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Old 02-19-2012, 04:57 PM   #57
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Hi guys. There's no such thing as a water-tight Airstream. Doesn't exist, never will.

When I ripped the floor out of ours, I followed the generally accepted wisdom on the forums for treating the new floor before it went back in. I used West Marine epoxy around the first 6 to 12 inches against the wall/c-channel/u-channel (including the edges). The rest of the floor got two coats of verathane. t\The bathroom was entirely coated on the top side with epoxy before the vinyl floor covering went in. This was six years ago (damn, I'm getting old).

We now have rot in several places on the new floor, but I hope it's not "fatal".

The roadside radius area up front has a leak that is pretty serious. Given all the precautions I took to seal the floor, I can only surmise that i drilled thru the seal at soem point, causing a route for water into the wood. Result is black rot in the new wood. Under the galley, there's another leak, but I think that was is from the intake/exhaust for the old heater. This one is not too serious and can be repaired fairly easily.

That dang bumper area, on the other hand.....That wood in the new floor is just about shot directly under the rear hatch. The weird part is that it just sneaked up. I never noticed any problem until last fall when I reached in there and noticed the new wood was brittle. This one will have to wait until the winter rains stop and it warms up a little. One thing is certain, tho. I ain't pullin' that bath back out to fix it. There'll be a new way to do floors invented before I go thru all that again.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? I'VE ALWAYS WANTED AN AIRSTREAM, AND NOW I HAVE ONE THAT IS FUNCTIONAL. And after 4000 miles of towing it all over the southeast, it's still intact, warts and all.

Keep it in the road, boys and girls and all will be fine. Our 'Stream will be 40 years old in September. Not many people can say that.

Jim
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:15 PM   #58
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Wow Jim that is indeed devastating news. I feel better about my choice of product to seal the floor. I hope that it will do it's purported job and prevent the wood from absorbing any water. It will be some time before I can test my floor as I have a lot more to do to finish the project.

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Old 02-19-2012, 05:41 PM   #59
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Wow, that was weird. I had a response typed up that was shear genius and when I hit send, my computer went nuts. Hope I didn't send a launch code to anything at NORAD by mistake.

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Old 02-19-2012, 05:44 PM   #60
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I have about half the vinyl out and found a damp spot by the edge of the door opening by the jamb. It was not very big, but it looks like water has run about 4' inward along the plywood at some time. There is a water stain, but no rot nor mold.

Most likely there's a leak along the rear side of the door or less likely, the panos.

It is snowing now and the good thing is that I may be able to trace the source of the water when the snow melts. The bad thing is I won't be able to put sealant outside for a while, though I may do something temporary. In a few days it will be warmer and I could run some duct tape along the outside to keep it sealed until it is warmer I can use the proper sealant. The problem with that is it is a pain to remove the glue, even with the usual way, WD-40.

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Old 02-19-2012, 05:46 PM   #61
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I am 100% convinced at this point that wood is absolutely the wrong material to use on the floor. Nylo-board or those composite floors in the early Argosys are the way to go. They do not rot, at least in the same way that wood does. If I have to replace any more floor parts, I'm going with Nylo, regardless the cost. I helped another forum member install Nylo in his '74 last year. No rot yet.

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Old 02-19-2012, 05:47 PM   #62
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Sorry about the new rot. You must have some leaks you did not catch the first time. I am chasing leaks in the front of mine and I am getting rid of the gap between the C-channels. I am also putting in drains so water can get out of the C-channel. I am also trying to make the C-channel water tight by putting Vulkem over all the screws and floor penetrations. I already replaced the floor in the rear of the trailer and so far so good. I did not have time to add drains on the rear section but I am adding them to the area to the right of the door and up between the batteries. I am not sure where I am going to stop with the renovations.

Perry


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Hi guys. There's no such thing as a water-tight Airstream. Doesn't exist, never will.

When I ripped the floor out of ours, I followed the generally accepted wisdom on the forums for treating the new floor before it went back in. I used West Marine epoxy around the first 6 to 12 inches against the wall/c-channel/u-channel (including the edges). The rest of the floor got two coats of verathane. t\The bathroom was entirely coated on the top side with epoxy before the vinyl floor covering went in. This was six years ago (damn, I'm getting old).

We now have rot in several places on the new floor, but I hope it's not "fatal".

The roadside radius area up front has a leak that is pretty serious. Given all the precautions I took to seal the floor, I can only surmise that i drilled thru the seal at soem point, causing a route for water into the wood. Result is black rot in the new wood. Under the galley, there's another leak, but I think that was is from the intake/exhaust for the old heater. This one is not too serious and can be repaired fairly easily.

That dang bumper area, on the other hand.....That wood in the new floor is just about shot directly under the rear hatch. The weird part is that it just sneaked up. I never noticed any problem until last fall when I reached in there and noticed the new wood was brittle. This one will have to wait until the winter rains stop and it warms up a little. One thing is certain, tho. I ain't pullin' that bath back out to fix it. There'll be a new way to do floors invented before I go thru all that again.

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT? I'VE ALWAYS WANTED AN AIRSTREAM, AND NOW I HAVE ONE THAT IS FUNCTIONAL. And after 4000 miles of towing it all over the southeast, it's still intact, warts and all.

Keep it in the road, boys and girls and all will be fine. Our 'Stream will be 40 years old in September. Not many people can say that.

