After weeks of off and on rain that limited our ability to work outside on Tilley the Silver Streak, we finally had a solid stretch of rain-free days. That meant it was time to start resealing her outer seams. But first, all of the silicon had to come off. The good news is that this part of renovating the camper isn’t highly technical. It is, however, an exercise in patience and persistence! Along the way we discovered a few tools and techniques that can help make resealing a vintage camper a bit easier, and we’re talking about that today:
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Preparing the surface
When we first bought our 1976 Silver Streak Supreme Luxury Liner we had no idea how long it would take to get off all the silicon caulk covering her outside seams. And it ended up being a multi-day ordeal. Silicon should never have been used on this type of trailer–and whoever put it on her must have been a bit drunk given the sloppy gloppy mess he/she left behind.
It took a bit of trial and error, but Jarrett found the best strategy to remove the silicon with minimal scratching of the aluminum surface was to use a 5-in-1 paint scraper, which has a pointed edge perfect for scraping the old caulk out of crevices. Sometimes a razor blade in a holder also worked well for problem areas.
Once he had scraped off as much of the silicon as he could, he sprayed problem areas with Goo Gone Caulk Remover. He let that sit for a bit and then wet a blue, non-abrasive Scotch Brite pad to scour the remaining silicon off. Unfortunately we could not get every last spot of silicon off, but it was clean enough that the new caulk could apply properly.
We have more pictures and step-by-step info below, but first, here is a video we made showing the whole process from start to finish:
Taping the seams
Caulking a camper is seriously messy, tedious work, and by the time you are finished with the process, it’s pretty likely that your back, arms, and legs will be sore from using muscles you didn’t remember you had as you squeeze, squat, and stoop. But a couple rolls of blue multi-purpose tape will go a long way to simplify the process, and spare you added aggravation.
Using the blue tape, Jarrett created a tape line above and below the seam he needed to apply caulk to. When applying the tape, he left enough room on either side of the camper seam so that the caulk would have an adequate surface to “grab,” but not so wide that he would end up using way more caulk than needed (and therefore have way too thick of caulk lines). You may have to get creative with applying the tape around curved areas–just tear off smaller strips of tape and piece them together like we did to go around the weep holes (pictured below).
Caulking the camper
Once you have established a tape perimeter around your seams, apply a bead of caulk between the tape lines, using steady pressure on the caulk gun. We used TremPro 635 (because remember, silicon is BAD for Silver Streaks!), a no-VOC silylated polyurethane. It comes in gray or white and is available at Vintage Trailer Supply–we could not find it on Amazon.
After caulking a stretch, Jarrett stopped the caulk gun and used his finger to smooth out the bead of caulk. He used steady pressure to create a consistent caulk seam, making sure the caulk spread evenly into the groove.
Once you have smoothed your caulk bead, it is important to remove the blue tape while the caulk is still wet–otherwise the caulk will bond to the tape and you will have a big problem. Jarrett found it was best to work in stretches applying caulk to one section, smoothing it, and then peeling off the tape before moving on to the next section.
After you peel off the tape, you should be left with nice clean lines–and hopefully a watertight vintage camper!
We still have a good bit of work ahead of us with reconditioning the outside surface of the Silver Streak trailer. But getting it completely resealed was the top priority so we could begin rebuilding the inside. Once we have tackled more inside projects, we will need to deep clean the Silver Streak’s surface and apply Everbrite, a protectant safe to use on the Silver Streak’s anodized aluminum surface.
But for now we are excited to have resealing behind us so we can start reinstalling insulation and walls in Tilley the Silver Streak!
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