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Newbie With An Old Van Here


Mooma
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Hi

 

Posted an introduction on Sunday, popped back onto that thread, as requested, to add some photos earlier today and am now back to ask a few newbie questions, if I may?

 

We've just bought our first caravan, a 1979 Eccles Topaz. It's in fantastic condition, having been loved and really well looked after, as well as being dry stored for years, but I still have a couple of questions.

 

First off, obviously the van is completely dry, as it's been dry stored for 15 years plus. There are none of the tell-tale signs of damp, the interior is in amazing condition, including all the corners and inside the seats and lockers and the meter gave out nothing but happy readings too. However, I am aware that despite this, the sealant will have dried and become cracked over time and is therefore liable to allow water in once we take it out of it's nice dry, cosy home. We have paid to continue dry storing it for now, as it would be a travesty to allow such a lovely van to develop damp after being so well looked after all it's life and with Autumn/Winter coming on, we felt that was the safest option.

 

So, would you advise a complete removal and reseal of everything as a preventative measure and if so, which areas would you recommend we prioritise? We've done a fair bit of research and are now au fait with how to do it and my oh is fairly handy, having kept, restored and maintained VW campers for 20 odd years, so I think we would be able to tackle it ourselves.

 

Secondly it looks as if the rooflight has been clipped at some point. It has some tape on the top and a piece of dowel that would appear to have been put there to hold it down. So, we need to source new one. Any advice on the best place to source one and also how to measure it properly to make sure we get the right size?

 

Finally, the only place, other than the skylight, where there's damage is above and inside the door. I think it looks like water may have got in around the door seal at some point, although as the damage appears to be above the door frame, I'm wondering whether it's actually the awning rail that's let the water in. (I've attached photo so you can see what I mean.) As you can see, there's also a lot of damp staining to the inside of the door itself too, although this is intact and not at all warmed or lumpy and the floor inside the doorway is totally sound. Any advice suggestions on a possible cause and how we should go about sorting this would be greatly appreciated.

 

Many thanks. :)

post-69614-0-60019300-1410874024_thumb.jpg

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Welcome to another oldie, the inside of our door is also stained but we soon realised it was due to having the door open when it rained :) as for resealing we are great believers in if it does not leak leave it alone till you have a problem ours is a 1967 and still going strong

2009 Volvo XC90 - mine

2003 Vauxhall Astra estate - hers

1968 Volvo Amazon estate - ours

1967 Cheltenham Nyala - ours

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Hi and thank you for replying.

 

Not sure if my post was too long and I should have broken it down into separate posts for different questions or people don't know what to advise.

 

I suppose the problem is we don't know whether or not it leaks, because it's been dry stored and only used for 2 weeks each summer for at least the last 15 years, so there hasn't been a time when it's been exposed to the elements enough to leave evidence of ingress.

 

I think we've decided to just keep it dry stored until next summer and think again about the resealing at that point - although we definitely want to use it for a festival we attend annually in May and if the weather next year is anything like it was this year, that will be a real test of if it's water tight or not! :lol:

 

Any suggestions as to what we can do about the skylight. I think the whole thing may need to be replaced as the cover is cracked and currently sealed with tape and theres a piece of dowelling tied onto the handles, braced against the ceiling, I assume to hold it down, which means the mechanism is probably also damaged. I have heard somewhere you can have them made to order, but don't have a clue how to go about it.

 

I know it's for the best, but it's very frustrating having it in storage really, as I can't wait to get stuck in, give it a good clean and really get to grips with what needs doing. Feels very odd having bought a caravan to not actually have it outside the house. We're used to having our VWs on the drive under a cover all year round and being able to tinker with them whenever we had a few spare minutes.

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Hi, I have a late 60's caravan which we converted to sell ice cream and a 1990 one which I use occasionally for short breaks.

 

The one thing I would do is replace the rubber seals around the windows as this is where my damp has got in. (hadnt found this site when I bought my 1990 van)

 

The very old caravan has aluminium window frames and real glass and as we dont want to use them as opening windows (although we wanted to keep them in so that it kept its vintage look) we used sealant to stop any water getting in.

