Keep Your FB Trailer Looking Good - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-08-2019, 08:28 PM   #1
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Name: Randy
Trailer: Casita 17 FD
Florida
Posts: 37
Keep Your FB Trailer Looking Good

Just a couple of hours ago, I finished washing the outside of my 2008 Casita 17 FD. To save you some math, it is now 11 years old.

It had been left out in the hot Florida sun, rain, humidity, mildew, and algae for 11 months. Previous to that it had been kept under a canopy for 10 years, but I never got around to putting the canopy back up after the hurricane last fall.

To get to the point -- after washing it, I was amazed at how the Casita fiberglass looked as good as it did 11 years ago when we purchased it.

So I thought i would let others know what I have done (and not done) to it and yet have it look so good.

Over those years I NEVER waxed it. I know there are a lot of FG trailer owners who make a big deal out of waxing their trailer. They use the kinds of car waxes that would be used on a classic car, and usually wax with a lot of rubbing or electric buffing several times a year. Others wax infrequently, and I see their trailers looking like the color of an old dog's teeth -- ugly yellowish. My trailer is as white as it was when we picked it up in Rice, TX.

Plus, the gel coat is as smooth as then -- never have I used anything close to abrasive on it.

So, here is my secret -- well what my laziness has done. When I got the Casita home from Rice, I applied a coat of Starbrite Marine Polish with PTFE (Teflon, but Starbrite can't use Dupont's registered name any more). It is the easiest polish to apply...just wipe it on, and wipe it off a couple minutes later -- no rubbing, let alone electric buffing.

After that I polished the trailer once a year or less on average for the 11 years. Before applying more Starbrite, I wash the trailer with strong detergent using a car-washing brush to avoid any abrasive effect that might happen using a cloth that might trap abrasive dirt particles.

The wax guys say to never use strong detergent -- because it will take off all the layers of wax that have been applied. But when those wax layers build up, they end up giving the gel coat a coating of yellowed wax that keeps yellowing year after year.

I use a strong high-phosphate electric dishwasher detergent (Bubble Bandit -- great for shiny, clean dishes form your dishwasher), but even strong laundry detergent works almost as well. I add some Oxyclean and Biz (enzymatic detergent) to my wash bucket. I slather the detergent water onto the rinsed, but still very dirty trailer, and try to let it set a few minutes before going back over with new detergent solution on my car washing brush. And yes, I am taking most of the old polish off that way.

I then follow up with the Starbrite Marine Polish (that is designed for fiberglass boats that are subject to more extreme conditions that a trailer parked at your home. It is so easy to apply, and almost no rubbing is needed. After a first coat, I sometimes lightly pass the application cloth over any areas that seem to have a little less shine -- kind of like the spit-polish method I learned so many years ago in the Navy. But the point is that it is not a lot of work...and I do it once a year...and my trailer looks amazingly like new.

So, for those who do not want to apply fancy, expensive auto wax several times a year, I hope this helps keep your trailer looking as new as it has for ours.

By the way, I have no financial or other interest in Starbrite products. After writing all of this, they should give me a life-time supply for free, but I doubt they will. If Starbrite reads this, please reply, and I will give you my address to where you can send my free supply of polish, LOL.

Somehow, I doubt that I wil be getting any free polish, but I hope this helps other fiberglass trailer owners.

Best,

Gator
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Old 08-09-2019, 05:23 AM   #2
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Name: Terry
Trailer: Casita
Arkansas
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Awesome!
Thanks for taking the time.
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Old 08-10-2019, 02:59 PM   #3
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Trailer: 2019 2ndG Escape21 DeJa View pulled by 2014 Dodge Ram Hemi Sport
British Columbia
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I always though polishing and waxing were one and the same.....
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Old 08-10-2019, 06:10 PM   #4
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Name: Randy
Trailer: Casita 17 FD
Florida
Posts: 37
The Star Brite polish, and some other products contain no wax. Polishing with a wax product like Meguairs, like many promote, is WAXING. Wax looks good on a red 57 Chevy, but not always so good with many yellowish layers built up on a white FG trailer.
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Old 08-12-2019, 03:33 PM   #5
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Name: Henry
Trailer: BigFoot
Tennessee
Posts: 779
I really appreciate your post. I bought a new BigFoot TT and immediately put on Bow to Stern protectant. I am not at all pleased with the result. I bought Starbrite marine and will now try it. Thanks again.
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Old 08-12-2019, 03:50 PM   #6
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Name: Randy
Trailer: Casita 17 FD
Florida
Posts: 37
Starbrite

I hope the Starbrite works for you. Do not expect a deep, glossy shine -- just a nice clean look like brand new gel coat. But it will keep that clean and new look for years with just an easy application one or two times a year.

I suggest that you use some good strong detergent to get as much as you can of the Bow to Stern stuff off. There is no telling how the two would work with one on top of the other.

