Advice on possible roof problems

Discussion in 'Camper Pre-Purchase Questions' started by pool2917, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    There's so much erroneous information in this post I don't know where to start. [XX(]

    First, Fleetwood introduced the ABS Strata roof with some 1996 models and when first introduced none had an interior ceiling brace. However, it wasn't long before it became evident that lateral sag was a very real problem so as a "fix" Fleetwood quickly came up with the steel ceiling brace, installing it on all new models produced thenceforth and offering it to existing owners at no charge under terms of the lifetime warranty.

    Secondly, to say the ABS Strata roof wasn't known to leak is ridiculous. FFT themselves acknowledged a failure rate of 15% but many of us who owned one of these trailers felt that actual failures were far greater, more like 50% to 75%. Yes, one could arguably claim that over it's 8 yr life roof reliability did improve but the fact is Fleetwood finally acknowledged defeat and discontinued this roof entirely by introducing the AlumiTite (a.k.a. AlumiLeak) roof with the 2003.5 model year.

    Third, the ABS Strata roof could suffer many various failures - lateral sag which in turn meant the ends of the roof would not properly seal against the body rail at the front & rear of the trailer, thereby allowing rain water into the trailer, especially when being towed in rainy conditions. Despite changing the perimeter roof seal from a 3 finger to a bulb design it wasn't uncommon at all for this seal to separate from the roof, either partially or completely. The roof was also well known for blistering, bubbling, cracking, and delamination of the outer skin.

    Fourth, the inner core of this roof is not fiberglass but rather is a solid foam core that varies in thickness according to the curvature of the roof. Any water that gets inside that roof will destroy that foam core.

    Fifth, since the roof outer and inner shell is ABS it can't repaired with any product designed for fiberglass repair. Some owners who suffered outer shell failure tried making an ABS slurry by mixing methyl ethel keytone with white ABS plastic Lego blocks, 'though with mixed results.

    This is just a brief synopsis of the real story behind Fleetwood's ill fated ABS Strata roof - given sufficient time & energy one could write a book! [EEK]
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
  2. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Ok. So i still disagree with you lol. Its a foam core wrapped in fiberglass. It doesn't leak. As long as the core isnt compromised.
    Failure, does not mean leaking, yes the roof abs will crack and delaminate. Caused by water getting in beteeen the abs and the core. It put Coleman out of buisness as it was guaranteed for life. Ot could leak from the ac gasket, but thats a diffent animal.
    The sag , as stated might have been a problum in 1996 and up. But in 2000 they came installed with the support bar. As you said it fixed the problum. So a newer model will not have that problum.

    Most , that used the abs slurry atually successfully fixed the cracks, this includes me. So " TRIED" is atually incorrect. It works.
    Additionally you can completely remove the abs, and coat the fiberglass foam core.

    To surmise , i own one and speak from reparing it , its a 2000. So way past your 8 year life span. And i just had the roof seal replaced, not because it came off , but because it was rubber and was 18 years old.
    So far as i can tell, you are compleatly wrong in your assesment. And you can put that in your book[:D]
     
    1380ken likes this.
  3. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    An amusing response, 'though also replete with inaccuracies. [:O)] Fleetwood's ABS roof saga is not what put the company out of business but rather was the result a series of poor business decisions made over many years, including introduction of the ill conceived Coleman Caravan front glide travel trailer, all of which in concert lead to the eventual takeover of the company by Blackstreet Capital, an equity company who's specialty is taking over failing companies with the plan to eventually close them, just as they did with FTCA, a.k.a. FFT, a.k.a. Coleman - it was all part of the plan. And no, adding the ceiling brace did not fix the roof sag problem, it merely mitigated it. As for roof production itself the original incarnation was produced in house at Somerset but when failures continued at an alarming rate production was farmed out to a third party manufacturer who it was hoped would be able to resolve these issues. They did not and when FFT insisted that this third party manufacturer absorb the costs of any roof warranty claims that company eventually went out of business because there were so many claims. FFT then started building the ABS roof once again in Somerset but the excessive failure rate continued and just could not be overcome so the company commenced on designing a new replacement roof - the AlumiTite. Unfortunately it too was a flawed design, as many owners also eventually discovered. [:(!] And no, the ceiling roof brace was not introduced in 2000 but with 1997 / early 1998 models, in fact the original incarnation bolted through the side of the roof, later refined versions bolted through the top of the roof. And yes, anyone with an interest in Fleetwood's ill fated ABS Strata roof can take all of this to the bank, confident of it's accuracy. [:P]

