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Old 07-12-2009, 09:55 PM   #1
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ihsolutions
Fifth Wheel Wheel Well Problem

One of the issues I discovered upon getting my new Sunline fifth wheel home was that on the driver's side, something had punctured the black woven vapor barrier on the inside of the wheel well. Maybe a stone or something larger.

Then of course the rain and water got in, and I ended up removing a significant portion (about 12 feet in length) in order to get out the wet insulation before making the repair. This is a horrible design IMO, as this material is not very durable when confronted with all the strange things that tires can kick up. Incidentally, on the other side of the coach there is sheet metal protecting the inside of the wheel well. This gave me the idea to do something similar.

Here's a pic of what it looked like after the vapor barrier and insulation was removed, but before the repair:



The affected area was about 12 feet long, and there was maybe 3-4 inches both on the vertical surface (bond or lentil) and another 3-4 inches on the horizontal surface (bottom of joists, and ending at the I-beam).

So I went to Lowes (cause it was Saturday after all) and bought some aluminum roof flashing (10" wide roll, 50' long, about $20.). Then I bought some self-tapping screws with rubber grommets (this is to screw up into the top rail of the i-beam, from underneath). The top was secured using galvanized screws (countersunk) through 1" aluminum strip, through the flashing, then through a strip of butyl tape into the bond. This design should be impervious to water, but I caulked behind the flashing and above just to make sure.





One thing I did not account for is that the i-beams do flex a bit during travel so sometimes the flashing crinkles a bit, but after a 500 mile trip this weekend everything is still completely secure and dry.

I'm a little concerned that some water remains in the underbelly in the middle of the trailer... not a lot but there are some wet areas of insulation. Just the bottom 1/2" of insulation is damp, but it's not possible to get all the water out without cutting entire underside open, which I would really like to avoid for obvious reasons.

I'm wondering if there was a better repair for this, or if anyone has encountered this issue before. The unprotected wheel well seems to be a horrible design that certainly must have affected people other than just me.
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Old 07-13-2009, 11:54 AM   #2
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Both of the wheel wells on our fiver have the galvanized panels installed. I know what you mean about the fabric though. It is installed on the underside of the slide, at the outer edge. Af for inspecting the underside of the trailer, I have totally removed that sheet metal belly panel. First long trip with our Sunline the Mrs noticed something hanging down. Shazam!, some nitwit at the factory used small headed phillips screws to secure the large heavy panel to the tabs welded to the I-beams. So I had to lay in the cold mud at that nasty campground in Sturbridge, MA after buying a electric drill and the appropriate fastners to re-secure the panel. I have since removed it to facilitate removal and repair of the black tank and to replace the fouled insulation board. Wait till you see what that insulation is that is/was installed by the factory. I think it is called cardboard. Now it is closed cell blue foam board.
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Old 07-13-2009, 09:01 PM   #3
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Hi Jeff

Mine T310SR has 2 galvanized panels, slide side and non slide side. However after looking tonight everything behind the steel panels is the plastic fabric. And dirt coated from rain towing.

Sunline is not alone in this setup. While I think somehow you did not get a 2nd steel panel, having no fender skirts like mine and yours is common among many brands.

I'll dig up some pics to show. I was taking pics for the rubber equalizers and shocks setup and noticed there is nothing but plastic fabric on many of them and not even the galv. metal. And some, very high end TTís.

Now on the non slide TT's, like Sunlines, there is a wheel well and most of the "stuff" flys around in the wheel well. My T2499 is that way, it has a totally plastic encased wheel well.

No on slide models since the floor is over the wheels, there is no wheel well. And while the gav. steel panel helps, but there is still a lot of be desired.

After you pointed this out to me, I have a future upgraded coming. Even if there was a rubber flap like a tire flap on the front and rear of the metal area the stuff would not fly all over the bottom of the camper.

Now to your wet underbelly and the insulation, to me, that is concerning. Again for me, I would want to get it dried out fairly soon. In 2 weeks time if still wet, mold can start growing and then it gets worse.

Here on the SOC I think in the repair section someone posted on the under fabric repair tape and how good it was. I would investigate that and see if I could find it. Then figure out, do you sliced a clean cut to stuff a fan up there or slice it along a floor joist so you can take it down and then make a good repair back up to the floor joints with staples and then cover with patch fabric tape? I canít see it from here, you can so I wonít 2nd guess you. But I know for me, if I knew it was wet, I would have to do something about it.

Hope this helps and Iíll round up some of the other brands pics.

John
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Old 07-14-2009, 01:20 PM   #4
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I was out doing a few things on the coach, so out of curiosity I looked to see what was done above our wheels. I already knew there is nothing on the bottom of the slide-out. It is just the black painted wood of the floor. But on the other side, we have a hard plastic liner over top of the fabric.
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Old 07-15-2009, 05:52 PM   #5
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Wow, I'm going to make sure I take a closer look at my slide. I'm also shocked at the amout of things you are finding wrong with your fiver. Knock on wood we have been trouble free with ours.
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