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Old 09-21-2010, 10:29 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 14
Roof project before winter.

Hi all,

Although my camper isn't "vintage", I'm posting this here as roof repair is more common in vintage trailers.

Anyways, I had posted awhile back with a couple questions on roof repair. AT this point I'm looking to start tackling the project before the snow flies.

As I've never worked with a rubber roof before, I'm not sure where to break the seam(s)? Also, I was thinking of using thin plywood to redo the ceiling panels. I don't know if this is practical or not, so anyone who's done this, chime in! Or is there anywheres I can buy FRP panels?

Thanks, Mark

Forgot to mention, if it matters, the trailer in an 23ft. 00 Salem Lite 5th wheel

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Old 09-23-2010, 09:48 PM   #2
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Workhorse Chassis Owner
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 235
Just did my entire roof this summer!

as for your replacement panels, plywood will work if you can find it thin enough. IMO, if it aint seriously tore up, don't mess with it! once you get your rubber roof off you'll understand more. there is "sheet metal" that runs front to back on both sides, it makes for a nice curve from your wood roof to your fiberglass sides. this is a total pain to take off JUST to replace the wood, but if it has to be, then it has to be, just make sure and mark your metal pieces for where they go and how much overlap each one has.

As for your vents/frames. There are going to be a TON of screws... i'm sure youve seen the posts about people doing their carpet and complaining about the staples in the pad... well their staples are going to be your screws! once the screws are out it will probably be easier to take a razor knife and just cut a big square around your vents and just lift the whole thing off. Deal with cleaning all the Butyl tape and Dicor putty off later. Also be sure to mark your wires for your power vent if you have one, mixing those up are a paint to deal with later! Your A/C is going to be heavy, don't try and take it off of your roof unless you have a hoist of some sort, i just moved mine to the front of my class A and let it sit on the "forehead" of the RV.

As you start to tear your rubber off, start from the rear and work forward, once you get to the front, you will notice that the rubber tucks underneath the fiberglass front (the forehead). Just use your box blade and cut it off at the very edge of the forehead. Oh yeah, i forgot to mention that you also need to undo the drip edge on both sides including the edge that holds your awning fabric to the trailer and you will also have to undo the awning arm lag bolts if they go to the roof area as well.

Once you have removed everything, cleaned it all up best you can (don't worry about the old glue on the wood (if you don't replace it) it will not hurt anything mixing with the new glue) get your roll of rubber roofing up ontop and unroll the whole thing starting at the front. this is best to have 2 people as you will learn quickly! unroll it and make sure it is square! if it ain't square by the time you get to the rear gluing it down you will be off and it won't fit no more, once this glue goes down and gets tacky... there is no "oops" available!
Make sure and overlap the front of the forehead by about 12" if available, once it is all laid out and straight, take a perm. marker and your helper and go over the roof VERY SLOWLY and mark out where all your holes are! i will promise you that you will step in atleast one while you are up there, so the better marked the better off your safety is. I stepped in one and instant reaction from the two of us was to grab, luckily he saw it coming and already had his hand on my arm! man what a scary feeling it is!! lol

once it is all rolled out, square, and holes are marked, measure about 2' of excess off the rear and cut the rest off (you'll prolly have about 10' or so extra). once its cut off, have your helper roll it back upto the front and prepare to apply glue. When gluing, have 2 paint rollers with long handles. use one to apply the glue and use the other ontop of the rubber to push out all the bubbles. we applied glue to a 4' section by the width of the rv at a time, once the glue is put down (don't be scared to use it!) we would unroll the rubber and then use the other paint roller to roll it out smooth and work the bubbles out, getting the air bubbles out is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART up to this step! keep repeating what i just discussed until you get to the rear. make sure to apply plenty of glue around the areas where the vents will be as you will be cutting some of this and don't want any part to lift up when cutting. also, make sure to get some of the glue onto that sheet metal curve as well, not to much to run down the side of the trailer, but enough to "tack" it there. once you have done the entire roof front to back and side to side and are sure that there are no bubbles in the roof, GET OFF... if you walk on it your footing will for sure cause bubbles somewhere, its just the way we walk that will cause it, so get off the roof and let it dry for about 2 hours (2 hours applies if you are in 100 degree direct sunlight where it can dry quickly). if you are patient enough, let it dry overnight.

