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Old 01-22-2010, 08:56 PM   #1
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What have I gotten myself into??! (Your advice Sought)

As time and temps have allowed, I've been prowling around my "new" 85 T1750 and seeing what's what, and what's where.

Had a look at the water heater, as I still haven't actually put any water in the trailer as of yet. I was advised on another post that I should have a look because they like to rupture.

Sure enough, when I ran my hand along the underside of the tank I felt a nasty jagged split. I assume that means "It's dead Jim", correct?

Next

Refer doesn't seem to be doing too well. I can't get it to light on LP and it doesn't seem to do much on electric - I've left it on electric for now, we'll see how it does tomorrow.

Next

I seem to have window leaks everywhere - though I'm cautiously optimistic about this item, the frames look untouched so I'm guessing after 25 years the caulking is hardened and no longer seals.

Next

Some soft spots in the ceiling, one is in an area near a skylight I'm guessing that's going to be a job for rubber roof caulk. The other is inside the kitchen cabinets.

The "ceiling" of the cabinets is very spongey and the paneling that forms the back wall of the cabinet is de-laminated. I'm envisioning that the roof has failed where the roof meets the camper wall - any advice would be wonderful....

Final items

I'm not too impressed with the installation of the Dometic refer. When one opens the very flimsy door, you can see the campers innerds - the wood (or what's left of it) is RIGHT THERE exposed to the elements. There used to be a thin sheet of paneling below the fridge, that's long gone. And the "Cleat" used to support rear of the fridge is failing and allowing the cabinet to tip slightly forward.

It looks like even if it works, I need to pull the fridge out and rebuild that whole area - not an impossible task, but then I'd be just repeating past stupidity I think.

I wonder if I'd be better off capping the LP line, covering the hole in the wall, and using an plain old electric fridge instead? I don't intend to camp in Outer Nowhere so I'd run any fridge I had on 110v power anyway...

Speaking of which, I happen to own a "tankless" water heater that's electric. I'm also pondering that, though I am concerned about the current that it requires, so I doubt I'd go that route... Anyone know where I can get another Atwood water heater cheap?
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Old 01-22-2010, 10:17 PM   #2
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Ted,

Sounds like you have quite a project ahead of you.

One source for water heaters is PPL Motorhomes
http://www.pplmotorhomes.com/parts/r...er-parts-1.htm

I thought they usually split at the top like this:



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Old 01-22-2010, 11:07 PM   #3
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Interesting...

What causes this? Freezing?
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Old 01-22-2010, 11:32 PM   #4
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Re: What have I gotten myself into??! (Your advice Sought)

Hi Ted,

Sorry to hear of all your problems. The good news is most of us have experienced one of these at one time or another, and each and every one of them can be overcome with different degrees of work and money. Parts wise, assuming you get a electric only reefer if it must be replaced, you could fix everything in a couple weeks and for probably $800. And that may even be a little high.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
Sure enough, when I ran my hand along the underside of the tank I felt a nasty jagged split. I assume that means "It's dead Jim", correct?
Yes and no. Obviously the tank is shot. There are some options out there to patch it, if you trust them. You also can just replace the tank part of the heater if you wish, assuming all the other parts are good. A complete new gas heater (which I think you'd have a gas-only model) would be in the ballpark of $300 I think. I have no idea what a tank only would cost, I'm sure less though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
Refer doesn't seem to be doing too well. I can't get it to light on LP and it doesn't seem to do much on electric - I've left it on electric for now, we'll see how it does tomorrow.
Uh oh. The gas may just have air in the line, but I assume you've tried it enough that it should have lit. There's another possibility that the cooling system is clogged. I've been told a way to try to fix this is to take the unit out of the cabinet, flip it upside down on the floor and let it set for a day or so. This sometimes gets the clog out, but there's like a 50/50 chance. If this doesn't work, you can either get the cooling unit rebuilt, replace the unit, or replace it with a electric only model.

Also, it does take a long time for them to cool. Like six hours would be a good test to see a change. A method I've used is to put a small cup of water in the freezer and come back and if it's frozen, everything works fine. If not, then there's a problem.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
I seem to have window leaks everywhere - though I'm cautiously optimistic about this item, the frames look untouched so I'm guessing after 25 years the caulking is hardened and no longer seals.
These windows were never that great to begin with. Do you mean the windows themselves leaking or the mounting situation to the wall? The caulking around the window between that and the wall does dry out. Ideally, you could pull out every window and put new putty tape around each one. The RV putty tape doesn't cost much, it's just a really labor intensive job. The seals on the window frames themselves you'll pretty much have to live with unless you add like a door/window seal from a hardware store.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
Some soft spots in the ceiling, one is in an area near a skylight I'm guessing that's going to be a job for rubber roof caulk. The other is inside the kitchen cabinets.

