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Old 01-21-2020, 08:24 PM   #381
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Hi Bill: Where is all the snow in your photos? It's January for goodness sakes.

Immunotherapy is a wonderful thing. I have an old friend who did it fighting stage 3 melanoma. It worked great. Not a walk in the park mind you, but it worked great. You may have some sick battle days, but you can win the war.

I purchased a Coleman unit and have been happy with it. Dometic is well known also. I wonder what Airstream is putting on top of their trailers now.

Glad to see you out working. Like you said, it is also great therapy.

David
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Old 01-22-2020, 05:00 AM   #382
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Hey Bill,

After two Dometic Penguins damaged in shipping due to poor/minimal packaging and probably more so being made in China of cheap materials (didnt discover the damage to the first one until after I installed it), I purchased a Coleman Mach 8, which was very well packaged and made in America. The Penguin was very loud and the Mach is surprisingly quiet. I also installed an Easy Start and a condensation pump. Also, the customer service of the two companies is night and day with Coleman being far superior.

I can give you a more detailed version of the story if youd like but I am very pleased with the Coleman and should have bought it in the first place rather than save a few bucks...

Ian
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Old 01-23-2020, 08:33 AM   #383
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iansk View Post
Hey Bill,

I also installed an Easy Start and a condensation pump.

Ian
Hi Ian, great to hear from you. Not familiar with easy start and condensation pump. Im getting ready to order mine and want to make sure Im not missing something.

You mentioned purchasing two penguins. Have you decided to put two on your sovereign?
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Old 01-24-2020, 05:23 AM   #384
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Hey Bill,

You may not need a condensation pump if you are using the in wall drainage that airstreams use. I installed the new AC in question on my Avion which doesn’t have the same drip cup drain system. The Easy Start is an amazing device that, simply put, ramps up the starting process of the compressor as opposed to the compressor starting at full power. Extends the life of the unit and makes using lower wattage generators possible.

The Penguins I bought were one after another due to both being damaged in shipping, very poor and minimal packaging, plus they had to come all the way from China.

I finally had success with the Mach 8 and with the Easy Start it’s relatively quiet. I installed just one Mach 8 on my Avion which is very well insulated. Cools beautifully.

When I get to AC install on my sovereign, I will take a serious look at mini splits.

Your pal,
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Old 01-31-2020, 01:32 PM   #385
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Update on bladder cancer.

This will be the afternoon to catch up on my progress and the progress of my AS project: Faith.

First, let me catch you up on my bout with bladder cancer.

All of the pathology has confirmed that the cancer removed from my bladder, while an aggressive form, had not invaded the muscle tissue of the bladder. That meant Docs could begin immunotherapy treatments. This past Wednesday I had the first of six weekly treatments.

I was concerned that the treatments might have side effects that would halt my work on Faith. But, gladly, I had none. I hope that continues as I have much work to do.

Grateful for your prayers and good vibes.

Now my focus is back on Aluminum
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Old 01-31-2020, 08:16 PM   #386
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Great news that you and your docs got rid of it before it spread. I have high confidence in immunotherapy. I'm glad it isn't making you sick and you can progress on Faith.

I'm struggling a bit with my Sovereign project, but I'll get through it.

David
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Old 01-31-2020, 10:23 PM   #387
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Great news

Glad your on the mend!
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:27 PM   #388
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Insulation

I have been at a crossroads, stalled in fact, on moving forward on Faith. One of the most challenging decisions involved the insulation. Not only was it a decision on what kind to use, which is daunting but also how to install it.
Im going to share here what I learned, not to advance my solution as the right solution, but to share what I learned in the hopes it might help someone in the future. My choices may not apply to your situation or the way you will use your AS. I am not a technical person, so some of my research may not be spot on. So I share the following as an anecdote, not a product review. So take it with a grain of salt.