Jim
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Old 02-19-2012, 05:50 PM   #63
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I agree the plywood Airstream uses is not good, perhaps well sealed plywood would work. But the problem is the way the trailer is built at all the penetrations. Cars and trucks rarely leak. They use rubber seals and while the rubber eventually hardens, cracks and has to be replaced, it lasts a long time. Airstream could do the same. Perhaps vinyl could be used as a seal also.

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Old 02-19-2012, 05:56 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by perryg114 View Post
Sorry about the new rot. You must have some leaks you did not catch the first time. I am chasing leaks in the front of mine and I am getting rid of the gap between the C-channels. I am also putting in drains so water can get out of the C-channel. I am also trying to make the C-channel water tight by putting Vulkem over all the screws and floor penetrations.........

Perry
Did these things myself as well. The only thing I can figure about the front radius area is that I drilled into the new floor from the outside while reinstalling the belt line trim, allowing a path to the new wood floor. More Sikaflex along that trim is n my future, I suspect.

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Old 02-19-2012, 06:16 PM   #65
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. In a few days it will be warmer and I could run some duct tape along the outside to keep it sealed until it is warmer I can use the proper sealant. The problem with that is it is a pain to remove the glue, even with the usual way, WD-40.

Gene

Gene,
If its only temporary why not use aluminum tape? Works well and comes off much easier.


Jim, I am horrified to hear of rot in a 6 year old supposedly well protected floor!

I wonder if the problem was in that the wood was coated both sides? My dad was a expert woodworker (built a mahogany gaff-rigged yawl that was gorgeous!) but I remember him saying on many, many occasions that wood could get wet without harm as long as it could dry. The problems start when it can't dry out. By creating a wood sandwich with a waterproof layer on top and bottom, the water has no chance to evaporate and thus rots the wood. Regardless, the West System should have protected the edges as it is supposed to sink in and make the wood impervious to water. Sigh
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Old 02-19-2012, 06:27 PM   #66
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Reiner, your father was right. The problem is whether the wood gets enough air to dry out. If you can coat it everywhere, it should be ok until water finds a way inside. I hadn't thought of aluminum tape—thanks!

Jim, when you coated the floor, were you coating the subfloor in place and trying to get as much sealant against the inner wall as possible? I would think something thin would get further in there—perhaps urethane—but that's because I think of epoxy as viscous.

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Old 02-19-2012, 07:35 PM   #67
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I coated the outer edges with epoxy before they were installed inside the camper. The leaks most certainly occurred after everything was installed.
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Old 02-19-2012, 08:18 PM   #68
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Aluminum tape exposed to weather died in weeks or a few months here - I'd used it to cover the belly band holes to keep water sheeting past the plywood, never again. Not only does the aluminum heave, shrink, wrinkle & tear, it will oxidize and become difficult to remove as the adhesive hardens on the shell. I'm not sure what to recommend but foil-style duct tape self-destructs.
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Old 02-19-2012, 09:50 PM   #69
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"My dad was a expert woodworker (built a mahogany gaff-rigged yawl that was gorgeous!) but I remember him saying on many, many occasions that wood could get wet without harm as long as it could dry. The problems start when it can't dry out."

And that is the problem with installing a vinyl floor covering on the plywood. I would prefer stiff highly-breathable carpet sections in a low, tight weave that could be easily removed for drying, cleaning, or replacement.

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Old 02-19-2012, 10:43 PM   #70
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"My dad was a expert woodworker (built a mahogany gaff-rigged yawl that was gorgeous!) but I remember him saying on many, many occasions that wood could get wet without harm as long as it could dry. The problems start when it can't dry out."

And that is the problem with installing a vinyl floor covering on the plywood. I would prefer stiff highly-breathable carpet sections in a low, tight weave that could be easily removed for drying, cleaning, or replacement.

doug k
I agree that it is important to use a type of floor covering like carpet (iwthout waterproof pad) that will allow the plywood to "breathe" or transfer water vapor to the air inside the trailer. Furthermore, I believe it is important to provide as much ventilation of the airspace as possible to remove the moist air and dry the floor as quickly as possible after it gets wet. I'm also wondering if it's a good idea to seal the upper surface of the plywood with epoxy, urethane, etc. for the same reasons. If the plywood is getting wet at the edges near the outside of the sidewalls or under the C channel, sealing the surface may only delay drying. Of course, if the plywood is getting wet from water falling on the floor inside the trailer that's a different matter and sealing the surface of the plywood should be helpful.

I recently bought my 25-footer in Arizona where it sat outside in the weather for many years. To my surprise, the subfloor was in excellent condition with only a couple of small areas with water marks and very little soft/rotten plywood. It's been in Louisiana about two months now and the flooring in several areas has been wet ever since it arrived at its new home in spite of my ongoing efforts to get everything caulked and sealed. This weekend we had several inches of rain and the wet areas have grown significantly! Perhaps I should move my trailer back to Tucson and leave it in a lot there? If not, I probably need to build a shed for it real soon or it's going to melt down on me. Based on my observations and the comments in this thread a shed appears to be the best way for me to deal with the water problem for the long term. If it gets wet while we're vacioning, I'll just remove the carpet, open all of the cabinets, turn up the heat, plug in the fans, and get it dried out as quickly as possible when we get back home.
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