    To Jdfgbird who expressed interest in a 2002 Bayside with an ABS roof or anyone else considering a Fleetwood camper with this roof - obviously what you choose to do is your business but as one who owned this roof and understands the history behind it I'd suggest you pass on any trailer with an ABS Strata roof, particularly if you're a newbie, as it's potential for grief you just don't need.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2018
  4. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Mine looks good to me? No saging,and no more delamination?
     

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  5. Dback2k4

    Dback2k4 Active Member

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    As long as it's not sagging, the "infamous" Coleman abs roof can be maintained and repaired. I have a 99 Bayside and love it!
     
  6. emoney

    emoney Well-Known Member

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    To the OP, it seems as if the age old adage of “you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t”. As you can see, there’s plenty owners here that have that same roof and are having no issues with it. However, GreyFox shared some facts based on being one of the not so lucky ones. End of the day, as has been suggested, the choice is yours. But if this is truly your first foray into this adoring hobby of ours, at the very least take someone knowledgeable with you when it’s time to go look. We can give you advice all day from 1,000 miles away. However the proof is always in the pudding. Best of luck and keep us posted!
     
  7. lksdrinker

    lksdrinker Active Member

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    To those who seem to have some pretty serious passions about the types of roof offered on these PUPS. What roof do you want to see other than ABS or alumitite and why? It seems obvious that the ABS roof idea was a failure; but also seems to be relatively easy to strip the plastic off and coat over the fiberglass. Seems like a good choice for someone looking for an older/cheaper PUP and willing to put in some work.
     
    cruzinZ likes this.
  8. Jdfjbird

    Jdfjbird New Member

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    I'm sorry I didn't see your reply....
    I bought I can deal with the roof neads at a later time. I will keep covered to protect from all elements.
     
  9. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    While FFT was fooling around all those years with ABS, AlumiTite, and Filon roofs most manufacturers stuck with the conventional centre seam aluminum skin roof and variations thereof. The irony in all this is that the last couple of years when Blackstreet was operating this company under the name FCTA the roof being produced was arguably the best one they'd ever come up with - conventional composite construction, all one piece aluminum skin (meaning no seam at all), with just the 4 corners requiring sealing and a corner cap. Prior to that their conventional centre seam aluminum skin roof proved reliable over many decades provided that seam was properly maintained.

    I have no idea what "fiberglass" you'd be referring to as there was none in the Fleetwood ABS Strata roof. Between the ABS top layer and ABS ceiling there was nothing but solid core foam insulation, no interior framing, no fiberglass, just a foam core. The ABS roof wasn't a "failure" in concept but rather a failure in manufacture, even for the third party manufacturer used for a time when FFT found they couldn't overcome excessive failure rates themselves. As it turned out neither could the third party manufacturer which was forced out of business because of this debacle.

    The OP is obviously free to choose whatever he wants, I'm merely suggesting that as a newbie, ABS roof problems,of which there are many, is something no newbie needs to deal with. His choice.
     
  10. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    There is something under the abs roof. It looks like fiberglass to me. Its definitly not the foam core, unless its melted to a hard like fiberglass consistency. At leat there is on mine , its a Coleman fleetwwood 2000 westlake.
     
  11. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Looks like fiberglass to me? I could be wrong? Im thinking the foam core needed something to protect it from the outside layer so it didnt melt? If it isnt fiberglass what is it?
     
  12. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    Ok congrats... but what do you use to cover the popup?
     
