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Old 12-05-2004, 02:46 PM   #15
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The problem with air gaps is that if they're too wide a convection current develops, with air rising on the hot side and falling on the cold side. That's why you don't usually see two panes of glass in an insulated window separated by more than about 1/4".

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Old 12-05-2004, 04:10 PM   #16
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i would think that the spray on insulation would be the most effective...down side is , i believe it gives off formaldahyde vapor... not too healthy though...

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Old 12-05-2004, 04:18 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by norbert
i would think that the spray on insulation would be the most effective...down side is , i believe it gives off formaldahyde vapor... not too healthy though...
That has been banned for awhile. The new foam is safe, for now.

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Old 12-20-2004, 04:42 PM   #18
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is, I think, the spray-in foam you are referring to. It is very popular with the OTR bus conversion community. Google 'bus conversions' and there you are. A two-part foam, professionally applied. It is not the cheapest form of insulation but it is highly effective and has the major plus of greatly strengthening the structure, according to its advocates. Think monocoque on steroids. As long as the inner skin is off, it looks to me like the ultimate airstream upgrade.
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Old 12-29-2004, 07:57 PM   #19
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Starting with the foil installation...

I finally finished installing my new Polyboard sub-floor so I can move on to other things. I spent a little time on a couple of leaks today and then started experimenting with installing the foil insulation in part of the curved back end. I cut some 1" wide strips of both the 1" and 1/2" thick foam insulation (on my table saw) and started with a small section of the wall near the back of the AS. I decided to try using a thin bead of Vulkem as glue to see if it would help hold the foam and foil sandwich in place. It does seem to work OK as long as there is not too much tension on the pieces while it sets up some. So far I think the Vulkem will work but I will have a better feel when I see what it looks like tomorrow. The foil is somewhat stiff so it makes it fairly easy to lay in place so that it holds its location while the Vulkem grabs a bit. The inner wall panel will press the sandwich together more when I install it so as long as the foil and foam stays in place until then I think all will be well.

I do think I would like something that grabs a little tighter a bit quicker though. One interesting problem that I ran in to was caused by the fact that the exterior skin is both a bit cold and a bit damp. I has been raining today and the outside temperature was about 45 degrees. I wanted to add a few wire tie-down straps in a couple of places to hold some wires in place behind the foil. The stick-on wire strap attachments did not stick reliably even when I carefully dried off the aluminum. This also leads me to believe that I would also have a problem with double back tape or foam tape unless there is something out there that is more moisture tolerant than the wire tie downs.

As an experiment I tried gluing a couple of the tie-downs on using some Polyurethane glue that I had that actually needs moisture to set up. The problem with this product, though, is that they will have to set up over night. I left them attached without connecting the wires to them to see what they are like in the mornining.

So here is the question - does anyone know of some sort of fast setting glue that is either moisture/cold tolerant or maybe needs the moisture to set up? What about some type of double back tape that would stick to slightly damp cold aluminum? What can I use for wire tie-downs? Would heating up the aluminum some with my hot air gun help?

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Old 12-29-2004, 08:43 PM   #20
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try 3M auto trim tape, it is very tacky and holds very well. it is very similar to what airstream used to install the windows in 70's trailers.

it may even work for the wire tie downs, if you replace the adheasive that comes with them.

my guess is that it needs to be dry and prepped with denatured alcohol to get the best "stick"

you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
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Old 12-30-2004, 06:46 PM   #21
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Spray Foam sounds great but.... what if you develop a leak....will that foam soak
up the water? Then how do you get it out???? If i was to use spary foam on a vehicle
of any kind i would use the closed cell type (One advantage with the FG batts they
will dry out and can be re used). If one wants a superinsulated travel trailer i think
one would have to re think the basic Airstream design and start from fresh. Its a great unit but not built to heat efficiently in really cold weather. Living in Michigan its easy to pump the propane in and/or run a little electric heat.
Couple of years ago I cranked up the heat inside my trailer, had the temps up to
60 along the top middle. Skins were 60 and the rivits were 40! The outside temps were in the mid 20's. Thats a big loss of heat. Temps were take with an ir thermometer. I have a 72 safari and love it!
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Old 12-30-2004, 08:44 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by steve O
If one wants a superinsulated travel trailer i think one would have to re think the basic Airstream design and start from fresh.
Avions, at least the last years anyway, had foam insulation sandwiched between the inner and outer panels. However, with the aluminum framing connecting the two they apparently suffered from the same heat loss/gain as Airstream.

It is difficult to imagine a superinsulated trailer that would yet retain its character as a recreational vehicle. However, I'm not at all sure a complete rethink would be required to acheive a significant improvement. A simple thermal break would be of immense value. This could be done with that blue closed cell foam that is sold at home centers in 4X8 panels. Putting an 1/8th, or even better, a 1/4 inch thickness up on the ribs before adding the interior panels would have, I believe, a dramatic effect at a negligable loss of interior room. At that point the only point of high conductivity would be the rivets themselves.

