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Old 04-18-2014, 10:49 AM   #1
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Cracked Putty....

I'm pretty sure I know the answer to this, but I thought I would post here before I pull all the corners and completely re-do them. We just got 15" of wet snow on Wednesday night. Normally it would have a cover on it, but I thought we were past these snowstorms and I've been working on getting the camper ready for camping! Anyway, I noticed yesterday as I was getting some of the snow off the roof (and watching streams of water roll down the sides of the camper), that all the putty in the corners are cracked pretty badly. My 2004 doesn't have cracked putty like this and I'm quite surprised the 2007 does. These cracks are about the width of my fingernail. I don't know how deep but I can only assume they are full depth and need to be addressed immediately. I don't see significant cracking (a little though) on anything other than the 4 corners shown in the pictures below. PO "said" he always kept a cover on it, but I'm starting to believing less and less what the PO told me. I don't see any signs of leaking "yet" so I want to deal with this before there are. I don't see any signs of this being a repair, it looks factory original. I was already planning on redoing the roof seals with Dicor and Eternabond (done that before on my first camper) as preventative maintenance, but I need to deal with the corners before I do any roof work.

My questions:

1. Do I need to redo the corners by pull them off, cleaning and resealing OR repair them by just caulking over the cracks with Proflex? Obviously, no silicone.

2. Assuming I need to redo the corners, do you recommend Butyl Tape, then Proflex caulk or just Butyl? It appears the factory just used putty tape only.

3. Why did this happen? I know putty tape tends to crack eventually, but this seems quite premature.
.
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Old 04-18-2014, 11:00 AM   #2
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I had to partially rebuild my trailer so I used a layer or two of rolled butyl under the strips I took off. Just cleaned up the squished-out (industry term) extra. The other areas I just used non self leveling Proflex. I used Proflex over the butyl in some places too.

I think I'm gonna eternabond tape my roof too rather than hope I didn't miss a spot.
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Old 04-18-2014, 11:19 AM   #3
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I had to partially rebuild my trailer so I used a layer or two of rolled butyl under the strips I took off. Just cleaned up the squished-out (industry term) extra. The other areas I just used non self leveling Proflex. I used Proflex over the butyl in some places too.
How hard were the corners to do? Were they are real pain or not so bad? The only time I've worked with the butyl (actually I think I used the gray putty) was to replace the water heater in my first camper about 6 years ago. The only difficulty I had on that was getting it to come loose.
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Old 04-18-2014, 05:17 PM   #4
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If you want a temp quick fix till the weather clears they make a butyl rubber in a caulking tube. Run a bead of butyl caulk a along the cracked area to stop any water invasion.
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Old 04-18-2014, 10:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScottK View Post

My questions:

1. Do I need to redo the corners by pull them off, cleaning and resealing OR repair them by just caulking over the cracks with Proflex? Obviously, no silicone.

2. Assuming I need to redo the corners, do you recommend Butyl Tape, then Proflex caulk or just Butyl? It appears the factory just used putty tape only.

3. Why did this happen? I know putty tape tends to crack eventually, but this seems quite premature.
.
Hi Scott,

You are seeing putty tape in action... Why does the 2007 have it and not the 2004? I can think of 2 reasons, the conditions the camper was stored or lived in affected the putty tape more than your 2004 unit. OR, the brand/quality of putty tape used in 2007 was not of the same quality as used in 2004.

See here on my slide corner, BTW it is a 2004 camper so odds are high it could be the same brand quality putty tape as your 2004 unit


You will notice on the 1/2 way up the white siding there is a speckled light dirt looking marks and on the corner area where the corner strip would cover. Then on the gray putty tape is blackish looking to line up with that spot. If you can not see this, I will create close ups.

There is dirt jamed in on the white siding all the way to the edge of the corner. There is only one way dirt gets in there like that. The putty tape separated and allowed it to get in. If dirt can get in, so can water.