  13. Halford

    Halford Well-Known Member

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    All my 3 popups have ABS roofs. 94, 96, and 2002. the first popup was 94 Mesa, it was 2 years later when the Peco Camper dealer informed me a brace was needed to be added so I took the popup to the dealer and they added two braces! I sold it in 99 then bought 96 Key West which had some cracks but no leaks. fixed that then sold it to buy 2002 Niagara. The Niagara has no Cracks and I am careful with covering it with appropriate camper cover.
     
  14. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    Fleetwood's seamless ABS Strata roof was first introduced with the 1996 model year and originally did not have a ceiling brace. The Mesa first appeared as a Destiny series 1998 model year camper. Once owners of an excessive number of these original roofs began making warranty claims Fleetwood quickly came up with the ceiling brace, offering to original owners at no charge - dealers merely billed back the cost to install this brace to Fleetwood. That original brace bolted through the side walls of the roof but was later changed to bolt through the roof, as it did on my 2000 Santa Fe. Having installed A/C myself on this roof I can assure anyone there is nothing inside between the ABS roof skin and ABS ceiling skin but solid foam core - nothing else.
     
  15. roybraddy

    roybraddy Well-Known Member

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    I had my 2008 STARCRAFT 14RT parked in my driveway for a couple of seasons and I failed to put a tarp over it... Needless to say the SUN has attacked the silicone seam between the side panel of the roof and the roof itself and it leaked inside the ceiling area and ran down inside the driver side rear panel and water logged the inside wall boards there.

    My parked trailer was slightly leaning too one side and the rain water followed down to the rear panel along the seam. It appears it got inside the roof area from the seam silicon area...

    I have pulled out the silicone seam stuff and replaced it with a new sealing... It definitely had SUN UV DAMAGE to it...

    This is a google image of a similar StarCraft 14RT trailer showing the side wall where the silicone seal is at...


    [​IMG]
    google image

    I haven't repaired the damage yet but hopefully it will be easy to do maybe going in from the inside paneling. About 12-inch back from the rear panel shown here is soft when I push in on the outside paneling.

    Lesson learned here is to always put a tarp over the trailer when when parked for a long time haha...

    My side panel next to the license plate is pulled away an inch or so now but all of the diamond plate panel on the rear and side paneling has not been damaged. I haven't looked inside yet but don't think I have any damage there... waiting for spring to tear into it from the inside...

    Roy Ken
    [​IMG]
     
  16. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    Gray fox , please explane what the hard substance is under the abs coating in the above video? The one the person is scaping against? Your telling me thats a foam core?
     
  17. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    Here's a pic of my own 2000 Santa Fe after I'd cut the intake and output holes for a Carrier AirV I was mounting on the roof. The plugs that came out were ABS top & bottom, foam core in the middle.

    https://photos.google.com/share/AF1...?key=Y0tiYWFzQl8xdGRCRmwwOV90TXBtYlpOZHdRc3VB

    https://photos.google.com/share/AF1...?key=Y0tiYWFzQl8xdGRCRmwwOV90TXBtYlpOZHdRc3VB
     
  18. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    I will say yours dosen't look like it has fiberglass from the pictures. Mine definitely did, and the one in the video looks to be the same. Mine is a 2000 also. But a westlake, maybe because its bigger it needed reinforcement? Or was this when they switched manufacturers?
     
  19. GreyFox

    GreyFox Well-Known Member

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    Interesting read here, particularly if you scroll down the page about 2/3rds to where Fleetwood describes the construction of it's ABS roof.

    http://www.campersolutions.com/home/coleman-abs-roof

    Quote - "Your new Coleman® Folding Trailer by Fleetwood® features a revolutionary new camper top technology that makes it rigid, durable, and seamless. Its . construction consists of a plastic outer skin, approximately .080" thick, a core of injected high-density foam, much like inside a Coleman Cooler, and a plastic inner skin also approximately .080" thick. The plastic skins are a material called ABS, which possesses high impact resistance and easy formability. ABS has been extensively used in the RV business for over twenty years."
     
  20. Sjm9911

    Sjm9911 Well-Known Member

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    That quote came directly from the advertising brochure more or less. I did read the artical a while ago as it was allready quoted by you. It doesn't necessarily mean there is no fiberglass, as i see fiberglass in the roof. So.......
     

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