Help with silicone removal - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-30-2006, 10:58 PM   #1
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I think that I read somewhere that silicone seal is no good on fiberglass as it loosens up. I can attest to the fact that it does not.
I have been working all day trying to remove the excess silicone, without scratching the fiberglass, that the prior owner smeared around all 3 windows on my Campster. I have removed the 2 side windows to have them rebuilt. I would like to remove the silicone that is on the fiberglass.
If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks,
John Perry
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Old 07-30-2006, 11:15 PM   #2
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I think that I read somewhere that silicone seal is no good on fiberglass as it loosens up. I can attest to the fact that it does not.
I have been working all day trying to remove the excess silicone, without scratching the fiberglass, that the prior owner smeared around all 3 windows on my Campster. I have removed the 2 side windows to have them rebuilt. I would like to remove the silicone that is on the fiberglass.
If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks,
John Perry
Acetone will dissolve silicone but it will also take off gelcoat. It is some times used to take off chalking off of old gelcote prior to polishing and buffing. Denatured alcohol will also loosen up the silicone and not as harnful to your gelcoat.
Eddie Longest
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Old 07-31-2006, 12:34 AM   #3
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Plastic windshield scapper or Plexiglass strips will roll it off and then clean off with white gas or WD40. The other ingredient, lots of elbow grease!
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Old 07-31-2006, 07:01 AM   #4
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Acetone will dissolve silicone but it will also take off gelcoat. It is some times used to take off chalking off of old gelcote prior to polishing and buffing. Denatured alcohol will also loosen up the silicone and not as harnful to your gelcoat.
Eddie Longest
I've used Acetone...never had a problem with it damaging the gel coat in anyway and found it doesn't dissolve silicone...it will ruin vinyl graphics however.

Quite frankly, I've found absolutely nothing that works on removing silicone except...two thumb nails ( ) and as Con mentioned...a plexiglass ice scrapper (and I know that doesn't damage gel coat). Just be prepared to scrape, scrape, scrape and scrape some more.
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Old 07-31-2006, 10:31 AM   #5
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I haven't found anything which works except mechanical removal (i.e. scraping). I posted earlier about a Plastic Scraper for Fiberglass, which does seem to work better than anything else I've tried, and is quite convenient to use.

The problem I've seen on my Boler is not that the silicone sealant generally fails to stick, but rather that if fails in one spot, and forms a channel for water behind the rubbery crud which remains. I think silicone sealant as caulk is for bathtubs and aquariums, and doesn't work all that well around bathtubs. As a formed-in-place gasket between rigid surfaces it can be very effective, but that's not how it is typically used on trailers.
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Old 07-31-2006, 12:18 PM   #6
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There's a post (Cleaning Tips for RV's ) that says that lacquer thinner works well for removing silicone. (I haven't rried it myself yet.)


Nancy

Quote:
I haven't found anything which works except mechanical removal (i.e. scraping). I posted earlier about a Plastic Scraper for Fiberglass, which does seem to work better than anything else I've tried, and is quite convenient to use.

The problem I've seen on my Boler is not that the silicone sealant generally fails to stick, but rather that if fails in one spot, and forms a channel for water behind the rubbery crud which remains. I think silicone sealant as caulk is for bathtubs and aquariums, and doesn't work all that well around bathtubs. As a formed-in-place gasket between rigid surfaces it can be very effective, but that's not how it is typically used on trailers.
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Old 07-31-2006, 03:13 PM   #7
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I`ve used scrapers and various chemicals, but the plastic scraper works best according to the posts and then clean the area with vinegar a few times.....apparently silicone has acetic acid in it and vinegar is about 7% acetic acid and this is supposed to work......I`m one of the few people on this site that uses silicone among other caulks on my fiberglass trailers and have success with it....you can`t just gloop it on all over.....also used to use it a lot at work as an adhesive/sealant on glass and acrylic and Lexan plastics...and it worked very well......I don`t know about now, but at one time fish aquariums used to be glued together with silicone and also as gaskets in auto and diesel engines and on aluminum crankcases of 2 stroke/cycle engines in snowmobiles and I guess motorcycles also.......both tubs in our home are sealed with silicone without a problem......I believe that the problems associated with silicone use are improper surface preparation and application......anyway...off on a tangent here!....Benny
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Old 07-31-2006, 03:30 PM   #8
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I haven't found anything which works except mechanical removal (i.e. scraping). I posted earlier about a Plastic Scraper for Fiberglass, which does seem to work better than anything else I've tried, and is quite convenient to use.

The problem I've seen on my Boler is not that the silicone sealant generally fails to stick, but rather that if fails in one spot, and forms a channel for water behind the rubbery crud which remains. I think silicone sealant as caulk is for bathtubs and aquariums, and doesn't work all that well around bathtubs. As a formed-in-place gasket between rigid surfaces it can be very effective, but that's not how it is typically used on trailers.
Brian,

After seeing your post, I bought 25 of the orange plastic blades, but have not used them yet.

