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Old 01-10-2005, 12:01 PM   #1
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Where to get sealant?

We've had rain almost non-stop for about a week, and I've noticed several body leaks which have resulted in wet floors.

Two of these are along the curbside, so I suspect the awning rail, another is up front so I assume it's the battery boxes and possibly the univolt vent.

I know that vulkem is the preferred sealant, and butyl also works. Question I have never seen answered is, where can I get this stuff? The only thing I've found at local hardware stores is white butyl in a caulking tube, which works great around roof vents, but I'd think that some grey would be better for use on the sides. What do others use on the sides, and where did you get it?

One last question: This is a 1979 31' International, center bath. There is the usual channel with plastic insert around the beltline. I assume this covers a horizontal seam along the length of the trailer. Is this a common source for leaks? If so, do I remove the plastic spline and caulk every rivet behind it, or just run a bead across the top of the whole channel?

Thanks,
Christopher
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:32 PM   #2
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You can get the vulkem you need from www.airstreamdreams.com. Sometimes you can find Sikaflex locally that has similar makeup of vulkem.

As far as the belt line, I don't think you would need to seal behind the insert. Probably sealing above it would not be neccessary either since I would think the panels overlap each other. If you choose to seal the top of the trim the parbond or alcoa gutter seal would be a better choice.

Common leak areas besides doors and windows weather stripping are the vent stacks, and tv antenna mounts/cable entry, and awning rails.

Good luck with your leak search!
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Old 01-10-2005, 12:42 PM   #3
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Christopher,
Most butyl caulks are not uv stable. You want a polyurethane based caulk, for example the Vulkem or the Sikaflex. All the beltlines I have seen have been sealed along the top edge with Parbond. Some PO had used sillycone on mine, so I have been removing it one piece at a time cleaning it and then putting a thin bead of Vulkem on the backside reinstalling it and using a bead of Parbond along the top edge. Probably all that really needs to be sealed.

Aaron
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Old 01-10-2005, 01:03 PM   #4
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Christopher,

There are a couple of options for sealers. Vulkem is indeed the one that seems to be most widely recognized and used. A newer contender that also seems to be in favor is Sikaflex. One place that carries both products is Inland RV at the following website:

http://www.inlandrv.com/

They also carry a product called Parbond that comes in a smaller tube that is used for sealing small cracks.

Another source is:

www.airstreamdreams.com

One thing that I found out is that Vulkem comes in several different types (and colors too actually). The type advertized at airstreamdreams is Vulkem 636. I found that both Lowes and Home Depot carry Vulkem 116. I did some digging and found that it is very similar to the 636 but is slightly more granular. It was developed for use more on masonry where the slightly rougher finish would look better than a slick surface. It is also cheaper by the way. I have used some of it for sealing seams from the inside of my AS because it was so readily available locally. I have all the inner skins off and have fixed some leaks from the inside where I can glop on as much as I want without having to worry about how pretty it is.

The following page at the airstreamdreams web site has an interesting explaination about the types of Vulkem:

http://www.airstreamdreams.com/generic.html?pid=29

It is my understanding that a lot of glass shops use Vulkem for sealing skylights and other glass installations. I do not know which flavor they use but you might check around your local area to see if you can find some that way.

Hope this helps you find some sealer,

Malcolm
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Old 01-10-2005, 01:17 PM   #5
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I forgot to add my two cents about the beltline. On my 1973 31' I had to take off and reinstall most of the beltline for various reasons mostly associated with having to replace parts of the bananna wrap. At any rate I found a couple of things:

1.) I was surpirsed to discover that there were places where the bananna wrap was on the outside rather than the upper body panels. It could be that some of these panels had been replaced by a PO but I am not sure.

2.) The rivits that held on the body panels, the bananna wrap and the beltline trim sometimes went into the upper part of the u-channel and sometimes in to the c-channel part of the channel that is at the base of the wall. In other words they sometimes penetrate above the top of the plywood floor and sometimes into the same level as the plywood.

What I did when I re-installed my beltline was to first add some sealer along the seam betweem the bananna wrap and the body and over the heads of the rivits holding both parts on. I also made sure there was some sealer over each of the beltline installation holes. I installed the beltline right away with the idea that the new rivits would automatically pick up some of the sealer around them as I installed the beltline. I tried very hard to make sure I re-used all the old holes and only occasionally drilled a new one to help hold things on. I did not feel it was necessary to caulk along the top of the beltline trim. It was my feeling that any water getting behind the trim could just drain out the bottom of the trim. Of course if you do not want to take off and reinstall the beltline trim then sealing along the top edge would be a good idea.

