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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Lance skirt dry rot

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Eric&Lisa

Scappoose, OR

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Joined: 07/11/2006

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Posted: 11/15/07 04:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Preface:
This document reflects the personal experience of one Lance camper owner. All information is presented as factually as possible. Conclusions are those of the writer and a reader’s conclusions may vary. This is the completion of my post on 10/9/2007 and will hopefully be added to the Truck Camper FAQ.

Camper history:
This camper was built February 2003. It is a 2003 Lance model 1030. I presume it was originally sold through a dealer in Portland, OR in 2003. In late June 2006 it was on the used camper lot at Curtis Trailers in Portland, OR. The camper looked rough on the outside – like it had sat under a tree and had never been cleaned. The inside looked (and smelled) like new. According to the dealer, the original owner only used it a couple times before parking it due to illness. After three years it was returned / resold / traded in to the dealer. I purchased the camper in early July 2006. Since then the camper has had two 2-week road trips during summer time, and a number of weekend getaways. It has not been used in the winter and has only occasionally seen rain. However, it has always been washed after every trip. When not in use, the camper has been stored inside a heated shop (not a lean-to or shed). The camper was resealed during the winter of 2006. There were not any severe cracks in the sealant, just a few areas which needed to be touched up.

Discovery:
In September 2007 I was doing a post-trip check on the camper. The camper had been sitting inside for approximately a week at this time. I noticed under the driver’s side skirt (tank access door) there were what appeared to be two pieces of insulation hanging loose. I pulled them off and examined them. They turned out to be pieces of fungus. The area was also soft to the touch. I proceeded to remove the screws (rusted), trim, and aluminum siding. I discovered the area was very wet and full of dry rot. It was covered with several types of mold (gray & black specks to 3” white sheets which peeled away). The dry rot had destroyed the bottom 1x3 along with a portion of the OSB. The Luan (plastic coated wood which faces the truck side of the skirt) was separated and falling apart.

Resolution:
It was necessary to replace some of the wood in the skirt. I purchased “Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer” (aka CPES) from “The Rot Doctor” (www.rotdoctor.com) to reseal the remaining wood. This also restores the structural strength to the wood. Any mold spores are sealed by this epoxy and will not continue to propagate. Since the Luan was falling apart, I used a piece of plastic wall board (like the stuff found on the walls of a public restroom) to seal the inside area against the tank cover.

Continued diagnosis:
After the quick disassembly on the driver’s side skirt, I decided to review the passenger side skirt in greater detail. I took ample pictures to document how this area is put together and to figure out why it is prone to dry rot.

The passenger side skirt did not show as many symptoms as the driver’s side. No fungus was growing on the camper, and there were no soft spots. However, removing the screws gave me an indication as to the status of the wood underneath. A number of the screws were rusted. One was severely rusted and the wood was not solid enough for it to bite and be removed. I had to use pliers to extract that particular screw.

This side was rotting, but was not nearly as bad as the driver’s side. I was able to repair the area without replacing wood. Drying the area and applying multiple coats of the CPES effectively sealed the wood and made it structurally sound again.

Analysis:
The skirt structure is made up of untreated OSB & 1x3 wood with a Luan backside which faces the truck bed. The road side is covered by a ¼” “Fome-cor” weather barrier (www.foamcor.com) and then the aluminum siding.

The edge of the wood is covered by two strips of metal, and this is where the problem appears to originate.

The inner aluminum strip slips up over the Luan underneath the camper. It has a thin bead of sealant in the corner. The sealant does not cover the entire metal strip.

The outer strip is the heavy white strip which is screwed into the camper. This strip is an inch or so wide. When installed, a strip of roll sealant is used to cover the flat surface. This probably holds it in place while the screws are drilled in. Later on in assembly it appears tube sealant is applied between the aluminum siding and the heavy white strip. As a result, there is a quarter inch channel between the roll sealant and the applied tube sealant. Water eventually gets into this channel and sits against the exposed wood. The wood soaks up the water and begins to rot.

