Fixing Cracks - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-06-2016, 03:31 PM   #1
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Name: Daren
Trailer: 1985 19' Bigfoot tandem axle
Alberta
Posts: 14
Fixing Cracks

Hi, we have a 1985 19' bigfoot dual axle. The trailer overall has been kept extremely well but the exterior has seen many years of the elements. It is extremely dull and almost sort of chalky. The decals are all dull and cracked in many places. The back of the trailer seems the worst as the back of the trailer was south facing for most of it's life. The back also has a few very fine cracks. I have a few questions and would appreciate any advice from those far more experienced than I. I will post some pictures in the hopes that it will help.

I plan to remove the decals in time and replace with some new ones. If the crack repair is difficult to hide I will look at getting the decals made so that they cover the cracked area as this is a possibility.

Here are my questions:

1. Any idea what kind of fiberglass cracking I am dealing with here? It is extremely fine and I need to use my fingernail to detect it. Overall it seems strong in the crack areas and my limited guess would be that it does not go right through the fiberglass. Possibly the darker decal in this area attracted more heat causing the cracking?

2. What would be a recommended process to fix this cracking and touch up these areas?

3. There are a few areas that were touched up in the past. A spray can paint was used and is not the greatest match. What advice for removing the old touch up paint and what advice to find a good match?

4. Is it likely that I have no gel coat left on the trailer (I suspect this is the case) and if so what is the best bet to bring back a shine? I assume getting some sort of shine coating on it will help protect the exterior from further damage?

5. The pained brown window trim and brown rubber around the windows is also quite dull so any advice on bringing those back to life would be appreciated.

6. I would like to remove the old caulk from the windows and roof protrusions but am not sure what kind of caulk sealant is best to use with fiberglass.

I really appreciate any help on this,
thanks
Daren
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Old 06-06-2016, 03:42 PM   #2
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Name: Daren
Trailer: 1985 19' Bigfoot tandem axle
Alberta
Posts: 14
Some more photo's.

By the way I am just looking to get the trailer looking better and hopefully help protect it from the elements. I am not looking to have a show piece trailer. It's just something my wife and two small kids enjoy getting out into the wilderness with.
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P1010635.jpg   P1010637.jpg  

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Old 06-06-2016, 05:09 PM   #3
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Name: Wayne
Trailer: Casita
Connecticut
Posts: 108
Fine Cracks

Hey Daren,
I sure you find lots of threads regarding ways to restore your trailers finish. I've had good luck filling hairline cracks with Captain Tolly's Creeping Crack Repair, it's available at West Marine and online.
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Old 06-06-2016, 05:30 PM   #4
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Name: Jack L
Trailer: Bigfoot B-17 CB
Washington
Posts: 1,134
Those spider web like cracks in the photos are cracks on the gel coat. Not the fiberglass. To fix them, grind off the gel coat in the cracked area and apply new gel coat. They are not structural, just cosmetic. Some people do use Captain Tolly's and others (like me) move on to other issues like camping and repairing other things. Large gel coat repairs are beyond my pay grade. Small nicks and chips are not too difficult but large flat areas complicated. I have several spider web cracks like yours and they have not changed bit in years. Irritating, yes but not structural. The cracking in the decals may be limited to just the vinyl decal. A pressure washer will quickly remove most old decals, and new ones too. Don't ask me how I know this.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:08 PM   #5
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Name: K C
Trailer: 1980 18' Sunrader Motorhome and 1971 Trails West CampMite Campster
Washington
Posts: 1,036
The decals can be removed with an auto detailing tool called a "pin stripe eraser" It really is like a crepe rubber or vinyl eraser but wheel shaped. You need a plug in, corded drill press to run it. Not a difficult job, the eraser won't harm the finish but under the pin stripe the gel coat will still be nice and shiny as it was protected from all the UV rays. Just head to youtube and you can watch it being done.
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Old 06-06-2016, 07:20 PM   #6
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
North Carolina
Posts: 1,635
Quote:
Originally Posted by k corbin View Post
T... the eraser won't harm the finish but under the pin stripe the gel coat will still be nice and shiny as it was protected from all the UV rays. Just head to youtube and you can watch it being done.
This post, and Jack's before it, has me thinking.. hope its not off topic but I wonder if I should remove the decals on my new Scamp so that I dont have less faded gel-coat under the decals when the decals start coming off on their own in the coming years. In other words, maybe it would be easier to maintain a good consistent finish if I lose the decals sooner rather than later.
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Old 07-25-2016, 06:56 AM   #7
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: Burro
Montana
Posts: 6
does anyone have any recommendations about how to fill in little holes and rivetes in the FG? I have an 82 Burro, and its aquired some rock damage, little holes, and some minor cracking.
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Old 07-25-2016, 09:11 AM   #8
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Name: Keith
Trailer: Scamp
Texas
Posts: 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by liv2lrn_lrn2liv View Post
does anyone have any recommendations about how to fill in little holes and rivetes in the FG? I have an 82 Burro, and its aquired some rock damage, little holes, and some minor cracking.
We have used JB weld Marine epoxy to fill some rivet and screw holes that we are no longer using. I'm not recommending it as I don't know if this is a huge mistake or if it will hold up. When it cures it looks like white chalk. I need to look into doing some gelcoat touch up.
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