Exterior Finishes? - Fiberglass RV

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Old 06-18-2010, 10:36 AM   #1
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Trailer: 1974 Boler 1300
Posts: 4
My husband I are relatively new fiberglass rv owners. We bought our 1974 Boler off of craigslist in November and for a variety of reasons are just now starting to work on it. We'd love to do a frame off restoration but due to space considerations its not in the cards for us right now. (we live in a condo and store/work on our Boler in a friend's driveway.) In the meantime we'd like to take our new egg camping but have some exterior issues to address. There is some pretty major oxidation on the original gel coat, the typical spider cracking, a front gash that a previous owner painted over with a paint that only kind of matches, and - worst of all - a metallic repair and access hatch on the left rear. We're hoping to find some rental space to address all of this with proper fiberglass filling, patching and a paint job maybe this winter or next winter but I'd like to do something in the meantime so she's not so, well let's face it, ugly. I'm considering following the gel coat restoration process of wet sanding, rubbing compound, polishing compound and wax that several other members of this forum have had success with. That being said, my question is - if I go through that whole process am I setting myself up for a repeat when I go to repair and paint? I know I'll probably have to sand the wax off but will the interim gel coat restoration put me further ahead when we go to paint or further behind? Will sanding that many times take off too much gel coat and damage the fiberglass? Anyone done something like this themselves?

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Old 06-18-2010, 12:12 PM   #2
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Name: Clive
Trailer: Boler American #3104
Posts: 554
... I'd like to do something in the meantime so she's not so, well let's face it, ugly.
Hi Ashley;

First of all. welcome!

This may not be the answer you are looking for and it may not work with your sensibilities, but here goes!!

If the Boler is usable to get out and camp in other than cosmetics; just do something to make the wheels look great.

Case in point; have you ever seen a classic car that's a work in progress and it's bondo'd and primered but it's got a great set of wheels? Looks OK, right?

And have you ever noticed how trashed a car looks even if it's a nice Caddy and it's got a donut spare or a missing hub-cap?

The wheels are the focal point of a vehicle. So just prep and paint them, and treat with trim rings or hub caps, dress the tires and you're done!

That's my 2c.

Good luck.

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Old 06-18-2010, 01:33 PM   #3
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 24,874
I've with Clive on this one. Make certain everything works (lights, etc.), it's safe to go down the road, nothing leaks and it's clean... then enjoy it! All that work you're contemplating can be delayed. Camping season is upon us... enjoy every minute of it. Save all the hard work for a time you don't want to be out in the trailer. Like you mentioned, worry about that other stuff this winter.

BTW: Don't use a wax with silicone in it and you won't need to sand it off before paint.
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 06-18-2010, 03:59 PM   #4
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Trailer: 84 16 ft Scamp
Posts: 725

Did you mean to say that using your FGRV is more fun and fulfilling than working on it?

I say, "Spend all summer working on your camper and forget about camping."

'Tis good for the constitution and which is more important? -- The pursuit of happiness, or the happiness of pursuit.

Heh! Heh! Heh!
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Old 07-01-2010, 12:13 PM   #5
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Trailer: Scamp 13 ft
Posts: 16

I can understand Ashley's concern. I am about to acquire a Scamp 13 from a buddy, and while the overall structure looks sound, it has been sitting a good while and was used as a 'hunt camp cabin' for some time - it's covered in a funky leaf pattern camoflage. Now, I AM considered the "camo king" among my buddies, but the TT will be used for general camping, so I too will be refinishing. My next big scheduled camping meet is in the middle of January - hey, it IS sunny Florida......
So, I will have six months to "get 'er done!" Autumn to early spring is our best camping season - too hot and muggy right now!

I am even thinking of doing a similar color scheme - cream below and white above! And Scamp company still sells all the decals.
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Old 07-03-2010, 11:50 AM   #6
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Name: Robert
Trailer: Nest Caravans
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Given the age of your Boler, I doubt that you'll be able to recover the gelcoat in any adequate way. I suggest that you clean it as well as you can, repair any serious cracks to prevent any water infiltration, then enjoy if for a while.

When you're ready, take care of ALL your exterior concerns properly, then give it a nice coat of paint. Looks great.

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Old 07-03-2010, 12:27 PM   #7
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
Posts: 3,008

I agree with Robert. And I say that having re-conditioned the gelcoat on a number of fiberglass boats. At a certain point (which I would say your camper is past), it makes more sense to paint.

And, while gelcoat is nice, don't think that a good, two-part paint job is inferior. I think it can be every bit as good. A number of high-quality new boats are coming with a two-part LPU paint job instead of gelcoat these days.

There is a huge range of possibilities when it comes to paint - from Tremclad/Rustoleum and a hot-dog roller, to a professionally sprayed two-part job. Mostly you get what you pay for, but a person can do a nice job themselves, too

If it were me and I had no budget, I would tow it to a good shop and say "have at it" with a good two-part paint. Since most of us don't live in that world I would do all the prep myself (carefully as prep is key, Key, KEY) and then take it to a shop to have them spray it with a good, two-part paint. For me that's the compromise that is the best of both worlds (with a realistic budget). Of course other people would make other decisions.

At any rate, I agree with Robert. Clean it up for now, get nice wheels or hubcaps (as others have said), and go camping. Then plan for a fun/good/glossy paint job down the line.

Also: Any paint job is going to require a fair amount of solvent-washing, sanding, fairing/filling, and sanding, so it will not increase the work by any meaningful amount if you want to do a bit of "spot" spray-painting now to cover the worst of the bad areas. That will come right off when you sand/prep. Wax will too (in fact, you want to solvent wash to remove mold release wax anyway - it will still be there 40 years later, amazingly).

Just.... no silicone!
And watch for it in "hidden" places like furniture polish and Armorall (it's not just in caulk anymore).

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Old 08-08-2010, 05:54 PM   #8
Name: Mike
Trailer: 2005 Scamp 13'
Posts: 70
About what should I expect to pay to have a 13' Scamp painted one color? That is with me doing all the prep work including masking.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:14 PM   #9
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Trailer: 1974 Boler 1300
Posts: 4
Just thought I'd give a quick update. After some consideration I decided to do the Meguiars 3 step oxidation removal on the exterior and am really happy I did. It really improves the look of our little lady until we can find the time and money to do a real repair and paint job. The time away from camping didn't really bother us since we were working on new cushions in the meantime (30+ year old mold is not my thing). We were able to get all three steps done in about 6 hours so I think it was time and energy well spent. I've attached some picts of the results though they're a bit misleading since I took them of her "good" side. In addition to the 3 step we used POR-15 on the frame, have cleaned up some of the extraneous sealant and (as CliveAlive suggested) cleaned up the tires and hubcaps. More work to go but I think she cleaned up really well!
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:38 PM   #10
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Name: Donna D
Trailer: Escape 5.0 TA, 2014
Posts: 24,874
Looks great Ashley! Hey, no one can see more than one side at a time anyway so why not put the best face forward. Hope you're enjoying the ownership!
Donna D.
Ten Forward - 2014 Escape 5.0 TA
Double Yolk - 1988 16' Scamp Deluxe
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Old 08-18-2010, 02:19 PM   #11
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Name: Bruce T
Trailer: Hunter compact jr
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looks good! now you can camp and decide later how you wanna do it.
We did a simular job to our uhaul ,cleaning and poli-glo....I like it though I'm eyeing a rusto paint job after seeing a fee examples online(I think its trem-clad paint in canda). For now im happy ...Bruce

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