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Old 06-29-2018, 04:06 PM   #1
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DIY Fiberglass Repair

Has anyone tried to repair small damage to the side walls with a fiberglass repair kit? Or is this one of the jobs best left to professionals?
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Old 06-29-2018, 04:11 PM   #2
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Do you have any experience working with fiberglass repair? Our son was able to repair a small crack in our fender so well that I can't detect where it was, but he is talented with that stuff.

Personally I wouldn't even try it.
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Old 06-29-2018, 04:35 PM   #3
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Has anyone tried to repair small damage to the side walls with a fiberglass repair kit? Or is this one of the jobs best left to professionals?
Photo of damage would help.
Minor damage can be repaired. Just take your time. I have repaired some minor damage and a pretty good crack where I could get to the back side of the crack.

The hard part is leveling the repair to match the surrounding area.

Can the damage just be filled in with Bondo? Bondo comes in a can and is a fiberglass paste. Just fill in the hole, and sand it level with 100-150 grit, followed by 200 then 400. The 400 is the black sandpaper you use with water. Now you need to spray paint it. If it is white you may find a can in the big box store which will match. Once you have painted, then sand again with 400 & 600 and then wax it. Be sure to use 600 to sand the over spray to get it smooth.

I have found that I usually have to fill in the crack or hole with bondo, let it dry, sand it and then fill in some tiny spaces with more bondo and sand it again. Might have to repeat a 3rd or 4th time. to get it nice and smooth.

If the fiberglass is split, you will need to use fiberglass cloth & resin on the back side for support. Otherwise the split will just crack.
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:01 AM   #4
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The tree branch poked a hole through the fiberglass, luan and styrofoam, but didn't poke through the interior wall. There's significant cracking around the hole and it bulges a bit. The quote to repair it is significant, in part because they have to take the awning down to work on the hole. (See picture.) I just hate to spend so much on such a small area, especially in a motorhome so old.
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Old 07-01-2018, 11:04 AM   #5
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See photos of damage
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Old 07-01-2018, 12:47 PM   #6
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Wow! Yah, $2000-$4000 I would guess. Not cheap.


It looks like the tree branch also put a wave in the fiberglass and caused the fiber glass to pull away from the window. (On edit. Looking closer at the picture of the window, it looks like it is just the rubber that is pulled down a bit, not the fiber glass as I first thought.) I have no suggestions on getting the wave in the wall straight.


If you have insurance it should cover the repairs minus the deductible. Being then MH is 18-19 years old, there could be a pretty good chance you don't have insurance. Checking the NADA value, it comes to between $12K & $15K.


But, assuming you don't have insurance to cover it, AND you are not overly concerned with the cosmetics, you could use non-leveling Dicor to keep the window from leaking. Then patch over the hole with fiberglass cloth and resin. Be sure to rough sand 2 inches or so around the edges of the hole with 50 grit first so the fiberglass and resin will adhere to the fiberglass. Use 2-3 layers of fiberglass cloth and leave a little depression that you can fill with bondo. You will wind up with a bulge, but with careful sanding you can make it look halfway decent.


For a much cleaner appearance you will need to clean up the hole and get the fiberglass cloth and resin on the inside of the edges of the hole. Pretty easy if you can cut through paneling on the inside of the MH. Then, as mentioned above, sand about 2" larger than the hole and then 3-4 layers of cloth, the finish up with bondo.


You might be able to just work only from the outside, by working some resin on the inside of the fiberglass exterior and then sticking some fiberglass on the resin. Maybe by using 2-3" strips of cloth and sticking it to the resin on the inside of the fiberglass exterior. Put about 1.5" of the cloth on the inside of the wall and about 1.5" toward the center of the hole, always leaving a hole in the center large enough to stick your hand in to work around the inside of the edges of the hole. Once you get 2-3 layers on, then fill in the center with 3-4 layers, the bondo to level up.


Not going to be easy. It will be messy, use gloves and long sleeves. You will be fighting the setting time of the resin. You will only have 5 to as much as 10 minutes before the resin starts to get to thick to work with. The hotter the temp the quicker it set. If it is warm, only use 60-75% of the hardener in the resin. But if you don't use enough hardener, then the resin takes a long time to set, may not ever set really hard, and is likely to be weaker.


Kind of depends on how much time and energy you want to spend on doing this your self.


