Long-Term Review: Yakima Showcase 15

I had some opinions about my Showcase 15 right away, but decided to wait until after its first real trip before writing a long-term review. I used the box on a Thanksgiving voyage from southeast Virginia to St Louis, Missouri, about 880 miles each way plus local travel. Prior to that, I had stored my Showcase outside and locked it to my trailer. I discovered water inside when I opened it to move it to my car. I put the box back on my trailer and then looked for the point of water intrusion the next time it rained. I found the intrusion point and more…

First, I have to recognize that Yakima makes no claims to any cargo box being water-proof. The lack of lip sealing and the fact that these boxes are subjected to driving rain at highway speeds should lead one to expect slight water intrusion; wind-blown rain water is bound to drive its way around the edges of the lid and into the interior. However, my leak did not happen in driving rain. Instead, it was during a casual rain shower while the box was sitting in my driveway. I think anyone would reasonably expect the inside of the box to stay dry under those conditions. I opened the box and found water dripping through some rivets (see photo above).

I discovered this when the box was only a few weeks old. A Yakima representative said to simply apply a bead of silicone around the lift flange. I couldn’t help but wonder why Yakima didn’t seal these points during manufacturing. Unlike the front flange, pictured above, the rear flange is very difficult to reach. Accessing the underside of the rivets, where the water seeps, is impossible. Regardless, putting silicone inside (and past the point of entry) didn’t seem like the best way to address the leak. I decided to try a bead of silicone on the outside of the rivets, which didn’t work. The rivets appeared to be peeling as I removed the silicone and cleaned the area with isopropyl alcohol… very strange. Upon further inspection, I discovered that the rivets are made of plastic. Plastic rivets without sealant of any sort is certainly a disappointing feature on a cargo box that sells for nearly $700.

My next solution came rather unexpectedly while I was looking for something to glue over the outside of the rivets: I found a centerpiece from an old VW wheel cover from my 1998 Jetta. It had fallen off a wheel cover that I had hanging in my garage. I thought this old piece was a vinyl decal. Imagine my surprise to learn that the emblem is made of thin metal! I cleaned the old emblem and then glued it over the rivets with a thick application of Household GOOP. I stored the box inside and let the adhesive cure for about a week (overkill, I know). I think it turned out good.

Oddly enough, I thought the rear rivets that I had covered were the only leaky ones. I recently placed the Showcase outside in the rain to test my work for leaks. That’s when I discovered even more leaks. Not only does the front flange leak (shown above), but many of the hinge rivets leak, too. Here’s a photo that shows that the water is seeping past the hinge rivets before pooling in the bottom of the cargo box. The rivets that I covered with the centercap do not leak… the flange is DRY. I may put another centercap emblem over the front flange rivets, but the 12 hinge rivets on the lid will require a different technique.

The next flaw took longer to discover. Each time we stopped during our 1800-mile road trip, I noticed that the rear of the lid had lifted to expose the base. I had noted in my first review of the Showcase that overfilling the box led to the front of the lid lifting to reveal the base. I didn’t recall the rear edge lifting, even with the large suitcases that I had loaded. I shifted some cargo around to make sure that the luggage wasn’t pushing up the lid. After a few shifts of luggage with no change in lid behavior, I speculated that the airflow created at higher speeds was lifting the lid, much like the lift of an airplane’s wing.

I proved my theory after our trip by taking the empty box on a short drive. The lid remained planted at 65 mph, the speed at which most of my initial testing happened. Once out of town and exceeding 70 mph, the lid lifted into the position shown above. A quick look at this photo from August reveals that this isn’t a new problem, only one that I hadn’t noticed before and was more sensitive to after learning about my water leak. I will create some sort of clip or retainer to hold the rear edge closed at highway speeds.

Not having owned a cargo box before, I cannot grade this box on a curve that compares it to its predecessors or competition. Instead, I’m inclined to rate it “three of five stars” simply because I think a $700 box should stay closed and use sealed hardware that doesn’t leak. I considered returning it, but shipping is cost-prohibitive (over $150 to ship as freight), not to mention the hassle of shipping such a large object. Lesson learned: Buying from a local dealer may be more expensive, but returns are easier with a local dealer. Otherwise, once you have it, you’re stuck with it (especially once the gigantic shipping box is gone).  I will slowly change the hardware and seal water entry points, something that Yakima should have gotten right in the first place. As for noise and aerodynamics, I covered those topics here. In short, the Showcase is not a silent box, but I tend to believe its noise signature is as good or better than older designs. Therefore, I’ll keep it and fix the things about it which do not satisfy me. I’ve shared some photos of how I store the box below.

Hold the Sump Pump,

Scott

About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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