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Old 06-09-2021, 03:41 PM   #1
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Hi-top reattach and reseal and repair rust E350 2001

I have a 2001 EB E350 with a fiberglass high top that I just purchased a month ago.
There is some leaking around where the fiberglass of the top meets the metal of the roof. This top is secured by screws going from the outside in, unlike a Fiberine top that has an inside lip.
At about a half a dozen or so of the screw holes there is some rust and I will be cutting that out and welding some new metal in to repair those areas.
This will mean that I am undoing all the screw and and cutting/cleaning all the old sealant out and raising the top on some 4x4 posts. I think it is silicone sealant. You can see big gobs of it in the photos.
I will also be repairing some rust around the rear high handicap doors.
The last photo is the sticker of the top manufacturer.
From looking at photos of member JWA's van, it appears to be the same manufacturer.

I am looking for suggestions on best practices and materials to do this job.

Thanks
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Old 06-09-2021, 03:54 PM   #2
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Is that a J-B Weld fix in that next to last pic? I don't know from fiberglass van tops, but stainless fasteners couldn't hurt.
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Old 06-09-2021, 04:10 PM   #3
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You may or may not be aware that the E series rain gutters by themselves have a tendency to rot out. The factor filler that is bonded to the gutters separates with rain and dirt getting in and progressively rust out the gutter.

So if there are any of the original rain rutters exposed to the weather I would dig out and wire wheel that all out. I did this repair and used fiberglass (waterproof) body filler. I did not have a welder at the time and it is plenty strong.

Also, treat all the bare metal (after your repairs) before painting and I would use Por-15

https://por15.com/collections/por-15...op-rust-system

Apparently, the silver has much more solids in it than the black but unless you need that the black covers great using a small touch-up sprayer.

It has a small 0.7 mm nozzle so it only needs about 35-45 PSi which can be provided by almost any compressor.

Note the paint above is UV sensitive so you might need to top coat it is it is going to be exposed to the sun.

If you get the metal clean enough (prep it the same way as above products) you can use Top Coat directly. It is very hard and not UV sensitive. Again my preferred method is to spray as the working time is very long (it is moisture sensitive and goes off faster with high humidity) but invariably you get drips with smooth as glass finish due to the lack of control dipping a brush.

https://por15.com/collections/topcoa...ducts/top-coat



https://www.harborfreight.com/air-to...gun-92126.html
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Old 06-09-2021, 06:43 PM   #4
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That is not JB weld. It is rubbery and it seems to be black silicone sealant.

The rain gutters surprisingly seem pretty good all the way around except for maybe an inch at the very back. See 1st photo.
I treated some surface rust on the floorpan with ospho and POR15 black that I brushed on. The floor had no rust holes but had the beginnings of rust from the fiber/spongelike mat under the rubber mat. I am looking for a suitable non absorbent underlayment for there.
I will treat the rust on the back door frame and roof edge the same way most likely.
It is hard to tell how extensive the problem is at this point because there is so much caulk obstructing the view.
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Old 06-10-2021, 08:06 AM   #5
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Our vans may have been converted by the same outfit--tough to tell without knowing which was used for our respective tops. I would say its highly likely but that's of no matter anyway.......

The tops you mention with the inside flange didn't come along until after your's was built, the attachment method we each have tend to be sufficient keeping the tops in place and mostly leak free. I don't necessarily disagree removing the top completely, removing all the old sealant on the metal and fiberglass and re-installing the top with new flowable sealant and screws.

I would use a high viscosity adhesive that's relatively slow curing allowing you plenty of time to dispense it and set the top back in place. Using a cordless powered caulking gun would make this much easier but you'd want someone at your side opening and handing fresh tubes as they are emptied during the application.

BEFORE all that though I'm make sure the van body sheet metal is cleaned, rust free and properly treated to resist rust going forward. The urge to reapply the rain gutter sealant is strong but if you don't think the existing is failing that's not a big problem on the E-Series. Too many have done it improperly using unsuitable materials and become highly disappointed when it creates more problems than it ever cured.

When the sealant has been applied whoever or whatever you'll have helping set the top back in place will be critical. The top and body completely ready to set it place as soon as the last of the sealant is applied ideally an over head crane or lift could be employed. Lifting the top over the "roll cage" structure will be a somewhat difficult procedure especially if you have only volunteer help.

Some here have used a Sika product on their boats and van's so their experience and recommendations will be good to hear. I'd perhaps also contact 3M for their recommendations as they will have a number of solutions ranging from simply sealants to full blown structural adhesives too. As most know they're not cheap products but this isn't a job you want to do more than once.

That's my $0.02 worth and wouldn't mind talking more at length about this over the phone if that would be helpful.
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Old Yesterday, 03:59 PM   #6
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In looking at those photos I think I have the exact same high top as your van. Not happy with it at all. It is super thin and I've had multiple leaks through cracks in the gelcoat. Plus, I have some rusk along the high door bridge and along the door extensions. Luckily no rust along the rain gutters.

In hindsight I wish I would have bought a normal top van and installed a Fiberine myself. Good luck with the repair.
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Old Yesterday, 09:05 PM   #7
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I don't have rust in the gutters either. The area over the back doors has water puddling and leads to rusting.

I will be cleaning, sanding and spot repairing any questionable areas before painting the fiberglass hightop so I think that will resolve any issues with the gelcoat. I may use rustolium marine deck paint, or I have been considering a 2 part bedliner or a 2 part epoxy marine paint. Both of those are expensive compared to the rustolium. I will be painting from the line below the windows on up to the whole roof in white. The bottom of the van will remain green.

I don't think the top is that badly made. I think it will be serviceable. I think it is mostly the shoddy careless work of those who cut and attached the hightop which lead to the leaks and rust.
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