Considerations in selecting an appropriate insulation
Curved surfaces insulation products should be easy to use on the curved surfaces of an AS.
Wiring and wiring harnesses If an AS didnt have internal wiring, it would be much easier to insulate. But, it does have wiring, and some of the harnesses, at least in my 78 Sovereign, are 1 thick, in places taking up all the space where insulation has to go.
Irregular widths between ribs or sparring. Insulation usually comes in 16 or 24 or 48 widths. The space between spars varies from one bay to the next.
Numerous penetrations in the exterior skin Plumbing, electrical, antenna, vents, windows, etc., all provide insulation challenges.
Condensation ASs sweat if not properly insulated.
Insects and vermin The pink insulation from the factory provides rodents and roaches a marvelous home, which I do not want to replicate with Faiths new insulation.
Fire Rating I have seen how quickly RVs can burn once a fire starts. My choice in insulation should ameliorate that risk as some forms of insulation can retard fire.
Acoustics ASs aluminum skin offers little barrier for noise. Im no expert, but just working in my stripped out AS, it seems that surrounding noises are amplified by the metal. Each installation choice offers varying acoustical insulation value.
Heat Transfer ASs are notorious for heat transfer issues. Heat from the outer skin is transmitted through the sparring, to the inner aluminum skin. You could have the best insulation on the planet but if the inner skin heats up, it defeats the purpose of the insulation. Considering the outer skin can get to 130+ degrees F, through heat transfer, the inner skin can act like a radiator.
R Rating In doing my reading on the various insulation types, R ratings have to be looked at skeptically. For example, I read one thread (not in our Sovereign group) who claimed that two pieces (layers) of reflective type bubble wrap, with something shy of a air layer between them produces an R rating of 21. The packaging clearly states that the airspace between layers, to achieve an R21, must be at least 4 thick, so there is a lot of misinformation and claims that have to be investigated to determine true R.
Cost I dont know about you but cost is an issue unless you have trees growing the green stuff in your back yard.
Difficulty to Install Each of the insulation products has its own unique installation challenges. As an example, when I took all the inner skins out of Faith, all the pink insulation fell out of the ceiling. When you go to install insulation, it has to remain affixed to the outer skin until you install the inner skin. In my own case with environment conditions in FL, double-sided tape fails after two or three days and it is difficult to find adhesive materials that can survive the hot outer skin of my AS.
Each of the insulation options have to take into account the difficulty and labor associated with their installation. And, it would be a disaster to install all that installation, and have it come falling down because the adhesives used to hold it all up, failed.

Types of insulation I looked at
HD Closed Cell Rigid Foam Board 4X8X1 $20. ($.62/sf) 4X8X1/2 $16 ($.52/sf) R ?? Home Depot
Reflectix 100sf (Or Home Depots equivalent) 48X 25 $43 ($.43/sf) R 2 Lowes
Prodex Total 700 sf 48X175 (insulation4less.com) $304.95 plus shipping ($.43/sf) R 2
Johns Manville Fiberglass Kraft Faced - 3.5X15X32 $21 ($.52 sf) R 13 (R 6.5 when divided into 1.75 batts) Home Depot
Roxul Rockwool AFB (Acoustical Fire Batt) 48X16, Batts per bag 18, 96 sf, R6 and $44 per bag. $.46/sf. --- insulation4us.com

R Ratings
All the discussion here about R rating assumes ideal conditions. There are many spots inside an AS where wires, harnesses and other obstructions will be substantially reduce the R rating and hot spots will result.

