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Old 09-12-2011, 09:04 AM   #1
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Cracks in gel coat

Has anybody had any problems with tiny hairline cracks in the gel coat. We have a 05 Itasca Meridian. It started up at the top. We contacted Winnebago about 3 yrs ago and they said it was cosmetic and therefore not a defect. I find that hard to believe as they are now all over the coach Tiny hairline cracks everywhere. We keep it covered and wash and wax constantly.
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:19 AM   #2
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Well Sir,
Welcome to the world of spending a lot of money for nice coach only to watch it depreciate rapidly in front of your eyes. In looking for a new coach to replace our Bounder, we ran up against many of those coaches with what's been described as "Crazing" in the fiberglass world. There's been multiple posts on it. I believe Country Coach had some do that in the warranty period and the answer, bring the coach to them and they stripped the fiberglass siding off and put new stuff on. Talk about a costly warranty repair, WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Many have said they've had their coaches completely sanded down and repainted only to have it re-appear a couple of years later due to the fact that it's in the fiberglass, not the surface. They say it was bad fiberglass delivered to the manufacturers back them. And, obviously it's not limited to Winnebago, Itasca, Country Coach and many others. I've got a tiny bit, on the top, front cap. About 8" long and about 1" wide. Not sure what I'm going to do about it, if anything.
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:20 AM   #3
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Oh yes, I had my 05 voyage repainted in 2010 and they did a terrible job for $15K I would not recommend them. Yep now I can see the hairline cracks comming back.
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:53 AM   #4
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Scott:

I wouldn't equate this cracking to "Crazing" on fiberglass boats. Crazing is generally hairlne cracks in the gel coat layer and does not extend into the "glass" layer - either cloth or sprayed "chopper gun" fiber underneath. Unfortunately, their is no gel coat on the walls - the glass on the walls is just glass and the cracking compromises the structure of the panel and will likely spread with time. It is difficult (costly) to repair.
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:29 PM   #5
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I have an 05 Itasca Meridian and just noticed
when I waxed it last month that I have a whole side covered with tiny clearcoat failures, about 1/2 inch long. The wax residue helps them to show up. Ill take a pic and share. Haven't talked to Winne folks yet or to Sherwin Williams. Also, the rolled edge at the roof has nearly completely peeled the clearcoat. This problem started several years ago.

Full body paint isn't all its cracked up to be.

GW
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:38 PM   #6
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Not an uncommon problem. Not pretty but it happens. Mine started developing the tiny, hairline cracks in about 2006 (bought the coach used in 2005). Since we decided to keep this coach and it did not have factory full body paint, I had it fully painted last year. I talked with four shops (Indiana, NC, and Iowa) and they all said they would not guarentee the cracks would not eventually reappear. The shop I eventually used sanded the coach well, used a high fill primer, and used four coats of preimum clear coat over the base colors. So far, it looks great but I will not be surprised to see the cracks sometime down the road.

I understand the stuff we have on our older coaches came in rolls. During a VIP factory tour in Forest City this past year, the siding used on their current coaches was much thicker and came in flat sheets. They were stacked on flat bed trailers along the assembly line.
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Old 09-12-2011, 05:50 PM   #7
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Anybody out there had any luck with getting Winnebago to fix it?
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:23 PM   #8
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Help me understand this. Is everyone saying the Winne develops cracks after a couple of years and Winnebago does not stand behind it?

I am just getting started and am looking. I had settled initially on Fleetwood, Winnebago, or Thor. One of the benefits of the Winnebago is the fully painted body. Sounds like it may not be as durable as one would imagine.

Comments?
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Old 09-12-2011, 08:35 PM   #9
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A lot of manufacturers got stuck with the bad panels, even our Newmar has it but only in the dark colored area.
Cost to replace and repaint it is about $15,000 per side. Not worth it on a 2002 Dutch Star like ours.
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Old 09-12-2011, 09:29 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_D
A lot of manufacturers got stuck with the bad panels, even our Newmar has it but only in the dark colored area.
Cost to replace and repaint it is about $15,000 per side. Not worth it on a 2002 Dutch Star like ours.
Understand. The issue is resolved with more recent models? Trying to put a time period to the bad glass. 15k per side is steep indeed!
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Old 09-12-2011, 10:21 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobmac View Post
Scott:

I wouldn't equate this cracking to "Crazing" on fiberglass boats. Crazing is generally hairlne cracks in the gel coat layer and does not extend into the "glass" layer - either cloth or sprayed "chopper gun" fiber underneath. Unfortunately, their is no gel coat on the walls - the glass on the walls is just glass and the cracking compromises the structure of the panel and will likely spread with time. It is difficult (costly) to repair.

bobmac,
Basically I was only repeating what I've read here and on other RV forums about this subject. When I posted this same subject a few months ago, many responders called it "crazing". I personnally have never heard the term before untill I read it hear. I took some pretty detailed pics and posted them and those folks called it crazing. I could not dispute them because I had no education otherwise. If it's not "crazing", well, I for one don't know just exactly what to call it.

As for the one who is asking if Winnebago is not standing up to the problem, most of these coaches that have the "hairline" cracks are a few years old. Say, at least around 6+ years or more. I could be wrong about that but, of the ones I've looked at that had the problem, they were at least that old. I suspect that Winnebago, or any coach builder could not deny any fix if that kind of condition manifested itself within the proper warranty period.
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Old 09-13-2011, 12:16 AM   #12
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Gel coat has no strength. It's used because it's a cheap reasonable quality surface and can be dyed so that you don't need paint. Also, bare fiberglass and resin is hard on the molds - the gel coat helps the part pop off. If there's not enough glass underneath to cover the load it's seeing the gel coat will crack.

On the race car I grind the gel coat off for several inches in all directions, down to the glass itself. Then I lay in a couple of layers of new glass, then some short strand kitty hair, and after it's all sanded nice and smooth, some high build primer. If there's room on the backside, several layers of new glass will help as well.

My beaver has tons of gel-coat cracks on the front cap - looks like someone didn't do a good job of rolling the chopped glass into the bends and crevices after shooting it with the chopper gun. I did a layup on the backside and will keep adding layers whenever I have a weekend with nothing else to do.
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:35 AM   #13
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I have known a few owners who had a sidewall replaced by Winnebago due to bad fiberglass. My '03 has a few areas where you can see some tiny cracks if you get the light just right ...they have not changed since I first saw them. Frankly, I'm not so sure they aren't in just the paint rather than the fiberglass. I had the roof coves repainted in 2007 through a NM dealer and I saw cracking in the new paint within 2-3 months ...I blame that on the paint and the painter, and am virtually certain it is in the paint only.
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Old 09-13-2011, 08:52 PM   #14
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Cracks Full Body Paint

Hello I have fine cracks primarily at the corners of the windows on the passenger side of the coach. Didn't notice until we washed it. Hard to see with a casual look. Also have lost the clear coat and some paint on the front slope at the top. Talked to a body shop fellow and he said not unusual with fiberglass in his opinion. He couldn't say if there will be more issues to come. As long as there is no seperation I can live with it.
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