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Old 06-18-2009, 03:27 PM   #1
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1970 21' Globetrotter
Coeur d' Alene , Idaho
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 20
elec. problems water leaks, and smells Oh My

I bought my 21 foot Globetrotter at the beginning of may. everything looked good, a little rough around the edges but it hadn't been licensed since 1993, so I figured I could fix it up and off I'd go (silly me).
I have some electrical problems, ie the fridge does not work, (all the 110 outlets are working) The 12 Volt system doesn't work any more. It did when I bought the old girl home so I don't know what happened there. anyway I'm going to take it to the rv repair shop and have them check out elec. system.

My big problem today is---we had sunny days for the first month I had the camper, doors and windows were all opened everything is great. Yesterday we had a big rain storm I see a little water dripping down the back window only between the screen and the window. I'm thinking it must be getting in around the (tail lights) above the window as there are no missing rivets and the actual window is not wet just the screen.

Big issue is now I have a musty smell (mice had been living in the trailer, but no signs of any since I got it). I have cleaned and washed every thing out but I can not get rid of the awful smell. If I open the cupboards the only place I smell the odor any stronger is in the back where the black water tank and battery tank are (black water tank is empty and we haven't used it). Does anybody out there have any ideas as to what this odor is and how I can get rid of it, as well as where the water leak may originate?
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Old 06-18-2009, 03:43 PM   #2
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1972 25' Tradewind
old mystic , Connecticut
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Yep been there done that. If your trailer was not used in 15 -16 years the mice have moved in and probably built lots of mice condos between the floor and the belly pan. Just because the mice are no longer in the trailer doesn't mean the stink will go away.

I would drop the belly pan and see what you've got. If it stinks that bad it probably won't be pretty. If you have carpet I'd tear that up too.

You are probably right about the leak it could be leaking in from around one of the lights, get some vulkem and reseal around them, or it could be from right above the window check that out too.

Annette

P.S. Welcome to the world of Airstreaming. Post some pictures we all love pictures here. Search some of my posts and you will see plenty of my very own mice condos.
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:08 PM   #3
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elec. problems water leaks, and smells Oh My

Greetings mstblove!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
I have some electrical problems, ie the fridge does not work, (all the 110 outlets are working) The 12 Volt system doesn't work any more. It did when I bought the old girl home so I don't know what happened there. anyway I'm going to take it to the rv repair shop and have them check out elec. system.
Have you considered any changes in circumstances since the 12-Volt system was operable?
  • Were the 12-Volt accessories operable when the umbilical was connected to your tow vehicle. If this was the case, try reconnecting to your tow vehicle. If this solves the problem, you likely have either a dead battery or the Univolt has ceased operation.
  • Were the 12-Volt accessories operable when connected to shore power? If this was the case, then one of the following may be the issue:
    • One or both of the fuses found on the battery cables may be weak or blown.
    • One or more fuses in the Univolt may be blown.
    • One or more of your 120-Volt AC circuit breakers may be tripped, weak, or worn out.
    • The battery is fully discharged, and the Univolt is not operating -- possibly unplugged or its control switch (if so equipped) may be turned off.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
My big problem today is---we had sunny days for the first month I had the camper, doors and windows were all opened everything is great. Yesterday we had a big rain storm I see a little water dripping down the back window only between the screen and the window. I'm thinking it must be getting in around the (tail lights) above the window as there are no missing rivets and the actual window is not wet just the screen.
Visible water leaks in an Airstream tend to appear some distance from their source in many cases. Given the location off the visible water trail, you might want to check the following:
  • The frame around the window. Check for missing or loose rivets, and missing or dried out caulk -- repair as necessary.
  • The clearance lights. Check for cracked or broken housings as well as for good seal between skin and fixture housing -- repair as necessary.
  • Bathroom vents. The 14" vent or the 3" round power vent may need to be re-sealed -- repair as necessary.
  • Plumbing Vents. These roof mounted vents have gaskets that need routine maintenance to remain waterproof -- repair as necessary.
  • Vertical seams on dome. Check these panels for loose or missing rivets as well as for the presence of sealer in the seams.
  • Window frame to operable window panel seal/gasket. These often harden and crack allowing water to penetrate.
  • AIRSTREAM plaque/letters. If these have ever been removed for polishing or repairs, they are likely to be attached with pop rivets which may allow water penetration -- spot sealing the rivets with caulk may help.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
Big issue is now I have a musty smell (mice had been living in the trailer, but no signs of any since I got it). I have cleaned and washed every thing out but I can not get rid of the awful smell. If I open the cupboards the only place I smell the odor any stronger is in the back where the black water tank and battery tank are (black water tank is empty and we haven't used it). Does anybody out there have any ideas as to what this odor is and how I can get rid of it, as well as where the water leak may originate?
Ridding an RV or house of a lingering "mousy" smell can be very difficult. What is causing the smell is typically urine that has soaked into wood surfaces and/or fabrics/cushions. Sealing porous surfaces with polyurethane, varnish, or paint can help with non-replaceable surfaces. Laundering fabrics with a white Vinegar rinse can help to resolve odor issues from fabrics. I haven't been able to find a sure-fire cure for problematic cushions as it is nearly impssible to launder them and surface treatments don't seem to be a lasting solution. Once any leaks have been remedied, you might find that a rental store may have an ozone generator available -- operating one of these inside of the coach may help to remedy the musty odors as well.

