Dodging bullets

Discussion in 'Camper Restoration Projects' started by bondebond, Apr 21, 2015.

  1. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    I think I have finally dodged a bullet instead of getting hit smack on.

    For years, the exterior walls of my Fleetwood PUP have been bowing outward. At the end of last season, I noticed that the road-side skin had actual come loose at the bottom. Upon further inspection, I discovered the only quality control issue I've had with the Fleetwood to date. When they had screwed the bottom of the exterior panel to the underside of the floor/frame, they didn't push the panel snug up to the frame and so the screw has only a little bit of metal on the edge of the panel. A couple of screw locations had broken through just that little bit of metal along the back.

    As a result, the wheel well was not very snug and would allow water up inside the walls.

    I was imagining the worst when I was finally able to open it up last night and expecting to have to cancel our first camping of the season this weekend because of a full-on rebuild project looming in the works.

    Everything I could see was nice, not rotting or rusting and appeared to be sound.

    I've seen too many threads describing less visible damage only to open up and find a disaster. Phew. I'm sure I'll pay for it some other way.

    I will just make the expected repairs and be done with it tonight. I'm having to replace and upgrade open cell foam Fleetwood used between the panel and the wheel well (what they used is a dern sponge!). I also had to remove a few chunks of foam that Fleetwood had balled up in between the walls to presumably give it support and not flap around too much. They had come loose along with some styrofoam spacers who's glue had failed, causing them to fall down inside the walls and help to further drive the outer panel away from the frame. I removed those as it was not obvious where they went. I did not do a full panel removal as that would involve removing the water heater which I wasn't excited about doing.

    I will reattach the panel by drilling new holes and making sure there's a lot of distance between the hole and the edge of the panel where it wraps under.

    While I'm at it, I've ordered a new outside shower as this one is disintegrating due to exposure and sun. I briefly toyed with the idea of turning it into a cargo hatch door as the cabinet right behind this is where the microwave is housed and has lots of empty space behind it, but we actually do use the outside shower enough to not have it. Or at least I use it enough.

    The thought just occurred to me that while I have it all apart, I should add an external porch light while I have it all apart. Of course, I realize this after the RV places have closed up for the night and I'm putting it all back together tonight...ahh well. Missed MOD opportunity.

    Sorry, this post has no real reason to exist other than to say best to fear the worst and hope for the best when you're facing an issue. It might not be as bad as you think.
     
  2. skeetercampsintexas

    skeetercampsintexas Active Member

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    Glad to hear all is well after your discovery. It's usually the other way around. Like my dad always said....well that's not really appropriate for the site, let's just say it involved bad luck [LOL]
     
  3. Byrd_Huntr

    Byrd_Huntr Well-Known Member

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    That's what routine maintenance [MOD] is all about...catching a minor issue [!] before it becomes a major problem [:!].
     
  4. tigerflier

    tigerflier Member

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    I would love to see any pictures you have with the wall pulled off - I'm headed that way I'm afraid. I discovered that some of the water problems I have are due to broken Pex connections on the back of the outdoor shower (hidden by the microwave). The cabinets have been damaged by the water so the counter tops had to come out (they had additional damage due to the PO leaving the windows open in the rain. [:(O] Anyway, today the sink, fridge, stove/oven, microwave and all counter tops came out. Yes, I think I may be good luck for you - I got your can of worms. When I got ready to put the shower back in (best price I found on a new one was on Ebay) I noticed that the outside skin was very loose and there is no reinforcement for the shower to attach to. Ahh - there it is - down in the wall with assorted foam and wood bits. So i would appreciate any insights you can provide to the mystery of the hollow floppy wall panels. I expect the water heater is coming out tomorrow as I continue my quest to tighten things up.
     

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  5. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    Hey Tigerflier, nice to see another '06 Sequoia out there. I've only run into one other owner in my online travels, and never in the real world. Niagara owners get all of the press, due to the slide out dining.

    I'm sorry to hear about the troubles you're dealing with. Like I said, I was all ready to have to cancel this season's inaugural trip this weekend based on what I would find.

    I wish I could share some pictures but I did not pull the entire exterior panel off. I left it riveted along the top and screwed in at the front as well as screwed in at the water heater. Since I decided not to rebuild or reattach all of the internal bracing that wasn't working anyway, I didn't go into the wall as much as I probably should have.

    From what I saw, Fleetwood used three different things to provide support inside the walls. There are OSB strips glued at a few places but I tend to think most of those were to support where the cabinets attach from the inside, as the interior walls are only 1/4" luan panels. While I believe most of the strips are this, I have found at least three strips that came unglued and had fallen to the bottom inside the walls. I removed these.