The "ceiling" of the cabinets is very spongey and the paneling that forms the back wall of the cabinet is de-laminated. I'm envisioning that the roof has failed where the roof meets the camper wall - any advice would be wonderful....
I think you'd be pleased to know it probably isn't as bad as you think. The water has seeped to the bottom and probably hasn't had as much effect on the rafters. You should pull that paneling out and replace all the insulation though, because it is more than likely moldy. Just so you know, the roof panels would have been installed and screwed to the tops of the walls, so don't expect to drop the panel in one piece. You'll have to break it out one piece at a time. The original was 1/8" luan which you could get at a RV dealer. You could see if they have any panels used for shipping that may have some damage, but that you could cut off the damaged parts. They usually have some of these around. Probably a solid weekend job and then maybe a little.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
I'm not too impressed with the installation of the Dometic refer. When one opens the very flimsy door, you can see the campers innerds - the wood (or what's left of it) is RIGHT THERE exposed to the elements. There used to be a thin sheet of paneling below the fridge, that's long gone. And the "Cleat" used to support rear of the fridge is failing and allowing the cabinet to tip slightly forward.

It looks like even if it works, I need to pull the fridge out and rebuild that whole area - not an impossible task, but then I'd be just repeating past stupidity I think.
I assume you're talking about the outside access panel, not the actual reefer door inside. Yeah, those doors were very flimsy. Unfortunately everyone in the industry used them at the time. The only change has been when they went to the plastic ones, which might have kept the water out a little better, but they weren't a perfect replacement.

The rot problem on the reefer support is a common problem. It only is a problem with the older coaches, because after all, this coach is 25 years old. It would be a good idea to rebuild the area. It might not be a bad idea to add some foam seal material to the outside access door and check the cap on the roof vent for cracks. You could also install some angled aluminum right behind the bottom of the door and caulk in between to keep water from getting in there again.

You'll have to keep in mind that the generation coach you have was built in the time when lightweight was the primary goal. Later on, they were built more with quality/luxury in mind. The lightweights did have quality, but they used lesser quality materials in order to save weight. For example, the cabinet doors are hollow core- quarter round sandwiched with luan. Later on, the doors became all solid wood, with decorations and fancy finishes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
I wonder if I'd be better off capping the LP line, covering the hole in the wall, and using an plain old electric fridge instead? I don't intend to camp in Outer Nowhere so I'd run any fridge I had on 110v power anyway...
This is an option, and the choice of many people doing this repair. However, keep in mind it might be convenient to have the gas option so you can pack it at home and have everything stay cold while you travel. In cold weather this isn't such an issue, but in the summer, it gets awfully hot inside there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
Speaking of which, I happen to own a "tankless" water heater that's electric. I'm also pondering that, though I am concerned about the current that it requires, so I doubt I'd go that route... Anyone know where I can get another Atwood water heater cheap?
My best advise would be to go online or check a RV salvage yard. Most are out west and ship all over. I'm not sure what they charge and if it would just make sense to get a new one from a dealer. Hopefully they are significantly cheaper though.

Jon
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Old 01-23-2010, 12:23 AM   #5
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Holy cow, that was a very thorough and helpful response!

You seem to know something of the hidden parts of these beasties. I have no real worry about the carpentry aspect of what needs done, save for the fact that I don't know what's inside the walls, roof, etc.

So the ceiling panels are over the TOPS of the walls eh? Ok. What did they use for the "rafters"? (If it was a house I'd know, my dad built 'em) 2x2? Or ????

How about the walls for that matter?

There wouldn't be an "exploded diagram" of the basic construction would there?

EDIT: I think I found what I needed, is this ->http://www.glen-l.com/campers/fairhaven-constr-1.html pretty close?

And on the windows, yes, I meant the frames where they "clamp" onto the walls. I had the same trouble with my pick up be topper, same sort of window mounting, and I simply removed every one, cleaned it off, and then reinstalled them. I used "Bathroom Caulk" for that, the clear kind - it stays rubbery when cured. Honestly the tape is what was on there before and I don't care for the stuff.

