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Old 12-28-2015, 07:39 AM   #1
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1996 30' Cutter Bus
Lawrenceville , New Jersey
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Massive leaks and destruction

Hi all,

About a month ago I acquired a 1996 Airstream Cutter Motorhome. I paid vaguely below the lower end of book value. Before I bought it, I knocked and pounded on all the walls, looking for any soft spots. Everything seemed good.Here's what it looked like when I bought it:





This is what it looks like now:



After I got it home--it ran beautifully, by the way--I removed the sofa, intending to replace it, and there, behind the sofa, I was able to pull the wall apart with my fingers. I've now pulled out all of the wood and foam on the driver's side all the way back to the beginning of the kitchen. The rot continues beyond the edge of the kitchen.

When I knock on the wall, it still sounds solid. But the wood between the outer fiberglass skin and the styrofoam insulation is so rotted it falls apart in my fingers, as you can see below.



For anyone who doesn't know, the wall consists of: the outer, fiberglass skin, a thin layer of plywood (possibly luan), the aluminum frame an inch and a half thick with styrofoam between the frames, another layer of thin plywood, and the thin vinyl wallpaper.

So I need to remove the windows. Actually, with the walls scooped out, the windows are only being held in by the caulk between the outer flange and the fiberglass. Removing most of the windows are pretty straight-forward: just remove the inner screws from the frames and the window should just pop out (except for removing the caulk, of course). The issue is the driver's side window. Airstream removed the inner flange of the window frame ...





... and I can't tell what is holding the window frame to the structural frame. Possibly some kind of adhesive? and/or screws that I can't see? Don't know. I'm hesitant to remove this as I'm not sure how to get it back together. Does anyone know?

The other issue is all of the leaks. It's been raining quite a bit here lately (New Jersey), on and off, and with the walls gone, it's been easy to see the water inside. I stopped most of it that was coming in from behind the molding strip between the two windows where the fiberglass from the cab joins the fiberglass from the body. There was nothing but a thin bead of caulk covering the joint. And as you can see, the joint isn't even entirely covered.



That seam is open and had never been closed properly (Criminal almost.). Probably leaking from day one. This is on both the driver and passenger sides. I covered this temporarily with tape. (The window frames are covered just as a precaution since I've disturbed them so much. They didn't seem to be leaking at all.)



Most of the water stopped, but that's not the only leak, it's still leaking a little; with the original leak, I actually had a small river coming in. This is only a little compared to what it was. (It's not leaking through the tape. I checked it, and it's stuck really well, and it's only been on for a couple of days.) See the below picture:



Behind the upper, horizontal, aluminum frame is the aluminum track that joins the fiberglass roof with the fiberglass side and supports the awning. This track is riveted down with fairly large rivets. They're not pop-rivets and would need a special tool to replace. And removing this--well, the whole fiberglass side would then probably be supported by nothing but the window frames since who knows how much of the wood is rotted.

Anyway, does anyone have any experience with this seam? Of course I could just replace the caulk at the top of the track, but that seems pretty solid. (Why are such important aspects of an RV built in such crappy ways? No need to answer.)

Anyway, so it comes down to two issues (for now):
1) the cut window frame and how it is attached
2) that horrible leaking seam.

Thanks,
David
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:01 AM   #2
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David,
Sorry to see your issues. Repost this down in the relevant Cutter section of the motorhome forum... I think it's a common problem and there are people down there who will have experience and advice!
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:12 AM   #3
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Not to detract from your issues, just a little commiseration from a kindred soul. I bought a New Horizons fifth wheel with about the same amount of inspection and with about the same results. Since New Horizons were the best of the best in the fifth wheel world, and I did my type of inspection which has served me well over the years, I bought it. I put in a huge amount of time solving problems that would have never happened if the factory had only properly caulked some screw heads. But repair it I did and I had the trip of a lifetime in that old rig. I'd do it all again if given the chance. I hope your situation turns out as well.
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Old 12-28-2015, 08:54 AM   #4
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Your problem is a perfect example of a po not doing yearly maintenance and inspection. Unfortunately you are paying for his incompetence. Weather it be a trailer or mh, checking for leaks, etc even if none are readily apparent is important. They all leak, you need to find that leak. I hope you can resolve your situation as you prefer. Good luck.
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Old 12-31-2015, 10:34 AM   #5
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1996 30' Cutter Bus
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update

Hi all,

I just thought I'd update this.

