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Old 07-24-2007, 11:20 AM   #1
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Leaky Top (Still)

After two days in Austin I was told they couldn't get the top to leak. Sure enough the first day back in Tucson:


Again it was coming through the light. I had hoped that with their knowledge of top construction that they would be able to track down the issue- but "We can't get it to leak" was their final answer.

On taking off the light cover I immediately noticed a suspect screw.


I took off the light fixture itself and realized that there were several sizes of screws used. For starters that's weird- obviously someone has replaced screws at one time or another.


But there are 3 long ones and one short, but only one of the long ones was stained with leak on the light (although another one came out with black crud).

The light itself made it obvious there was a problem. I know the SMB guys took off the cover because it was cleaned when they were looking for the leak.



Once removed it was obvious this has been an ongoing problem. There are several positioning stains, the wood panel is all rotted and black and multiple screw holes for each screw. How could you see this and think there is not an ongoing problem?





Now it looks like my choices are 1) take the top apart completely 2) go back to Austin (28 hrs RT) or 3) go to Fresno (22 hrs RT)

The van has been in the dealership 6 times in two months and had a small host of other problems. In addition the rear of the top is Rhino lined over about 3 square feet. I assumed this was an SMB Factory mod for no slip climbing on the roof, but as Paul (SMB Texas) pointed out, it was probably an attempt at addressing the leak.

I'm not sure how the top is put together but it looks like the whole inside needs to come out, as it could be leaking anywhere and settling in the rear over the light. Not a job I want to tackle, plus since the board is rotted inside I can't exactly the ceiling back.

I'm off to call Paul... any ideas are welcome.
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Old 07-24-2007, 11:51 AM   #2
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Jage,

To get a better idea of possible entry points, what penetrations do you have on the penthouse and the forward factory metal portion of the roof, as well as any penetrations on the van body sides within 1'-2' of the roofline (e.g. awning mounting, exterior lights)?


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Old 07-24-2007, 12:57 PM   #3
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The third brake light is my "most likely" candidate, but all of the SMB factory mounts are over the same interior board, and that board supports the canvas. It could be the J-hook (center rear) although I would think the manifestation would come through the J-hook instead of the rear light. I'm going to take out the 3rd brake light next to see what I can see.

The red area is approximately where the light is in relation to the outside of the roof.

I'm waiting for Paul's response and I'm likely taking it to Fresno because I'd like the whole roof board replaced. We'll see what they say (and if they have time) after I hear from Paul.
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Old 07-24-2007, 04:51 PM   #4
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With any roof leak (including houses), it can be very hard to pinpoint the source of the leak. It's not always where the water stain manifests itself. The water could be finding the low point after entering somewhere else.


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Old 07-24-2007, 08:00 PM   #5
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It won't be the 3rd brakelight. That item is mounted outside of the canvas; and therefore outside of the inside top.

Could a long screw have punctured the fiberglass? It would only take a small hole. Get a ladder and crawl up there and look around. If you find a small hole, go to a good auto parts store or marine store and get some fiberglass patch and rough up the area and seal the hole. Don't worry too much about the appearance, cause nobody will see it.

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Old 07-25-2007, 09:54 AM   #6
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Consider yourself lucky

That you have been to a place with enough rain to get a leak. It's 100 degrees F and dry as a bone here in the Northern Rockies, and I'm beginning to regret not getting Starcool airconditioning.

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Old 07-25-2007, 10:13 AM   #7
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Summer averages 106º here in Tucson and it's too hot to put stuff in the van the day before a trip- It's also so hot that I feel guilty about parking the SMB in the sun all day. I've pined for the StarCool as well, but then again I'm not a real big fan of shore power.

The first two leaks were from washing and a light sprinkle, neither large amounts of water on the top. There was only one more leak over the next few months (despite some travels and some rain) and Austin couldn't get it to leak despite spraying and sheeting it with water for long periods.

In addition I drove back through downpours all across Texas, and came back to a storm here in Tucson that ripped gutters off with the volume of water coming down. No leaks.

Then the first day I was parked, it was hot and then rained in the afternoon and it leaked. Yesterday I took the light out and it rained, and no leak.

There are so many variables apparently that I can't even get it to leak when I want it too.
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Old 07-25-2007, 04:28 PM   #8
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Leaking Roof

Jage ,
Could water have already been in the fixture when you washed it? From your photos it appears the light has been repositioned. Perhaps because it pulled loose. Is the ceiling material actually damp?If you haven't been able to produce a leak could this be a problem with condensation? Moist air will condense on a metal fixture, sometimes enough to puddle in the light cover. You've seen how much condensation you get inside an unventilated tent when it's cold outdide. A couple of warm breathing bodies(prior owners) inside the SMB on cold days and nights might produce enough moisture to cause your problem.....just a thought.

Before I drove 22 hrs. to SMB West I'd seal all existing holes with silcone sealer especially around the wires coming through the ceiling. I'd reposition the light slightly and drill new holes (smaller than the screws). Put a little silcone sealer on each screw before you set it.

Wait until a good storm or next washing and see what happens.
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Old 08-15-2007, 12:16 PM   #9
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Well I've decided I'm not doing anything myself for a number of reasons-
1. I want it to look good
2. I'm pretty sure the whole roof needs to get taken apart to at least understand the problem*
3. Part of the sales pitch and brand identity is that "our tops are guarenteed not to leak". How much they seemed to stand behind their preowned quality was a real selling factor- now that my roof is more or less a collander (the problem continues to get worse even without use), I want to hold them to it.

So, something major is up with my roof and I want to get it fixed right. I called Peter this morning and told him the latest, and I think he finally got the gravity of the problem. Instead of just a quick check and seal he's agreed they will need to take the whole roof down, if piece by piece. So despite needing to spend two full days in Fresno I'm very happy because I want this fixed right.

I've had it parked on a slight driver down slope and had varing stains and dried water on the paper towels, trash bag and bucket I'd set up under the leak. Since then I moved the van to a flatter location, all of 10 feet away. I noticed no leaking residue in my catch with the van flat- this is all with the light out, since the light just serves to trap and divert the water. The PH bed has also been completely out, so it doesn't get wet and wasn't in the way.

In preparation for my Fresno Trip I went to put the bed back in and on raising the top a stream of water poured out the screw holes from the light. It was only like an 1/8 or 1/4 cup, but it wasn't raining and it made a steady stream for over a full second.

I believe this confirms that there is water getting trapped between the roof and the celing, which was my incomplete theory on why there wasn't just an obvious leak in one place.

Secondly I noticed there are now stains on the center section of the roof where water has dripped down and dried on my countertop. It's confounding too that all the water comes out dirty- I know the rain is clean, I know the top is clean, but the water ends up leaving brownish stains- another indication of being trapped between the layers.

Anyway, the PO did so much wonky stuff to the van (like 1/2 the fridge door hardware is missing and one of the hinges is just as mis-sized bolt) that I have no idea what is going on up in, on or arround the celing.

So I'm glad I finally got Fresno to recognize the magnitude of the problem, and I finally feel like I can go there and actually get it fixed right.
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Old 08-15-2007, 03:10 PM   #10
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i hate to say this, the time spent/wasted on fixing/locating leak is about the same the cost of new roof to begin with,
and don't you hate it when after having expended your engery, you end coming full circle,
good luck!
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