Anyone know what to use to remove black tar from roof? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-22-2008, 10:26 AM   #1
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Just got this Horizon camper and I've been working on it for about 3 days now. Anyway I have tar up on the roof, a previous owner probaby had a leak around the vent or the seam or both. I would like to remove as much as possible and fix it right. I have been using a putty knife and its coming but slow. I'm probably better off waiting until hot weather but that's going to be a while here in NY. Can anyone think of anything I can use without harming the fiberglass ? Here is a picture of the roof
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. Thanks,Tim
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Old 10-22-2008, 05:51 PM   #2
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Would a hair dryer help to heat the tar rather than waiting for hot weather? Once you get absolutely as much off as you possibly can, use Bug and Tar remover... found in the car care products aisle at any autoparts store. I use Bug & Tar remover on my tug and it comes off pretty easily and the tug has a clear coat over the paint (follow the directions!).
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Old 10-22-2008, 06:28 PM   #3
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Donna, We must be on the same wave length, as I was just thinking about a hair dryer today. Some of it around the vent I'm peeling off with a putty knife, but I'm thinking a hair dry would be just the ticket. I'll keep ya posted thanks the suggestion I appreciate it. Tim
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:28 AM   #4
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This is just an update on the tar removal on my trailer roof. I bought a new heat gun on Ebay and got it yesterday, so today I tried it out on the tar. Its working really nice, and Donna's idea about using tar & bug cleaner once most of the tar is peeled away is going to work great also. (Thanks Donna ) I don't preach using a heat gun for anything on a trailer, but I used it sparingly and on the low setting. Being a professional firefighter for 32 years (retired now) I've been to my share of fires started with a heat gun. I just thought some of you would like to know that its working and you could probably use a hair dryer like Donna also said. I'm pretty sure the little leak that's there is probably from the vent flashing that attaches to the roof. Its hard to believe that it did leak with all the goop thats around that vent. Tim
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:29 AM   #5
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Glad to hear it is working Tim.

Looks like the PO simply dumped a can of tar on the roof to try to fix the leak. Amazing what people will do to abuse their trailer.

Now of course you have to post an "after" photo.
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:17 AM   #6
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Now of course you have to post an "after" photo.
Jake, I will take some after photo's probably in the spring, as today the high is going to be around 38. I saw my first snowplow going up the road yesterday, we got a few inches of snow. I have the camper in the barn and its not heated, so I will do most of the roof work in warmer weather. Thanks, Tim
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Old 10-29-2008, 08:09 AM   #7
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I got it off the side of my wifes car using Coke and aluminum foil. I have no idea where I heard that it worked but it did.
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:13 PM   #8
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I got it off the side of my wifes car using Coke and aluminum foil. I have no idea where I heard that it worked but it did.
I have heard about coke working on things like tar, but where does the foil come into it ? Tim
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Old 10-29-2008, 06:20 PM   #9
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In the old days of chrome bumpers, we used to remove rust from bumpers using Coca-Cola. It's the acidity in the coke that does it. I guess vinegar would probably work as well, for rust that is.

BTW, looking at the picture of your roof it looks like there are water rings or high water marks. I would check if the roof is concave and if it is you may have to add something to the inside to restore its bow so that water will drain off.

I also notice the luggage rack. Maybe the PO carried something heavy up there or at least heavy enough to cause it to sag.

Or maybe a water leak around the vent caused rot in the plywood under the skin. I would think that that should be repaired before taking it back out in the weather.
There is a discussion somewhere on this website about that problem.
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Old 10-30-2008, 07:09 AM   #10
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Roger, There is a slight sink but not where the rack is. This will be in the barn until I get the roof fixed. I first have to get the tar off, then pull the fantastic fan out, so I can see better what's going on. I know when I talked with the po he told me they had a heavy rain for a couple of days . That was one day before I picked up the camper, and I didn't notice any leaking then. So its possible the trip home may have loosened up something around the vent. Tim
There is a small sink spot between the vent & rack.
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Old 10-30-2008, 12:43 PM   #11
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you just move the coke around the tar and I guess it's like a chemical reaction.... the tar desolves and you just wipe it off with rags after that. I folded the foil a couple of times down to about a 5" x 5" pad.

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I have heard about coke working on things like tar, but where does the foil come into it ? Tim
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Old 10-31-2008, 09:53 AM   #12
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you just move the coke around the tar and I guess it's like a chemical reaction.... the tar desolves and you just wipe it off with rags after that. I folded the foil a couple of times down to about a 5" x 5" pad.

Coke and foil - that's a new one on me!

Tim, I've never heard of a Horizon BTW - what does it look like?
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Old 10-31-2008, 10:06 AM   #13
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Jake, I posted a couple of pics on the General Chat - Horizon Camper under rehab thread. And also a couple of the inside too. This camper is a molded fiberglass and was made for the state of Arizona Fire Safety Offices. I have since talked to Horizon who make stick built campers and they said they made about 100 of these. I have never seen one like it either, I think once I'm done with some work/mods it will be a nice camper. Tim
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