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Old 04-07-2008, 01:03 PM   #1
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Leaks and Rotten Floor

I discovered quite a bit of rotten floor in my '73 Ambassador. We've had about 6 inches of rain over the course of the last three weeks so it helped me find the problems. Apparently one of the PO's had attempted to repair the lower rear exterior sections and placed the lower section AL over the top of the side section AL. This was all hidden under the trim/molding around that area. This created more of a gutter than anything and channeled all of that water right into the floor. I've cut out the floor and repaired one side of AL and sealed with Vulkem (it was sold as Vulkem but under a different name). I've had to weld in some angle to reinforce areas on the frame that were damaged. I hope to finish up next week. Any tips?
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Old 04-07-2008, 01:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnb77
I discovered quite a bit of rotten floor in my '73 Ambassador. We've had about 6 inches of rain over the course of the last three weeks so it helped me find the problems. Apparently one of the PO's had attempted to repair the lower rear exterior sections and placed the lower section AL over the top of the side section AL. This was all hidden under the trim/molding around that area. This created more of a gutter than anything and channeled all of that water right into the floor. I've cut out the floor and repaired one side of AL and sealed with Vulkem (it was sold as Vulkem but under a different name). I've had to weld in some angle to reinforce areas on the frame that were damaged. I hope to finish up next week. Any tips?
You should perhaps consider removing the lower interior skin, so you can gain access to the floor channel. You will not be able to secure the repaired floor around the perimeter otherwise.
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Old 04-08-2008, 05:42 AM   #3
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Thanks for the tip, I will do that. I was looking into the floor fasteners that inlandrv.com suggests. I did make some headway last night. I was able to finish up one side, re-attach the lower molding, and cover my hands with seam sealer. I removed the water heater to find more damaged floor but it will be worth the work when its done. I'll post a few more pictures as I go.
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Old 04-08-2008, 07:06 AM   #4
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You've got a 1973 Ambassador. Weren't we on the moon by then? Airstream made some bonehead moves, perhaps with some rationalization about the production line. I have a 1974 Argosy with the following problem. I've heard this about both Argosy & Airstream trailers for some years -- they would attach the lower belly wrap/banana wrap on the outside edge of side skin. They used a double sided foam tape to seal between the two. Inland Andy says that item is "no longer available. No wonder...
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Old 04-08-2008, 11:25 AM   #5
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That sounds about right. When I removed my water heater I found double sided foam tape. I was assuming that a previous owner had done all of this, but won't be too surprised to find out otherwise.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CanoeStream
You've got a 1973 Ambassador. Weren't we on the moon by then? Airstream made some bonehead moves, perhaps with some rationalization about the production line. I have a 1974 Argosy with the following problem. I've heard this about both Argosy & Airstream trailers for some years -- they would attach the lower belly wrap/banana wrap on the outside edge of side skin. They used a double sided foam tape to seal between the two. Inland Andy says that item is "no longer available. No wonder...
That is exactly what I found during repair of the floor in our Argosy. It looks almost like butyl tape on my trailer. Before replacing the belly wrap I ran a bead of Vulkem between the sheets. Should be real fun if I ever have to remove them again. George.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:12 PM   #7
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The opportunities for leaks on a coach this old are numerous! One of the easier ones -- http://www.airforums.com/forums/f163...nts-24437.html. The rear frame & bumper tend to flex. The seal at the rear bumper always has been a weak design. Have an adult stand on the bumper and lightly hop up and down; look closely at the bumper shell interface for movement. That's a place to address. Also look at whether your window and door gaskets have ever been replaced. Plan on that if they're not resilient any more.

The wisest saying to come out of Welcome to the Frontpage - The Vintage Airstream Podcast is "They all leak."
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:17 PM   #8
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When to use Vulkem

Is there ever a condition in which one should NOT use Vulkem or other sealant? I've read a lot on the forums about replacing skin, using Vulkem on seams and replacement rivets (Olympics).

I've been looking closely at my 68 Trade Wind and noticing that some seams on the lower wrap curving under to the belly pan that there is a gap, no sealant, in overlapping panels. The seams open facing the rear, so they would not receive the force of water blowing in from the front.