First, I found how the front driver's side window is attached. It's so obvious to me now that I feel a little dumb. There are three screws through the inside of the window frame going into the structural frame. The're not too hard to reach, but it's a good guess that they'll snap off. I'll see soon enough.

I need to remove both the overhead cabinets above the driver and passenger and the entire dashboard. The window frame can't be removed without removing these.

I drew a line on the wall half-way between the kitchen and the back-end of the window, just about where the red line is in the below pic.



The wall at this point was dry and near impossible to peel away from the fiberglass, so it's the right place to stop and will give me a good seam between the old wall and the new.

And I just want to point the following out; the below picture shows the way Airstream constructed this motorhome:

What you're looking at between the two red lines is the inner wall plywood (again, probably luan) sandwiched between the steel frame of the chassis and the aluminum frame of the wall. What you see there is a little more dry and more difficult to get out than most of the rest of it (this is very close to the kitchen). The wood between the frames goes down an inch and a half, the thickness of the aluminum frame. A six foot section took me about three hours to clean out with those two wheeny tools.





I won't put wood between these metal parts again. Probably just shove some kind of hard plastic stripping or aluminum in there as a filler.

Why anyone would put thin plywood between two metal frames--well, that's a structural issue. That's bizarre.

Yes, I am replacing all the rotten plywood with wood again. But ... the leaks will be closed off properly, and the plywood will be laminated to the fiberglass skin with epoxy and completely encapsulated with epoxy. The surface area really isn't that big. Lots of windows.

(I'm very familiar with working on fiberglass boats, so this just seems like the logical and correct way to go.)

One unexpected thing is that the thinnest plywood I can find is still too thick. Lowes and Home Depot don't have it and can't get it. I'll probably have to order it special from another local lumber yard.

Just to make it more clear, I had cut the edge of the floor back about two inches to make my present job easier to get at. Doesnt' matter since the entire living room floor needs replacement. So far, I see no fasteners at all. I think, but I'm not sure, that the wood was glued to the frames.

At least some of the foam below the floor will have to be replaced. Seems styrofoam does deteriorate when wet. That which was really wet just crumbles in my hand.

From what I can see (not in the pictures), there are gaps, some at least a half inch, between the foam and the steel frame. I don't know if styrofoam shrinks in time or this is the way it was constructed. So much for insulation value. If I don't replace all the styrofoam, these gaps will be filled.

The rust isn't as bad as it looks. It's mostly surface rust and has already cleaned up quickly. When the floor comes up, all the metal will be cleaned up.

(One more thing. I did put a link to this into the Cutter Motorhome forum as suggested. Thanks.)

David
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Old 01-12-2016, 08:32 PM   #6
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I am so glad that you have posted. I saw your post and then lost it.
I have just about the same Cutter land Yacht but a 95.
I have had major leaks and have just about completely gutted the inside,
have taken out all of the overhead cupboards, all the benches etc.
My ceilings need to be re-done because the vinyl was coming away from the ceiling.

Most of my RV is in my living room, and I have just about given up....

We thought that we got all of the leaks, but the water still keeps coming in,
The walls on one side of the RV, the drivers side.... have all bubbled up and I have taken the wet boards off, I will be putting on new boards on the ceiling the walls and then will be re-papering the walls.

I am glad to have seen your post, it was a help...

signed..... Frustrated....
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Old 01-14-2016, 05:36 PM   #7
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1996 30' Cutter Bus
Lawrenceville , New Jersey
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update

Hi all,

Thought Iíd update this againósince work is moving slowly due to the cold weather. Epoxy and glue donít work too well when itís 20 degrees F. (Of course the RV is heated, but Iím working on an outside wall.)

Below you can see I removed the dashboard. As I said before, there was no other way to get the windows out. It took about two hours. Not too hard to take out, and I donít foresee much issue with putting it back.

