Saturday, April 14, 2012

Corner Moldings, Bottom Moldings and then Wheel Well Moldings

Well, a bit long in 'title' but this will explain what I did last fall, to alleviate any further chance of problems with water leaks due to moldings leaking anywhere on corners of my Class C motorhome.

My feeling is that many Class C motorhomes will eventually be trash because of water leak due in part to cheap ineffective moldings that do not keep water out of the internal materials.  Some manufacturers might be a bit better than others, but almost none did a 'great job' in attempt to secure a water tight corner on 'every corner'.

Here is what I did.  First, I recognized that the moldings commonly used are not adequate.  They cover 7/16" x 7/8" only.  IF the manufacturer made a perfect corner joint and sealed it perfectly, then maybe all would be fine.  Time has indicated to me that Quality Control in factories making these motor homes has been lax, in seeking and achieving perfection, so I opted to do better, "for myself".
I do not run a business or make any profit working on these RV's and am too old to start.

So let me explain.  I walked around Home Depot, Lowe's and other home supply stores, looking for a product that I might use differently than the product was intended for, to satisfy my purpose.  I wanted something I could use or without too much effort, use to cover the corners of my Class C's edges better than the skinny aluminum corner moldings.

I came across the PVC Fence Posts, in 5" x 5" x 10' sections.  Perfect!

Bought 2 for about $25. each.

Brought them home and using some scrap lumber I had in the garage to use with some clamps, to make a jig that allowed cutting these lengthwise into 90 degree corner moldings of approximately 1.625" x 1.75" x 10'  as shown for the vertical front corners and slightly larger for the bottom moldings and about 1.75" x 3" for the aft corners.

 Did this with  inexpensive battery operated Circular saw. Then used my Disc Orbital sander to smooth the edges  nicely but leaving the outer surface nice-smooth and shiny.  These would be the base material I would then measure and cut to length, to replace my corner moldings.

First however, I wanted to remove the old moldings, one at a time and clean up the RV surface.  This was simple.

 Remove the plastic cover strip on the original molding to get access to the screws underneath.

                                        (this is the front corner, behind passenger door.)

 Remove the screws, the slowly pull the aluminum molding off and throwing it in the trash.

 A small scraper was used to scrape off the old grey putty still attached to the RV and lacquer thinner whetted paper towels, cleaned the surface just fine.

Also found at Home Depot and Lowe's in the roofing depts. are several products used for 'flashing' material.  I chose this product for my project.  It is 6" wide aluminum surfaced on one side and a very tacky black rubbery material on the other.

  IF used as flashing material subjected to weather, it offers a 10 year warranty  if I remember correctly, but I felt, if used UNDER my corner molding out of sunlight and weather the material should outlast the RV and me!

I cut  strips of it to seal the corners and applied it to the RV using my hand and/or a  1 " wallpaper roller or a smooth piece of wood, to press it firmly into the RV's surface for a great bond.

The new moldings were then cut to length and held up to the corner. After figuring out some appropriate new spacing for pre-drilling for new screws, the molding was temporarily taped to the corner of the RV and I then predrilled thru the molding and into the sub surface with a 1/8" drill bit.

I had gone to a local 'fastener' store, (find in phone book or just buy retail from HD or Lowe's type store at slightly higher cost.) and bought stainless steel 1" #8 truss head screws. (they are slightly flatter head. Not flat but not as round as what is called Pan Heads.)

While I drilled a 1/8" hole that would allow easier fastening using these fasteners, I then predrilled the molding itself with a 3/16" drill bit so the screw would slip through the molding itself and only it's head would be used for compression.

 (by the way, a dremel tool with cutting wheel was used to trim any small stuff such as the side trim moldings as seen under the locker door... so everything would fit nicely.)

 On the aluminum tape already on the motorhome, I pressed with my thumb,  a small ball of grey sealing putty that would seal the screw when the molding was applied.

This process was applied to all corner and bottom moldings on my RV.

The 'Larger' moldings were used on the aft corner and really look good aesthetically.

  The 'funny' thing is that we have been traveling now for  over 4 months in this RV and I get asked "What year is that?" (and they are surprised by my answer, "1991".................but no one yet has commented on or seemed to notice the corner modifications as an owner induced item.
I spotted this short class c with European plates on it, in Joshua Tree National Park last month. Note how 'functional' their approach is to corner protection compared to 'our' manufacturers!!

Next blog will show a more complicated custom molding process for  wheel well moldings.


TexCyn said...

Good job & interesting!

ck said...

Ron anxiouxly waiting for your wheel well moldinb blog! Im using your idea for my corner molding...thank you

Ron Sheridan said...

Sorry! Totally forgot to write that one but it is NOW, in the index on Home Page. "Wheel Well Moldings"

ck said...

Thanks for posting, i believe your process maybe a little challenging for me so i think i willuse the pvc for my wheel wells.

Anonymous said...

amazing concept and work. I own a 2000 class C similar to yours that so far, hasn't leaked at all (knock on wood)but I know most do leak due to lousy moldings and your idea would certainly solve the problem. However, your concept is seriously labor and time intensive compared to the current process and if you could find a manufacturer to do it, the cost of the RV would severely limit sales. Custom, one-off builders might take it on but mass builder wouldn't ever do it. RV's cost enough as it is lol

Ron Sheridan said...

Anonymous, I disagree with a concept that says, do not do the right thing up front.
If you cannot afford to build something correctly, then please get out of the business and stop screwing people that trust you by paying top dollor for new coaches.

On the other hand; IF, I can purchase some basic materials at Home Depot or another store to refurbish my 22 yr. old Class C and have it function just fine for another decade or 2, then I'll do that...especially if it only takes me a hundred or 2 and a couple of days.

I don't throw something good away, if only a small percentage of it needs attention.. I fix it and hope others can follow this concept instead of giving up and sending their items to the trash pile. Just my thoughts...

Scott said...

Perfect! Stealing this idea. I'm building a camper from scratch, and I swore up and down that I wasn't going to use stock corner mold. Thanks to you, I can do it right the first time. Cheers!!!

Jeannie Doherty said...

Thanks for your post, pictures and detailed instructions! I'm renovating a 1969 Frolic camper. The corners are horrible and were rotted completely on ours. We've gutted it, replaced all the rotted wood in the frame using a Kreg jig and stainless pocket screws. My husband and I couldn't agree with you more on the slapped together quality of RVs everywhere! We are going to use your idea to make nice wide corners to protect all our hard work. Thanks a million! You're a genius!

Erik Kilpatrick said...

Are the vinyl fence post corner molding lengths flexible enough to use on a Canned Ham or Toaster style Camper?

Ron Sheridan said...

Eric hello. NO, the Vinyl Fence Posts are quite rigid. They can be cut lengthwise and then used as I did...on the straight runs. I used fiberglass to make all moldings that had a curve to them.

The Petite Plantation said...

Hey, thank you for this wonderful idea! The post was written in 2012, how did it hold up? We are considering doing this to our 1998 Ford Motorhome..

Ron Sheridan said...

Hello, All of the projects on this RV to repair, then prevent water intrusion have worked as intended. I am extremely happy. Good luck on your project.