Recommended Fiberglass Repair Supplies - Fiberglass RV

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Old 08-17-2010, 01:21 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1985 AND 1988 Casita Patriot Deluxe 13'ers. 10 eggs shy of a carton!
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Recommended Fiberglass Repair Supplies

Hi there...

A bit road weary after fetching my 1985 Casita 13' (with bath/shower!) from Montana over the weekend, so my search skills failed me.

I'm hoping to get your recommendations for the best brands of fiberglass repair materials. I've got a couple dings on the shell that need some love, and the bulkhead between the shower and closet has a crack.

Also, there's some spiderwebbing around some of the rivets. Bondo?

Thanks in advance!

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Old 08-18-2010, 06:36 PM   #2
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Name: Bill and Jacquie G.
Trailer: Trillium 1978 13 ft
Posts: 127
Congratulations on getting the little Beauty home.!!!!

NO BONDO ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Fiberglass repair is very much like any other skill; the more you do the better the results and you gain confidence. It takes time, makes a mess and smells bad. As we speak, Corvettes are being repaired and after a patch, once again boats float. Enough philosophy.

1." spiderwebing " = stress cracks are normal for the outer skin (gel coat) of older fiberglass. Generally this is cosmetic (surface) wear rather than structural. However - - - - - - - - - because they are radiating from rivets this may be telling you to watch for water leaks. In the Great North WET, eventually we all have water leaks. Casita has parts/kits to repair/replace what ever needs to be done. Give them a call, they want you to be happy.

2. "Dings in the shell need some love" sounds like more gelcoat work. Because of her age she is what was sometimes called Colonial White(cream). She has faded a bit. The 'pros' would mix,blend, sorta match, spray, sand,buff,polish,smile and sigh.
Mere Mortals hope for the best.

3. "Best brands?---------------" Northwest Oregon, Portland OR., Pacific North West
West Marine 503-289-9822 Portland,OR.
Products,tools, info., 40 yrs experience, open seven days a week,no such thing as a dumb question. They have a vast selection of everything including How-To Books.

4. Bulkhead has crack: need to see picture. Has the roof been repaired in that area?

5. While trailer is EMPTY, weigh tongue and trailer at commercial scale. Get Documents !!! These will be very important for the future. Manufacturers published weights are rarely correct. After you have taken a few trips and you have your normal
travel load on board,have it weighed again. These numbers will help you to balance
your trailer front-to-back (proper tongue wt.) and side-to-side to lesson the chance of swaying. You will be happy and proud of yourself, RIGHTFULLY!!!! Good Job!!! ; >
Questions? Send PM

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Old 08-18-2010, 07:48 PM   #3
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Name: James
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Originally Posted by Bill and Jacquie G. View Post
Congratulations on getting the little Beauty home.!!!!

NO BONDO ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !
Why no bondo, I have rock chips and some small holes the previous owner decided to place a small dab of silicone sealant over, the silicone seems to have held up but doesn't look cosmeitcally very good, the areas are towards the top so you can't really see them unless you were looking at the top of the camper so it doesn't bother me too much, but in the event that I needed to repatch I was considering bondo. What problems do using bondo present, thanks.
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Old 08-18-2010, 08:36 PM   #4
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Bondo is fine, every Corvette has bondo body filler in it somewhere. If the dings are small, there is a better product available called Dolphin Glaze which is a thinner texture compound that is easier to fill smaller imperfections with less sanding. Another plus with dolphin glaze is that it comes in small packets so you don't have to buy a gallon of it for a small repair. Even on Corvette repairs and boat repairs, the fiberglass is top wiped with a body filler such as Bondo to fill in any sanding scratches prior to primer and painting.
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Old 08-18-2010, 09:45 PM   #5
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I am also planning my first fiberglass & gelcoat repair projects. It looks like bondo or some epoxy has been used to repair cracks and holes in the exterior. can I do a gelcoat repair over this? or fiberglass then gel coat? or am i relegated to painting those areas?
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Old 08-18-2010, 10:23 PM   #6
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Product lines vary greatly in their prep requirements, there are some lines that bridge the incompatibility of most issues where unknowns are concerned. I like formulated primers that fill and sand well, and act as a base material for epoxy/urethane blends to adhere without material compatibility conflicts...I prefer two part epoxy/urethanes myself however the simpler single part formulations are getting good reviews...

Sanding is going to be a word with new meanings after your done.

Good source for reading up on what is available is Jamestown Distributing... Boat Building and Woodworking Supplies

They answer all questions, and have a data base of reading material on the products carried, including all the prep instructions prior to purchase.

Happy Camping, Safe Trails.


