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Old 10-26-2015, 02:57 AM   #1
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Model: ACE 27.1
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Water leaking into taill lights

1 year old Thor Ace 27.1 with water intrusion in the tail lights. I removed the tail lights only to find rusty screws and wet wood due to sitting water. I called Command Electronics, the maker of the tail light assembly and they promptly sent me replacement gasgets. They suggested I caulk the assembly after swapping out the gasgets. After thinking that these lights were already leaking after only 1 year, I decided not to use any gasget. Instead, I allowed the wood to dry and coated the wood with fiberglass resin. Once dry, I placed the light bulb housing back into place leaving a 1/8 inch space between it and the RV. I put a bead of GE silicon caulking around the bulb housing (except for 6 inches on the bottom, just in case of future leak) then tightened it with replacement stainless steel screws. I finger finished the caulking and allowed it to dry overnight. The following day, i removed the screws and reinstalled the lens covers and added o-rings to each stainless screw and tightened them up. I then silicon caulked the lens cover and completed the project. It has a much cleaner look without the foam gasget being seen as it previously was. It is now 100% leak proof, as it should of been from the factory. Here are some pics and hope this helps anyone with a similar issue.
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Old 10-26-2015, 04:01 AM   #2
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I think Thor uses the exact same rear panel on all their gas motor homes.

There are many variations on this fix. Some epoxy, some use resin, etc. My solution was flex seal detailed here:
Busy day with the Axis

I like the stainless screw and o-ring idea.
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Old 10-26-2015, 04:26 AM   #3
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Ah, the famous leaking tail lights. There are several folks here that have discovered the same issue. The original lights are made by Command Electronics, and are not designed very well.

I epoxied the entire wood structure behind the lights so that if they leak again, it at least won't damage the wood. I did discover some delamination of the wood, so you really need to fix that issue as well.



I stopped in to the factory that makes them (about 50 miles from my house), and bought new gaskets and asked how to fix the problem. They didn't have an acceptable answer.

In my opinion, the gaskets are made from the wrong material and they simply crush under the tension from screwing the lenses in place. The trouble is, the first time you have to replace the bulbs, you will no longer have a leak-proof gasket (if it was leak-proof in the first place).

Command Electronics blames the RV manufacturer for not having a flat surface... but I blame both.

You'll never get them to stop leaking. I have been fighting this issue for over a year, so earlier this year, I replaced them.




I replaced them with Bargman model 34-84-009. Some cutting will be necessary because the backside of the Bargman are a bit larger, but they otherwise fit into the same hole.



The reason the Bargman lights are better is you do not have to remove the black plastic surround to replace the bulbs, just the inner lens. That means you can caulk the surrounds to the coach rear wall, thus preventing water damage.

I also discovered that the numb-skulls at the factory wired the tail lights incorrectly, that is - they wired the brake circuit to the tail light bulb, and the tail light to the brake light bulb. This is not a problem with the original tail lights as you simply need to swap the bulb direction to get the brake bulb on the brake light circuit.

But when wiring the Bargman replacement... those bulbs cannot be reversed as they only go in one way. So if you do a similar replacement, make sure you have the tail lights and brake lights wired up correctly (if like mine, the color code will be backwards).
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Old 10-26-2015, 03:01 PM   #4
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I agree with FW28Z about the problem gasket
I figure it leaves the factory sufficiently tight, but the foam crushes so after a short time the gasket offers no resilient "push back" and therefore no seal.
I'll bet a better gasket material would be one way to fix the problem, but I like FW28Z's fix of a different fixture.

The entire back wall of my coach was replaced under warranty due to rot because of this.

I am still kicking myself for not having them skip the lights all together and use a surface mounted fixture.

Oh well, the dealer used silicone to seal mine up
but I don't think they did nearly as neat of a job as it sounds like acsnook did....
but regardless, i really dislike silicone and wish they hadn't done it. I find silicone is a poor sealant, unless applied under very specific and highly controlled situations.... and then it's near impossible to reseal ever again because of the residue....

Side note, I'll bet your clearance lights also have leakage.... especially the front fixtures..... another really poor design. I wish I could find a better fixture for these....
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:29 PM   #5
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FW28Z is absolutely correct regarding his opinion on the gasket. I figured the same and was the reason why I didn't use the new ones shipped to me. I don't think I will be having anymore issues as both the light assembly and lens cover were caulked separately. GE silicon has a lifetime warranty, I'll keep my fingers crossed!

I also had a water leak inside coming from the outside passenger side mirror as it also wasn't properly sealed. I cleaned the old sealant and used the same silicon caulk, problem solved. When is rained, it was leaking like a sieve onto the floorboard.
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Old 10-26-2015, 06:54 PM   #6
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questions - re. your 1/8in space when caulking
how did you maintain this space? shims?
and did you leave it loose after caulking in this space until cured, then tightening against the caulk bed?
seems like a good approach
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Old 10-26-2015, 07:07 PM   #7
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It naturally wanted to stick out some and I actually used the screws to ensure the spacing all around. After caulking and getting some behind the housing, I tightened the screws, finished smoothing with my finger and let dry overnight. When I removed the screws the following day, the housing was permanently affixed to the wall. I then caulked each screw hole, installed the lens cover, installed screws with O-rings and caulked the lens cover. I really can't see how this will leak going forward. Hope this helps..
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Old 10-26-2015, 07:16 PM   #8
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JamieGeek, I have gotten into the habit of replacing ALL exterior factory screws with stainless wherever possible. After having a couple of rigs, I found this to be necessary.
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Old 08-15-2016, 02:48 AM   #9
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I work at an auto body shop and we use (even car manufacturers) black butyl. It's also known as window tape or window ribbon. It works great for sealing Windows when they are a bolt in window. You can probably get it at Amazon or your local auto body supply store(Wesco). You can pretty much guarantee it won't leak if you put it on right.
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Old 08-15-2016, 01:12 PM   #10
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That's exactly what i ended up doing recently. think I wrote about it in in a different thread on this same topic....

