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Old 05-18-2014, 07:20 AM   #1
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Sunline Roof Construction Help PDQ, please!

Hey, folks,

We're leaving June 10 for our cross-Canada/Alaska trip with our 2003 T-280SR. In scheduling work on the unit in prep for the trip we waited weeks for an appt. at CW. They took three days and $126 to tell me it would be $7-8K to rebuild our roof, which couldn't be cleaned and coated because it has several "soft spots." (No internal sign of roof leakage). Also 1/2 an hour of standing around waiting for them to put the camper where I could hitch up. At least I got a free hot dog.

Since they (incorrectly) figured we wouldn't pay for that they did nothing on our list: brakes, bearings, one new tire, ac service, etc. We love our camper and would continue our times with it. Tomorrow (May 19, 2014) I take it to a respected dealer for the service. I'm reasonably handy but I can't do this stuff and don't have friends who can. I won't try to do anything on the roof myself anymore. No sense of balance. We figure spending up to $9500 on repairs is as good as a different used camper.

Questions: What is the construction of the roof under the EPDM rubber? If it's $7K, does that sound like a ballpark figure? How do I know it needs a rebuild, not a coating, with no apparent holes? Any info you can give would be appreciated.

Thanks, Mark
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:43 AM   #2
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Your roof is going to have plenty of "soft" spots! Like between each and every rafter!

The roof underlayment is bud board which is basically heavy cardboard, it is not walk on!!!!!

Can you say their assessment is most likely a rip-off???
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:51 AM   #3
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No need to panic yet.

Your Sunline left the factory with an OEM "soft" roof. The only thing under the EPDM is budboard, which has roughly the consistency of a cork bulletin board. This is not a walk on roof and I hope CW knew that before they found the "soft" spots. You need to put 4x4 plywood or planks up there to straddle the rafters. Do your own inspection from a ladder all around the outside edge and as far as you can reach in. Look for deteriorating caulk as this is where leaks are most likely. If the roof really is "soft" it should feel like there's nothing under the rubber membrane. If it feels firm, but gives somewhat as you push down, that's normal. If CW was expecting a plywood roof with a very hard 'knock on wood' feel to it... well it's just not there.


If the roof is sound, just dirty, forget it. Rubber roofs last a long time on industrial buildings with no maintenance. The one on our church roof has got to be close to 30 years old.


I buy a lot of stuff at CW, but it's service reputation is very spotty and locally dependent. So you can get a good CW, but you can also get a really bad one. For the age of Sunlines today, I would look for any good RV dealer or, even better, an independent service only RV shop which can usually be found in a decent size metro area.


Henry
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:52 AM   #4
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Yeah, that's what I was worried about. Maybe there is a problem but maybe not. I guess I can hope for an honest 2nd opinion from the other place.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:54 AM   #5
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Thanks Henry. I'll check it out. Off to church at the moment.
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Old 05-18-2014, 12:15 PM   #6
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Thanks Henry & Mack -- Got up on the ladder and checked all the way around the camper--membrane intact but dirty, no holes, no signs of trouble. You can find soft spots between the rafters and they don't seem to mean anything. Could probably use some new caulk around the edges. Maybe saved thousands $$$. Thanks so much.

Mark
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Old 05-18-2014, 01:27 PM   #7
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I had the same quote from an RV dealer in Manassas VA years ago... needless to say I didn't replace the roof and just sealed up the seams with Eaternabond tape/sealer. Have not had a problem and it has been 5 years. The rubber is under warrantee from the Manf. for 15 years if I remember correctly. So unless something poked through it like a falling limb I doubt it is leaking except for maybe at the seams that might need some work.

Moore information.
I took my T320SR in because I had a roof seam leak in a corner and didn't want to mess with it. They sealed the Corner and then quoted a replacement roof for 7K to 8K which they tried to sell as a repair that was needed.
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Old 05-18-2014, 04:58 PM   #8
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Thanks, gmcc, somehow it isn't amazing it's the same quote. Since the actual rubber retails for $280-320 the profit in "50 hours @ $119 per hour" really adds up. Then tack on a few extras and our 10 week trip has to be shortened to 5 weeks.
Mark
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Old 05-18-2014, 05:07 PM   #9
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Describing Sunline's roof construction as adequate is being somewhat generous. If there is a leak the budboard gets soaked and wicks the water a long way under what was a sound roof very quickly creating major damage. There is all kinds of interior evidence of a leak like water stains, buckling/soft walls and ceiling etc. If you have none of that, I think you can confidently head to AK without any worries.

I noticed you're buying one new tire. We've been to AK and carried an extra mounted spare for the truck and an extra loose spare for the trailer. I hope the one tire is the extra spare because the tires on your trailer should be in mint condition. If you've had any issues like a single blowout, or the tires are 5 years old, replace all tires. The AK Hwy. is an ongoing construction project. When we were there in 06 there was still a long stretch of what felt like a 50's or 60's hwy. that was undergoing a major re-alignment. You will drive on lots of gravel despite all of the hwy being "paved." There is good asphalt about 50 mi. either side of major cities that have an asphalt plant, but otherwise it's tar and chip also known as chip seal. That still makes a decent surface, but there is some breakup in winter and you'll drive through lots of fresh tar and chip. Tandem axle trailers have a tendency for the front tire to throw rocks at the rear tire, aggravated by not slowing down. This helps embed the rock in the treads and it works its way into a rock cut and ruins the tire. The extra spare will give you some security in case you need to hunt up a replacement. Dawson Creek, Whitehorse, Anchorage/Fairbanks are really the only communities where you can buy anything just like at home. In between those centers there's some beautiful scenery, a few small towns with courier service and fairly frequent genuine service/gas stations just like the good old days. Be sure to invest in the travel guide Milepost--should you need repairs/gas it is invaluable to help you decide whether to keep going or double back. You can still buy it in Dawson Creek if you don't have one.

