repairing rock chips *properly* - Fiberglass RV


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Old 09-03-2010, 03:25 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1971 Boler 1300
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repairing rock chips *properly*

Hello Everyone,

First off, a big THANK YOU to everyone who contributes to this forum. I frequent the site often and you all have assisted me in everything from my initial search (what to look for, etc.) for my Boler to maintenance and quirks I have encountered since purchasing it three years ago.

My 1971 Boler is in really great shape overall but it has a number of rock chips on the front bottom section that I would like to repair - and repair properly. I have read a number of posts on this forum and admit I am still a little mystified as to how to go about doing this.

I am pretty handy so I am not afraid of putting in some work. I just want to do it *right* and not create more grief for myself down the road. I have looked into getting truck bed liner sprayed on it but want to investigate other options before I go that route.

The rock chips vary from quite small pits to larger sections across the bottom edge that expose the "fibres" of the under layer. There are some slight spider cracks, too.

Ideally I would like to refinish the gelcoat but am unsure if this is a task I should attempt myself or if I should look into getting it done professionally...which then leads me to ask if anyone knows anyone in Calgary who can do this (a boat shop maybe)? And if so what kind of expense am I looking at?

I love this little trailer and want to give it the love it deserves so I can enjoy it for many years to come.

I could send pictures if anyone who may be able to help wants a better look. I thank you in advance for your GENEROUS assistance!
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:02 PM   #2
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Name: Rachel
Trailer: 1974 Boler 13 ft (Neonex/Winnipeg)
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Hi Christine,

I think it would be helpful to see some close-up photos of the damaged areas. Also, since you are questioning whether to re-condition the gelcoat at all, some photos of the whole trailer would help.

It makes a difference if you are repairing problems with an eye to keeping the original gelcoat vs. painting the trailer.

Raya
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:31 PM   #3
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Trailer: 1971 Boler 1300
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Thanks for your response Raya!

I have included a link below to some pix of "Winnie" (bought in Winnipeg and hauled back to Calgary on a glorious roadtrip in 2008).

I hope the link works and appreciate any assistance anyone can offer. She is an older gal but still has a lot of life in her.

ck

MobileMe Gallery
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Old 09-03-2010, 06:37 PM   #4
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Trailer: 1971 Boler 1300
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I should mention, too, that I realize she is missing a few light covers. We have had the lights "professionally" fixed THREE times since we bought her in July 2008. The wires have caused major issue and when we took her in a month ago for presumably a true fix of the issues she came back without the side light covers! (?). Needless to say when we checked the lights on our return from Writing-on-Stone park the lights are not working properly yet again (sigh).
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:05 PM   #5
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hi christine....perhaps, and i don't say for sure that he can help, you could contact joe at team trillium--which are manufactured there in calgary...i am certain that if he cannot assist you himself, he can surely direct you to someone who can.
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Old 09-03-2010, 07:16 PM   #6
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Christine,

Thanks for the photos. I hope you don't mind my adding photos to the thread (I figured it would be okay since you linked to them, and it makes it easier to talk about, I think --- just let me know if you would like me to remove them).

Classic green-and-white Boler

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On the lower/front chips:
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You could repair those with gelcoat, but given how many there are, and the fact that that is a vulnerable area, another good choice might be to paint/apply some sort of rock guard type finish. That would give you a tidy way to maintain that area when it gets chipped again in future.

On the cracks:
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Gelcoat is often prone to cracking, and it doesn't always "mean" anything. On the other hand, given that I haven't seen longitudinal cracks in that area before, I'm interested in if there might have been a specific cause, and/or if they might extend into the glass behind them. I can see that they are beneath the belly band, but what section of the trailer is that one? And what is happening on the inside in that area?

Raya

PS: On the lights/electrical: Argh Unprofessional "professionals" drive me nuts! Unfortunately, they don't seem to be that rare. One (more) reason I try to do things myself (that said, a good professional is worth her or his weight in gold, and I don't mind paying them what they are worth, if I am hiring a job out).
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Old 09-03-2010, 10:25 PM   #7
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Just tossing an idea out there. I have no idea if it will work for your gelcoat.

This is a Filon Aframe composed of small chopped fiberglass particles embedded in a polyester resin with a smooth gel coat finish. This person Painted the entire roof with aerosol cans of appliance epoxy. The final product looks good and is inexpensive.

