Project Vintage Thunder

The latest on Project Vintage Thunder, by Airstream Life magazine. Sponsored by George M Sutton RV, Reese hitch, Dometic USA, PPG Paint, Axis Products, GSM Vehicles, and Zip-Dee. Vintage Thunder is an "honest" RV refurbishment and travelogue. We tell you what really happens ...

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


That rain leak we spotted at Rob Baker's house in New York a couple of weeks ago has not re-appeared. Last night Vintage Thunder got the first good rain it has seen since then. A thunderstorm rumbled through last night. I checked carefully in all parts of the trailer and could not find any sign of leakage.

This leads me to two possibilities:

(1) The leak occurs only when towing, or in wind-driven rain. At Rob's house, we spotted the leak only after we had been towing for about an hour in the rain. If true, this would be better than a leak which occurred even while parked, but the air conditioner really should not leak under any circumstances, so we'll still have to check it out.

(2) The rainwater is running through the body somewhere to seep out where I can't see it. That's the nightmare scenario. Because the water can travel easily through the Airstream frame, wicking along the fiberglass insulation, a lot of owners believe their vintage Airstream does not leak -- when in fact they just haven't spotted the exit point yet. I have come to the conclusion that nearly ALL vintage Airstreams leak, it's just a matter of whether you know it or not!

The solution here is vigilance. I'll continue to monitor the trailer carefully after every rain, looking for any hint of dampness where it should not be. This means shining flashlights in the back recesses of closets and in every access hatch, laying paper towel along the edge of the floor-wall interface under cabinets, and occasionally unscrewing the Fantastic Vent trim to check for moisture in the ceiling. If there's a leak that occurs while parked, eventually it will show up again.

If, after several good rainstorms I don't find any moisture anywhere, I'll probably conclude that it is a wind-driven leak. That's better but still not ideal. So as a preventative measure in the next week or so, we'll take the A/C top and bottom covers off and look for suspicious things like rusted screws, damaged flanges, caulk gaps, dried-out seals, and cracks. My guess is that we'll find something in the A/C unit that explains this mystery.