In the rear of the coach, you may be smelling "sewer-gas" that is flowing up from the waste tank through "P" and "S" traps that don't have the required fluid fill -- running some water of RV antifreese into the drains may eliminate this issue. You may also find that the toilet's seal may be dirty and/or damaged allowing odors to flow directly from waste tank. It is also possible that one or more of your drain vents may be partially or fully plugged (mud dauber nests, wasp nests, bee hive, etc.) forcing venting through associated drains.

In cupboard or closets where the odors are concentrated, you might try placing about a one-cup measure of baking soda into an open container and allowing that to remain for several days -- another method that I have tried with some success is to saturate a kitchen sponge with white vinegar that is then placed on a saucer and allowed to remain in the cupboard until the sponge has dried out. This may help to remedy the odor.

Good luck with your investigations!

Kevin
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Boulder Creek , California
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First the good news, You're at the right place for accurate answers. Welcome to the forum!
Now, your problem with the odor most likely has to do with the remains and leavings of the aforementioned mice. This is very common with trailers that have been unused for a long time. It is not usually possible to get the smell out without getting the source of it out of your trailer. In mine there were mouse trails throughout the insulation in the bellypan and up in the walls. The bellypan is going to be the worst usually, but it's also the easiest to get to. You can drop the bellypan aluminum and clean out the remains of the insulation from below. It's a nasty, filthy job, so have someone you don't like help you with it. This is also the time to inspect the frame for any possible issues. Then reinsulate and reattach the bellypan skin. Chances are that this will help significantly with the smell. If you still have issues with it after that you should consider weather it's worth the work you would have to do next. The next step would be the complete removal of the interior components and the interior panels of the walls and the insulation. A big job, to be sure, but one many folks here have done. I'm in the middle of a major rebuild of my Safari right now, and already have removed the mouse leftovers. I recommend it highly.
Hoping it's not that bad,
Rich
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:24 PM   #5
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1971 21' Globetrotter
Arvada , Colorado
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My 71 GT was absolutly terrible on the inside. My wife would not even step into the door until after I replacd the floor sheeting. I found dozens of mice mummies and even a dead snake. More under the belly pan area but some also in the outside walls. This is my project below.
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f416...ter-25666.html
http://www.airforums.com/forums/f416...nte-26902.html

Kip
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Old 06-18-2009, 04:31 PM   #6
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1977 27' Overlander
1973 27' Overlander
1963 19' Globetrotter
Naples , Florida
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Congrats on your new AS,I recently had a 63 GT follow me home,the rats and mice had really moved in,and invited all their cousins.I pulled the lower panels to replace floor and they had trails 2 ft above the floor in the insulation.Yanked it all out ,then took the hose to it,now it smells better. Dave
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Old 06-18-2009, 06:10 PM   #7
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1972 27' Overlander
Longmont , Colorado
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Remember that old Lynyrd Skynyrd song- "That Smell"? Yup, all about vintage AS restoration. Ditto with mine, after 34 years the stench was in Everything. You can mask it, ignore it, or get rid of it: Gut it and start over. Good luck, from a "Simple Man".
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Old 06-19-2009, 12:30 PM   #8
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1970 21' Globetrotter
Coeur d' Alene , Idaho
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 20
good Morning All,

Thank you so much for all the words of wisdom. yesterday I was suffering from a bad case of buyers remorse, today things look a little better.

as far as the leak I think I've narrowed it down to the seal above window. I will check it out better when it stops raining.