Before anyone asks the factory to do this for them, it would require thicker door and window frames, so much retooling would be required.

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Old 12-31-2004, 10:56 AM   #23
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Sill sealer and Polyurethane glue...

What I am thinking of doing is adding strips of flexible foam to the ribs before I re-attach the skins. I have some foundation sill sealer foam strips left over from a previous project that I think would be just the thing to try. These strips are 6" wide and perhaps 1/4" thick un-compressed. I anticipate that they would compress some with the installation but I need to see if the aluminum inner skins are stiff enough to still lie flat over the ribs in between rivits. My plan is to glue them on enough to stay in place until I get the inner skin in place. Also I guess that I would not want to put any on the window frames but I will have to see what that part looks like when I get to it.

On another note I mentioned that I was trying an experiment using Polyurethane glue that needs moisture to cure. I took a couple of wire tie down attachements, added a dab of the glue and stuck them on a decidedly damp ceiling (without prepping the surface in any way). They were light enough that their weight did not make them fall off while the glue set. The next day they were glued on solid as a rock. I was able to tie two romex 120volt wires to each and they held fast just fine.

I also did some looking around at Home Depot yesterday to see what other types of glue I could find that were not bothered by water. Unfortunately I have not been able to find any fast curing glue that needs water. I did find a roofing cement product that claims to be able to stick even with damp conditions. I thought I would try some on the foam strips and foil insulation to see if it would work better than the Vulkem. I will see what happens and report back here.

In the meantime I am still open to other suggestions for glue types. I did install an electric heater yesterday to see what would happen. It looks like I can drive the moisture off of the walls and maybe normal things will stick under those conditions. I will have to do more experiments and see. Actually I want the walls to be dry before I put the foam in place anyway I think. I will also try some alcohol to wip the aluminum off with before I try sticking the wire ties on with their normal adhesive.

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Old 01-04-2005, 07:09 PM   #24
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I need some more rain...

I never would have thought that I would need more rain to continue my AS work. I want to confirm that I have all the leaks fixed in a given area of wall before I fill it up with foil insulation. The really hard rain we were having recently was giving me a very clear picture of what was leaking. There are specific areas that I think I have fixed but the rain stopped before I could do a final verification. Sure I could get a hose out but it would be a lot more realistic to have a full blown rain storm to do a final verification.

On another note I had an idea that I think I am going to pursue. I was somewhat bothered by the fact that if I put my wiring between the outter skin and the foil that I would have to carefully check my inner skin pieces before I could decide where to attach the wires and where I was going to need to cut a hole in the foil to let them through. I did not really want to have to drag out the inner skin pieces until I was closer to ready for them. So it occurred to me that there might be a way that I could fasten the wires on the inside side of the foil, make the positional adjustments as needed at the time I am installing the inner skins and maybe not have to puncture the foil in as many places. Here is what I thought to do.

1.) Attach some sort of strapping or wire between the ribs (from rib to rib) at the same level as the inner skin.

2.) Use nylon wire ties to attach the wiring bundles on the wall side of these straps wherever it seems desirable to do so.

I first thought that I could use aluminum or galvenised steel wire for this purpose but it occurred to me that the wire bundles might be able to slide back and forth some during travel. This could perhaps eventually saw into the insulation and cause shorts. It might be OK if I add some sort of sleave around the wire bundle first. I thought I would check out the garden supply section of Home Depot or Lowes to see what kind of plant strapping tape I can find that could work for this purpose. I might also consider using some of the nylon netting that I remember using in the past to hold up fiberglass insulation underneath a floor in house construction. Maybe packaging banding strapping would work if I can find some.

Anyone have any suggestions or thoughts about this? I need to find the right type of material and I need a good way to attach it to the body ribs.


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Old 02-11-2005, 01:32 PM   #25
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Time for an update...

I thought it was time to give some update on my progress and techniques with the foil insulation...

I have finally installed insulation in the entire back end cap area of my AS and have re-installed the skins and end cap back there. I have attached several photos of the process. As I explained before I have been using strips of foam insulation around the edges of a given wall cavity to suspend the foil insulation with an air gap on both sides of the foil. I found a black roofing adhesive that I have been using to glue it in place until I get the skins back in. The stuff is a bit messy to work with and I must admit I forgot to check to make sure that it does not have outgassing problems which I will have to do before I use more of it. I did also use some Vulkem 116 (relatively cheap at Home Depot) which also seems to work although it is not quite as sticky as the black glop.