I wonder if this is intentional, to encourage water to drain below the deck and out through the belly pan.

Of course, I could very well have a mess on my hands and just don't know it yet!

Anne


Quote:
Originally Posted by CanoeStream
You've got a 1973 Ambassador. Weren't we on the moon by then? Airstream made some bonehead moves, perhaps with some rationalization about the production line. I have a 1974 Argosy with the following problem. I've heard this about both Argosy & Airstream trailers for some years -- they would attach the lower belly wrap/banana wrap on the outside edge of side skin. They used a double sided foam tape to seal between the two. Inland Andy says that item is "no longer available. No wonder...
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:19 PM   #9
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Hi, pnb77,

Welcome to another Hoosier. Well, I'm not really a Hoosier. I'm an Alabama transplant. But I am a Colts fan! I'm planning to have my Zip Dee awning replaced with royal blue and white. Do you tailgate in the Lilly RV lots?

Anne
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:27 PM   #10
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The belly pan definitely needs to breath. Water will get in there no matter what. Do not seal the belly pan area. Vulkem is trully amazing stuff. It actually does come off. Mineral spirits disolve it nicely, even long after it's dry. Where not to use it? Not sure, but I would have to say if you need to disassemble some thing frequently, I would use something else.
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:27 PM   #11
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So far I've used Vulkem and pop rivets on all of these seams, but it's covered by the lower molding. I'll get to try my hand at buck riveting once I get all of the parts I've ordered for re-building my overhead windows (I believe they are called Vista View windows?). Which brings me to another problem. I posted a thread about pre-shimmed butyl tape, only to find that the seller on ebay had made a mistake in his post. I tried to order one roll of the butyl tape and was rejected because his minimum order is 20! So, does anyone know where I might find a source for small quantities of the Tremco pre-shimmed butyl tape?
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Old 04-08-2008, 12:58 PM   #12
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Except for the major shell seams many of the rivets are standard pop rivets. Be sure to get the ones with aluminum shafts. I did find the factory used some steel shaft pop rivets on the exterior of my Argosy. Grrr...

Major leaks can occur overhead at any penetration. These are very likely problem areas.

Shell leaks are harder to find. Find a dealer with Sealtech (pump air into the closed coach, coat the outside with soap solution and look for bubbles. Then the product used for leaky shell seams is Acryl-R. Research posts by 2airishuman to get some hints on use.

Wow -- the price for Sikaflex 221-G (gray matches aluminum nicely!) has really gone up. I like it better than Vulkem. It develops a dry skin within a couple hours. It's my favorite caulk.
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Old 04-09-2008, 06:01 AM   #13
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Progress

I managed to finish up all the lower seams last night. I used a tip I read earlier on the forum, to use blue painters tape to mask the area to be caulked, then remove tape after caulking. This worked out really nice! It did rain last night so I'll have a chance to see if the leaks are gone. If there is no sign of water then I'll be replacing the plywood floor with marine grade plywood. I'm really surprised at how simple this trailer has been to work on! As bad as they may seem, the problems I've ran into don't consume much time. Having a shop equipped for automotive work really helps!

IndyAnne: We haven't been able to do any camping yet, just bought our Airstream three weeks ago. My wife wasn't too happy when I pulled it in the driveway and immediately took out two windows, disassembled the bedroom, cut the floor out, and removed the bellypans. She was a little more understanding when she saw the condition of the floor under the bed and the new carpet and wood flooring I plan to install. So to answer your question, no we haven't been able to make to any rallies. It's nice to see another Hoosier as well as a Colts fan! When I do get to polishing I plan to mask and etch one or two small horshoes into the aluminum shell.

Thank you all for the tips and replies. This site has been extremely helpful so far and I see it as a great tool, foresight is much better than hindsight!
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Old 04-09-2008, 07:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pnb77
I posted a thread about pre-shimmed butyl tape, only to find that the seller on ebay had made a mistake in his post. I tried to order one roll of the butyl tape and was rejected because his minimum order is 20! So, does anyone know where I might find a source for small quantities of the Tremco pre-shimmed butyl tape?
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f454...ilm-37422.html

Try Zep's thread I think he has all your window problems answered here
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