Monday, January 21, 2013

Stopping water ingress

It's freezing at the moment and not the time for holidaying in a campervan, well perhaps the very brave might give it a go but not us. So I thought I'd take the opportunity to go through some of the improvements that have been made over recent months.

Back in April last year we went to Blackpool and it rained, nothing new there, it rained most of the time in 2012. When it rained the roof leaked, nothing new there either. Since having the roof fitted to the van leaks were nothing but trouble, be it from the side windows which were not sealed properly and now the roof.  Bear in mind that the roof was fitted to our van in April 2011 and the roof vent was fitted at the same time. Just 12 months down the line and it looked like this:

The problem with all these leaks was the substandard roof and the substandard fitting. The fibreglass roof is very thin. To fit the roof and side windows the fibreglass is cut and the windows and roof vent fitted and then sealed. There is little reinforcement to hold the roof rigid so when you drive along the roof has a certain amount of movement. The seal fitted on the side windows is not the correct seal for the window, its the kind of seal you would use to fit glass to a metal body. Metal bodies don't have movement and are rigid. A thin fibreglass roof is wavy and so the seals don't seal perfectly. The roof vent was sealed on the outside with a compound that obviously wasn't suitable for the job. The flimsy bit of wood you can see here was pretty functionless. Over 12 months the sealant had gone brittle and water had penetrated through it. The wood was soaking wet and had gone mouldy. The moral:

If you want something doing right - do it yourself

So all the sealant was cleaned off the outside of the roof vent and re-sealed with Carafax IDL 99, a flexible non-setting mastic. On the inside a more substantial wooden frame was made and fixed to the ceiling to pull the roof vent to the roof.

This made the vent so much sturdier and weatherproof.  It was then fixed to the main framework that would support the false ceiling which we could get on with once all the niggling little leaks had been sorted out.

Framework for the false ceiling
Solving the problem with the leaking side windows was more problematic. The rubber seal that was used just isn't suitable to make a proper seal. The fibreglass roof is very thin and has a kind of ripple effect along the edge where the seal fits which means it just doesn't make proper contact with the fibreglass. It only takes some very heavy rain and it will seep in through the tiniest of gaps. Again, fingers crossed the problem seems to have been sorted with the Carafax used on the roof vent and because it doesn't ever set it's flexible enough to take any movement without breaking the seal. At the time of writing this our campervan is covered in about 3 or 4 inches of snow. If the sealant has managed to keep melting snow out then I think we can safely say its watertight.

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