Renovating the Rustler: A Saga, Part Three

If you’re following along, you’ve already read Renovating the Rustler: Part Two.

So now that I had basically rebuilt the entire frame of the trailer, I had to move onto fixing the roof. I had already caulked the noticeable holes from the inside of the trailer, but now I needed to seal the entire roof from the outside. I just fixed all the interior stuff like studs, I needed to ensure it didn’t leak again and ruin all my work.


Here is the roof! I had to go to Murphy’s RV (conveniently located in Josephburg) to buy a new vent because the original shroud was broken, allowing rain and snow right into the trailer.  Now the roof itself is an absolute mess of previous caulking and sealant. I asked at Murphy’s what they recommend I do with a roof covered in old sealant: she said it all had to come off. All of it. And then be resealed.

So I got out the heat gun and a scraper and began to scrape off the old stuff. There was layers upon layers of sealant up there. At some point someone used actual road tar to patch the joints where the sheets of metal meet. The tar and the heat gun made a huge mess, and about 15 minutes into this ordeal, I quit. There was no way I’d ever be able to scrape off all the old stuff.


I moved on to cleaning off the most important area: around the vent. I needed the edges around the vent to be scraped clean right down to the metal, so the sealant would actually contact the metal when I installed the new vent. I removed the old vent completely.


I installed the new vent using butyl tape under it where it met the roof, then used soffit screws to hold it in place, then caulked around it, then used an RV roof sealant on top of that, and then used a spray sealant from the inside. Take that leaky vent!


After the vent was handled (which took an entire 8 hour day), I moved onto sealing the whole roof with a rubber sealant. First I had to clean off all the old sealant that was peeling up, then sweep off all the pine needles and old paint, and then wash the roof by hand to remove all the dirt and grime. That took hours of prep but rolling on the sealant was totally worth it.


It was so beautiful! I was so happy with it. It sealed everything so nicely and gave it such a clean look. *foreshadowing – don’t ever get excited* 

At this point, I thought the roof was done! *Ha!* I moved inside to start on the bathroom. The “shower” area had damaged all the paneling and the ceiling was rotten.


At this point, Chris showed up all grumpy, but thankfully he channeled that anger into ripping the bathroom apart.


He had it stripped down to the studs within half an hour. Yes, you can see the light coming in from outside, because yet again, that’s damage from screw holes. The previous owner bent a piece of sheet metal over that exterior corner and used drywall screws to hold it on in the effort to…prevent a leak? I think? That solution did not solve anything and it just made more holes and spaces for water to leak in.


As Chris ripped it all apart, I measured and cut new paneling for the walls. Of course I measured once and had to cut twice, because I totally messed it up. The wall in the corner is a weird shape, ok?!


Now we’re getting to the fun part, where you actually get to see stuff changing! The new paneling looked great and other than my incorrect measurements, it all went well! I was so happy.


The angled corner piece on the left is what I messed up, but I just filled it with caulking because each sheet of paneling is $30 and I cannot afford to sink more money into this thing. Also if you’re a perfectionist, you’ll notice the stripes on the paneling on the window wall are running horizontally, while the stripes on the shower wall are running vertically. Again, I was not about to buy a whole other sheet just for stripe direction.

So naturally, I got way too excited and I moved onto painting the bathroom. I put on a first coat, and then went to bed. That night there was a huge rainstorm, and when I went out to the trailer in the morning to paint a second coat, there was rainwater dripping everywhere down my new paneling.


I could’ve cried. This was exactly what I had worked so hard to prevent from happening. There was water everywhere. However, the paneling in the bathroom is pretty hardy, so it didn’t damage it too much. I investigated further and found it was dripping in from somewhere around here:


It’s a vent from behind the fridge that runs up to the roof of the trailer. It has a cover that I removed in this photo. I poked it and sure enough, it was all rotten under the roof, so screwing it down into rotten wood wouldn’t help. Again, I had to open the side of the trailer (thankfully I only had to undo about 6 inches of my previous work) and replace the studs. Then with the heat gun, I scraped off all the old sealant. I got out the trusty soffit screws and the caulking and sealed it all up! With the cover back on, we got rain again that night, but now the bathroom stayed dry!


So now I was really, really sure that was the last roof problem I was going to have. I’ve sealed every fixture there is on the roof that could be sealed, and I rolled on two coats of the rubber sealant. *foreshadowing…you know what’s happening by now*

In order to explain all the roof problems in one post, let’s skip ahead to the most recent disaster. The Rustler was all ready for her maiden voyage to Big Valley Jamboree, when of course, the night before, we had a huge rainstorm. In the morning I found all my new ceiling paneling was water damaged right above the bed. It was paneling that I had installed the NIGHT BEFORE. Nothing like redoing your own work that you just finished 12 hours ago. So at this point, I’m in tears. I don’t even have photos of the damage because I was too angry to handle it. Long story short, I pulled off the wet ceiling paneling (damaging it along the way) and investigated where the leak was coming from. The drip was on the right hand side of the trailer above the bed, but the leak originated on the left, so it pooled on the paneling and ran all the way to the other side of the ceiling, destroying everything along the way.

The leak ended up being a low spot on the roof between the studs that had pooled a lot of rainwater and of course that pool was conveniently located on the joint of the sheet metal. The sheets of metal that make up the roof are just folded over one another and reinforced with some metal banding. Which seems like a terrible design, and with time that banding had loosened and the two folded pieces were barely together. It must’ve been a problem spot because it had been patched lots before but clearly wasn’t holding at all. I scooped all the water off the roof, and working from the inside, cut new cross studs, and screwed them in higher than the original studs so that the metal was pushed up and wouldn’t bow and pool. The joint and banding needed to be forced back together but there was no stud behind it to screw anything in to. So I had to cut another stud and brace it behind the sheet joint so I could go up on the roof and screw the metal down into the new stud. I caulked it all when it was back together and put on even more sealant.

Here’s the finished patch job, sealed with my tears:

With a little mental breakdown beforehand, which Chris handled super well, we were off to BVJ!

Where it rained!

All weekend!

Of course!

But shockingly, the Rustler did not leak from any known spots. Not from the bathroom, not from the fridge vent, not from the spot I repaired above the bed. Nowhere, except a small drip at the front window. Chris solved that by putting a red solo cup under it and talking me down in a soothing voice. The windows will need to be resealed in the future, but a tiny drip was the least of my worries. I was expecting catastrophic leaks.

So now that the roof might actually be fixed (let’s not jinx it), we can move on to the fun interior changes. Stay tuned for Renovating the Rustler: A Saga, Part Four for some before and after photos!

Running total: $1515

Sealants – $120
Roof vent, butyl tape – $88
Bathroom panels– $60
Interior paint & primer – $92
2×2’s, caulking, soffit screws – $57

Hours total: 52 plus 6, 9, 8, 3, 5, 2, 3 = 88 hours

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