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Old 04-17-2006, 01:04 PM   #1
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Argosy Water Leak

I have a 1975 Argosy 26 and after parking it temporarily listing towards the curbside (streetside higher) I have found a substantial leak that I had seen no signs of while trailer was level. The water looks to be appearing around the battery box and about half way across under the water heater when viewed from inside the bathroom closet or looking under the streetside twin bed. With out starting a discussion on how to find and fix water leaks, has anyone had water appearing in this same area and where was it coming from.
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Old 04-17-2006, 05:19 PM   #2
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Yes.

The gasket for the battery box door was bad, and when the trailer leans in the direction that has the battery box at a positive slope, instead of straight up and down, or at a negative angle, rain water would leak around the gasket, through the access door, and across the floor.
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Old 04-17-2006, 07:17 PM   #3
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Hello RBolton & welcome to the Forums! I suspect you're getting leakage even if the Argo is not tilted -- and the results may not be pleasant.

[Yes, Terry -- I had tagged this thread for response this afternoon, not wanting it to drift off the bottom of the Portal list unanswered.]

On my 1976 24' Argosy the battery compartment door had gaskets along the side and none along the top edge of the door at all. I assume the purpose was to allow so much venting for hydrogen that none would accumulate inside the trailer. The compartment's intended integrity was supposed to prevent moisture getting inside, but seals fail all the time on trailers this old! It was fortunate my battery didn't break through the banana wrap underneath!! The floor had rotted and the steel outrigger underneath had rusted away.

After welding up a new outrigger and making an inlay for the missing floor (with generous applications of RotDoctor penetrating epoxy), the first picture shows the internal battery case screwed back into place, ready for Sikaflex 221 to be injected between it and the outer skin. Save that battery case if you have to take it off!

Before the second picture I used Olympic rivets to reunite the three layers of door frame, outer skin, and the rim of the plastic battery case. Then I used generous amounts of Sikaflex to bed the aluminum battery tray and seal the edges between it and the battery case. Avoid silicone caulk like the plague. Leave some path for hydrogen to escape to the outside if you stick with the lead-acid battery (I did). Sealed AGM batteries ($$$) don't need that ventilation.

You may not be there yet, but note that the water fill door gasket is probably hard and that rainwater flowing down the trailer skin can get into your water tank. Try to find some closed cell foam and re-work that some time.
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Old 04-18-2006, 01:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies, I do see that the gaskets only go part way up the side of the battery door. I see evidence of staining on the floor around the battery box looking from inside but all exposed wood seems to be solid. The previous owner stated that the trailer had belonged to his parents up until a couple of years ago and that they stored the trailer under roof. Hopefully this battery door is the point of entry and new gasketing will correct the problem.
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Old 04-18-2006, 05:27 PM   #5
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The ridged aluminum bottom of your battery compartment should show very good caulk between it and the surrounding plastic battery case. Otherwise I'd recommend unscrewing the 2 screws holding it down, prying it out, scraping clean and reapplying Sikaflex 221 (the grey is good match for aluminum). 221 is good stuff -- you get a skin set overnight, whereas Vulkem is thick, lumpy and takes forever to set. For source, search on Sikaflex 221 and see the 'Sealant Uses' and 'Sealant along window edge' threads.

If the floor underneath is damp you might have to let it dry a while. Apply Rot Doctor if the least bit punky. It is unlikely you'll have to do the full monte on the seal between the battery box and the outer shell. You don't want to take the door off if you don't have to. I had to.

Good luck -- more questions is gooder....
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Old 04-23-2006, 06:36 PM   #6
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The sides and back of the tray appear to be sealed ok but the sealer across the front has been pulled away and could be the culprit. I am in the process of refinishing the galvanized portions of the roof and I have the trailer parked where I cannot get a water hose to it to check. As soon as the paint project is over and I can move the trailer I will leak test this area and let you know what I find. Thanks for the replies.
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Old 04-23-2006, 06:51 PM   #7
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It wouldn't surprise me totally if the external skin wasn't sealed that well to the front of the battery tray. I'm not sure if this would account for water getting inside... Now this is right next to the water heater too. Too bad about the demise of the www.argosytrailers.com [Bad link -- don't bother. It used to have comprehensive multi-angle views of all possible Argosy trailers -- too cool to imagine...].

Is this leak location possibly near to either of your two roof vents for sewer stack ventilation. These plastic vents (in Argosy) are usually punky and the rubber gaskets are hard, contracted & lost all seal by now. I wonder if the water you're seeing when parked at an angle wasn't there all along, but just noticeable when it ran out when the floor was at a significant angle.
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Old 04-29-2006, 07:48 PM   #8
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Sorry for the slow replies. I thought about the vents. The roof vent looks like it is sealed ok but I know its hard to tell by just looking. I’m a little unclear on the anatomy of the sewer vent. It looks like it is designed to catch water as much as it is to vent the sewer. I see the chimney is screwed to the roof. Looking into the chimney, I see a screen covering the vent pipe which is sealed with some type of gasket/seal. I have not tried to remove or disassemble this thing yet.

I have decided to work my way up. The water heater is just to the left of the battery door and has just recently been replaced. There is busy intersection between the water heater and the battery door. The heater, the battery door, the rubrail and the belly wrap seam beneath the rubrail all look like places for the water to get in.

