Mysterious leaks in Trillium 1300...maybe solved - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-10-2009, 06:04 PM   #1
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Trailer: Had to sell, no longer an egg owner
British Columbia
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I've been fighting leaks this spring (wet! winter) and maybe I've found a major culprit. I had been investigating, based on reading various threads, the possibility of leaky belly-band rivets.

After I had the interior cleaned and de-mungified this spring and was feeling pretty good about things then I opened the trailer up one fine day a few months back and was faced with a ugly-coloured mess in one corner where water had obviously evaporated leaving behind a rusty looking scum. (1st. image) This "rust" coloured mess made me think about the belly band issue. (I know, the rivets are aluminum, but I was somewhat ![at]#$ off at finding a new leak).

So, based on where the source seemed to be, I carefully peeled back the ensolite on the wall to see what the inside ends of the rivets looked like. Just like they are supposed to be, the ones I could access were still nicely encased in their fibreglass pockets - no sign of leakage (hose test, with verve). But, I felt a wetness partway down the wall.

Close inspection showed what appeared to be a small plug of silicon sealer. Hmmm... A poke with a sharply pointed scratch awl confirmed - a plug of silicon filling a small hole. When I inspected from outside it appeared the plug was filling a (deep) rock ding. The front of the trailer has a thickish coat of paint which I assumed was a "rock guard" type coating.

(Picture 2 shows some "dings" from the inside, with "plugs" removed and picture 4 shows a few from the outside)

Further inspection showed a number of odd looking blemishes (picture 3) around the front of the trailer. Probing with the awl showed most of them were little plugs of silicon covered with whatever paint some previous owner had decided was suitable. (Whomever had this before must have done a lot of gravel road driving - with some speed to cause this many holes in the FG.)

Now that I've poked a bunch of holes in my trailer I have to fill them. I plan is to use one of those marine epoxy putties forced in from outside (as I don't want to peel any more ensolite back - it's still stuck "real good" after all these years) after I clean out what silicon I can and prep the area.

Dave
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Old 06-10-2009, 07:19 PM   #2
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Name: Ed
Trailer: 1982 Fiber Stream and 2002 Casita Freedom Deluxe,The driveway is a Dark & Lonely Place now!
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You should also know that the rivets in the Trill are backed with little steel plates behind the belly band.
They will rust and the plates just fade away.
This probably explains your rust color leak?

I took the band off carefully and cleaned out as much as I could and then filled with the marine epoxy you are talking about,slowly building it up over the course of a day so it would all bond together.

Once cured I sanded it all smooth and drilled for new stainless screws and reattached the band and all was well.

Ed
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:35 AM   #3
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In the area of the leak, as near as I could tell (close visual inspection and a good soaking with the hose) the ends of the rivet/steel plate still seem to be fully sealed in their original fibreglass.

The discolouration may not be rust, but just rust coloured from running down/through the ensolite/partially degraded contact cement layer before exiting onto the flat front bench surface. Closer inspection showed a hole in the ensolite corresponding to one of the bigger outer skin dings. It has a coloured water strain showing on the interior surface of the ensolite.

When you screwed the belly band back on, were you using screws small enough to prevent their penetration through to the interior? I'm visualizing they went back into the original rivet holes, now packed with epoxy...

How much did you enlarge the original holes during your clean out process? (I am assuming you left the steel plate and the back end of the rivet in place.)

Did you remove the interior ensolite so you had access to the back of the "rivet pockets" to ensure you didn't accidently create a new water path by puncturing through to the interior? (Peeling back the small area I did was a major challenge. The old glue is tenacious still after thirty years. I really, really don't want to do this to the whole interior.)

Dave
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:40 AM   #4
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AHhhhhhhhhhhh satisfaction!
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