I got away with not having to remove the overhead cabinets, as I thought I might. That was a big relief. There was only one screw in the window frame that was behind the cabinet, and it wasnít too difficult to remove. That was very welcome, because I couldnít find a screw anywhere thatís holding up the cabinet, and so I just donít know how itís attached.

The windows themselves came out pretty easily. Just remove all the interior screws on the frame, and it pops right out. The caulk pulled easily off the fiberglass with very little coaxing. Getting it off the frame is taking days. Itís a gooey, rubbery mess.

In a previous post, I said I didnít know how the driver and passenger windows were attached to the steel corner frame. Turns out there were three screws inside the tracks of the window frame going forward into the steel frame. Donít know how I missed them; seems so obvious now. I was afraid they would be rusted and would just snap off, but they all came out cleanly.



Hereís a picture just after having pulled out the side window. Look at that beautiful, clean cut made by Airstream. It looks like some drunk hacked it apart with a rusted saw. And yes, the window flange barely covered that mess. You can see the line.



Below is a picture after itís been somewhat cleaned up.



And that jaggedness isnít isolated. Look at the below picture. For some goofy reason, the sides and bottom were cut smoothly and correctly. The mess is just on the top. You knowówhere itís most importantÖ



The picture below is the leading edge of the driver-side window. You can see the narrow white line at the top-center where the caulk was. Canít see it below that. This corner was leaking badly, and one morning, I had a puddle of water on the floor.



Below is just a picture of how I have it sealed up after taking out the windows. Thatís six mil plastic; I think it will be fine.



In the picture below, the fiberglass on the left of the picture looks like wood. Thatís because, I think, during construction, the plywood was laid into the wet polyester resin in order to bond it together. So even though I scraped it plenty, thereís fine pieces of wood still stuck on the fiberglass.

Behind the vertical frame is the joint between the main fiberglass side and the fiberglass of the cab (this is above the driverís side window). I epoxied a strip of fiberglass tape over the entire joint. This, along with re-caulking the exterior joint, should stop the leaking.



The way I decided to rebuild may seem a little odd, but Iím doing the repair from the inside, so I need to work between the frames. I refuse to remove the entire exterior of the RV, even though that would be the proper way to do it. Itís just too big of a job and Iím not equipped for it.

Anyway, first I cut 1.5 inch strips of 1/8 inch plywood and encapsulated them in epoxy. Then, as seen below, each strip is being epoxied between the frame and the fiberglass siding. This bonds the siding back to the frame and the plywood acts as a spacer where the rotted plywood was scraped out.

Itís a little hard to see below, but what Iím also doing isóevery ten inches or soóis Iím epoxying in S-shaped pieces of fiberglass tapeóagainst the fiberglass skin, up the side of the aluminum frame, and then wrapped over the top of the frame. This will go a long way toward holding the skin onto the RV. This will be done along all frames.

These small tabs might not sound like enough. But remember, this RVís wood was completely rotted out for years, meaning nothing was holding the skin on except the window frames and the rivets along the top edge (described in my first post), and nothing happened, meaning, the skin stayed attached to the RV. So no matter what I do is still far more than had been in place for years. It will be fine.

It would seem that I should be attaching plywood to all the fiberglass to put it back as it originally was, not just the strips Iím using. But, first, again, getting epoxy to harden in this kind of weather is tough. Second, Iím not sure itís necessary. Iím guessing Airstream put wood between the foam and outer fiberglass skin because it was easy and fast to construct. Meaning, they could set the plywood directly on the uncured polyester resin and glue the foam to the wood all at the same time. But you canít put foam directly on the polyester; it would dissolve the foam. Also, setting flat sheets of anything against the fiberglass is going to take time because the fiberglass needs to be braced and pushed from the outside in order for the two sheets to seat flat against each other, and thatís a whole lot of work. I donít want to have to do it first with the plywood, then with the foam. All in all, I think itís best this way.

Iíll explain the next steps as I get to them. I have an idea of what Iím going to do, but I donít have it fully worked out yet. Hopefully, I can test what I want to do this weekend.



