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Old 04-17-2006, 12:04 PM   #1
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Argosy Water Leak

I have a 1975 Argosy 26 and after parking it temporarily listing towards the curbside (streetside higher) I have found a substantial leak that I had seen no signs of while trailer was level. The water looks to be appearing around the battery box and about half way across under the water heater when viewed from inside the bathroom closet or looking under the streetside twin bed. With out starting a discussion on how to find and fix water leaks, has anyone had water appearing in this same area and where was it coming from.
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Old 04-17-2006, 04:19 PM   #2
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Yes.

The gasket for the battery box door was bad, and when the trailer leans in the direction that has the battery box at a positive slope, instead of straight up and down, or at a negative angle, rain water would leak around the gasket, through the access door, and across the floor.
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Old 04-17-2006, 06:17 PM   #3
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Hello RBolton & welcome to the Forums! I suspect you're getting leakage even if the Argo is not tilted -- and the results may not be pleasant.

[Yes, Terry -- I had tagged this thread for response this afternoon, not wanting it to drift off the bottom of the Portal list unanswered.]

On my 1976 24' Argosy the battery compartment door had gaskets along the side and none along the top edge of the door at all. I assume the purpose was to allow so much venting for hydrogen that none would accumulate inside the trailer. The compartment's intended integrity was supposed to prevent moisture getting inside, but seals fail all the time on trailers this old! It was fortunate my battery didn't break through the banana wrap underneath!! The floor had rotted and the steel outrigger underneath had rusted away.

After welding up a new outrigger and making an inlay for the missing floor (with generous applications of RotDoctor penetrating epoxy), the first picture shows the internal battery case screwed back into place, ready for Sikaflex 221 to be injected between it and the outer skin. Save that battery case if you have to take it off!

Before the second picture I used Olympic rivets to reunite the three layers of door frame, outer skin, and the rim of the plastic battery case. Then I used generous amounts of Sikaflex to bed the aluminum battery tray and seal the edges between it and the battery case. Avoid silicone caulk like the plague. Leave some path for hydrogen to escape to the outside if you stick with the lead-acid battery (I did). Sealed AGM batteries ($$$) don't need that ventilation.

You may not be there yet, but note that the water fill door gasket is probably hard and that rainwater flowing down the trailer skin can get into your water tank. Try to find some closed cell foam and re-work that some time.
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Old 04-18-2006, 12:05 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies, I do see that the gaskets only go part way up the side of the battery door. I see evidence of staining on the floor around the battery box looking from inside but all exposed wood seems to be solid. The previous owner stated that the trailer had belonged to his parents up until a couple of years ago and that they stored the trailer under roof. Hopefully this battery door is the point of entry and new gasketing will correct the problem.
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Old 04-18-2006, 04:27 PM   #5
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The ridged aluminum bottom of your battery compartment should show very good caulk between it and the surrounding plastic battery case. Otherwise I'd recommend unscrewing the 2 screws holding it down, prying it out, scraping clean and reapplying Sikaflex 221 (the grey is good match for aluminum). 221 is good stuff -- you get a skin set overnight, whereas Vulkem is thick, lumpy and takes forever to set. For source, search on Sikaflex 221 and see the 'Sealant Uses' and 'Sealant along window edge' threads.

If the floor underneath is damp you might have to let it dry a while. Apply Rot Doctor if the least bit punky. It is unlikely you'll have to do the full monte on the seal between the battery box and the outer shell. You don't want to take the door off if you don't have to. I had to.

Good luck -- more questions is gooder....
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Old 04-23-2006, 05:36 PM   #6
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The sides and back of the tray appear to be sealed ok but the sealer across the front has been pulled away and could be the culprit. I am in the process of refinishing the galvanized portions of the roof and I have the trailer parked where I cannot get a water hose to it to check. As soon as the paint project is over and I can move the trailer I will leak test this area and let you know what I find. Thanks for the replies.
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Old 04-23-2006, 05:51 PM   #7
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It wouldn't surprise me totally if the external skin wasn't sealed that well to the front of the battery tray. I'm not sure if this would account for water getting inside... Now this is right next to the water heater too. Too bad about the demise of the www.argosytrailers.com [Bad link -- don't bother. It used to have comprehensive multi-angle views of all possible Argosy trailers -- too cool to imagine...].