Originally Posted by Amy W View Post
I am also planning my first fiberglass & gelcoat repair projects. It looks like bondo or some epoxy has been used to repair cracks and holes in the exterior. can I do a gelcoat repair over this? or fiberglass then gel coat? or am i relegated to painting those areas?
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Old 08-20-2010, 09:23 PM   #7
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I used Piranha Putty on my trailer. It is very flexible, and easy to sand and mold. It will even fill small cracks in the gel coat. With the holes or cracks I had, I fill with fiberglass felt and resin from the inside and fill and smoothed the exterior with the Putty.
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Old 08-21-2010, 06:53 AM   #8
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There is bondo, and then there's bondo. It isn't one of those one-size-fits-all. Some has kitty hair, some polyester filler, etc. The real scourge of some bondo is it can be affected by moisture. Like house exterior paint, if moisture gets behind it, it will "pop" off. I wouldn't use a poor quality of bondo on a crack that goes clear through the shell without sealing the backside (inside) of the shell.

Remember, it takes nearly as much time to do a bad job as a good job and the difference is the time it takes to fix a bad repair over and over and over and over.... using quality products, professional technique and good tools is always a good idea. As the old saying goes... if you don't have time to do a good job, when will you have time to do it over?
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 08-21-2010, 08:31 AM   #9
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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Hear, hear, Donna! You said what I was thinking, but better.

For myself, when it comes to fiberglass repair, I don't necessarily think of brands, but more of types and techniques. OTOH, I know how it is when you are new at something: Someone says something like "use any good penetrating solvent," and you are thinking "Just tell me a NAME so I can go get some!"

I like to use epoxy and thickened epoxy for repairs (with reinforcements such biaxmat [cloth] when called for) and fairing, and then occasionally gelcoat if it's filling a ding or the like.

One thing to step back and ask yourself before making any repair is, "What caused this to happen, and can I just 'fix' it, or is there an underlying issue I should solve?" (Sometimes a proper repair can fix an underlying issue in one go; sometimes it is two separate things.)

I like epoxy for a few reasons:

1) It has very good secondary bonding characteristics. In a nutshell, when something is made of fiberglass, there is a time window when a chemical bond can be made between the various layers and parts (which is not to say that is always taken advantage of). Once that window is over (and we're talking hours not years), you are making a secondary bond, which is a physical bond. In other words, roughing up the surface and relying on "stick." Epoxy is very good at that. Vinylester is good too. Polyester is not as good (it will work, but it is not as good at secondary bonds).

2) Epoxy does not smell, and I really dislike the strong smell of the "esters," such as polyester and vinylester.

On the other hand, epoxy is more expensive. For myself, I don't mind that - I mean it's not like I'm building a house with it. Also, epoxy can be a bit slower to cure than the "esters." But we are talking about something like a day vs. an hour and unless you are running a commercial enterprise where the staff are trying to coordinate jobs, that will probably not be an issue.

In terms of brands, there are many good ones - some very well known and others less so. With fillers, you can buy your own (mixing and matching brands is okay on them), or you can spend a bit more and buy pre-mixed fillers.

Some brands, somewhat in order of how well-known they are:

WEST System
System Three

These can all be ordered online and shipped, or you can get them at marine stores such as West Marine or Fisheries Supply. I'm sure in NW Oregon there are many places to choose from. For online ordering, Jamestown Distributors is good, and has a good website, but they are on the east coast (for shipping).

One caveat: Don't blindly trust the person(s) who help you at a marine store or even a boatyard. Many are very skillful and knowledgeable, but you are just as likely to get uninformed or bad advice in my experience. I'm not saying not to trust anyone, but just keep in mind that there is plenty of misinformation around, and you shouldn't assume that everyone knows what they are talking about (which I guess means you can't believe my post ).

As Bill and Jacquie said, photos would be nice in order for us to help you asses the cracks and other issues.

And please feel welcome to keep the thread going in the forum as I'm sure there are many people wondering the same things you are

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Old 08-21-2010, 05:07 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the responses. I plan to add photos of the 'glass damage soon--I want to set up a Photobucket account first, since we can no longer directly upload images.

I've heard good things about TAP Plastics' fiberglass repair products since starting this thread, including from a friend who has built three small boats. I'll look into the other products suggested, as well.

Fortunately, the rest of the shell is in great shape. Some minor pocking of the gelcoat, etc. Duct tape and plastic bags will have to hold her for the next couple weeks!

Both spots where the 'glass is actually ruptured are small (smiley faces about 5" wide) can be easily accessed from the inside of the trailer--front starboard, into the closet; port stern, under the bench) so that I can glass it from the inside, now that I've gotten over the "I'm afraid to unbolt the cabinets/pull back carpet" thing.