Have you used them yet for removing silicone? How well did it work?
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Old 07-31-2006, 05:58 PM   #9
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I think that I read somewhere that silicone seal is no good on fiberglass as it loosens up. I can attest to the fact that it does not.
I have been working all day trying to remove the excess silicone, without scratching the fiberglass, that the prior owner smeared around all 3 windows on my Campster. I have removed the 2 side windows to have them rebuilt. I would like to remove the silicone that is on the fiberglass.
If anyone has any ideas I would appreciate hearing from you.

Thanks,
John Perry

Hello John;

I have done a lot of work on my Bigfoot since i got it. I have removed all the silicone sealant on the trailer and used "Flextra" sealant instead. I dunno if Flextra sealant is available in the U.S, but it's available at all Canadian hardware store. Flextra is made of a thermoplastic material, that remains flexible (can be stretched up to 1400%), and adheres to almost any kind of surface. It is perfect for every material that is subject to flexing, or parts moving a little(like on a trailer!!!! ) Once it dries out, you have to work hard to remove it.

IMHO, silicone is perfect for aquariums, or bath tubs, but not for use on eggs, because of flexing.

http://www.sico.com/FICHES/EN/FT/Mulco/TDS_101XX0.pdf

Yves.
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Old 07-31-2006, 06:18 PM   #10
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...After seeing your post, I bought 25 of the orange plastic blades, but have not used them yet.

Have you used them yet for removing silicone? How well did it work?
I finished that window which I showed in my post. The scraper worked at least as effectively as the flexible knife blade which I had been using, without gelcoat damage. The flexibility helps it conform to the slight surface curves, which I found useful. Basically one run around the perimeter of the frame, scraping on the fiberglass, separated the various sealants from the body. Another pass at right angles took the stuff generally off of the aluminum frame almost as easily, but not as cleanly.

I found that both surfaces (fiberglass body and aluminum window frame) needed additional cleanup, which was easy on the fiberglass with a plastic scrubber (ScotchBrite), and tedious by any method on the aluminum. The fiberglass especially needed less cleanup than I had found with previous, less flexible, scrapers (I'm on my fifth window).

The biggest drawbacks which I found with the scraper blades were that the edge would get nicked when trying to do a narrow surface like the edge of the aluminum frame (do that last before changing blades), and that removing stuff like the putty used for window mounting tends to gum up the blade and holder. I also ended up with some putty left behind which, like the silicone (but not nearly as bad) responded better to scrubbing than scraping.

It seems much easier to separate a thick silicone sealant bead from a smooth surface (such as the body) in one smooth pass, than to remove any thin remaining bits of silicone from any surface - that just seems to call for an abrasive, rather than slicing, technique.

I still used a thin knife blade to separate the window frame from the body by cutting through the putty (to avoid having to pry too hard), but that doesn't really have anything to do with handling silicone caulk...
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Old 07-31-2006, 07:36 PM   #11
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Thanks Brian. It sounds like the thing to use. I'll give mine a try if it ever quits raining here.
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Old 07-31-2006, 10:48 PM   #12
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Hi Yves, wonder why Flextra is only recommended for consumer use, not professional....Flex 9000 for pro use......also if used on the roof of a trailer and in a constant rain of say 3 days, would that constitute immersion in water and the sealant would fail.......also bath tubs flex in use ....that`s why a tub should be caulked with silicone when they are about 3/4 full and not drained for one day to allow the silicone to cure....silicone can`t take too much pull at a joint but handles compression well.......I`m also using polyurethane caulk for a few odd jobs around home, the price is good and find that it sticks well, too good sometimes......similar to the current windshield installation sealants like Sikaflex, I believe it is....problem is the cost per tube.......Benny
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:11 PM   #13
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Hi Yves, wonder why Flextra is only recommended for consumer use, not professional....Flex 9000 for pro use......also if used on the roof of a trailer and in a constant rain of say 3 days, would that constitute immersion in water and the sealant would fail.......also bath tubs flex in use ....that`s why a tub should be caulked with silicone when they are about 3/4 full and not drained for one day to allow the silicone to cure....silicone can`t take too much pull at a joint but handles compression well.......I`m also using polyurethane caulk for a few odd jobs around home, the price is good and find that it sticks well, too good sometimes......similar to the current windshield installation sealants like Sikaflex, I believe it is....problem is the cost per tube.......Benny
Well, all i know is my egg, is not a bath tub !

The Flextra i applied, is holding, and will most certainly keep the Bigfoot dry.

I don't know about the Flex 9000. It might be better, or it might not.... I
dunno.

Apparently, Sikaflex is similar to Flextra, but is made by another manufacturer.

Yves.
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Old 08-01-2006, 04:05 PM   #14
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Well, all i know is my egg, is not a bath tub !
Hi again, Just think, that the idea of a fiberglass trailer came from the shape of a fiberglass septic tank, and the top half of a Boler flipped over looks like a bath tub ,for example, LOL ...Benny
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