Is this leak location possibly near to either of your two roof vents for sewer stack ventilation. These plastic vents (in Argosy) are usually punky and the rubber gaskets are hard, contracted & lost all seal by now. I wonder if the water you're seeing when parked at an angle wasn't there all along, but just noticeable when it ran out when the floor was at a significant angle.
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Old 04-29-2006, 06:48 PM   #8
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Sorry for the slow replies. I thought about the vents. The roof vent looks like it is sealed ok but I know its hard to tell by just looking. I’m a little unclear on the anatomy of the sewer vent. It looks like it is designed to catch water as much as it is to vent the sewer. I see the chimney is screwed to the roof. Looking into the chimney, I see a screen covering the vent pipe which is sealed with some type of gasket/seal. I have not tried to remove or disassemble this thing yet.

I have decided to work my way up. The water heater is just to the left of the battery door and has just recently been replaced. There is busy intersection between the water heater and the battery door. The heater, the battery door, the rubrail and the belly wrap seam beneath the rubrail all look like places for the water to get in.

I removed the battery access door, loosened the rubrail back a couple of feet and then took off the battery door sill plate .There is no sealer here. The sill plate runs right up against the battery tray and hides about an inch of the plywood that the battery box sets on. This is not the floor but a second thickness that sets on the actual floor.
This wood is quite wet and rotted. Using a pick it seams solid about two inches back, about and inch under the tray, and the actual floor beneath seems sturdy when probed as well. I am letting it dry and have fashioned a curtain over the opening that should shed water past all of this area. That might show me if the water is coming from elsewhere, higher up. If not then my plan is to not remove the tray but to use a penetrating epoxy and then an epoxy filler to repair the wood that is exposed and then reinstall the sill plate with sealer and then the door - sealing everything as I put it back together.
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Old 04-30-2006, 09:07 PM   #9
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Sewer vents 101

Roof vents -- Designed into the more economical Argosy line was the plastic roof vent (instead of aluminum). The plastic is no doubt quite fragile at this time. I have seen some more economical replacements than Inland RV's offering (Camping World?) but can't put my hand on it. You might want to have a replacement in hand before you start messing with this. It is okay if the vent pipe is open to the sky; at most you'll get a teaspoon or two of rain into your black or grey tank.

On removing the roof vent you will see that the actual seal to the black PVC exhaust pipe is some black rubber. The rubber seal's footprint is the same as the roof vent. The replacement vent cover should include a new rubber seal and a new piece of window screen to keep bugs & critters out of your tanks.

The principle source of any water influx would be at interfaces of the rubber seal. Water introduced in the space between the outer and inner skins is very difficult to diagnose when it shows up on the floor quite some distance from the leak. Quite clearly, I would still be most suspect of the design of the battery compartment...

The key to the diagram below is:
silver = trailer skin
green = caulking (Sikaflex 221 is my personal favorite)
blue = your current plastic vent cover
black = black PVC exhaust pipe
red = rubber seal; a friction fit to the pipe does most of the waterproofing but a little Sikaflex couldn't hurt

not shown - screen; it should fit loosely between the red and blue, crossing over the top of the stack

I hope you've been reading enough threads to realize that silicone caulk should never ever be used on aluminum -- any bond will fail between silicone and aluminum. I wouldn't trust the rubber to seal at the trailer skin because the vent may overlap a skin lap and rivets; therefore I used the Sikaflex. The vent cover is cosmetic only and should have a weep hole in the lowest edge.
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Old 04-30-2006, 09:23 PM   #10
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Argosy Battery Floors

I didn't want to confuse you early on with what you have now discovered. You accurately observe that the battery compartment is raised by an overlay of 1/2" floor ply laid on top of the original floor. Both layers were shot in my trailer. I removed floor back until the worst of the wood was gone and then treated the surrounding original floor margin with Rot Doctor (use the search function). Rot Doctor is a high-solvent penetrating epoxy that can firm up somewhat softened wood.

In my 24-footer it was convenient to cut a piece of ply 2" wider on 3 margins than the removed area of my floor; this would become the new overlay piece (treated with more Rot Doctor of course). I made a dummy piece to fit into the removed floor area, not worrying too much about edge fit. I put some backing strips under the old floor and bolted through the three layers from the overlay down through the backing strips.

