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Old 09-19-2010, 11:53 AM   #1
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1975 29' Ambassador
denman is , b.c.
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Question Can't find the leak..

Rained last night and I have water on the shelf beside the door. This is an ongoing problem and I just can't seem to find where it is coming in.
Trailer is a Rear bath, 75 Ambassador. All suggestions welcome....
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Old 09-19-2010, 12:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by kooshka View Post
Rained last night and I have water on the shelf beside the door. This is an ongoing problem and I just can't seem to find where it is coming in.
Trailer is a Rear bath, 75 Ambassador. All suggestions welcome....
You need to seal the vista view windows.

Use Vulkem sealer around the top and both ends of the metal frame.

Then, seal the glass to the metal frame with Vulkem sealer by cleaning that juction, then applying the Vulkem to completely cover the gray gasket.

That should end that leak.

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Old 09-19-2010, 03:30 PM   #3
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I had so many leaks from the door to the front rib that I considered slitting my own throat at one point. My Vista window was leaking for sure. The top vent leaked, the big window leaked, the door leaked, the door frame leaked, the awing top channel leaked, the awning mount leaked, and the bottom belt leaked . . . more.

One leak persisted after I made a religion out of finding and fixing them all. I finally had to remove the inside skin so I could watch from the inside when it rained. Finally about 10 PM one night it rained hard. I sat inside with a poacher's flashlight on a stool that had last been used by a woman from a farm to sit on and milk a cow. The mystery leak was the middle seam corner right in front of the window where 4 panels come together. I cleaned that spot and sealed it with what one might call a liberal amount of Vulkem 116 from the inside and did a clean outside seal job as well. I then rain tested it for at least a month of nightly rains before insulating the space with bubble foil and re-installing the panel.

I had been sure the TV antenna had been one of the leaks so I removed it to repair the leak but it hadn't leaked at all. However, the antenna wire was broken off just under the OEM installed Vulkem. I removed the antenna, marked the wire with a GPS and patched the top with a nice piece of aluminum, stainless screws, butyl tape, and Vulkem.

There's one leak associated with the door and the step that's a factory designed leak that I can't fix. That's the banana wrap step release lever slot. When it rains the water pours into the belly pan from that location, soaks up the pretty pink insulation, turns to soggy goo, stays wet, and rusts the fame out from the bottom. The water from the step location runs one bay to the center, and all the way to the "a" frame. At least 6 floor/belly pan panel bays flood from that one location.

The step lever water intake port reservoir is not evident with the plywood floor installed, is factory designed to leak, and it's the single worst leak I've found yet. I think it's irresponsible to design a belly pan water intake port and then replicate the mistake without a remedy (like a drain outlet) for years. After the first test or report, it's not a mistake anymore, it's a plan. Airstream had to know their step release slot is a water intake to the belly pan insulation area. I've only owned an Airstream trailer for three months and I know it . . . and I've never made or tested a new trailer.

At this point, my thinking is that Airstream maybe should have raised the coach height by 2 inches, insulated above the frame with a sandwich floor and eliminated the belly pan . . . because with the design of my coach, the frame can be rusted out with the trailer just sitting in a storage yard, not going down the road, and not being used at all . . . just from the design of the belly pan, the insulation and the way water is channeled into the belly pan from many, if not most, leaks. With no belly pan, and no wet insulation to lay around the frame and act as a sponge, the frames might have a chance.

I'd say the design failure of my trailer is caused by trying to make the trailer into a 4 season camper when most buyers don't camp in winter. Airstream tried to make my trailer into a park model with the belly pan and in-floor insulation. I've no problem with making a park model, but then leave the tanks out, insulate above the floor, plumb above the floor just for city water, add a channel for a skirt, and call it a park model.

Or maybe do a good job of making a 3 season camper that doesn't self destruct.

Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 09-19-2010, 04:14 PM   #4
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I've chased a couple of leaks for months. The area of concern was the front center window and the curved front curb side window. Sometimes it leads and sometimes it don't. Days of hard rains, no leaks. At Gillette we had a constant leak at the front (described above) to the point the tray at the center window filled completely with water.

I think it has to do with the level of the trailer. Slightly off to one side or the other and wham, the water sneaks in.
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Old 09-19-2010, 04:27 PM   #5
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The belly pan is a mixed blessing fo sho...

If you want a drain hole, it takes about 3 seconds with a power drill to create one (use a very small bit, you don't want wasps liking it. If you want to screen it, get a faucet screen and pop rivet it on, then do the edge with vulkem or gutter seal. Pick a low spot of course.

On newer units, they're using galvanized sheet metal for the belly pans. If you know someone who makes ductwork, you can remove the belly pan, take it to them and have them use a brake to put cross hatches on the pan, that create a low spot. Then you can drill the hole from the inside, and put the screen on the inside.

A certain amount of moisture just happens if you can't seal something hermetically. Over time leaks or small gaps get bigger.

It would have been nice if Airstream did all of the nitpicky stuff... but lets face it, for every one of "US" there are perhaps thousands of RV purchasers who buy a unit, use it 5 to 10 times, then let it sit and rot away in a barn, garage, storage lot, field or back yard. I know of at least 10 Airstreams within a 20 mile range that have green mold growing on the outside.

My sister is looking for a $2000 Casita - and I spotted one that according to neighbors hasn't been moved in 10 years. I knocked on the door and very politely introduced myself and asked if the unit was for sale. A very elderly man who clearly is never going to take it out again declined. I very gently pointed out that it wasn't gaining any value sitting in his yard but he's just not ready. Left a card. (Of course maybe his wife's body is mouldering away inside... so...). SOB or Airstream, it's an all too common fate for RV's. Unfortunately that leaves the factory with the uncomfortable choice "Do we do the RIGHT thing for 3% of the buyers or do what will satisfy 90% and suck up making warranty repairs for the observant... or do we spend a fortune trying to satisfy the ultimate nitpickers and run the company at a considerably less profitable manner?"

That IS of course an easy way to avoid asking "What COULD we do to improve quality that would be easy, cheap and quick?" Leak testing by pressure testing from the INSIDE instead of wasting hundreds of gallons by putting new units through a shower might be an obvious one! Buying the employees lunch once a week and reading complaints from this forum - and telling the workers that paying a bit more attention could be the thing that helps them know they'll have a job next year could be huge too.

The REAL problem for Airstream is that while many SOB's are total crap, there are a few that are really stepping up on the quality bandwagon. It may be later than Airstream Thinks it is.

In today's economy there are still people buying new Airstreams - I drooled over the 27 FB CCD for a long while, but didn't like the Wenge as well as the original black - and wasn't in love with the Ocean Breeze. They almost got me with the Serenity. ALMOST but I who COULD afford one won't spend the money. I can spend $10K and redo virtually everything inside my trailer with super high end materials - with others doing most of the labor - and spend about $54K LESS than a new CCD would cost.

Today is a gift, that's why they call it the present.
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Old 09-19-2010, 05:17 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by kooshka View Post
Rained last night and I have water on the shelf beside the door. This is an ongoing problem and I just can't seem to find where it is coming in.
Trailer is a Rear bath, 75 Ambassador. All suggestions welcome....
Vista views, awning rail and over the door light all come to mind. Make sure they are sealed properly. FWIW I had a persistent leak and it turned out to be a missed rivet hole UNDER the awning rail. We had sealed the top of the rail, but every now and again when the wind was right and the trailer tilted the wrong way, water would run along the underside of the awning rail and into the open hole. Took a long time to find that one!

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