Scamp roof A/C can cause a leak. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-04-2016, 06:57 PM   #1
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Scamp roof A/C can cause a leak.

This information is for Scamp owners who have a roof air conditioner unit.

The Dometic and other brand roof A/C units that are designed to be put on a framed roof present some unique challenges and potential problems on a fiberglass trailer. The installation instructions call for the air distribution box to be mounted to the interior roof with two sheet metal screws into the A/C metal frame and eight wood screws into the roof (two for each side vent). Scamp used only the two sheet metal screws and two screws at the aft end vent into the roof. This seems to be enough to securely hold the box in place even without the other six screws. The problem is with the two screws by the vent (and any of the other six if they happen to be present). These screws are one inch long and they go through the rat-fur and insulation, then into the fiberglass roof. The fiberglass is only about inch thick so it is easy for these screws to go all the way through the roof and create a leak.

Furthermore, because this area is under the A/C unit on the roof, it is hard to see if the screws have penetrated the roof. If there is a leak, water from the roof will travel under the rat-fur and insulation and it will end up in different parts of the camper depending on which side or corner of the trailer is lower. That makes it hard to figure out where the leak is.

This happened to me.

If you ever find water along the walls, at the bottom of the rat-fur and insulation (especially inside compartments or cabinets at the lowest point) then I would suggest that you carefully look for any evidence of screw penetration in the roof, under the A/C unit. As you can see from the below photo, it can be hard to see. If you don't have a problem now, I would not suggest making any changes. However if you ever need to remove the air distribution box then you need to make sure that one way or another, you do not allow the screws to penetrate the roof when it is reinstalled.

On occasion, the A/C roof gasket will be source of leaks, either because it is old and needs to be replaced, or because the A/C bolts need to be re-torqued. In either case, the repair or adjustment requires removal of the air distribution box and when the box is reinstalled it is all too easy to put holes in the roof with the screws.

My solution was twofold. First, I raised the A/C unit on the roof enough to get under it (about four inches on the side in question) and then I did an ugly but serviceable repair to the fiberglass where the screws had penetrated. Then, I lowered the A/C unit back down to the roof and re-secured it with the bolts tightened evenly using 40-50 inch pounds of torque (per Dometic's instructions).

Next, I cut a rectangle out of the rat-fur and insulation where the air distribution box screws into the roof. I then used resin and fiberglass cloth to “glass-in” a wood black to receive the screws. I used Bondo brand polyester resin with filler only because that is what I had on hand. It’s not pretty but it is under the box and so out of view. I used shorter screws that have no chance of going into the fiberglass, let alone all the way through it.

The wood block is roughly the same thickness as the insulation and rat-fur therefore the air distribution box still sits flush over the block and the original rat-fur/insulation. The edge of the wood block (and the ugly resin) is a somewhat visible. If I had it to do over, I would use two separate and smaller pieces of wood to minimize the cutting of the rat-fur at the edge of the air distribution box. The box is quite light-weight so I think that two smaller wood blocks would be more than sufficient to hold it in place. The smaller wood blocks would be preferred for cosmetic purposes however.

The relative level of the camper has a large influence on how bad the leak is, and where you find the water. I have had a number of leaks in this camper including one where I could not firmly identify the source and another when I suspected the VanAir bathroom powered vent. I now think that these could have been caused by the A/C screws going through the roof.

However, the VanAir vent has three screws that go up into the fiberglass roof from the interior and hold the trim ring in place, much like the A/C air distribution box screws. These do penetrate the roof but they should not cause a leak because they are sealed up by butyl under the vent’s flange as well as sealant around the edge of the vent (on the roof). Its’ the same for the screws that go into the fiberglass from above to mount the vent and which probably go through the fiberglass all the way to the insulation. However, before I discovered the A/C screws through the roof, I blamed the VanAir (bathroom) vent and so removed it, cleaned it all up and reinstalled it with fresh butyl and sealant. I did not use the screws to hold the trim ring however. In my opinion, the six inch hole for the VanAir vent should have a wooden ring glassed in, both for the mounting screws and the trim ring screws.

