Need a Quick and Dirty Way to Waterproof Fiberglass Shell! - Fiberglass RV


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Old 04-10-2008, 04:48 PM   #1
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Does anyone have any suggestions on how I could do a "quick and dirty job" of water-proofing a fiberglass, "egg" trailer? I have a 1984 17' Burro Widebody trailer that really needs to have the entire gel coat "redone", but I don't have the time right now. The trailer shell does not leak in light to moderate rain, but it will eventually start leaking in long, heavy rains. The fiberglass shell itself starts leaking because the gel coat is not so good anymore. I was thinking that maybe I could try something quick and simple such as waxing the trailer with a good wax, and hope the wax will help waterproof & protect the trailer in heavy rains.

Does anyone have any suggestions on what methods I could try, or what products I could try? Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to thoroughly clean the shell, redo the gel coat, or apply 4-8 coats of Polyglow. I need to do something ASAP though, even if it is ugly and only lasts 2-6 months.

Help! Soggy in Kansas!

-April
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:00 PM   #2
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I don't mean to be sarcastic, but what about just cover it with a tarp.
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Old 04-10-2008, 05:07 PM   #3
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Help! Soggy in Kansas!
Dear Soggy,

Others may chime in otherwise, but this is the first time I read about "leaky gel coat". A fiberglass shell has a certain thickness to it, gelcoat being only the finishing surface, and unless there are holes or cracks in it, I can't see how water could go through it, regardless of whether the surface is faded or not. No amount of wax could plug a significant leak, in my opinion. But leaks are sneaky, and if I were you, I would investigate a bit further and find out if the leak may actually come from a vent or window or seam, etc. in which case you can probably caulk it up temporarily and save you some time.
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Old 04-10-2008, 07:16 PM   #4
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The fiberglass shell itself starts leaking because the gel coat is not so good anymore.
Not true. Gel coat is used as a method to release the fiberglass from the mould and it's only the finish. Holes or cracks in the fiberglass is what causes leaks (along with caulk failures around windows, vents, etc.) A dirty, moldy fiberglass trailer doesn't necessarily leak. Unless you're prepared to paint, re-doing the gel coat is an involved process. A couple of good coats of wax will help, and there are some topical applications you can put on it to make it look at whole lot better (Vertglas for one)

This is one case where looks don't really mean much.
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Old 04-10-2008, 10:18 PM   #5
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Fiberglass does leak, esp if the gel coat has been damaged (happens to boats) but it is a very slow process even in boats where the hull is subjected to constant water and low pressure. It's unlikely that the FG is leaking and very likely that there is a seam, window, rivet, etc. that is leaking.

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Boating-2378/ol...glass-boats.htm

What I'd do is cover it with a big tarp and some bungees until the time is ripe to look for the leaks. If a waterproofing is applied, it will likely complicate the finishing project after the leaks are found and fixed.
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Old 04-11-2008, 08:40 AM   #6
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I will answer at your question: To seal the Fiberglass, I had once use ArmorAll. Very efficient!
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Old 04-11-2008, 08:52 AM   #7
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Thank you to everyone for their advice! It is the fiberglass shell that is leaking due a weak and deteriorated gel coat, and thin fiberglass spots. The trailer shell has not had any TLC in decades. We definitely need to do some TLC to the trailer, but do not have time right now. We do need to buy a cover for the trailer ASAP, but we will be using the trailer frequently this summer and will need to take the cover off at that time.

We do know that the shell is leaking; we have seen the outer shell wall leak during water hose tests. The shell also leaks on top (roof) in between the inner and outer shell where there are no windows or vents. The top seam of the trailer does not seem to be leaking. The trailer is somewhat gutted, so there are no cabinet doors to "hide" the leaks. We have taken out and reinstalled or replaced all the windows. We also made custom spacers to put between the inner and outer shell so we could get a good, even fit between the inner and outer window frames. All the leaks occur above the windows. When it rains heavily, we have to take everything out of the upper cabinets and stuff towels in to catch all the water. Again, this only happens after it has been raining heavily for a while. It is like the fiberglass and remaining gel coat have a saturation point, and after that point is reached, the shell starts leaking all over the place! The fiberglass and weak gel coat do appear to be porous.

Again, thanks to everyone for their comments. I will try the carnauba wax for now, and maybe next year I will have time to look into doing something more permanent to the shell.

-April

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Old 04-11-2008, 02:49 PM   #8
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Not sure, but I think there is a Burro group somewhere. Don't know if this is common or an isolated unit messed up in production. I suggest taking time to search; if it's common, there may be a solution to the leaks.

I also suggest checking with some boat shops that do fiberglass repair and see what they might suggest as a solution.
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Old 04-11-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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Leaks around seams and fasteners are one thing -- but if water is coming THROUGH the fiberglass surface -- that sounds really critical, and expensive to me.
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:06 PM   #10
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Leaks around seams and fasteners are one thing -- but if water is coming THROUGH the fiberglass surface -- that sounds really critical, and expensive to me.
Expensive... especially since it's a double-hull trailer.....
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:16 PM   #11
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Expensive... especially since it's a double-hull trailer.....

The good news is that I only have to worry about the outer shell leaking! Oh, and I don't have any insulation in between the two shells.

-April
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Old 04-11-2008, 03:49 PM   #12
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The good news is that I only have to worry about the outer shell leaking! Oh, and I don't have any insulation in between the two shells.

-April
April:

You might want to keep checking because if that moisture stays between those shells eventually it's going to turn into a rain forest.
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:11 PM   #13
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Personally, I wouldn't wax it if it is leaking that bad. One I probably won't stop the leaks altogether and second car wax is the enemy if you are going to paint or re-gelcoat. Given that your shell is that porous the wax is just going to fill in the pores and be impossible to remove.

As an alternative, if you have the time to wax the entire shell you might consider a peelable temporary coating such as what they use in the construction and automotive industry. There are a number of types from a blue latex that you paint on tubs and sinks during construction to protect them and then peel it off when the project is complete. Below is a link to another type that is used for protecting Autos for transport. You roll it on with a 1/2 nap roller and let it dry. When you are ready, peel it off and begin the real work.

http://www.strippablecoating.com/products/...hield_5720.aspx

I am thinking I'll get some to use as a rockguard for the front of my shell.

Rob
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Old 04-11-2008, 04:42 PM   #14
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The good news is that I only have to worry about the outer shell leaking! Oh, and I don't have any insulation in between the two shells.

-April
I'd suggest you read this topic from another Burro owner, and the problems caused from moisture between the hulls:
Go Slow When Falling in Love with Cute Trailers!, Beware even when a trailer LOOKS great, it may have hidden problems
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