One of the jobs I wanted to do on this trailer before the weather got too cold was to clean up the mess on the roof and get it sealed up. I had read on the Airstream Forums that folks were using a material called "Ceramiflex" made by the Sealoflex company that is described as "a water borne single component roof & wall coating"
to help seal up any potential leaks as well as make the trailer cooler in summer by reflecting radiant energy. It is an elastomeric compound (it stretches with the expansion and contraction) and contains minute ceramic particles to help reflect light. Needless to say it isnt cheap and isnt available at the local HD or Lowes.
I ordered up a 5 gallon bucket which was the smallest size available from a local roofing materials distributor in Norfolk. With shipping it came a bit shy of 200 bucks. Ouch. But hopefully it will be money well spent. Then I waited till the weather would cooperate. Luckily, this weekend turned out to be perfect. Temps in the 60's and 70's in November. So I started in earnest Saturday morning to get the roof ready for the coating. Like all painting jobs, most of the work is in preparation, this was no exception.
To say the PO (previous owner) was caulk happy would be an understatement. Worse, he used silicone caulk which is the wrong material for aluminum. He had dabbed a nice sized dollup on just about every rivet on top as well as the joints around the 3 air vents and all around the AC unit. I also knew that the two plumbing vent covers needed to come off and get reworked. They are aluminum castings that cover the plastic pipe and use a rubber seal tight to the pipe that prevents any water going down and getting in between the walls and rotting the floor.
Rear vent, lotsa lovely old caulk.
Rear roof vent, old silicone caulk on top of even older vulkem which was the original caulking.
Antenna mount, at least what's left of it, more caulk.
So I went to work with a screwdriver, a heat gun and my corded drill with a wire wheel. For getting the silicone off the rivets, nothing beats the wire wheel. If I was polishing the roof, then it would be a big no no, but for coating it then it was a big time-saver and exposed the whole rivet nicely. I also used it around the roof vents an on the remains of the antenna rest which I was able to remove. I did intend to remove the remaining parts of the antenna mount, but the aluminum sheet I bought at HD was not big enough to cover the potential hole. That part of the job will have to be put off till later when I can get a larger piece.
I also noticed lots of dabs of silicone all around the base of the now exposed AC unit. This AC is not original to the camper but is about 20 years old nonetheless. Turns out they were all previous drilled holes and had been sealed up with a dab of silicone on each one. Rather than rely on a caulk or this new coating to do all the work, I ended up drilling out each a bit and put a 3/16 pop rivet in each one. Pop rivets are fairly tight little buggers and should seal out any water with the new coating on top.
New rivets all around:
The prep work took all of my first day and ran into the second day. Luckily the weather was even warmer today, up into the 70's. My first order of business was to finish up the two plumbing stack vent covers. Previously I had wire-brushed both and cleaned off all the old caulking. One post I read on airforums mentioned filing a channel on the bottom to allow water to drain out. I used a small milling machine to cut a small slot in each casting. I also used some caulk on the inside to hold a small section of screening in to keep bugs out. New stainless screws replaced all the steel screws previously used. Why on earth anybody would use steel screws on an aluminum camper is beyond me. Using some sheet rubber squares from the local HW store, I cut a hole a bit smaller than the 2" OD pipe and slid it over the pipe. I then drilled a couple of holes in the rubber as indexes and slid the vents over and drilled the other 4 holes. A bit of caulk on each hole before the screws went in should seal them up nicely.
Prior to trimming the excess rubber:
Trimmed up and caulked. You can also see the cleanups on all the rivet heads.
Last part of the prep work was to tape for a sharp outline. I decided to round over the corners to keep with the theme:
The rest of the story is painting. This material reminds me of white ceiling paint, VERY EXPENSIVE ceiling paint. First coat was thin, and I had to go out and get a new roller cover, the old one left a poor finish. The instructions call for 2 coats to achieve an 18mil thickness. I probably have about 3 on my roof. Cure time is 24 hours, depending on ambient humidity. Tomorrow should be dry so I think all will be fine.
Front looking back:
Back end of the camper:
Looking forward. You can see the old antenna mount and whatever is next to it still covered in silicone goop, waiting for me when I get some aluminum sheeting:
While I was removing the AC cover, I leaned against it a bit too hard and the plastic easily cracked. It actually cracked a bit more as I tried tried to get it off. To add insult to injury, I poked a bit at a spot on the evaporator fins and they crumbled to little bits. Something tells me we may be putting in a new AC unit in the near future, though this one still works.
That's it for now. Next big job is the axles. I've already gotten some of the parts in, and should be heading down to NC to pick them up after Thanksgiving. Thanks for reading.