Leaks,,,, :(

Tom's RV Message Board: VAC Discussion List: Topics G - M: Leaks,,,, :(
By Deena P Marshall on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:37 am:

Tim and Cindy,

We had the same problem with our Safari - I spent a couple of weeks sealing seams and even then, I found another leak just recently. (There's been so little rain here in Dallas that it's really been hard to tell how good of a job I've done. Spraying it with the hose is not the same thing). Leaking is a very common problem and I'm sure lots of folks will share their experiences with you.

I used a putty knife to scrape the seams - although there really wasn't anything there to scrape and then swabbed the seams with alcohol. I used Vulkem to caulk - I would off-load it into a large plastic hypodermic needle. It was the only way I could get the caulk right into the seam and still look neat. I used a regular big bead of caulk around the vent pipes, the roof vents, the top of the door and all the windows. (On the vent pipes, I removed the caps, put waterproof foam on the bottom of the cap, re-attached the cap and then caulked around it). I may be leaving something out here, but the basic message is everything has to be caulked. I continued to have a leak by the door until I removed the old weather stripping (which involved heavy duty adhesive remover) and replaced it with new stuff (exact match with the old).

I'm probably making this sound worse than it is - it's kind of messy and tedious and if you have a good airstream dealer around, it might not cost that much to have someone else do it. It is amazing how water will find a way - it will come in through pinprick size holes in caulk.

I'm happy to share the specifics my caulking adventures with you if you have any questions.

62 Safari

By Robert / Susan Harper on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:39 am:

I continued to have a leak by the door until I removed the old weather stripping ... and replaced it with new stuff (exact match with the old).

I have done the removal of the old weather stripping from the door of my '62 Globetrotter, but have not purchased the replacement yet. Where did you find it, and what is the physical description (dimensions, open or closed cell, adhesive ...)?

Thanks Bob H.

By Ray Plumlee on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:39 am:

By Scott & Lise Scheuermann on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:40 am:

Tim, the next dry, relatively warm day you get, climb up on top of her and use some caulking to caulk any suspect seam or rivit up there. Airstream recommends a product called Vulkem, (I most likely spelled it wrong) it is not generally available at a hardware store, perhaps try a building supply store. If you can't find it, the next best thing is to use aluminum colored silicone caulk. Since the leak is up top you don't have to worry too much about how it looks, but practice making it look nice because eventually you will need to caulk where you (and everyone else) will see. If you are planning on leaning a ladder up against the trailer to get up top be careful to place something between the ladder and the trailer to cushion it. If you don't you risk scratching the plastic coat or even dimpling the skin.


By Leslie Ashor on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:41 am:

I think she may mean the plastic body of the needle, not the needle itself, as I can't think of a gauge with an opening large enough for very thick Vulkem to squeeze out of. I have plastic bodies of various sizes and think her idea is BRILLIANT and wish I had thought of it myself, as Vulkem is sort of messy stuff. If you get it into a large hypodermic syringe you can control it better and force it right into the cracks. I may use Captain Tolley's Leak Cure first and follow up with Vulkem. I got the Captain Tolley's at Restoration Hardware but it is probably cheaper elsewhere if you can find it, and Vulkem is available through window distributors here in San Diego, and online as well.

Mike and Leslie
'62 Tradewind (Leakin like a sieve)

By Peter E Kaiser on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:42 am:

At most hardware stores you can get a glue applicator that is shaped like a hypodermic syringe except that the tip is curved plastic. I don't know if the tip would be too small to force Vulkem through but it could be trimmed off to the size you need.

By Jrnymn on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:43 am:

Hello Scott and Tim,

I just have two comments....

Scott, it seems to me the preponderance of the evidence shows that you spelled VULKEM correctly and your suggestions for where to find it are right on.

However, your alternate suggestion for a "silicone" caulk is strongly discouraged by polishing and repair expert Jim Weston. The reason being that silicone reacts with aluminum and promotes corrosion. Additionally, clean-up of silicone is a total bug-bear.

All being said about caulking, it is worth your while to find the Vulkem....

Jay L. Griffin [a.k.a. Jrnymn "Journeyman"]

By Deena P Marshall on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:44 am:

Thanks everybody, yes, I meant syringe, not needle. I bought a 2-pack of est syringes (#807) at West Marine store in the epoxy section. ( traight tips on the syringes) And I trimmed the tip a little. My dad as afraid I could not force the Vulkem through such a small opening, but it worked really well. You can reuse the syringes if you clean them carefully (or you could just buy several, they're not expensive). And thanks Mike and Leslie for calling it a brilliant idea, that 's a nice complement. We had leaks everywhere and the toughest part is that you have to seal everything. And sometimes you have to do it over. I went through several minutes of intense denial whan I found the roof vent leaking after a rain. I finally got over it and slapped more Vulkem aorund it and it hasn't leaked since.

Bob, I cannot find my receipt for the weather-stripping. (It's a big, fat file of receipts - I should buy stock in Home Depot) I bought it at North Dallas RV here in Dallas - they are the authorized airstream dealer for this area. (Nice people, they have treated me with respect and been enormously helpful.) The stripping is a black, closed cell, slightly flattened tube and when I flatten it, it measures an inch wide. It has an adhesive strip to attach it - which is why I wanted to clean up the door so well (and also the previous owners had glopped adhesive glue all over and it was really unattractive. It attached easily and so far, has adhered beautifully. I'll keep looking for my receipt, but I'm not sure there was a name or number for the type. My recollection is that I spent almost twenty dollars for it - I don't know if that's too much, but you have to buy quite a bit to encircle the door and I wanted a little left over.

62 Safari

By twalden1 on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:45 am:

For the leak crowd, I just want to mention something that Marie-over-the-sea (I think) brought up. It is Capt. Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure which is available from Restoration hardware, the trendy new mall shop. I bought some to have on hand but have not used it so can't offer a review. It is a marine oriented sealant that supposedly penetrates thin cracks and seals them from further encroachments by water.It works by capillary action to fill the crack or seam. My leaks require things like new door seals and new roof vent hardware for 50's units. Worth a try.
Tom Walden

By Rob Super on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:46 am:

what kind of "hypodermic needle"

Also try a pet or feed store. Not for a horse needle, but for a syringe-like thing that's made for giving liquid medicine to critters--lets you squirt it between jowl and teeth. Sometimes has removable, soft plastic "needle".


By RJ & Krista on Tuesday, March 21, 2000 - 06:48 am:

Just installed new door weather stripping on the Caravel. Got it shipped from C & G Trailer Service 562-634-6286 (Rod) for 1.39 a foot. Applied with Contact Cement - works great.

RJ & Krista
'65 Caravel

Robert / Susan Harper wrote:

I have done the removal of the old weather stripping from the door of my '62 Globetrotter, but have not purchased the replacement yet. Where did you find it, and what is the physical description (dimensions, open or closed cell, adhesive ...)?

Thanks Bob H.