One of the photos show how I drilled some 1/4" holes and glued screen over them to keep any insects out. Another photo shows the foam just around the edges of the cavity before I add the foil. It does have a bead of the goop around the edges in preparation for adding the foil. There are 3 photos that show the installed foil in place. What is harder to see is that I used foil tape as necessary if there was a joint that I needed to cover. The last photo shows the end panels and end cap re-installed at the back end.

The technique does seem to work fine but is definitely more time consuming than just stuffing the cavities with fiberglass. I will add more photos when I get futher along with the process. In the meantime I would be happy to answer any questions that anyone has about the process.

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Old 02-15-2005, 02:38 PM   #26
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More progress...

I spent some more time this last weekend installing foil insulation. I think I have the technique all worked out now. My son-in-law was able to give me a hand and between the two of use it took maybe 5 hours to do the following:

1.) Saw about 3 sheets of foam insulation board up into 1" wide strips on the table saw.

2.) Make a trip to Home Depot for more adhesive (while the sawing was going on). This time I decided to look again at paneling adhesives and etc. I had picked the black gloppy roofing adhesive before because it was the only product I could find that said it was tolerant of damp surfaces. My walls are no longer damp so I decided to try "Liquid Nails" general purpose construction adhesive. It works just great! It grabs a lot faster than the roofing adhesive and is a lot less messy to work with. I bought a box of 12 tubes for $21+ which makes it less than $2 per caulking gun tube.

3.) Install all the 1" thick foam strips around all the cavities in the front end area. Drill some drain holes along the bottom of the wall and glue on some pieces of screen.

4.) Cut, fit and glue the foil insulation in the entire front end cap area. I had been using a utility knife for cutting the foil before but found that a pair of scissors worked a lot better. This included using foil tape as necessary on joints in the foil. It was interesting to me to notice that there are a lot less framing members in the wall in the front area compared to the rear area. I can only assume that this was stock.

5.) Scrub all the aluminum inner skins that fit the front area in preparation for installing them.

That was all the time we had but I felt that the process went very well and was encouraged with the process overall. Also interestingly enough we could actually feel our body heat radiating back into the AS from the foil as we installed it.

It should take maybe a max of 1 hour to put the aluminum panels and the fiberglass end cap back in place in the front area. I also now have a big pile of foam strips to use for continuing the process along the sides of the AS. I am still happy with the choice of foil insulation and feel better about the time it takes to install and my choice of adhesive.

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Old 03-09-2005, 10:02 PM   #27
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foil process


I am thinking of using your technique - a couple questions

Is it better for cold climates to have the larger air gap on the inside?

You used liquid nails to attach the first piece of foam directly to the outer skin, then again to attach the foil, then again to attach the inner piece of foam?

What did you decide about the spacer between the ribs and the interior skin?

Thanks for any help,

Carlos Ferguson
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Old 03-10-2005, 12:34 PM   #28
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I am not really sure if it matters much which side has the larger air gap. I had wanted to make them both the same but I could not find any foam insulation that was 3/4" thick at Lowes. Thats why I went with 1" and 1/2". The reason that I put the 1" cavity on the outside was because I originally thought that I would put the wiring in the outer part. I have since decided to put the wiring in the inner side. I have completed both the ends of my AS with the 1" to the outside. I may very well switch for the rest of the insulation.

I did use the liquid nails as you described:

1.) glue foam strips to outer skin
2.) glue foil to foam strips
3.) glue foam strips to foil

I always put foam around the edges of a given cavity. I then tried to use some common sense as to where else to put foam in the middle. On the curved ends I was basically trying to help make the foil follow the contour of the body.

So far I have not used any kind of spacer between the inner skin and the ribs. I think that it would still be a good idea but had not made up my mind what to use. I wanted to be able to see where the rivet holes were in re-attaching the inner skin and was concerned that would be a problem if I used something opaque. Ideally what I would like is something clear like maybe a thick vinyl tape. I had thought about using thin foam sill-sealer insulation (used between the mudsill and the top of the foundation in building a house) along the ribs. It would be perfect for the job except for the fact that I could not find the rivet hole very well. I could attach it with a little liquid nails. It does occur to me that some of it is white and maybe a little transparent. Perhaps I could use marker pen around the rivit holes and it would show through the foam. I will have to try that.

Alternatively I suppose that a thin foam blanket of the same type of foam could be glued to the back side of the inner skin before it was put on. It would add to the overall insulation effect too.

What do you think?


P.S. I am attaching some photos of the latest progress on the front end. I found that the cabinet in the end cap was easy to remove - held in with only about 5 screws that are all accessible from inside the cabinet. I want to work on it a bit and it did make the end cap easier to lift into place. I am working on the vista view window frames before I continue with the foil. The next part of the foil is to do the street side at least up to the center channel.
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