I replaced all that with butyl sealing tape. It does not dry out like the putty tape does. However you may elect to put a thin skim coat of non self leveling Dicor over the butyl as dirt can want to stick to the exposed butyl.

That said, if you plan on keeping your new camper a long time, soon is the time to remove your corners and fix the issues. On my 4 corners I Dicor sealed the putty tape a month after I bought it. There where fine splits and I wanted to prevent the issue. Since 2007, the dicor is still good. I used masking tape to create a zone to not get it on the camper siding and it came out good.

If you want to buy yourself some time to get to the long term fix, here is a trick I picked up. Dry out the camper edges. A good day or 2 of sunshine. Get some butyl sealing tape, take a piece and roll it into a worm shape. Press the worm shape into the cracks. press it in good and hard to get it ~ 1/8 or more in. Trim with a plastic scraper and press smooth it out.

This will create a temporally seal to plug it up until you can get to the to take the corners off and do it right long term. If there is water damage inside, it is already there and you can inspect when you pull the corner.

Odds are 50/50 you have an issue. While mine had the dirt streak, I had no damage. I was lucky. But it was a slide corner. The camper 4 corners are the worst as the roof gutter can blast water into that seam. Or the top front ones coming off the roof where water can blast in.

The key is you found this now, not a year from now. Odds are hopeful you can fix this up and then not have to worry about it.

I myself knowing what I know about camper leaks, would spend the $15 -$20 on new butyl and do it. The corners are not that hard to do. Take your time, pry gentle and it will release. Using a hair dryer to heat the corner will make it release easier. 1 good weekend and your done.

If you do this, please take pics. Hope this helps and good luck

John
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Old 04-18-2014, 10:49 PM   #6
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Hi Scott,

I created some close up's on the dirt spots which 2was allowed to get into this joint as a result from the putty tape releasing from the side of the camper.






In case you have not seen this and want more on the repairs, see here. Lots of pics of redoing the butyl sealing.
Slide Floor Water Damage

Hope this helps
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Old 04-19-2014, 03:46 PM   #7
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Hi Scott,
On my 4 corners I Dicor sealed the putty tape a month after I bought it. There where fine splits and I wanted to prevent the issue. Since 2007, the dicor is still good. I used masking tape to create a zone to not get it on the camper siding and it came out good.
Thanks for the validation John. I won't bother with the temporary fixes, but I'll get the cover on it if I need to get it out of the weather. The first dry weekend (hopefully above freezing!) the corners are coming off. I want to reseal the roof as well, so the corners need to get done first. I'll post back on my progress.

Did you use clear or white Dicor non-self leveling? Do you prefer Dicor non-self leveling over Geoflex Proflex for the corner sealing (over butyl tape) application?
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Old 04-24-2014, 09:06 PM   #8
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Hi Scott,

Sorry so long getting back to you. Been traveling for work.

I used white non leveling Dicro. It blends in pretty good with the siding. I do not knw if they make clear Dicro.

The Proflex, I myself have not used that so I have no good comparison.

I myself would start with good high quality Butyl, 3/16 thick, 1" wide and then a thin layer of proper caulk of your choice over it on the outside only.

Don't go near the silicone caulks for this. Wrong application.

If you can, take some pics of the corner and if dirt/water filtered down in there and how far. And how they fold the siding over to help make a better seal.

Good Luck

John
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Old 04-25-2014, 05:24 AM   #9
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I've got all the supplies (butyl & white non-leveling dicro) I need and will start on the corners this afternoon now that we have a break in from the rain. I'll post pics of that project.

