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Old 01-15-2019, 10:04 PM   #1
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
Join Date: Oct 2018
Posts: 104
Hoping for general pointers in sealing my Airstream

Hey guys. Currently doing a complete gut on a '76 Airstream. I'm at the point where I've taken all of the inner skins out, looking at the subfloor, and ready to remove it for replacement.

While I'm wrapping my head around what I want to do with the subfloor (shell on vs shell off), I'm actively thinking about all the leaks. When I pulled the ceiling skin off, I was blasted in the face with mouse-laden rain water puddles. I live in Oregon, and if there's a place where leaks will become apparently, that is where I live.

So I'm trying to figure out the best plan of attack on the leaks. I imagine I have a ton. I place on replacing ceiling vents with new vents (like Fan-Tastic vents). I don't know if the AC even works... if I should remove it and test it, and if it works, keep it and reseal it. The window and storage seals need to be replaced and tested. I know that some people test every single rivet with a suction cup and if a poor seal, replace with buck or olympic rivet.

Honestly, just feeling a bit overwhelmed about the waterproofing aspect. Where to begin? Replace all the seals first? Do I need to test every rivet, or can I just stick Trempro 635 on the backside of every existing rivet and seam?

Any pointers on organizing my thoughts would be super helpful!
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Old 01-15-2019, 10:51 PM   #2
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1958 26' Overlander
Battle Ground , Washington
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With the inner skins off I'd start with a leak test. How windows look from the outside and how well they sealed can be deceiving. Do any of the outer skins look like they're been replaced (secured with Olympic rivets vs. factory rivets)? Are any seams damaged or showing multiple attempts to seal from the outside? Loose rivets on the outer skin?

Have you removed any of the belly pan so an initial assessment of the frame can be done? You can't do a complete assessment until the floor is out of the way, but at least looking underneath may give you hints of where floor removal may be necessary for frame repairs.

Personally, I found removing the shell made frame repair and re-assembly so much easier. If you plan on making changes to layout, placement or additional tanks, plan it now. At least the general concept. Adding or changing plumbing location can mean alterations to the frame (placement of crossmembers/outriggers) so tanks can fit.

These are the best months for the planning stage in the NW. Then your better prepared (and much dryer) to get into the end phase of your deconstruction.

Just a reminder photos are great for getting accurate feedback.
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Old 01-22-2019, 10:00 AM   #3
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
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Thanks for the reply by the way. I will go through some of the recommendations you made, particularly when evaluating for replaced rivets on the outside.

I have considered using Trempro on every single interior rivet and seam like I've heard others recommend. Seems a little tedious but worth it. I will also replace all window gaskets since they are cracking.

I have removed some of the belly pans to see a general sense of frame condition and so far it's only superficial rust I am seeing, knock on wood / aluminum.

Thanks for the recommendations.
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Old 01-22-2019, 07:01 PM   #4
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2011 19' Flying Cloud
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I had removed the front inner end cap and front inner skins on our Excella to fix dents in outer skin and other work, well we happened to have lots of rain at that time and sitting inside with the outside being drenched allowed me to discover a few leaks I would not have found otherwise. The battery box's in front and the joint between the center window and each side pano window leaked. Sealed from inside with trempro and the next rain event was dry.
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Old 01-27-2019, 10:36 AM   #5
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1976 27' Overlander
Milwaukie , Oregon
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How do people address the thick white goop seal along the seams and windows? Most of it looks pretty good but some parts appear to have tiny fissures. I'm not sure how this stuff stands up to the test of time. Do people scrape all of this stuff off any reapply, or do people only replace it if it can be proven it leaks?

Also, the sealants that seal the window glass to the frames also look to be in good condition. If these seem water tight, is it one of those things where we replace only if needed? I know removing the glass can be a pain, from what I've seen.
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Old 01-27-2019, 04:08 PM   #6
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1976 27' Overlander
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I'm attaching some photos of the white sealant that is used around the main door and windows, as well as one of the seams. When I see fissures like that, can I assume it needs to be scraped and replaced?