Discussion Pros and Cons
HD Closed Cell Rigid Foam Board The 1 or 1 thick foam board is unworkable unless you spend time kerfing the board to get it to flex around the curved surfaces. More workable is using 2 to 3 pieces of foam board, which are easier to bend and work with. Three boards together have an R 7 rating. Cost of three boards making up 1 is $1.50 sf.
Pros Foam is impervious to water, bugs and critters. It is lightweight and has good acoustical qualities.
Cons Hard to mold around cables and wiring harnesses. It is time consuming to cut pieces to fit into all the nooks and crannies. Even the thinner 1/2-inch sheets are challenging to affix to the round end caps. The cost per square foot makes it unattractive regardless of its benefits.
Reflectix By itself, Reflectix is not an effective insulation material having a standalone R rating of less than 2. It does have value as a vapor barrier and its reflective properties ad value when used with other forms of insulation. It does, when used with air spaces, become an effective insulator. As has already been stated, when using two sheets of Reflectix (per instructions) and airspace of a minimum of 4.5 for each layer, the manufacturer claims an R of 21. In an AS, you only have 1 of space to work with. If you install two layers of Reflectix and create between to of airspace between the layers, it does boost the insulation value well beyond the rating of a single layer. For example, one would install spacers between the layers to create the following: outer skin, airspace, Reflectix, airspace, Reflectix, airspace, and then inner skin. Unfortunately, I was not able to find any meaningful data on what the R rating would be. If I had to hazard a guess from what Ive read and what the manufacturer claims, I would say the R is somewhere between 6 and 9, perhaps higher, but that is purely a guess. When you consider that two layers of the material are needed to get the higher R rating, the cost per square foot is about $8.60 per square foot. If you are interested in this method, Kristoff has done an excellent job of installing layered Reflectix and provides a lot of helpful step by step stuff on his thread
Pros Impervious to water, insects, critters and is lightweight. Conforms easily to curved surfaces.
Cons Very labor intensive to install, heavily dependent on double sided tape, which doesnt hold up well in FL environment. Poor acoustical insulation.
Prodex Prodex is very similar to Reflectix except that it has a thin foam core. It also claims high R ratings when used with airspace. Depending where you purchase Prodex, it is price competitive with Reflectix. In similar fashion to Reflectix, two layers of Prodex are needed to produce meaningful R. Due to the foam core in Prodex, logic would indicate, would have a higher R than Reflectix, although I read a piece in the Forum that said there was virtually no difference in insulation quality between the two. Since you need two layers, the cost per square foot is $.85 per square foot.
Pros See Reflectix above.
Cons See Reflectix above.
Johns Manville R 13 3.5 inch Fiberglas Finding 1 thick fiberglass insulation is difficult and, when you do, it is very expensive in my limited experience. Ive quoted faced insulation only because unfaced, in 3.5 thickness, was not generally available at any of the home centers around me. Ive read on the Forum, where people have taken the 3.5 batts and divided them in half to approximate the 1.5 space in the AS. I dont know whether dividing a batt that has a R 13 rating in half produces an R of 6.5 but I doubt it. The best estimates Ive seen for R value for these older ASs using fiberglass insulation is R4. But for the sake of discussion Ill assume that the above batt divided in half will produce an R of 6.5. If this is the case, and the batt can be divided and you want to go to that trouble- the cost per square foot would be $.26, certainly an inexpensive option.
Pros Low cost. Equal in quality to what came from the Factory when AS made it. Reasonable good acoustical characteristics.
Cons Labor intensive work to divide all the batts in half. Absorbs moisture. Roaches, rodents and other vermin love to build condos in it. When it remains wet, it can cause corrosion to frame and outriggers. Itchy to work with and you must wear eye and lung protection separating all the batts.
Roxul Rockwool. This comes in 1.5-inch thick batts. Cost per square foot is $.58 includes shipping. One layer is required to achieve an R of 6.
Pros Fire retardant, impervious to water, bugs and vermin hate it, excellent acoustical properties, only one layer needed to achieve R 6, relatively easy to install. It us half the cost of two layers of Reflectix and Prodex when used alone.
Cons Not readily available, has to be ordered and shipped. Difficult to adhere to the outer skin. Mask required when working with it.
My Choice
I eliminated insulation board immediately due to cost and inflexibility of the material. I have seen it used by other ASers successfully, and it looks nice when completed. Chalk this up to preference.
I also eliminated using layers of Reflectix due to tedious labor involved in its installation. God bless Max and Kris (Kristoff) for the hours invested in what turned out to be an incredibly well done installation. I do not have the patience to undertake something like that. I originally wanted to copy what they did, but I knew I would go nuts with all the spacers that have to be glued into place to create airspace. But to those with the patience, their installation is a model for those wanting to use Reflectix.
Prodex was out because it must be installed the same way as Reflectix.
While I was intrigued with fiberglass and the $.26 per square foot cost, all I needed to do was think back to when I took Faith apart and found roach nests in several places in the insulation. With this in mind, I never planned to use it, under any circumstances.
I have heard discussions about using rock wool in the Forums for a while, but never really researched it. I assumed that it was going to be too expensive to use. The more I dug into it, the more I realized that I wanted to use it. It doesnt hold moisture, pests dont like it, it is a great sound insulator, it is fire retardant and it delivers a dependable R 6. In batt form, it easily molds to curved surfaces and wires. And if it was used alone, it was half the cost of using two layers of Reflectix, and it installs like fiberglass batts. For these reasons, I decided to use rock wool. And, if all things were equal, I would use it alone because it is better than what the factory provided and has none of the dreaded side effects. But all things are not equal. Floridas climate and intense sun and summers add substantially to the challenge of insulating. So, I wanted to do something to get as much R as possible.
I used contact cement to install a good-sized piece of Relectix to the inside of the outer skin. Even though the R value of gluing Reflectix directly to the skin is low, there was a very noticeable difference in temperature where the Reflectix patch was glued. I also noticed that, when applied to the skin, it was easy to slide between wires and harnesses to offer some protection in these hard to insulate places. When applied to the skin without airspaces, it is fairly easy to install.
So I have chosen to use one layer of Reflectix and rock wool applied over it. The two working together should get the R rating in the 8 range. Still not what I would like, but decent for an AS and the fact that you have so little insulation room to work with.
My 31 Sovereign has about 500 sf of area to insulate. Combining the cost of rock wool and Refectix, the cost to insulate is about $1 per square foot, or $500 not counting tapes and adhesives. In my view, given where we live, insulation is the last space to try to skimp.
Using closed cell foam tape between the sparring and inner skin to try to cut off heat transfer is a no-brainer. My thanks to Kristoff for his edification on this point.
I also plan to paint the roof panel white to reflect heat. Thanks Kay for that tidbit.
I still have not worked out how to adhere the rock wool to the Reflectix so that it will stay up until interior skin is installed. Ill post about this as I go.