I'm thinking at this point that for the water heater I might want to replace with another Atwood... we'll see, but I'm leaning that way.

The refer, I'm letting it run now - if after all that time (6 hours wow!) it's no good then out it comes and I'll rig a "land" refer to take it's place. I'm not going to be dry camping in this, so the $800 price tags I'm seeing on similar units it out of the question. Basically I'd be paying $800 for a locking door.

Thanks again for the help!
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Old 01-23-2010, 12:50 AM   #6
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Hi Ted,

Yeah, I've dealt with most of these situations before. As for the reefer problem, unfortunately the easy solution didn't work out for me. It decided to quit just before the new owner bought it so I attempted this first, but after it didn't work I just gave him a refund off the purchase price for what it would cost to have the cooling unit rebuilt, which I believe I researched at the time was about $200. I've dealt with water intrusion issues with other coaches and had to tear down the rear ceiling panel in one. My new '07 is my fifth Sunline.

I guess the rafters are 2x2. From what I remember, which was from about five years ago, it doesn't seem like they were exactly 2x2. I think they may have been closer to 2x3.

That diagram you found looks pretty good. I haven't seen that before. I think it's about as good as you'll get for an exploded diagram. We don't even have any kind of diagrams for the last models either.

Using just a regular bathroom caulk would probably work too. Just either way, keep an eye on it to make sure the seal doesn't break. These things flex enough that the seals can break pretty easily...hence why coaches with miles on them but taken care of usually leak more than those that sit in a campground and are rarely serviced or cleaned.

Wow, $800 for a new reefer. I had a rough idea for the double door 6-8 cubic foot models, but I figured/hoped the single door models would be much less.

I would give the flipping over trick a try first, all you do is disconnect it and flip it upside down and then leave it alone. Maybe it would work to get a little more life out of it...

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Old 01-23-2010, 03:01 PM   #7
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Ted, be careful what you ask for, lol...

The people here are absolutely the best & most knowledgeable on all of the models. I even needed help one day because Ron was in the middle of a project. I posted it online, kept the computer on, and a couple of responses came back a couple of minutes later. Now, that is fast!

So sorry you have all those projects ahead of you. We bought a 2004, and are very happy we opted to spend a little $ more for the quality we saw. We had a very severe thunderstorm the other night, and not one leak! Sure makes a difference. The only pain-in-the-butt problem we cannot solve is that the remote for the TV also works the stereo system. So when we change channels/adjust the volume, the stereo/radio comes on....

Good luck, it sounds as tho' you will need it.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:17 PM   #8
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Ted,

Where are you located? If you're on one of our travel routes I'd be glad to stop by and provide some experience. We have a 1982 and have had many of your experiences.

If you go to the files section and to other files, you'll see some info on what we did to our little Sunline, Fixing a 1982 Sunline.

It's hard to know without seeing what your problems are however I'm sure you'll get plenty of help from our members.

As to the refigerator, we replaced ours with an electric Magic Chef. It's bigger than what came in our trailer and doesn't draw that much electricity. Magically they're available for $120.

Sectional floor repairs are not too difficult, we had a leak besides the door and under the water heater.

Initially wehen we got ours we did two things. First we painted the frame and the underneath of the trailer with black rustoleum, on the underneath aluminum we used Walmart spray black.

We simultaneously checked the roof, first sealing it and than painting the roof. We also checked in a couple of rainstorms if any windows leaked.

Once we established the integrity, weather tightness, we began fixing this and that.

We are now in Florida and again someone approached us this morning asking if we wanted to sell. If you take on the challenge of restoring your little sunline you'll come to love it and the people on this site are very giving of their experiences.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:21 PM   #9
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I should have mentioned that I use an O-ring to solve the locking door problem. If you go electric I'll send you a picture of our locking door solution. I like it better than the locking door on our Motorhome refigerator.
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Old 01-23-2010, 03:27 PM   #10
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After reading more of your post I did not block the refirgerator's roof vent nor did I remove the wall vent. The wall vent is paricularly nice because it gives you access to the back of the fridge and the power cord. As well we some times run the Fridge on the Inverter and allows me to plug the fridge into the output of the inverter.

As well the compressor heats up and needs a place to vent.

I did add screening to the back of the vent and to the top of the roof vent to keep the mosquitos out while I was in their. The typical electric is a little bigger than the original equipment but fits with a small amount of effort. Just make sure what ever you buy fits thru the door. Our Magic Chef is 4.1 cubic feet.
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Old 01-23-2010, 06:53 PM   #11
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Hmm, that's a good point, and it is sealed up back there. Of course with no LP to worry about I could get a lot more agressive/inventive about keeping the weather out too.

