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Old 09-08-2017, 10:12 AM   #1
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Seam Caulk

I have just purchased a 2007 Sunline Solaris, in great condition. I would like to keep it that way and am looking for advice. The seams where there is an overlap have a soft putty like compound which seems to be designed to stay soft and flexible. This material is drying out, begining to crack, and will inevitably fail. The exposed edges have picked up dirt and have blackened. I am hesitant to caulk as I dont see it adhering to the present mastic as is, dirty, or after being cleaned since it is an oily substance with nothing much to adhere to.

I am thinking of doing the following. Triming any excess putty, cleaning with methyl hydrate, adding a fillet of the same material like reglazing a window. Since the material is a newer version of the same stuff it should adhere well, and may serve to reconstitute the older material and add a degree of flexibility. Will this work? Better idea?
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Old 09-08-2017, 11:48 AM   #2
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Depending on location and what you are caulking the seam tape (various manufacturers) of Butyl or EPDM is an excellent alternative on roofs but not very good looking in other places.
If you have time and are interested you could/should check out other posts on waterproofing and seam repairs. John B. has some excellent posts and advice and my threads have a lot of shared information on seams caulking and taping etc.

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Old 09-08-2017, 09:58 PM   #3
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As Draughty pointed out there's a ton of info on caulking and tape replacement. Not knowing you specifically the areas you're targeting, here's a link to an extensive post by John B. on "Rubber Roof Caulk - Inspect & Repair 101" >>>>

Rubber Roof Caulk - Inspect and repair 101

Good luck!!
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Old 09-08-2017, 10:28 PM   #4
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Hi Thaind,

First off, Welcome to Sunline Owners club!!! Congrats on your Sunny. I had some time tonight so I typed to you on your questions as these have been coming up lately on how to extend the life of your camper. This may be a lot more then you thought, read it over as time allows.

Now to your seams. The sealants of the camper are a weak spot. I do not know exactly where on the camper you are referring too so I will expand a little for you to confirm. If you can post pics, it will greatly help confirm we can see what you are up against and help better. Ask away any questions and or new clarifications.

Roof Sealants.
Your camper has a rubber roof that unless special ordered from the factory is not a direct walk on roof. Means you need to take precautions and some extra steps before walking up the to do service work.

The roof uses "butyl" sealing tape against the rubber under aluminum flanges that hold the roof on. You cannot see this butyl tape but it is there. What you can see is the self leveling caulking which creates a seal to the outside world on the roof. This caulk is called Dicor Self Leveling caulk. It comes in different colors, white is what it normally used . See here https://dicorproducts.com/product/ep.../#installation

You can buy it on line at many places that sells RV parts. This post can help on how to spot tiny and large cracks in the caulking. Rubber Roof Caulk - Inspect and repair 101

For the roof to stay in great condition and not deteriorate it needs to be cleaned regularly and the roof caulking checked and touched up routinely as well. It is recommended 4 times a year on both if your camper lives outside all the time with special highlights on the sealant check going into winter and coming out of winter. The 2 checks during the summer time can be as time fits.

Aluminum molding, entry door, window flanges, cargo hole doors, furnaces, hot water heater, and other penetrations into the siding of the camper sealants. On all the penetrations into the siding of the camper, a sealant called "putty tape" is used on the flanges of the object you are trying to seal. This putty tape works well when new but over time it starts to dry out, shrink, crack and separate from the siding or the flange and then leak. This sounds like what you are talking about as it does get black and dirty.

These cracks start showing up more frequently around approximately between year 8 and 10. As time goes on, they keep getting more and more and larger. Where the camper is stored and how it is used helps slow down this process or speed it up. If the camper lives outside all the time during use and storage, this is the hardest on the camper. The Sun aggravates the problem by advancing the shrinking which then leads to cracks and winter with snow and ice on the camper uncovered can seep in the cracks.

Water intrusion into the camper most times happens from one or both areas of sealants failing. The roof is often the largest entry point if the owner does not know to care for the roof and that by misfortune does not do anything with it as they see no leaks inside. However slow leaks into the wall will start and create heavy damage. Once the damage gets large enough or the leak big enough, then water will show up inside. This can be 1 or several years later after the leak started.

