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Old 07-06-2022, 11:44 PM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 119
Can't get over the restoration hump

Hey all. So I inherited a 1976 Overlander about 4 years ago. Gutted it, lifted the shell, replaced the floors, got some frame repairs, repaired the door, removed the old vents, sanded the roof / Bus Koted it, added two Maxx Fans, two Penguins... hundreds of hours of labor into this thing. At any rate, while the roof is sealed, the seams leak like a mofo.

I know that the answer is scraping off all the old gunky white adhesive on the interior seams and surrounding the window frames and applying new, as well as sealing all the rivets from the outside with Capt Tolley's, but I'm just having a super difficult time motivating myself towards this step. It looks like it'd take days upon days of scraping, heat gun use, solvents to get all the old sealant off and make a clean surface for the new sealant. So many nooks and crannies and sharp edges with the old gunk that is on there.

I really want to do the next step correctly, but it just sounds so tedious and awful. One nice thing is that it's a relatively cheap step when compared to the rest of the build, but I'm just having such a hard time motivating myself, despite being excited to get to the steps the follow.

Have any of you encountered a step in the renovation project that you just found exceedingly difficult to proceed with? What did you do to overcome the challenge?

In reference to my specific problem at hand, here's a post I had made last year about the interior seams: https://www.airforums.com/forums/f46...ms-226353.html Mixed advice, ranging from leaving the seams alone to cleaning and resealing. Living in the Pacific NW, I ended up getting a structured cover for it so I could just delay the inevitable for a year, but with sunny weather upon us again, my goal this summer is to get this sucker water tight.

My apologies for the rambling post. Just hoping for a little more guidance I guess. Thank you!
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Old 07-07-2022, 04:03 AM   #2
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1994 25' Excella
Waukesha , Wisconsin
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I've been there on more than a few projects over the years and can feel your pain. For me it usually ends up the same...after staring at the project for a while I start to develop a plan to attack it little by little. I find that if I can segment it into bite-size pieces it's not as bad, and often once I get into it I end up finishing the whole thing.

You mentioned that you've done the roof - did you also strip the caulking from all the body seams and around every door/window? I did mine last summer and it took me over a week doing a small section every day - I was trying not to get overwhelmed before finishing it.
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Old 07-07-2022, 06:50 AM   #3
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1966 22' Safari
1955 22' Flying Cloud
Fredericksburg , Texas
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Everyone who has gone through a renovation has experienced the same. Is the shell back on the chassis? On previous projects, after the shell is back on the chassis, we sealed the inside rivets and seams including butyl taping any frames we replaced. Then we Gator taped on the inside any potential air leaks. Finally we stuck a squirrel cage blower(or any source of strong blowing air) in a baggage compartment from the outside. We applied soapy water to the outside shell and turned the fan on. We marked areas that we saw soap bubbles on the outside seams. Then we rinsed and let it dry, then sealed with Tolleys, Parbond or gutter seal. Creating positive air pressure on the inside will find its way out. Good luck
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:02 AM   #4
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2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
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Yep, bite-sized sections.

I had a pickup truck cab in my garage for a year-and-a-half; wouldn’t even look at it, as I loathe bodywork. But finally realized and accepted that it ain’t gonna get done until I do it.

Rootin for ya!

-Ken
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Old 07-07-2022, 07:57 AM   #5
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1958 26' Overlander
Battle Ground , Washington
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Resealing the inside of the shell was the hardest piece of the puzzle for me. I thought I had it licked. Decided to push and get it to aluminum tent status (twin beds, box fan and one light to attend the eclipse rally in 2017 in Madras. Got home and had a few new leaks Tear the interior back out and do it again.

Best feedback I can give is you've overcome the biggest hurdles when the reseal is done and it becomes enjoyable again. You will be doing more adding new rather than fixing old.