I removed the battery access door, loosened the rubrail back a couple of feet and then took off the battery door sill plate .There is no sealer here. The sill plate runs right up against the battery tray and hides about an inch of the plywood that the battery box sets on. This is not the floor but a second thickness that sets on the actual floor.
This wood is quite wet and rotted. Using a pick it seams solid about two inches back, about and inch under the tray, and the actual floor beneath seems sturdy when probed as well. I am letting it dry and have fashioned a curtain over the opening that should shed water past all of this area. That might show me if the water is coming from elsewhere, higher up. If not then my plan is to not remove the tray but to use a penetrating epoxy and then an epoxy filler to repair the wood that is exposed and then reinstall the sill plate with sealer and then the door - sealing everything as I put it back together.
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Old 04-30-2006, 10:07 PM   #9
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Sewer vents 101

Roof vents -- Designed into the more economical Argosy line was the plastic roof vent (instead of aluminum). The plastic is no doubt quite fragile at this time. I have seen some more economical replacements than Inland RV's offering (Camping World?) but can't put my hand on it. You might want to have a replacement in hand before you start messing with this. It is okay if the vent pipe is open to the sky; at most you'll get a teaspoon or two of rain into your black or grey tank.

On removing the roof vent you will see that the actual seal to the black PVC exhaust pipe is some black rubber. The rubber seal's footprint is the same as the roof vent. The replacement vent cover should include a new rubber seal and a new piece of window screen to keep bugs & critters out of your tanks.

The principle source of any water influx would be at interfaces of the rubber seal. Water introduced in the space between the outer and inner skins is very difficult to diagnose when it shows up on the floor quite some distance from the leak. Quite clearly, I would still be most suspect of the design of the battery compartment...

The key to the diagram below is:
silver = trailer skin
green = caulking (Sikaflex 221 is my personal favorite)
blue = your current plastic vent cover
black = black PVC exhaust pipe
red = rubber seal; a friction fit to the pipe does most of the waterproofing but a little Sikaflex couldn't hurt

not shown - screen; it should fit loosely between the red and blue, crossing over the top of the stack

I hope you've been reading enough threads to realize that silicone caulk should never ever be used on aluminum -- any bond will fail between silicone and aluminum. I wouldn't trust the rubber to seal at the trailer skin because the vent may overlap a skin lap and rivets; therefore I used the Sikaflex. The vent cover is cosmetic only and should have a weep hole in the lowest edge.
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Old 04-30-2006, 10:23 PM   #10
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Argosy Battery Floors

I didn't want to confuse you early on with what you have now discovered. You accurately observe that the battery compartment is raised by an overlay of 1/2" floor ply laid on top of the original floor. Both layers were shot in my trailer. I removed floor back until the worst of the wood was gone and then treated the surrounding original floor margin with Rot Doctor (use the search function). Rot Doctor is a high-solvent penetrating epoxy that can firm up somewhat softened wood.

In my 24-footer it was convenient to cut a piece of ply 2" wider on 3 margins than the removed area of my floor; this would become the new overlay piece (treated with more Rot Doctor of course). I made a dummy piece to fit into the removed floor area, not worrying too much about edge fit. I put some backing strips under the old floor and bolted through the three layers from the overlay down through the backing strips.

I didn't have a good source of marine ply. You do want to avoid gaps in the internal veneers if you can. I accomplished this by using the more solid (though not perfect) underlayment as shown in my 2nd photograph.

I agree -- there doesn't seem to have been any caulk between the floor and rubrail as you call it. That double sided foam tape originally installed should be replaced with some Sikaflex to seal the banana wrap back to the skin when you put your beltline aluminum extrusion back on.

Best wishes!
Bob
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Old 05-03-2006, 12:06 PM   #11
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I really appreciate all your help. If I decide to remove the box and replace the entire piece of overlaid plywood, do you think it is possible to do the entire repair working though the hole where I have removed the door? If not, it looks as though I would have to dismantle the rear closet/wall/street side twin etc. to access it from inside.

I understand about the silicone and will refrain from using it. That will be especially difficult as I operate a small new car dealership and we use RTV sealer for everything.

Thanks for the vent diagram. That's about what I expected. and should be pretty easy to leak test. I can tell that the vent is very brittle and the screw heads are very rusty. I agree that I should have a replacement in hand before removing this one.
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Old 05-03-2006, 12:49 PM   #12
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The problem with sitting at a computer and trying to picture something in your mind is that your mind will play tricks on you. I see that I would only have to remove the low shelf in the bathroom closet to get to this from the inside. Looks like we're in for a few rainy days here. Maybe I can satisfy myself that this door area is the leak and start the repairs.
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:17 PM   #13
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Removing the ply from under the mattress may give you all the access you need. It's held in by only about 10 small screws. Find a film canister (what's that?) to store them in and they should go back easily when you're done.

I've thought about taking my rear closet apart to get to the aft floor -- looks like way too much of a headache!
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Old 05-04-2006, 12:20 PM   #14
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Battery door gasket

FWIW the rotted floor on my 24' Argosy was from the door seal. After repairing the floor, I used the seal from a 2005 Airstream. Yes it works, I have replaced all the gaskets in my Argosy with this seal. It is shaped like the letter D.

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