We never expected to spend our first three days back on the road on our roof, but there we were. The wind blowing against the front of our rig as we traveled down the highway made our slack rubber roof membrane flap, pulling open the Eternabond tape at the leaky seam we had sealed. More than likely, that seam had already been compromised by trapped moisture between the first and second repair jobs.
Having met up with full-time RVer brother Tom to boondock in the desert, Bob ascended the ladder to the roof to adjust our solar panels so they could receive maximum sunlight throughout the day to charge our batteries. If he hadn’t, we likely wouldn’t have known about the roof issue — until we had another rain-produced leak. (We’ve since added a roof check to our disconnecting the trailer from the truck checklist.)
To the Rescue
Unpleasantly aware of the problem, we knew we needed to address it right away, before any rain came our way. Our boondocking neighbor turned out to be a godsend. Doug is a roof pro who specializes in solar panel installations. Although our solar panels didn’t need attention, his expertise lent itself well to our situation.
He recommended peeling away the tape and caulk from our last repair job, removing the trim piece that seals the nose cap to the rubber membrane, and pulling the fabric taut under the cap before resealing the trim piece in place. That’s one thing we hadn’t done before: remove the trim. Maybe that was the missing link.
Once again, we climbed onto the roof and started tearing apart the Eternabond tape and Dicor self-leveling sealant we had put in place two months earlier. This time, though, we had an oscillating tool that made light work of the job — and saved our fingers from blisters. Thanks, Tom!
We succeeded in removing the old tape and sealant. Although we were eager to repair the issue, 15 to 17 mph headwinds prevented us from doing so. We didn’t want to remove the trim piece only to have the wind get a hold of the membrane and make matters worse. We had to wait for the wind to die down.
The next morning, we ascended the ladder to the roof, removed the screws holding the trim piece in place, and cleaned off the silicone clinging to the trim. Because the sun hadn’t risen very high to warm the air, the rubber roof membrane had no slack. As a result, we couldn’t pull it taut under the nose cap.
Our window of opportunity to replace the trim piece before the wind picked up quickly shrunk. Needing the weather to cooperate, we were reminded of Proverbs 19:21, which says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”
During our break, I went back to work, and Bob did prep work for the repair job. That involved completely eliminating any remaining silicone from the trim piece, adding waterproof butyl tape to its underside, and cleaning the seam area to accept new sealant.
The break also gave Bob an opportunity to consult with Doug about the best way to move forward. Bob readied himself to head into town to get an aluminum slat to secure on the roof directly behind the trim to prevent any remaining slack fabric from pulling open the seam again.
Doug happened to have a 3-inch-wide piece and offered to cut it to the size we needed. We gladly paid for that convenience. (Did I mention Doug was a godsend?) Bob drilled pilot holes in the piece and sanded down the corners to prevent them from ripping new holes in the roof.
Back on top of the trailer, we pulled the rubber membrane as taut as we could, unable to get it back to its original spot. We did the best we could and secured the trim piece, followed by the aluminum slat — instead of Eternabond tape. The aluminum would prevent any flapping fabric from ripping apart at the seam.
Bob resealed all around the trim and aluminum with Dicor self-leveling sealant to keep rain from finding its way into our rig. Just as the “third time’s the charm” saying proved true in fixing the water problems that plagued us for months, we’re hopeful it will be true of our roof repair. Time will tell.
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This is the travel blog of full-time RVers Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong.