Truck Camper Restoration Project - Part 3
On April 9th I started to remove the windows from the camper. The reason for the leakage was obvious, a non-durable foam tape had been used as the means of sealing the window within the opening. Alas, the previous owner had not opted to remove the windows and apply a better sealing solution, but instead applied silicone caulk around the entire frame of the windows. Not to be too pointed about this, but caulking the underside of a window frame like that leads me to believe that said previous owner was in that "Einstein" category of folks. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea, but trapping the water in the bottom of the window frame was a time-delayed recipe for disaster.
Scraping old window sealant off the window frames and old silicone caulk off the walls of the camper had my fun meter pretty much pegged on zero. Finding suitable solvents to remove the residues of these sealants took some experimentation. In the end I think that I used 90% isopropyl alcohol on the window foam and acetone on the silicone caulk.
While common wisdom has it that the Fibercore construction used in the older Bigfoots is impervious to water infiltration, I'm here to say that it just ain't so. Beneath the gelcoat fiberglass skin is a layer of marine plywood that can and will soak up water and de-laminate if given the right conditions. Due to the caulk under the windows, my camper had those conditions and I had to inject adhesive into the voids and clamp the walls of the camper around the windows in order to bond everything back together again.
I opted to use Eternabond to seal up the window frames. Yes, I know that there will be penance to be done if they ever have to be removed again, but I wanted a sealant that would last. Folks think that butyl lasts forever, again it's not true, as I found out later when removing screw strips. The photos don't show it, but I also added rain gutters above the windows after they were re-installed. It took me until the 22nd of April to get the windows reinstalled due to a couple of lost weekends due to other obligations.
Tom - KK8M -Warren, Michigan
MI Licensed Electrician, ISA Level 2 Certified I&C Tech, UL Certified PV Installer, Organic "Olla Irrigation" Gardener and bona fide Schlepper