I just wanted to point this out: Look at the amount of paper tape below put on by Airstream. I did not find this unusual; it was everywhere. The inner plywood wall was bonded to the foam and aluminum frames with some kind of glue. But since the glue is holding the plywood to the tape, we can literally say that this motorhome is being held together by tapeódirect from the manufacturer (somewhat, anyway).

The wider metal at the top is galvanized steel. That surrounds all the windows, probably a stiffener.



And finally, for now, just a shot of the passenger side. Rot here too, though not as bad. I need to go higher up the wall; I donít know how high yet. But both windows will definitely come out and be resealed.

The engine cover is all fiberglass and well made (the rugís been stripped off). Reminds me of what Iíd see on a boat. At least something is done right on this RV.

As I said before, Iím used to boats, specifically sailboats. This is my first RV. And coming to RVs is a real eye opener. ďMostĒ sailboats are built tough: fiberglass, solid woods, and stainless steel. Even a 40 year old neglected boat can realistically be brought back to life. Itís a solid piece of machinery. While here Iím dealing with luan, tape, flakeboard and foam. And oh yeah, sh_tty workmanship. All for relatively the same price. WowÖ

(Yes, I know RVs and boats are different animals.)



Thanks for reading,

David
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Old 01-14-2016, 08:27 PM   #8
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David

Just reading this thread makes me queasy, and this is coming from a fellow Airstreamer with water issues.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f311...me-106269.html

Wishing you all the best, and better days ahead.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 01-19-2016, 04:43 PM   #9
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1996 30' Cutter Bus
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another update

Hi all,

Another short update.

The below picture is the seam between the fiberglass siding and the plastic fender. I removed some temporary duct tape and the gelcoat pulled right off, exposing unsaturated fiberglass threads. Another defect in workmanship. Not enough (or any) polyester resin during manufacture.



Itís not the only place. The below picture is only a couple of feet away.



Below you are looking at the bottom of the sidewall. Below that is the inside of a side storage compartment after removing the door. Do you know what that grey stuff is? Duct tape. I have no idea what its purpose was supposed to be, but I know its effect. When water gets behind itóand it willóit is trapped, which allows it to wick up into the exposed end of the luan and rot the wood.



Below is a clearer picture of how Iím reattaching the fiberglass wall to the framework. This is just before I put on more resin. If I donít put on more resin, I wind up with what Airstream did above.



The wall is almost completely reattached now. When done, in goes the foam insulation.



Below shows what I had to do to get some of the siding to lay flat against the aluminum frame before attaching it. This is just pushing against the siding.



I bought this motorhome ďAs-IsĒ from a dealer. I fully expected to have to do mechanical repairs and some cosmeticsólike put in new floors. I didnít know the walls were rotting out. If I did, I certainly wouldnít have bought it.

The RV dealer describes themselves as ďexpertsĒ. That means they knew the condition of this RV. And if they didnít know the condition of this RV, they canít describe themselves as experts.

I know legally they are not wrong. I also know that ethically, they are seriously wrong. They were looking for someone like me who didnít know RVs.

I know now that the bubbling sides are distinct signs of delamination. I didnít know it then. They did.

Anyway, my original plan was to buy a new utility trailer and build the interior myself. Instead, I bought this, thinking Iíd see how I liked a motorhome, and if I did, Iíd buy a better one later.

But now? Considering Airstream is supposed to be one of the better manufacturers, I guess there isnít much hope. The moment I finish repairing this motorhome properly, itís going up for sale. Iíll have lost some money and a lot of time. Iím going back to my original plan. Iíll build one myself.

The upside? I now have some ideas about what not to do when building. I now know that when I build, I build in a manner that will allow for accessibility if a leak develops. But I also know how much I need to guard against leaks in the first place.

I canít help but wonder why, after decades of building RVs, manufacturers canít seem to do any better.

As Tony above said, Iím queasy.

David
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Old 01-21-2016, 02:02 PM   #10
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1965 30' Sovereign
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Wow, that's horrible. I'm not sure I'd have the patience to do what you are- good for you!
When you get to the plywood replacement are you familiar with alternatives like 3m reinforced Polyurethane, airex, iniboard, nylaboard or Coosaboard. I saw this fiber reinforced material in higher priced pontoon boats and contacted Coosa for a sample. It worked well in the rear 4' of my 65 Sovereign under the bath that had rotted. It doesn't hold the threads of screws when attaching cabinets but through bolting, blocking or riv nuts wil work. Stronger, lighter and no rot. It does cost more than marine grade though.
Good Luck To You!
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Old 01-22-2016, 06:18 PM   #11
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Coosa is the bomb and I was very lucky to find it. It is fantastic stuff.