    Next, they did glue in some styrofoam strips, as spacers, throughout. Again, I found two of these at the bottom inside and so removed them as well. They showed little sign of anything that might hold them in place so I'm not sure what their purpose was or if it was just a convenient place for the builders to throw scraps. There are styrofoam strips glued all over to act as a spacer between the walls, but there is nothing to draw the outside panel up to the wooden frame or these support strips. I could see nothing anywhere that would serve that purpose. I guess attaching at the top, bottom, front and rear edges was all that's needed on a 14.5' x 3.5' piece of thin steel. I wish they had use aluminium like they did on the roof as I now have to address some holes that need filling in, see below.

    Third, they used balled up mattress foam to possibly put pressure to push the outside wall out a little to stop possible rattles. I found at least three of these and they were in spots where the exterior wall was bulging out significantly. I removed them as well.

    In reattaching the bottom, I pushed the exterior wall in and gained almost an inch more of where the thin steel wall attaches to underneath the frame. I hope the person building mine was on sick leave the day they put your walls on. This, I should have and can still take pictures of. They put the screws through the wall underneath so close to the edge that the screws actually only come about half way from the edge of the wall. It tore out in at least three screw locations. So I drilled new holes in the wall further back from that edge and screwed them back into the existing holes in the frame. I'll need to do the curbside wall as well and will probably break into it some as it exhibits the same bulging behavior, especially around the refrigerator.

    I did open up the corner on the back side. I took the corner trim piece off. After you pull off the vinyl cover strip, it is held on by screws and then some really nice, white butyl tape. It stays more pliable than the gray and tan butyl tapes that I have. I wish I could find some more of it but no luck and I'm wrapping up on this project ASAP.

    I am also replacing my exterior shower as it has not aged well in the sun. I had painted the door a few years back with Krylon Fusion and I think that helped to slow down the process but it's just time. Thankfully, it hadn't failed like what you're looking at.

    I will say, do paint the black holding tank vent cover with some Fusion (spray paint specifically for plastics) as that piece is harder to source. It will help slow down the deterioration.

    I will also send you a PDF of the Fleetwood '06 Highlander series repair manual. It has pretty much every single part, with isometric diagrams. Except for no measurements, you could use it to build a new PUP. Send me a PM if I forget as it is on the home computer.

    Did your water leak get all the way across the hallway and into your sink cabinets or is that from a different leak? One of these days (ha) I want to replace the countertops with a solid surface or something else. The counter top edges have swollen a little from water exposure, especially around the sink.

    And thanks for sharing the pictures. I notice that your vinyl striping on the exterior is doing the exact same thing as mine. The top and bottom strips are faring pretty well but the burgundy strip is peeling and cracking just like mine. I'm tempted to go to my local shop and see is they can get a decent match, as that burgundy strip really highlights the color of the burgundy vinyl tenting material.
     
  6. tigerflier

    tigerflier Member

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    Thanks for sharing the insights bondebond. I sourced some replacement luan panels with the vinyl for the interior but upon further examination I think my interior panels are OK. I am going to make some reinforcements for the metal seat frames as they are only supported mid span by a screw into the luan panel. Not very beefy. In three places the screws have come out and allowed the metal frame to sag.

    I don't know the true history of my Sequoia - I bought it from an estate type situation and the person selling it didn't know much about it. I bought it without doing all the things you are supposed to do in a prebuy inspection expecting it would need some work.

    I think the A/C is leaking but it could be the center seam. I haven't tracked it down yet. May end up taping the seam like you did. There is a leak beyond the shower though because I haven't hooked the water up yet so it should have dried out if there weren't other issues.

    I noticed today that I have the same issue you had with the metal pulling away from the wheel well so that water can get inside the wall cavity. I'm considering using some spray foam to tie the exterior wall to the interior. I have used that when I was building a house to brace the back side of the shower enclosures - just have to be careful not to put too much or it will make it bow out when it expands. I also have the same situation you described with the screws along the bottom exterior panel barely catching the metal.

    I'm taking lots of pictures and plan to do a full write up once I have something positive to show - right now everything is moving backward. Oh btw, I have a copy of the the parts manual already but thank you for offering to share. It is helpful.
     
  7. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    I would caution against using the expanding foam to help anchor around the wheel well. For situations where there's vibrations such as going down the road, I've seen it break loose after a while. I would hate to see you get a false sense of "problem resolved" and discover later what I've discovered.

    My answer wasn't any better than what Fleetwood did except I used much thicker foam that goes around window AC units that is 1.25"x1.25" by however long it was, which was plenty. I also used the same foam to replace the aging foam right under the lifter posts where there's a notch cut in the bottom lip of the exterior panel. I used E6000 adhesive to hold it in place. Fleetwood had used some double-sided tape that was also deteriorating and giving up. Let me know what you come up with.
     
  8. Dubbya

    Dubbya Wherever you go, there you are...

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    There's no such thing as the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, Santa or a missed mod opportunity! [LOL]

    Amen to your last statement, it's not always as bad as you might think, sometimes it's worse! [LOL] [LOL]
     

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