The 12 volt system remains a mystery. I have never had the trailer hooked to the umbilical cord. The guy I bought it from delivered it for me (he didn't use the cord either as was evident by the mud in the connector holes) The battery has been dead since I got the trailer (purchased by a p.o. in 1991) The 12 volt lights, fan, and ac all worked until I pulled a blown fuse (I never did hear the univolt system make any noise) I could not find a replacement fuse (AGS 40, univolt model 35) but the r.v. dealer
was happy to sell me a small relay switch?, that he said I could just crimp into the fuse holder. I pulled 2 fuses and don't know if i have maybe mixed them up the other fuse is a time delayed fuse? Any how I also think I have a ground somewhere in the trailer (I get sometimes shocked when I touch the outside metal ie the stairs and the water valves in the back compartment).

If I do drop the belly pan what is the best (easiest) way? Should I go back to front, front to back, after I clean each area should I re attach and start on the next, will this give me access to the holding tank? Also should I brace it up with something while I drill the rivets out? So many questions
Thank you in advance

Debra
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Old 06-19-2009, 01:35 PM   #9
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1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre
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elec. problems water leaks, and smells Oh My

Greetings Debra!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
as far as the leak I think I've narrowed it down to the seal above window. I will check it out better when it stops raining.
The generally accepted method to repair such skin openings is to clean any old caulk out with a sharpened popsicle stick or wood dowel rod. Then, to make keeping the caulk neat, apply masking tape to allow for a very thin bead of caulk to seal the joint. Apply either Vulkem or ParaBond to seal the joint -- remove the masking tape when you are satisfied with the caulk joint.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
The 12 volt system remains a mystery. I have never had the trailer hooked to the umbilical cord. The guy I bought it from delivered it for me (he didn't use the cord either as was evident by the mud in the connector holes) The battery has been dead since I got the trailer (purchased by a p.o. in 1991) The 12 volt lights, fan, and ac all worked until I pulled a blown fuse (I never did hear the univolt system make any noise) I could not find a replacement fuse (AGS 40, univolt model 35) but the r.v. dealer
was happy to sell me a small relay switch?, that he said I could just crimp into the fuse holder.
I would suggest checking the 120-Volt AC circuit breaker box and reset each of the breakers -- if either one seems "loose" or "sloppy" the breaker may be a problem (worn or inoperable) which could explain the Univolt suddenly deciding not to operate). It would likely be quite helpful to have a Deep Cycle RV/Marine battery in the system to assist with trouble-shooting. It is quite possible that you may still have a problem with the fuses that have been replaced -- if the wires aren't securely crimped in an area where the wire insulation has been removed, adequate contact may be the issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
I pulled 2 fuses and don't know if i have maybe mixed them up the other fuse is a time delayed fuse? Any how I also think I have a ground somewhere in the trailer (I get sometimes shocked when I touch the outside metal ie the stairs and the water valves in the back compartment).
I suspect that you have a ground/neutral problem (that is the way the electrician explained it to me when I had the same problem with my Overlander). Basically, it referrs to an incorrect connection between ground and neutral in the circuit breaker box -- my suggestion would be to hire an electrician to check out your circuit breaker box -- it may be the culprit in both problems.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mstblove View Post
If I do drop the belly pan what is the best (easiest) way? Should I go back to front, front to back, after I clean each area should I re attach and start on the next, will this give me access to the holding tank? Also should I brace it up with something while I drill the rivets out?
The best starting point is more one of personal choice than one being more "correct" than the other. You are correct in your mention of thinking of the bellypan in halves -- the axle will prevent you from dropping the entire bellypan unless you cut the bellypan at that point to allow complete removal. With the bellypan off, you will have full access to any tanks mounted below floor level as well as any wiring or plumbing in the bellypan area. I think that your idea of supporting the bellypan while removing the rivets is a good idea -- Duct Taping along the seams as the rivets are removed might also help to avoid having the pan drop before you are ready.

Good luck with your trouble-shooting!

Kevin
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Old 06-19-2009, 03:57 PM   #10
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2008 16' Safari
Destrehan , Louisiana
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Oh, yes. Been there and done that. Forget about having the repairs done for you, you'll go broke.
It's time to get in touch with your inner mechanic. Even though you may have no experience, few tools and lots of fears; it's time to move ahead.
Most things are really simple and not hard to fix. Airstreams are not exotic in any way. Most of the parts are fairly standard to the industry. The thing is to not get overwelmed. Break each job up into small easy steps. Take on one job at a time. In your case, I would start with the leaks. Be sure to get the right sealers and read up on everything. Once the trailer is water tight, there will not be as much pressure. ( it will also start to smell better as it dries out)
Good luck!
FYI - I spent three years doing repairs to our old trailer. We used it as the repairs went along. First trip out the water tank fell out and the heater didn't work. Last trip out I only had to fix one small water leak. Never did finish, trailer got wrecked.
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