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Old 02-11-2012, 03:20 PM   #29
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1981 31' Excella II
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That bumper plate is the root of all evil. The only way to get to that area to seal it is to remove the trim (belly band) above the bumper and caulk. I removed the plate and it won't go back. I am still in the process of putting the rear of the trailer back together and I will get rid of the bumper storage if necessary. I think I can make a stand alone box that does not touch the rear of the trailer. Another bad thing about the rear bumper storage compartment is the water that leaks past the cover will end up under the trailer where it can rust the frame.

Perry

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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, 04:47 PM   #30
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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.
Welcome to Louisiana. After living here more than half my life, I can safely say, this place grows on you. Like a fungus! Unfortunately, I don't know of any cure-all (or prevent-all) fix for wood rot in your trailer in this climate. The ventilation will do as much as anything to help.

Practical example - It's not a trailer, but we had a condensation problem in one of our machinery rooms at one of the navigation locks I deal with; the condensation was so bad there was standing water on the floor all the time (the room had concrete walls, and was partially below water level, so warm air on one side, cold water on the other, instant condensation on the warm side of the wall). We fixed it by adding enough forced-air ventilation to provide six complete air changes an hour, which coincidentally is also the US Coast Guard-required level of ventilation for a boat's engine room, and about the same amount of ventilation needed for a bathroom in a new home if it's built according to code.

Take the total volume of your trailer, in cubic feet. Make it easy on yourself and take maximum height, length, and width rather than trying to compute volumes for the curves. Divide that number by 10. That would be the number of cubic feet per minute (cfm) you will need for your fans. You'll want one inlet fan and one exhaust fan, both the same size. If you can't get the exact cfm you calculated, round up to the next larger size. Also, if the fans will be run less than 18 hours a day, go one size larger as well. With your inlet fan and exhaust fan at opposite ends of the trailer, that should take care of any condensation.

Hint - Mount your exhaust fan at the far end from the door you use most often. That way, when you leave a door open, you don't need the inlet fan on, but would still use the exhaust fan.

Side note - For kitchens, code calls for 15 air changes an hour to get rid of odors, excess heat, and stove combustion byproducts; you may want to add an extra exhaust fan in your kitchen, if you don't already have one— it doesn't need to be big— compute the volume of just your kitchen, and divide that number by 6.67 to get the cfm you need for the kitchen exhaust fan. Since you already have six air exhanges an hour for the whole trailer, you would only need nine more for the kitchen.

If you follow this ventilation recommendation, you'll probably feel a breeze inside your trailer all the time when the fans are running. If you can't feel a breeze on your face, you're not moving enough air to deal with condensation in a high-humidity climate. Fair warning, though, this only works for warm climates; up north in winter if you had this much ventilation you'd be heating the whole outdoors!
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Old 02-12-2012, 02:33 AM   #31
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That bumper plate is the root of all evil. The only way to get to that area to seal it is to remove the trim (belly band) above the bumper and caulk. I removed the plate and it won't go back. I am still in the process of putting the rear of the trailer back together and I will get rid of the bumper storage if necessary. I think I can make a stand alone box that does not touch the rear of the trailer. Another bad thing about the rear bumper storage compartment is the water that leaks past the cover will end up under the trailer where it can rust the frame.

Perry
I removed our bumper plate completely when I fixed the rear end separation; the storage compartment cover is hinged on a piece of aluminum angle that goes from frame to frame just behind the end of the trailer. There's no way for water to end up under the plywood... and there are drainage holes in the bottom to let the water drain out.

- Bart
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:31 AM   #32
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Bart, you refer to a bumper plat that was removed. Are you referring to the aluminum sheet metal just forward of the piano hinge for the storage compartment? Did you remove this plate and move it back a little to allow water to drain down past the floor?

Bob
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Old 02-12-2012, 09:51 AM   #33
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I think he got rid of the plate that goes up under the rear of the trailer and he attached the hinge that was attached to the plate to a section of aluminum angle. I plan on doing something similar and making a banana wrap between the frame members similar to what is at the front of the trailer. I don't know why AS did not make this simple change decades ago. I think that 90% of floor rot that warrants replacing the floor is caused by this plate.

