Water and rot - Fiberglass RV


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Old 01-20-2009, 12:09 AM   #1
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Just bought a 16" Scamp, took it out for the first time and discovered not only water under the seat, but, !EGAD! mold!!. Spent all day deconstructing the seat and also discovered that the wood supports had rotted. I didn't think that was there when we first got the camper - can that have rotted so fast? (3 or 4 weeks and only one rainstorm?)
I'm planning to replace the wood supports - However, they have been fiberglassed to the inside wall of the camper!(prior owner remodel) I'm pretty sure I can simply saw the wood supports off the seat mounting-as I have pulled it out and it's easily accessible- but the ones mounted on the inside wall of the Scamp are a problem as I can't really get the saws all in there and I'm afraid of cracking the actual wall of the camper if I'm too rough.
I have already removed all damp carpeting, bleached the area and have yet to track down the leak (windows are prime suspect-as a guess, back window looking more guilty than side).
Questions: 1:any suggestions for breaking the wood mounts free without destroying the fiberglass wall?
2:What's a good sealer for the windows? and 3o I really have to remove the windows and re-do them? or can I simply seal inside and out?
Thanks all!
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Old 01-20-2009, 01:23 AM   #2
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Oh, no. What a disappointment! I was going to tell you that you should have used the buyers' checklist on this website when I noticed that the buyers' checklist doesn't include examining inside normally closed spaces! Are you listening administrators?

I googled rotten wood repair and got this website. I understand there is something that will fix it:

http://www.factsfacts.com/MyHomeRepair/rotrepair.htm

Good luck.
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Old 01-20-2009, 02:09 AM   #3
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I didn't think that was there when we first got the camper - can that have rotted so fast? (3 or 4 weeks and only one rainstorm?)
I'm planning to replace the wood supports - However, they have been fiberglassed to the inside wall of the camper!(prior owner remodel) I'm pretty sure I can simply saw the wood supports off the seat mounting-
Questions: 1:any suggestions for breaking the wood mounts free without destroying the fiberglass wall?
2:What's a good sealer for the windows? and 3o I really have to remove the windows and re-do them? or can I simply seal inside and out?
Thanks all!
Hi Diane,

Pardon the massive quote, but the forum does not allow breaking it into blocks and answering each bit separately.

1) I would be very very surprised if wood rotted that fast, so no, I don't believe this is a new problem, unless you are only talking about mold and not rot.

2) Are you sure the supports being glassed to the camper walls are a remodel and not original? Anyway, if they're rotted it probably doesn't matter that much, they'll need to be replaced. Are they wood core with fiberglass cloth wrapped around and the wood core has rotted? As far as tools, I could suggest anything from a hacksaw blade out of its frame so you can bend it to the shape right on up to a Fein MultiMaster (neat tool). Can you post photos so that we can see what you've got?

3) Yes, you have to remove the windows to seal them properly. The sealant needs to go under the flange (or rubber), not alongside it. The latter is just a band-aid that won't work long term and will simply make more work when you do end up doing it right. Whatever sealant you use, stay away from silicone (butyl tape or polyurethane caulk are options).

Again, photos would be really helpful. I'm sure the problem can be fixed but it's hard to know exactly what to suggest at this point.

Sorry you're having to deal with this so soon with your new egg, but we'll help you get it sorted out

Raya
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Old 01-20-2009, 03:36 AM   #4
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Not knowing where the water is comeing in is the kicker.
I had a leak (or should I say leaks) that was hard to find and after finding one by standing and looking close, while it was raining, I would repair, only to have to locate another.
I did have a rear window leak in my Boler and a bead of silicone around the outside flange took care of that so you may not have to take window out.
I have some broken seat supports and I just added some 3/4 plywood strips right over the existing ones with glue and wood screws.
Gerry
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Old 01-20-2009, 07:39 AM   #5
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I'm not certain if the glassing in is a remodel or original but the wood is plywood and is certainly rotten, one end just crumbled in my fingers - definite need of replacement. The fiberglass is not completely wrapped around the wood, more like a patch that just connects to the top edge of the wood frame to the wall of the camper. I'll try to get pictures when I'm out there today looking for the leak.
The windows are definitely remodel since they told me they had replaced them. Having to take them out should be interesting!
To be honest, I'm not all that upset to find something wrong - cheap price meant some work was going to be involved sooner or later. What's the point of buying an old, used trailer if there's no "Oh my God-look what I found" story?!