I didn't have a good source of marine ply. You do want to avoid gaps in the internal veneers if you can. I accomplished this by using the more solid (though not perfect) underlayment as shown in my 2nd photograph.

I agree -- there doesn't seem to have been any caulk between the floor and rubrail as you call it. That double sided foam tape originally installed should be replaced with some Sikaflex to seal the banana wrap back to the skin when you put your beltline aluminum extrusion back on.

Best wishes!
Bob
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:06 AM   #11
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I really appreciate all your help. If I decide to remove the box and replace the entire piece of overlaid plywood, do you think it is possible to do the entire repair working though the hole where I have removed the door? If not, it looks as though I would have to dismantle the rear closet/wall/street side twin etc. to access it from inside.

I understand about the silicone and will refrain from using it. That will be especially difficult as I operate a small new car dealership and we use RTV sealer for everything.

Thanks for the vent diagram. That's about what I expected. and should be pretty easy to leak test. I can tell that the vent is very brittle and the screw heads are very rusty. I agree that I should have a replacement in hand before removing this one.
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Old 05-03-2006, 11:49 AM   #12
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The problem with sitting at a computer and trying to picture something in your mind is that your mind will play tricks on you. I see that I would only have to remove the low shelf in the bathroom closet to get to this from the inside. Looks like we're in for a few rainy days here. Maybe I can satisfy myself that this door area is the leak and start the repairs.
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Old 05-03-2006, 10:17 PM   #13
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Removing the ply from under the mattress may give you all the access you need. It's held in by only about 10 small screws. Find a film canister (what's that?) to store them in and they should go back easily when you're done.

I've thought about taking my rear closet apart to get to the aft floor -- looks like way too much of a headache!
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Old 05-04-2006, 11:20 AM   #14
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Battery door gasket

FWIW the rotted floor on my 24' Argosy was from the door seal. After repairing the floor, I used the seal from a 2005 Airstream. Yes it works, I have replaced all the gaskets in my Argosy with this seal. It is shaped like the letter D.

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Old 05-07-2006, 05:46 PM   #15
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We had a steady rain here earlier and I spent a while just observing and watching the water run down the side of my trailer. If you'll recall, I have made a curtain out of a piece of plastic banner and duct taped it over the battery door opening so that it sheds the water completely past this area.

Here is what I found. The water, from just behind the bedroom window back to the vertical skin seam that runs from top to bottom, runs down to the beltline moulding and then travels rearward along this moulding and it all runs in a steady stream straight down this vertical seam. This seam is right next to the rear edge of the battery door opening. The water then has to either run over or under the lower moulding (rub rail.) When I peeled back the curtain that I had made, much of the water follows the moulding and runs right into the opening where I have removed the battery door. This is the area that had no sealer when I took it apart.

I am sure this is responsible for at least a large part of the water that was coming in. There is a similar vulneralbe intersection on the other side of the door, but it does not appear to be receiving the volume of water as the other side. After I fix the floor and seal all this area and replace the door seal, I should have it...Unless, of course, the roof vent is leaking.
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Old 05-26-2006, 02:44 PM   #16
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Argosy Leak At Battery Door Update.

I have have managed to stop the leak and I am putting everything back together now but stopped long enough to take these photos that show where the problem was.

Water running down the skin got to the overlap that I have marked as "A" and then ran forward under the sill plate that I have marked "B" and onto the floor under the battery box.

I'm not sure if the sill plate, which is a piece of aluminum angle is original to the camper, but it was not sealed to the skin or to the wood beneath the battery tray. There was only a bead of sealer between it and the edge of the tray.

There was also a leak on the left/forward side of the door -same cause- only not as much exposure, so the majority of the water was entering on the right/rear side.

I have water tested it just like this, sans door, and no water has come in that I can see.
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Old 05-28-2006, 10:29 AM   #17
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Good job! One spot of security in a world of Airstream fun .
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Old 05-03-2010, 02:00 AM   #18
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Sorry to bump an old thread, but I have a similar issue.

Noticed it on our first trip with the trailer last week, and after some semi-heavy rain/snow this week, I notice it again when we stopped by the trailer today.

