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Old 01-08-2007, 10:04 PM   #1
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1982 34' Limited
Chatham , Ontario
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Is God mad at me ?

The answer is obviously no!
However, sometimes it feels like it! I am into month #4 since we have purchased our first airstream. I was the one who convinced my wife that this was the right thing to do. I am a renavation contractor by trade and I can fix anything, so buying a 1982 34' "abused" airstream did not scare me. The other thing you should know is that I do not post!!! I am from the old school! This is an act of frustration! Here is the history:
- convince wife to purcase trailer
- remove all smelly fabrics and carpets
- Find rotted plywood floors due to water leaks
- convince wife it's ok , I can fix anything,
- attempt to fix leaks from exterior
- "experience total failure"
- remove whatever interior components are in the way and interior liner panels, in an attempt to identify source of leaks
- find leaks and attempt to fix from interior using "Tremco Volcum 116" by the tube with no restraint on quantum.
- after feeling that I had probably succeeded a subsequant rain proved that I had indeed failed.
- a closer look showed that the tail lights were leaking at the rear and the battery boxes were leaking at the front
- a very detailed and careful execution of the repairs and expectation of success was expected.
- a subsequent rain proved that I had failed - again!
- I decided that leaks could not be repired by caulking adjaicent surfaces and that over laping surfaces had to be sealed integerally
- I removed tail lights and re -sealed inside and out, remembering to think like water runs
- I did the same with the battery boxes.
- I repaired the plywood floors thinking that I had done a very good job on the leaks
- rain followed 2 days later only to prove that I had failed miserably
- I then decided by looking at the leaks, with the interior panels off, that they were coming in from the lower edge
- I removed the molding between the outer skin and the belly pan and found ,what I thought was a poor design detail on airsream's part because the belly pan lapped onto the outer skin, I thought this should not be right, so I caulked this joint and reinstalled the molding
- a subsequent rain proved that I had failed miserablly
One needs to know that in Chatham Ontario it has rained every other day since September and the Thames River, that flows through our good town,is almost over -flowing it's banks. Therefore I have never mentioned taking out a garden hose to check any repairs in a more timely fashion. What now???

Any encouragement or suggestions at this point?
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:13 PM   #2
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2004 25' Safari
. , Illinois
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Shell leaks can be tricky. If you can't locate the location, it might be worth a try to bring it to a certified repair center. Airstreams aren't rocket science, but if you are not familar with how it's built, rivets, etc...it could be a bit difficult. Carpets, appl are fairly easy compared to solving water leak issues. There are inner walls, outer walls and you may have to get past the inner wall if it can't be sealed from the outside.
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:16 PM   #3
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I am gonna guess that the leaks are coming from exterior places like windows, etc... We vulkemed all of our windows and including vista view windows and have not had a leak since then. It may just be a case of looking at the places that leaks normally come from. Start from the top down and Vulkem the exterior like it was done when the unit was first put together.
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:16 PM   #4
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You could try duck tape and a good furnace blower to pressurize the whole kaboddle, then spray it with soapy water.

There are lots of ways for a seam to leak, and you'll never track them visually.
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:34 PM   #5
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I feel your pain.....I've caulked and recaulked and put in new seals and put in gaskets and still can't find the source of my leak in the outside storage locker. I can't even stand to think about it anymore! Meanwhile, the floor keeps getting softer & softer. UGH!
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Old 01-08-2007, 10:38 PM   #6
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Frank,

Yes, leaks will drive you nuts. I am still battling one back in the rear corner (streetside) just aft of the water heater. The frustrating aspect of it is that most of the time, the water is coming from somewhere else other than where it appears.

Have you tried raising or lowering the tongue to see if the position of the "leak" shifts? The beltline must be caulked (Vulkem) or it will collect water and leak. The taillights as well. You'll also need to check/reseal around all the windows (my rear window was leaking both from the old gasket as well as above it.

One thing I did with the Sovereign which was well worth the time and money was to apply two coats of Kool Seal white elastomaric (sp?) paint to the roof. It's amazing how many rivets up on the roof get loose over time and leak.

I am pretty much down to the one leak in the rear (on a fresh piece of plywood, I might add) and hopefully will have that under control soon. I have replaced all the gaskets on all windows and doors and have resealed (after removing silicone) above most of the windows.

Systematically remove and reseal above all windows, beltline, and trim.

