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Old 03-09-2016, 08:59 AM   #1
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Is ANY delamination ever acceptable when purchasing used?

Sorry in advance if I chose the wrong category - if so, would you kindly move to the correct place?

Hi,
Newbie question here, so I hope the more experienced will indulge me here.

We recently looked at an older class A RV. While it was in pretty decent shape overall, what it needed (excluding the delamination issue) didn't warrant the bottom-line asking price, making the delam a non-issue here.

It does have me wondering, though - is a minimal amount of delam on an older unit (this was a 2000, Georgie Boy diesel) ever acceptable? I know the general advice is to avoid any unit with delamination issues, but does any delamination always get worse?

The area affected was maybe 1 sf large, right at the bottom corner of a window. It was clearly soft, and there was corresponding water damage (though quite dry) on the inside. The seller had already explained how there had been a leak years earlier, and he had had the window removed, the flashing replaced and the window reinstalled. He claims it has not leaked since, and based on recent weather here that is likely true. He also stated that the soft spot has been there for years and has not changed/worsened since he has owned the unit (~14 years, I believe).

So, my big question, as we move forward with our search: considering the fact that we are looking at older units to stay within our (admittedly relatively lower) budget, does the same absolute [never accept any delamination] still apply? For reference, it is not a repair - no matter how small (and I know that is a huge unknown until opened) - that I would consider tackling.

Thanks so much for any feedback!
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:10 AM   #2
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De-lam itself need not be an issue, but you need to be knowledgeable enough to assess the cause of it and whether there is any internal damage behind it. If you don't feel confident about that assessment, you probably should avoid any de-lam. The De-lam itself is a cosmetic issue and you can put your own value on that.

De-lam in often a sign of water intrusion, which has loosened the adhesive in the sidewall "sandwich". The concern is that any water that got inside may also have caused rot in roof, structure or flooring. If you see de-lam on the outside, look closely for further signs of water or rot, e.g. soft spots on the floor or roof, stains on flooring, headliner or wallpaper, etc.

During the 90's most of the coach builders had inadequate processes for building the laminated sidewalls and after a few years the filon skin would raise up (delaminate) as the adhesive dried out or simply broke the bond to the luan underneath. No structural damage at all, but sometimes difficult to discern from water damage.
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:11 AM   #3
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IMO, delamination is a "DO NOT TOUCH"
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:47 AM   #4
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What might be acceptable to one buyer is a walk away for another. Without opening the sidewall you really can't tell the extent but usually the damage is two to three times what can be felt or seen. Unrepaired water damage will significantly reduce the value and sale ability of a coach. If your long term plan is to drive Georgie Boy until the wheels fall off AND the damage didn't extend into the floor AND the seller has reduced the asking price several thousand when compared to other rigs of comparable floor plan then make the seller an offer.

Personally, water damage between the roof and the floor I would walk away.
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Old 03-09-2016, 10:03 AM   #5
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I wouldn't buy any motor home with delamination. Delamination is a symptom of some other issue, which can be expensive to repair. Most often the cause is water intrusion which affected the substrate behind the gelcoat. Every coach I've looked at that had a delamination in the wall also showed signs of water intrusion. The only way to be sure is to remove the affected gelcoat and look whats underneath.
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Old 03-09-2016, 01:55 PM   #6
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I had made a deal to purchase a coach a couple of years ago but cancelled the deal when we discovered a modest amount of delamination. (see Pre-purchase Inspection Reveals $30k in Hidden Defects) Though modest, Monaco quoted $25,000 to fix it, stating that the only correct way to do so was to replace the wall.

Though you state the area is only a sq. foot or so, how do you know this is accurate? The visual appearance and feel of the wall may not be sufficient. I would suggest using a pinless moisture meter as that is the only way, short of opening up the wall, to know if there is still moisture in there expanding the damage area.

As demonstrated above, we chose not to buy a known problem and focus on finding a unit that was free of substantial deficiencies, which I consider delamination to be.
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Old 03-10-2016, 10:08 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ron_H View Post
I had made a deal to purchase a coach a couple of years ago but cancelled the deal when we discovered a modest amount of delamination. (see Pre-purchase Inspection Reveals $30k in Hidden Defects) Though modest, Monaco quoted $25,000 to fix it, stating that the only correct way to do so was to replace the wall.

Though you state the area is only a sq. foot or so, how do you know this is accurate? The visual appearance and feel of the wall may not be sufficient. I would suggest using a pinless moisture meter as that is the only way, short of opening up the wall, to know if there is still moisture in there expanding the damage area.