Putty tape sealant failures come from water being beat into the cracked areas and working it's way into the walls. Towing in the rain can create the beating water force to push the water through the crack if is the crack has advanced all the way to the inside. Some cracks stop short of full width of the sealed flange, others go all the way to the inside. Water pouring and beating off the roof or a gutter spout into a corner molding, cargo door, window or other sealing flange can cause the same problem if the camper was never towed.

I'm expanded on these issues to try and help educate folks on how a camper leaks comes about. There are many other ways as well, cargo doors not sealing, entry doors, windows etc. not sealing, however the sealant leaks are the most notorious and hardest to even see or know about unless someone explains them to you.

To your direct question, there are sort of 2 ways to help and or cure putty tape flange seal issues.

1. For a temporary patch, (temporary meaning a few years worth) you can apply Dicor "non leveling" chalk to the exposed edge of the putty tape after you have thoroughly cleaned the exposed putty tape. While this will help seal the crack, the damage is still under the flange of the item being sealed. The crack is still there just the Dicor is holding back the water from getting to it. In time the putty tape will still shrink and crack and it can pull apart the Dicor which also has a limited life. But this method does help, just it has a limited life. We suggest this method as Dicor can be removed cleanly if needed when a full repair is needed. We suggest to not use silicone in this area as it does not last with the flexing of the camper while towing and in a year or more separate from the moving joint and leave a crack. It then is very hard to get it all off and do another repair with the correct caulk as silicone is so slippery nothing will stick to it. This post can help show one method which works when applying the non leveling, (non sag) Dicor. Dicor Questions

To help clarify, there are 2 types of Dicor caulk for different locations. https://dicorproducts.com/product/ep...ealants/#specs

For the roof area which is horizontal, use Dicor Self-Leveling sealant (white) part number 501 LSW . This flows nicely to create a smooth caulked area.

For vertical areas like corner moldings, entry doors, cargo doors etc all the way around, use Dicor Non-Sag (for vertical surfaces) (white) part number 551 LSW. This sticks in place where you put it and will not run when used vertically.

2. For the long term repair of cracked putty tape. This method requires the most work however it creates a much longer sound repair with a higher rate of success. It is to remove the window, corner molding, door etc. from the camper, scrap off all the old putty tape, clean up the camper and the flanges and reinstall using high quality butyl sealing tape. Then apply Dicor non leveling caulk as a secondary seal to keep dirt off the butyl and create a secondary seal. These posts below will help on how to do the flanges and the link above shows how to do the Dicor non leveling caulk.

This link will drop you in the middle of a roof and wall repair showing how to work the corner moldings and cargo doors. The rest of this thread may help show and explain how a perfectly clean camper on the inside had a fairly large amount of water damage inside the walls and ceiling from the prior owner possibly not knowing and not doing proper roof maintenance.
A Winter Project - Roof Repair (Picture heavy)

This link will drop you into the middle of a camper frame repair thread but shows how the putty tape has cracked and separated working it's way to an opening to the inside of the camper along with some installation tips A Winter Project - Slide Opening, Frame Repair (Picture heavy)

This thread can help show you how these areas left unchecked will leak into the camper. This has both roof sealant failures and putty tape failures to the inside on a camper that was stored outside and not used for the last 7 years.
2004 T1950 Restoration Project - (Ugly Picture Heavy)

By now you may be thinking, WOW is it really this bad? It can get to this if left unchecked. The key is knowing how it happens to help prevent it from happening and if it does happen, what to do about it. I myself want to keep our 2004 T310SR camper a good long time yet. I started a while ago replacing the putty tape flanges that were in the worst shape with new butyl tape and then doing the Dicor secondary seal. I am about 50 to 60% converted. It is a large job to do them all at once, so I did the worst looking ones first. This winter I will do another slug of them.

