ANY RVER WORTH THEIR salt will tell you having a properly sealed van is one of the most important boxes you need to tick before hitting the road. There is nothing worse than pulling up after a long day at the wheel, ready to get into the van and have a relaxing cup of coffee, only to discover that everything is covered with dust or – worse – is all wet.
Whether silicone or foam tape, most new vans will come with some sort of sealing application around its windows. But rather than relying on what is produced at the factory, ensuring your windows are well and truly sealed is a very straightforward and manageable DIY task.
Paul Hewat the RV Repair Centre in Bayswater, Vic, took us through the process of resealing the windows on an after-market van. Each window frame should take around 30-45 minutes from start to finish.
The tools you will need include a screwdriver, foam tape, silicone, Preparation Wash and/or turpentine, methylated spirits and a sharp knife.
With the exception of the foam tape, all of these items are available at hardware stores. The tape can be purchased from RV repair workshops, and costs approximately $13 for a 15m roll in thicknesses of 9.5mm or 6.4mm.
It should be noted the windows on the caravan Paul worked on are Galaxy windows, making them more forgiving and less likely to crack or break. Extra care should be taken when working with glass.
STEP BY STEP (see gallery)
01 Using a sharp knife, cut away any excess silicone around the edges of the window. This is done both inside and outside the van.
02 Remove the screws from around the window frame. At this stage you can also cut away any leftover silicone from the top of the window frame.
03 Gently pry the window out of the frame. This is best done with a gasket scraper to guard against damage to the surrounding aluminium.
04 Carefully lay the window and frame flat and away from your work space.
05 Remove existing foam tape (if any) and scrape away any remaining pieces of glue around the window frame. This is best done with a shaped piece of old Galaxy window (or hard plastic), which will minimise the risk of scratching the aluminium. Be especially careful if you do use a metal scraper.
06 Remove the bulky pieces of foam tape from the edges of the window itself (this is the same basic procedure as Step 5).
07 Thoroughly clean the window frame and surrounding aluminium with Preparation Wash or turpentine. Once clean, remove remaining residue (using a separate rag) with methylated spirits – this will dry the surface and help ensure the new foam tape will bond to the aluminium.
08 Apply the foam tape to the edges of the window. Make sure the edges of the tape overlap each other, otherwise small gaps could appear and let water or dust in.
09 Place a small amount of silicone on the aluminium around the edge of the window. This is not to seal, but rather to make sure the foam tape adheres to the van (Tip: put some extra silicone at the aluminium panel joins to stop water getting inside the frame).
10 Re-screw the window in place. It is best to use brand new screws because used stainless steel screws can burr and break. Clear away any extra tape or silicone (Tip: use a pencil to mark exactly where each hole is to make it easier to line up and re-screw the frame).
11 Replace silicone around the edges of the frame (inside and out), and use Preparation Wash to clean the aluminium edges of the window.
Source: Caravan World May 2011.