Basically, water is getting into the very front of the access door. As we have it parked, not on the level, the water made its way very close to the shelving under the double bed that's on that side.

I first thought it was the battery door, which isn't flush along the sides, and has the little open slots on the top (I assume to vent the battery). But as mentioned, it also isn't closing flush...looking at another thread it seems that I should be able to adjust the battery door hinges to fit flush.

It also could be the access door...seems tight enough, but the water spot are at the very front as if it was coming in there.

Wasn't able to open the battery door until today...the plastic tray looks to be in great shape.

So I checked at the access door again...and looked a bit deeper that it may well still be coming from the battery side, in the very corner where the two compartments meet, which is under the lip of the door opening.

So, I open up the battery door again. I reach blindly and realize that there is a lip under the battery door opening, and I am thinking that there is maybe a bit of a gap under this lip where the plastic meet the inside of the exterior skin, between the two compartments.

Will have to check that out with a flashlight, as its such a tight little dark spot at a weird angle to properly see if there is a space in there that water can get from the battery compartment/tray into the access door area.

Hopefully thats the case...that its coming in under on a misfitting battery door and seeping into the access compartment under the lip, where the battery compartment tray meets the body of the trailer....then its just a matter of fixing the battery door.

I will double check the solution 2 posts above...although from memory it looks like that area had been sealed by the PO on mine.

While I am at it, although there is no rot there which is the best water sealant to use in that access door, so that the water doesn't soak in/do as much damage? There is no rot, and although I've seen rot doctor, not sure how available that is in Canada.

Is there another good solution for treating that floor? I've also read that painting the area with a quality exterior paint, it will seal/treat the wood adequately.
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Old 05-11-2010, 02:10 AM   #19
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Sorry to post twice, and cross posted a portion of this in another thread.

Pulled up the carpet inside. Bathroom was the last that we did in the coach...hesitant for sure, given all the horror stories of water damage there. Pulled up the carpet, and saw some wetness, right in front of the closet. Now we've had some rain in past couple weeks, not a lot, and not for a few days. Attached a picture...the carpet tacking is still nailed down in front of the closet door. The carpet tacking you see under the bathroom door has already been removed...the darkness of the wood this side of the bathroom door isn't wet, just the water stain at the center to left side of the closet door.

Now, we first thought it was coming from the floor of the closet, because in that closet is the battery tray, and we have an issue with a modified battery door that doesn't fit flush (as mentioned in my post above).

However, the carpet on the floor of the closet between the battery tray and the closet door is not wet at all. From that picture, the carpet tacking in front of the closet is wet, but the 1 inche between it and the closet is bone dry, so the water is coming from the other side. The toilet gas pipe is also there, but its not leaking from the top there, as the shelving isn't wet either as if it was coming down from the top.

So where else could this be coming from? Ceiling looks ok right above it, I am thinking nothing directly is coming from there. The bathroom fan is almost right above this, so maybe there?

However, my initial theory after thinking about it more, is that something is running down from the top somewhere, down the side of bathroom door (its was closed and thus closer to where water is), and collecting at the base of the bathroom door that you can see just to the right.

Otherwise the bathroom looks great...the carpet was soon pulled off the toliet box...looks brand new, so no issues there.

Any ideas of where this could be coming from? Up top somewhere as I suspect? As I said, its still wet, and hasn't been any precipitation for around a week. There is no rot, or even softness, so this is a recent-ish leak I think.

Thanks in advance...
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Old 05-15-2010, 11:47 PM   #20
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Anyways, heres a pic of the battery door...you can see its not sitting flush.

My latest theory on the water found in the bathroom (dried a couple days after the carpet was pullled up...last storm that came through would've been a week before that) was the it came through the battery door and ran down to the left of the door (since we're parked on a bit of a uneven ground) until it reached just left of the closet, then came down towards the middle.

Again, because the carpet directly behind the battery door in the closet wasn't wet, it had to be coming from somewhere else...since its coming into the access door area too, it has to be running down the left of the battery door box.

The battery doors I guess were modified at one point to hold two batteries, have to juggled with it to figure out how to get the sides flush.

Any other thoughts about the access door leak? Or the leak thats collecting in the bathroom?

Thanks,
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