This information might change on any camper manufactured after August 2016 because Kent Eveland told me he would discuss this issue with the production team and they would consider adding wood to the ceiling as I have described. However, it will cost them more, especially in labor, so I would not be surprised if they don’t make any changes.
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Old 09-05-2016, 08:35 AM   #2
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Name: Wendy Lee
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Gordon, I really feel for you when I read your posts. Having bought a used trailer I took the good with the bad, but your experiences have frustrated and saddened me as simply a reader.

Your efforts have been tireless. Moreover, you have turned a bad into a good by educating others on what to look for if similar problems arise and how you've tackled them.

Having had several leaks in my trailer that weren't simple rivet replacements, I know how confounding diagnosing the source can be. For me with limited experience and skill, it was a huge learning curve. In the end, I was propelled forward and patiently helped, guided and educated by people like you. Folks who generously gave of their time and expertise.

For me, it was water running down wiring harness through red tail light lenses and leaking spare tire mount.

I am sorry for your experiences with your new trailer and really hope this is the last of your major troubles with it.

My warmest wishes,
Wendy

Sent from my VS985 4G using Fiberglass RV mobile app
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Old 09-05-2016, 01:55 PM   #3
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Scamp AC continued

We opted for the AC in our 2015 (October) Scamp 16.
Only have used it maybe 4 times for a few hours before bedtime.
Last year we had water dripping from the AC unit during 2+ days of rain when in Asheville NC. Including a Real frog choker of a rain storm.

Yikes, I assumed a leak but turned out with the 100% humidity for 2+ days it was condensation as the AC was the coolest part of the interior and it was dripping quite a bit.

We have been in several rain events since like our stay for 12 days at the Everglades Nat'l Park last January and no "leaks".
It was considerably warmer than the mid 40 F days in Asheville so not condensing.

I will keep my eyes open for potential leaks however after you posted about your leak.
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Old 09-05-2016, 03:17 PM   #4
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Trailer: 2013 Casita Spirit Deluxe 17, purchased from original owners May, 2016
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Gordon's continuing troubles, and his valiant persistence at trouble-shooting (the first thread, of which this is the follow-up, is here: Musing from a new Scamp owner ) makes me wonder whether he is just the unlucky owner of a lemon, or are Scamps actually more prone than other makes to sloppy construction techniques that can result in leaks? Without more than anecdotal evidence, we can't really know, of course.

I can say that his experiences were one of the factors that led me to focus more on Casitas than Scamps during our search this past spring. Are they really better? Again, without real data, we can only rely on personal testimony, always unreliable at best. Might be interesting to see a well-conducted survey, though.

/Mr Lynn
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Old 09-05-2016, 06:12 PM   #5
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Not to hijack the thread,
I offer a brief reply to Mr. Lynn's comments.

Scamp was the only FG choice for us as the similar sized Casita was far too heavy to pull with our vehicle tow limits.
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Old 09-05-2016, 11:09 PM   #6
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I seem to recall another thread about leaking vents on 1-2 year old Scamps; the vents were being sealed with silicone by the factory rather than butyl. Now this, about the AC. Hmm. This is kind of scary.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:30 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by BatDude View Post
Not to hijack the thread,
I offer a brief reply to Mr. Lynn's comments.

Scamp was the only FG choice for us as the similar sized Casita was far too heavy to pull with our vehicle tow limits.

Are you sure? The 16' Casita weighs pretty much the same as the 16' Scamp.

From their respective website specifications:

Scamp - Approximate weight 1750-2000 lbs.
Casita - Dry weight STD 1970 lbs.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy P. View Post
Are you sure? The 16' Casita weighs pretty much the same as the 16' Scamp.

From their respective website specifications:

Scamp - Approximate weight 1750-2000 lbs.
Casita - Dry weight STD 1970 lbs.
I was in the same boat.. the 13 foot Casitas would have been good weight for me, but too small physically. A 16 foot Castia (if available) might have been OK. However, the average from the Real World data base for ALL models of 17 foot Casitas is 3,286 and only 2 or 3 approach the lighter weight of the Scamp 16.

