On the second night out from Stuart, camped in Mississippi, as we were sitting outside the camper, Pat asked if a piece of metal trim should be hanging down. With the answer being, “no”, I began checking why the screws had turned loose. What I found was, the wood inside, the passenger side rear “skirt/wing” was rotten. Somehow water had gotten behind the outside aluminum covering of the camper, into the wood framework and rotted it. So a discussion followed as to whether we should return home to Florida or continue on our planned trip to Alaska. I decided to try a temporary repair the next day and see if I could get it stabilized to continue the trip.
Stopped at one of the big box home improvement stores and purchased a two part pressurized adhesive foam, several cans of the stuff. In the parking lot, I laid on the pavement, removed more of the trim piece, and with a long screwdriver removed as much of the rotten wood that I could reach. Then I stuck the nozzle of the foam canisters up into the void and filled it full, using both cans. From this point it was a matter of holding the trim piece of metal in place till the foam set up, about a half hour was all it took. We stuck a small section of dried limb in between the trim and the base of the electric jack to hold it all in place. The repair held for the next two months as we traveled on to Alaska and back home.
I had planned to wait till cooler weather arrived in this part of Florida but curiosity got the best of me and I started taking the camper apart a couple of days after we got home. The more aluminum siding I removed the more rotten wood I found. The builder of the camper, Lance, had used soft pine and particle board as the frame members in this skirt. So I finally got all the rotten wood removed and decided to replace the damaged wood with something that wouldn’t rot if it got wet again. We have numerous marine stores in this area of the state so a visit to a couple of them had me loaded with the needed materials. Bought some polystyrene impregnated with fiberglass (Coosa board) to use for the skirt which is mainly decorative and the at a marine lumber store picked up some 6/4 African mahogany and some 4/4 South American sapele wood , both of which are claimed to last at least 25 years in a damp environment. That should outlast me and my need for the camper.
I first cut the wood sections from some old scrap wood I had, as the new hardwood was too expensive to make a wrong cut, which I did on the scrap wood. Then I bought some vinyl shower surround from Lowes, to cover the foam and the marine plywood I used on the compartment floor. Then I caulked all the wood to metal joints, attached everything with marine adhesive, metal hurricane plates and screws.
The project turned into a couple of weeks work and most of the tools I own were used at one time or another. While I have been very careful to check the seams on the camper for caulking, I had not noticed that the underneath seams had never been caulked, so driving in the rain had force water into the damaged area. When the weather cools off in October, I will check the driver’s side skirt to see it it too needs to be replaced. Don’t believe I will ever own another wood framed camper or RV again, not a long as we live in Florida, with its high humidity.
After gluing the outside aluminum to the foam Coosa board, I clamped it and let it set for 24 hours to allow the marine 3M 5200 adhesive dry. I built this skirt back with the idea it would never be removed again. Eight, 10 oz tubes of adhesive caulk were used in the reassembling of the camper. Where Lance had used 1 X 2 wood for framing, I replaced with 2 X 6 and 2 X2 where it would fit. Working on this camper was like a jigsaw puzzle trying to figure out the order in which Lance had assembled the major parts. Many screws and bolt heads were covered up and not accessible. These had to be cut off with a metal cutting blade in a reciprocating portable saw..