Malcolm
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Old 01-10-2005, 02:54 PM   #6
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That's a lot of really helpful answers on leak control. How about windows though. What's the anatomy of a windows installation. I was trying to blow the wet offf my window trim so that I could seal some seams with Parbond and when blowing in the front bottom corner of one of the curved windows water shot out the top about 3 feet away! I guess I found that leak

I can imagine replacing a window, or it's seal is difficult but what do you do when the white seal around the glass begins to "dry rot" and leak?

Also, I'm guessing that you cannot trace a leak by simply looking straight up from the puddle on the floor. I have wet spots below the rear most edge of both the curved front windows and I'm guessing that the water forming those puddles could be coming in anywhere near the front of the camper, right? because it would hit the top of the window frame (in the wall)and drip down from there. But can water get between the curved front window and the opening front window? It looks solid to me but my worst wet spot is just to the street side of the potable water filler. I've never seen inside one of these walls like a lot of you, and it would make it a lot easier if I had your x-ray vision.

Thanks for all the great advice!

Steve
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Old 01-10-2005, 02:55 PM   #7
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sealant

The easiest place to get quality sealant is from your loacal window company such as Pittburg ect they do store windows and use high quality stuff. That is what I use and they will sell you a tube or two (not cheap).
Good for about 20 years

Rae
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Old 01-10-2005, 05:30 PM   #8
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Where to get sealant?

Greetings Steve!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sfixx
Also, I'm guessing that you cannot trace a leak by simply looking straight up from the puddle on the floor. I have wet spots below the rear most edge of both the curved front windows and I'm guessing that the water forming those puddles could be coming in anywhere near the front of the camper, right? because it would hit the top of the window frame (in the wall)and drip down from there. But can water get between the curved front window and the opening front window? It looks solid to me but my worst wet spot is just to the street side of the potable water filler. I've never seen inside one of these walls like a lot of you, and it would make it a lot easier if I had your x-ray vision.

Thanks for all the great advice!

Steve
Something occurred to me as I was reading about the puddle in the vicinity of your water fill. There are at least two of us with Minuet 6.0 Metres here on the Forum who have had to replace or rebuild that device because it is prone to fracturing from age and permitting leaks (on mine the lock was also sprung so that the door couldn't be securely locked allowing water to enter around the edges during rain storms). See: Where can I find a Minuet water filler hatch?.

Another area where leaks can often originate is around the clearance lights as well as around the attachment points for the Argosy name badge. Thus far my Minuet hasn't had these points as leak points, but my Overlander seemed to have a leak around each of the clearance lights when I first purchased it in 1995.

Good luck with your Minuet!

Kevin!
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Old 01-10-2005, 08:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sfixx
That's a lot of really helpful answers on leak control. How about windows though. What's the anatomy of a windows installation. I was trying to blow the wet offf my window trim so that I could seal some seams with Parbond and when blowing in the front bottom corner of one of the curved windows water shot out the top about 3 feet away! I guess I found that leak

I can imagine replacing a window, or it's seal is difficult but what do you do when the white seal around the glass begins to "dry rot" and leak?

Also, I'm guessing that you cannot trace a leak by simply looking straight up from the puddle on the floor. I have wet spots below the rear most edge of both the curved front windows and I'm guessing that the water forming those puddles could be coming in anywhere near the front of the camper, right? because it would hit the top of the window frame (in the wall)and drip down from there. But can water get between the curved front window and the opening front window? It looks solid to me but my worst wet spot is just to the street side of the potable water filler. I've never seen inside one of these walls like a lot of you, and it would make it a lot easier if I had your x-ray vision.

Thanks for all the great advice!

Steve
Steve,
When the white gasket goes, I have found only two solutions One is to replace the entire window assembly, two is to cut the seal away on the outside and reseal using Vulkem, I have done this on at least 3 windows with excellent results. The window gaskets at the frames are not hard at all, just time consuming. Easier to do if you remove the window sash from the coach. As far as anatomy Check out my photo album, there is at least one picture of the front end of my trailer with the interior panels removed. It is not exactly the same as the Argosy but close enough to give you an idea of what is inside the walls. FWIW one of my worst leaks was on the bar between the curved wing window and the center flat glass window. I am almost to the point that I am going to remove the piece that covers the joint and remove and reseal the windows Unfortunately the piece that covers the joint is a one time use only piece and will need to be replaced with a new one, once it has been removed.

Aaron
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Old 01-10-2005, 09:15 PM   #10
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Thanks Aaron, that helps me alot. I was out smearing on the Sikaflex this evening. The stuff doesn't seem to mind being applied in the cold. I did find a healthy open seam exactly between the front windows (over the worst long term wet spot). I also sealed up the clearance lights. I'm not happy with the prep job (none) but I'll spend more time on it this summer.

You know Christopher, I appreciate being able to hop on board your thread. When you started this thread I didn't even know I had a leak. I certainly could never have attacked this problem so effectively without all the useful discussion

Steve
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Old 01-10-2005, 11:50 PM   #11
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Just how weird the leaks can get...