A note about West Marine: I had a great experience there yesterday (Sequoia Boulevard out by Lake Oswego). Very helpful. But of course their expertise is generally in the products they have in stock, and it seems to me after looking at their inventory, they cater to people who don't do very much DIY. They do have wiring essentials and a decent selection of inverters, but for the actual guts it's more cost-effective to go online. Bob, the salesguy who helped me yesterday, was thrilled to give me about 45 minutes of his time explaining some wiring essentials that have made a few of the threads here make much more sense--sometimes it's nice to have somebody point and say "this goes to this", and "this is what 10-gauge wire looks like.

They've got some good stuff on sale this weekend, so I repaid his excellent customer service by walking out with some Dri-Dek, Meguiars one-step (quick cleaning for an upcoming trip) and a porta-potty.
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Old 08-24-2010, 12:02 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Michele B View Post
Thanks for all the responses. I plan to add photos of the 'glass damage soon--I want to set up a Photobucket account first, since we can no longer directly upload images.
Sorry to stray off topic, but you can still upload images directly from your computer. You just can't do it from the "fast reply".

Look for the paper clip on the top of the box you compose your message in. Hover over it and it says "Attachments". Click it and a popup window opens that allows you to upload pictures from you computer. Once you have all your pictures uploaded, you can click the down arrow beside the paperclip and all your photos will be listed. You simply select the photo you want. (This also works for a number of file types).
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:36 PM   #12
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Trailer: 13 ft Scamp Deluxe 2007 and 40' Allegro Bus
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Bondo works great for cosmetic defects, however, it has no structural strength so should never be used on cracks or broken edges. Bondo will fill a rock chip or small ding just fine. It will, however, not hold two broken edges together, for this you need fiberglass and a proper resin to bridge the broken/cracked place. If you can fiberglass a broken seal/area on the inside of the shell, you can build up the fiberglass layer for strength without having a unsightly bulge of fiberglass on the outside of the trailer. Once the fiberglass repair has been made on the inside, grind a shallow V in the exterior of the crack and fill with fiberglass resin. Once filled, sand the exterior filled area smooth and prime, then paint.
My suggestion, based on many years of industrial fiber-glassing experience---find someone with the proper experience to walk you through your first glassing job!
If I we closer I'd be pleased to help out. best of luck, Ron

PS--something as simple as mixing the resin and the hardner into the resin can give you trouble if you don't continually scrape the mixture off your mixing stick and stir it back into the mix. This ensures that you don't end up with pockets of resin without hardner or too much hardner in one spot and not thourally mixed with the resin. It's small tricks like this that allow the finished job to be strong and longlasting
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Old 06-05-2012, 05:59 PM   #13
Name: Cindy
Trailer: 1978 13' Scamp
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I have been watching repair videos for fiberglass repair, and have mainly found great information for repairs where you can reach the back of the fiberglass. However, I need assistance in deciding how to fix the following repairs where the back can't be accessed on the photos I've attached. We are planning to paint over. So I don't need to gelcoat, right? As help here is always great, thanks in advance!

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Old 06-05-2012, 07:13 PM   #14
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You need to figure out how to get to the rear/inside of the trailer to do this job properly. And, yes, you will need a topcoat/gelcoat. The fiberglass you will add to the inside of the trailer, after you clean the general inside area with a proper solvent, will simply provide, after it sets up, the strong backing for a thin gel-coat layer on the outside of the trailer that can be sanded and painted.
The fiberglas resin will be thin and needs to be painted onto the fiberglass to saturate the glass. Also paint a thin layer onto the cleaned area on the inside of the trailer where the saturated glass will be layered.
You need the thicker consistency gel-coat resin to be the final outside layer because you cannot sand resin impregnated fiberglass cloth smooth as it wii continue to expose fibers during sanding. Gel-coat becomes the final, smooth surface you will sand using various grit sand paper until it's as smooth as the rest of the exterior and the contour matches the rest of the area around it. If done slowly and properly, the repair will be strong and essentially invisible when painted. Good luck!!

If it's impossible ( not sure why that would be the case) for you to gain access to the inside of the wall to be repaired, you can use an alternate method of using a resin with fiberglass "fibers" in it to fill the area from the outside. Leave the repaired area slightly recessed so you can still use the gel-coat over the glassed area. This method is not nearly as strong as the 1st process I explained but will hold if there's no major stress on the repaired area.
Don't forget---Clean all area's where fiberglass with be used with the proper solvent or the resin over the long hall will not adhere as it should and will crack or come loose!

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