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Old 02-27-2011, 09:01 AM   #1
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'58 Overlander, Leaks Kicking My butt!

I really need some help. I've got a bad leak under my rear Clearview Window, a bad leak on the streetside front in front of the kitchen counter, a small leak on both sides of the main door, and a bad leak on the curbside front along the front radius.

So far I've sealed the vertical seams and the main awning rail with Parbond, replaced all pop rivets (there were at least a dozen) with Olympic Rivets and Vulkem, and replaced all window seals with new seals.

I'm out of ideas. What else should I look for? Do I need to seal all skin seams whether they're vertical and horizontal? Do I need to remove all drip caps and seal them with Vulkem? The drip caps appear to be fine and I'd hate to remove all the rivets, but if it will solve the leaks I'm all for it. I know the rear 14x14 roof vent leaks (it's attached with screws only and not sealed) and I'll soon be installing a Fantastic Vent Fan to fix that one.

Of all the leaks, the one under the rear window is the one that has me the most stumped. I sealed the window frame with Parbond and replaced the inner and outer window seals, and sealed the black vent stack, but it still leaks bad. Is it possible for the rear roof vent to leak and find itself underneath the rear window? The vent is mounted as far aft as possible in front of the end cap. Most of the water is off center more toward the streetside (the same side as the black vent stack).

The leak in the front radius, curbside is another tough one. The only thing above that are the front horizontal seams. I thought these weren't a source of leaks.

The leak on both sides of the main door is probably the curved brow, so I think I've got that one solved, but the others have me stumped.

Any ideas will be greatly appreciated. I'm at my wits end and need some pointers, especially from those who've worked on the late 50s/early 60s Airstreams.
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:35 AM   #2
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1958 26' Overlander
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Mike, I feel for you man!! Right now I have access to all the inside of the shell so I 'm resealing all my windows as they are being reinstalled. Also I will be resealing all the seams inside and out. I plan to reseal them after the main compound polishing as I believe that makes any prior leaks worse. For example I cleaned off my front endcap with mineral spirits for polishing and looking at the inside could see one leak site . After polishing and cleaning with mineral spirits 3 leak sites were definitely visible!! Wasn't yours was recently polished . Are the leaks now worse? Short of using a dental pick and resealing every exterior seam I don't know what your options are. The rear window leak could be from above, tracks down the rear curved endcap and appears at he the rear window frame. So could be from the vent stack. Any chance the leak is from the dripcap above the window? My rear window and drip cap were originally sealed to the shell with butyl tape. Probably yours as well. Leak at the door could be from the eyebrow but there are also rivets around the door frame. I would also most likely guess its the eyebrow though. Obviously my having access to the inner seams makes my task easy. Figuring out leaks in these things without the interior off has got to be frustrating as the water can track in weird ways. Ed
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Old 02-27-2011, 09:48 AM   #3
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I am at the same stage on my '59. I too have the interior panels off so sighting the leaks is a little easier. I found that dirt has accumulated over time in every panel seam and that helps hold and distribute the water. One of my front segment seams, which is close to horizontal holds water which then wicks up, sideways and into the interior. Sealing all seams must be the answer.
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Old 02-27-2011, 11:02 AM   #4
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The worst leaks I found on my trailer when I had all the skins out were related to the window drip caps. I'd focus on those carefully - use a dental pick and solvent to clean it up as best you can, and then go back with Acryl-R or whatever seam sealent you are using. I eventually went over every seam on the trailer and cleaned them up with a dental pick and then resealed. I just assume it is still leaking somewhere. They all leak and the worst leaks are the ones you can't see for one reason or another - at least you know yours is leaking. Keeping them sealed up is an ongoing maintanance issue.
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Old 02-27-2011, 12:11 PM   #5
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Oy veh Mike.

So many times have I heard there complaints. That brow over the door could be an issue, as could the screws or rivets all along that awning rail.

If I happen to make my way near you or you near San Antonio this summer maybe we can figure them out for you.

Steve
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:00 PM   #6
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I also have horizontal seams wicking water up then it travels down, sideways, uphill both ways.

I'm following the same process as others, polishing the seams and sealing with parbond. It seems to be eliminating them one at a time. I should note, I even sealed the inside seams with vulkem, but the water is relentless.
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Old 02-27-2011, 01:24 PM   #7
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I only have experience with this one Airscream trailer. I thought I had one leak between the door and the front of the first front side window. I had 11. I ended up making a religion out of finding those leaks. I was stumped. I removed the inside skin and sat out in the trailer on a farmer's milk stool for a month of thunderstorms with a poacher's light to find them all. The one that eluded me was a middle lap seam. I cleaned the inside and applied a liberal amount of Vulkem as well as sealed the outside again. The hardest to fix was the vista window.

