No, I’m not talking about the song from the 1960′s, but the strange phenomenon that sometimes befalls Airstream travel trailers with the built-in light fixtures in the roof vents. What happens is the plastic centers of the aluminum vents fail, and allow rainwater to collect in the light cover. This happened to a 1976 Airstream that, while much loved by its owner, has been neglected a lot of late since the owner’s husband passed away. Ten years ago.
The trailer has come into our shop for some heavy restoration work, needing, among other things, a new floor in the rear bathroom and a lot of updating. I’m sure this trailer will be a repeat target in my missives as work progresses. This time I was repairing the cabinetry that surrounds the fridge and includes the pantry in the kitchen area, and I of course had the overhead lights on so I could see what I was doing. I try to avoid working by braille as much as possible, it helps keep my fingers and toes attached in their proper places. I was deeply engrossed in my work, when I noticed the inside of the trailer looked like it was in a fog bank. I started looking around, and finally up. What I saw was steam emitting from the light fixture overhead. When you see something like that, your first thought is it is on fire. So, I jumped up, whacked my head on the cabinet I had just installed, and, cursing, hurriedly switched the light off. I noticed no smoke odor, and started investigating as the vapor cleared. I noticed something sloshing around in the cover, and carefully removed it for examination. What I found was the cover was filled to the running-over point with water. It had been there for a while, as it had some pretty interesting marine growth in it. All that was missing was Nemo. It seems the light bulbs were partly immersed in the water, and had gotten hot enough to start evaporating the water, almost like boiling it, but not as hot.
The customer, a really nice, though not a sharp as she was once was Ethel Merman look-alike, happened by about then. When I told her about the steam generating lights, she immediately had thoughts of saving LP by drilling several holes in the cover and using it to take showers. After I told her she would only be able to shower when it rained, decided it might not be such a great idea, and let me go ahead and replace the vent covers.
So, unless you want a heated indoor shower during the Summer Monsoon season, climb up on your trailer’s roof occasionally to check those covers. Meanwhile, I’m going to get a couple of aspirin for the headache I got from my close encounter with the cabinet.