If this was my rig and I had the time, really like the rig, and am planning on keeping it for 5-10 more years, I would attempt the repairs. You have little to loose. In 5-10 more years the value of the rig is going to be between $5K & $10K.
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Old 07-01-2018, 12:54 PM   #7
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I agree with Al. At the very least you want to seal that to avoid water intrusion. Good luck with it.
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Old 07-01-2018, 04:36 PM   #8
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Find a marine dealer that does FG repairs. They are very proficient and will get the hole sealed and it will be stronger than the rest of the coach. By the look, they will likely want to get at it from behind as well so it will be properly repaired. My guess is that it will be a fraction of what an RV dealer would be. Had two kids racing dinghys for several years and had many repairs done. Youngest daughter - and most aggressive racer - eventually could do the repairs herself.
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Old 07-02-2018, 12:59 PM   #9
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions. We occasionally rent our RV on Outdoorsy. One of the renters did this. As a result, we actually will get the $4,800 they estimate this will cost. The bid calls for them to remove the awning to reach the damaged area. Many man hours and several days (up to eight).

I just can't see spending nearly $5,000 on a coach that is worth maybe $15,000. The rest of the body has wavy delamination in places (like above that window), and a few scratches already covered with Eterabond. It seems ridiculous to spend that much to fix one area a few inches wide, especially since I've been told they won't be able to match the paint, not really.

My first instinct was to fill the hole and put Eternabond over it. Luckily the hole does not go through the wall (into the coach). It went through the fiberglass, luan and part-way into the styrofoam. Then the limb ripped out, buckling the wall outward. (It also broke the drip guard over the door and the cover for the light, but that was easily fixed. Winnebago makes it easy to get replacement parts.)

I have qualms about trying to do something as complicated as fiberglass resin and sanding on top of a ladder while trying to work around the awning support. Every video I see makes me realize how difficult it will be. I'm really leaning towards the Eternabond approach, even though that will look awful.
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Old 07-02-2018, 03:39 PM   #10
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Paint the Eternabond and it should look a little better.
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Old 07-02-2018, 04:14 PM   #11
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Great idea. Thanks!
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Old 07-04-2018, 04:58 PM   #12
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$4,800 seems outrageous to me but all the better since you're getting a check. You should make sure that the awning attachment point is still solid. Given that your rig isn't otherwise pristine, I agree that the painted Eternabond route is a good idea. As I mentioned before, it's always reversible if you change your mind.
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Old 07-07-2018, 06:04 PM   #13
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This is one of those cases on how much does the appearance really matter, versus the cost of repair & value of the rig.

I am not recommending this, but say, you prepped the area by sanding, got a 1/4" sheet of plastic (aluminum, plywood, etc.), cut to overlap the hole on all sides, glued it in place with the proper adhesive to make weather tight, and painted to match. Would that really detract from the RV, at all? (get a artist/kid to paint it as a band aid, you would be all set)

Personally, I have the skills to work with fiberglass and would repair with cloth and resin, doesn't have to be perfect, just weather tight, and appearance close enough on a rig this old.
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Old 07-07-2018, 07:24 PM   #14
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This is one of those cases on how much does the appearance really matter, versus the cost of repair & value of the rig.

I am not recommending this, but say, you prepped the area by sanding, got a 1/4" sheet of plastic (aluminum, plywood, etc.), cut to overlap the hole on all sides, glued it in place with the proper adhesive to make weather tight, and painted to match. Would that really detract from the RV, at all? (get a artist/kid to paint it as a band aid, you would be all set)

Personally, I have the skills to work with fiberglass and would repair with cloth and resin, doesn't have to be perfect, just weather tight, and appearance close enough on a rig this old.
I repaired a crack in the curved, unsupported portion of my roof (no foam underneath) with a piece of aluminum flashing. Since it was the roof, I covered it with Eternabond. I wouldn't think it would need to be 1/4" thick, the existing fiberglass certainly isn't. Thin aluminum or plastic wouldn't have a thick edge to hide.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:51 AM   #15
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I made a living restoring/repairing Corvettes for 25 years. As you know they are made of fiberglass. Fiberglass is extremely elastic in that it wants to return to it's exact shape after the forces are removed. Once that force is exceeded it will fracture. That is obviously what happened here.

Normally when the damage is relieved the areas surrounding the fracture will try to go back to it's original position. If it doesn't something is holding it back, and that is what has to be fixed. If you don't fix that you will "chase" the damage way beyond the obvious damage.

