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Old 10-16-2005, 01:42 PM   #1
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1967 26' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
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Leaky wheel wells

Well over a year ago, during my Overlander's refurb, I posted a picture in my photo gallery of number 1 son pointing out leaky wheel wells:

The photo's text included, to the effect, "... These will be sealed from the outside before going camping. Welll, that never quite happened.

I thought the water on the floor during 2004's trip to Disney was the result of a leaky air conditioner, and never gave a second thought to the wheel wells. But on our trip home from the Fort Desoto Rally a couple of weeks ago, we encountered a significant amount of rain, and the floor was wet. Again.

Since the A/C leak had been successfully repaired, the wheel well issue bubbled up in my mind. So, the wheels were pulled, and all wheel well seams caulked with suitable sealant about a week before our 1400 mile trip to Disney World. Success! We encountered just enough driving rain during our trip down that I should have found water on the floor IF any was getting in. The floor was dry.

Vintage owners - Don't forget about your wheel wells (like I did).

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Old 10-16-2005, 02:02 PM   #2
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1965 17' Caravel
1968 28' Ambassador
Butte , Montana
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Good Idea

When I had my Caravel apart I noticed the wheel wells had water streaks on the inside. They were never sealed, just spot welded together. I used black Vulkem 116 to seal the wheel wells up on both sides (the inside and the outside). On my trip I drove thru a significant amount of rain. No leaks there, or anywhere for that matter. I also cleaned, prepped and painted with Por-15 products.

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Old 10-18-2005, 09:27 PM   #3
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Yeah Tom;
In my shell off renovation I found that my wheel wells (on my 63) were the main reason that the floor had to be replaced. My answer was to replace the bottom 6" of the tub with new galvanized metal. step 2 was (is) to seal both sides inside and out with automotive spray on undercoating. I beleive that this should seal up everything very tightly.
Remember you guys with the old vintage rigs that the factory undercoating does dry and become brittle so it cracks and falls off. A good preventive maint tip would be to inspect these and respray them on a regular basis.
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Old 10-18-2005, 11:26 PM   #4
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1962 22' Safari
2016 30' Classic
Southeast , Michigan
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Originally Posted by TomW
Vintage owners - Don't forget about your wheel wells (like I did).

Non-vintage and near-vintage owners should remember this too. The weekend you posted this I was in the process of painting the frame in the area of the wheel wells and caulking the seam between the plastic/fiberglass wheel wells and the frame on our '85. I did this because I noticed that the floor below the closet to the rear of the curbside wheel well showed signs of being wet at some point in the trailers life (before we purchased it).

During the paint & caulking process I noticed that there were "designed in" holes in the frame where the outriggers attach to the main frame rails in front of and behind the wheel wells. These "designed in" holes would allow water into the belly pan when the trailer was pulled in the rain even if the noted seam was caulked shut. I do not know the reason that these holes were left there by Airstream when they manufacturered the trailer, but I caulked them shut, too. Well except for the one rearward of the curbside wheel well. When wirebrushing off the rust to paint that outrigger, a large-ish rust hole develped. Apparently all that water getting thru the hole where the outrigger attached to the frame rail allowed that outrigger to deteriorate from the "inside". I was surprised to find this damage, because the rest of the frame on our '85 is in better shape than most 80's-early 90's Airstreams I have seen. A trip to the local welder to get this outrigger reinforced will be in the near future. I will then caulk all remaining gaps in that wheel well shut.
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Old 10-25-2005, 02:00 PM   #5
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1977 27' Overlander
Huntsville , Alabama
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What wheel wells?

I gutted my 1977 Overlander this weekend and was shocked to find that there are no wheel wells. The wheel wells are plastic with fiberglass on top with another plastic cap on the inside. Is 77 the only year that they did this? I know that weight is a consideration and that 77 was our second oil embargo but I don't thinks plastic was a good idea. Should I replace the plastic with steel or aluminum? Has anyone had this experience? I don't think that anyone has done any drastic renovations on my aluminum can!
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