I've been busy making steady progress to getting the camper ready; new Maxxis LRE tires are on, wheel bearings repacked, and Dexter EX Flex kit installed. I just found a good deal on a Hensley Hitch that I just couldn't fight off, so I brought it home and tore it down last night to repaint and replace seals & bearings (will post pics on this in another thread). After the corners I'm going to reseal the roof with self leveling dicro and apply Eternabond. This thing should be tight and ready to go in a couple weeks!
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:26 AM   #10
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Will like to see pictures of progress and I'm really interested in what you think of the Hensley Hitch!
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Old 04-25-2014, 09:26 PM   #11
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Front corners are off and everything is cleaned up and ready to put them back on except I think I have the wrong butyl tape. The stuff I bought is much firmer than what I expected and is 1/8" x 3/4" bought it here. I expected to double it up in the low spots and I tried that with this stuff but it just really didn't squish and spread out into the low spots like I would expect. I think it would be great on a smooth fiberglass sided camper but not so much on the aluminum ones. I'll be heading out to the nearest RV dealer in hopes they have the proper stuff. The good news is there was no water damage in the front corners. But I don't think it would have been much longer before water really started getting in there. You can see the dirt infiltration right into the corner.

Bad news I found a soft spot right in front of the door that I hadn't noticed before, but I'll post on the separately.
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Old 04-25-2014, 10:16 PM   #12
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Scott, Great work!!! And just in time. Good for you. You will have her all sealed up better than new. And thanks for the pics. Your dirt spots confirm the signs. Once that happens, time and beating down water does the rest. Pending ones luck, your dry or not.
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Old 04-26-2014, 08:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
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... The stuff I bought is much firmer than what I expected and is 1/8" x 3/4" bought it here. ...
Was it cold when you tried to use it? The butyl tape I have doesn't squish too good below 50 or 60 degrees (F) .

Thanks for the good pictures.
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Old 04-26-2014, 09:01 PM   #14
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Was it cold when you tried to use it? The butyl tape I have doesn't squish too good below 50 or 60 degrees (F) .

Thanks for the good pictures.
Yes it's in the 50's but I got some other butyl tape this morning and it squished out much much better. The dealer only had 1/8" x 3/4" so I ended up using 4 strips for each corner. 2 strips side by side double thick. Worked nicely. I only got a couple pics. I installed with all new stainless screws, trimmed the putty and caulked.

The Dicor non-sag / non-leveling caulk was another story. Boy that is some tough stuff to work with - wow. I've laid miles of caulk in various forms, but never had anything quite like this. It skins over in under a minute and become the consistency of chewing gum on asphalt in the summer! Crazy gooey sticky! I'm gad I have another layer of sealant on the corners, but I'm not really happy with the quality of the bead I put down. I'm very particular though. This aluminum siding makes it especially difficult. I tried a light bead, a wet finger, a dry finger (don't do this), a wet soapy finger (best), and a carefully laid fillet bead shaped with the tip (this is how I typically lay caulk and can usually get it very nice, but not on the varied shaped of the siding). I've tried the making tape method before and didn't like it, but it might be the answer with this stuff. Sorry no pics of the caulk. We're forecasted with 3 days of rain, so I'll get them when I can uncover the camper again.

I need to get that roof re-sealed with new Dicor self-leveling and Eternabond later this week when it stops raining.
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:26 PM   #15
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.. I got some other butyl tape this morning and it squished out much much better. ...
Thanks, it is good to know there is a difference. Something to store in the "memory bank" for the future.

Those pictures look like you did a real nice job. That will help others in the future.
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Old 05-05-2014, 09:57 PM   #16
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The Dicor non-sag / non-leveling caulk was another story. Boy that is some tough stuff to work with - wow. I've laid miles of caulk in various forms, but never had anything quite like this. It skins over in under a minute and become the consistency of chewing gum on asphalt in the summer! Crazy gooey sticky! I'm gad I have another layer of sealant on the corners, but I'm not really happy with the quality of the bead I put down. I'm very particular though. This aluminum siding makes it especially difficult. I tried a light bead, a wet finger, a dry finger (don't do this), a wet soapy finger (best), and a carefully laid fillet bead shaped with the tip (this is how I typically lay caulk and can usually get it very nice, but not on the varied shaped of the siding).
Update on the Dicor non-sag / non-leveling caulk...I figured out how to work with the stuff really nice and very easy!! The trick is VERY soapy water. I put a good squirt of dish soap in about a quart of water. Enough soap to where it feel slippery when you rub 2 fingers together.