My roof vent leaked on the top and the step release slot leaked at the bottom. Anything between that could leak, did leak. I fixed the roof vent, removed the antenna, and accepted the step release slot was designed to leak.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:11 PM   #8
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Mike, I did find my rear window leak at the top vent. Water was somehow traveling the inch &1/2 under the center flat sheet by the rear hull bow aft of the vent, between the center endcap laps going around the top of the rear window and dripping of the bottom window sill. Even with the interior stripped including the fiberglass end cap all apeered dry untill the water got to the side of the window frame! It took 3 days to find it. Day 1, let a water hose run slow just above the window all night, nothing..Day 2, same thing just below the top where the end caps meet the flats, nothing... Day 3, let the hose run just forward of the vent, that did it, water dripping from the window sill. Vent flange looked ok, but when removed the sealant was no good. Water had even pulled dirt and grit in between. Resealed, ok. Good luck, these leaks will drive you nuts.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:22 PM   #9
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Im guessin its that rear most roof vent. Good luck. Sal.
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:27 PM   #10
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Mike leaks can travel along the inside top for a long way. When you had your trailer polished did you get it acid washed first. If your air conditioner or vent were installed before it was acid washed then a leak could have occured at those points. The acid might have eaten through sealant or gasket.

My 73 needs to have the airconditioner removed and a new gasket installed. I am pretty sure the air conditioner is where my leak is. It travels all the way to the back of the trailer.

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Old 02-27-2011, 06:47 PM   #11
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Thanks, everyone for the excellent responses. You've all given me excellent ideas. I really appreciate the responses. Yes, I just had the trailer polished, but these leaks were present even before the polishing.

This week I'll be hitting all the seams (horizontal and vertical) with parbond and installing the new Fantastic Vent Fan. I'll also reseal the covered gray roof vent since that is mount on the rear end cap.

The inner skin in the front is off and I took some time to inspect the front for sources of leaks and found that both tear drop running lights were leaking, the curbside front really bad.
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:23 PM   #12
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Mike, the trailer sure looks pretty in the pic.
I had a front window, and side window leak the worst was by the front door.(the five pins holding the Ambassador emblem)
When I stripped down to the shell I found all the leaks.
Things I would look for:The Airstream emblems(when I pulled the old ones it was very corroded under)I also found a major source in two screw holes holding down the air unit.There were a couple of pin holes in the skin also on the side and top.
Good luck.Steve
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Old 02-27-2011, 08:53 PM   #13
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When I removed my awning roller, I found 5 holes with missing rivets hiding under the roller. I suspect the awning rail was leaking but there were so many other leaks it's hard to tell for sure. I sealed the rivets and the top edge of the rail and all is dry now.
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Old 04-26-2011, 09:40 AM   #14
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Update

Thought I'd post an update on my leak eradication efforts. It is hoped that somebody out there will find my experience useful in the future.

Well, at the advise of many who replied earlier in this thread, I broke out a couple tubes of Parbond and went to work. Sealing all of the aluminum panel seams eliminated 80% of the leaks but I still had the bad leak on the streetside in front of the kitchen counter and sizable leaks in the bedroom on both sides.

Two weeks ago a bad rain storm hit Phoenix. I decided to take a seat in the Overlander and watch. What I saw was surprising. The source of the leak on the street side front was the Hehr window pictured below. I don't know the name of this type of Hehr window but it doesn't open, the frame is hard riveted to the body. The two windows in the bedroom, which were identical in design as the one in the front, were also leaking, but not as badly. Problem solved. Now it was time to get to work.

The design of these windows is very simple. The main frame that is riveted to the body contains an interior frame that houses the window pane. I was shocked to find that there was no sealant in any of these three windows. No wonder they leaked (the curbside bedroom window did have some butyl tape along the bottom but it was NOT applied where it was needed, between the window and frame). Even though I had replaced the weather seals on these a few months ago with the one available from Vintage Trailer Supply, they really didn't prevent water intrusion. They look nice, to be sure, but as a seal against water they fail miserably.

Since these windows were so old, I decided to fork out the bucks and buy new window panes, especially since I was shocked to find the old front window woefully undersized. The old glass barely reached the top of the window frame. A new, larger piece of glass was obviously needed and would help provide a better seal. Before installing all of the new glass, I sealed them up good and tight with a thick bead of Vulkem. They won't leak now. All of the old, rusty pan nuts and screws were also replaced with the ones offered by VTS.

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