HOWEVER - Refer works!!!

Thanks to the tip about how long it takes to get cold, I gave it a fighting chance this time by leaving it on over night, by 10 am today it was around 30 degrees in the lower part. So, I rolled the themostat back from MAX to 4 and put a mostly empty water bottle in the top compartment.

2 hours later the water was mostly frozen and the lower compartment was about 40 degrees - so it seems to be working on electric. I still can't get the gas to light, but I don't really care - if the electric craps out, I'll go the "Magic" route myself.

I'll still have to pull it out and reconstruct though

I got a few little things done today and made another discovery, but I'll post that in a separate message. Along with some pitchers... (pictures)
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
..... What causes this? Freezing?
Yes, I suspect the previous owner didn't winterize and left water in the tank over the winter. It was the one thing I couldn't see when I inspected it because it is covered with Styrofoam.

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Old 01-23-2010, 10:48 PM   #13
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Honda03842,

I just read through your "report". You've got some VERY innovative and good ideas going there. Your "draws" are perfect! Just today, after installing the new locks I was looking at the depth of the space and thinking "If I put something small in here, it will slide to the other side and I'll never see it again."

I also like your bookshelves on the sides.

I think I may do something similar myself once I get the unit "secure".
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:40 AM   #14
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Ted,

On your windows, there is a potential problem with using bathroom caulk. While it stays flexible, it does not stay sticky. Enough flexing of the body of the trailer, and the caulk, while in place, will break free of the skin or the window frame. It will be flexible, but it will not be bonded to the frame or skin.

The repair of choice is butyl putty tape available at any RV parts counter. The older type stuff is not butyl based, and over time (decades), it hardens and looses it's flex. It also gets squeezed out.

There are a number of posts here in Repairs and Maintenance about this exact repair. If you purchase butyl putty tape, it doesn't harden and remains sticky so that no matter how much the body of the trailer flexes, it will stick to both the skin and window frame.

Removing the old stuff is pretty easy. A little heat is your friend. Momma's hair dryer works or a regular heat gun on a lower setting. Remove all the screws, hardware, etc. and then heat starting at one corner and working out in both directions. I use a plastic putty knife to genty pry the frame away from the skin. Once you get it started, it gets easier and easier to remove. The heat gun/hair dryer takes all the hard work out of the project.

After removal, I use the plastic putty knife to scrape away as much of the remaining putty tape on the trailer skin. A little heat helps. On the window frame, you can use a metal putty knife.

When all the putty is scraped away, I use mineral spirits and scrub all the surfaces down to remove any vestige of the old tape followed by a scrub with 409 or any good cleaner. Now both surfaces are really clean and ready for new butyl putty tape.

I put the putty tape on starting at the top of the window and working down. At the corners, be sure to use enough tape to fill the joint between horizontal and vertical runs of it so that there are absolutely no water paths.

Then remount the window and run the screws in part way. Just like tightening lug nuts, tighten them down in a pattern to evenly seat the putty. Tighten enough that a bit of the putty squeezes out, but not so tight that you squeeze out all the putty. Remove excess with the plastic putty knife, and you're done.

JohnB's excellent post on replacing his roof vents describes the process in great detail. http://www.sunlineclub.com/forums/ph...t=1662&start=0
The only difference is the use of the Dicor lap sealant on top of the joints and hardware which is roof specific. But the rest applies to windows, compartments, and door frames just as well as it does to the roof.

Briefly on that topic, your older metal roof gets treated a bit differently than the newer rubber roofs. Ask about that when you are ready and a number of us can help with that, too.
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Old 01-24-2010, 01:57 PM   #15
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I shall heed the advice of those who know - putty tape it is then.

But I wonder, isn't the same stuff used at the edges where the walls meet each other? Does that mean I need to remove that corner covering and do the same thing there too? (ugh)
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Old 01-24-2010, 11:51 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted-Thompson
But I wonder, isn't the same stuff used at the edges where the walls meet each other? Does that mean I need to remove that corner covering and do the same thing there too? (ugh)
That is a bit trickier. If you feel there is a problem with a corner, then you'll want to do the same thing with that corner molding. Start at the bottom, remove all the screws, warm it up and gently pry it away. The less you bend it, the easier it will be to put it back in place.