On my 2 back corners I decided they weren't cracked "that bad" so I decided no to pull them. Instead, I took a utility knife, cut back the old dirty putty at about a 30 degree angle to make a little groove for the caulk to sit in. (pics 1 & 2) The putty wasn't cracked deeply at all. Then I replaced all the screws with stainless screws. Sa I snugged them up I noticed the putty bulging out just a bit (barely seen in pic 2). I like to see that! Tells me it's still soft and that I have a nice tight seal. Then I ran a small bead of Dicor in the crack about 12"-18" sections at time, got my finger dripping wet with the soapy water and then I could "tool" the caulk like it was a soft clay or run my finger down the seam to smooth it out. It really made it easy to push it and mold it into the all the various peaks and valleys in the siding. If it starts sticking to your finger then your finger isn't wet enough or the water isn't soapy enough. Worked perfectly. Finished seams in pics 3 & 4.
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:02 PM   #17
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My only regret is that I did the front corners first...they don't look nearly as good as the back corners. Oh well, they are sealed well and that's the key anyway. My first attempt, in the front corner, seen in this pic. It looks worse in person. If you are going to try this, start on the least seen corner or window first. You'll get much better as you go.
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Old 05-05-2014, 10:32 PM   #18
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Thanks for the tip on the extra soapy water. That is better then the method I came up with the masking. You camper back seams look great!

We need a "practice camper" to perfect the process on...
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:08 AM   #19
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I really like the idea of having a 2nd water infiltration barrier (butyl tape & caulk) on the corners, windows & doors. I just hope it doesn't collect too much dirt and look bad after a while. I'm confident the stuff will hold up, just not sure how it will look in the long term. Whatever Sunline used to caulk the tops of the marker lights, stays nice and clean, so I'm hopeful this will too.

On the roof I'm even happier having three barriers (butyl, caulk, & eternabond).

Maybe I will convert the camper into a submarine
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Old 05-06-2014, 07:37 AM   #20
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Here is the thread where I got the idea for the extra soapy water from. I couldn't find it last night, when I posted my update. The particular post is copied below. Although I didn't follow this process exactly, it was the genesis for my method. I believe the exact method stated below would be better suited for a fiberglass sided camper. Multiple passes "carving out excess" would be quite challenging on our bumpy aluminum siding. I still need to try the degreaser for the smears I made on the front corners.
I get asked a lot about resealing units - something I do a lot of at work.

Cracked and excessively bulging and generally ugly seals are indication of work needing to be done.

In most cases what you are looking at is the inner seal under the metal molding (butyl tape) bulging out, compromising the outer sealant, which is often Proflex or Silicone.

First of all, Silicone Sealant sucks. It simply doesn't bond well at all with fibreglass (and only slightly better on metal). It lifts, and eventually pretty much falls right off. RV Proflex is a much better product but is trickier to work with.

First step is to determine how badly the butyl tape has been compromised. If the molding is lifting, and is obviously distanced from the RV body panel, a quick seal job isn't going to help here. This is time to remove the entire molding or at least the portion where harm has found it's way. This is very typical in the rear bottom corners of units. The white plastic center cap over the molding easily pulls back for removal. This will reveal the screws - often those screws are holding on to... nothing, and are corroded. As well, it is common for the backing wood to be rotten.

If this worse case scenario is the case it's time to determine how complete of a fix is necessary. 9/10ths of the time, if a customer comes to me with a rotten rear corner and is determined to "properly fix" the unit - I will come up with a creative new "use" for the corner. What I mean by this is - rather than remove an entire sidewall to fix a rotten corner - I will opt to put a new storage compartment, or outdoor shower... or something in the damaged corner
that will give us an excuse to completely rip it apart, but not have to "patch it" back together.