Here are his repair notes.
"Painting the entire roof with aerosol cans of appliance epoxy turned out to be frustrating. The area directly under the
spray wetted up with a nice gloss finish, but the fine mist at the edges of the spray immediately dried and left a white dust around the gloss area. This resulted in a very tough white surface, but uneven areas of gloss and matte finish. I ended up doing a final wet
sanding of the entire roof to even out the finish. The result was not perfect, but, the delamination bubbles are gone and the cost was considerably less than having to replace the entire front roof panel."
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spray.jpg  
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Old 09-03-2010, 10:55 PM   #8
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Christine,

I just noticed that you asked a bit about costs. If you are doing gelcoat buffing/repair yourself (i.e. not paying someone else for their labor), there is a certain cost to getting set up (presuming you don't already have the basics), but after that it does not cost much but elbow grease and some time. And to my mind, the basics are things a FGRVer might want to have on hand (if they intend to maintain their own rigs).

I could go on (and sometimes I do ), but I'd like to know more about your longitudinal cracks first.
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:35 AM   #9
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Thanks so much everyone for your suggestions and responses. It has given me a number of avenues to further research & explore.

I am a little unsure about the gelcoat refinishing. Even given I am okay with the DIY adventure it would thrust me into I just wonder if in the end it may be too much work. More research is necessary to see if it is a doable project. Not that I am not up for the challenge but I have to admit that there are a number of other Winnie projects on my list that may trump patiently teaching myself fibreglas repair/gelcoating!

I may just end up with the truck bed liner spray. It is not ideal but at least it will coat the area and prevent any further damage. Plus, some places you can get other colours than the standard black and I will do some more investigation into this. I had prices from a few places last year and seem to recall one place saying they would do the front end a small trailer for $250.

As for the vertical cracks... hmmm. I can't actually recall if they were there when we bought the trailer. I imagine they were. We have used the trailer a number of times the last three years but not extensively (unfortunately!).

Could it be that it needs to be protected with something? Perhaps it is the gelcoat is dry or weathered? Admittedly we have not polished it at all but will be doing that this year as I have noticed the finish is a bit chalky. I spent time a few weeks ago scrubbing the finish with borax to remove the dirt/stains and still need to add a protective coating.

Is there anything that can be done for the cracks - cosmetically? I am not overly fussy with a few blemishes on the finish as long as they do not get worse and are suggesting a larger stress caused structural problem.

Your suggestions Raya are very appreciated!

Many (many) thanks again.
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Old 09-05-2010, 12:39 AM   #10
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Oh, and in answer to your question, Raya, about the longitudinal cracks - they are on the front of the trailer under the belly band.
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Old 09-05-2010, 02:32 AM   #11
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Christine,

I'm sorry if I sound like a downer, but there is no chance that your gelcoat is just dried out or etc. where those cracks are. The gelcoat is definitely cracked. But, what I am interested in, is why? Now, gelcoat *can* just crack. If it was put on a bit thick or whatever. But that is a slightly unusual crack pattern, and I'm wondering if the glass beneath is also cracked (may be or may not be), and/or if something inside the trailer caused it. It's perfectly possible that it is simple gelcoat cracking.

You can cosmetically repair the cracks, presuming you have no underlying fiberglass issue (don't despair; if you did it would also be repairable). This is known as a gelcoat repair. You would grind the cracks out slightly (i.e. make the thin crack into a more gradual "valley") and then fill them in with gelcoat that you'd tinted to match (I can tell you more about this if you plan to go that way). Then you'd sand/polish until it's all flat and smooth and matching.

As to whether you want to repair the (overall) gelcoat, well, a shiny, new two-part paint job is pretty sweet, but it costs in money or your labor or both. I say that because it would be a shame to put on a paint job like that without removing windows (and re-bedding them afterward), belly band, etc. These projects have a way of growing. And you would almost certainly have it painted professionally if you were to go that way (you need supplied air respirators and etc.).

Now you could do your own one-part paint job (or roll and tip a two-parter), but for myself, I would just keep fixing up the gelcoat until it was time to take it to a paint shop.

Whichever way you go, you will want to repair those longitudinal cracks, because they would telegraph through any new paint.

Or, you can just keep using it as-is while you work through the rest of your list

Just know that gelcoat touch-up, while it does have it's artistry, is not rocket science. If you can follow instructions and do tidy work, you are more than halfway there.

If you were about to embark on the job, I might have a few comments to add to this, but it's a good primer. Don Casey writes some good DIY stuff for boats.

Gelcoat Scratch Repair by Don Casey

For example one point I would add is that before you tried to match, say, the green color, you should compound/buff an area to bring the color back up, *then* match the gelcoat color. You can mix up a batch without the catalyst, and then smear it right on the trailer to check the color (then wipe it off). Then you can go back and make the same color with catalyst for the actual repair.

Raya
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:45 AM   #12
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Name: Ken
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I don’t think anyone mentioned the West marine Gel-coat repair kit. Pay particular attention when mixing the dye because it never seems to perfectly match what you're repairing. You will need some 600 and 1000 wet/dry sandpaper(VERY WET) to make a perfectly smooth finish. Google videos or youtube search gelcoat repair to watch instruction videos. Take care.
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