Perry
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Old 02-12-2012, 10:52 AM   #34
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Perry, I agree that this part of the trailer was poorly designed and is an invitation for water intrusion and rotting of the floor. I also think you and Bart are on the right track for correcting the problem. I plan to move the storage compartment and hinge plate back at least 1/2 inch and caulk everything on the rear of the trailer skin to prevent water from contacting the subfloor. In addition, I'm going to construct a new/modified belly pan for the rear 3' (approx.) of the trailer so any water that enters the pan will be isolated from the steel frame of the trailer. My plan is to use steel Z metal (or two pieces of angle iron bolted together) to attach a galvanized sheet metal pan about 1" below the bottom of the main trailer frame. The new pan will easily slide under the trailer from the rear and will be secured in place to the trailer frame by a couple of bolts at the rear. Any water that enters the dropped pan can exit via a few drain holes. Since I will discard the old galvanized holding tank pan and supporting steel that I removed from the trailer, there should be very little if any increase in weight with the new pan. Any rust and corrosion that takes place will be limited to the new belly pan rather than the trailer frame. Another advantage of this is that it will allow quick access to the black and gray tanks as well as drain pipes. No more drilling out pop rivets to work on the plumbing!
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:24 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by bhutch74ly View Post
Bart, you refer to a bumper plat that was removed. Are you referring to the aluminum sheet metal just forward of the piano hinge for the storage compartment? Did you remove this plate and move it back a little to allow water to drain down past the floor?

Bob
Indeed, that's what I meant. I removed the the plate to which the bumper storage compartment lid fastens; it went under the plywood and sat against (just below) the steel angle plate that secured the skin of the trailer to the frame. When rain fell on the the plate, tired caulking hidden under the rear trim belt allowed water to migrate underneath the plywood, and kept the steel angle plate and aluminum bumper plate wet. Corrosion, rust and rot ensued.... most of the fasteners has rusted out on our trailer, and the floor was wet once I'd removed the bathroom. I could tell we had a problem because when I rested on the bumper, I could see the frame move relative to the shell perhaps .050"...

I've replaced the steel angle plate with one I made from stainless steel... the rotted out floor has been replaced, and the bumper plate is no more as I described earlier. I also added another piece of aluminum skin underneath the existing one (about 12" up) since there was a lot of corrosion around the bottom row of rivets that held the skin to the C channel. I also added a close-set row of rivets that fasten the existing skin, new skin and stainless angle plate together. I replaced the #12 bent over bolts that held the plywood down to the rear frame crossmember with 1/4" stainless bolts with locknuts; the 3/8" bolts at the corners of the frame are now stainless as well.

The bumper plate is gone; I riveted the hinges to a piece of 1.5" aluminum angle that I bolted between the frame rails. There's about 3/4" of space between the rear of the trailer and the angle, so water can drain into the bumper storage compartment and then through the drain holes onto the ground.

The only disadvantage I've found so far is that the opening into the storage compartment is smaller than before, so getting the gray water slinky into the compartment is slightly more difficult.

- Bart
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Old 02-12-2012, 11:54 AM   #36
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Have de-humidifier . . will travel.

Silver Streak used to install weep vents on the trailer exterior wall to help cut down on condensation. But the late Bob Ashby (bought, renovated and sold over 115 Silver Streak trailers out of the Houston area up until around 2001) recommended they be caulked off. I can generally find all the failed (ancient) window seals on one of these with a big temp swing due to window condensation.

A recent perusal of an RV catalog showed an air-to-air heat exchanger now available for RV's.

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Old 02-12-2012, 01:25 PM   #37
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Indeed, that's what I meant. I removed the the plate to which the bumper storage compartment lid fastens; it went under the plywood and sat against (just below) the steel angle plate that secured the skin of the trailer to the frame. When rain fell on the the plate, tired caulking hidden under the rear trim belt allowed water to migrate underneath the plywood, and kept the steel angle plate and aluminum bumper plate wet. Corrosion, rust and rot ensued.... most of the fasteners has rusted out on our trailer, and the floor was wet once I'd removed the bathroom. I could tell we had a problem because when I rested on the bumper, I could see the frame move relative to the shell perhaps .050"...

