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Old 11-26-2013, 01:46 PM   #1
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Newport, TN
Posts: 84
Our Wicki-Leak Repair Saga - 2005 Wildwood 37BHSS

We noticed a water problem in our 2005 FR Wildwood, in the carpet in the corner of the slideout under the bench seat. It's been really wet this season and the floor carpet and wood of the base of the bench was wet. We were totally freaked out by this of course. At first, we thought there was a roof leak in the slide out of our 2005 Forest River Wildwood 37BHSS, which we have nicknamed "Friday" since we think it was built on a Friday afternoon, due to all the sloppy workmanship we find on it all the time.

We immediately put our dehumidifier to work, set at "constant" to remove the water from the area, which took about a week. We also had to wipe down every single surface in the entire interior due to mildew that was accumulating, then we had to install some RV chlorine sachets, made by Starbrite to kill off the mildew. The dehumidification helps with this too.

The problem turned out to be a small piece of untreated 3/8" interior plywood, painted black, in the LH corner of the rollout, factory installed by Forest River and exposed to the elements when the slideout is extended. No flashing to protect it for some odd reason. the other corner has no such part, just the corner by the wheel well.

This piece of cheap plywood is exposed to rainwater and the elements, and due to a lot of rain this season, this wood soaked up water like a sponge, then wicked it into the floor of the slideout below the bench. How anyone could think that merely painting 3/8" interior rated plywood with some black paint would protect it from the elements, with no flashing or anything else, is beyond me. It would have rotten eventually, no matter what, if the slideout is left extended. THEREFORE, THIS CAN HAPPEN TO ANY FR SLIDEOUT or TRAVEL TRAILER OF SIMILAR VINTAGE, SO YOU MIGHT WANT TO INSPECT YOURS. PLEASE SEE ATTACHED PICS FOR LOCATION, SO YOU CAN CHECK YOUR OWN SLIDEOUT FOR WOOD ROT.

We were glad at least that it was not a roof leak.

Repairing this was not easy. Our TT is in the bojacks in a remote location, so excluding three or 4 trips for the dry-out and to go to Home Depot, it took about 6-7 hours to complete the repair work, after it was all dried out. This kind of task is best done by a trim carpenter or auto body repairman, as skills in both areas come in handy. Not for the clumsy or unskilled, as it required almost every tool I owned to get it done right.

To repair this we had to remove a 4" x 16" section of black colored 3/8" plywood located under the slideout plastic wheel cover that juts out at the RH corner of the bottom of the slideout when facing the slideout exterior.

The entire wheel cover had to be removed (it has several screws and some black plastic snap tabs that you cannot see), along with the wheel cover bracket. This was tricky, and required that we remove the screws, cut the caulk line and pull the white plastic wheel cover off. Unbeknownst to us there are about 5 black plastic snap brackets, similar to the ones used in auto body work, on the back side fo the wheel cover, which came off and could not be reused. I would guess that only an auto body repairman could have reused these anyway, so we came up with anothe way to do the repair without those glued on snap brackets.

We then had to take a small electric saw and cut the existing plywood midway, where the delamination ended, and remove one foot-long section of the rotten black plywood. We then bought some treated 1/2" plywood to do the repair, (3/8" plywood was not avialable at our Home Depot), and we used two pieces of this, one to replace the rotten part, and another overlaid over it to "scab" the old and new plywood together. I also bought a 5" white aluminum angle bracket to use as flashing at the end of the plywood, to keep rainwater off of it, along with SS screws to replace the now-rusty original OEM hex head screws and to attach the new plywood and the wheel cover.

I took some photos of the two stage repair job and will include some of those when i get them collected up.

It's all done now, and the repair is by far much better than the original factory installation. Very solid with SS screws and well caulked.

We are only discouraged that F.R. uses untreated plywood painted black exposed to the rain when the slideout is extended, and couples that with hex head screws that rust to boot. Certainly this could be improved, even if only by adding some flashing in the lower RH corner. Plywood sticking out in the rain that can create a "Wicky-leak" is a design flaw in my opinion. It is made to rot in Florida. And, the life expectancy of the trailer is shorted as a result of this flaw. At least we caught ours before the entire slideout floor rotted away... The floor itself has now dried out and seems to be fine.

In the meantime, due to a similar posting, we will be checking the flooring in other areas. You might want to do the same.
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walk_the_walk is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2013, 02:01 PM   #2
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: CA
Posts: 342
Thanks for the post; good catch, it will probably help many others.
First thing I did when I got my TT was to crawl under it add spray foam to any hole and checked all the welds and supports that I could see. Went up on the roof to look for any issues like missing caulking(I did find a nail left under the rubber roof). I still crawl under and over at least once a year watching for upcoming problems.
Last year I added flashing behind the wheel wells to protect the area that gets pelted by debris, it was starting to wear at only two years old. I am still thinking of adding mud-flaps as well. On my cheap camper this area was only protected/covered by thin tarp-like(woven nylon??) material.
I always tell anyone who asks about campers, “You have to love the maintenance as much as the adventure or you won’t enjoy having one”
Sorry, now I am just yapping too much
Nice info, thanks

2011 Wildwood T26BHXL
2004 Yukon XL Denali
43yrs of camping; one lucky guy
YoungKopernik is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-28-2013, 03:46 PM   #3
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Newport, TN
Posts: 84
Thanks for the reply YoungKopernick. You are not being yacky, but are "spot on", in that these travel trailers and 5th wheels need constant attention, and the gear on them does not last as long as one would think. Within the first 2 years of its life, we had to replace the A/C fan motor (a double-ended unit), even though it had had very little usage.

So, it keeps you on your toes and you really do need to be somewhat handy. For this reason, my brother has decided not to buy an RV for his retirement, but I think if you owned a nice Class A and could drive it to a qualified repair shop, and dont mind the expense, it would not be a big issue. After all, we do have a lot of fun in our home-away-from-home.

Recently, we found a company called Green River Cabins that builds nice quality log Park Models and may buy one of those next time, as they use high quality components. As you know a Park model is not much different than a travel trailer. You can see their selection at Forest River could learn a few things on interiors if they spent a day at their factory, which we toured.
walk_the_walk is offline   Reply With Quote

leak, repair, wildwood

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