Diane

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Old 01-20-2009, 07:42 AM   #6
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We actually had looked under there but everything was carpeted over and the rotted part was tucked up underneath the seat along the upper edge - to see it we would have had to basically crawl in or take it apart - like I did yesterday.

Thanks for the website, I'll check it out - It may have some good prevention techniques also for the future

Diane

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Old 01-20-2009, 01:25 PM   #7
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Hi Diane,

The front and rear windows on the Scamps are notorious for a leak where the piece of lockstrip molding meets and makes a seam. This is usually dead center at the bottom of the molding around the window. Use a marine caulk, not silicone and you can get this at the depot or wally. 3M Marine fast cure 4200.

If you want a black caulk there to match the molding I use 3M weatherstrip gasket adhesive. The seam will separate in that spot and is a known leak point. After you seal it have someone spray the area thoroughly with a garden hose while the other person is inside looking for leak points. Once your confident it is tight, then begin your wood replacement.
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Old 01-20-2009, 03:56 PM   #8
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Diane,

Okay, that sounds like where the wooden supports were "tabbed in" to the "hull." So it's like there's a (now) hard flap of fiberglass in the shape of a piece of angle iron, wherein one "flap" of the angle is on the wood, and one "flap" is on the hull of the trailer, if I'm understanding you correctly.

Is there any kind of wallcovering that will be interfering with you re-fiberglassing? That is, is there the Ensolite foam, or rat fur, or carpet?

Without seeing it I can think of three possibilities:

1) The most "right" way would be to remove the wood and grind or cut off the original fiberglass "tab," then prep the glass and recreate what you had, but with new material.

2) If the fiberglass tab is very sound and well-adhered to the hull, you could potentially remove the rotten wood, and then re-use the tab but with new wood. You could glue/screw or glue/rivet the new wood to the existing tab.

3) If neither of the above is possible, you could possibly rivet the new supports in, although that's another rivet hole in the hull.

4) Another consideration, that's not tied to any of the above specific methods, is that you could maybe use a section of fiberglass "angle" for tubing or your new support instead of wood. These are available pre-formed and we often use them in boat construction and repair. They are basically impervious to rot and are quite strong.

Of course it would be great to see photos; can you post any?

I'm glad you're taking this in stride You've got a great attitude about it. I had to laugh when I read Bryan's thread about a similar problem (new trailer; hidden rot), when he said that he had to think to himself "Darn, Bubba worked on my trailer in the past."

Raya
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Old 01-20-2009, 11:29 PM   #9
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Tabbed to the hull is an exact description - I tried to upload pictures but the files were too large, sorry.
All are good ideas - I'm thinking to cut the wood off and make a frame to hold the seat and tack it to the floor. Still thinking on it.

I discovered the problem with the side window - it was installed upside down! The little "weeper" holes are at the top! - decided to save a few steps and simply drilled a few little holes down below and have filled in the upper holes. Seems like it will work for that spot.

The back window is another story - definitely the source of the rotting, I have also discovered more rot in the corner of the floor board. I have tried cleaning out the weeper holes but I'm afraid that it will not be so simple for this one. I'm afraid that the window frame itself is damaged. Hopefully I won't have to get a whole new one.

I'm hoping for a temporary fix as I have to budget my tool purchases! That Fein MultiMaster looks like a good one!