Also attaching a photo of one of the sealant seams between the glass windows and frame. To me the look good and wouldn't seem like they would leak. The nice thing is that if they did leak someday, I could take them off, pull the glass and reseal them, whereas the wall seams on the shell would require pulling the inner skins, which I hope to never had to do again.
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Old 01-31-2019, 10:34 PM   #7
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Anyone got any pointers?
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Old 02-01-2019, 05:59 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by JoleneAS View Post
Anyone got any pointers?
I'd scrape off as much as you can and clean the area with carburetor cleaner before resealing. I found those thick areas of sealant to be relatively easy to scrape/pull off using a metal paint tool. Be careful, but it doesn't matter if you scratch up the back side of the aluminum. Just don't gouge it enough to actually deform the aluminum which would be visible on the be other side.
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:24 AM   #9
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Lexington , Minnesota
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We resealed the trailer from the outside once we had the inner skins pulled and insulation out. Water can travel a fair distance on the seams and where you THINK it's coming from is not necessarily where it actually is from. Captain Tollys Creeping Crack Sealer is a good product: wicks into the seam and travels with it to seal the leak. Just keep adding it until it stops wicking.
Our windows leaked because the seals needed replacing. Tedious job but worked well. Carb cleaner works well for taking old sealants off and getting down to bare aluminum.

Kay
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:42 AM   #10
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1976 27' Overlander
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I... I just love you guys. Lol, thanks for the help! What do you recommend replacing the thick white sealant with? Do you use Trempro here or is there some thick, goopy sealant similar the the original stuff?
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Old 02-01-2019, 10:32 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by JoleneAS View Post
I... I just love you guys. Lol, thanks for the help! What do you recommend replacing the thick white sealant with? Do you use Trempro here or is there some thick, goopy sealant similar the the original stuff?
Trempro is great for that. I prefer Sikaflex 221 better for exposed areas. Trempro never seems to fully cure, so it's always slightly sticky, while sikaflex finishes rubbery but not sticky. But inside the walls, that doesn't matter.
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Old 02-01-2019, 11:37 AM   #12
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Sealants Summary

Hey there JoleneAS, just a quick thing on rivets leaking. If you inspect every rivet and seam from the inside you may see the tell tale signs of a leak (a white powdery trail from the rivet or seam) that would be the aluminum oxide trail formed by the leak over time. That would be a place to possibly start re-bucking rivets or re-sealing from inside and outside. Here is a thread you might find useful, http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...ry-116214.html. Good luck on your journey.

Regards,
-Dennis
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Old 02-01-2019, 04:25 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by batman View Post
Hey there JoleneAS, just a quick thing on rivets leaking. If you inspect every rivet and seam from the inside you may see the tell tale signs of a leak (a white powdery trail from the rivet or seam) that would be the aluminum oxide trail formed by the leak over time. That would be a place to possibly start re-bucking rivets or re-sealing from inside and outside. Here is a thread you might find useful, http://www.airforums.com/forums/f456...ry-116214.html. Good luck on your journey.

Regards,
-Dennis
My preferred method to check rivets is with a suction cup from the outside. Suction cup sticks, rivet is good. Doesn't stick, needs re-bucked or replaced.

Not my idea. Read it on the forums a while ago. Wish I could remember who to give credit to.
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Old 02-01-2019, 05:50 PM   #14
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1976 27' Overlander
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Thanks guys. I've watched tutorials on using a suction cup to assess for leaky rivets. Curious though... if a rivet is leaky but seems secure, does it need to be replaced or can it just be sealed from behind on the inside, and a dab of Captain Tolley's on the outside? Maybe that's just me being half assed and trying to talk myself out of learning / spending money on buck rivet tools.
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Old 02-01-2019, 06:00 PM   #15
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1974 27' Overlander
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JoleneAS View Post
Thanks guys. I've watched tutorials on using a suction cup to assess for leaky rivets. Curious though... if a rivet is leaky but seems secure, does it need to be replaced or can it just be sealed from behind on the inside, and a dab of Captain Tolley's on the outside? Maybe that's just me being half assed and trying to talk myself out of learning / spending money on buck rivet tools.
Captain Tolley's and urethane sealants are temporary solutions and it will need to be re-sealed periodically to hold. If you're planning to have your rig for years, you really should take the time to do it right while you have access to the inside of the skins. It will never again be as easy as it is now. Captain Tolley's is a better solution for patching up leaks when you don't have the access to seal it properly.

If you have the skins off, it's really worth it to get the tools to re-buck leaky rivets. Also useful if you have to do any patching, or if you find any Olympics which should be replaced with buck rivets while you have the chance.
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