As demonstrated above, we chose not to buy a known problem and focus on finding a unit that was free of substantial deficiencies, which I consider delamination to be.
You are right, I don't know the actual extent, which was a primary reason for walking away. The bulge was less than the size of my palm (almost missed it at first), and beyond several inches on the three sides (fourth being the corner of the window) had no play or give. I know there was a window leak (besides being told by the owner) because I saw the damage on the inside of the unit as well. I did not have a moisture meter, but the damage did not appear to be recent. While I have little experience with repairing RVs I have done a significant amount of renovating on multiple properties, and I am familiar with water damage, including issues of hidden damage.

In this case, IMO ultimately the unit was priced too high for the accumulation of (relatively minor as individual) issues so it was an easy decision. I am well aware that even if I were willing to take the chance with the delamination, the reality is the issue significantly reduces the resale value going forward.

The main reason for my question was to get some opinions as to if perhaps I am being too conservative. My thoughts re this unit was I didn't want to spend the money for an inspection if I wouldn't pull the trigger anyway. However, going forward, I was wondering had this been the only issue that gave me pause, should I have considered the unit and paid for an inspection?

My son has nearly 20 years experience and is a well-certified mechanic (truck and trailer repair, including frame work, rebuilding trailers, and some work on MHs), and thanks to my prior tt ownership for a number of years, several rental trips, construction experience and the excellent resources I have found reading here, I feel comfortable with the preliminary inspections. However, I do know the largest problem is "we don't know what we don't know" and that there is no substitute for experience [with MHs].

Thanks for the feedback; it is much appreciated!
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:48 PM   #8
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We just went through this exercise and the two places we wouldn't compromise were the structural integrity of the coach and the condition of the drive train. We had to have a coach that didn't have a history of water leaks and had a documented engine service history that would also pass inspection at a truck repair center.

Everything else like the water heater, furnace, refrigerator, air conditioner or tires had a known repair/replacement cost. Need a new water heater? $400 plus installation. Need a new roof AC unit? $1100 plus installation. You just don't know how much it's going to cost to repair a diesel engine or the body of the coach.

It took us about four months and we got a little discouraged because every coach we found had issues that eliminated. We too wondered if we were being too picky, but in the end it paid off and we got a good RV in good condition.

I'd say stick to your guns and wait for your coach to come along, not someone elses.
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Old 03-10-2016, 07:10 PM   #9
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I had the same concern when I purchased my class c. I almost did not go look at it when I saw pictures of the wrinkles behind the back wheels but the dealer kept insisting there is no sign of water leaks so I went to look at it and to this day I have no idea what caused the wrinkles in my fiberglass. It is below the floor level and it is on a panel that is only 2" thick with the backside open. I think in my cause the panel was installed too tight from the factory and it expanded over the years. I decided to roll the dice and buy it a year ago at a great price and so glad I did.
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Old 03-10-2016, 07:23 PM   #10
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I had a Jayco class-C with a bubble of delamination. I couldn't detect any water entry. And of the 3 vehicles of that year/make/model that I looked at, every single one of them had at least one spot.

Bought it, never gave me a problem. You could only see it on hot days.
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Old 03-10-2016, 07:26 PM   #11
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You could only see it on hot days.
Mine changes with the temperature also.
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Old 03-20-2016, 10:17 AM   #12
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Sure, buy one without de-lamination would be preferred. But agree that it really depends on where, and how large an area of de-lamination maybe. I would not walk away from a coach that had minor de-lamination, if everything else about he coach was right for us. But, I'd expect that to be priced in, and would understand at resell I'd need to do the same.

I had some on our 99 Bounder. Did not change in the 5 years we had it. No growing, and only seen at just the right angle.

So it really 'depends'.

Best to all,
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Old 03-21-2016, 08:45 AM   #13
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Delamination should be directly proportional to the cost of the unit. If I was in the market for a 300k+ unit at a bargain price it might be a viable option. There are several factors involved in delamination, it could be purely cosmetic or structural. Usually, the musty smells of the interior are a good indication to run.
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Old 03-21-2016, 02:31 PM   #14
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If you can repair the delamination, it can be a great money saver. and you should be able to negotiate a great deal.

HOWEVER - You need to know exactly what you are doing or it could turn into a money pit.

As other mentioned, what caused the problem, (usually water intrusion) can you fix the cause and the delamination.

We got a steal on our Mirada because the Dealer couldn't move it. everyone that looked at it got cold feet when they seen the damage. When we looked at it, I studied it very carefully and decided it was a minor leak that the previous owner aggravated (actually they caused it).

I re-seated the window, replaced the bad hatch gasket, repaired the interior wall.

Repair interior wall de-lamination damage | 2001 Coachmen Mirada 300QB

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