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Old 02-10-2012, 05:44 PM   #15
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Nylo-Board is one option, but expensive.
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Old 02-10-2012, 05:44 PM   #16
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Nylo Board has been suggested, AS used composite aluminum in some Argosy trailers. Green board is a no no because of acids. Coating marine plywood is that most folks do and seal all penetrations to that wood.

Perry

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Originally Posted by pxlchk1 View Post
So it's looking like I'll be replacing all the flooring in our '73 Tradewind.

If you were going to replace all your flooring, what would you use? Is there some sort of alternative like green board that's available and would be more water-resistant than plywood?

-Alana
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Old 02-10-2012, 05:56 PM   #17
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Home construction has its issues. Most of them are a result of crappy workmanship which is a lot of what is wrong with Airstreams. AS has not really done anything to improve their product. They are still making the same mistakes they made 40+ years ago. They must have a huge profit margin considering they charge $70,000+ for a new trailer. For that price they could afford to put a 20yr unconditional warrantee on their trailers. They would then have a reason to improve. The aircraft industry has found ways to solve the problems AS is too cheap to fix. My trailer is coated with some white putty stuff and it works to some degree but it would have worked much better if it had been a true rubberized coating that would not crack at flex points. If you put foam over that then you would have a good system. Still leaks can happen so drains in the C-channel should be there as a backup.

Expanding foam is not all it is cracked up to be. It can trap water and lead to corrosion problems.

Perry

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There are better ways to insulate and to protect from water, but Airstream is way behind the times.

Spray foam can seal spaces where air comes in and out—one source of condensation. It provides better R value than fiberglass. Spraying around windows will seal them much better. Modern methods of home construction create air tight houses and better insulation. Wall interiors need to be vented on one side or the other to prevent condensation. This allows water to evaporate. The outside walls can be made watertight—house wrap was a step toward that, but better things are now available. Once the ribs are assembled, impervious sheeting could be put over them before the skin is attached. Everything that goes through the walls can be sealed with waterproof tape, spray foam and a more flexible sealant that will move with stresses to the trailer. That would create a vapor barrier on the outside wall. The foam also acts an insulator. Ventilation on the interior side would be fairly simple.

Car companies can make doors that don't leak, but Airstream exterior doors to storage compartments have a long history of leaks which also destroy floors. And the company is tone deaf to using marine plywood and sealing all cuts and holes on the edges.

The various items on the roof leak, but flashing can be and is designed to prevent leaks on houses from chimneys, soil stacks and skylights.

Airstream is disconnected from the world of home construction and auto assembly and we all suffer from that. The workers are not experts at all the things they do and the supervisors and executives do not know how to change or adopt new methods. It is also cheaper to do the same things and be content in the knowledge that they are making a marginally better trailer than most others.

Gene
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Old 02-11-2012, 08:16 AM   #18
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So,"Waterproof Airstream - Impossible?" The short answer: yes
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:43 AM   #19
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Yes, I would say so. Some may disagree but sooner or later they are going to leak. Most likely, they leak from day one but we like to be in denial that something that costs so much can't leak, pride comes before a fall.

Perry
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Old 02-11-2012, 09:56 AM   #20
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I recently replaced the original carpet in our 02 Safari. The new floor covering is installed such that I can easily pull back the floor covering and inspect the perimeter of the inside wall (except where permanent furniture sits) for signs of leaks. After I purchased this trailer in Sept I resealed all of the windows and seams and there is no indication of any leaks now. However, I installed the new floor covering as I did because I know that it is just a mater of time before a leak appears again on the subfloor and I want to spot the leak before damage is done.

I don't think it is possible to avoid leaks on an Airstream or any other rv. You need to have a good maintenance program that includes leak detection and as much prevention as possible.
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Old 02-11-2012, 10:32 AM   #21
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I'v spent a lot of time and caulk fixing all of the leaks in my 1974, 25 footer. Still, after a rain I have wet plywood against the rear wall. I believe the water is running down the outer skin, under the trim piece above the bumper storage area, and onto the plywood. I've removed the belly pan and black tank and want to get this leak stopped before I close everything back up. For sure I'm getting rid of as much of the pink fiberglass insulation as possible and replacing it with rigid foam board under the tanks. Fortunately, there's no rot yet because the trailer spent most of its years in Arizona. Now that's it's moved to Louisiana I need to correct this or the floor will rot out fairly quickly. All ideas will be appreciated.

Regarding keeping everything in the trailer as dry as possible. After I get all of the significant leaks fixed, I plan to use fans to ventilate the interior and the area between the plywood and belly pan with as much low humidity air as possible when weather permits. I think it's also important to use flooring that will allow water vapor to move from the plywood to the interior space of the trailer. Leaving cabinets and storage areas open for air movement should also help. I'm sure things will get wet from time to time, but, if I can keep things dry most of the time perhaps the trailer will last outlast the present owner.
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Old 02-11-2012, 10:33 AM   #22
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You are wise to have flooring that you can pull up and inspect for leaks. The good thing about an Airstream is that when it leaks the floor rots. When an SOB trailer leaks the whole thing rots and falls apart. Untreated white pine won't last long when it gets wet. SOB trailers in Florida rot so fast you can actually see it happening.