Small bites, even if its just one seam a day is better than berating yourself for doing none.
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Old 07-07-2022, 08:13 AM   #6
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1977 23' Safari
Niagara on the Lake , Ontario
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I’ve been there on a few projects.
What helps me is to make a plan that seems manageable and has achievable Mike stones and then just get started.

For example, when I wanted to polish my trailer I expected it to take 200hours.
That’s 5 40hour weeks!
I didn’t even want to start because I couldn’t see the end.
So I made the following plan
1) strip the remaining clear coat - one weekend in the spring.
2) complete the first pass of polishing by end of that summer
3) complete the second pass the following summer

This helped me by breaking the job in to achievable goals. After the weekend of stripping I felt like I had accomplished something instead of feeling like I had only begun a huge polishing job. Then when I started polishing, I wasn’t trying to do a full polish, I was just trying to polish an hour at a time and finish the first pass that summer.

I attacked the polishing by waking up early 3 days a week and polishing for an hour before work instead of drinking coffee on the couch. Goal - first pass completed by the end of that summer.
I actually polished 4 days a week and often for an hour Sunday afternoon because it was going so well.
By summers end I had the first pass complete and had achieved my goal!

The next spring I started on the second pass and had the trailer fully polished by august!

I suggest making a goal of doing one window per week, for example “Monday after work I’ll clean the sealer from one window”. Don’t worry about the other windows, the goal becomes that one window that one week. Then just get started. Often the first step of a long journey is the hardest.
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Old 07-07-2022, 10:26 AM   #7
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2017 30' Classic
2022 Interstate 24X
Carlisle , Pennsylvania
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Hi

Even the factory has a tough time getting these trailer sealed. They don't seem to like the process either

Bob
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Old 07-07-2022, 11:26 AM   #8
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1976 25' Tradewind
Currently Looking...
Flushing , Michigan
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I encountered several aspects of “I really don’t want to do that”, some I farmed out, others I just had to do myself because there was no one else.

On the rebuild of our ‘76 Trade Wind—which had multiple entry points for water as evidenced by damage discovered upon disassembly—here is how I tackled, and I believe solved, the leaking issue. Once the shell had been rejoined to the frame, and while all of the interior walls and ceiling were still off, I used VULKEM to coat every rivet and seam in the entire interior of the Airstream. I then went through many rainy and snowy days and did not experience any leaks. After that I finished the wiring, installed insulation, then Reflectix and aluminum tape over all seams before reinstalling the interior walls.

I continue to be reasonably confident that this process makes mine as waterproof as I could expect. The task of coating seams and rivets from inside with VULKEM was not really difficult or tedious, at least to me, just a bit time consuming. Good luck with whatever you decide on this essential aspect of your project.
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Old 07-07-2022, 02:04 PM   #9
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2020 27' Flying Cloud
Livermore , California
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Like others have suggested, small digestible sub-projects help with making the project not seem insurmountable. I also like to make a list of projects and then pick a couple easy ones to get a sense of accomplishment. Today I'm working on prepping my car ready for a car show. The restoration was about 12 years with all the distractions of life and finances, but my wife and I did get it to the finish line. Keep plugging away, you will too.
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Old 07-20-2022, 11:53 AM   #10
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
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Goodness, thank you all for the replies. Sorry for the delay; just finished an extended tent camping trip with the kids, and experiences like that make me more envious of trailer campers than ever before!

I wanted to run something past you guys. I have a friend who's an aeronautical engineer to come over and look at my airstream project. He felt like most of the white, gummy caulk seals were intact, and that it would be absurdly tedious to attempt to remove every single one (especially where it has been applied in tight spaces with rivet-bumps impeding an easy scraping).

He recommended that I leave the intact caulk alone, and the areas where it has fissured, recommended I inject and depress caulk into those areas, assuming I can get a good bond.

What are your guys' thoughts on caulking over the existing stuff rather than spending upwards of 100 hours removing all of the old and applying new?

