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Old 01-07-2012, 04:33 PM   #1
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Did I cause this ? (spider cracks in fiberglass/gel coat )

Back in August of 2011 I was backing the RV into the driveway (by myself, no one around to assist me) and I backed into the gutter/soffit of my garage with the RV ladder. This resulted in the buckling of my gutter (aluminum) and the ladder bent in about 1" (pic of ladder attached)

Well needless to say when I heard the noise I stopped , pulled forward and got out to inspect and the damage and was upset to see what I had done but also relieved that besides the ladder being bent (and the gutter which i just grabbed with my hands and pulled out the dent) no other damage was evident to the fiberglass where the ladder attaches to the end cap (see pic attached) and no insurance claim was made.

Now fast forward to the 3rd week in September 2011, I was camping and was washing the rig when i noticed spider cracks in the gel coat in the upper left hand corner on the right stop light. the cracks were about 1" long and appeared to be surface cracks. I thought "no big deal, purely cosmetic" so I didn't worry about it.

Now, fast forward to yesterday January 6, 2012. I went to check on the RV to run the generator for 1 hour, (running the heat pumps) and to inspect the RV for water leaks or signs of rodent infestation, thankfully neither was found. BUT my 1" spider cracks had turned in Charlotte's web!!! (see pics attached)

My question is this: I am trying to figure out if the root cause of the spider cracks was a result of me hitting and bending the ladder and the force of the impact transferred from the attachment point of the ladder (which is just to the left of the right taillight.) (see attached pic) or if something else is going on here. I intend in having this fixed and have to decide whether to file a claim because it was due to my"fender bender" or pay to have the spider cracks repaired at my own expense because something else is going on.

So what do you think the root cause is, is this cracking part of the normal aging process or is it from the my fender bender?

I did not notice any cracks prior to my fender bender, but that is not to say there wasn't any, I just do not know if they existed before.

Also What can I expect the cost to be to have this fixed properly. I want to have the bottom half of the end cap repainted ( the silver portion) and the spider cracks repaired.

p.s. I covered the cracks with some clear duct tape (pic attached) to keep the water out for the duration of the Winter, was this a good idea or will i regret it come Spring when i go to remove the duct tape?
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Old 01-07-2012, 05:36 PM   #2
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You may very well have caused those spider cracks by your accident . . . HATE seeing those! Unfortunately, repair can be very expensive. If you can claim your accident at this late date, I sure would try!
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:19 PM   #3
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They look like stress cracks and will have to be ground out and repaired or they will come back if they are just repaired on the surface.
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Old 01-07-2012, 09:38 PM   #4
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We boughtour RV used. No ladder but not a big deal. Everythng was in great shape. We purchased it from camping world June 2011.

When inslecting the roof later I found where a ladder had bee attached but removed. Figured it may have been damaged and the rear panel replaced.

A few weeks agony noticed spider cracks starting in tow spots on the back.

I will be intereded to find out if yours were the result of the ladder damage. May explain mine. I fought it may just be normal stress. We live on a rough road and thught it. Ya be from running in and out.
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Old 01-07-2012, 10:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Benny367
Back in August of 2011 I was backing the RV into the driveway (by myself, no one around to assist me) and I backed into the gutter/soffit of my garage with the RV ladder. This resulted in the buckling of my gutter (aluminum) and the ladder bent in about 1" (pic of ladder attached)

Well needless to say when I heard the noise I stopped , pulled forward and got out to inspect and the damage and was upset to see what I had done but also relieved that besides the ladder being bent (and the gutter which i just grabbed with my hands and pulled out the dent) no other damage was evident to the fiberglass where the ladder attaches to the end cap (see pic attached) and no insurance claim was made.

Now fast forward to the 3rd week in September 2011, I was camping and was washing the rig when i noticed spider cracks in the gel coat in the upper left hand corner on the right stop light. the cracks were about 1" long and appeared to be surface cracks. I thought "no big deal, purely cosmetic" so I didn't worry about it.

Now, fast forward to yesterday January 6, 2012. I went to check on the RV to run the generator for 1 hour, (running the heat pumps) and to inspect the RV for water leaks or signs of rodent infestation, thankfully neither was found. BUT my 1" spider cracks had turned in Charlotte's web!!! (see pics attached)

My question is this: I am trying to figure out if the root cause of the spider cracks was a result of me hitting and bending the ladder and the force of the impact transferred from the attachment point of the ladder (which is just to the left of the right taillight.) (see attached pic) or if something else is going on here. I intend in having this fixed and have to decide whether to file a claim because it was due to my"fender bender" or pay to have the spider cracks repaired at my own expense because something else is going on.