Replace all window and door gaskets. (Call Andy at Inland RV for the gasket material, buy the black cement at a local autoparts store when you know you're ready to do it. I say this because I've had a tube or two go bad because I didn't get to it right away.)

Put two coats of the Kool Seal paint on the roof (tape it off, roll it on with an extension, by the time you're at the end of the coach, start your second coat - around $20 plus aluminum primer (another $10 if you use something like Rustoleum aluminum primer)

Last resort (and I may do this myself) is pull the banana wrap and drill some holes up underneath to allow the water to drain and the plywood to dry out. Drill some more weep holes in the banana wrap at the lowest point as well to allow the water to drain. Also, you may want to apply some penetrating epoxy (either CPES from the Rot Doctor or make your own by thinning some resin with acetone) to the edges of your plywood floor (drill a few holes as well and plug them from below to allow the epoxy to permeate the plywood).

Hey, I don't post much either unless I've got much to say, but here's a few ideas for you. And no, God's not mad at you either (at least no more so than anyone else (Ephesians 2:3-4)

Good luck, don't give up...it gets harder, I mean...well, you'll see!
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Old 01-09-2007, 12:31 AM   #7
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I would look up! - Antenna, AC, Awning rail, running lights - give em all a nice coat of silver or clear parbon.
And tell the weather man to cut it out. I think we are going to be the next snowbird destination
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Old 01-09-2007, 01:37 AM   #8
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Don't forget the plumbing vent pipe gaskets too! Those need to be checked and replaced as well.
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Old 01-09-2007, 07:46 AM   #9
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Frank n 'Shar,

Leaks may be the number one universal frustration for vintage owners. Consequently the forum is full of threads about dealing with it...and we all have a story or two as well. It's kind of a right of passage, no?

Just hang in there...it will be worth it! Remind yourself what a new Airstream costs, what a restored one is worth, how much fun you'll have next summer with all the cool places you'll see and good times on the road

BTW, God wasn't mad a Noah but he did want him to be prepared.

Best wishes,

Steve
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Old 01-09-2007, 07:56 AM   #10
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1984 29' Sovereign
Savannah , Missouri
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Thumbs up Right on~!

Safari Tim's recommendation is right on target..The rule of thumb: You need to check this once every 5 yrs for needed replacement. Since your unit is an 82, it's most likely that, it's way overdue in need of replacing. Also, don't overlook the fact that you may have two of them..
I admit it..I goofed and, missed that.
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:22 AM   #11
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1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Smoke Machine

You can borrow or rent a smoke machine, which will fill your coach with not-unpleasant-smelling smoke. Leave the machine running, and crawl all over the outside of the trailer. A leak will appear as a wisp of smoke from a gasket or seam. You may find more leaks than you thought you had. Oh, be sure to remove the battery from the smoke alarm...
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Old 01-09-2007, 08:30 AM   #12
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Maybe God's a little jealous?
Good luck and keep on pluggin'
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Old 01-09-2007, 09:07 AM   #13
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Smile Is God mad at me too?

frank n'shar,

I know all about your frustration. It sounds like you have my trailer! In my 2 months of ownership I have done almost everything that you have plus replaced all the weatherstripping and sealant on all windows and resealed everything on the top, including many individual rivets.
I started with a very "wet" trailer and now have it down to 3 small places. The rain has been very frequent and I rush to work on it between showers. The good thing is, I don't have to wait too long before making another progress check.

3 days ago while spreading more sealant I thought about looking for a place to buy dynamite and fix it for good, but the next day it rained and my check revealed another success story. No more water coming in around the exhaust fan above the stove!!!

Baby steps for sure, but hang in there.......
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Old 01-09-2007, 11:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tinbender
frank n'shar,

I know all about your frustration. It sounds like you have my trailer! In my 2 months of ownership I have done almost everything that you have plus replaced all the weatherstripping and sealant on all windows and resealed everything on the top, including many individual rivets.
I started with a very "wet" trailer and now have it down to 3 small places. The rain has been very frequent and I rush to work on it between showers. The good thing is, I don't have to wait too long before making another progress check.

3 days ago while spreading more sealant I thought about looking for a place to buy dynamite and fix it for good, but the next day it rained and my check revealed another success story. No more water coming in around the exhaust fan above the stove!!!

Baby steps for sure, but hang in there.......
Have you checked the sewer vent pipe cover gaskets?

If so, where exactly are the leaks.

Andy
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