B. Exterior Resealing
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1990 Serro Scotty 265
A camper that leaks is bound to have some rot of the wood frame. I knew the camper had been leaking over the years based on the ceiling stains inside and the presence of silicone caulk on all four corners, the roof seams and most of the exterior openings. So, after I had fixed much of the safety related projects, I parked the camper under the pole barn.
I started by washing down the roof with Tilex and a bristle broom. It had the normal amount of mold and dirt firmly attached to it. The front panel had such faded paint that the Tilex took some of it off. It did not seem to bother the better paint on the sides of the camper. It took a lot of scrubbing, but now I could see the extent of the cracks and condition of the different types of sealants.
The front roof and rear seams had silicone caulk, self-leveling caulk, a tar based coating and some form of silver gooey sealant that may have been original part of the seam seal. It also had the normal clay tape under the front panel overlap to the roof.
My wife found a soft spot in the interior paneling under the front window. So, the front window was removed first.
The window seal had apparently leaked and some of the paneling was rotten. Removing the window required removing the rock shield, then the window. The window frame did show some signs of rot.
More exploration was needed to determine how much rot was in the front wall. The front corner trim was removed to allow the front panels to be removed as needed to find all the rotten wood frame.
The front panels and fiberglass insulation were removed.
There was rot at the window. But, also in the lower corners of the front wall including the bottom cross piece. Some of the plywood light mount was also rotted.
I used a vibrating saw to step cut the wood frame sections and glued in new pieces with wood glue.
I also replaced a section of the paneling with some 1/8" plywood. The old piece was saved to reuse the wallpaper as a patch.
Here you can see the bright wood is the new wood.
The front window screens needed replacement also. I had to take the frame apart to get them out.
Now the screens are new.
Next I worked on the front roof seam.
I tried alcohol, acetone, mineral spirits and brake cleaner to see if anything would soften the old sealers enough to remove them. The alcohol and acetone did little to soften them, but would take the paint off the sides. Mineral spirits did soften the tar based coating that seemed to cover much of the roof. But it left an oily residue.
I don't know why, but I tried some brake cleaner. Much to my surprise, the brake cleaner was quick to soften the tar based sealant and the gooey gray sealant but did not harm the paint. It did little to the self-leveling sealant. Only a putty knife seemed to remove that.
Since I was unsuccessful in removing the old sealers, I searched the internet for the best way to do it. All the old sealant was pretty hard, cracked and deteriorated. I came across several threads recommending use of a heat gun and a putty knife to soften the sealants. That worked to get the thick stuff off the roof seam including most of the white sealant.
It took hours to get the thick parts off the roof seam and even more hours to clean the metal. I used mineral spirits to get the tar based remnants off and followed that with brake cleaner to get the oily residue off.
Next the screws had to come out. Many of the screw heads had rusted away where the old sealant cracked and made a nice void for water to stay against the screw heads. I had to use a Dremel metal cutting wheel to make slots in many of the screw heads that had rusted beyond use. I was able to get all the screws out with that
Once the screws were out, I had to scraped the clay tape off the front panel edges and roof metal edge with a plastic interior trim tool from the local auto parts store. The sticky film left by the clay tape was removed with brake cleaner. The screw holes in the front panel edge were made flush again by squeezing them with flat jawed vise-grip pliers.
Notice how clean the mineral spirits and brake cleaner got the seam metals.
The roof seam was resealed with two rows of butyl tape and new stainless steel screws. I bought new #8 x 1-1/4" stainless hex head screws and a few #10 x 1-1/4" screws from marshfasteners.com. They will never rust out like the old ones.
Now a note about silicone caulk as a sealer. The worst sealant removal problem was the silicone caulk removal. I will never use that stuff on anything again! Where it was put on over dirt, it came off with no trouble. But there are many places where even a razor blade will not remove all of it. I am not yet sure what I will do to get those areas clean.
While I was resealing the roof, I took the left side gutter trim off and resealed it with butyl tape and stainless steel screws too. It will be much harder to remove the gutter on the right side due to the awning hardware. That can wait until I do the awning repairs.
Now the front wall panels could be reinstalled. I borrowed a neighbors 1/4" air stapler to reattach the panels.
Next I began working on the corner trim. It had to be cleaned up before I could reinstall it. I also cleaned the sealants off the corner trim pieces.
I used an old turbo spacer in a drill press vise as an anvil since it fit inside the track and hammer to set the screw holes back level.
Then I placed butyl tape over the corners and in all the low spots. I also placed butyl tape into the corner and on the flat section of the trim pieces.
I still must not have put enough butyl tape in some areas since I had to go back and add more to fill all the gaps. That was a real PAIN! I will be sure to use enough the first time when I do the rear.
Again, I used new stainless steel screws to reattach the corner trim. I also installed the front window and a new utility light on the front panel.
The rock guard is Sheet Molded Composite, or SMC. It was bleeding strands of fiberglass. I knew from my son that the best way to fix this was to sand the panel and paint it with Rustoleum Epoxy Appliance paint. We had fixed a VW radiator support this way. It turned out great.
When I painted the rock guard panel, you can see that it either had a decal or a relief in the panel with the Scotty logo. I will probably tape that off and paint it later. Right now I have too many projects to do.