@David

As with anything, it really comes down to how it was cared for, BEFORE you buy it. As you probably well know; buying a used Honda or Toyota doesn't mean it will be a good reliable car and buying from any dealer these days, you're just buying someone elses nightmare.

That being said....don't give up on Airstream yet. The Classic motorhome, like what I own, are aluminum bodied; and while aluminum corrodes, they don't rot, except for the subfloor; which is, depending on the year, the only wood in the coach and can be fairly easily fixed, especially by a handy guy like yourself.

The great thing about a Classic is that you can find ones that have been babied in hangers all their lives and are in fantastic shape, or you can find basket cases, and everything in-between.

For someone of your expertise and ambition, owning a Classic would be very fulfilling and would appreciate in value over time. Plus we would love to have another skilled craftsman working on a Classic and posting helpful tips to everyone.

Our club of members is small, but devoted, very friendly and highly skilled like yourself. Introduce yourself and see what everyone sees in a Classic.

Cheers
Tony
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Old 01-22-2016, 06:55 PM   #12
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Gosh, after you finish fixing your Airstream you will have a well built motor home so it will be a good buy for the next owner! Maybe you should use it for a few years to amortize the effort and money you put into it? It is a shame how poorly almost all RV's are constructed. It seems that any that were well built were not economically competitive so the companies went out of business after a few years. At least that is how it looks to me. Keep up the good work anyway, I like to think that it builds karma for the planet and humans! Leland
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Old 02-10-2016, 05:19 PM   #13
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1996 30' Cutter Bus
Lawrenceville , New Jersey
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Airstream's response

Hi all,

A while back I sent an email to Airstream asking them to look at this thread. Thatís all I said to them. I received a response about a week ago. The man who wrote it gave his name, but I donít think I should post it here. Anyway, hereís Airstreamís response:
Hi David,

Thank you for your email.

I am sorry to hear about your issues with your recently purchased 1996 Cutter Motorhome. I have looked at your pictures and unfortunately, it looks as if the previous owner(s) severely neglected their yearly maintenance routine. We constructed the vehicle in a way that was very common for fiberglass walled motorhomes in that time period. While we pride ourselves in making a superior product, we can only guarantee the initial quality of the motorhome against factory defects. After the owner takes possession of a vehicle, there is an expectation to maintain the vehicle. This includes yearly maintenance on the mechanical components, as well as inspection of sealant and resealing of seams, windows, and roof components. Even the most well-constructed vehicles and homes have to have yearly maintenance, if that isnít performed, especially over a number of years, you can see issues like the leaks and deterioration of materials you are experiencing with the í96 Cutter.

I would not simply dismiss this vehicle as ďoldĒ, but I do believe maintenance had been neglected over the years. Again, I apologize for the issues you are experiencing and hope you the best in your restoration of the Cutter. Thank you again for your email.

Airstream Customer Relations
There are three things that led to the deterioration of my motorhome:
  1. Some bad engineering
  2. Some really bad construction
  3. Lack of previous owner maintenance
Iím going to say right off that owner maintenance is the least that I feel concerned about. When someone buys a new motorhome for $150,000 or whatever, it is now his/hers. He can do with it what he wants. He owes nothing to anyone. Although, of course, Iíd like to see any machine well-cared for, thatís not really my business. If there had been leaks due ďonlyĒ to lack of owner maintenance, the issue would be different.
And I can ďalmostĒ forgive bad engineering, because I canít say I really know the progression of RV construction techniques over the years, so maybe it was commonplace amongst RV manufacturers to put luan between steel and aluminum framing. I just donít know. But itís still an obvious flaw even twenty years ago. Even fifty years ago.

I also guess that the implication is that Airstream designs better than they used to. I hope so.

