How do I clean, polish, wax, paint, and/or gelcoat? - Fiberglass RV


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Old 06-25-2018, 05:27 PM   #1
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Name: Jennifer
Trailer: 1982 13' Scamp
AK
Posts: 19
How do I clean, polish, wax, paint, and/or gelcoat?

I just purchased a 1982 13' Scamp that needs A LOT of love. I've never owned a fiberglass trailer before and I have no idea what I'm doing. Besides needing some fiberglass repairs (I will post questions about that later), as well as other work, it really needs to be cleaned. When I rub the outside of the trailer, my hand gets covered in a chalky residue. It is also very dirty.

So, I am hoping you all can help a beginner out! What do I use to clean/scrub the outside? Do I polish and wax it? If so, what do I use? Does the trailer need a new gel coat or paint? I cannot afford to have someone else do the work, so all of this needs to be stuff that I can do myself.

I will attach a few pictures.
Thank you in advance for helping me!
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:18 PM   #2
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Name: Daniel A.
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On mine I used a fine rubbing compound made for fiberglass gelcoat then applied a good coat of wax. It removed the chalky residue and brought the finish back really well.
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:22 PM   #3
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Jennifer, there are quite a few threads on this topic. Generally the gelcoat can be considerably improved (restored) by scrubbing, polishing and waxing. However this may not work well on a 40 year old camper, as the gelcoat may have worn thin. In that case, many folks scrub with barkeeper's friend and then apply five coats of Zep floor wax. Again, there are many threads on this topic and the pros and cons of each approach. Good luck with your project!!

-John
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:54 PM   #4
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Painting is about the last option I would take for a fiberglass camper, but it sounds like it might be appropriate in this case. I emphasis the word might because I am no expert, and even if I were, I doubt I could tell you the best course of action sight unseen. If you do decide to paint, it should be a proper paint and a proper technique for fiberglass / gel coat, and that is a longer discussion.

If there is any way you could take the trailer to a few boat shops you could get some suggestions from people who should know what is best. It sounds like your case requires an aggressive multi-step approach, or maybe even giving up on the gel-coat all together if it is too far gone. From what I have read (but don't know myself), I think a gel-coat replacement is not at all practical.

Think boat (marine) instead of camper and you can likely find some good info, such as:

https://www.westmarine.com/WestAdvis...rglass-Gelcoat

https://shurhold.com/article/marine/...lass-finishes/

https://www.boatus.com/magazine/2013...lass-gleam.asp

https://www.hulaboatcare.com/remove-...rine-gel-coat/
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:26 PM   #5
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Name: Kim
Trailer: 1985 13' U Haul Camper
Michigan
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Is that high traffic floor polish.... wet look polish or some other zep product? Tnx.
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:59 PM   #6
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Trailer: 1978 Trillium 4500, 1979 Boler 1700
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I used zep wet look floor polish and was very pleased with results on my 40 year old camper after five coats. I understand from another recent post that the results using high traffic floor polish are also very good.
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Old 06-25-2018, 08:47 PM   #7
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Name: Jennifer
Trailer: 1982 13' Scamp
AK
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Thank you!
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Old 06-26-2018, 09:27 AM   #8
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Trailer: '78 Trillium 4500
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40 Year old Trillium

We have come from the SAME PLACE!

We bought a 40 year old (1978) Trillium 4500, with some minor fiberglass issues and a very chalky finish. We looked at the possibility of painting, but she who must be obeyed stated that WE (read I) would NOT be doing the work, so it looked like it would be a $5,000 paint job by a professional.

While we were contemplating the expenditure we looked at another Trill 4500 that had been Zepped for years, so we thought about trying that approach first.

Started by cleaning with a good automotive detergent, then the mild abrasive cleaner/polish, followed by MANY (I think we did 6 coats) of the Zep Wet Look floor polish. The trailer looks great - has been holding its shine all summer so far.

