By Russ and Tiña De Maris
Many RVs, particularly older ones, have a fair amount of wood in their structure. And wood, sad to say, is subject to the rigors of life in a moisture-filled environment. If not thoroughly protected, dry rot can be the result.
Some time back we acquired a truck camper “project” that must have led a colorful life in some prior owner’s hands — read “low branches” with a rubber roof, and you know what can happen there. Instead of using the right repair materials, the job was a half-baked thing that leaked, and there was a spot in the underlying plywood decking where water got in — a soft patch of decking with the layers of plywood actually separating. What’s to do?
Short of a major renovation including plywood removal, installation of a new roof, and all the attendant financial ramifications, we tried a pilot project. The folks from Elmer’s (of glue fame) have a dry rot killer/wood stabilizer product and (on our own) we went about using the stuff to see if it would resolve our problem.
After peeling back the EPDM rubber roofing material, we removed loose plywood, bored small holes throughout the area, and impregnated the plywood thoroughly with Elmer’s Rotted Wood Stabilizer. We then temporarily ran screws throughout the area to bring the plywood layers together. After allowing 24 hours in warm air to dry, we pulled the screws, spread layers of exterior wood filler, dried, sanded, and buttoned it up.
Our immediate observations revealed that the plywood most decidedly hardened up —although we weren’t willing to risk walking on it — we never walk on our RV roof anyway. We had hoped to see how it lasted over a period of years, but sad to say, the poor maintenance routines that we’d inherited when we bought the rig closed in on other places around the roof. We had to remove the entire roof and work a different routine.
Still, for the several months that the Elmer’s product had been in place, it stood the test. This may be something you’ll want to try on a “project” rig of your own.