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Old 07-05-2021, 10:16 PM   #1
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Fiberglass delamination vs rebuilding aluminum clad systems in trailers/ motorhomes?

Hey everyone, I could not find a general repairs or DIY section in this forum so I知 asking it here.

I知 considering buying an older RV and I知 seeing fiberglass systems with air bubbles on the exterior which I can only assume is bad news regarding repairs? Is this something the common DIY弾r can tackle? Is it structural? Is it heat, water damage and/or both?

On the other hand, I知 seeing some older aluminum clad systems that need repairs, and can稚 help but wonder if these systems are more repairable. Can the aluminum be removed and reinstalled?
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Old 07-05-2021, 10:54 PM   #2
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The fiberglass "bubbles" occur when water seeps in and causes the outer skin to separate from the wooden wall structure within. It's repairable if you're a truly committed DIY-er and have plenty of time, space, and $$. It's definitely not a good thing, but will only worsen if the leak isn't found and addressed first. Aluminum, like on Safaris, is susceptible to galvanic corrosion because steel rivets are used to fasten the aluminum walls to the frame. Steel and AL don't really play nicely. However, it can take a long time for major damage to occur. The difference is that the fiberglass can be ultimately re-bonded to the wall after water damage has been remedied, but aluminum will effectively dissolve a little.
I looked at 2 older project-grade Class A's last winter: a BEAUTIFUL aluminum '98 Safari Serengeti 4006 with very obvious water damage inside that the (big name in FL) dealer somehow missed, and a cheaper fiberglass '95 Monaco Dynasty with less obvious water damage inside (didn't know it until after we bought) and some de-lam outside that should have been a clue.
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Old 07-06-2021, 05:40 AM   #3
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Thanks, that’s what I wondered. And essentially, if these areas are not repaired. They continue to get worse?

In order to truly fix this properly, would the fiberglass skin not have to be removed and the wet luan replaced?

Can large rolls of the fiberglass skins be purchased for these repairs?

How difficult is it to remove & replace the luan? Is it typically bonded or fastened? Or both?
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Old 07-06-2021, 06:27 AM   #4
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I've done both, many times.

The aluminum siding campers are far and away easier to repair.
Yes, the siding can be removed and reinstalled.

Filon can be bought in just about any length needed and laminated to fresh ply.
Preferred method is to make slightly over sized panels and glue them to the studs with staples at the very edges.
Trim down afterwards.
Use bead moulding at the panel seams, don't try to bondo them.

Unless you use industrial grade adhesives ($$$$) you're spinning your wheels.
And re-laminating the old filon to the ruined lauan is a band-aid at best.

I bought and sold dozens of salvage campers of both types, keeping some of the nicer ones along the way for personal use.
Swore I would never keep a fiberglass camper for myself. ...then I discovered AZDEL.
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Old 07-06-2021, 07:45 AM   #5
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Many of the "fiberglass" RV's have a thin sheet of filing glued to 1/16" 2-ply interior grade luan as the outer skin. It is the layers of luan that separate from each other due to wood expanding from moisture. The only permanent fix is to replace the outer skin. The foam in the walls has virtually no shear strength so trying to glue to it is pointless. No matter how strong the glue is, the foam will fail along the glue line. In about 2006, Coachmen started using Adzel composite for the outer skin in its motorhomes and more manufacturers have been following suit since then. A few, Numar, for example, use solid fiberglass outer skins.
I had 2 Winnebago' s and a Jayco with filing over plywood and would never buy that construction again. We now have a 2011 Mirada with Adzel outer skins and have had zero issues.
TeamFoxy ~ Traveling North America
2016 Newmar Canyon Star 3710
2017 Chevy Equinox in tow.
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