In 2010 I took action to help stop the roof sealant cracks from forming over the winter. The camper lived outside then and in an area of snow and ice. During the winter a large crack in the roof sealant can create a big problem as you can not see it with a foot of snow on top. As the snow melts, if the crack has advanced to the point a water entry point is created, then a leak inside starts. This method I did is still in excellent condition today and I expect it to be for many years to come. The new barn came too and that really helps but the Eternabond just removes all the caulking issues on the roof. Eternabond Roof Seal Tape on a Sunline (Lots of pics)

If you are thinking of doing the Eternabond in the future, I would recommend you get a moisture meter and verify the camper is totally dry in the walls and ceiling before doing this. Also time suggest if you are going to pull the corner moldings to remove the putty tape, do it before the E bonding. Means you do not disturb the E bond with the molding later. This post may help on the moisture meter Moisture Meters For Inspecting a Camper

Hope this helps and let us know if you need more help

John
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Old 09-09-2017, 06:47 AM   #5
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Thanks

Wow, a lot to read and a lot to do. RV ownership is not a passive pastime. I have to wonder why RVs are made the way they are. Thanks for the advice.
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Old 09-09-2017, 07:17 AM   #6
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What John posts is great. Read it and read it again. Our camper is a 2007 as well and have a lot of failures in the putty tape on corners, and windows. Towing to AK a couple years back really opened up a lot of cracks (broke them out and filled them with mud). We have been patching the putty tape with Dicor, little by little and are nearly 100% (John's technique #1). The dicor adheres well to the aluminum and putty and had held up beautifully. We have 30K miles on some of the caulk. At this point we have repaired all visible cracks and all putty that is susceptible to standing or blown water (horizontal joints at the tops of windows and vertical joints at the fronts that would be susceptible to towing driven rain). When we do it, we cut the excess off with a plastic putty knife and clean up with mineral spirits - this action helps fix the present cracks. We cut the joints in a bit to give the dicor a place to sit and compress the material. Then mask and apply dicor. Not a single dicor joint has failed in the past several years and many thousands of miles. Our camper is stored under roof, so we are not as concerned as some. Although John is right that #2 is the right way, it isn't something I'll do. If my camper was outside, I'd think about it, though.


A note on time required, we are picky and slow and it would probably take about 20-30 man hours to do as I described above on our T-1950.
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Old 09-09-2017, 11:11 AM   #7
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Yes it is a lot however I have John to be a wealth of knowledge on the subject and it would apply to any camping trailer I believe.
I would caution that use the 'non-leveling' caulk on vertical surfaces. The leveling version is very runny and used more for filling voids on roofs etc.
Also becoming familiar with other products will benefit you in the long run.
From personal experience I cannot recommend in strong enough wording to heed the advice of closely inspecting as many of the highly probable intrusion spots as possible and using the best available products to reinforce the waterproofing before it becomes a problem!
Long question about roof leak locations...HELP!!!
&
2001 Advancer 21A Floor Framing question..
These are threads about my work that may have some relevance to what you are doing now. .

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Old 09-09-2017, 10:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Thaind View Post
Wow, a lot to read and a lot to do. RV ownership is not a passive pastime. I have to wonder why RVs are made the way they are. Thanks for the advice.
Hi Thaind,

Your welcome and glad to help a fellow Sunliner.

RV ownership is a great thing for getting out in the campground, traveling and enjoying nature and life . It can be very addicting!

As with all good things, it takes work to keep your camper in tip top shape. If the RV sales places told everyone all that is needed to be done to keep their camper in tip top shape, I suspect they would not sell many of them... Hey, all I wanted to do was going camping and have fun, right?

As to why are they made the way they are, that is a good question. I do not know the exact answer but I do know some of what makes it up. As a buyer of an RV, especially your first one, we pay a lot of money for them, especially if new or even used if they are not that old. When we pay that much money certain expectations come from it in the buyers mind. We expect that the RV is built like your house, yes there can be some up keep but that is generally years down the road before we have to start doing large maintenance activities. So many think the camper is built like the house.