 

You will need to deal with things as you find them, unless you are also going to dry store it and never go out in the rain ;), just remember that where you find some damp patches its very rarely the same place as where the water is getting in.

 

Good luck, it will be worth the effort and you will have some great times in it.

"Mavis" 1992 Elddis Force 2 towed by 2011 Vauxhall Meriva 1. 7 CDTi - Just me and my dog

“Dogs come into our lives to teach us about love. They depart to teach us about loss. A new dog never replaces an old dog; it merely expands the heart. If you have loved many dogs, your heart is very big." Erica Jong

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Hi, thanks for replying. :)

 

The windows in our van are single glazed plastic and both the rubber and capping all appearing to be in perfect condition on them all, with no sign of cracking or perishing. Do you think the window rubbers need redoing even if they look in really good condition? We're happy to work our way round a full reseal if those more experienced than us think that's the way to go, but wary of messing with something that doesn't need it and actually causing a problem that wasn't there to begin with.

 

We've learned such a lot just from looking at rather too many damp, smelly vans we viewed before finding this one, so have learned that things like a leaky skylight can mean damp at distant points, depending on where the water tracked it's way through the frame. Other than the inside of the door, there are no damp marks at all, the meter readings were all good and we gave the whole van a really good going over, thoroughly checking in and around all the lockers, cupboards and corners etc and my OH got right underneath to check the chassis, floor and outer corners etc. It's been dry stored for multiple years though, so wouldn't have tested damp when we viewed. There was no damp or fusty smell either, which was encouraging as well as, going by some of the 'dried-out, but actually rotten from being previously damp' vans we've seen, there has always been a lingering smell, even when the seller has done their best to try and air it before we arrived.

 

Love your signature quote by the way. We're big dog lovers too. I'm sure it won't be long before our two hounds manage to scope out the comfiest spots in the van to have a snooze. :D

Edited by Mooma
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My own thoughts would that over the years the sealing on the side awning rails would have hardened so I'd re-seal both sides using stainless steel screws and Sikaflex 512 :

 

http://www. gooutdoors. co. uk/dow-corning-sikaflex-512-camping-adhesive-p130118

 

Industry standard caravan sealer. it's not that there is a leak NOW it's that with hard sealer as soon as you start travelling in the van the movement will cause cracks in old sealer and hence leaks. I believe that there are some on this forum who recommend re-sealing after 10 years max on any caravan.

 

Bit of a messy job but well worth it -and DO NOT use a power screwdriver to replace the screws as it will squeeze too much sealer our of the joints! ( I have done this wrong once myself and been told off by my service engineer and others on this forum for doing it wrong !!)

 

Jim

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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My own thoughts would that over the years the sealing on the side awning rails would have hardened so I'd re-seal both sides using stainless steel screws and Sikaflex 512 :

 

http://www. gooutdoors. co. uk/dow-corning-sikaflex-512-camping-adhesive-p130118

 

Industry standard caravan sealer. it's not that there is a leak NOW it's that with hard sealer as soon as you start travelling in the van the movement will cause cracks in old sealer and hence leaks. I believe that there are some on this forum who recommend re-sealing after 10 years max on any caravan.

 

Bit of a messy job but well worth it -and DO NOT use a power screwdriver to replace the screws as it will squeeze too much sealer our of the joints! ( I have done this wrong once myself and been told off by my service engineer and others on this forum for doing it wrong !!)

 

Jim

 

Thanks Jim

 

That's what my initial thoughts were too, having spent hours reading up online and obsessing over various photographic how-to's.

 

On-balance, I think we'd rather err on the side of caution and reseal, than end up with a leak on a previously bone-dry van. We're praying for an early start to decent weather next year, as we don't have anywhere indoors to work and would really like to have it done before our annual festival rain-fest in May, if possible. Might have to see if we can scope out somewhere to hire temporarily, a bit daft, as we'll then be paying for both storage and workshop space at the same time, but needs must I suppose.