So what do you think the root cause is, is this cracking part of the normal aging process or is it from the my fender bender?

I did not notice any cracks prior to my fender bender, but that is not to say there wasn't any, I just do not know if they existed before.

Also What can I expect the cost to be to have this fixed properly. I want to have the bottom half of the end cap repainted ( the silver portion) and the spider cracks repaired.

p.s. I covered the cracks with some clear duct tape (pic attached) to keep the water out for the duration of the Winter, was this a good idea or will i regret it come Spring when i go to remove the duct tape?
My 2cents worth, I think that there is stress on the ladder where it's attached near the tail light? So that is putting undo pressure nearest the weakest point(the curve in your light on the fiber glass). If you loosen the ladder and let that stress pressure off it should stop the cracking from going an further. Keeping in mind, the laws of partial pressure. When you bend a piece of metal it must find a point to release its pressure.
Just my experience.
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:03 PM   #6
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Well finally I have some company-- did the same thing last year right after we had new gutters installed. I claimed mine on insurance. I did not have spider cracks (yours may well be related to the ladder) but replacing the ladder proved very expensive. In my case, and probably yours the laddeer was not of a generic size and had to be manufactured. The ladder manufacturer had me cut (actually the repair person) the ladder in three sections and mail it to them for measurments, then they in turn mailed the new ladder back.

Crazy deal but that is what had to happen. The postage was half the $800 bill----for a ladder. Go figure.

Good fiberglas work will be expensive as well. In my case I had a freebee because of my record---no deductible---so it cost me nothing out of pocket--but it did reset the no accident clock.

I cost me about $250--to get 10" of gutter replaced---that I paid for.

Good luck to you. You at least have some company.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:06 AM   #7
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I wonder if that area might have been sprayed with clear coat after the original ladder was bent/removed? That might have concealed it, making it very difficult or impossible to detect. It might last OK like that for a few months, but the cracks would surely return if that's what's happened.

Moving forward, I'd get that tape off of there. It can be difficult to remove later and sometimes will remove paint when it's peeled, so remove it very carefully peeling it back over itself. Tape is not a good plan... and not really doing you any good.

Regarding the ladder. I've repaired a few of these with great success and minimal expense. You can buy straight sections of the round alum. tubing, shiny like the original, and 4 short pieces of slightly smaller diameter alum. tube to use to splice the new sections at the top and bottom to the undamaged areas of what's there now. You use the steps over again, and for a really stealthy repair, you make those splices where the step fastens for total concealment.

Here's where I've been getting my "stuff". They're great to deal with.

RV Ladder Repair Parts - Factory RV Surplus
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MartyB View Post
My 2cents worth, I think that there is stress on the ladder where it's attached near the tail light? So that is putting undo pressure nearest the weakest point(the curve in your light on the fiber glass). If you loosen the ladder and let that stress pressure off it should stop the cracking from going an further. Keeping in mind, the laws of partial pressure. When you bend a piece of metal it must find a point to release its pressure.
Just my experience.
This is exactly what I thought. After the accident the bent-in ladder created and appears to have maintained higher stress on that mounting point - and it is exhibited in the "weakest" area -Probably the impact initially caused underlying damage in the radius area that wasn't obvious to the outside - if the screws had been removed at that 'tie-in' point this may have not become 'visible' as quickly or maybe not at all - we define that area of the radius as a 'stress riser'. By keeping the screws in, higher stress continued and was compounded by some weakening from the impact and also perhaps during heating and cooling cycles of the materials involved, as well as driving and the bumps/vibrations that occur with that.

That's too bad. I would loosen the screws on the ladder immediately at that point until you have it straightened or replaced. The body work shouldn't cost too much (my opinion from the photos is that no water is going to get in those currently) but you do need to remove the stress there. There also may be other areas where the mounting of the ladder is causing stress as well - look carefully. I would remove the tape. It will cause more damage than it protects from. Wet it well with Goo-gone so you hopefully don't peel off paint!

My 2-cents...plus thanks for sharing - all my comments are 'Monday-morning' quarterbacking regarding something like this and it's effect but I think it's good to be aware of - I would probably leave my ladder mounted too if I had what appeared to be a minor bend...
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:11 PM   #9
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This is exactly what I thought. After the accident the bent-in ladder created and appears to have maintained higher stress on that mounting point - and it is exhibited in the "weakest" area -Probably the impact initially caused underlying damage in the radius area that wasn't obvious to the outside - if the screws had been removed at that 'tie-in' point this may have not become 'visible' as quickly or maybe not at all - we define that area of the radius as a 'stress riser'. By keeping the screws in, higher stress continued and was compounded by some weakening from the impact and also perhaps during heating and cooling cycles of the materials involved, as well as driving and the bumps/vibrations that occur with that.