I've replaced the steel angle plate with one I made from stainless steel... the rotted out floor has been replaced, and the bumper plate is no more as I described earlier. I also added another piece of aluminum skin underneath the existing one (about 12" up) since there was a lot of corrosion around the bottom row of rivets that held the skin to the C channel. I also added a close-set row of rivets that fasten the existing skin, new skin and stainless angle plate together. I replaced the #12 bent over bolts that held the plywood down to the rear frame crossmember with 1/4" stainless bolts with locknuts; the 3/8" bolts at the corners of the frame are now stainless as well.

The bumper plate is gone; I riveted the hinges to a piece of 1.5" aluminum angle that I bolted between the frame rails. There's about 3/4" of space between the rear of the trailer and the angle, so water can drain into the bumper storage compartment and then through the drain holes onto the ground.

The only disadvantage I've found so far is that the opening into the storage compartment is smaller than before, so getting the gray water slinky into the compartment is slightly more difficult.

- Bart
Thanks for the detailed information. This will be very helpful as I move forward with my 74 restoration project. Fortunately, my trailer has very little rust or floor rot at this time so it should be fairly easy to correct this unfortunate design flaw and prevent future rot and frame separation problems. I guess another option would be to move it back to Tucson, Arizona from its new home in Louisiana. It appears that these trailers can leak for years with little or no damage if the rainfall and humidity are low enough - as in the Arizona desert.

As a result of your last paragraph, I'm going to try not to change the size of the storage compartment and access door even if I have to slightly lengthen or otherwise modify the frame horns in the process. Perhaps simply making a U-shaped bracket to attach the Al bumper to the frame would suffice. And this brings up another question. Where is the power supply cord/cable for these trailers supposed to be stored when not in use? The only place I see to store it is in the rear bumper compartment with the slinky pipe. I would prefer to keep it elsewhere for obvious reasons.

Thanks again to you and others for the great information and recommendations.

Bob
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:47 PM   #38
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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.
Industrial - especially Airports use a high grade of carpet tile - ruin one - replace it.
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Old 02-12-2012, 03:52 PM   #39
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I removed our bumper plate completely when I fixed the rear end separation; the storage compartment cover is hinged on a piece of aluminum angle that goes from frame to frame just behind the end of the trailer. There's no way for water to end up under the plywood... and there are drainage holes in the bottom to let the water drain out.

- Bart
I have a dumb question. How about drilling weep holes in the bumper plate immediately next to the trim piece. Water would drain into the bumper compartment... and since it has weep holes and other openings - it would just drain out.

Paula
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Old 02-12-2012, 04:41 PM   #40
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Paula, I have the same question, even a series of 1/2 inch holes drilled all along this plate would seem to relieve the water we see pooling there every time the trailer gets wet.

doug k
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Old 02-12-2012, 05:33 PM   #41
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The problem is the water is drawn through cracks as soon as it splashes up against that belly band trim. Water can easily pool under there and get sucked into a crack. The holes might help with pooling but in a heavy rain the water is going to come down the skin and hit that plate and go up under the back of the trailer. The shape of an Airstream produces sheets of water that will keep that area bathed in water whether the holes are there or not. One reason we have trouble stopping leaks is that almost every surface on our trailers gets bathed in water. Rain sheets off of a square trailer(vertical walls) much easier.

If you put a slot back there then the water will sheet off and hit the ground. You don't want it going up under the skins either.

Perry
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Old 02-12-2012, 07:07 PM   #42
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.... Where is the power supply cord/cable for these trailers supposed to be stored when not in use? The only place I see to store it is in the rear bumper compartment with the slinky pipe. I would prefer to keep it elsewhere for obvious reasons.
That's where our power cable comes out from underneath the trailer. Since we don't have black water in the slinky (we have a composting toilet), it works fine to keep the power cord there.

One project I considered was removing the power cord and fitting a Marinco marine outlet & cover on the outside of the trailer. I decided I had more important projects to do and I was pressed for time (camping season!) during the rear end repairs.

- Bart
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