 

Thanks for the tip about power screwdrivers.

 

During my research I've seen the reseal of awning rails done both with just sikaflex and with selant tape, plus sikaflex along the screwline and top and bottom of the rail. Not sure which is better though - any thoughts?

 

Also scratching my head a little about how we'd go about resealing the centre join on the roof without damaging the rest of the roof.

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Thanks Jim

 

That's what my initial thoughts were too, having spent hours reading up online and obsessing over various photographic how-to's.

 

On-balance, I think we'd rather err on the side of caution and reseal, than end up with a leak on a previously bone-dry van. We're praying for an early start to decent weather next year, as we don't have anywhere indoors to work and would really like to have it done before our annual festival rain-fest in May, if possible. Might have to see if we can scope out somewhere to hire temporarily, a bit daft, as we'll then be paying for both storage and workshop space at the same time, but needs must I suppose.

 

Thanks for the tip about power screwdrivers.

 

During my research I've seen the reseal of awning rails done both with just sikaflex and with selant tape, plus sikaflex along the screwline and top and bottom of the rail. Not sure which is better though - any thoughts?

 

Also scratching my head a little about how we'd go about resealing the centre join on the roof without damaging the rest of the roof.

 

My service engineer - a guy with many years working on caravans, uses just Sikaflex as he says it gets in all the nooks and crannys of the joint, whereas tape is more restricted and tends to sit over the joint - So I'm guided by him :) also Sikaflex 512 is an adhesive ( used by the motor trade to fix GRP panels like bumpers etc, onto cars) so having it right through the joint helps to hold the awning rail on as well as the screws when you've an awning attached :D

 

One other joint to look at is (if it applies to your van) the rail that the front windows hang from! I had a bad leak on my Avondale and my little Bro had a leak on his 90's Eldis in the same place!

 

Cheers

 

Jim

Edited by JamesF

"keep your motor running"

caravan: Avondale Avocet ( 2006) - tow car: Renault Laguna (2007) - play car: Mercedes 300SL (1988)

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Thanks again, I've read somewhere else about sikaflex 512 being good for it's adhesive properties (can't think where I read it now though, as I've read so many articles about resealing recently) so definitely more food for thought.

 

We actually thought we'd start off doing a window rail in the first instance, as the process is the same, but nowhere near as big a job as the awning rails and we could use that as a kind of mini practise-run. Depending on how well that goes, we'll then decide to either do more/all of the window rails before until we feel we're capable of tackling the awning rails or just get stuck in and do the awning rails if we aren't too phased by the process.

 

Really appreciate your replies, no amount of reading can substitute good advice based on peoples' actual experiences. :)

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I resealed the rail on my caravan and i used tape on the rail but before fixing the rail on i sealed the join where the roof overlaps the side and the holes where the screws go. Once the rail was on i tightened the screws and the tape was so soft it squeezed out the joins, cleaned this away then over sealed the rail neatly as a secondary measure. (bear in mind i do sealing for a living) so far alls good. Just make sure you clean the rails well before rebedding them.

Volvo XC90 D5 AWD, Lunar Ultima 615,Towing at 62%

 

You have a second chance at life it's called tomorrow!

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Welcome! Mines is also a 1974 wreck that was a project for me and I have a blog with some pics on here.

 

The sealing I took of the rails, scraped all the old stuff away and used 32mm mastic tape behind the rail, then screws then a bead of Soudal along the edges. I did every rail as it was a big project.

 

Loads disagree with me but if we've had an old caravan which we always have done, and it appears dry or is dry we've just went over the rails yearly with seamseal CV. Some say this is just toying but prevention is better than cure in my book! But each to their own.

 

I got a new skylight in a scrapyard that used to have the odd caravan sitting as mine was fine but got broke, then it leaked when first fitted!!

 

It might not be a perfect job and as I say has more nuts, bolts and screws in it than titanic but it;s as dry as a bone and solid!

Compass Shadow 1988

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