There is an element of "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." when it comes to the corner trim. Same for the trim on the roof edges. If you've got obvious water penetration, then you'll want to do the replacement of the putty tape.

Generally, on a trailer like yours, you will find that many of the screws are disintegrating. They're steel, and tend to rust away if the seal isn't perfect. The best fix is to use stainless steel replacements. Depending on a lot of factors, you may need to go up one size to get a snug fit.

The advice on the screws also applies to window, doors, roof vents, etc.

While you have any corner or window opened up, take an awl and test the wood. If it penetrates easily, you've got some rot damage. If it doesn't penetrate, the wood is in good shape.
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Old 01-25-2010, 06:37 AM   #17
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Ok. This has me thinking that maybe what I want to do is attempt to make a fillet with silicon caulk, by which I mean a bead that fills in the corner much like caulking between a bath tub and wall, leaving the putty tape in place. If the tape is "open" it will seal it, if not no harm/no foul.

I know I've seen that sort of work, and it can look god awful, but it doesn't have to if you're careful.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:47 AM   #18
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Ted, the only problem with surface caulking is that it does not address the issue of the disintegrating screws which can be leaks all by themselves.

I'd suggest removing all the screws, placing a dab of caulk as deep into the screw hole as possible, and then run in a new screw.

If your corner trim has (or had) the plastic strip that covers all the screws, get a new one (dirt cheap) and replace the whole thing. That will keep a whole bunch of water away from the screws. At the top and bottom, leave the last screw out, caulk well at the top end, and then run the screws in through the plastic strip. That will really keep water away from the screws.

Alternatively, you could use the screws that have a small rubber washer built into them. I believe the screws made to install metal roofing on houses have the washer and they come in colors.
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Old 01-25-2010, 08:15 PM   #19
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Right - I've already scouted the local shop for that "hide the screws" trim. $5.?? for a 25' roll, as you said - cheap.

It was my plan to do that as well.

Here's the latest. Overnight we had a substantial amount of rain and wind. I was harboring fears that the stone shield which I left up, would be gone today. It was fine...

However, it gave me the first look at what happens in the rain when the trailer is sitting still. You see before I was examining it after a 5 hour ride in the rain on the interstate.

The decided LACK of water around the windows today leads me to think that the REAL culprit isn't the caulking at all... it's the rubber "seals" around the window panes. The ones that seal the window when it's closed.

So here's my revised plan of attack: Surface caulk the frames for good measure, remove and replace the screws around the windows and corners/roof line and replace the "screw hiders" everywhere. Replace the rubber seals around the windows and skylights. Repair the roof.

It looks to me like the roof is the root of most if not all my water troubles.

The trailer has an awning, and it's on that side the leaks seem the worst. Any wisdom on that?

I'm told that the 85 would have a metal roof (I haven't been up to see yet - it may have been you that said it was...) Any guidance/thoughts on that?

I assume that it's a continuous metal sheet, like the one I can see over the front window with corner covering like the front and back has, is that correct?
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Old 01-26-2010, 12:47 AM   #20
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Sounds like a plan for the windows and body joins.

On the roof, it should almost definitely be a metal roof. Probably has a couple of seams, but they are multiply folded over and usually are not troublesome. (There is a very small chance that a previous owner had the roof re-done with a rubber membrane. If that is the case, then please ignore the rest of this post... )

Most common place for leaks is around the perimeter where the roof joins the side walls. But being thin metal, it can be punctured without much difficulty. Any falling branch can do it.

What a lot of folks do is to coat the entire roof with mobile home roof paint. It is silvery in color when dry, has fiber content, and is oil based. It usually gets brushed on with long bristle brushes. Last time I looked, any decent hardware/home improvement type stores carry it in gallon pails. The folks that do metal roof mobile home use large brushes that look like push brooms. You won't need one for your trailer, but I always bought a throw-away brush for this job.

It took just about a gallon to do my 19' 1976 Prowler. I brushed a coat on all the seams, let that dry, and then did the entire roof.

Prep is mostly getting it clean, free of anything loose, and removing any grease or oil that may be on it. I always spent some time with a putty knife removing loose old roof paint, and then gave it a good scrubbing with soap and water.

You might want to mask off the perimeter for neatness sake, and the roof vents as well. The bases of roof vents are stamped metal and can rust over time. If you plan to replace any fixtures on the roof, you might want to do that before you start with the roof paint.

If you caulk anything up on the roof, use a caulk that stays flexible, and that can be painted with oil base paint.
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