Fiberglass RV Maintenance
Most RVs on the road these days are made from fiberglass or fiber reinforced plastic (FRP) as these materials weigh less, are durable and dependable, which is important when travelling over long distances. As a Fiberglass RV owner, you must be aware of the hefty maintenance these big ticket items demands and the amount of utmost diligence required to care for them. Because of their behemoth proportions, immaculately cleaning an RV and restoring it to its former glory often goes neglected. Here’s our guide on Everything you need to know to take care of your Fiberglass RV yourself.
To render a smooth and glistening finish to your fiberglass RV, a translucent or colored gel raisin material is smeared as a coat. This coat is durable but is subject to dullness and fading as it weathers. Exposure to harsh sun glare, heat and moisturized air are culprits in oxidizing the gel coat and making it appear cloudy. Waxes and polishes may reinstate some of the shine but they may not last more than a month, as crevices and microscopic pits form in the gel coat layer from oxidation.
The wax forms a protective layer between the oxidizing elements and the gel coat layer. However, after a while, the wax wears off and the coat is exposed again. It requires you to remove the oxidation and reapply wax whenever necessary. Your RV needs to be washed with an adequate car wash once a month but refrain from using caustic, alkaline or ammonia based cleansers to clean the fiberglass RV, as they tend to darken white gel-based coats.
Certain polishes that are comprised of abrasive substances are a better option as they rub off oxidation and replenish resplendence by removing scratches, stains and severely weathered paint. Polishes can be applied by hand or via electrical conduits such as electrical or pneumatic buffers. Polishes are devoid of protective substances and thus need to be finished off with a layer of wax. However, waxes and polishes only work for fiberglass RV exteriors with none to moderate oxidation.
To clean moderately oxidized fiberglass, nothing more than elbow grease and a polishing compound (or any other liquid abrasive) can do the trick. In general, you need to rub the oxidized layer with polishing compound or oxidation remover. Let the product dry off and then peel off to reveal the clean shiny layer from beneath. Top it off with a layer of wax to protect the fiberglass surface from environmental elements and to enhance the gloss.
Dealing With Extreme Fiberglass Oxidation
As a fiberglass RV ages chronologically, it is subject to extreme damage and dullness and even professional products cannot replenish its luster and sheen. Wet sanding process is employed in this situation to deal with the damage. Wet sanding takes time, perseverance and intricate attention to details to remove the blemishes. Sanding paper with 600 to 2,000 ranging grits are soaked for a period of 24 hours.
The paper is then placed on a foaming block for the sanding to begin. Once sanding is complete and the surface is smooth to the touch, it would need to be polished using high-grade super duty polishing compounds. Some polishing products would require 3 to 5 applications to achieve the desired finish. If you are not comfortable doing this at home, take your RV to a body shop.
In extreme cases, RV owners witness strands of fibers coming apart at the surface. Employ a pair of tweezers to pull apart the fibers from the surface and see if you succeed. If you do, your Fiberglass RV is encountering an erosion problem. You can take your RV to a body shop and have the professionals paint it thoroughly. A better choice is to have the surface re-gel coated. The most recommended product for this task is called PRESTEC by Simtec coatings. Re-gel coating takes the same amount of time as painting and the cost is the same. Re-gel coating lasts longer than painting and promises better results.
If you cannot pull the fibers apart from the surface using tweezers, it is known as imprinting. This happens when the fiber forms a thick impression during the layup phase of production. The process to remedy the irregularity is called blocking and color sanding and is a cost-effective but laborious procedure. You need to acquire a wet and dry sandpaper and a sanding block with padded blocking. Additionally, consult a respectable body shop and gain their insights on the best procedure for your RV.
RV Washing Tips for Mild Oxidation
Once the fiberglass begins to oxidize and turn chalky, it starts absorbing the dust. This makes washing and waxing harder. RV washing traditional products would be ineffective at removing the embedded dust from the oxidized surfaces. Use a spray bottle to pump a degreasing agent on the wet surfaces of the fiberglass and rub laboriously. These heavy-duty cleaners would help get you rid of the black oil drip strains.
Protect your Fiberglass RV from irreparable damage by washing it once a month to prevent buildup. Choose a cleaner with a wax additive to help with a clean finish and makes dirt harder to settle. It is prudent to have your RV waxed, with liquid or paste wax, at least once a year to maintain the gloss. If you have bought a used rig that has begun to show signs of aging, use a fiberglass restorer to finish off the shine, although it is not a permanent solution.
Extreme sunlight, air pollutants, excessive moisture and even parking under a dirty tree can have serious repercussions for your camper. Try keeping the travel trailer out of the sun, and preferably indoors, when not in use, and prevent the UV rays from dulling the gel coating. If a small and inconspicuous area of the fiberglass is damaged, cover it with duct tape ASAP to prevent water from getting in and making the situation worse.