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Old 06-02-2014, 10:20 AM   #1
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Fiberglass repair question

I had a confrontation with a large boulder which left a long gouge/tear in my filon/luan siding. The luan was not in the greatest shape to begin with and I was already noticing delamination bubbles and wrinkles. The area is on the lower rear of my coach. The original filon/luan sheathing is assembled in two parts with a larger upper panel that runs the full length of the coach and a lower panel that also runs full length. Where the two panels join there is a four inch trim piece that can be removed.

I can probably do a fiberglass repair as I've done a lot of fiberglass work in the past, but I'm wondering if it wouldn't be better to replace the old filon/luan with newer Noble Classic fiberglass skin?

The Noble Classic skins are nearly 1/4-inch thick and are glued to the steel studs with Sikaflex 221. This seems easier than patching and filling a twenty foot long gash in the old skin.

Anyone have experience doing this?
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Old 06-07-2014, 07:19 PM   #2
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Exterior siding repair

Ok, so no one seemed to know what I was talking about, I'll follow up with the repair process. When I dis-assembled the two compartment doors and took off the fiberglass wheel well, I could tell right away that it was going to be a regular fiberglass repair. Removing a large piece of the filon/luan was out of the question. In some places the panel was flapping in the breeze and in other places it was sealed in place and glued to everything that would hold glue.

The square steel framing was rotted at the base of the wall, but the vertical member was steel in good shape. I used a bunch of clamps and supports to bend the vertical member back to relatively straight. I'll post photos of that process when I get them off my phone.

It is my intent to post a dialogue of the repair process. I'd certainly welcome input from those who have "been there, done that".
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Old 06-08-2014, 08:44 AM   #3
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Sounds like you're heading in the right direction. The #1 consideration when repairing fiberglass panels is to verify and repair any and all support structure. The rest is just plain old fiberglass layup, body shops do it all the time. When I did some repairs a while back, I bought all my supplies, except paint, from Advance Auto.

Good luck and keep us posted.

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Old 06-08-2014, 09:29 AM   #4
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I might suggest you use West Epoxy vs. Polyester.
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Old 06-09-2014, 11:15 AM   #5
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Epoxy vs. Polyester resins

I guess it's been a long time since I worked in fiberglass as I wasn't aware there are two kinds of resins. Looking at the West website, it appears that application techniques are similar.

What are the advantages of epoxy over polyester?

I have quite a lot of structural work to do with fiberglass layup. The lower horizontal steel tube has about 4-inches totally gone from corrosion. The inner and outer fiberglass skins and two vertical steel tubes were the only structure before the accident.

I guess the "best" way to repair the corroded steel would be to tear the skin off and weld in a new steel tube. But, I've opted to glue a ripped 2x4 to the remaining steel. My plan then is to cover everything in fiberglass. I'm also planning to fiberglass around the wheel wells to protect the three layers of plywood that are exposed at their edges around the wheel well. The formed wheel well practically feel off when I removed the one good screw.

I was planning to spray gel-coat over the filon skin to smooth out any remaining irregularities.

I'll try to get pictures up today, so all this rambling makes sense.
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Old 06-10-2014, 06:37 AM   #6
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Al, the West epoxy is just that a two part mixture that applies like poly. However the cure time is not as quick allowing a longer work period. Also the west has far greater structural strength and far superior mechanical bonding. The old polyesters have been replaced by vinyl esters in the marine industry. This helps to eliminate blistering of the hull with the boat sitting for long periods in water. In summary West is stronger, easy to work with and will certainly help in the process especially where your ripping the 2 x4 in replacement for the steel support.
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Old 06-10-2014, 10:27 AM   #7
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Thanks for quick response Clay. I appreciate your input. Sounds like I'll be picking up some West epoxy supplies. The information on their Website is really detailed, so I'll just take it slow and make sure I get it done right.

What do you suppose the chance was of that boulder hitting exactly where the rusted out frame member was? Honest, I didn't plan it that way! I've crawled around under the rest of the coach and can't see any other structural corrosion, but next time I'm getting an oil change will have the Freightliner guys take a look. The corrosion was right under the old outside shower, so suspect it leaked sometime in the past.

Does anyone know if there is an after market supplier of storage compartment door frames from the 1990's vintage? My doors are not damaged, but the frames are mangled.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:22 AM   #8
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This is a view of the damage with storage compartment door removed. There is a horizontal steel tube at the base of the wall and two vertical members in front of the wheel well. The two vertical members bent in.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:27 AM   #9
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Method used to straighten the steel

It isn't pretty, but it worked. The trick was to put enough pressure on the steel without crushing the remaining luan and styrofoam.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:34 AM   #10
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View of structure ready for fiberglass

I cleaned and sanded the steel horizontal member and glued a ripped piece of 2x4 on top of it, bridging the 4-inch area where the steel was corroded away. Also glued remaining filon and interior fiberglass panel to the 2x4.
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Old 06-11-2014, 09:50 AM   #11
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Work in wheel well

The wheel well is made up of three 1/2-inch panels of plywood with filon/luan on the exterior and a thin sheet of fiberglass on the inside. The wheel well trim piece was a molded piece of fiberglass that was screwed into the edge grain of the plywood. The plywood was in pretty bad shape. I injected adhesive between the three sheets, clamped it, and installed 1/4-inch bolts and fender washers to hold the structure together. The bolts will be covered with the molded trim piece. I plan to seal the plywood with fiberglass before putting trim back on. I don't want to repeat the mistake of screwing into the edge grain of the plywood. Any suggestions?Click image for larger version

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