To sand and paint, to paint, or to leave it be...these are the questio - Fiberglass RV


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Old 12-02-2008, 12:31 AM   #1
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OK, so that's terrible literary license on a great quote. Blame it on the paint fumes....

When we bought our Compact, the roof (exterior, yes) was lined with kitchen-floor-style linoleum. The idea, the kid told us, was that the linoleum panels would absorb some of the shock of the raindrops and reduce noise inside. (It didn't work.) Well, a lot of it peeled off in the heat as we headed home, but I managed to pull the rest off in the safety of our driveway. What was left behind was a ring of silicone around each section of the roof. I've scraped what I can without digging into paint (and even more precious gel coat below), but haven't figured out how to remove the rest of the silicon without damaging the paint or gelcoat.

So, that's the first question: what removes silicone without removing whatever it's stuck ON?

Second, while attempting sanding off some silicon I'd rubbed, sponged and (in a last-ditch effort) WD-40'd (hey, the stuff works magic on tar!), I discovered that the thin layer of paint the kid spraypainted on our Compact easily sands off, exposing the "robin's egg blue" gel coat. Hmmm....should I sand the entire thing? If so, would it be possible to buff out the sanded gelcoat? (Chime in anytime here, gel pros - I've seen you've had some remarkable success with various waxing/polishing products, but how do you think they'd perform on a sanded gel surface?)

And finally, would it be worth sanding it all down and polishing it? Maybe there are so many cracks and dings in that original gel that I'd be better off just repainting the exterior again. (He painted with flat spraypaint, the lighter of which still tends to run onto the darker half in light rain.)

So...the options in question:
- sand and polish exposed gel
- sand and paint over crappy paint job
- leave it as it is and save a lot of time!



Jen
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Old 12-02-2008, 06:34 AM   #2
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:32 AM   #3
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Acetone removes silicone, it also removes paint. It doesn't affect gelcoat.
Hmmmm.
The stuff is nasty, wear acetone proof gloves a long sleeve shirt to keep it off your skin and try not the breathe it in.

It evaporate really fast so you have to work fast. Don't pile the rags up lay them out flat on the driveway to dry, of course don't smoke.
It's really flammable too.
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:01 AM   #4
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So...the options in question:
- sand and polish exposed gel
- sand and paint over crappy paint job
- leave it as it is and save a lot of time!
First impression... I would say it really depends on how much work you want to put into it. If I were you, I would try a small area first to see if and how it comes out, then decide. I would also tend to avoid sanding unless you want to paint it over, otherwise solvent would be the way to go in my opinion if you want to restore the existing gelcoat, in which case acetone and light buffing compound goes a long way.
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:31 AM   #5
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Hmmm....should I sand the entire thing? If so, would it be possible to buff out the sanded gelcoat? (Chime in anytime here, gel pros - I've seen you've had some remarkable success with various waxing/polishing products, but how do you think they'd perform on a sanded gel surface?)
One boat we built had to have every bit of its gelcoat sanded (because it had been in an oven and the surface layer of reinforcement had 'printed through' the gelcoat) and then polished to a perfect gloss finish. It isn't difficult, but it isn't either quick or effortless.

I would start with as high a grade of abrasive as you can manage - try to see if you can use something like 600 grit to get the paint off without it instantly clogging the paper. Ideally then work up through 800, 1000 and 1200 grades (maybe skip 1000?) - by then the gelcoat will be nearly glossy and you can use cutting compound (just like for auto paint) to get a perfect gloss finish. But you will need a dual-action sander and a polisher, and buying each grade of wet-and-dry paper will cost lots.

Beware that acetone will soften (not dissolve) gelcoat resin if left in contact with it for a long time (more than 5 minutes). Most paint strippers will dissolve gelcoat resin, but you might try your local boat supply store to see if they have a stripper that doesn't (but be prepared to pay boat prices....).

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Old 12-02-2008, 11:42 AM   #6
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http://www.dsr5.com/siliconeremoval.htm

http://www.removcanada.com/

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Old 12-02-2008, 12:11 PM   #7
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If the way it looks keeps you awake at night, sand it down and paint it and you will get 2 results, 1. A good looking camper and 2, You will be so wore out from the work you will get a good nights sleep.

If it doesn't keep you awake at night, leave it alone or do the bare minimum.

One problem with gelcoat is that you can sand through it.
One problem with paint, once painted you can not go back to gelcoat without a major/major effort.
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:43 PM   #8
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I agree with trying a small area to see what you have (keeping in mind that if it does go well, you still might find some "surprises" elsewhere on the trailer). Carefully scraping or wet-sanding would be good ways to start (Interlux Interstrip 99 is a marine stripper, but I have had it damage surfaces, so be careful if you use it).

With the "quality" of the paint that's already on there, you won't have any trouble covering up your tracks if you do decide to cover up your experiment and stick with your current paint.

If you're going to do any work with stripper, acetone, paint, etc. I'd just go ahead and buy a good respirator. They're not that expensive, they come in handy more often than you'd think, and lungs are priceless. Note that the decent ones from 3M, Survivair, etc. come in sizes, and small will nearly certainly be what fits you (it's barely small enough for me, and I don't have a tiny head or anything; just a female head).

As far as "never being able to go back to gelcoat," in my opinion, while it's great to have original, nice gelcoat; once it's gone it's nothing I would lament not being able to go back to. A good, two-part LPU paint job is in many ways better. I know I'd choose that over "re-gelcoating" any day.

The one-part paints, such as Interlux Brightsides, are good paints, and relatively easy for the DIY-er to apply. The caveat with them is that they are softer than two-part paints, and so somewhat more prone to chips and such, and, while they are nice and glossy at first, that gloss will not last nearly as long as that of a two-part paint. Mostly that's from UV exposure, so if you keep it in a garage 90% of the time, that property of one-part paint may not bother you. (Or if you don't mind re-painting every few years.) The paint is less expensive and easier to work with.

On the other hand, most of the work is in the prep, and a good two-part paint job will last a long time. My boat was painted with Awlgrip two-part LPU in 1985 and it's still glossy 23 years later.

An additional note is that you cannot safely spray a two-part paint without a supplied-air respirator system (which probably means you should have a shop do it); although you can roll and tip a two-part system with a regular respirator (the most dangerous is when the paint is atomized by the sprayer and makes a toxic mist in the air).

All that said, it sounds like anything will be an improvement, and I realize you're not probably going for the "gold plater." Who knows, maybe the PO just didn't like Robin's Egg blue and you'll reveal a nice gelcoat underneath

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Old 12-07-2008, 11:39 AM   #9
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Wow...thanks for all this information. I think I'll go with "test an area" then move on. At any rate, I need to get the silicon schmear off the roof...it just BUGS me. (I don't stay up nights thinking about it, but I do tend to obsess on it when we're camping and the trailers within eyeshot.) Once that's off, some of the gel is (without a doubt) exposed and I've put in some elbow grease I'll consider all these options before taking the next step.

Thanks loads!
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