An RV is a house on wheels in many cases as far as function, but they are built very different and are used very different. The house is on a stable foundation with a roof system that can last 25 to 40 years before it needs to be replaced. The RV rides over potholes in the road, good road, bad road and in some places, no paved roads...

The entire camper twists and turns and flexes constantly as we tow it. And then there is the cost. A camper could be made to be to be a lot closer to maintenance free but the cost would be a lot greater then we buy them for today. The RV market is extremely competitive so spending an extra $1,000 to $2,000 more in manufacturing costs of a smaller travel trailer to make them last longer creates something harder to sell for at the sale price. Anyone who has had to deal with water damage, I'm sure would be glad to spend a some extra money to make the camper last longer at the time of sale if it was ever offered. But they don't seem to offer that option in most any brand that is built like the traditional travel trailer.

Most standard travel trailers and fifth wheels in the industry are built the same basic way they have been over the last 30 to 40 years. Some are better and some worse, the the sealants are very close to the same. There have been some improvements when large failures happen quickly under warranty, but making the sealants last longer has not been on the top of the upgrade list. RV manufactures could switch to butyl tape now in place of putty tape but they don't, why? A different roof sealant system could be used but they don't seem to do that either.

Another good question is, what is the design life of a camper? In this case a travel trailer and lets say one that lives outside all the time.

I have never seen an official read on this however it seems that if you do not do much of anything for the first few years on the roof of a camper, a few being 1 to 3 years that after that time period things start breaking down. In the case of leaks, if the camper is left totally alone with no roof washing, UV protectent or caulking checks and touch ups, at about year 3 +/- 2 years, then a leak can start. Once your past 5 years, the odds are now getting worse and by year 8 if nothing is done, a leak is most likely started in some shape or form. Year 10 and rot is somewhere. This is just the roof. If maintenance is done annually like it should be, your odds are very high you can ward off a leak. But you have to stay on top of it and not miss an inspection period. The older the camper gets, the more important the sealant inspections are.

Campers are a lot of fun, but they come with work and upkeep costs. So far for us, the fun outweighs the work and costs. I hope it stays that way...

Hope this helps

John
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Draughty View Post
I would caution that use the 'non-leveling' caulk on vertical surfaces. The leveling version is very runny and used more for filling voids on roofs etc.
Yes, excellent point. Thanks for bringing this up as the wording can be confusing. I went back and updated my response above to clarify. Here is is again. Thanks for bringing this up.

Quote:
JohnB Wrote: To help clarify, there are 2 types of Dicor caulk for different locations. https://dicorproducts.com/product/ep...ealants/#specs

For the roof area which is horizontal, use Dicor Self-Leveling sealant (white) part number 501 LSW . This flows nicely to create a smooth caulked area.

For vertical areas like corner moldings, entry doors, cargo doors etc all the way around, use Dicor Non-Sag (for vertical surfaces) (white) part number 551 LSW. This sticks in place where you put it and will not run when used vertically.
And yes, most brands of travel trailers and 5th wheels are made with the same concept of sealant systems and problems. Sunline was better then most, but the design of how to keep water out has not changed a lot across the industry. I don't know who copied who to start with it, but it is very common how they all do it.
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tod Osier View Post
Our camper is a 2007 as well and have a lot of failures in the putty tape on corners, and windows. Towing to AK a couple years back really opened up a lot of cracks (broke them out and filled them with mud). We have been patching the putty tape with Dicor, little by little and are nearly 100% (John's technique #1). The dicor adheres well to the aluminum and putty and had held up beautifully. We have 30K miles on some of the caulk. At this point we have repaired all visible cracks and all putty that is susceptible to standing or blown water (horizontal joints at the tops of windows and vertical joints at the fronts that would be susceptible to towing driven rain). When we do it, we cut the excess off with a plastic putty knife and clean up with mineral spirits - this action helps fix the present cracks. We cut the joints in a bit to give the dicor a place to sit and compress the material. Then mask and apply dicor. Not a single dicor joint has failed in the past several years and many thousands of miles.
Hi Tod,

Good to hear your report. This helps validate the method.

Thanks for reporting back.

John
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