Caulk, Window & Door Question - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-25-2007, 03:02 AM   #1
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These are some photos that the dealer emailed us of the 1988 19 foot Bigfoot that we are going to pick up the first weekend of Aug. I have been looking over them carefully to prepare for seeing it in person and have questions about a few things I noticed:

1. In the first two photos, it looks as though the window above the sofa/gaucho has a leak or had one in the past--particularly because the paneling seems to be stained below the side of the window that does not slide open. It was raining the day they took those photos though and the stain itself looks dry, like it is old. From the outside (see third photo), the window seal looks in decent shape to me. Comments on this? If there is a leak, what needs to be done to fix it? How does one get rid of the stain on the paneling and make it look nice again?

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2. The fourth photo shows what looks like moldy caulking to the left of the door and door handle and in the corner where the belly band meets the door frame. I can't tell if there is also a gap there? Why would there be such a thick coating of caulk here anyway? Am I looking at a crack that was poorly caulked over (seems unlikely, but not impossible)? Comments, ideas? What does it look like needs to be done to remedy this situation and restore it to like new condition? The dirt or moldy caulk appearance seems to continue above and below the belly band in certain areas (see fifth photo)--is that normal or does it indicate some problem?

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Not trying to be a worry wart here, but you know how expectant and new mothers are, so please humor me and give me your best possible analysis of what I am looking at and how to resolve it if it is a problem. Thanks very much!
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Old 07-25-2007, 07:45 AM   #2
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Two things...
1. I am not a Bigfoot owner
2. It's difficult to see much in the photos

But...
I don't think you have much to worry about.

From what I can see... the little bit of staining around the window could be from something as simple as interior condensation or a window being left open in the rain. It doesn't look like a major long-term problem.
As for the exterior caulk work... well at least someone attempted some preventative maintenance... they just didn't do a very good job. I think you will find that since silicone doesn't adhere very well to fiberglass gel-coat, you can simply rub your finger on it to remove most of it. You can then use Goo Be Gone, Mineral Spirits, Varsol, etc., to remove any remaining residue.
The best solution for water intrusion would be to completely remove the body item (the belly-band for example) and any old sealant. Clean the area and re-seal/install. If you are not up to that then you can get a really nice new silicone job (even for a novice) by using simple "painters tape" to "mask" around the area to be sealed. Put the tape just slightly above/beside the joint to be filled. Then tape the item (top edge of the bell band) very close to the joint. Now you can run a bead of silicone into the joint (don't go overboard, a little goes a long way). Use your finger or a tool to smooth out the sealant and to force it into the gap. Now, while the silicone is still "wet" you can peel off the tape and you will have a professional looking job.

Good Luck

PS. Have a fantastic trip picking up the new trailer. My family once lived in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, and my girlfriend grew up in and around Vancouver. You sure will be passing thru and visiting some beautiful areas.
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Old 07-25-2007, 10:15 AM   #3
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Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your input. The wesbite wouldn't let me post full-size photos, so that was the largest size I could show.

Having done a lot of home improvements, we are comfortable with caulking, painting and many repairs, but just want to have some idea what we might be in for if these looked like more involved projects.

On the subject of caulk, I usually use high-grade silicone for exterior projects (the paintable kind if I need to, or the clear near-marine grade if not). If silicone doesn't adhere well to FG (has anyone tried Big Stretch, for example), what is the best caulk to use?
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Old 07-25-2007, 11:38 AM   #4
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Been hammered to death here, but Silicone caulk seems to be the one to not use.
I've been using the 3M Marine caulk made specifically for boats/fiberglass and am very pleased with it.
Available at Wally for about $3.50 a pop.
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Old 07-25-2007, 11:43 AM   #5
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Hi Val,
I agree with Kevin entirely about the causes. However you may want to consider marine caulk instead of silicone and use Kevin's method of applying with the tape. It looks better and cleaner. Keith

On Edit
Opps! Looks like Greg beat me to it. He's right.
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Old 07-25-2007, 11:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Been hammered to death here, but Silicone caulk seems to be the one to not use.
I've been using the 3M Marine caulk made specifically for boats/fiberglass and am very pleased with it.
Available at Wally for about $3.50 a pop.
Thank you. Duly noted and filed in my "Maintenance to be Done" folder, which will be my starting point upon our return. $3.50 a pop is cheaper than some stuff I've used for caulking the house, and I am a firm believer in caulking whatever nook and cranny might need it. Of course, I like to paint over caulk because it does tend to attract unsightly dirt, which is perhaps all that happened with this soon-to-be ours '88.
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