Sunday, September 8, 2013

RV Maintenance - Caulking, Vinyl Trim Inserts, Rubber Roof Coating

The cabover bunk showed signs of leakage in the corners, with some wood rot in corners of the bunk floor.  The way to repair this properly is to first eliminate the leak, then replace the bunk floor with new plywood.  However that is not something that we wanted to do this year so the repair I did to the bunk floor was probably unheard of and would probably raise some eyebrows.  However I did this repair a month ago and it's holding strong with not a sign of moisture.  If it lasts for the long haul I will reveal what I did next year. :)  I will say that I ran a dehumidifier for days to dry it out and applied wood hardener to the rotted wood before I did the repair.  This type of repair I call a "buying time" repair, simply because we do not have the time or money to do a repair of this extent properly and just want to buy some time so we can keep using and enjoying the camper.

First, I had to stop water from getting in by sealing up all the seams, windows, etc. with butyl tape and RV caulk. The seams where the siding join together are common leak spots.  Over the years the putty tape develops gaps or is missing entirely in some spots.  I've read that you should never use regular silicone on an RV.  It is not meant for things that move.  It dries too rigid, and doesn't have enough flexibility for an RV.  It also does not adhere well. We purchased an RV caulk called "ProFlex RV".  It was developed specifically for RVs, is more elastic than silicone sealants, and has superior adhesion as well.  It is supposed to displace water that might be hiding in seams and joints, and ensures a watertight seal.  It bonds to every RV material, even when damp, oily or frozen.  It is long lasting, durable and paintable. 

Everywhere that the aluminum trim joins together is a potential leak spot.  The screw holes in the trim look like potential leak spots as well, especially since 90% of the vinyl trim inserts which covered the screws were missing.  Since the aluminum trim holds the seams of the siding together, if there are gaps in the butyl tape that is a potential leak spot. Another common leak spot is the clearance lights - so they got sealed up as well.

I bought new black vinyl trim inserts and did the entire camper.  It was a lot of work!  

At the joints, I made sure they were sealed completely with caulk, including the vinyl trim inserts.  It may not be pretty but no water is getting in here!

Here is a pic of the passenger side cab-over before the caulking and trim inserts:

And this is the "after" pic.

This is the driver's side, "before":

Driver's side "after":

Under cab "before":

Under cab "after"

To re-seal the trim, the first thing I did was used an Xacto knife and went around all of the trim and cut off any old putty tape. The old squished out putty was no longer pliable, it was hard and brittle from years of dirt and UV light damage.  Next I took some new butyl tape, and squished it into all the gaps.  I did not want to remove the trim for fear that the screws may not hold as they have been out before, and the holes may end up wallowed out if they were removed again.

After filling in the gaps with butyl tape, I went over all the trim and sealed it with the ProFlex RV sealant.

Here is a picture of the camper with the sealing work completed and new trim inserts:

The camper door, back window and side window all looked like they had trim inserts at one time as well but didn't have any now, and the screws were exposed.  So I had enough trim left to do these as well and they look much better, and more water-tight.  Here is the door, before and after:

And here is the back window:

The fridge access panel looked like it had foam weatherstripping on it at one point but it was completely gone so water would flow right in there when the camper was being driven down the road in the rain.  I replaced that weather-stripping, doubling it up where the gaps in the siding were:

All the windows, door frame, furnace exhaust hatch, water spigot and hot water heater access panel were all caulked with the ProFlex.  

The next thing I wanted to do was roof maintenance.  The roof does not leak, and it is made of galvanized steel with a rubber coating.  Age cracks were showing in the roof in a few places:

First step was to get up on the roof and wash it using a large brush.  Then I let it dry for about a week.  I wanted to make sure there was no moisture in those cracks before I added the new roof coating.  The "proper" way to do this would be to scrape the roof down to the metal and then apply the new coating.  However I didn't really want to get that involved in it, especially since the roof showed no signs of leaking.  I just made sure it was completely dry before adding the new coating.  It sat out and baked in the sun for about a week before I started to paint it.

I did not know how far the container of rubber roof coating would go so I put a generous amount on all the cracks and all around the edges first. 

Then I started to fill in everything in between.

Then I ran out. :(  Jeff said he likes doing this type of thing so he is going to get some more stuff and finish it.

That's all for now.  This thing should be sealed up so tight now we might need an air exchanger! lol 

Below are links to all of my posts about the Scamper:


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