I am not sure exactly how the water was getting inside the skirt. The original tube sealant was cracked in a few places before I resealed it in winter 2006. Not that bad, just a few surface cracks. The bottom rear corner of the skirt seems like the most probable candidate. The white metal strip ends and it is not sealed across its width. Rain water could run down this corner and then wick into the open water channel. It would not take much. Once the water was in the channel, it would not have any place to go except to be absorbed into the wood.

It has been suggested the problem is not the standing water; the problem is the lack of a drain for this water. I disagree. True, a drain would allow the water to dissipate. It will also allow water to be driven into this area when the camper is on the road. Finally, I believe under no circumstances should water be allowed direct contact with untreated wood – regardless of whether or not that water is drained away later.


Additional problem areas:
1) I noticed bare wood where the skirt covers the end of the camper floor when looking underneath the camper. Dry rot was starting in this area. However, with this area being able to dry, the rot had not set hold. I sealed the wood with CPES and sealed the joint together in reassembly.

2) I called Lance for guidance on this repair. Over the course of that call, I asked if there were any other problem areas I should be aware of. Lance tech support recommended checking the door sill as this area is often overlooked. The sill was difficult to remove as it is screwed in from the sides. Once out I did notice the area has been exposed to some water. I applied the CPES and re-sealed the sill plate back into place.

3) Lance tech support also recommended reviewing the area around the front window. They recommended applying plenty of sealant to the cab over lights as well as the window frame. They said leaks in this area will typically appear inside the camper.


Commentary & recommendation:
My experience with this problem is limited to a 2003 Lance 1030. I suspect other Lance models of this era with skirts have the same problem. One RV.net forum member mentioned this was an issue for all ’99 – ’03 Lance campers, although I have no ability to verify this claim.

Another RV.net forum member actually experienced rot so bad it ate through the aluminum siding. Their experience was my incentive to look very close at this area on my camper.

I did ask Lance technical support if they were interested in reviewing this document. So far they have not responded to my offer. I was hoping they would be willing to validate my analysis and provide additional information. It would be nice to know if Lance has changed the skirt design (or manufacturing process) on newer campers. That way prospective buyers of new Lance campers would know whether or not this is an issue.

My camper was 55 months old when I discovered the problem. Given how bad the rot was I have to conclude the problem started the day the camper was new. There is no way that much rot occurred in the 15 months I owned it. Aside from spending its first 40 months outside, this camper was barely used. It was grungy on the outside but new inside. There is no reason it should not have held up better.

If you have a Lance camper with skirts, I highly recommend pulling out a few screws to see what they look like. The factory screws will rust when they come in contact with moisture. While a rusty screw may or may not indicate dry rot, a clean screw will indicate the absence of moisture.

I was lucky. If I had not been reading the RV.net forum, I would not have been aware of this problem with my camper. The rot would have gotten worse. With no place for the moisture to go, it would have eventually gotten into the sides and floor of the camper. The problem would not have been evident until the camper was 10 – 12 years old and the moisture started causing mold on the inner walls. Since the worst area was under the bathroom, the sealed shower/sink unit would have hidden the problem from an interior view. By the time the problem was discovered, the camper would be paid off and would also be worthless.


Supporting pictures & diagram:


Driver’s side:

[image]

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[image]

[image]


Passenger side:

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

[image]

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Thanks,
-Eric


Eric & Lisa - Oregon
'97 Silverado K2500, New HT383 motor!, Airbags, anti-sway bar
'03 Lance model 1030, generator, solar,

BradW

Mayor of Flat Rock

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Joined: 10/29/2001

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Posted: 11/15/07 04:56pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Previous Thread.

BradW - moderator

jmtandem

western nevada

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Joined: 01/18/2006

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Posted: 11/15/07 05:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

It is discouraging that something as expensive as a camper that is used as infrequently as most campers are can fall apart so quickly.