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Old 01-21-2009, 01:15 AM   #10
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Diane,

Yep, the Fein Multi-Master is one of those tools that no-one has to have, and that is expensive, and yet, when it is just right for the job, you would just about fork over a grand for it. LOL

It is well made, and will do lots of things. It also has the plus of not being a major dust spewer like, say, a grinder is. Also, it will not cut your skin if you accidentally touch the blade, or brush it against your arm or something. I found that to be a huge plus when working underneath a boat deck in an awkward position. As I understand it, the technology was inspired by cast cutting saws; at any rate, when the blade oscillates against something "soft," like skin, it does not cut.

For temporary window sealing, I would go for something really temporary, to hold until you can do the job right, but not be a project in and of itself to remove. Two suggestions along this line would be as follows:

1) Either "clay" rope caulk - like the old-fashioned "Mortite" used to seal out drafts in house windows - or just the butyl tape that you may eventually use for permanent sealing anyway (under the flanges), but for now formed to mash around the leaky spots right on the outside.

2) Make little tape "hoods" for the leaky spots out of a long-mask tape. I have done that on a window and a couple of rivets of my Boler until the weather is suitable for proper removal and re-sealing. Keep in mind that this tape will have to be monitored, but it will be much less prone to becoming a permanent, cement-like addition to your camper than than duct tape or blue tape or the like. Just keep an eye on it and be sure not to leave it on too long. I've used 3M 225; 3M 4811 is an even longer lasting tape. Neither are cheap, but they buy you time. I was lucky to be able to buy just a few feet of the 3M 225 and not a whole roll. You can see them here:

http://www.boatbuilding.net/article....8/09/24/139248

Raya

PS: There should be a way to re-size your photos in order to post them here. What are you using to upload them?
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Old 01-21-2009, 02:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Tabbed to the hull is an exact description - I tried to upload pictures but the files were too large, sorry.

The fix is simple. Just email the pictures to yourself. They automatically resize smaller. In fact you should get a window indicating that the pictures will be resized.
Then save them next to the original adding some indicator, resized or whatever. Then upload those.

If you are going to use wood again, use cedar or (I don't know if redwood is still available) some other rot-resistant wood.
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Old 01-21-2009, 08:22 AM   #12
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I discovered the problem with the side window - it was installed upside down! The little "weeper" holes are at the top! - decided to save a few steps and simply drilled a few little holes down below and have filled in the upper holes. Seems like it will work for that spot.
There's a very old saying... just because you can, doesn't mean you should. You can apply this to just about everything in life.

Removing and then replacing these types of windows isn't difficult. I've had the window out of the door of my Scamp several times. Think to the future. By doing what you're proposing you'll have a constant source of repair. Eventually, whatever you blob into the holes at the top is going to fail. Maybe next winter or the winter after that... and now you've damaged the window to the point it's going to require this maintenance, forever. Taking the window out, applying butyl and sticking it back in.. right side up! will give you years of leak-free worry. Depending on the elements the trailer is exposed to, it should last 15-20 years.

My 2-1/2 cents.
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Old 01-21-2009, 10:00 AM   #13
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I'm with Donna on that one.
I recently pulled all my side windows, cleaned the old gunk, put new Butyl and riveted them back in. Total time per window was about 20 minutes start to finish and most of it was cleaning the old gunk off. A roll of butyl tape and rivets are cheap, so only expense to putting things right is really labor and it was minimal.
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Old 01-21-2009, 05:29 PM   #14
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I recently pulled all my side windows, cleaned the old gunk, put new Butyl and riveted them back in.
Greg,

As I mentioned earlier in the thread, I've got a couple of windows that are sitting with 3M 225 tape "hoods" on them, just waiting for a nice day so that I can remove them, re-seal, and re-install.

Can you tell me what width and thickness of the butyl tape you used? (And if you thought you would have preferred a different size, what that size would be?).

The windows I'll be re-sealing are the typical Hehr two-paned jalousie's on the sides by the dinette, and then the small, one-paned jalousies that are in the door and over the stove (~6" x 16" going from memory). I mention this in case you were sealing something different, in which case the size butyl might not apply to my Boler.

Thanks,

Raya
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