After it is dry it only get trickier. get back on the roof and start at the front. last time your rubber went under the forehead, well that front strip that holds the forehead down... take that off and lay it back ontop of the rubber roof, make sure the rubber roof is tight and that strip is right at the edge of the forehead, apply a layer of butyl tape to the bottom of it and anchor it down with screws, don't worry about the butyl tape squeezing out from under it yet, we'll get to that part, just worry about keeping the roof taught and the metal strip as straight as possible. WORK FROM THE CENTER OUT!!! once the front is done, start on one of the sides. have your helper hold opposite end of the side strip up from a ladder while you hang over the top. MAKE SURE THAT EVERYTHING YOU PUT ON THIS ROOF HAS BUTYL TAPE BEHIND IT if you don't, i can assure you IT WILL LEAK! anyway, pull the roof taught and attach the side stripfrom front to back, do not skip any holes or you will regret it by the time you come back to them! once the sides are done you can go to the rear. you and helper stay off of the roof and be on ladders if possible. pull the roof very tight and apply the rear strip just like you did the front strip working from center outward. you now should have one smooth, bubble free beautiful tight roof... so perfect you don't even want to put the top stuff back on! TOO BAD! LOL grab your box knife and head to your holes. find each corner of the vent hole and cut from corner to corner making an X out of it. I forgot to mention while you are putting your rubber on, if you have vent pipes that stick up above the wood, as your applying your glue, lay rubber over pipe and cut a small X and force the rubber over the pipe so it stays tight! Anyway, do this to all your holes (or as many as you know you're going to cover that same day! I did all of them and sure enough it rained overnight into an open hole!! STUPID! once all of your holes are cut, put your A/C unit back on first! make sure you got a new A/C gasket, don't even think about using your old one! once your a/c is on and tight, grab your vents, while you were waiting for your roof to dry you should have used that time to clean all the butyl tape and dicor putty off of these or just bought new ones, once you get them cleaned up, hit them with a new shot of paint (white) to match your roof or get a rattle can of whatever color to match your RV. put butyl tape around these and set them on the roof. HUGE NOTE: WHEN PUTTING THESE BACK ON THE ROOF, HAVE YOUR HELP GO INSIDE AND PUT THE INSIDE PART UP IN THE HOLE TO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE VENTS CENTERED! IF NOT THERE WILL BE TROUBLE LATER! ESPECIALLY YOUR POWERVENT!! once you are sure you have it centered, suck it down with the screws, again, don't worry about the butyl tape yet. do the same thing for your skylight of your shower.

Ok, so now you have a beautiful roof all scuffed up from your shoes while you were walkin around all day. you have all your vents on, refer cover, skylight, and A/C back on your roof... now you get to have fun for a while! take a PLASTIC kitchen knife and go around trimming your butyl tape EVERYWHERE! the better you clean it up the better it will look later. once all your butyl tape is cleaned up get your Dicor Putty and start applying. I was told 1 tube of Dicor to every vent. that should put it into perspective of how much to use. DO NOT BE SCARED TO PUT THIS ON!! this is what seals off all your holes and makes your roof leak proof, you wouldn't short your engine on oil after changing it, don't short your roof on Dicor! this stuff will self-settle and look nice and "fluffy" after it settles. try not to get this crap on your hands as its like a hot marshmallow at a fire... it will stick and smear to everything and it hurts like crazy when it balls up in your arm hair!! apply this to everything! your front and back strips, side strips, all your vents, antenna, skylight, NOT YOUR A/C. if you didn't clean up your butyl tape very good, this stuff will start to bubble really bad DO NOT TOUCH IT it will settle itself over time (about a week) so just make sure you clean up good and it won't bubble and it will all seal up over about 36hrs. Now that this is all done, you can put your awning back on (if you took the arms off cause they were on the roof, use butyl tape before running the lag bolts in and try and get a bit bigger bolts cause the old holes might be a bit stripped out. i did not put dicor over them and so far no problems.

after your awning is back on and fabric is installed.... sit back and have a beer (if you didn't take care of that while working) cause you're going to need it! also, once your done you'll understand why they charge about $16/sq. ft. to do this crap!

if you have any further questions, feel free to ask or shoot me an email as i can reply to those from my phone during the day. once i have your email, i can send you pictures of my completed roof. it was to freakin hot the 2 days i did it so taking pictures was not even thought of! dying of dehydration was a better option, especailly with that sun bouncing off that white!!!


"Now why would you want to do something like that?" - My Dad
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Old 09-29-2010, 09:08 PM   #3
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Thanks Chris, for the detailed post! I appreciate all the info. I've started pricing out FRP panels for the ceiling as well as wood for the roof (rafters).

If anyone else has anything to add, feel free to give any further advice. Thanks!
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Old 10-01-2010, 09:11 PM   #4
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Workhorse Chassis Owner
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 235
sorry so long for a reply, been packing and on the road up here to Nebraska to help dad with fall harvest.

Anyway... not sure what your "rafters" are made of, but mine are aluminum. i'm sure someone can chime in on your specific setup here especially being a TT and not a MH but i still think you should have aluminum rafters, 10x stronger 10x lighter... just my .02

sorry about the pictures part. i completely spaced it! I will get up before we head out to the field in the morning if not to dewy and wet up there and i'll get some pics for ya. do you have an email i can send to? my sprint air card would take 10 hours to upload to photobucket and then to here. let me know. just type "roof pics" in the subject line so i don't "junk email" you and send me an email, i'll get the photos to you soon. niemannenterprises@hotmail.com
"Now why would you want to do something like that?" - My Dad
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