Undisclosed previous wreck damage....help! - Fiberglass RV
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Old 04-16-2015, 04:32 PM   #1
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Name: Aimee
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Undisclosed previous wreck damage....help!

Ok, so we bought our Bigfoot 21ft. It's very nice inside. It also tows really well. We got it home and took a look at it in indoor light and it appears that the side of the trailer has been "fixed". There is some spider web cracking, which led me to notice that it's more matte in that area. Then we checked the inside and found some chalking that didn't look quite right. So we started pulling it up, and it looks like the front door corner side was hit and repaired. It doesn't seem to be the best repair as it is cracking. Also, the window was repaired, and will probably need to be replaced and re-puttied. It was leaking so there is some water damage. Feeling a little crappy, but at least we didn't pay a lot. Please tell me this is fixable I know others have fixed much worse...but we have a toddler and no tools. I think my husband might need a hand on some of it. We were under the impression it was "ready to go". Lesson learned. I tried calling boat shops, but they weren't very helpful. Plus, at $95/hr I'm not sure we could afford it. We're supposed to be on the move in a couple months. Where should we start?
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Old 04-16-2015, 05:25 PM   #2
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I would pull the window out and redo with butyl tape to stop the leaks, then just enjoy it. The spider cracks do not necessarily effect the strength of the trailer.
Dave & Paula
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Old 04-16-2015, 06:24 PM   #3
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Ok you're probably right, but I do have a to replace some of the water damage boards on that side. Also the window was glued back together. We scraped off some paint to find the glue. Not sure how long that will last. I will post some pics once we get some of the wall board taken off. So far we have found yellow fiberglass insulation, styrofoam board and some kind of shriveled up old foam. It's an insulation smorgasbord in there.
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Old 04-16-2015, 06:27 PM   #4
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Well thats a pain.
If you post some pictures it might help us see what you are seeing exactly and then I am sure folks will jump in with suggestions.
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Old 04-17-2015, 05:46 AM   #5
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Spider web cracking is hopefully just in the gel coat. Gel coat is very brittle unlike the fiberglass underneath , which has some flexibility. This is a fairly common issue and if that is what you have it is just a cosmetic issue. It's also a very common issue to have to reseal windows. I did mine last year. It took a few hours and about 20 dollars worth of butyl tape. Your comments about different colors of insulation and missing insulation is puzzling and need further examination. Pictures would be a big help here.
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Old 04-17-2015, 12:23 PM   #6
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Speaking of butyl, does that only come in tape, or is there a butyl putty in a cartridge that fits a goopgun? I've tried to google it but only found U.K. sites that offer it so far.
If anyone knows I'll be happy to hear about that!
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Old 04-17-2015, 09:15 PM   #7
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Ok, my husband took some pictures. The corner looks like it was rebuilt like we thought. We pulled it off to make sure. It was missing some foam so that's what was creating the soft spot on the side. It looks like there is some wood rot that is going to need replaced. But we're not sure why the corner is black? Is that just from the repair (hoping it's nothing). Maybe it's not too bad? Just wanted to get some input. The window is for sure leaking, and has been glued back together.
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Old 04-17-2015, 09:45 PM   #8
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Speaking of butyl, does that only come in tape, or is there a butyl putty in a cartridge that fits a goopgun?
There is Butyl, and then there is "butyl".

True Butyl tape is very consistent in thickness and width. To me it looks like a long continuous rolled-up stick of chewing gum. It is grayish in color and not initially very sticky in your fingers as you unroll it. The paper that keeps it in tape form is smooth waxed paper, and the tape separates from the paper easily. I've actually seen this labeled "Putty Tape".

Stuff I've seen labeled as "butyl" is actually Putty Tape, as in Plumber's Putty. It is irregular in thickness and width, tan in color, and the paper that keeps it in tape form is wrinkly. It is extremely sticky to handle, and is difficult to get off the wrinkly paper. It looks to me just like it had been extruded from a "goopgun".
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Old 04-17-2015, 11:15 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Frederick L. Simson View Post
There is Butyl, and then there is "butyl".

True Butyl tape is very consistent in thickness and width. To me it looks like a long continuous rolled-up stick of chewing gum. It is grayish in color and not initially very sticky in your fingers as you unroll it. The paper that keeps it in tape form is smooth waxed paper, and the tape separates from the paper easily. I've actually seen this labeled "Putty Tape".

