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Old 02-18-2015, 06:33 PM   #21
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Leaks!
I'm a long term boat builder and owner who also lives in a very rainy area of Southeast Alaska. I have learned a few things about caulking and keeping the rain on the outside.


I don't think the manufacture of the caulk is all that important .... its how its applied that matters more. Here is an example: put your thumb finger tip touching your pointer finger tip. Lighty touch the two surfaces and look at them. The space between represents your caulking material (thin as a piece of paper ... or less). Think of your thumb as the shell of your trailer and your pointer finger the case of a running light. They are most likely made of two different substances and will have two different rates of thermo expansion and contraction. If the caulk is as thin as a piece of paper, it won't have much of a chance to stay adhered to both the fixture and the shell of your trailer before a leak starts .... add freeze / thaw to jack the two apart and you have your leak.


To do it right go back to your thumb and figure again and hold them apart about 1/8" or maybe a bit less. The space represents the caulk and now imagine the same expansion and contraction. If the caulk is thick enough then it can stick to both surfaces and move with them. You have just made a gasket that will follow the contours of both surfaces.


1) hold up fixture in place on shell and pencil mark around it - maybe mark fastener hole locations
2) blue tape to the outside of line about 1/8" or less
3) blue tape up the outside of fixture about same distance
4) apply caulk to fixture and fasten very lightly. Caulk should ooze out
5) Clean up overage with a gloved finger tip and remove tape
6) VERY IMPORTANT - allow caulk to set for a few days to a week before fasteners are tightened. When you do .... tightening should cause the caulk to bulge slightly. Don't tighten fastenings too hard


I have used most name brand caulks and like most of them. Look for one that will still be soft and flexible after curing. In general silicone caulks aren't designed to stick to anything .... they are for sealing something up that may need to be taken apart again sometime in the future. If you have made a "gasket" as described above they will work just fine provided there are sufficient fasteners to exert a uniform pressure of the frame. Often light fixtures just have two screws near each end - in that case I'd go for a caulk with better adhesive qualities.


There is one caulk that I would never ever use ... 3M 5200. Its adhesive qualities are strong enough to pull off the gel coat and a couple laminations of fiberglass when removing the item
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Old 02-18-2015, 06:43 PM   #22
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Excellent post, good info.
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Old 02-18-2015, 07:08 PM   #23
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If I recall correctly those lights are sealed units and the only point of intrusion is where the wires and screws enter the trailer. As long as those 3 points are sealed properly, the caulk is redundant in stopping leaks?
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Old 02-18-2015, 08:08 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patandlinda View Post
Know not to use silicone . ...
GOOD FOR YOU!

This issue with the running lights isn't just with ETI, my Scamp had problems too... maintenance issue IMHO.
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Old 02-18-2015, 08:10 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
If I recall correctly those lights are sealed units and the only point of intrusion is where the wires and screws enter the trailer. As long as those 3 points are sealed properly, the caulk is redundant in stopping leaks?
I was thinking the same Jim. The hole for the wires should be just big enough and with a dab of sealant. Are the screws just a sheet metal type driven into the fiberglass?
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Old 04-02-2015, 06:34 PM   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
If I recall correctly those lights are sealed units and the only point of intrusion is where the wires and screws enter the trailer. As long as those 3 points are sealed properly, the caulk is redundant in stopping leaks?
UPDATE: As you point out IF the three points are sealed it might be redundant, but I had the two screws actually loose in their holes. They are just screwed into the fiberglass with some caulk around them. There is also no way to see IF the wiring hole is filled appropriately (mine was not filled completely, so the outside caulk was essential.) Also, with the gap the lights collect a tremendous amount of gunk, e.g. fir needles, dirt, etc. which then sits in their and oozes or holds moisture against the screw and wiring openings.

SO… I found out by removing my original light the above mentioned issues and installed a new flat light that Reace sent. We just returned from a three week trip to Death Valley, Anza-Borrego, and San Diego, where it was at 98 degrees. To my surprise, the new light did exactly as the old did, warped in the middle leaving about a 1/4 inch gap. I cleaned out the space again and filled again with RV Proflex Clear by Geocel. The nice thing about this caulk is that it wants to adhere to itself so old caulk can be cleaned and new applied over it. I did not remove the light again as I knew what had been sealed behind the light this time.

The purpose of this post was to give an update and suggest monitoring of the long lights if you had them mounted high on the trailer for gaps that might occur.
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:17 PM   #27
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Tim,
Is this running light on all trailers or was it an additional set that you had installed by escape?
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:28 PM   #28
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Hi Tim you should let Reace know what has happened. He might be able to change the method of mounting the lights so as to fix this problem.

Cheers
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:33 PM   #29
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I wonder why the plastic light expands in the heat and not the fiberglass underneath? Maybe Brian will expand on this.
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Old 04-02-2015, 07:53 PM   #30
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Jim, the fiberglass has significant stiffness compared to the strip light in addition to a much lower coefficient of expansion. The light bows because it is restrained at the ends by the screws and has nowhere to move except away from the fiberglass surface.
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