But the thing that Airstream avoided in their response is their sub-standard construction, like the lack of caulk in the seam between the fiberglass body pieces and around the front window. I understand, of course, that windows and seams need to be resealed periodically, but do they really think an owner ought to have to remove windows in order to repair what Airstream failed to do? And how is routine owner maintenance supposed to deal with fiberglass that was jaggedly cut beyond any reasonable repair? Thatís not routine maintenance. Basically thatís saying that Airstream can build in any manner they like because itís ultimately the fault of the owner.

And so according to Airstreamís letter, apparently, the things I uncovered donít count as ďfactory defectsĒ.

Iím not mad about any of this. I hope Iím not actually sounding that way. Iím just saying. I didnít expect this project, but Iím enjoying it now.

An update on the rebuild is coming soon. One wall is almost complete. And now that I've rebuilt one, the other wall will go much faster.

David
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Old 02-10-2016, 05:58 PM   #14
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David - for me, as a guy with zero skills in DIY stuff (you clearly don't have that impediment) I really admire the work you've done to isolate and repair 20 years of damage to that motorhome.

Reading these threads, it's difficult to sense emotion - so when you say you're not angry - I'm just going to choose to believe you 😃

If it were me, I'd be livid.

But I do have to say, outside of the original warranty period by the factory, I can't imagine them even choosing to respond on a 20 year old product just recently purchased - let alone looking back to their construction process from the 1990s.

It's possible those years were flawed - seems like every season has something with it - like the Beatrice years in the 70s with thinner frames that couldn't support the weight of the trailer (penny wise/pound foolish indeed).

But the responsibility to maintain does lie with the previous owner - and you'd hope s/he would have taken advantage of the warranty period and some regular maintenance - if not to avoid these problems, perhaps to catch them early enough that they could have been addressed properly. And at the very least, is it asking too much for the dealer to have been more transparent with you??? 😡

At the end of the day - you've done an amazing job reversing decades of damage (whether from neglect, design, construction or some combination of all the above). You say you're having fun now - and again, I'm going to choose to believe you 😃 and wish you well! Hope to see you on the road some time enjoying that beautiful MH!!

Good luck!
Steve
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Old 02-11-2016, 07:24 AM   #15
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My Skydeck is almost as bad off as your Cutter and I too am not livid, more excited for the project (or is that breathing all the mold?)

I am happy that I am not the only one going thru this and I will NEVER do as complete a repair as you are doing. I will probably create an RV similar to how it came from the factory: "It works now, just don't let it get wet"

I was lamenting to my mechanic that there is an almost identical Skydeck for sale that had been garage kept for only $15K more than I paid. He reminded me that the construction was the same for both so at least I know where my problems are. That one (which has finally sold apparently) they will take out into the weather expecting no problems and then the damage begins. I can seal mine up and repair the mold and I am done and aware of the issue. And I have $15K saved.

-Randy
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Old 02-11-2016, 07:41 AM   #16
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Periodic maintenance at least once a year on all rv products is absolutely a necessity. Poor construction can be rectified by maintenance in most cases which would include modifications if possible. I twenty years at least one if the previous owners should have noticed the problem while doing yearly inspections. Too bad you are suffering for their negligence, I hope you get it fixed and are able to enjoy.
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Old 02-15-2016, 04:27 PM   #17
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update - moving along

Hi all,
The work is slowly progressing, though thereís been interruptions. Like the recent snow in the northeast. See the size of the snow shovel below. Took me six hours to clear out the driveway.


Then it took me time a few days later as I couldnít get myself away from these ice crystals on the top of my car.



But then Airstream interrupted as I uncovered this. They cut through two-thirds (maybe three fourths?) of a main support in order to push a wire through, crippling its strength. This support, by the way, is right next to the passenger seat.


They did this in order to get this plastic pipe through. But thereís several easy solutions:
1) Get a smaller pipe!
2) Find some other way to protect the wire.
3) Put the receptacle on the other side of the support so you donít need a hole!



