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New (Old) Van Questions...


ric71
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Hello all. Ive just posted an initial hi on the new members forum but have a few questions about my new van. Its a 1-owner 92 Abbey Piper 14. 5 5-berth which cost £730! I bought it knowing that it has 2 areas of damp, but the fact that everything else is in great condition plus the low price meant that I couldnt say no. The main area is around the skylight where the roof boarding is spongy for about 2-3 inches around the skylight. The other area is just to the rear of the front door, roughly where the external door clip (to keep it open) is. Here theres a 4 inch x 4 inch area of the internal wall which is slightly soft. Everything else is fine (although Im aware that the damp areas are likely to be significantly larger than the spongy areas).

 

Given our budget, the cost of the van and the fact that I have minimal spare time (what IS that?), getting it fixed professionally is out of the question, and ripping out the boarding and replacing timbers etc is also unlikely to happen (even if I had the skills). My thinking is that, for £730, Id be happy for it to survive 2 or 3 summers before it keels over with exhaustion. By then well know whether the caravan life is for us and invest in something newer.

 

My question is, can I do anything to stall or even cure the rot without resorting to structural repairs? In terms of the skylight (Fiamma I think), I was thinking about dismantling and removing it, replacing seals if they look dodgy, cleaning everything, refitting and sealing. At least that should stop the situation getting worse? If this plan sounds reasonable / sane, is there anything I could do while the skylight is out? Treat any exposed wood with something?

 

The 2nd area of damp is trickier I suspect as theres no easy way to access it without pulling the wall apart. I was thinking of re-sealing the external fittings in that area (door clip, the gutter rail just above the door and the awning rail) and just keep an eye on it. Any other suggestions? Thanks in anticipation. Richard

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The problem with damp is that it always is worse than it first appears, however, given the scenario you describe it seems a sensible option that you have arrived at.

 

As far as the rooflight is concerned it needs removing, then all the old sealant removed from both rooflight and van top and new non setting mastic applying to the base of the rooflight and it being refitted, but depending on how rotten the wooden surround is between the van top and the internal wallboard may present difficulty in securing the rooflight adequately.

 

You could, if possible, ease out the rotten wood and replace with suitable new or reclaimed wood to give better support but the soft internal roof means that it is rotten and should be replaced, it will never dry out and retain its former strength, and a lookout should be kept for black mould which can be detrimental to your health.

 

The door catch can easily be removed,cleaned and new mastic applied,especially in the screw holes, but if the internal wood is rotten you may have problems with screw tightness.

 

As far as the awning rail is concerned, water normally gets in through the fixing screw holes, the screws will have rusted and be letting water past, but removing the rail can be difficult as you do not want to bend it as replacements will not be available.

Again, ideally it needs removing,cleaning and refitting with new sealant and new screws.

 

For the rooflight, IDL99 is ideal. For the other parts, Soudall Fixall is ideal,

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Thanks for your advice Brecon and for taking the time to respond. I'll have a bash over the next couple of weekends and keep you posted on progress.

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I've always had old caravans and although my latest one was a full blown ripped out and rebuilt job the last few i've had if the've been dry or very slight damp i've sealed over ALL the rails and joins on the outside. Some advise against it as it's bodging but prevention is better than cure as far as i'm concerned and you'd be preventing it getting any worse.

Compass Shadow 1988

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Well, in terms of the rooflight, I removed the whole thing for a closer look. Unsurprisingly 2 of the wooden battons that the light mounts onto are slightly rotten. Other 2 look OK. The rot goes to a depth of about half cm, the battons being about 2. 5 cm thick. Lightly lifting the exterior aluminium reveals the lattice of woodwork beyond is OK. I removed as much of the old sealant as possible and cleaned with white spirit. I then applied a bead of idl99 to the roof and another to the underside of the light. After brushing off the lose wood I applied some wood hardener before screwing the whole thing back together. My intention is to replace the wooden frame later in the year or spring which looks fairly straightforward without removing too much of the van. Anyone see any madness in my method :)? Also, I'd really like to apply another bead of sealant around the edge of the fitted rooflight but not sure how to access the roof from outside without creating a me-shaped secondary rooflight? Thanks in anticipation.

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Sounds fine to me! I've sealed all around the skylight - well got someone else to as I dont want a me shaped skylight either and couldn't reach the back. I rebuilt the caravan roof and walls so know it's strong but still, hate ladders! but the back bit was done carefully though and was fine.

 

The timber I used was 2x1 as that's what i took out - what I was able to measure on the very few non rotten bits! :lol::lol:

 

My current caravan is a project and I have a blog on here about it with pics if you fancy a read. Not perfect but now 100% dry and solid with more nuts, bolds and screws than titanic and the Forth Road Bridge put together! :lol:

Compass Shadow 1988

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  • 4 weeks later...

Just another query re resealing awning rail, trim etc: Given the age of the van, I think it would be best to NOT disturb the old sealant on the awning rails and other trim. Would you advise removing any visible old sealant with a Stanley knife and use silkaflex over it? I'm just concerned that removing the parts will open up more problems for the future? Hope you can help.

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It's up to you but I personally agree with you, if the wood isn't spongy or anything behnd the rails i'd leave them intact and do exactly as you say by scraping away the old sealant and resealing over them.

 

If you take the rails off which is hard without bending them, then find an area of damp, you'll also need to strip and replace the section as you will need something to screw the rail into which could uncover more problems whereas if it's undisturbed and not spongy inside it will eventually dry with the resealing.

 

When you do reseal whatever way you do it don't reseal under the rail as if any water manages to creep in any tiny bits it can only go one way and that's inside the caravan whereas if it;s not sealed underneith it will run or drip outside the caravan and you will be able to pinpoint where the leak is.

 

I don't know if you've seen my blog on my current rebuild / caravan but I was doing the usual bit DIY on mine and on the offside I was cleaning and found a bit of a drip coming from under the top rail but as it's not sealed under there it just dripped down the side of the caravan which was fine so that will be getting a tad sealant soon!

 

It can be done, i've had loads of old cheap caravans as we only use them for eating and sleeping in and we're almost at the end of our second season in the rebuild. It's actually overbuilt and has more nuts, bolds and screws than the titanic plus it cost me about £500 IN total as there's always someone having a clearout of wood and any other bits! :lol:


This is mine here, it's not pretty or professional but it's solid! and is pretty now! :D Saved from caravan heaven! but there's an idea of the woodwork inside it too which may be of use!


http://www. caravantalk. co. uk/community/blog/9-abi-target-project/

Compass Shadow 1988

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