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Old 03-31-2006, 08:28 AM   #1
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1974 31' Excella 500
charlottesville , Virginia
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vent covers

A few weeks ago hail busted the plastic on my vent covers. I got up there and put a temp fix of plastic and aluminum tape that has been great. But the RV Park owner is threatening to evict me if I don't repair. My finances are not where I can just call up a repairman and have him fix this. Estimate was $60.00 to $90.00 Per/Hr. just to install one vent and I have 3 plus the A/C cover is busted. So far it seems that if someone else does this just the replacing of vents alone would be 500.00. That seem like too much money to spend to fix those little plastic covers that are broken. Here is my question, can I get the plastic replaced on the vent? You know just put something inside to replace the broken plastic. I need someone who is good at low dollar fixes to give me some suggestions. I am a single woman who lives on a small income, I live in my airstream and dream of really fixing it up someday, but presently I have not got the money to start that. I would appreciate some help on this if anyone has any ideas.
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Old 03-31-2006, 09:39 AM   #2
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I assume the plastic and tape is visible from the ground, and that is what is concerning the park owner. I also assume, possibly wrongly, that the vent covers have an aluminum frame with a transparent panel sitting on top of the frame, similar to those on my trailer.
In your situation I would find some suitable rigid thin flat plastic sheet to replace or cover the existing broken plastic. One source would be the large tubs used for ice cream. I go to my local cafe and pay about 50 cents for each empty tub. They are pleased to get rid of them. The white opaque plastic is thin enough to cut with scissors. I use these tubs for storing stuff in the garage, and for cutting up for all sorts of jobs, like mixing epoxy.
You have already done the hardest part of the job by working out a way to get safely onto the roof. I suggest that, having found the plastic, you go up on the roof and cut a paper pattern of the right size of plastic to replace the broken plastic and overlap the frame all the way around. Then go back down and cut the plastic to the right size. Get a tube of some adhesive caulk from your local hardware store. We don't usually use silicon on Airstreams, but find something locally that has adhesive in the description, and has some chance of sticking to plastic and aluminium. There's an aluminium colored gutter caulk that's good, though I can't remember if it will stick to plastic. The best one I know is Lexan, which is used to fasten bulkheads into plastic rotomoulded kayaks.
Then back on the roof, together with a piece of plywood or similar that is bigger than each vent. A dumpster should provide this. You also need something heavy like a brick. If it's easy to break off the old broken plastic, do so. Otherwise, leave it in place. Squeeze a thick ooze of caulk all around the frame. I suggest at least a quarter inch thick. Press the plastic down into place. Put the plywood or similar on top of the plastic, and put the brick on top of that to prevent wind blowing the plastic away while it all sets. The next day, go back on the roof, remove the brick and plywood, and apply another bead of caulk round the outside edge where the plastic meets the aluminium. Carry out this procedure for each vent in turn.
With some ingenuity, you should be able to do the job for less than $10. A more permanent repair would add some rivets or bolts to hold the plastic in place. However, such plastic is unlikely to last more than a year in the sun, so in the longer term you could remove the vent covers one at a time, temporarily cover the hole in the roof (Your plastic and tape), and take it to your RV repair person to repair the damage or give you a price for replacement vents. That would be a lot less cosly than a site visit.
Another alternative, if you don't mind losing the light, is to get some plywood or aluminum instead of the plastic, and use the same glueing technique, backed up with some screws.
Good luck and take care up on that roof!
Nick
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Old 03-31-2006, 10:08 AM   #3
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1974 31' Excella 500
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Thank you so much Nick for the time you spent on your reply. Your directions are easy to read and follow. I am not going to be able to start this project today, but I am going to get going on it Sunday because I have a couple of days off then. Yes the way this thing is parked here it is very easy to get up on the roof. I have to repair my a/c shroud as well. Anything that was plastic was crumbled. There seems to be about 1/2 of the existing shroud still up there, however that is another day. I did read someone was able to use fiberglass kits to build one over the existing a/c shroud. I may look into that. But first the vent covers. You are right on both assumptions by the way. I did a neat job, but he (rv park owner) is trying to sell the place, so it is his call you know. Thank you so much, there are so many nice and understanding people who are Airstream owners. I am so grateful for that!
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Old 03-31-2006, 11:56 AM   #4
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It's gracious replies like your's that encourage us to continue helping out.
I've been thinking about the A/C shroud. In the long term, shrouds are available for many models of A/C for about $130. In the short term, for $23 you can buy a cover for the shroud to hide the damage. They are available at http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/r...ner-covers.htm
You will find this link and many others by putting "air conditioner covers" into www.ggoogle.com
You won't be able to use the A/C while the cover was on, but it should keep the park owner content. If it's too hot for that to be practical, and depending on where your shroud is damaged, it might be possible to cut entry and exit holes in the new cover where the air flow holes are in the shroud. You'd have to be careful that the cover couldn't be sucked into the A/C, but, hey, desperate situations require desperate measures!
Nick
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Old 04-01-2006, 09:01 AM   #5
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Nick , I think you ment to said lexel for the caulking , lexan is a plastic . You can also get lexan at most glass shops , they would have scrapes that size pretty cheap.
Lexel is great stuff and sticks to plastic and aluminum and almost anything else . Good luck
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Old 04-01-2006, 09:47 AM   #6
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Yes Ticki2, well done, it's Lexel, and I've found it in Home Depot. I've been in bed with a flu virus for four days, and it's got to my brain!
Nick.
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Old 04-01-2006, 09:08 PM   #7
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1990 32' Excella
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vent problems

To get a real good seal you can also go to home depot pr a like store. Loctite now makes a epoxy glue that is specifically for plastic and ABS plastic.It says plastic om the label.It comes in a double syringe applicator.
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