Cracked Gray Tank - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-15-2012, 05:43 PM   #1
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Name: Jim
Trailer: Bigfoot 1981 Trailer
British Columbia
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Cracked Gray Tank

I just purchased a 1981 Bigfoot B17 SM Deluxe travel trailer and am in the process of starting restoration. The previous owners left a few windows open during a rain storm and dry rot has developed. I plan on removing the windows (never done this before, but it looks easy) and replacing the wood panels where there is dry rot, as I want to paint the interior anyways, so I do not think that this part is a major project, but I need help with my cracked gray tank. It has developed a large, wide crack on the side, close to the top were it is held by the bracket that goes from one side to the other. I contacted a dealer who specilizes in plastic as they suggested a product called G Flex which is an epoxy and they said I would have to use a plastic backing. Has anyone tried patching up a tank, and will it hold. I think that if it was patched, then additional brackets would be helpful to take the weight off the tank and distribute it. I think it would be almost impossible to find a tank that is similar to the OEM as it is not square. Any suggestions would be helpful....This is only the first question I have, but will have many, many more as this is my first restoration and looking forward to many happy times camping in Bigfoot once it is all done....Thanks, Jim
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:01 PM   #2
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Hi Jim, welcome to FiberglassRV! I'll leave the answers to your questions to the experts, but I wanted to say
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Old 09-15-2012, 06:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Donna D. View Post
Hi Jim, welcome to FiberglassRV! I'll leave the answers to your questions to the experts, but I wanted to say
Hi Donna D and thanks for the welcome. I have been reading a lot of posts, making notes and looking forward to starting the restoration process. I drove 400 kms (240 miles) off Vancouver Island to the Mainland of BC to pick up the Bigfoot, and had not problem towing it with my Nissan 4 cyl. std. shift pick up. The Nissan is rated at 3500 lbs. towing capacity....It weighs 2706 lbs with all tanks empty, 1 propane tank 1/2 full, and today measured the holding tanks: fresh water 23 1/2 USA gals, and 10 imperial gals for the black tank, and of course could not measure the gray tank as it is leaking...ugggggh, but think it could easy hold 20 gals. Just thought I would throw these numbers out as perhaps some on the forum could use them.
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Old 09-15-2012, 11:59 PM   #4
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The instructions I was given and used a long time ago by an RV repair guy are as follows. (to the best of my recollection).
  • Rough up the area to be patched with sand paper.
  • Drill a small hole at each end of the crack.
  • Clean well.
  • Use small amount of JB Weld (metal epoxy) to seal and fuse the crack.
  • Cover area with plastic mesh screen glued on with ABS (black plastic) pipe glue Not the PVC (white plastic) pipe glue.
  • Then apply thin coats of the pipe glue to the screen and tank to build up a patch.
  • Let glue dry between each coat.
The key thing was the glue had to be the black pipe glue, pvc glue would not stick.

I used the tank for many years after that patch. My damage was at the bottom of the tank, a bracket broke and one end of the tank hit the road hard enough to crack and take some damage from dragging.
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Old 09-16-2012, 07:24 AM   #5
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ok,,,number one,, thats thermoplastic. which means it can melt ,,, and that means it can be welded.
most body shops weld plastic bumpers and such on a daily bases and can probably fix you up.....but.....why did it crack?

wether you weld it, or use adhesives,, it may simply be age and flexing has caused it to become brittle. if so,, you will have to redo it again.

might be the best solution is to bite the bullet and install a new tank while you already have your hands dirty.
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Old 09-16-2012, 08:54 AM   #6
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Thanks for the replies....the crack is about 6 inches long and there was an attempt by someone else before to patch it, but the product used fell off in places. I have to add that it is not a small crack, but in the middle of the crack, it is about 1 inch wide, so would invole a patch and dont know if the metal exoxy would fill the void. I may have to replace the tank, but where does a person look for an actual replacement without doing a lot of renos>
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Old 09-16-2012, 09:06 AM   #7
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How about making the hole even bigger and installing a waterproof deck plate?

WEST MARINE - Screw-in Deck Plate, 8", Smooth, White

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Old 09-17-2012, 04:58 AM   #8
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google rv holding tanks, and you should get a lot of hits. it would be helpful to have dimensions (rough at least) to start from. most tanks were made somewhere so the molds exist. i bought mine from Shirlon Plastics in Ontario Canada, but I know there are many other places around
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:16 AM   #9
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Thanks, Joe, for your reply....I have sent an e mail to Shirlon and am waiting for a reply. There is another company that has a "fix" for ABS tanks, only, "Plastic Mend" Plasti-Mend Plastic Repair Products Do you know if the gray tank is ABS or poly, as this product will only work on ABS.
Thanks, Jim
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Old 09-17-2012, 09:32 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by jimmied View Post
Thanks, Joe, for your reply....I have sent an e mail to Shirlon and am waiting for a reply. There is another company that has a "fix" for ABS tanks, only, "Plastic Mend" Plasti-Mend Plastic Repair Products Do you know if the gray tank is ABS or poly, as this product will only work on ABS.
Thanks, Jim
If it's gray it's probably polypropylene. Most plastic fabrication shops can do poly welding and should be able to fabricate and weld a patch plate right over your crack.
Charlie Y
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:22 AM   #11
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The stuff I was suggesting was for the black ABS not the poly. I thought by "grey" you meant grey water and assumed ABS.

Man 1 inch is a pretty wide crack to fix! I think you would need to have a material patch, and as John pointed out if the tank material itself is deteriorating it may only be a fix that lasts for a little while. Do you have any idea how long the old patch lasted?

I know in the past I have seen tank suppliers that will install fittings to your specifications on a tank, and the books listing tanks in RV shops are pretty thick so it seems like you might be able to find a replacement that if not a perfect match would still be a good fit.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:36 AM   #12
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How about making the hole even bigger and installing a waterproof deck plate?

WEST MARINE - Screw-in Deck Plate, 8", Smooth, White

Now THAT would make for a REALLY fast draining tank...........................
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Old 09-17-2012, 12:25 PM   #13
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Jim, will leave answers to your question to the grey tank experts but I also wanted to say welcome and hope to see you out at our annual fiberglass trailer meet here in BC. We have a number of Bigfoot owners who I am sure would be happy to share their knowledge.
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Old 09-17-2012, 03:01 PM   #14
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Thanks for all the replies and for the invite on the BC Bigfoot Club....We are located in Ladysmith.....I called Industrial Plastics and they can do a weld on it....will probably take it in for them to look at and they MAY be able to do it while on the rig...Thanks, again, Jim
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