Final thought
Your insulation choice should be made based on how and where you will use your AS. Every situation is different. I wrote this hoping that it would help someone else think through his or her insulation strategy and the issues you need to solve.
My thanks to IANSK, KRISTOFF, Kay (MINNO) David and others who have helped me develop my own strategy. IANSK was particularly helpful in that he lives near Austin, TX, which has a summertime climate similar to Central Florida where I live.
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Old 02-01-2020, 12:30 PM   #389
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Coloradoup

Thank you for your well wishes. So far so good.
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Old 02-01-2020, 03:06 PM   #390
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Regarding insulation, you came to the same conclusion that I did. In addition to a single layer of reflectix and rockwool I added a foam thermal break to the inside of each rib. I also plan to create reflectix window inserts for very cold or hot weather camping.

While its important to do what you can for insulation, airstreams are at a distinct disadvantage with numerous single pane windows and the metal window frames. I suspect that this limitation makes the subtle differences between insulation irrelevant. At the end of the day most will not use the trailer in conditions that warrant ideal insulation anyways. Im hopeful our similar efforts reduce our propane consumption, minimize sound and vermin, and are as fire resistant as possible.

Keep up the good work.
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Old 02-01-2020, 08:15 PM   #391
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Great report on insulation Bill. Maybe it should become a Forums "sticky" as so many of us get stuck on insulation.

My solution is a bigger furnace or a bigger air conditioner. That is a solution too, isn't it?

Lucky for me I now live in Colorado foothills where temps are more moderate, less extreme. Insulation is less of a factor.

David
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Old 02-02-2020, 06:08 AM   #392
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Nice write up. You have gathered the facts and now its part of the public record.

Like Atomic_13, I arrived at the same solution when insulating my Safari. Having camped in it, it does seem to work. I didn't know you could order 1 1/2" on-line. I bought my rock wool from Home Depot and split it with a bread knife. - Mark
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Old 02-02-2020, 10:49 AM   #393
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We adhered our fiberglass insulation to the inside of the outer skins using spray adhesive. I'm not sure if that would work with rock wool, but might be worth a can and an experiment. You need good ventilation with it.
Nice write up on all the insulation options. We went with fiberglass because of cost, which was a major factor at the time we were in that phase of our reno. It has worked quite well until we got to International last summer with 104 degrees... Never thought of the combo with reflectix but it makes sense.

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Old 02-04-2020, 07:47 AM   #394
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Leaks, insulation and rivets

Leaks

Have I said how much I hate leaks. I hate leaks!!! Just when I think I have them all fixed, a passing rain storm exposes another. And here is the frustrating part. I can use a hose to test for leaks and find nothing. I mean flood whatever I am testing and cant find a leak. A little shower moves past and badda-bing, a leak. Im knocking on wood that I found them all. And it is with some trepidation that I begin the insulation phase. I still have a leak at the top of the entry door after installing a new gasket Im not sure if I put the gasket in backwards or the door needs to be bent in at the top. But the door can wait.

Insulation

Insulation began yesterday - a little drum roll please!

I started with one of the more difficult panels where wiring harness goes into the gallery control center.

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I put the Reflectix up first and applied one double-sided tape tie-wrap holder you the bubble-wrap then cut a square out of the bubble-wrap and applied the holder directly to the skin. Well see how this holds up in the heat.

Although I tested the Reflectix a week or so ago applied directly to the skin, yesterday afternoon we had a particularly intense sun. The panel in the above pic was significantly cooler to the touch than the bare metal skin. The Reflectix was a little warm, but the Reflectix cut the heat by 1/2 and more. While it may not have a high R rating, it performs amazingly well. I am more confident that mating rock wool with it will give me good results.