I was checking the inside of my AS for leaks with the entire inner skin off so that I could see everywhere. I found one leak that was especially interesting in that the water was traveling quite a long way from the actual leak spot. First of all the leak was at the top of the rear awning mount where there was a screw missing entirely from the mount. I could originally see daylight through the hole when I first started looking around. This leak was directly above a bad spot of floor rot along the edge. The actual hole was maybe 1 foot or so in from the side but the water was running down the inner and outer skins to the floor just to the rear of the curb side wheel well. It was also flowing down along side of one of the body frame members. This frame member crosses some horizontal channel pieces that run about 4' toward the rear and maybe 8' forward. Some water was transfering to the channel area behind the horizontal rib and traveling 8' forward and 4' backward and then driping out the end of the horizontal rib. Refer to the sketch included below for the context. It took me a while to figure out why there was a small amount of water at these two remote locations.

I am sorry to have to say this but it seems to me that an AS can leak at virtually any place there is a seam or penetration of any type through the body. I found all sorts of little leaks that might not have actually been noticable from the actual inside of the trailer when it was together. I found small leaks around slightly loose rivits. I found a small leak around one of the screws holding down one of my roof vents. I found small leaks around slightly loose seams or badly installed body repairs.

I am both glad and sad that I took off the inner skins and found all the leaks. I am going to seal up absolutely everything I can find from the inside and probably some places that don't leak. I am drilling small holes at the bottom of the walls and putting screen over them so that there is at least an exit for any water that might get into the walls later. That is also the reason I installed a Polyboard floor. I am convinced that there will be leaks in the future and I want to minimize the potential for problems as much as possible.

I hate water leaks...

Malcolm
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Old 01-11-2005, 01:20 AM   #12
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I am glad I have an AS trailer. Even though it is old it is somewhat easy to fix. In 1995 I bought a brand new Nomad Trailer. It leaked, it cracked, the front end of the trailer dropped 2 inches. The wooden frame broke. We only went on a 3000 mile trip. What a piece of junk. The Airstream is built like a tank.
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Old 01-11-2005, 05:06 AM   #13
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Malcolm,
My 75 has holes drilled in the base channel, but I can't see how they did much good, it just sent the water straight to the floor and rotted the edges out I like your idea of the poly board. I would defintely consider that if I was doing a full floor replacement. But I have gotten mine far enough apart that is looks like the only plywood needing to be replaced is the very front sheet and the very rear sheet.
Hippo,
I agree that the AS is built like a tank...to a point. But its construction does make it much more durable than most conventional TT. I have been messing with RV's for over 25 years, and the AS and similar build trailers can take a lot more misuse and poor maintenance than any thing else on the road. But they too have their limits. I have seen several small wood framed trailers that have been well cared for that were over 25 years old, but for the most part people don't realize they have a maintenance problem until it is too late. With a SOB that means rotten walls, floors, and structural failures. With an AS it means rotten floors, wet insulation, but the overall structure remains more or less in one piece and can be repaired fairly easily in comparison. The few exceptions being the ones with the heavily rusted frames, but then again the frames can be rebuilt and pieces replaced. I have run a cost projection for my trailer based on repairs. Based on my numbers in a worst care scenario I will have spent less than 1/3 the cost of a new similar unit, money well spent in my book, as well as the enjoyment (most of the time) of doing the work and knowing that my unit has been rebuilt to my standards; especially after reading about some of the QC issues with the newer units Someone pointed out a while back that their hobby was RV'ing....I guess I resemble that remark There is nothing I would rather do that be camping, RVing or be working on my RV.

Aaron
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Old 01-11-2005, 08:52 AM   #14
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I too believe that I have had water coming in around rivets that were loose and undetectible.
I got so tired of chasing one leak that I had tried everything I could think of except getting a can of clearcoat and spraying every rivet and every seam on the trailer.
So, after much research on this forum, I determined that clearcoat acrylic spray was pretty much what the local AS dealer had for $22 a can, and what the local Auto Zone had for $3.99 a can.
I opted for the $4 a can stuff from Auto-Zone.
I sprayed every rivet. I sprayed every awning rail and the front window guard rail. I sprayed every seam. I sprayed the belt line top, I sprayed the rear deck seam between the trunk and rear floor. I sprayed the deadbolt. I sprayed it all TWICE.
It doesn't leak now. That gooey clearcoat, two coats of it, must have run down into and stopped up the TINY entry points where water was making it's way into the trailer.
This just proved to me why the factory Plasticoats the trailers. It provides protection to the aluminum, AND it further provides leak deterrant.
In the future, I will clean seams, parrbond, and then I will spray clearcoat on every rivet and every seam once a year for maintenance.
Here is to no more leaks!
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