Okay, here is what I know about delaminaton (so far). I have an HTT and could see some slight bubbling on the bunk ends. Since the company that made the trailer as well as the company that built the bunk ends were both out of business I tore into the ends from the inside. What I found was wet luan from leaks in the seals. You could literally follow the leaks. What separated were the plies in the luan. No where did the luan pull away from the fiberglass. It stuck tight. I scraped and cleaned and replaced areas of luan with new wood backing.
As a result I pressure tested my trailer using a furnace blower. The results were astounding. I ended up removing all the existing caulk and recaulked all the seams. The previous year we put Eternabond on the roof seams and all the roof penetrations and not one of them showed any leakage.
I have a couple of bubbles on the exterior that I am going to try to figure out a repair for when the weather warms again.
The best thing that I can say is even on a new trailer, have it pressure tested. If you do a search you can find some information on do it yourself testing with pictures. When a trailer with luan backed filon leaks, it will delaminate. Pressure testing is about the most positive way of finding leaks.
Is all the talk about the fiberglass wall panels delaminating as common as it seems to be mentioned?
Yes, they do have delaminate issues sometimes. Not more often than rotten wooden frame under aluminum siding models, though. Which means - most trailers after 5-7 years unless you don't take steps to prevent it, or unless you camp in a middle of desert and always store it under roof when not in use. Because delamination of FG, same as rot of a wooden frame, is almost always caused by water ingress.
Repairs: In FG laminate you have to fix the laminate (frame is aluminum), in alum siding you have to open the siding, fix rotten wood frame and put siding back. The former is more difficult to fix on your own to esthetically perfect look, the latter is more difficult to detect (you don't know about rotten wood until it's well under way, sometimes going on for years). The former hurts mostly exterior look (bubbles), the latter is a structural damage.
It seems that a person can be given many horror stories on which way to go on a lightweight trailer to the point of being more confused
FG laminate models are only marginally lighter than same model from the same maker made in wood/aluminum. If you want a "lightweight", you should look for those without slides and as small as possible.
What criteria does most use to make the final decision?
They read, ask and toss a coin eventually. Many purchases are influenced by women, same as cars, and things like cabinets or carpet color can play a greater role than considerations of structure and maintenance. Also, buyers of any gender are influenced by a zillion of important and unimportant things like floor plan, exterior decals or how friendly is his local dealer.
Is there really a good place to get reviews
No, because - read the above paragraph. You need to know what is important for you - not for others, and base decision on that.
To correct myself: "Not more often than rotten wooden frame under aluminum siding". I should have said that under same weather conditions and with same flawed seam, same water ingress would more likely trigger the delamination than rot in a wood frame. Because plywood substrate is sealed between the block foam and FG coat, unlike wood frame that is better ventilated. Which doesn't mean that later the delamination would spread and destroy as much area of the siding as the rot would destroy the wood frame. I don't think there are reliable long-term data for either scenario. Again, - this all is assuming the water got in, in the first place. Prevention is the key.
* This post was
edited 02/25/12 07:40pm by Almot *
I wear blue nitriles and have the soapy water on hand. Where the caulk just came out of the tube, I can do a fairly decent job. Maybe I just need someone else to use the caulking gun while I come right behind them smoothing it out.
This might make it easier. There appear to be some better ones at the bottom of the page.
There are methods of construction that prevent leakage in rv's.
RV is not a house. It's moving, vibrating, roof has no eaves and there is lots of screws, vents etc in roof and walls.
Yes, there are methods of RV manufacturing to prevent leakage - "the method", I should say. Because there is only one leak-proof method - molded shells like Scamp, Escape, Casita. It's used on small units only. In fact, it's not really "leak-proof", but rather a "rot-proof", because there is no wood framework or wood substrate under FG (though some models have wood around windows and doors). They are molded of structural fiberglass, like boats - top half is joined with lower half, with seam in the middle of the wall. There is no roof perimeter seam.
All other trailers need prevention and more prevention. If yours doesn't leak after 30 years with no prevention like seam sealing and thorough inspection of roof, windows and other suspects at least once a year, - you're one of rare exceptions. 30 year old trailer built by conventional methods sells for 1/10 of its original cost, the main reason is damages caused by leaks. 30 year old molded unit sells for 1/2 of its original cost, but they are small, not for everybody's lifestyle.
Thank you for this link! We just bought a new TT and want to be sure to avoid leaks (our old TT had two). This is a perfect start to being sure we are maintaining correctly and taking care of it properly.
Tom and Stacey
DD Nikki (14) and Kate (9)
Wrigley, our big black dog
Almot, good point. Whether fiberglass gelcoat or aluminum siding, leaks are not "if" but "when," and both types can sustain costly, serious damage from water infiltration. Between the two types, the choice is six or a half-dozen.