That's too bad. I would loosen the screws on the ladder immediately at that point until you have it straightened or replaced. The body work shouldn't cost too much (my opinion from the photos is that no water is going to get in those currently) but you do need to remove the stress there. There also may be other areas where the mounting of the ladder is causing stress as well - look carefully. I would remove the tape. It will cause more damage than it protects from. Wet it well with Goo-gone so you hopefully don't peel off paint!

My 2-cents...plus thanks for sharing - all my comments are 'Monday-morning' quarterbacking regarding something like this and it's effect but I think it's good to be aware of - I would probably leave my ladder mounted too if I had what appeared to be a minor bend...

Here is an update: I went to the RV today and I disconnected the ladder from the ladder mountings that are attached to the end cap of the MH. I removed the screws from the beam ( the part of the ladder the runs its full length, left and right) and then boing! the ladder sprang out about 2 inches!!!

So indeed the ladder was putting a great deal of stress on the fiber glass end cap and I am now 100% certain that this is the root cause of my spider cracks!

And now I have more confidence that since the tension has been released that the spider cracks will not continue to grow over the duration of the Winter. I also am confident that the ladder can be repaired by using a pipe bender to straighten the ladder tubing. if not, then I'll buy a new one, (Thanks to "ahicks" for ladder website info) I will attempt to do myself this Spring. I do not want to remove the ladder at his time because the top of the ladder is attached to the roof and is sealed with Dicor and old man Winter is coming so it will have to wait until Spring.

As for having the spider cracks fixed, I'll just bite the bullet and pay for it myself providing it won't cost me over $2000.00 - $2500.00 to have it repaired. Do you think that a reasonable cost to repair?
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:39 PM   #10
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Your insurance company must love you, at least they should after this. I certainly wouldn't bite the bullet for this repair. That is what you pay for insurance for. I'm sure they will take into consideration what a great guy you are when they lower your rate for this year. LOL HA HA You will be hard pressed to have this repaired for less than $4000.00. You have a beautiful RV. Have it repaired properly professionally through insurance. You have a substantial investment in your RV and if it is not repaired properly (body and ladder) you will depreciate the unit. You have a legitimate claim, so why try to repair it yourself. We pay high rates for RV insurance and I have no love for insurance companies. Just my thoughts-Right or Wrong.
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Old 01-08-2012, 04:04 PM   #11
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Your insurance company must love you, at least they should after this. I certainly wouldn't bite the bullet for this repair. That is what you pay for insurance for. I'm sure they will take into consideration what a great guy you are when they lower your rate for this year. LOL HA HA You will be hard pressed to have this repaired for less than $4000.00. You have a beautiful RV. Have it repaired properly professionally through insurance. You have a substantial investment in your RV and if it is not repaired properly (body and ladder) you will depreciate the unit. You have a legitimate claim, so why try to repair it yourself. We pay high rates for RV insurance and I have no love for insurance companies. Just my thoughts-Right or Wrong.
Frankly I am torn about whether or not to turn this in as an insurance claim and i have to admit that I have no love for insurance companies either!! (I think they are a bunch of scammers) But i have only been with this insurance company since August 2011 and I know they would raise my rates after i made a claim and that is okay I suppose, but the problem is that I also own 4 other vehicles and am afraid the the rates for the other 4 vehicles would go up as well!!!

So please people i need your opinion as to what you think the cost would be to repair the spider cracks depicted in the pics of my original post. I am assuming that they would have to paint the entire bottom portion ( the silver paint) of the end cap.

I am not too worried about the ladder, i am confident it can be repaired or if not i can replace it myself. As for the spider cracks I will have to have someone repair that as I have neither the skill or knowledge to do it myself so it will have to be professionally done.
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Old 01-08-2012, 06:57 PM   #12
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Benny,
Any good body guy should be able to do that repair for under a grand! Including what little touch up paint it may need. You are correct in doing it your self. If everybody claims every little thing all the time, you can expect all rates to keep going up. Stick to your guns.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:55 AM   #13
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My guess would be in the thousand dollar range as well. The bigger problem will be finding somebody to do it. Many/most body shops in our area couldn't even get it in their door. When I wanted to get the lower half of a coach painted last year I ended up doing it myself - in the driveway. That turned out really well, surprising me as much as anyone learning that's how it was done.

Unless they're really making you crazy, I might be tempted to just leave the spider cracks. They're not going to hurt anything. Boats have spider cracks like that and go for MANY years without further damage. It's nothing structural.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:00 AM   #14
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I have the same issue, I am waiting see if a expert gets on to give you an idea on the price of a repair.
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