Fiberglass does not stretch, so the distortion is caused by internal structural problems (wood/metal framing). Removing the surrounding parts may expose the cause, if not then cutting some reliefs (slits) might be needed.

The next big cost is painting. No respectable body will ever "spot" repair the paint. If a definite stopping point can't be found nearby, then you need to keep painting until one is found. A "blend" never works unless the paint job is lacquer (nitrocellulose). All modern paint is cross linked/catalyzed and a blend cannot be melted in, so as the paint is feathered out the final edge rapidly gets attacked by the elements.

My point is that the quoted price is probably not out of line. What lgerhring needs to determine, is it important to have a "pre-loss" repair. It must also be realized that the paint/body shop has an industry standard he must meet.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:49 AM   #16
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IMO a fiberglass kit, checking out videos on You Tube, some patience and persistence and you can replace it well enough to solve the water problem and make it look good.

I would not worry too much about leaving a small "bump" as it will not be very noticeable where it is located behind the awning.

As you say it is not worth the cost to repair professionally.
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:20 AM   #17
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After reading MrMarog's post, I revise my opinion on the cost of the professional repairs.
They're expensive for good reasons.

Here's my summary of all this:

1. Professional repair or not? Advantage - It will look like new. Disadvantage - Cost

2. If you don't need it to look like new, or even close to new, then:

a. Repair it yourself with a fiberglass kit. You can practice on something else, like a piece of thin plywood, until you're confident you can feather the edges, so it looks OK. Ask your friends if they have any fiberglass skills (boat owners especially).

b. Do a quickie repair. This can be a long term (Eternabond and thin aluminum) or temporary (Gorilla Tape and thin aluminum) repair while you sort out what you want to do long term, if anything. Do this in the most reversible way (Gorilla Tape and thin aluminum) if you just want to have it weather tight while you practice with a fiberglass kit.

Note: Don't try repair it yourself with a fiberglass kit if you think there's a possibility you will have it professionally repaired, quickie repair is OK. You don't want the professionals to have to undo your repair. And don't just leave it uncovered, you don't want water intrusion.
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Old 07-08-2018, 12:13 PM   #18
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Unfortunately, it's not likely that I'll be able to match the yellowing paint on an 18-year-old rig. So no amount of painting will really match. And I'd have to work around the awning support or take the whole awning down -- not something my husband and I can do ourselves.

We can get those fiberglass patches, and I thought about that for a long time. But we have to sand an area around the patch, so now we're sanding a 7- or 8- inch circle, up to the roof edge, into the decal, and past the awning support. Then painting all of that. It would make the area more noticeable no matter who paints it. That's why we finally decided just to tape it. It's the smallest, and so least obvious, way to "fix" the hole. It's sad, but with the delamination above the window, it makes the most sense right now.
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Old 07-08-2018, 01:09 PM   #19
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Unfortunately, it's not likely that I'll be able to match the yellowing paint on an 18-year-old rig. So no amount of painting will really match. And I'd have to work around the awning support or take the whole awning down -- not something my husband and I can do ourselves.

We can get those fiberglass patches, and I thought about that for a long time. But we have to sand an area around the patch, so now we're sanding a 7- or 8- inch circle, up to the roof edge, into the decal, and past the awning support. Then painting all of that. It would make the area more noticeable no matter who paints it. That's why we finally decided just to tape it. It's the smallest, and so least obvious, way to "fix" the hole. It's sad, but with the delamination above the window, it makes the most sense right now.
As I've mentioned previously, go to the home store and get some aluminum flashing to put under the tape.
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Old 07-08-2018, 03:08 PM   #20
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fibreglass repair

while its messy FG is wonderful stuff! My suggestion; you already have some de-lam so make a square or rectangular cut around the damaged area and remove the FG shrapnel. Then remove the outer window frame and carefully delam the outer skin so as to slip a piece of flashing in between the FG outer skin and the luan etc. Finish up with a polyester kit from NAPA, Walmart, Harbor Freight etc. You're going to paint it so polyester and filler alone is just fine. It's not the Prevost that we all want!! I've done this using some perforated gold metal from a sixties lamp and skipped the fabric step in favor of resin and bondo. I used a furnace door to hide everything, people are used to hatches on the sides of RV's. Don't forget the gloves and some acetone. For minor stickies your SO's fingernail polish remover is great.
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