Stuff I've seen labeled as "butyl" is actually Putty Tape, as in Plumber's Putty. It is irregular in thickness and width, tan in color, and the paper that keeps it in tape form is wrinkly. It is extremely sticky to handle, and is difficult to get off the wrinkly paper. It looks to me just like it had been extruded from a "goopgun".
This is an interesting post Fred as I've bought many rolls of butyl tape from RV suppliers over the years and it's always had the wrinkled paper on it. Never seen the waxed paper form you mention. Where have you picked that up? Sounds like you've used both. What's your pros/cons of each for a sealing difference? Can't say I've ever had a problem after a repair with it though but would like to know your thoughts.
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Old 04-17-2015, 11:22 PM   #10
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Does anyone know why the fiberglass in the corner is black?
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Old 04-17-2015, 11:49 PM   #11
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Does anyone know why the fiberglass in the corner is black?
Can't really see it to close up but I've used a black colored Kevlar matting before and it would show through as dark like yours under the resin.
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Old 04-18-2015, 07:42 AM   #12
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My guess is some carbon fiber may have been glassed into the corner to make it ridgit, like adding rebar
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Old 04-18-2015, 07:46 AM   #13
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I don't see anything that jumps out and screams "repair" . Maybe more photos and maybe one from the exterior would help here.
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Old 04-18-2015, 08:10 AM   #14
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There are some soft spots under the window, near where they repaired that side. They drilled the holes in and tried to fill it with the resin. It seems that they didn't take out the damaged fiberglass but just tried to patch over it. We are going to pull up some more a little lower. I think there is a leak around the belly band, and a leak around the window where it got distorted in the impact. I think we're mainly dealing with some leaking.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:09 AM   #15
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This is an interesting post Fred as I've bought many rolls of butyl tape from RV suppliers over the years and it's always had the wrinkled paper on it. Never seen the waxed paper form you mention. Where have you picked that up? Sounds like you've used both. What's your pros/cons of each for a sealing difference? Can't say I've ever had a problem after a repair with it though but would like to know your thoughts.
Dave, if you go to a marine supply place you will most likely find what I now consider to be the real Butyl and the one you really want.

The good stuff as I call it, usually has wax paper on it and the butyl itself has a very shiny finish to it and does not looked wrinkled. Its also very very sticky! way more so than the type often sold in RV shops and home hardware type stores. I thought for a long time I was buying the right stuff that was until I found the real stuff. Have not found to date what I now know to be the real stuff in any RV shop. The real stuff also comes in grey, brown & black. In addition to the flat tape you can get it in a round form as well. You will also find a difference in price.

Here is an example of what I find most RV shops sell & what I don't consider to be the good stuff - Hengs Butyl Putty Tape.

Here is an example as to what I believe the real stuff looks like:
Heavy Duty Butyl Tape - Butyl Tape. Zoom in to see the shine of the tape.

Another example of the good Butyl Tape.

Cant say for sure what the actual benefits of one over the other are but my best guess would be that due to the extra stickiness of the real stuff you will get a better seal. Suspect also the real stuff has a higher butyl rubber content and as such is going to remain flexible giving it a more longevity in usage.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:20 AM   #16
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Does anyone know why the fiberglass in the corner is black?
Your profile does not indicate what year of Bigfoot you have - they have made some changes to design over the years so if you where to update your profile to include the year of the trailer that might help.

A photo of the outside of the trailer in that area might help as well.

I suspect Dave is correct that they may have used a different matting or matted in something on the corners during the building of the trailer as a reinforcement.
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Old 04-18-2015, 09:46 AM   #17
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This is an interesting post Fred as I've bought many rolls of butyl tape from RV suppliers over the years and it's always had the wrinkled paper on it. Never seen the waxed paper form you mention. Where have you picked that up? Sounds like you've used both. What's your pros/cons of each for a sealing difference? Can't say I've ever had a problem after a repair with it though but would like to know your thoughts.
Butyl putty lasts about 8-12 years, butyl tape lasts over 40 years, the pictures below show the different looks.

Butyl Putty



Butyl Tape
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Old 04-18-2015, 10:33 AM   #18
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Great photo examples of the two Ian!
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Old 04-18-2015, 02:36 PM   #19
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Thanks for the info Carol & Ian. Was just thinking that the marine sourced butyl would probably be a good sealer for folks installing deck hatches in their water tanks, MMMMM. Would be a lot cheaper than a tube of 3M 5200 that will dry up before you ever need it again.
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Old 04-19-2015, 07:35 AM   #20
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For anyone in Calgary, ab Hobo Country RV in the NW sells both types of Butyl.


Lilly The Trilly - 1975 Trillium 1300
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