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Old 06-05-2013, 05:51 PM   #1
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Replace Dry Section

Title should read, "dry rotted section"
on my 96 Itasca, the lower rear section seems to have had some water damage and now dry rotted.
The section is the rear wall of the MH, the lower section just above the bumper/trailer hitch.
I noticed some evidence of water damage from the inside of the basement storage area, but it all looks like old damage, upon further inspection I found that it was rotted.
It is rotted up from the bottom ~18 inches on the right side and ~12inches on the left, up higher, the panel is solid.
Can't really see where the water got in, as everything up the wall is solid and dry, looks like it either got wet from the bottom or from inside the storage.
So, I will need replace a section of the rear wall, side to side, going up ~24in so I can hide the seam behind the tail light section.
Since the section I have to cut out is plywood with fiberglass laminated on it, what material do I use in my replacement?
I was thinking marine plywood, but what should I paint/coat it with to protect if from the elements?

Thanks.
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Old 06-05-2013, 08:30 PM   #2
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Repairing dry rot

Marine plywood is expensive but will hold up. Maybe you could coat it with Thompsons clear water seal. Any areas with gaps could be filled in with expanding foam insulation. I also used 3M bondo on interior fiberglass. Sold at auto stores. This dries to a very hard waterproof finish. Lexell caulk can be bought at ACE hardwear or online. This is about $8.00 a tube and is worth every penny to seal up any air leaks and to make an area watertight. Best of luck with your repair.
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Old 06-12-2013, 10:20 AM   #3
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For starters, there really is no such thing as "dry rot" in wood. It got wet and rotted and now it is dry. When it gets wet again, it will rot more. If you putty it over with something else, you will still have rotten structure and the associated problems.

First, find out where the water intrusion is and stop that. Then, replace the rotted wood with new wood. You will probably have to cut back more than you thought to get to good wood, but if you don't do that, you will be creating a weak place that can easily fail in the future.

I don't work on wood RVs, I work on boats.

Matt
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Old 06-13-2013, 10:03 AM   #4
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I agree, the term “dry rot” never seemed to make a lot of sense to me, but you are correct, I have water damage that rotted the wood and is currently dry.
As far as finding the source, it is strange, as it has rotted from the bottom up and I can’t find a source for water coming down. There is a small damaged area of the fiberglass which does penetrate to the wood support layer, that may be the point of entry, or the bottom portion of the panel that faces inward on the MH, does not have a fiberglass laminate on it, and perhaps it became compromised and was saturated from water being thrown up by the rear wheels.
My plan is to pull the interior covering, (looks like a vinyl wall covering) off, scope out how much of the panel will have to be removed, and then replace the damaged area with new material, using fiberglass resin and patch to secure the outer fiberglass panel to the new material, and use the same to seal the seam between the existing panel. I will probably add some vertical metal supports to add to the structural strength .
Looks to be a reasonably big job, I think I can get it done.
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Old 06-14-2013, 10:30 AM   #5
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You can get it done and you will be glad that you did the whole job and did it right.

Itasca doesn't make junk, so look for where the damaged occurred that let the water in. The wood rotted at the bottom because water does down (Duh?) and collects at the bottom where it can't drain out.

Yes, you will have to rip it open and the repair may be visible. But if you can stop the water intrusion, it will be repaired and good for a long time.

If you are considering using fiberglass and resin, do not use polyester. PE are just not good a bonding. Use Epoxy. If you don't know a lot about it already get the West System (no relation to West Marine) book(s)and read about fiberglass repairs before you start. Yes, Epoxy is more expensive, but it will be a very small part of the job's over all value.

What ever epoxy you buy, get the measuring pumps. That way you will never have a mix go wrong.

Now, Go Find That Leak.....

Matt
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