I also bought new trim insert vinyl. I will install all that later.
Now that the front is done it is time to move on to the rear!
I moved the camper forward to allow access to the rear of the camper and still be under the pole barn. I had to jack the camper up to make water run back toward the front since we were getting rain from Hurricane Harvey remnants.
My wife had also found some soft wood beneath the rear window. I knew from the front rot repairs that the rear panels would have to be removed to address potential rot. So I started by removing all the rear attachments. Tail lights, gray water tank, spare tire rack, rear window, and corner trim.
Next I started removing the rear wall panels. More rot! The left side corner trim screws fell out all the way above the window level. The right side corner was rotted up to the window area.
More rot was visible as more panels and the insulation were removed.
The rotted areas extend into the closet on the left side so the extent of the damage will be evident once the removal of the rotted wood begins.
The left side bottom edge piece is also rotten all the way under the floor along with some of the plywood floor.
Now I have to get the vibrating saw back out and get busy. I will do one piece at a time where possible. I also will move the jack stands to just behind the axles before installing the new wood parts to be sure they fit correctly.
I repainted the upper access panel. It was SMC material and like the rock guard it had fiberglass strands bleeding out of it. I sanded it and painted it with Rustoleum Epoxy Appliance paint the same as I did the rock guard.
It came out great!
I have not posted in a few days, but have been working hard to on the rear corners. This process takes a lot of time and effort.
I needed to remove the rear corner trim on both sides. That included getting up on top of the camper to remove the last few screws. While I was up there, I went ahead and cleaned off the old sealers from the rear seam.
I used a heat gun and putty knife as I did on the front seam. But, this seam had the roof metal overlapping the rear top panel. I could not move the roof metal since it is bent over the sides of the camper. All I could do was to fish out the old clay tape with a putty knife and clean under it with brake cleaner and a paper towel.
I then had to push the new butyl putty under the corner sections using a plastic knife as a tool.
The roof metal lifted up just enough in the center to allow me to get my hand in to do the cleaning.
I installed two layers of butyl tape on the seam and reattached it with stainless steel screws. It looks water tight now.
Next I started digging out rot on the lower left rear corner. I had to dig out some rotten frame and some rotten plywood flooring too. Good thing was the floor issue is under a wardrobe closet and all the rotten paneling is in the closet too. Later I will put some 1/8" plywood to cover the sections that had to be removed. I think that can be done from the inside of the closet.
The digging revealed some of the side framing structure was also rotted.
I had to cut some of the lower side frame section out. That required removing the access door and the lower section of side panel. What a pain!
I cut out the section of plywood that was rotted and used pieces of plywood to scab it on.
Then I installed the lower frame section along the side and around to the rear.
I cut wood to size from a fir 2x4 wood on the table saw. Some of it was 1-1/2" x 1-1/2" and some was 1-1/2" x 1-1/16". I overlapped the joints and glued and screwed the pieces into place as I had done on the front repairs.
I reinstalled the access door and side panel.
I installed 3/4" plywood for mounting the gray water tank carrier and the tail lights.
It is a good thing that I temporarily fitted the rear panels. I had not installed the plywood for the tail lights in the correct position. I hate doing things twice!
I am having trouble getting the bottom panel to fit. It may have to be trimmed. I guess I did not get the lap joints as snug as they were?
I will work on that and finish the rear tomorrow.
I finished putting the rear wall back onto the camper on 09/10/2017. The weather reports say that the remnants of Hurricane Irma are headed our way. Rain was expected to begin overnight Sunday.
I cleaned up the corner trim and straightened it. Then I applied butyl tape over the small gap on the corner metal. This time I put plenty of extra tape over the metal, especially in the low spots. I had to spend too much time filling gaps in the front trim pieces. It worked much better. It wasted some extra butyl tape that came squishing out as the trim was pulled down tight but saved a lot of time.
I am glad I bought some #10 screws since I had a few holes that needed a #10 screw where the #8 holes were stripped. Notice I also installed all new marker lights. They are much nicer looking than the old ones.
I lowered the camper back to the ground and backed it up under the pole barn to ride out Irma. I also installed the spare tire carrier and the window trim.
I still have to make sure all the openings are sealed well and I am done with resealing this old camper. I also have to put some paneling back into the rear closet but that can be done on the inside.
I sure am hoping there will not be any new leaks!
The Rock Guard
As I mentioned above, when I painted the rock guard panel, you can see that it either had a decal or a relief in the panel with the Scotty logo. Gina wanted me to restore the image on the rock guard for her birthday.
I removed the rock guard, washed it and repainted it white with Rustoleum Appliance paint one more time to be sure the SMC was well sealed. Then I started taping and painting. The back ground had sections of gray for the skyline. So, I taped it off and sprayed the area with some gray Rustoleum paint.
Some of the paint went on too quickly and thick causing a small area to crinkle up. I waited until it dried and fixed it.
Taping off the areas painted black was much more involved. It took over 5 hours to get the black areas masked and painted.
Then I used some aqua green looking Rustoleum to paint the lake area on the mural based on a picture I found on the web of this vintage rock guard.
Lastly, I used a small brush to paint the "by SERRO" logo white on the lower right. My freehand painting is not that great, but from a distance it looks fine.
Happy Birthday Gina!