So, while Scamp might in some ways be an inferior product (or might not be.. lets not go there again), knowing the shortcomings is half-way to eliminating them. That is my focus here.
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Old 09-06-2016, 09:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy P. View Post
Are you sure? The 16' Casita weighs pretty much the same as the 16' Scamp.

From their respective website specifications:

Scamp - Approximate weight 1750-2000 lbs.
Casita - Dry weight STD 1970 lbs.
It's hard to compare dry weights because the two companies offer different configurations and there are differences in what's standard and what's optional.

The closest comparison would be between a Scamp 16 Layout 6 and a Casita 16 Spirit Deluxe. Based on the admittedly limited data in the Trailer Weights in the Real World database (http://lakeshoreimages.com/spreadsheets/Weight.xls), it looks like the Casita is probably several hundred pounds heavier. The only way to be sure would be to find two similarly configured and optioned units and weigh them empty.
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:14 PM   #10
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Quick update:
The repair is solid after a short trip and about 145 miles.
The camper stayed bone dry* while we got well over two inches of rain on the outskirts of Hurricane Matthew.




-------------
* except for the fridge vent, but that's another story.
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:45 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
Hey Floyd, hey, hey. Wake up. Scamp is under assault.
I'm here... With a question for Gordon2, Which A/C unit do you have. I assume Dometic Brisk II?
If I were buying new I would insist on the Polar Cub by Coleman. Of course my Coleman Mini-Mach has worked maintenance and leak free for more than twelve years now.
Some of the new offerings are barely more than half the price of the Mini-Mach or the Polar Cub on the aftermarket. This makes me wonder about the manufacturers installation materials or methods.
I have seen some of the Brisk units flex internally bad enough to cause the fan to contact its shroud.
To the degree that Scamp is culpable, it could be their failure to adapt to new products when switching suppliers. This sounds reminiscent of the problem Parkliner had when they switched axles without doing the research on necessary changes required for installation.

BTW; some of the new units are made without ports to recharge them, I saw one with bad solder on the condenser line and the whole unit was replaced.

Mr. Blago,
Gadfly would be far too polite a term for your comment but the appropriate ones would not be allowed here!
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:48 PM   #12
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Oh Dear Lord I hope this is not the same issue I am having! See, this is why I bought a brand new trailer so I could reduce the likelihood of issues I've already been back to the Scamp factory a year after purchasing to fiberglass repair to the front corners because of spider webbing and now this.....I'm calling Scamp now to see what they say since Gordon was kind enough to inform Scamp of a possible issue. Will see what they say....
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Old 10-11-2016, 01:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floyd View Post
I'm here... With a question for Gordon2, Which A/C unit do you have.
...This makes me wonder about the manufacturers installation materials or methods...
Dometic B57915 (I guess thats a Brisk II)

Which manufacturers installation materials or methods? Dometic or Scamp?

The problem is that the A/C unit is designed to be installed on a framed roof and fiberglass "eggs" don't have a framed roof. I think my first post explains it.

The screws holding up the air distribution box just don't have anything to bite into other than the fiberglass roof. Yes, its a compromise installation method.

One could build a box on the ceiling but then the A/C would be even lower and headroom is already lacking.

Other solutions are possible and something different / better should probably be done. Last I heard they were going to at least discuss options at Eveland's.
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Old 10-11-2016, 02:03 PM   #14
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..I'm calling Scamp now to see what they say since Gordon was kind enough to inform Scamp of a possible issue. Will see what they say....
I would guess that they would say, bring it in and we will look at it. What else can they say?

I gather that my case was the exception and the workers at Scamp must be pretty adapt at tightening these screws enough to hold the air distribution box up, but not so far as to go through the roof.

I would lean a padded ladder against the side and look under the A/C for any sign that the screws have poked up through the roof. It might be easier to see at night with a flashlight.
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