY TINY DRIP inside....

after a good washing check all the windows and glass for water INSIDE....

a major source of WATER inside doesn't come from rain or pipes, but rather CONDENSATION...

trailers that are regularly used (sleeping, showers, cooking) WILL have condensation inside,

except in the most arid locations.

1-2 QUARTS of water accumulate every night inside a tightly sealed trailer with 2 people in it.

so that means turning beds, venting interior air, using dehumidifiers and...

otherwise managing all NORMAL interior moisture...

and DITCHING the CARPET, carpet inside most trailers is silly....

installing carpet the way a/s does it is ridiculous.

because the entire interior sits on TOP of the carpet,

with carpet INSIDE the outer holding areas, where any wet item will WICK into the interior...

WHEN WATER HAPPENS...

every trailer will have water on the floor, under the bed, in a closet and so on, at some point...

accidents happen, windows get left open, toilets overflow, pipes break, skylights crack, and so on...

so the other big issue is JUST HOW RESISTENT to water are the materials a/s uses...

there are many views on THAT issue and not all are positive.

cheers
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:20 AM   #10
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How is the acryl-r used? Is it to apply over normal caulk? Cracks in caulk? Or, something else?

Tom
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:45 AM   #11
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2Air, thanks for the great rundown on upkeep and maintenance! What is sealtech? Remember, I am a newbie! Am in the process of figuring out what unit of WBCCI to join, figured that would be a great source of info when get togethers happen.

And ditto henw how do you use acryl-r used, do you have to remove existing caulk, etc?

Thanks again!
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Old 09-18-2008, 06:52 AM   #12
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NCBAMBI,
You have gotten some good advice in all these posts and I wish to add the following. I polish our tailers, roof and all, at the begining, middle, and end of every season. I inspect all the seams and roof fixtures for gaps and missing caulk and repair . re-caulk as necessary (no too bad as of yet...knock on wood) I also look for gaps between the lower rub rail trim and the aluminum bottom where water can get at the sub-floor and re-caulk as necessary. I also check the interior of the wheel wells to make sure no leakage there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ncbambi View Post
Area63, then where does the water come from that everyone with vintage trailers are replacing the wood floors. I know of windows, vents, etc, but what would cause water damage in the front for example around the front floor. Seems that is a real popular place for the water to do its thing.
the doors seem to be leak prone which explains some of the soft floors around the front of the trailer. You also have to understand the basic construction of Airstreams; The body of the trailer is put in place on the floor first and then the belly pan and lower wraps are attached on the outside of the aluminum skin. Then the lower rub rail trim is attached over that lower wrap / body juncture and sealed. So any breach in that seal and water will find it, and find its way between the lower wrap and skin, and then on to / into the floor and the frame. There are also seam leaks and water can travel a very twisted trail until it appears and wreaks its damage. Which is why tracking leaks becomes such a chore.

Hopefully through prevnetative maintenance and inspection we can avoid leaks and their associated pitfalls.
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Old 09-18-2008, 02:33 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by ncbambi View Post
... What is sealtech?...
basically this is a process where AIR is pumped into/inside the unit....

on the outside soapy water is sprayed, and it "bubbles" up were ever air is escaping the trailer...

those bubbles suggest a gap or potential water leak point.

after wiping off the soapy water, sealant (or whatever is needed) can be applied to the 'gap'.
-------------------------------------------------

\/ \/ THIS INFO ONLY APPLIES TO NEWER UNITS....\/ \/

Quote:
Originally Posted by henw View Post
How is the acryl-r used?
henw and ncbambi...

take a quick peak at ANY skin panel overlap, right along the edge is a dried bead of acryl-r...

u will also find it around any rub rail molding, the mounting hardware for the lower segment protectors,

some of the ZIPDEE hardware, some of the light fixtures (markers) and handles and so on...

it is best used in TINY (1-2mm) gaps, while sikaflex is used for larger gaps, over the door thresh hold and so on...

here is a quickie thread on the topic...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...age-33920.html

and posts 142-147 here show PICTURES of a newbie USING the stuff...

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...tml#post344365

now silvergate isn't using it in the ideal areas (that's a silkflex seem) and the applicator/angle should be more flush to the path...

but u get the idea.

cheers
2air'
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Old 09-18-2008, 04:21 PM   #14
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Thanks 2Air, we will be giving the baby its wash down this Fall and we will look it over from top to bottom. I will also order the sealants to have on hand.
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