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Front window fixing


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We've just arrived at our caravan and noticed one of the screws above the front window is sticking partially out. We've had the caravan for 1.5 years and I can only presume it was like this when we got it.  Anyway the channel it holds on appears loose and I was going to put the screw back in but was wondering if anyone knows if the channel is sealed to the caravan? If so then I presume I'll have to remove the whole thing and reseal the full length in which case a trip to a diy store is required

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I believe that this rail is sealed onto the caravan front with a flexible sealant and the screws are a mechanical means of holding it there.

The sealant prevents rain from entering via the screw holes and is applied along the rails length.

Others will be along shortly to recommend the correct sealant for the job ;-)

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I thought the may be the case, hopefully somewhere like Screwfix may have a suitable sealant

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Unfortunately what you have found is a familiar problem with Elddis/Buccaneer caravans. The weight of the windows and caravan flexing break the seal between the window rail and the caravan panel, this allows the 4 x screws to work loose and unfortunately water then enters the front panel core and can cause all sorts of problems. The screw would unlikely have been like that since you bought it 1.5 years ago.

You can reseal it yourself and you can purchase Soudal Fix-All white sealant from Screwfix which will be ideal for this job.

You will however need to remove all 3 front windows, remove the window hinge rail (it will likely be loose at the ends but still fixed in the centre), clean the rail and the caravan front panel of ALL existing sealant, drill 2 more screws in the ends of the hinge bar, drill the holes in the front panel just a tad larger than the fixing screws, apply a good bed of sealant to the hinge bar and then refit slightly larger and longer stainless steel screws. Sounds simple enough but quite a big job - I know as I have done it on 2 out of our 3 caravans, including the current one.

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Many thanks for the in-depth instructions, can I ask approx how long you would expect this to take. I'm here until Saturday so I'll have to put some time aside.

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An AWS engineer friend and I did it in a morning. You will really need 2 people to help remove and re-fit the windows themselves. The bit which will take the longest is cleaning the old adhesive off the caravan panel and the rail itself - but that is a 1 man job and best done in heat of the day.

Are you fairly DIY minded?

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Many thanks, yes I'm very good with DIY. Last year I ended up replacing the aerial and also having to fit rear corner caps to the roof as some hairline cracking was identified during its service which Elddis wouldn't cover under the warranty so I'm happy with tackling it but it's not what I was expecting to do during my time away. Never mind, needs must.

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That’s good Andy then as long as you have a few hours to spare you could definitely do this job yourself and cost will be minimal (8 x s/s screws + 1 tube Soudal Fix-All). Do get help lifting the windows in and out though, they are heavy and awkward and you could drop them of bend the hinge bar if not careful then it becomes a MUCH bigger and v costly job.

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Will do, really appreciate your advice.  I'll let you know how it goes although it's drizzly here now so will have to see how the weather pans out in the good old Lake District.  If I can't guarantee it'll be dry I may have to come back across next week.

Just a thought. I don't really want to remove a screw to see what size it is and possibly create a leak. It's a long shot but you would happen to know what size screws I'll need would you?

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Posted (edited)

If you cant refit the awning rail then can I strongly recommend you buy a tube of the Soudal or similar sealant, remove each screw one at a time and apply a bead of sealant along its length and refit it as it is these 4 x a screw holes which allow the water in. Soudal Fix-All will seal and set even under water so no problem if drizzling but easier and nicer if dry. Once you have done this you can carry our the reseal at your leisure. The screws will still come out as the sealant is flexible but it will prevent the ingress of water. The replacement s/s screws could be No4 x 1’’ or 1.25”.

Peel back the window aperture rubbers inside, the inner timber core should be light in colour and dry (if you have a moisture meter). You could find moisture however so be prepared to hold the window aperture rubbers ‘back’ to allow air to circulate to dry it out, with some cut up fingers of plywood/hardboard or similar. I really hope there is no moisture ingress already.

When I refitted my rail I modified it so water less able to get passed the fixing screws as long as the rail stays sealed to the front of the van, i also fitted a small ‘spoiler’ to throw water off the curved sunroof over the rail rather than onto it. Some have a strip of heroism strip to cover the screw heads but it will not keep water out and in my opinion could possibly have held water in and made ingress  more likely. 

 

Edited by VOLVOVANNER
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Will do and I'll check the screw size out when I remove them,  many thanks 👍

I've just had a look behind the seals and whilst I haven't got a moisture meter I'm a Chartered Building Surveyor and it looks bone dry to me so that's a massive relief. Really appreciate all of the advice

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13 minutes ago, Andy2504 said:

Will do and I'll check the screw size out when I remove them,  many thanks 👍

I've just had a look behind the seals and whilst I haven't got a moisture meter I'm a Chartered Building Surveyor and it looks bone dry to me so that's a massive relief. Really appreciate all of the advice

You are v welcome, i would much rather sort these things myself than get dealers involved - but I do have the ability.