My new best friend

I purchased a pneumatic pop riveter some time ago but have not had the occasion to use it until yesterday. I love it!!!

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Old 02-05-2020, 05:05 AM   #395
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Inspiring progress Bill, you are kicking a__!

I renovated my first trailer (1964 Silver Streak) using a manual pop rivet gun. Even though that was quite a few years back, my forearms are still sore. The purchase of a decent pneumatic rivet gun changed everything. It also helped to remind me how much of an idiot I can be at times... spend the bucks for the right tool for the task.

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Old 02-05-2020, 07:38 AM   #396
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Hi there, would reflectix not act as a vapour barrier? If so, wouldn't it be best installed on the 'warm side' of the insulation? Otherwise the interior cabin condensation has the ability to pass through the wool and get trapped there. If the reflectix was installed on the warm side, this would not happen. More importantly this brings up the thought that maybe its best to let these trailers breathe a bit without things like vapour barriers because of the issue of interior condensation.

Just a thought, Im new here and have read through a fair bit - not everything!
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Old 02-05-2020, 09:30 AM   #397
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The only time we've noted condensation on our windows (where we can see it) is when we're running the furnace, which is not often, since we're "summer" campers. Air conditioning is, by it's nature, drying. So, I would think, that unless you're doing winter camping it wouldn't be that much of an issue. We usually crack a roof vent when things start to get drippy, and it clears out pretty quickly.

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Old 02-05-2020, 12:50 PM   #398
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Hey Northstream

Welcome to the forums! Would be interested in hearing more about your AS project.

To address you question about the appropriateness of placing Reflectix directly on the outer skin. First, I want to stress that Im no expert. So what I offer here is my opinion. Lets begin with the insulation that originally came with this AS. You have two aluminum sheets (material that doesnt breathe) with an 1 1/2 of airspace filled with fiberglass insulation. Under the best of conditions it has an R of 3.5. There is no vapor barrier other than the aluminum skin. Cant speak to how well it handles condensation but I assume because there are weep holes at the bottom of the exterior walls that AS assumed the walls or skin would sweat.

When I took my AS apart there was considerable evidence of past moisture issues.

Think of it this way. When I put Reflectix on the outside skin, the only thing Ive done is improved heat reflection. Except for reflecting heat, the Reflectix becomes part of the outer skin and act the same. Technically I havent changed the condensation characteristics of the outer skin. In the worst case, assuming it acts like the outer skin it will have the same condensation issues as the factory setup except that it will do a much better job of reflecting heat. And it does a great job. Does it create a vapor barrier? No more than the non breathable aluminum skin. So for discussion lets assume that the combination of outer skin and Reflectix will condense the same way the outer skin will condense without it.

Unlike fiberglass insulation, rock wool repels water, bugs hate it, its a great sound insulater and it retards fire. Even if it has an R rating no better than the factory pink stuff. If the walls condensate like old, it will be repelled by the rock wool.

So I have a system that works like the old, except now it reflects heat better and I dont have the ills that come with the pick stuff.

Again, Im no expert, so take what I offer with that in mind.
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Old 02-07-2020, 07:53 PM   #399
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I like where your going, the sound dampening alone is very much worth keeping will some type of batt insulation. A few years ago I installed a rigid foam ceiling in my cabin, which has a metal roof, and it is LOUD in the weather! Rocksol would of been smarter in that case, so I completely appreciate your idea of using that AND the Reflectix.
Just got back from the cabin, and I'll tell yah the roof is silent now, as it has about 20" of free insulation on top...the white kind! Brrrr.
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Old 02-09-2020, 04:12 PM   #400
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Insulation Underway

Two-thirds of the Reflectix insulation is installed. Taken 18 hours so far. Reinstalling wires and harness as I go.

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Had a bad rainstorm the night before I was supposed to start insulation. Significant leak around the refrigerator ceiling vent. It took several hours to tear it apart, reseal it and put it back together.

Except for the old Armstrong roof air that leaks badly and will be replaced in a week or so, I think I have Faith pretty water tight.

With 2/3 of the Reflectix installed, even though it cuts the heat from the outer skin by half, it is woefully inadequate as an insulation. I mention it because Ive read where people have redone their AS and only used Reflectix glued to the skin for their insulation. Not a good idea. Just saying.
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Keeping Faith
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