Good luck,

Gator
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Old 08-12-2019, 03:55 PM   #7
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Name: Henry
Trailer: BigFoot
Tennessee
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Thanks Gator. What would give a deep glossy shine on a new fiberglass trailer?
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Old 08-12-2019, 04:08 PM   #8
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Name: Randy
Trailer: Casita 17 FD
Florida
Posts: 37
Deep Shine

I have no idea of what would give that kind of deep glossy shine, unless you go to the very labor-intensive route of the premium car waxes. Then, you have to keep waxing frequently, and make sure that the thick wax coat does not build up and make the white look yellowish.

As far as I know the quality waxes like carnuba wax are natural products (carnuba from palm leaves, and they will oxidize and yellow when exposed to sun, air, heat, etc. Like I said, carnuba might look good on a red 57 Chevy because you don't notice the slight yellow cast. The question is whether you want shiney or white.

I am not sure why one needs a deep, glossy shine on a camping trailer, because by the time you travel a day or so, the trailer will be dusty or dirty from road spray, and that deep shine will not be seen -- unless you want to wash and maybe wax your trailer again at every campground you stop at.

What I need is something to protect the gel coat by keeping stuff from sticking to it and protect it from the sun rays, while still looking clean and new when I hose it down and run a car washing brush over it.


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Old 08-12-2019, 04:34 PM   #9
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Name: robert
Trailer: parkliner
Michigan
Posts: 21
any idea how to get fine dirt/scratches off? I have imprints of the spare tire numbers and letters in the fiberglass that are obvious.....and you can even see the small 1/8 inch numbers from the sidewall in the fiberglass! Going to relocate the spare and don't know how to buff it out...it is pretty obvious
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:22 PM   #10
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Name: Henry
Trailer: BigFoot
Tennessee
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I used a bit of jewelers rouge and a Dremel buffing bit. It worked so well I bought 3 different grades of the rouge and more buffing bits.
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:31 PM   #11
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Name: Randy
Trailer: Casita 17 FD
Florida
Posts: 37
Tire Stain

I am sorry to say that you may not be able to get those stains out. They are not just on the surface. They are the result of substances in the tire that are absorbed by the gel coat. I ordered new tires for my Casita, put them in the back of my truck with a topper for a couple of days before I took them to be put on the new wheels I bought (upgraded to 15" wheels). I have indoor-outdoor carpet on the floor of the topper, and I have a piece of clear vinyl plastic over the carpeting.

When I took the tires out, there was a clear imprint of of where the tires rested on the vinyl. The lettering on the sidewalls could be read on the vinyl. The stains were absorbed deep into the vinyl. I repeat: They are not just on the surface.

I would not suggest buffing, as all you will do is rub away the gel coat and take away its glossy smooth finish. You might have to take away a lot of gel coat before you get to the depth to which the stain has been absorbed.

My suggestion is to try to remove the stains using some sort of solvent that will not dissolve the gel coat. I would start with something mild, like alchohol, 90% rubbing alchohol to start. I would try placing rags soaked with alchohol over the stains and keeping the soaked rags in contact with the stains, by taping some plastic wrap over the rags, to keep the alchohol from evaporating for hours or days.

If that does not work, some say that acetone will not dissolve gel coat or fiberglass. I would test it first on an inconspicuous area. Do the same as with the achohol.

Finally, if that does not work, before you start grinding off the stained gel coat with abrasives, I suggest that you contact a technical representative at the tire manufacturer and ask them what that stain consists of and what solvents might be safely used.

If all of that does not work...instead of grinding down the gel coat...maybe some artsy decals could be applied over the stains.

Sorry I could not be more definitive,

Gator
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Old 08-12-2019, 05:42 PM   #12
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Name: Ed
Trailer: Escape 21
Colorado
Posts: 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I always though polishing and waxing were one and the same.....
A wax has no abrasive compounds. Itís designed to protect a polished surface
Polish has abrasives. . Like toothpaste. Polishes are cleaners.
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Old 08-12-2019, 06:20 PM   #13
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Name: Randy
Trailer: Casita 17 FD
Florida
Posts: 37
Polish Not Abrasive

I am sorry, but polish is not abrasive, necessarily. Some forms or brands may be abrasive, but just because something is called a polish does not mean it is abrasive.

Ever heard of shoe polish, furniture polish, fingernail polish, or French polish (a lacquer finish for wood? None of these polishes are abrasive.

The MW definition of polish is: a preparation that is used to produce a gloss and often a color for the protection and decoration of a surface. It does not mention abrasive.

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Old 08-12-2019, 06:41 PM   #14
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Name: robert
Trailer: parkliner
Michigan
Posts: 21
thanks gator, very helpful. worst case scenario is putting the wheel back on there again and out of sight out of mind...well, it will still bother only me! :-)
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