The silicone job that camping world did when they replaced my back wall ended up leaking
so I opened it up to dry, then resealed with butyl tape.
So far so good
but I still have relatively low confidence in it, only because it's just a poor design and poor execution by thor. They could have used these shoddy fixtures but installed them differently and not had quite as bad of a problem.

I'm still kicking myself for not having them delete these fixtures when tehy replaced my back wall......
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Old 08-15-2016, 01:57 PM   #11
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Wonder if Thor has changed the design and upgraded the tail lights in the later models? Maybe some late model owners could comment on this. I would think after having some serious issues with water damage Thor would take notice.
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Old 12-09-2016, 02:11 AM   #12
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Leaking tailight inspection

I know I'm jumping into this thread months after it was started, but I am concerned about this issue and want to be proactive about problems and fixes early on my new MH.
I Just took delivery of a 2017 ACE 30.3 so I guess I'll add this to my inspection list!
I did discover that DAP makes a product called seal and peel removable weatherstrip caulk. I wonder if this stuff would work for the taillight assembly so that it could be removed easily to inspect the area or change a bulb? I might look into this as a preventive measure. Going to look at the lights tomorrow.

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Old 12-09-2016, 12:33 PM   #13
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So far my Flex Seal solution has worked; well at least I haven't seen any leaks in the taillights.
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Old 12-11-2016, 01:18 AM   #14
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Flex seal fix

Quote:
Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
So far my Flex Seal solution has worked; well at least I haven't seen any leaks in the taillights.
Love your solution! Looks bulletproof as a great fix for leaking lights. I will be doing this as a preventive measure. Thanks for the great post and pics.
Have you had any water intrusion in the rear clearance lights? As I was standing staring at my tailights, I looked up at noticed that the rear clearance lights are surface mounted too.

Steven B.
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:46 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevenb2560
Have you had any water intrusion in the rear clearance lights? As I was standing staring at my tailights, I looked up at noticed that the rear clearance lights are surface mounted too.
Last time I looked up there they were dry, but I don't look that often--probably should.
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Old 04-09-2017, 04:27 PM   #16
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Thanks to all for the heads up. Looked at my 30.2 taillights and saw they were sweating. Opened them up and, sure enough, they were leaking. And full of sawdust. Driver's side looked about like the photo from asnook. Passenger side looked better.
I borrowed ideas from several. Minwax wood hardener for first coat (my idea). Then several coats of Flexseal. I already had a can. Today I'm going to seal the bases down with a good quality sealant. Will let sit for couple days and then seal lenses on next dry day. Going to pick up ss screws and orings today.
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Old 05-09-2017, 07:34 PM   #17
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Leaky Tail Light fix

Suffered the same re-occurrences on my 2015 ACE 30.1, same cheapy tail light assembly. I did like the Bergman repair in this blog however the Bergman with LED's is $160. I didn't care for the whimpy little back-up light on the Bergman. I was following a big rig one night and noticed the round LED lights with the large rubber grommet mounts. Perfect. Found them on Ebay for around $8.30 each with shipping. Cheap enough. I then needed to fashion a mount that could be screwed over the existing cut out on the RV. I had a piece of 1/4 inch Lexan left over from making router templates. I cut the 4.5 inch holes with a cut out tool and smoothed them with a spindle sander. Scuff the shiny surface with 0000 steel wool, painted them satin black, mounted with stainless steel screws. I applied 2 thick coats of polyurethane to the bare wood inside the RV cut out for water proofing. The rubber gasket is MD auto & marine rubber waterseal found in Lowes for about $8. No routing or enlarging for the Bergman. The Back up light is big and bright. Photos included to show result.
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Old 05-09-2017, 08:12 PM   #18
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Sweet!
Very nice solution, and nicely executed too!!!
Thank you for posting

I have been thinking about something along just these lines.... a surface mounted plate to cover the hole, for when mine leak again.... except I was toying with more of a surface mounted fixture so that I should never have to break into the void again. i was thinking about using marine epoxee, or possibly something like 5200, to bond the plate to the wall more or less permenantly

One of my hurdles has been what to make the plate from...painted lexan! Is your paint on the underside so it will never chip or scratch away?
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:46 AM   #19
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Here's my solution

I chose to install the chrome Bargmans with LED lights. I think it adds a touch of class to the rear end of my ACE 30.3
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:51 AM   #20
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While I was adding lights

I was bothered that my 31' ACE did not have side turn signal markers so I also added these chrome LED side turn signals. It now gives other drivers warning that I'm changing lanes, especially on the busy 3 lane interstate highways.
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