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Old 11-04-2013, 06:49 AM   #1
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Seam Leaks: caulk or sealant?

OK, I'm getting water but don't know where it's coming from. I have checked and caulked around windows and vents but water keeps coming in. I am now preparing to caulk the seams on the entire aluminum shell. What is the recommended caulk or sealant I should use? I want something which will dry clear and not yellow over time - don't want to spoil the look of the metal. I also only want to do this once, so I need to use something which has a good history of sealing out water. Any suggestions?
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Old 11-04-2013, 07:31 AM   #2
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It's amazing where and how water incursion occurs on an A/S. When I first got my '87 Excella I saw that there was evidence of a leak (mould on the arm of the gaucho). I took it to JC and they readily found the cause to be the seal around the panorama windows in the front. JC resealed all the windows and I asked them to make sure all the various seams were OK. This they did with Vulkem. That night, while I was still at JC, we had a hard rain and I saw water droplets coming in from the wall panel just in front of the bed on the curb side. That morning when the trailer was towed back into the shop I mentioned it to the tech, and by process of elimination, the only place he did not put any Vulkem on was the brackets that fasten the solar panels to the roof. Vulkem was put around all the solar panel brackets and since then (2 years ago) there has not been any water incursion, and we've been through some long and prolonged rain storms.

The sealant to use is Vulkem - JC sells a pump-type applicator that lays a bead about 1/16". The stuff is not cheap, but it never hardens and provides a good seal against leaks.
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:14 AM   #3
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OK, I'm finding Vulkem 116 sealant on Amazon for about $12 a tube. Looks to be a standard caulking tube so I could use a regular caulking gun I guess. Is this the product you recommend? And, who is JC?
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:39 AM   #4
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I used a product called OSI quad. It comes in clear, and its a non sandy caulk unlike Vulkem. Great for outside and bathrooms. Give it a try.
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:51 AM   #5
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OK, I'm finding Vulkem 116 sealant on Amazon for about $12 a tube. Looks to be a standard caulking tube so I could use a regular caulking gun I guess. Is this the product you recommend? And, who is JC?
JC is Jackson Center Ohio where Airstreams are built. Look online for the Airstream Store. In the Airstream Store you will find a variety of maintenance products. I used Sikaflex in black and gray for some sealing on my trailer. I used Parbond that I bought from Out Of Doors Mart for sealing the top of the belt line and rub rail. Some people prefer to use Acryl-L instead of Parbond.6
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Old 11-05-2013, 07:55 AM   #6
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Welcome Aboard....

...snip....."And, who is JC?"
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JC is not a who but a what.....otherwise known as the "mothership", Jackson Center OH.
Where Airstreams are made.

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Old 11-05-2013, 08:01 AM   #7
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OK, I'm finding Vulkem 116 sealant on Amazon for about $12 a tube. Looks to be a standard caulking tube so I could use a regular caulking gun I guess. Is this the product you recommend? And, who is JC?
JC is Jackson Center Ohio where Airstreams are built. Look online for the Airstream Store. In the Airstream Store you will find a variety of maintenance products. I used Sikaflex in black and gray for some sealing on my trailer. I used Parbond that I bought from Out Of Doors Mart for sealing the top of the belt line and rub rail. Some people prefer to use Acryl-L instead of Parbond.

I resealed all of my windows, around holes for water heater & furnace ... Etc. I resealed awning rails and fixtures, rear bumper plate, roof penetrations for fans & such, all exterior light fixtures, lisc plate bracket. I did not reseal exterior panels unless I could see a potential problem.

It was a big job but worth the effort. Many threads on the forum discuss resealing and common leak areas.
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Old 11-05-2013, 09:11 AM   #8
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Chillbilly, if you call Airstream at Jackson Center (aka JC) you can order the pump dispenser for laying down a 1/16" bead. At the time I was at JC, they happened to be out of stock of the pump, so I went down the street to the Pro Hardware store on 112 E Pike Street (tel number 937-596-6360) as I was told he had them in stock (which he did) - the owner of that store is a retired Airstream employee, who in fact had designed the electrical system in the 1987 Excellas. He also bought up a lot of the older parts when Airstream decided to downsize their old parts inventory.
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Old 11-06-2013, 05:52 AM   #9
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You may have some leaky rivets they get loose over time . There is a sealer called Capt. Tollys creeping crack sealer . It's sold at West marine and others
It dries clear .
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Old 11-06-2013, 06:52 AM   #10
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Check the vent stacks. They have a cheap piece of rubber that seals around the vent stacks and it cracks a few months after putting in a new one. I ended up putting Trempro-635 around the vent stack to skin interface and so far it has held up. A better way would be to have a vent with a top on it. Mine has the square teepee shaped vents. The Teepee has no function other than to hide a leak path.

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Old 11-06-2013, 07:54 AM   #11
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The Teepee has no function other than to hide a leak path.
Actually, a properly designed vent cap can also contribute to airflow through the vent, by allowing the wind to have a venturi effect, literally sucking air out the vent.
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Old 11-10-2013, 07:46 AM   #12
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OK, now I'm getting overloaded with different products. I guess I will go with the Vulkem, if that's what Airstream uses, it must be good enough. I think my leaks are coming from the panels where they overlap and are riveted. I have caulked everything else. Now, as I stated I only want to do this once, before I begin, does anyone have anything negative to say about Vulkem?
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Old 11-10-2013, 08:34 AM   #13
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OK, now I'm getting overloaded with different products. I guess I will go with the Vulkem, if that's what Airstream uses, it must be good enough. I think my leaks are coming from the panels where they overlap and are riveted. I have caulked everything else. Now, as I stated I only want to do this once, before I begin, does anyone have anything negative to say about Vulkem?
The only negative thing I can think of with Vulkem/ trempro 635 or 636 is be prepared with lots of rags and don't be surprise if you end up wearing it in the strangest places.
I'd recommend taping the seam or whatever you're sealing with some painters masking tape and cut a very small hole in the caulking tube tip.
Great product like no other.
Mike
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Old 11-10-2013, 08:41 AM   #14
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I have not resealed the panel seams yet,but have used Vulkem, which is now Trempro 635 on anything greater than 1/8" and Parbond on 1/8" and smaller. I found that some of the Vulkem around the exterior of my windows was still tacky after 15 plus years. I have nothing but positive thoughts on both of these products. Hope this helps!
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