Sealing the Spartan


Some options for sealing the Spartan.   These are suggestions gathered from around the Web.  They are not endorsements in any way., “Dave Leblanc”

I have just purchased a 47 SM and have concern about putting in an expensive interior and having any leak issues that would damage any of my hard work and efforts. I have been told by a what I believe to be a reliable company in the business of restoring Spartans that Spartans are know to be leak queens. This company does pressure leak tests similar to those done in home energy audits to find potential leaks in the coaches. My particular concern is all the riveted joints. Do I need to seal all the joints, how would that look on a polished or painted coach? 
 I am interested in how others that have blazed the trail have experienced with leaks in 63 year old panels seams that appear fine.


“Leak Queens”? That seems a bit of an overstatment. Come on, they’re 60+ years old and have been (usually) neglected for most of that time.

I found both of ours had leaks in the end cap seams (the double riveted row where the center is riveted to the ends), and both were easily stopped with clear RV roof sealant in the little tubes.

 I will say that the ’46 didn’t leak untill I powerwashed the skin and blew the crap out that was keeping it from leaking. The ’46 also leaked at the door seams (the short gutters don’t help that) and the same stuff stopped the leak. Missing rivets will leak, in the room you can use blind pop-rivets.

I had a terrible time sealing the panel I replaced in the roof over the rear window, but I did it improperly (don’t use Olympic rivets on the roof) and it was COLD. The roof vents are steel framed, and the aluminum skin may be corroded under them, which may leak too. It’s just a matter of repairing things properly.

Our trailer is polished, I just lay a strip of masking tape over the seams where there’s any sealant exposed. Done.

Don’t let that casual statement s 


My spartan only had leaks from the window rain trays where crap had collected.
Compared to my Airstream which is 24 years younger and leaks in so many places
when it rains I stay drier if I stand outside.
If Spartans are leak Queens then Airstreams are leak Gods!

Doesn’t help that I am in England.
We invented rain!

Only solution I believe is to locate leak areas, remove inner panelling in those
areas, rebuck the rivet lines and sikoflex the skin joins.
That’s what I did as I removed the inner skins anyhow.
Maybe overkill, but she will not leak for another 60 years.



I totally disagree. Spartans are well known as being nearly leak proof
compared to most other brands. The only place most Spartans EVER leak is windows
(usually within the window itsself) and occasionally around the roof vents and
exhaust vents. I’d seal those and call it good. You could always use a pressure
washer and check for leaks since yours is already gutted. You can use a number
of sealants from the nasty silver stuff applied with a stick, or I prefer
Acryl-R which is a self leveling joint sealant in a caulking tube that comes in
clear or silver. It wicks into seams. Some people transfer it to a syringe that
allows for an extremely thin bead.

Have fun with it. I’ve seen what you are capable of and I have a feeling your
Spartan is really going to be something when you’re done! I just picked up
another one and am going to go get it tonight, weather permiting.

Best regards,

Bend, OR
’53 Spartanette 131
’49 Spartanette 24

Creeping Clock Care – available at Vinatge Campers it is s thin liquid.  squiret some on the seams. it uses capillary action.  may have to go over it three or five times.  then use Seal Pro.  [from dan at vintage campers]

Advice below is from  (interior restoration)

Before any refinishing was done all leaks in the trailer had to be sealed. I used a liquid seam sealing product called Capt. Tolly’s. This is a marine product which has a capillary action by which it draws itself into the crack and hardens. Vulkem 116 Sealant was used for larger seams.. Another option is to coat the interior with a gas tank sealer such as POR-15. to create a water tight seal.

from the blog: quoting Airstream forum:

How to Seal Leaks in an Airstream Travel Trailer

Yes, Airstreams can leak. All motor homes and travel trailers can and probably will leak as they age. Here’s a bit of information I’ve gathered as I begin trying to understand where and why Airstreams leak and what to do about it.

Eternabond tape

Some people carry a roll of Eternabond sealing tape for making emergency leak repairs. I haven’t tried it on my Airstream but have used it extensively to seal penetrations and seams on the aluminum flat roof of My 1992 Lazy Daze 26-1/2 MB Class C Motorhome. It would work great for emergency repairs but it adheres so aggressively I think I would be reluctant to use it on an Airstream. Removing it to do a proper repair might be quite a problem unless there is a solvent for the adhesive that would allow it to be removed without damaging the clearcoat. I would research that first.

Best Materials carries a complete line of Eternabond RoofSeal White, RV Roof Repair Tape, Miracle RV Tape, Roof Leak Repair Tape at competitive prices.

Some advise from Andy of Inland RV

Andy of Inland RV posted the following in this AirstreamForums thread:

Vulkem is used for the large seams, such as at the top of the windows, entrance door, vent cover flanges and awning rail. It’s also used to seal the vent pipe gaskets, through the fiberglass screening and on to the black vent pipes.

Parbond, comes in 5 ounce tubes and is used for small seams, such as segment seams and around the top and both sides of clearance lights, and around the sides of the window frames. It, like vulkem, never completely hardens. Very small beads can easily be made with Parbond.

We have used it for many years and keep much of it in inventory.

and in a later post Andy says…

Sealing the seams on the side of a coach, is usually cosmetic. If indeed there was a water leak on the side, it would indicated severe abuse or structural damage. Sealing the roof is another matter. Since the roofs receive far more sun exposure than the sides, a failure of a sealer can occur. It is wise to check the roof periodically for a sealed area that may have opened up.

Generally speaking, the vast “majority” of Airstream water leaks are caused by the owner. Simply not balancing the running gear properly, AND, not keeping it that way, causes at least 98 percent of all water leaks. Extremely rough roads, cause the rest. Rarely, will anyone ever find or hear of an Airstream trailer, that has been parked for years, having a rain water leak.

That in it self tells where the problem starts.

On the other hand, most water leaks, in fact, are not at any seams, but are most likely from worn out window gaskets, sewer and drain line vent pipe gaskets that are cracked ( these should be replaced every 5 years or so), leaky clearance lights (caused by simple sun exposure which shrinks the plastic), bad or missing ceiling vent cover gaskets, and of course, missing rivets.

Awning rails usually take a beating, when the awning has been used for extended periods of time. Notice how a small wind makes an awning flutter, let alone high winds. That fabric movement puts a great stain on the awning rail.

Any resealing should be carefully considered, before any application of a sealer. If there are no leaks, then leave it alone.

Like they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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