In a less severe case, you'll want to remove the molding and refresh it. Two tools you'll want: a razor knife, and a plastic scraper (get one of these from a glazier, window installer). Carefully slice into the seal at a 45 degree angle inwards toward the metal molding, down the length of the molding. This is especially important at points where decals meet molding. This will prevent decal "lifting".

Once you've sliced through the outersealant, if necessary remove the entire molding, clean, and replace the butyl tape. Use the type with brown paper backing, not the lousy kind with crinkly white paper backing. Be extra careful to make sure enough butyl is used, even if that means doing two passes, and make sure every single hole is well covered.

Do a thorough cleaning of the corner while the molding is off, using (BEST) Diasol, or more easily found (VARSOL). If you want to be really picky because the unit is very new, follow that up with something that evaporates like alcohol. Be very careful using strong evaporating degreasers like BEST DARN DEGREASER. They work excellent, but keep them restricted to use on just the corner. Don't go wiping big areas that will be visible as they will "ghost" a brand new fibreglass finish, and be visible in bright sunlight.

So after you have either scraped and cleaned all the old sealant from the corners of the molding, or revamped the entire molding (butyl tape and all) - it's time to put it all back to factory.

Re-install the molding if necessary, sometimes this will require new screws, and screw locations. In bottom corners, sometime a MUCH MUCH longer screw (3-5") to get it to "hang on". Clean and re-install molding cap, or use new (it's cheap). Cut the end of the molding capin an elongated V shape, in order to double it under itself, and put in the last screw about 3/4" from the end of the molding. You'll have to stretch the cap quite a bit to do this, but afterwards you can fold it doubled over, and insert it - allowing even the last screw to be hidden by cap.

Now for the resealing part:

Using a plastic scraper, carve back the excess butyl tape DEEP. In other words, carve it away leaving an actual groove or indentation, into the molding. This will leave a pocket for the outer sealant to "live" and it will hang on better. Otherwise, you are going to be "painting" the bulging butyl with sealant - not what you want. Because the butyl is under compression - for it's life - it is constantly, slowly "expanding" - so do not be scared to really "cut in".

Use RV Proflex - but heres an important tip. Only seal in one, comfortable direction. Don't apply more than about 6' at a time. Set a good time allowance and tackle a lot, in one day - because PROFLEX doesn't "last" well once opened. Cut the sealant tube tip "small" - only letting a small amount out at once.

CLEAN YOUR HANDS POINT

So -- here is how its done. Apply about a 1/8" bead down your freshened and clean molding edge. Run it out smooth and consistent for about 4 ft. the first time. (later you can do 8-12' at a time).

Here's the trick:
Have a plastic bowl of VERY soapy water (or a spray bottle) ready.
Soak your hand in soapy water (or at least the finger you will use). With that very soapy finger, make a first pass with the fingerprint side of your finger "pushing" the sealant into the "groove" you carved out of the butyl. Now, soap up that finger again, this time making sure the finger nail side is very slimy and soapy.
Run your finger up the molding, this time pressing harder using your fingernail as a "scooper". Only go as far as your finger nail will "contain the excess", In other words 5-12". If the Proflex is slopping off the side of your finger onto the sidewall, you've gone too far. Have a paper towel handy to wipe the excess Proflex onto, as you go. When done you will have a perfect amount of sealant running the length of your molding, and it will appear very nice, dishing inwards slightly - looking like a small fillet gas weld. Not too much, not to little. Just like the boys at KZ do it

Don't worry about any slop that occured, at this point. Let it all dry, then carefully take white paper towel and degreaser and clean up any "smearing" after it has all set up.
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1988 Saturn T-1550 (sold 6/10)
2004 Solaris T-1950 (sold 5/14)
2007 Solaris T-276SR
2012 Toyota Tundra Crewmax
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