23H Leak and more
Hi. Just thought I'd drop a quick note and cover a couple of things. We bought a Freedom Elite 23H last spring from Camping World in Asheville, TN, and the first year we put about 8,200 miles on it. It was wonderful. We loved the ride, the comfort and it was a great move up from a travel trailer.
Just this spring, a couple of weeks ago, we uncovered it and started getting it ready for our first trip. Suddenly the backup camera stopped working. So, one day before our 2-week trip began I called Camping World and they got me in that morning. Rushing down to the dealership (60 miles), I only waited about 30 minutes before a tech came out and starting tearing apart the dash. Turns out the Axxera radio had been shoved back so far back into the dash that the yellow (video) RCA plug had been nearly severed. Perhaps the freeze/thaw over the winter had sent it over the edge. But the tech there used some spare parts he had and kulged together a solution that got us through the 2-week trip. Kudos to both Camping World for expediting our service and to the tech for his brilliance.
OK, so we got back from our trip. Dry trip, with maybe a little light rain on the morning of the last day. Two days ago we had a pretty good rain here at the house. Didn't even think about it. Today we were doing the cleaning before we put the RV back into its parking spot. As we drove the RV into position before putting it on the small front ramps that keep it level, the nose was down and to the left. Suddenly a LOT of water came down off the overhead (driver side) where the fiberglass curve meets the flat fiberglass piece over the truck cab. I first thought it was condensation coming from the roof, but it didn't stop, so I began looking closer. The water wasn't coming out of the weep hole on the trim, or down the sides as I first thought. It was coming from the trim piece that covers the butt joint between the two fiberglass pieces.
It just kept coming. I got my camera out and took a video. It kept coming. I went inside the coach and climbed up on the bunk above the front seats. The driver side front of the cushion was dry. I moved over to the passenger side and found wet. Seems like a lot of wet. We pulled the cushion out and had to get paper towels to dry the remainder. Sumthin' is leaking. We had been on the roof before our trip and hadn't found anything that needed attention, so I'm at a loss.
Called Camping World, again. They were great, again. Got the coach in this afternoon and hope for an answer in the next couple of days, or perhaps a week. I'll update when I hear from them, but in the meantime, anybody seen something like this before?
I completely understand the Freedom Elite is entry-level Class C, but I do wish the folks that work on them would do a quality job anyway. And I understand things creep up in even the most expensive coaches, but it would be great if they would just take a little pride in their work when assembling them.
Well, we're going this morning to pick up the 23H, unfixed, from Camping World. They have had it for 10 days, and best guess is they only started looking at it yesterday, after 4 phone calls. Let me say here that I understand we're not the only RV owner waiting for maintenance and I didn't expect to walk in and go to the front of the line, but just communication shouldn't be all that difficult.
Anyway, after finding out we're still at least a week from a CW repair, I told them I'd just come in this morning and pick the coach up. We'll bring it home and do whatever we need to do to get it sealed before our next rains.
It's a little frustrating knowing these types of leaks don't have to happen. The coach is still under 1 year old and has been under cover for all but about a month of that. We do inspections regularly and have found no overt openings, but wouldn't it be great (and perhaps unrealistic?) to buy a coach that's put together proudly and correctly? It is, however, a good lesson. It's probably better to fix things ourselves than expect any one else to care as much.
Check around your clearance lights. Typical place for the type of leak you describe. If the water runs out tinted a slight brown, you may have damaged wood. Pull your bunk mattress and look for any dampness at the base of the sidewall and around the curvature of the inside roof line.
We had a similar leak that I thought came from the passenger side upper bunk window. I sealed the window and that didn't work and after further inspection I found what looked to be some hairline cracks in the sealer at the curve on the roof. I talked to our dealer and he did say that was an area that needs to be watched and recommended a self leveling caulk. So we cleaned the area and applied the caulk and it stopped the leaking. The corner of the roof that meets the front cap is where I thing the problem was and if the RV is sitting tilting forward it does puddle in those corners. Hope that's not to confusing.
Might have found it?
Hey Campers. Thanks much for the ideas. We picked up the 23H from Camping World this morning and brought it home. After it was safely parked in the driveway we did what we should have done in the first place - a thorough inspection of where the water might have come in.
There were a couple of places on the clearance lights that were suspect, and one of five didn't have any sealant on it at all. I pulled them all up and sealed underneath. Once they were screwed back down I added another line of silicone around the edges.
There were a few popped bubbles in the lap sealant that we refilled, but I doubt any of those were the problem because even though the tops were open, they were still sealed underneath.
I think what really bit us was where the curved part of the cap met the sidewalls. On the curved portion on both sides there were splits and gaps in the silicone, but on the driver's side where the curved part met the roof there was about a 1/8" gap with no sealant of any kind. It was exactly where it needed to be for that night of wind-driven rain.
Everywhere we looked, and everything we could get to is now caulked or sealed within an inch of its life, and it's what we should have done in the first place, rather than run to the dealer. It ain't rocket surgery...
As to the color of the water that drained out after the rain, it was clear. I don't think it stayed in there long enough to damage anything, and there is no musty smell at all inside. The mattress has dried and has been re-installed, so I think we're good to go. Having said that, we're due 3 days of rain beginning Sunday night, so we should have an idea before we go camping again as to whether or not this worked.
Thanks to everyone for their ideas and hints on where to look. It's a maze. Fingers crossed. Be safe, y'all.
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