His rational for this is that the interior seam seals are sort of a secondary seal, and assuming the outside seals are solid, I shouldn't have to invest that much labor on the interior seals. Does that sound like a reasonable idea?

As someone had mentioned in a separate thread, the existing interior seal caulk is really similar to the gummy adhesive that is used on interior car doors... somewhere between that and plumbers putty. A challenge I could foresee is finding a modern sealant that would adhere to the old stuff appropriately.

Decisions decisions!

And thank you all again for the unwaivering support. This forum is incredible.
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Old 07-20-2022, 11:39 PM   #11
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2004 22' International CCD
Beaumont , California
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Just scrape hard enough to detect any loose, falling-away sections, then seal over whatever is solid while adding to anywhere the old came out.

Do a couple neighboring seams, then spray water on outside to check for leaks. Dry newspaper on the floor should work really well for that.
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Old 07-21-2022, 12:08 AM   #12
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ndcctrucks View Post
Just scrape hard enough to detect any loose, falling-away sections, then seal over whatever is solid while adding to anywhere the old came out.

Do a couple neighboring seams, then spray water on outside to check for leaks. Dry newspaper on the floor should work really well for that.
So maybe just rip out as much bulky, fissured, old matter and then apply over that? Sounds like a reasonably easy idea. Any thoughts on what sort of sealant you'd put over the old stuff?
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Old 07-21-2022, 05:30 AM   #13
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1977 23' Safari
Niagara on the Lake , Ontario
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I wouldn’t remove it all.

Completely stripping all sealant and starting fresh is the “first best” method.

Removing and replacing what is damaged and touching up the rest is a very close second best.

Leaks come from the outside in, not the inside out so I would be more concerned about inspecting the outside for lose rivers and sealing around all the windows vents etc.

My ‘77 has never had the interior skins removed so it has all its original interior sealant and it’s not causing any problems.
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Old 07-21-2022, 10:12 AM   #14
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1976 Argosy 24
1961 28' Ambassador
1968 26' Overlander
Lakewood , Colorado
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Hi, just a few thoughts as I have been in the same position professionaly and Airstream wise... You may feel immobilized because you are not sure that the path forward is correct or is not completely clear. 90% of the time that there's a seam or rivet leak I can tell by the inner corrosion and can address that specific area. I have found Bus-Kote and other roof coatings to do an excellent job of sealing so I'm surprised to hear of leaks. Concentrate efforts on roof vents and if you have them vista windows. As others have said, break down your plan until you find a piece you feel you can proceed with. Again, we're all rooting for you because we've all been there.
Good luck, Mark D
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Old 07-21-2022, 02:15 PM   #15
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
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Posts: 119
Thanks for the replies!

AldeanFan: Sounds like a plan, and a close second best sounds good enough for me with a more solid emphasis on sealing the outer seems like you mentioned. Excellent!

mrdes8: The Bus Kote has sealed the leaks fabulously. I have no leaks from the roof; the new air conditions and vents combined with the Bus Kote is water tight. It's just the windows, rivets, and seems on the sides that leak.

Now I just have to find a good replacement caulk for the interior seams. I'll remove all the loose, fissured stuff and seal the interior good enough. If anyone has a recommendation for a good interior seam sealer, I'm all ears. Thanks!
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Old 07-22-2022, 05:12 AM   #16
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1977 23' Safari
Niagara on the Lake , Ontario
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This is the sealant I’ve been using on my airstream.
It works very well and is available at any hardware or home improvement store.

https://www.homehardware.ca/en/295ml-517-light-grey-thermoplastic-sealant/p/2036401?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIxpyFkK6M-QIV0hatBh3XmgBBEAAYASAAEgItxPD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
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Old 07-22-2022, 08:35 AM   #17
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1976 Argosy 24
1961 28' Ambassador
1968 26' Overlander
Lakewood , Colorado
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I like both Parbond and Trempro, both available from Vintage Trailer...
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