First, it took a while for me to continue to work on the passenger side wall because I had a leak I couldnít find. It was coming from up high, between the two windows, behind an aluminum frame. I didnít think it was from the roof itself since itís a fiberglass roof and looked pretty good. I thought it might be from the awning track, so I re-caulked the entire top edge of the track and re-caulked all of the rivets, but still the leak continued. I thought it might be the air-conditioner leaking with the water running down inside the ceiling (more on that below). Finally, after poking around, I realized that when someone installed the new awning and brackets, they used new holes and didnít bother to seal the old ones. The open holes were under the new bracket, so I never saw them. Anyway, I caulked them temporarily and the leak stopped. I think this needs a more permanent fix, but thatís for later.
The awning, by the way, along with the refrigerator cowling on the roof, are the only things I found on the entire RV that arenít original.
Below are the sheet metal pans I made for the floor. They fit very snug to minimize air movement.
And then the insulation. As in other places, itís cut a half inch shy of all edges which will be filled with spray foam. The sheet metal will also be riveted to the frames. Yes, the wood beams I added are bare, but remember, theyíre pressure treated and should be fine.
I had to replace the antennae crank below ($10 USD for what is probably a 25 cent plastic handle). Personally, I havenít turned on a TV in almost five years and donít even own one, but it sure looks better with a new handle.
But when I opened the cabinet door, I found it hits the handle. That might be why it broke. Airstreamís been designing RVs for decades, and they canít figure out a better place for the antennae?
Now for the air conditioner. I removed the inner plastic housing. Below is one of four bolts securing it to the roof. So far, so good. But Ö
Ö uh oh. What happened? Run out of long bolts?
ďWell, thatís OK. Weíll just put in a shorter one.Ē
ďBut it wonít be secured to the roof! Or compress the gasket to keep the air conditioner from leaking!Ē
ďSshh. Donít say anything. Just leave it. No one will notice until the warranty runs out.Ē
Is this not beyond belief?
The passenger side wall going in. The plywood in the left window, by the way, is just to keep the plastic from flapping around in the wind.
In goes the window.
Um, well, thatís a lot of space.
And another on the other side! (see below picture)
Well, yeah. Another screw-up by Airstream. And a lot more work for me. (I still keep thinking I canít find more problems, but I keep finding them.)
A little background: This window was leaking badly. It is right above the propane tank. You know, where the floor was rotted out, where even the sheet metal was rusted through, where the propane tank was all rustedÖ
And this window is the only repair work attempted by a previous owner that I found. I say ďattemptedĒ because, of course, the window was still leaking. But it had been taken out and completely resealed by someone. But it couldnít be done properly because the hole in the wall is JUST TOO BIG.
Here are the numbers:
: 22 3/8Ē (56.83cm) wide; 30 3/4Ē (78.1cm) high.
: 21 ĺ (55.24cm) wide; 30Ē (76.2cm) high.
To put that in perspective, that means the frame is only 5/8Ē (1.58cm) wider than the hole and 3/4Ē (1.9cm) longer than the hole.
To put that in greater perspective, that means the window frame will only overlap the fiberglass skin by 5/16Ē (0.79cm) top and bottom and 3/8Ē (0.95cm) on both sides. Thatís not workable. Thatís why it was leaking.
I tried to make it work, but ruined the butyl tape twice. Hereís why (see the diagram; the flange is the curved part). Thereís just such a big gap that thereís nothing to hold the butyl tape in. And thatís assuming you can get the window perfectly centered in the hole, which is very difficult. I mean if the window is only 1/8Ē (0.31cm) off, then one edge of the window will have only a 3/16Ē (0.48cm) overlap. If you try to slide the window while trying to center it, the tape gets all fouled up. And even if you could place it correctly, how can anyone guarantee that this window will never move when the whole RV is rocking and rolling and twisting and shifting on down the road? They canít. It doesnít have to move much to develop a leak. Itís hopeless. Itís wrong. Itís inexcusable. Nice going Airstream. Buy a ruler, hire a guy with a steady hand and do some quality control.
Hereís the bottom left of the window opening. The wood you see is wood that I had put in previously to better support the window. Thatís going to help with trying to fix this.
(By the way, these are Hehr windows. I know nothing much about them, and I know nothing about other manufacturerís windows. But it couldnít hurt to put a much wider flange on the frames to give a lot more surface for caulk. My windows only have a 3/4Ē (1.9cm) flange. I mean, why not make it bigger? That could do nothing more than help solve a big problem area for RVs and the extra cost would be negligible.)
The below diagram shows whatís in my mind at this point. More epoxy coated wood, filling the gap, giving more surface area for the caulk. That, I think, will solve the problem (of course, the 1.5 x 1.5 wood is not to scale). I hope I only need to do this on two of the four window edgesówhere I have my existing 1.5 x 1.5s.
Doing this will, though, shift the window up and to the right. I may, then, need to make a new, inner wall panel. Weíll see.
I talked to RV dealers before I bought this one and I asked several of them why RVs fall apart and lose their value so quickly. They all seemed to tell me the same thing: because RVs are always driving down the road and bouncing around.
Really? I canít imagine a boat manufacturer or dealer blaming the ocean for a boat falling apart.
Just a curiosity: does anyone know if Airstream actually built the Cutter Motorhome? Or did they outsource it and just slap their name on it?
And just for the hell of it: a picture of me. No rot. No rust. No leaks.
Well, maybe a little surface rust.