I also decided that the window frame needed more support than merely foam, as Airstream designed it. In the below picture, you can see where I attached 2x2ís (theyíre actually planed to 1.5Ē x 1.5Ē) to the edge of the fiberglass. The wood is completely encapsulated in epoxy. Then I got to wondering why Airstream couldnít have merely lifted that horizontal aluminum frame thatís only a couple of inches below a little higher? With only compressible foam to support the window, any movement in the wall is going to cause leaks. The wood now makes this very solid.


This is the bottom edge along the floor. I epoxied this 2x2 to the aluminum frame below and to the fiberglass wall. Of course it makes the bottom of the fiberglass wall far more solid, but I really put it in in order to have a solid backing to attach the final, interior wall.


In goes the foam. I used that standard pink foam from Home Depot. In order to get the foam to the proper thickness, I attached 1/8Ē plywood to the back side. I used Gliddenís Gripper paint primerówhich has turned out to be an excellent adhesive for foam, and also the least expensive. (You can see a great video on YouTube by a woman who did comparisons amongst many glues, many of them made for foam and much more expensive. Gripper was easily in first place.) I also covered the plywood with the primer to waterproof it.

I decided to attach the foam to the fiberglass by using nothing more than standard construction adhesive. It seemed better than a solid glue because with this adhesive I could use up and down, single lines of adhesive (I hope thatís clear. Sorry, I didnít take a picture). That will allow for a slight airspace between the lines of adhesive giving a path for water. Meaning, if water ever gets into the wall again, it will run down straight to the bottom of the wall and exit though small holes I am leaving at the bottom.

Some of the foam below is white. Itís supposed to be pink. Thatís because some of it got inadvertently painted by Ö


Ö my 80 year-old mother. She was painting something else for me, but got paint happy and painted everything. She canít get enough of this type of work.


When cutting the foam, I purposefully left a half-inch gap around all the edge so that I could fill them with spray-foam and get a really tight fit.


The almost completed wall is below. Between the two windows is a primed piece of Masonite (some people just call it hardboard). It seems a lot more solid and stable than thin plywood. Itís supposed to be 1/8Ē (thatís what the luan was), but Iím putting in 3/16Ē. I wonít know if itís ok until I put in the windows. If itís wrong, itís all got to be cut again. But I think it will be fine.


Below shows how well the spray foam sealed everything. The white foam on the left is still the original foam; there was no rot under it, so I left it. The narrow strip of pink is just a filler. Itís just how it worked out since the pink foam isnít that wide. Anyway, this has made for a really tight-fitting, sealed wall and Iím pretty pleased with it.


One more thing: After cutting off the excess foam, I uncovered a few pockets of uncured foam, and overnight, a couple of these obscene-looking things popped out:


While the masoniteís being painted in the basement (way too cold to paint in the RV), I started the floor under the driver. Just as I expected, the insulation is very sad here. I pulled out the foam next to the wall; youíre looking at steel. Under the driverís feet thereís some kind of rubber glued over the foam. Iím not touching that.


Below you can see huge gaps between the foam and the steel framing. No consideration to actually doing the job rightójust in getting the job done. With this much air space, the insulation is doing very little. I will be cutting all this existing foam to a half inch all around as I did the wall and filling with spray foam.


One more thing. Three indispensable tools, all by Dremel: The center saw was used to cut the wall covering in strips to pull it off. It saved lots of time. Itís a really easy saw to handle. And the saw on the right has a thousand uses. The two biggest time savers were in, sort of, peeling the wood from the fiberglass siding where it wasnít fully rotten, and it works really well for cutting foam.


Thanks for reading. And thanks for everyoneís comments. I know I donít answer them directly, but I love reading them.

One more thing: when I first started this thread, I had no intention of continuing to update it. Donít know how that happened.

And I find myself starting to put time into this project as I finally feel like Iím making headway.

David
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Old 02-16-2016, 08:05 AM   #18
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Thanks for the great pics and keeping us updated, especially love the obscene things popping out

-Randy
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Old 03-13-2016, 04:13 PM   #19
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Yet another update

Hi all,

Time to update.

Below is the rusted steel under the driverís seat all cleaned up and painted.


The white foam needed to be weighted down or the spray foam would make if float up.


