It’s been a busy month. Our first exciting news has been the early arrival of our 4th family member. Cassandra joined our little tribe this past Sunday at 6:22pm. She arrived 3 weeks ahead of schedule, but she’s healthy and home with us, and that is what matters most.
We finally tackled something that has been gnawing away at us. For months we’d oscillate between wanting to turn a blind eye and panicking whether we had the capacity to handle the problem ourselves.
Floor rot….dun Dun DUN!
Sure, we could let the pros do it, but the Airstream would be with them for 3+ weeks when we have other projects to tackle. Not to mention it would cost $3-$4k to fix — money better directed towards solar and tire/brake upgrades.
So we spent hours and hours researching on Airforums and Airstream renovation posts scattered around the internet. Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this is an all too common issue with 2007-2008 model year Internationals, Safaris, and Flying Clouds. Airstream never took the time to caulk around the rear belt line, where the shell meets the frame, sandwiching the subfloor. In many cases, that’s the biggest egress of water. For our Airstream, the issue was compounded by cracked caulk around the tailights and rear pano windows.
In beautifully crystal clear 20/20 hindsight, we did make a few mistakes in purchasing our Airstream. The biggest mistake was trusting the seller’s RV shop for the inspection. According to them, the Airstream was in prime condition, and the only issue was a missing DVD player.
When we met with the seller about 8 hours away in Alabama, Mike did a walkaround with the seller while I inspected the interior of the Airstream with our moisture detector. There was a soft spot under the dinette area, but every probe of the moisture detector was returning 0-1% moisture reading. Briefly in one spot I got a 75% reading, but subsequent checks in that same spot returned a 0%. I reasoned that there must have been a drop of water on the floor from the seller’s water bottle that was condensing on the table. What I failed to do was check along the base of the wall in the back. We would have discovered the issue clearly at that point.
But we were excited, motivated, and blinded by our desire to make this dream a reality. We were also eager to nab this Airstream since it was below what we had budgeted for. It wasn’t until a few weeks after she’d been in storage that Mike decided to pull the new flooring back to see what was happening, and low and behold we found this:
Most likely the seller, who had only had the Airstream for 7 months, had laid down the sheeting to hide the issue. Instead of just trying to hide it, the sheeting exasperated the issue by acting as a moisture barrier. So the wood continued to rot.
After camping a few times with a few sheets of wood laid over to add some temporary stability, we knew we needed to just tackle the floor. It was definitely a team effort as we encouraged each other, talked out our steps, and double checked each other’s measurements. Thankfully we didn’t have to pull the lower, interior skins or drop the belly pan. The wood between the frame and shell was solid enough to be treated with Git Rot. The damaged sections were cut back far enough so that it frame rails were exposed to drill the new wood into. The rest of the wood with just surface damage was treated with resin. Once the new piece was installed, fiberglass and resin was used to help strengthen the seams between new and old floor. And finally, a sealant was applied.
After that, we installed our new laminate floating floors. The results seen below.