Overhang Overhaul

Whew, this weekend was work, and in torrid conditions to boot.

I’ve had a leak in a corner of my passenger side overhang for two and a half years now. The first time, I zapped it with caulking, but it came back with a vengeance that required a major interior overhaul. At that time, I applied Eternabond to the exterior, but the Eternabond didn’t work. I think that the reason for that was that it was just too cold and damp when I applied it and it never had a chance to bond.

This weekend, sick and tired of how terrible my rig looked with the Eternabond, I set to work to settle this damn leak once and for all.

As a reminder:

Now, I’d like to say that the way I handled the repair this weekend is not the way I would recommend going about dealing with a class C motorhome overhang leak. I am only comfortable having taken the steps I took because I demolished and rebuilt a good part of the interior, so I understand how the overhang is constructed and how water travels within it. Ideally, I should have gone ahead with this summer’s plans to have the passenger side pulled and replaced and then had all the seams recaulked. But that was a nearly $3,000 job which I really believe is not structurally necessary.

My class C has an aluminum frame construction. Therefore, water cannot wick through the frame to soak surrounding materials. The leak has always been confined to a very specific area. Moreover, the way the interior floor is constructed, all the weight is on the frame, not the fiberglass. The only evidence of the leak within the rig at this point is that if you tap the passenger side wall from the exterior right at the front lower corner, the sound is echoey, indicating that the fiberglass has pulled away from the insulation and luan. At some point this winter, in a dry location with time on my hands and a helper, I will consider pulling the passenger side window so I can rebuild the wall and caulk the seams from inside.

The first step to dealing with the leak this weekend was to remove the Eternabond. This was way too easy. The tape just pulled off easily, leaving a sticky grey residue not unlike chewing gum. I then applied some acetone (nail polish remover) to remove the stickiness and then used a putty knife the roll the residue into a little ball.

Next, I had to deal with the fiberglass flooring that had pulled away from the subfloor in one corner and was starting to crack from the strain. My mother had the idea to use an existing hole to inject an adhesive and then pry the floor in place until the glue dried.

So off I went to find some Gorilla Glue. While I was out, I also stopped at the very helpful Horizon Lussier RV in Marieville to pick up caulking, putty, and, since I was there, a house door window frame, and a catch for an exterior compartment. I had to take a detour to come home since the 10 Montreal-bound was at a standstill. So I ended up being gone most of the afternoon.

When I finally got in, my mother used a syringe to inject the glue into the hole. I then held a thin 1’x1′ piece of plywood up against the flooring while my mother jammed a 2×4 in tightly. It was then time for a well-earned beer and a seafood dinner!

When I went to check on the result this morning, I found the flooring most satisfactorily stuck to the fiberglass… as was the plywood sheet! Thankfully, the sheet came off without any damage.

Next order of business was to pull back the rubber covering on the mouldings that run across the front and passenger side of the overhang so I could remove part of them and apply new putty. It was very easy to see that the water damage never went beyond what I repaired inside. I removed the rusty screws and old putty, shoved some tooth picks into the screw holes to give the new screws something to bite into, applied new putty, and then rescrewed the mouldings tightly.

(I apologize for the lack of pictures; this was messy work that would have required a separate photographer!)

I then spent the day off and on cleaning the mouldings and fiberglass in preparation for caulking by my mother this evening. The Eternabond had left a dark yellow line where it was applied, so I used a ton of Poli Ox and elbow grease to mitigate the difference as much as possible.

When my mother got home, I went into helper mode while she caulked. We agreed that lots of messy looking caulk was better than a bit of neatly applied caulk. So up close, the job doesn’t look awesome, but it is MUCH better than was the Eternabond!

From a distance, my RV’s bad side is looking a lot less embarrassing!

It is supposed to rain tomorrow, so I will be able to test the repair right away. Soon as we get a dry spell again, I will Poliglow the area and then I think it will look even better.

I’m going to go collapse now!

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  • You might want to consider replacing those rusty screws with stainless steel, either one size larger or 1/4 to 1/2 inch longer. Another trick with the toothpicks is to dip them in carpenters glue before sticking them in the hole.

    The fact the Eternabond came off easily does mean it never adhered properly in the first place. If it goes on properly, it is very difficult to get off.

  • If the screws are going into aluminium, and they are stainless steel, with time they will become chemically welded due to the magic of electrolysis. May or may not be a bad thing.

  • As I said, I put in new screws, but I am not certain if they are stainless steel since I just grabbed whatever was suitable from my mother’s stash. She’s a trained carpenter and told me to NOT put any glue in the hole, saying that it would stop the screw from properly gripping the wood.

  • Great job. As the owner of an RV that had Eternabond applied on the cabover by a previous owner, I know how awful it can look. It is no doubt good stuff, and it’s great for the roof seems, etc., but on the cabover it just makes it look like an RV that’s held together with tape. My father and I repainted my rig, and in the process removed that ugly Eternabond, and he was able to successfully repair the leak, so that the appearance now is awesome in comparison to what it was. But I’m grateful to the previous owner for stopping the leak. She also rebuilt that corner, so structurally everything was okay. It just looked awful, and she thought it did, too, so she was glad to see us redo it.

  • Boy, can I ever empathize with you over your weekend of work in the heat.

    Got up and down many, many times as today I put new flooring in the bathroom and kitchen(very small area) of our motorhome. I don’t know if I am going to be able to get out of bed tomorrow let alone walk. My 70th Birthday is at the end of this week, maybe too old for those kinds of jobs.

    Your Rig is looking great!

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