'05 Dodge Cummins 4x4 dually 3500 white quadcab auto long bed.

spkncarl

That Way

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Joined: 01/04/2007

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Posted: 11/15/07 09:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Wow, great pics. Very detailed. This is the main reason we crossed Lance off our list and went with the clam shell design.

Don't worry, I had issues in other areas. They're not all perfect...[emoticon]

Wasatch Lance

Park City, Utah

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Posted: 11/16/07 05:43pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Eric&Lisa,

Oustanding post with great pictures!

I am curious what you did in the repair phase to prevent a reoccurrance of the rotted skirts. Did you use different materials, caulks or trims?

Again, my thanks for a great post!


2002 F-350 CC 4X4 PSD, Stage II Injectors, Garrett BB Turbo, AFE Air Cleaner, Chip, 4" Exhaust, Gauges, Extra Leaf Springs, Air Lift Bags, Hellwig Sway Bars, Rancho RS9000XL shocks, American Racing Wheels, Toyo M/T Tires (4,300 lb rating),
2003 Lance 1121

Less Stuff

WA. USA

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Posted: 11/16/07 06:22pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Just ordered new aluminum siding and trim for repairing my 915's skirt.

Dealer said $75 for the aluminum siding just one side. Seems a little high to me. Mine had a hole corroded in it so it must be replaced.

Did anyone pay that much for the siding to recover just the skirt????


DG
Former user name: "Lots of Stuff"
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Regular cab short bed 2 wheel drive.
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work2much

Jackson Ca

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Posted: 11/16/07 06:34pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

A great post of a member with real issues and a moderator using good judgement in allowing the post to stand.

Thanks both.


2017 Ram 3500 Laramie DRW Crew 4x4 Aisin 4:10 Air ride.
2018 Host Mammoth. 1080 Watts solar. 600 AH usable LFP battery. Magnum 2800 Watt inverter.

BradW

Mayor of Flat Rock

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Posted: 11/15/07 06:48pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Eric,

Good write up and thanks for posting. I'm sure it will help some folks when they have similar problems.

I think camper wing rot is more common than we would like to know. Those two little camper pieces are exposed edgewise to a very harsh environment from road spray. I had the same problem with on of the camper wings on my 1996 Lance when it was about 8 years old.

Brad


Wake Up America
1996 Lance 500 and 2006 F-350 PSD 4X4 DRW
Our Truck Camper Photos


Big Rig

Eastern Kansas

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Posted: 11/15/07 09:08pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I had a wing rot problem on mine when it was 2 1/2 years old. I had a dealer fix it & he did not do a very good job. Mine had gone thru the aluminum in several places which is how I discovered the problem. Those wings would be a good place to never use any wood. Of course the whole way of sealing these campers seems to be a very imperfect way of doing it. Seems there ought to be a foolproof way to make joints that don't let water get thru them. It really makes you sick when you think you are taking good care of your camper & then you have something like this happening. If I knew how to remove all the aluminum on my camper, I think I would do it just to see if I have any more rot anywhere so I could fix it before it became a major thing.
Thanks for all the pics & info.

Big Rig


04.5 Dodge Quad,3500,CTD,DRW,4X2,48RE, Ranchos, Tatman Wedgies
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femunn

Memphis,TN

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Posted: 11/17/07 02:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

[image][image][image][image]

Eric, I really do understand, as photos show, I went thru the same things. I drove to Lancaster from Memphis and presented my camper to the manufactor.I didn't know what to expect. Actually, I wanted to learn from them what to do and how to maintain the camper. They repaired it all, free of charge. It was out of warranty by three years. I specifically requested they leave in the cabover window, which had been a leaking problem. The cross-over window was another leak source. It too was replaced with a closed one.
I brought this unit new in early 03. I didn't know I had a problem, until they pointed it out.


'02 DodgeRam 2500HO TD,5.9L,6spdHD Manual,shortbed,
towing & camper special group, '03 Lance 821,loaded w/dealer options, ie happijacks Firestone ride-rite airbags, a/c & generac. Overloaded, yes, but handles great.


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