Technical Tips #23
By Bob Lowe BOA #696
Problem Windows on Early Production 1994 Bounders
There were two problems with the "rectangular windows" found on early production 1994 Bounders. These coaches were built from August 1993 to December 1993. The following will assist you in determining if you have a Bounder that may be affected.
The simple method to determine whether you have a unit that is susceptible to window problems is to look at the windows. Is the glass surface rectangular with 90 degree corners (not rounded)? Is the frame of the window assembly made from four pieces assembled with 45 degree miters at each corner? If the answer is yes, you have one of about 400 Bounders with dual pane rectangular windows. If they are round framed in the corners and the glass is rounded at each "corner" then you have DO NOT have a unit that may have window problems.
The first problem Fleetwood corrected under warranty and most coaches should have had the "fix" completed. The Factory recalled all affected units to the dealers, which then removed windows, drilled stress relief holes in the corners, applied weathersealing and reinstalled all of the windows. The flat painted camouflage areas (painted on the body to simulate round cornered windows in appearance from a distance, were covered with flat black plastic panels that were 1/8" thick and about 2-3" wide with rounded corners. If these panels are present on all side windows on a used coach you can assume that the recall was completed. I would expect that if you gave Fleetwood the Fleetwood Information Number off the label near the left front driver's mirror that they could confirm whether the work was completed as well.
The second problem is a concern because it involves a slow deterioration of the double-sided rubber sticky tape that secures the fixed (non-movable) glass to the aluminum window frame. If this tape "lets go" the window can "blow out" while you are driving down the road. This has happened to a BOA member, luckily with no injuries, but certainly not a situation that you can prepare for. There is a solution!
The window frame construction provides a 3/4" wide flat surface that the glass is pressed onto using this tape. A molded rubber-sealing strip is pressed over the glass on the outside into a track in the frame. Air pressure builds up on the inside of the coach while you are driving and pushes air & dust, lint etc. out over this tape towards the exterior of the Bounder deteriorating its 'stick ability'. If water builds up in the track, the tape as it fails will "wick up" the water accelerating the deterioration of the tape. Since the aluminum frame is mounted in a continually flexing fiberglass body, and the glass surface is a large non-moveable object, the stress of flexing and movement takes its toll on the sticky tape. It is fair to say that there are imperfections in the body and frame that prevented complete sealing of the sticky tape to both the glass and the aluminum frame right from the initial production. This allowed air to vent out and created wind noises that dealers often could not find because they were looking for air leaks around the window frame to the Body. And when the coach is sitting in the dealer's shop there was no air pressure inside the coach so the glass appeared to be sealed against the frame.
To determine if there is a poor seal there are four potential signs:
- Listen for wind noise while driving the coach, especially at highway speed, (you will need to have someone walk through the Bounder and listen for wind whistles at each window.
- If the sliding windows are hard to move in their track (since as the frame detaches from the glass it springs back towards the moving window and can lead to binding and damage to the nylon track.) then you may have a window attachment problem
- Unexplained water (rain or dew) entry in areas around fixed windows. We were sitting at the dinette early one morning after heavy dew and we experienced water rapidly dripping into the coach from the top of the window. The seal around the frame to the body was perfect and we could not figure out where the water was entering, until we discovered that the glass to frame seal was broken.
- Firmly push each fixed window glass out from the inside in the center of the glass and look carefully at the glass to frame joint. If there is movement of the glass, chances are that all that is holding your window in is the exterior rubber molding. Check the top, bottom and sides of all windows from the driver and passenger seat back, including the rear window.
Fleetwood suggests removing the affected panes and using a new sealing material. My understanding is that it is similar to the sticky tape used previously, although a better quality material. The repair that we have undertaken does not use any tape and it is effective. We had the rear window repaired using this method in May 1994 and the front driver and passenger windows done in March 1995. The remaining windows were done in August 1999. The repair involves having a reputable autoglass shop remove all fixed panes, properly then removing the sticky tape from the glass and the frame. They prime the frame with a preparation agent and reinstall the windows with a black urethane window bonding material applied with a caulking gun. This adhesive is the same one that autoglass firms use to install front and rear windshields in modern cars. In fact, the 2000 Bounder has the windshield installed using the same method. Once the material has cured, the installer must go around the window on the inside using a razor blade to cut off the excess material that oozed up on the inside window frame during installation. Expect the coach to be at the shop for one day and possibly overnight to ensure full, undisturbed cure of the sealer. Cost will vary but my estimate in US funds is about $250. (Since we had ours done in stages in Canada, it is hard to give an exact cost.) The key to the job is the proper removal of the tape and thorough cleaning and preparation of the frame and glass before application of the urethane sealer.
From my experience I can assure you that the coach is more solid, with NO wind noise. It is noteworthy that the manufacturer of these rectangular double pane windows is out of business, so replacement panes are not available. Fleetwood has another supplier that will ship a window, but the complete frame assembly must be replaced, and my understanding is that it is noticeably different in appearance. If a pane is broken or blows out, you are on your own when it comes to replacing just that double glass panel. My recommendation is to carry out this repair ASAP.
My personal experience has shown that the smaller windows by the kitchen sink and in front of the door were in the best condition, possibly because they were shielded by the awning from much of the rain. My coach is usually stored inside; thus weathering was not a significant factor. Hopefully this information will assist those of you that are looking at a used 1994 Bounder and those that already own one.