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To Reseal or Not to Reseal, that is the question...


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1997 caravan, no signs of dampness (though no damp test for a few years). Got a service coming up, but assuming it's reasonably dry, any value in proactively resealing the rails? The 24-year old sealant is looking a bit dry and wrinkly, but I can see the logic behind "if it ain't broke...".  On the other hand, water's going to get in some day, sneakily. So are we better to renew the sealant?

 

If I do tackle it, it'll be a DIY job. I've done railings on another 'van before (not so good to start with, better with experience).

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Thorough damp test possibly with your own meter first?

There is a market for a system which will fill up the "dry and wrinkly" areas and restore them.

If you add Captain Tolleys, it may indicate any areas where water is penetrating (or about to) it will seek out any tiny gaps and seal them but if it continues to soak in, you know you have a leak.

Otherwise, a thorough reseal (providing the rails are sealed with a non-setting compound (so you can get the rails off without damage) not bonded with an adhesive type sealant which may require new rails as well) would hopefully allow the van to continue to provide good service.

Al just my opinion, of course ;-)

Edited by DougS
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No right answer to this. The caravan is probably worth more to you than its retail value so the decision, may be more down to how you feel about the caravan. 

As someone else does the service, I take it you would pay someone to reseal it and that could be expensive. I would ask the engineers advice on how things look and make a decision after that. 

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A dozen or so years ago this very question was asked on this forum.    At the time, a young lady from one of the manufacturers -  maybe it was  Bailey - who monitored the forum replied.   Her reply was that unless water ingress was apparent, it was best to leave well alone.

Citroen C5-X7 Tourer+Avondale Rialto 480/2
https://jondogoescaravanning.com

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Thanks, @Wildwoodand @Jaydug. The service will just include a damp check, not any repair - if it comes back showing all dry, following Bailey caravan's advice looks sensible. I'd read back several years to see if this question had come up before, but hadn't got near "a dozen or so years ago" :-) Great memory, Jaydug!

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18 hours ago, Jaydug said:

A dozen or so years ago this very question was asked on this forum.    At the time, a young lady from one of the manufacturers -  maybe it was  Bailey - who monitored the forum replied.   Her reply was that unless water ingress was apparent, it was best to leave well alone.

We were told the same. Do not disturb unless leaking. Be aware though, a proper reseal involves removing your awning  rails and roof straps, as new silicone does not stick to old...a big diy job ...

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I had a small leak last week from the overnight storm, only one side and I dug out as much sealer as I could and resealed with sikaflex, the other side looks the same but as there are no signs of a leak I've left it alone.

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  • 2 weeks later...

We had a small water ingress on the front handles of our caravan which is from 1994. The screws of the handles were completely melted away from the rust.  Not knowing if the wood panel was damaged i wanted to remove the front horizontal rail and take a look. It was a big job trying to take out many rusted away small screws. The sealant under the rail was fine and there was no water ingress anywhere else and the wood was in great shape where the handles were. (I guess the water just flowed down towards the inner plywood and did the damage mostly there. )

Had I known how hard it was to remove the old sealant and put a new one i would have never attempted this .:D Plus I am not confident if i did it as good as before. Also the new screws were not holding down to the old holes so i had to drill some new ones. Resealing seems to be an art that should not be underestimated. :)

IMG_9918 2.PNG

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Are stainless steel wood screws so expensive that you cannot use them on a £20k+ caravan? 

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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1 hour ago, WispMan said:

Are stainless steel wood screws so expensive that you cannot use them on a £20k+ caravan? 

Did I miss someone mentioning a 20k caravan on this thread? :-(...though I only scanned it

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2 hours ago, charlieboy2608 said:

Did I miss someone mentioning a 20k caravan on this thread? :-(...though I only scanned it

I think @WispMan is asking a rhetorical question of caravan manufacturers in general rather than anything specific to a van mentioned in this thread.

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It annoys me when members have problems with awning rails due to rusting screws when SS screws are a tiny extra cost. 

It was rhetorical as it seems to indicate that manufacturers don't care and put very little thought into what they are doing. Especially on a very expensive product stored outside all year end. 

Graham

Unless otherwise stated all posts are my personal opinion 

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I totally agree WispMan. I did have stainless steel screws used in fixing my awning rails and roof straps. The van is 12 years old this year and the last couple of years has seen damp in very localised areas at annual services. I have had time to get the remedial action done before much damage was done.  However, I traced the cause of the main leak to a non-stainless screw beneath the rail, it had rusting away leaving a hole. This screw was likely to be for securing the roof the the wall a bit like a tack weld before the rail was attached, so why oh why not stainless? It's the little things in life that impress or really grind your gears.

 

My advice is to leave well alone but,... do check it all regularly so that when it does eventually let water in, you get the repair done quickly.

 

Dave.

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I asked this question a few years ago and the Bailey lady's advice was quoted then too, but I have issues with that. Firstly caravan manufacturers offer a limited period water ingress warranty - for a reason, secondly any sealant has a life expectancy after which it WILL eventually fail (polyurethane sealants normally five to ten years, silicon normally around twenty) and third and most important by the time you detect water ingress the damage inside the panel has already begun and it's a massive job to reverse that. 

 

For many caravanners this is not an issue as they will never own vans of sufficient age to consider resealing them. If like me you do and you want to protect it then resealing is a serious consideration. It is not difficult, but it is time consuming. Don't attempt it all in one go. The most common point of sealant failure is the awning rail itself, people attach the awning then tension it to within an inch of it's life - all that pressure goes straight to the rail and the sealant so start with that. Use a cheese wire to cut the old sealant, and wooden wedges to keep the rail from reattaching to the sealant. Be careful handling the rail, it is soft and will want to fold up on you. Have a second pair of hands ready to help move it. 

 

Remove all old sealant, this is really important. Scrape what you can, then use methylated spirit to get rid of the rest, then wipe over with isopropyl alcohol to remove the spirit residue - again very important as otherwise the new sealant will not stick, and the residue will last for months unless properly removed. 

 

Sikaflex 512 is the sealant of choice, it is a non hardening adhesive sealant with excellent elasticity and flexibility. Never reuse old screws, new stainless screws are not that expensive if you source them carefully and buy in volume. If you have a tinned roof where the tin sheet is folded over the outer wall roll it flat, don't be tempted to hammer it, as it will be quite fragile and impact can cause it to fracture. Use a seam roller to flatten it out before applying the new sealant. 

 

Manufacturers work to a cost, hence the issue of corroded screws because they will not pay the extra for stainless. Likewise the sealant they use will not be anywhere near as good as the sikaflex. All to save a few quid. If done properly the new seals on your van will be far superior to the manufacturer's original. 

Edited by PMW
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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

 

 

Experience is something you acquire after you have an urgent need for it.

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Thanks for the advice, all. I resealed the (leaking) awning rail on an old Avondale previously, complete with rusted/decaying screws, so know how long it can take.

For our present Bailey, despite its age, we'll go for "if it ain't broke...", but we'll be even more careful to monitor for damp.

Cheers!

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