So, how did we fare? We had no tire problems, one big rock bounced off the grill guard, headlight covers did their job, but we needed a new windshield after we got home.

Henry
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:12 PM   #10
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Here is a post which helps show the bud board construction being discussed.

Sunline Rubber Roof Structure

If the service center is not aware of this, they can come to a very wrong conclusion and worse, damage it walking on it if they do not take precautions. This roof structure was unique to Sunline. It was a weight savings thing.

If one is going to service the roof, as was mentioned, a tarp, carpet or other protective barrier over the rubber and then 3/8 to 3/4 plywood pieces added to span the 16" on center rafters. You can feel the solidness of the rafter.

Here is what I use. Start with a good ladder


I use a canvas tarp and 2' x 4' 5/8" plywood sheets. Easy enough to get up and down, big enough to span the rafters and some freedom to move.


Hope this helps and good luck. Please alert your new repair guy how these roofs are made and how to do service on them.

John
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Old 05-18-2014, 08:29 PM   #11
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Camping World in Rogers, MN is an absolute joke in my experience. I will avoid them unless I have no other options. I was actually ridiculed by an associate there once for not buying a CW Membership.

Even if there is a leak up there, you'll do much better elsewhere, but I suspect this time of year, you'll find high estimates and long waits just about everywhere, because everyone is very busy. Tis the season.

Enjoy your trip to AK. I drove up once (no camper), lived up in Fairbanks for a year and spent numerous summer. I second the Milepost purchase - must have. Favorite stop on the Alcan: Kluane Hot Springs, don't miss it. Tons of wildlife to see while driving. Best viewing is very early morning and late nights. I liked to drive until 1 or 2 am alot - still light out, lots more wildlife, lots fewer cars. Be careful when stopping on the road for wildlife viewing though, it's easy to forget that there are big big trucks coming as you are watching that Moose or Bear.

Watch for frost heaves too. They are bad enough when they catch you by surprise in a vehicle, not to mention towing a camper. Ok I'll stop the unsolicited advice now...

What a great trip and a great state...can't wait to do it again.
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:46 AM   #12
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Boy, does all of this help. Thanks a million. Now I know what the heck I have up there and just how far off base the CW is. I'll never know whether it was stupidity, lack of experience/knowledge, or fishing for a higher payoff but I'm glad I got out of there. They said "if there are broken rafters under the decking the bill will be higher." I think that means they wanted to sell decking and broke a rafter. (1?) Anyway I believe we can get a fair job where our friends have done well. I'll find out starting this am. We have a spare, a plugged previous flat I' m discarding before the trip. & the Milepost came in the mail last week. & we have "Alaska Your Way" by Bernice Beard, written a few years ago and sold by her at RV shows, etc. She's over 80 and attends our church. Or we attend hers. Details her travels to Alaska with her husband rving with others in a caravan from the Church of the Brethren congregation here. Thanks again. Off to the fixit guys.
Mark
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:42 AM   #13
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Glad to hear that is sounds like the "soft spots" are just a mistake and/or lack of knowledge by the techs at CW. But, their estimate to replace the roof is not that far off the mark. We had a tree fall and put 2 holes in the roof of our T-267SR roof last summer. The insurance company agreed to replace the entire roof based on the advice of the local RV dealership service dept. However, because of holes in the budboard, they decided it was best to lay 1/4" luan plywood over the entire trailer and then put on the new roof so that added a little time and material.

The cost to replace the roof was about $6500 and broke down like this:

45 hours labor to remove & replace roof @ $104.50 hr = $4702.50
Roofing kit - $1189.98
Install kit - $399.87
2 hours to reseal work area @ $104.50 hr = $209.00

Enjoy your trip to Alaska... that is some beautiful country to see. I have been to Anchorage and out to Adak Island on the Aleutians. That was a business trip so I really want to go back someday and explore.
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Old 05-19-2014, 08:30 PM   #14
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We got our 2nd opinion from the dealer's service dept. this afternoon and were advised to replace the roof. They came in at 65-hundred just as you say. He told me "with your permission I'd put plywood up there" and I figured "Here we go." But 65 is well under the CW estimate. CW said all the vents had to be replaced with new, etc. all extra $$ of course. It's a new CW. I never dealt with anyone over 30 there, except the guy giving out the free hot dogs. Anyway the dealer's shop is doing the work on our time schedule and that takes a load off our minds. Thanks to all for your help. Greg the only thing better than your slogan is packing it in and retiring all together. I recommend it heartily! Years ago before we had our camper the industry campaign had as it's slogan, "RVing: Wherever we go we're always at home". When we're on the road enjoying camping in our Sunline that's exactly how we feel.
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