I am so pleased for you that there doesnt appear to be any damp in it.

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Do the individual windows not lift out separately by removing any gas struts, then lifting the window as far open as it will go, then it lifts off the hinge bar?

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37 minutes ago, JCCD said:

Do the individual windows not lift out separately by removing any gas struts, then lifting the window as far open as it will go, then it lifts off the hinge bar?

They do and the outer 2 are fairly easy but the middle one is the problem as it is heavy and has to be lifted quite high to get it to disengage from the hinge bar plus when you re-fit it has to be lined up perfectly or will not go back in the bar properly - lower it like that and the hinge bar can bend so really a 2 man job. Release the struts from the window with a small wire/Allen key/match or similar in the hole in the fixing attached to the window and the stays come away easily.

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After a day walking in the fells where it's been on and off rain I'm not going to risk repairing it while I'm here and will go back when it's going to be dry. I have however been to Screwfix for sealant and sealed the screws so hopefully all will be good until the decent weather returns.

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3 hours ago, Andy2504 said:

After a day walking in the fells where it's been on and off rain I'm not going to risk repairing it while I'm here and will go back when it's going to be dry. I have however been to Screwfix for sealant and sealed the screws so hopefully all will be good until the decent weather returns.

Excellent, yes should be fine temporarily now Andy.

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I'm definitely not having much look with the caravan at the moment. During the night I felt 2 drips of water land on me. On reviewing this morning, whilst the timber in the roof is dry there was water around the screw that holds the inner frame on. I've opened the roof light to have a look and the frame where the middle hinge is located is cracked as well as in a couple of other places.  I'm presuming this will need a whole new roof window? I'm thinking in the short term of gunning some of the sealant I bought for the front windows into the crack to hopefully give a short term seal.

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Unfortunately Andy this is all so  common with Elddis caravans. Take photos to send to you dealer and get a  warranty claim in. 

 

It's a known problem and even if your van is older than the 3 years the standard warranty would cover i would be pressing them with a claim.

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Unfortunately I don't have a car suitable for towing it back to the dealer and so it was more financially viable to purchase the replacement outer frame which i've now done so hopefully I'll have it by the middle of next week and I can then get on to fitting it. It is really annoying though!

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Andy, yes this is a common problem with vans of your ere unfortunately. I did the same when my Heki frame cracked ie bought another new frame and had my local AWS engineer fit it. If you are going to fit it though there is a potential problem and that is the reason the frame has cracked is the sealant is too ‘strong’ and allows little flexing of the frame and so it cracks - this will cause you big issues when you come to remove it though as the adhesive is vvvvv strong. Took the AWS engineer several hours to cut the old one out.

Yes in meantime apply some of the sealant to the crack to keep water at bay. A bead inside and outside is good (pull the vents off the inner frame and undo the screws to remove). If you bought Soudal Fix All then this will seal even Nader water so you could do it even in wet conditions.

 

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All temporary sealed now and thank goodness the roof timbers are dry. I have filled the cracks with Soudal Fix All and also gone over the top with some Gorilla Crystal Clear Tape that coincidentally I only brought to the van on this trip as I had it lying around at house and thought it may be useful, anyone would think I'd known there was going to be a leak!  One query regarding how strong the sealant is, I purchased Soudal Fix All High Tack should I be getting some of the Crystal or even Flexi although Screwfix don't have the latter?

 

 

 

 

 

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Fix-All High Tack is fine, used it for years, nice product to use, comes with a screw on cap so you can use again but may have to clear out the tip of the nozzle first. I find this lasts out in the elements better than Sikaflex, and I have used both quite extensively.

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I visited the caravan today and completed both jobs. I thought I was doing well when the front window only took 1.5hrs to complete although getting the roof light outer frame off the roof was another matter, it took me 3.5hrs in total to fully complete the roof light. For anyone else who needs to complete these jobs I can highly recommend a plastic scraper and lots of spare blades, it certainly made both jobs easier when removing the old sealant although the roof light still wasn't a walk in the park. I also used several snap of razor blades removing the outer frame. Anyway I'm pleased they're both now completed and many thanks to those who provided the much needed advice along the way.

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I see suggestions of drilling extra holes in the window bar which is a good idea, can anyone tell me if there is timber along the full length so you can add extra screws anywhere ??

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My AWS engineer fixed 2 x additional screws each end above the outer front windows and they definitely fixed solidly into the timber baton behind the panel - I am fairly sure that timber runs all the way across the window - on a 2018 Bucceneer anyway.

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