Looking forward to our trip to Winterpeg in August, to see what others have done to their trailers. We are still trying to decide about fixing up the innards. So far we have cleaned and painted the stove and trim around the fridge. New knobs for the stove, which will be pretty much just aesthetic, we never use the stove in the trailer.


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Old 06-26-2018, 09:49 AM   #9
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I used barkeepers friend, then followed with six coats of PoliGlow. I can’t believe the difference !!! Mine is a ’99, so she does have some age on her. After I did this, I could legitimately call her Pearl again!
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Old 06-26-2018, 10:43 AM   #10
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Name: Susan
Trailer: 1975 Boler 13'
Prince Edward Island
Posts: 15
Last year using the wonderful help from here were did our 'new' '75 Boler that was very dull and faded with Barkeeper friend and then SEVEN coats of the Zep wet look floor polish. It was worth it. My goodness she is still shining and the colour restoration was just amazing and well worth all the work which at 70 I did by my self.

Good Luck
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Old 06-26-2018, 11:21 AM   #11
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Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
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There are also specialty marine fiberglass restoration products from 3M and Meguiar's. They come in various grades, some intended for severely oxidized gelcoat.

But from all I've read here, when it gets to that point, the BKF/floor wax approach seems to give the best results with the least effort. 4-6 coats seems like a lot, but is wipes on and hardens with no buffing required. Dry time is very fast, so multiple coats can be applied back-to-back. You'll want a reasonably dust-free environment to do the application.

It does have to be stripped and reapplied periodically (around 1-3 years depending on your climate and how the trailer is stored). Stripper is sold alongside the wax. Our local Home Depot carries Zep wax and stripper.
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Old 06-26-2018, 01:57 PM   #12
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Name: Steve
Trailer: Scamp 13
California
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Clean it with liquid Bar Keeper friend. it will get it clean and white again. then stop and don't do any thing else to it until you get your fiberglass repairs done. any products you put on the clean surface will impair the bond of the fiberglass and resin to the old body. For me I would re-gellcoat the repairs. For most people re-gellcoating the whole body of the trailer would be too expensive and a huge labor undertaking. For most people they would go down the path of painting the trailer. If your not going to do the whole job the right way don't do it. Just paint the repairs and get the paint to match the best you can and then Zep the whole trailer. It will be shiny and newish looking and much easier to wash and keep clean.

if you decide to repaint the whole trailer automotive paint works well or if your leaving it outside 24-7 use marine paint for boats. Do a search for roll and tip painting and watch a few You tube videos.
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Old 06-26-2018, 02:22 PM   #13
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Name: Wayne
Trailer: Scamp
New York
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My approach to situations like this is to start with the mildest product, such as dishwasher soap and hot water. At the least, that should facilitate getting a closer look at the condition of the gelcoat. Scrubbly bubbly can be be safely used to remove black streaks and the like; it won't hurt the gelcoat. Barkeepers is abrasive, so I would be careful; you don't want to rub through the gelcoat (which may be quite thin).

We own a '74 SCAMP (which we bought slightly used in May '75). We never garaged it, and after 40+ years the gelcoat had worn through along the shoulders and top. Three years ago, I restored our beloved SCAMP. In that process, I learned that Acetone is a good product for cleaning fiberglass: it is not abrasive and does not damage the fiberglass or gelcoat.

I suspect you will learn, as I did, that re-gelcoating the trailer is prohibitively expensive. After repairing and thoroughly cleaning/prepping, I took the fiberglass shell (having removed the windows, door, hardware, etc.) to an auto shop and had it spray painted.
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Old 06-26-2018, 02:37 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mccownw View Post
My approach to situations like this is to start with the mildest product, such as dishwasher soap and hot water.