Here are some aluminum composite panels from McMaster-Carr. The 1/2" composite aluminum panels would be the way to go. They are expensive but not crazy. A 2ftx4ft section is $164. I am sure there are cheaper suppliers than McMaster-Carr. Is says .21" deflection with a 100lb load which I can only assume would be in the center of the 4 ft section. No one would put a 4ft span on something like this so that is not bad. It is stiffer than plywood. I am sure you could get bigger sheets of this stuff.

http://www.mcmaster.com/#aluminum-co...panels/=g7c4iz

Perry
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Old 02-11-2012, 11:09 AM   #23
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Our 40 year old trailer had some rot near the front door from leaking window seams, minor problems near the battery box door, water heater and of course rear end separation (rot around the rear shell/frame fasteners) due to the poor design of the rear storage compartment cover. When I fixed the rear end separation, I removed the plate that went under the plywood; we've fixed the leaks in the windows and we epoxied all the floor we could reach (we'll be doing the rest as we rework the rest of the cabinets later on). We painted the epoxied floor with an aluminum polyurethane paint and use rugs. Leaks are now easily seen. We may go to a fancier floor covering later... but I really like being able to see what is going on for now.

We need to think of these trailers as boats, which require on-going maintenance to prevent rot from causing problems. Most wooden boats come to grief from rain - fresh water leaks cause dry rot; salt water leaks don't.


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Old 02-11-2012, 11:24 AM   #24
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I think waterproof Airstream is not going to happen, due to design, quality control, and age deterioration issues.

Since leaks are inevitable (perhaps on any RV), I think Airstream should use a floor with much greater resistance to water damage. The way things stand, even a minor unattended leak in a wet location will rot out area of the floor all too soon.
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Old 02-11-2012, 12:32 PM   #25
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If I were doing a shell off rebuild, I'd replace the existing floor with one laminated from two layers of 3/8" plywood w/ overlapping seams and epoxied on the bottom. I'd cover the edges w/ fiberglass cloth & epoxy and then fasten the floor to the frame with self tapping metal screws sunk into the plywood... and then fill, glass and epoxy the entire floor, tinting it to an acceptable color. Areas where I'd need to cut openings for plumbing, etc, would receive epoxy on the raw wood edges. I'd drill (slightly oversize) holes in the edges for the C channel bolts, and swab them w/ epoxy as well.

Floor coverings would be rugs/mats, etc; one could cover the floor with laminates - but no penetrating fasteners.

This setup would be a LOT more leak resistant than the original design; it would also be easier to spot problems before they snowball. Materials costs would be increased by only epoxy & cloth - fairly minor for this scale of project. Of course, regular attention to potential sources of water intrusion are still needed.

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Old 02-11-2012, 01:04 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bhutch74ly View Post
I'v spent a lot of time and caulk fixing all of the leaks in my 1974, 25 footer. Still, after a rain I have wet plywood against the rear wall. I believe the water is running down the outer skin, under the trim piece above the bumper storage area, and onto the plywood. I've removed the belly pan and black tank and want to get this leak stopped before I close everything back up. For sure I'm getting rid of as much of the pink fiberglass insulation as possible and replacing it with rigid foam board under the tanks. Fortunately, there's no rot yet because the trailer spent most of its years in Arizona. Now that's it's moved to Louisiana I need to correct this or the floor will rot out fairly quickly. All ideas will be appreciated.

Regarding keeping everything in the trailer as dry as possible. After I get all of the significant leaks fixed, I plan to use fans to ventilate the interior and the area between the plywood and belly pan with as much low humidity air as possible when weather permits. I think it's also important to use flooring that will allow water vapor to move from the plywood to the interior space of the trailer. Leaving cabinets and storage areas open for air movement should also help. I'm sure things will get wet from time to time, but, if I can keep things dry most of the time perhaps the trailer will last outlast the present owner.
Another thing to check in that area, is where the rear dome cap rivets to the bottom of the window frame. There are several pop rivets that hold the dome to the frame and should be sealed up. All of the condensation from the rear window will run right through these pop rivets.
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Old 02-11-2012, 02:22 PM   #27
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They're (all RV's) gonna leak, and condensation happens.

It will always be our responsibility as owners to minimize conditions that cause it, inspect frequently to find it when it does, and seal or repair as soon as possible.

doug k
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Old 02-11-2012, 02:48 PM   #28
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If I could ask airstream to make a special floor for me, it would be the plywood they have with no vinyl floor covering. Instead it would have stiff, low pile carpet (coordinated with interior) in large sections so I can easily lift the carpet and look for leaks, and wipe and dry it when they inevitably occur. The removable carpet would also be easy to clean and a snap to replace.

Carpet that functions like tatami mats, or maybe tatami mats.

doug k

I would also use tatami mats under the mattress if condensation is a problem there.
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