The inner wall is finally in. I used simple, exterior paint on this. I like the simplicity of it. The seams will be capped with molding. Also, the new subfloor. This wood, even with all the holes for the seat and the seat belts, was actually easy to measure and cut since the frame is perfectly squareónot like a house.



I paid seven US dollars each for the suction cups below. They allowed me to set the window back in place from the inside by myself with very little effort.


In goes the upper cabinet.


This is above the driverís seat. Airstream had put in no insulation at all here. I started with spray foam, but itís so big it seemed ridiculous. So I finished with fiberglass. And while I was putting it in Ö


Ö I found this. I guess Airstream couldnít find any real insulation, so they stuffed the ceiling full of leftover carpeting.


Below is what I spoke about in an earlier post. Anyone who knows anything about RVs knows that this bulging is a sure sign of delamination.

I didnít know this at the time. The dealer knew this. Again, they waited for someone ignorant like me to take this RV off their hands.
By the way, that peeling dark red stripe: I found that that pulled off easily. So now, instead of that mess, it is an all gray stripe.


I talked about this before too. This is the outside cap over the driverís seat between the cab and the side of the RV where the most water was coming in on the driverís side. You can see how weeny the caulk is and how it isnít completely sealed.


This is how I redid it. Lotís on the RV itself, lots on the underside of the cap. So we end up with caulk oozing out everywhere after it is screwed on. Itís not going to leak. Take note Airstream: itís not that hard.



Before I showed the driverís side windowóhow little sealant there was. This is now the passenger side. Again, practically nothing.


And here it is higher up. The yellow arrow is pointing to the caulk that was put on from the outside. The red arrow points to where the main sealant should beóbut isnít. Thatís a full, two feet that completely bare.

To quote from Airstreamís email to me: ďWhile we pride ourselves in making a superior product, we can only guarantee the initial quality of the motorhome against factory defects.Ē

Is this the superior product that Airstream is talking about? And isnít this a factory defect?

The email said it is up to the owner to reseal the ďseams, windows, and roof components.Ē

To reseal this window (or, I should say ďsealĒ, not ďresealĒ, since it was never done at the factory), requires that the window be removed. And in order to remove the window, the dashboard must be removed. So this is yearly maintenance I supposeóremoving the dashboard.


When I put the windows back in and sealed them, I used butyl tape. I didnít think a single strip was enough, so I slit the tape down the middle and put in an additional 50%. And so after tightening down the frame, the butyl oozed out as in the picture below. I am certain that window is not going to leak. Just a few dollars more and very little additional time BY THE MANUFACTURER could have saved this motorhome (yes, owner maintenance is still certainly necessary).


Just a shot of the new window framing as I also did on the driverís side.


This is inexcusable. This is a bolt that holds the seat belt to the floor. Yes, itís supposed to be straight like the others were.


Hereís the hole. I mean holes. The bolt went through the bottom left hole instead of going through the top right holeówhich is the correct hole. Why there are two holes I, of course, donít know. What I do know is that when I took out the bolt, there was no nut on the other end. I guess being at that angle made it too hard, so they just left it offóof a seatbelt. Also notice, again, the great insulation jobóďworkmanshipĒ.


All cleaned up and painted.


The picture below is the floor in the living room after I removed the insulation. Itís a lot of rotten wood and rusted steel. In the red square below (itís hard to make out), youíre looking at the top of the propane tank. Yes, the floor rusted clear through. Now I have another big job.

The sheet metal here is really weak. I made that hole with my bare hands. I think the only way to fix this is to screw some kind of small angle iron along the bottom edge all the way around to support whatever I decide to use to replace this mess.

This work goes really slowly. There are so many details to constantly deal with. For as much time as I have already put into this thing, I could have been well on my way to having built myself a new one, a better one than this.

OK, so Iíve been kind of holding on with this mess so far. But now itís getting to be a little too much and Iím near ready to take this thing to the junk yard. Itís really discouraging.




David -- still working
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Old 03-13-2016, 10:53 PM   #20
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Your doing a great job!

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Windows, doors, floors and walls look awesome! Just keep focusing on one little thing at a time. Just think you'll have the best motor home on the road with no issues. Now that rocks! I really like how your tackling the project- outside of the box, but inside. 😁😀
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