Do you really mean dishwasher soap ( detergent ), or did you mean dish washing liquid ( ie. Dawn )?
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Old 06-26-2018, 03:52 PM   #15
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Trailer: Scamp
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The liquid would be milder (I think!).
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Old 06-26-2018, 03:56 PM   #16
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Trailer: Escape 21, behind an '02 F250 7.3 diesel tug
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before going too over the deep end, wash it with some car wash in a bucket of warm water and a sponge, then get some Megulars Marine Cleaner-Wax, and give it a try... buff in with one rag, then after its dried buff out with a clean rag. do about a yard at a time. that stuff can bring a shine up on seriously dull surfaces without a lot of elbow grease.

For washing, I prefer to use a car wash fluid rather than dawn etc dish liquid, its far less aggressive, and i doubt you need to remove a lot of grease.
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Old 06-26-2018, 06:31 PM   #17
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Name: Jennifer
Trailer: 1982 13' Scamp
AK
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Originally Posted by mccownw View Post
My approach to situations like this is to start with the mildest product, such as dishwasher soap and hot water. At the least, that should facilitate getting a closer look at the condition of the gelcoat. Scrubbly bubbly can be be safely used to remove black streaks and the like; it won't hurt the gelcoat. Barkeepers is abrasive, so I would be careful; you don't want to rub through the gelcoat (which may be quite thin).

We own a '74 SCAMP (which we bought slightly used in May '75). We never garaged it, and after 40+ years the gelcoat had worn through along the shoulders and top. Three years ago, I restored our beloved SCAMP. In that process, I learned that Acetone is a good product for cleaning fiberglass: it is not abrasive and does not damage the fiberglass or gelcoat.

I suspect you will learn, as I did, that re-gelcoating the trailer is prohibitively expensive. After repairing and thoroughly cleaning/prepping, I took the fiberglass shell (having removed the windows, door, hardware, etc.) to an auto shop and had it spray painted.

How do I determine whether or not the gelcoat has worn through on areas of the trailer? I don't know whether it's just all severely oxidized or whether or not the gelcoat is extremely thin or worn through.
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Old 06-26-2018, 06:32 PM   #18
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Name: Jennifer
Trailer: 1982 13' Scamp
AK
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Thank you ALL so much for your advice, thoughts, and opinions! All of you have been helpful! Wow. This is a great place to be!
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Old 06-26-2018, 06:44 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akjruthies View Post
How do I determine whether or not the gelcoat has worn through on areas of the trailer? I don't know whether it's just all severely oxidized or whether or not the gelcoat is extremely thin or worn through.
bare fibreglass is pretty obvious. 'gel coat' is like a thick epoxy paint.

if you wax it and it shines up, then the coat is in fine condition, it was just a bit of surface oxidation (which is often old wax).
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Old 06-26-2018, 07:13 PM   #20
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Name: Gordon
Trailer: 2015 Scamp (16 Std Layout 4) with '15 Toyota Sienna LE Tug
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akjruthies View Post
How do I determine whether or not the gelcoat has worn through on areas of the trailer? I don't know whether it's just all severely oxidized or whether or not the gelcoat is extremely thin or worn through.
I still think an inspection by some people who do fiberglass repair and gel-coat restoration for (part of) their living might be the best thing to do....

Quote:
Originally Posted by gordon2 View Post
...
If there is any way you could take the trailer to a few boat shops you could get some suggestions from people who should know what is best....
BTW, if you decide to go the Zep route, then you should research how to remove it before you commit to it... I say that because this was posted on Facebook by one owner who had some trouble with it...

Never use ZEP floor wax on your Scamp if parked outside! After several hours spent today stripping it off after a flaky mess and dark spots where the wax discolored lesson learned! It may look nice the first year but now I am regretting it! Got some Meguiars Premium Marine Wax and going to apply that tomorrow. No mor ZEP!
I've read about this product,and was surprised by how many people thought it was great,nice shine. Personally, I always wondered about UV reactions...��. Got my answer,Thanks
I loved it last year and got so many compliments on how shiny it was. But when I washed it today getting ready for our 1st camping trip I couldn’t believe how bad the top was! I had a hard time getting it off went through 3 Mr Clean erasers! It is not UV friendly!
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