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Old 06-01-2020, 09:59 PM   #1
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Gel coat question

How can I tell if I have a gel coat on my rv. I have a 2002 Winnabago Journey.
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Old 06-02-2020, 03:54 AM   #2
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Dan-

First off, welcome to iRV2!

Second, you should add a "signature" to your profile. It contains whatever info you want; most people put info about their coach there, so they don't have to type it into each message. Instructions for adding a signature are here.

Per the 2002 Journey brochure (link here), all 2002 Journeys (both base and DL models) came from the factory with:

1) white fiberglass exteriors, and so have "gel coat"
2) paint below the beltrail
3) "graphics" (that is, decals) above the beltrail

Of course, a prior owner could have made changes.

Winnebago provides a lot of information about their motorhomes at this link. If you have not yet done so, you should go through the links and download the documents that apply to your coach.

"Lombardi Legacy- Leaders made here"
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Old 06-02-2020, 07:55 AM   #3
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Welcome..

I have the same MH, enjoy.. Keep in mind, do not wax the gelcoat otherwise you will get serious chalking...they do also have a tendency to chalk in the sun. I had mine wet-sanded and buffed this past winter and she looks good.
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Old 06-02-2020, 08:00 AM   #4
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Thanks for the reply
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Old 06-04-2020, 06:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Petesflhtk View Post
I have the same MH, enjoy.. Keep in mind, do not wax the gelcoat otherwise you will get serious chalking...they do also have a tendency to chalk in the sun. I had mine wet-sanded and buffed this past winter and she looks good.
I have never heard of not waxing gelcoat. I have compounded mine and wax it 2 x per year and it shines like a baby. the Chalk is oxidation and waxing helps remove and prevent it.
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Old 06-04-2020, 07:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
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I have never heard of not waxing gelcoat. I have compounded mine and wax it 2 x per year and it shines like a baby. the Chalk is oxidation and waxing helps remove and prevent it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Petesflhtk View Post
I have the same MH, enjoy.. Keep in mind, do not wax the gelcoat otherwise you will get serious chalking...they do also have a tendency to chalk in the sun. I had mine wet-sanded and buffed this past winter and she looks good.
I have no idea where the no wax idea would come from? Maybe a detailer that wants more business restoring oxidized finish???
I have had numerous fiberglass/gelcoat boats and motorhomes and periodic clean & wax helps protect & preserve the finish and helps avoid the tougher job of restoring the shine once it chaulks.
Many owners have their favorite wax products (I've used and like Collinite products) but have switched to polymers for both boat and motorhome. I have read good reviews and like Gel Coat Labs polymers for unpainted gel coat as I believe it lasts much longer than conventional wax and is much easier on/off.
The key to wax or polymer is prepping the surface which will vary depending on the condition to start. If Good to start with with little oxidation a mild polish / swirl remover or cleaner /polish will do fine. Once more seriously oxidized it will take a more aggressive compound to start with followed by the swirl remover/ polish.
Once you have the shine you want by all means protect it with a polymer or natural wax. It will last longer, look better and clean dirt, burd droppings, etc off much easier.
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Old 06-04-2020, 09:45 PM   #7
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Most all fiberglass parts have Gelcoat. The real question is if the Gelcoat is painted or not. Paint when new is generally shinier than even new Gelcoat. If there is metalflake, then it is more likely to be paint. If the stripes are decals, then its more likely that the places where there is no decals, is gelcoat. if the coach is a high line, with "full body paint", then it's paint.

When a fiberglass part is made, the negative mold is first sprayed with a wax / release agent. Then, the mold is spray painted with GelCoat. Then the fiberglass is either sprayed into the mold (chop strand) or "laid" into the mold. Once the fiberglass resin is cured, the part is then popped out of the mold. The part is then assembled to the RV. The part may then be painted.
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Old 06-06-2020, 04:49 PM   #8
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Old 06-06-2020, 04:57 PM   #9
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Chalking is due to oxidation of the surface and occurs independent of whether you wax or not. I've never before seen it claimed that waxing causes chalking. Certainly didn't on any of my fiberglass RVs.


Most Corvette cars are lovingly waxed. So are fiberglass boats.
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Old 06-06-2020, 05:04 PM   #10
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Are you asking specifically about fiberglass surface produced by the process known as gel coating, or simply any sort of fiberglass surface? Most RV fiberglass sidewalls and roofs are a fiberglass sheet material known generically as filon. It's laminated to make sidewalls and laid as a flexible sheet for roofing. Filon is typically painted with at least a clear coat but more upscale models have full body paint in color(s).

Gel coating is a high quality fiberglass layer produced by spraying or pouring fiberglass resin into a mold, i.e. molded fiberglass. The front and rear caps on a fiberglass RV are often produced by the gel coat process. Gel coat has the colr embedded in it and does not require painting or sealing.
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Old 06-06-2020, 06:39 PM   #11
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"Gel coat has the colr embedded in it and does not require painting or sealing."

Yes... but... thecsame can be said of any finish on cars, boats or RVs.
You dont HAVE TO do anything to the surface but if you do it will not only look better but will stay looking better longer.
I had many compliments on my prior '03 Winnbgo that it looked like new. But I did use wax & polymers to keep the surface looking good and protect it from UV. Even the vinyl decals looked decent after 12 yrs.
If you dont believe the above leave it alone and enjoy the free time and $avings.
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Old 06-07-2020, 05:45 AM   #12
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Corvettes (at least the older ones) are fiberglass, do have gel coat and are always painted. So the analogy is not a good one as you are waxing PAINT.

Most smaller boats on the other hand are also fiberglass, also have gel coat, but are typically Not then painted. And respond well to wax too. Boats are much more subject to getting bumped. So the thickness of gel coat is an advantage compared to paint as it doesn't chip or scratch as easily. And you can sand / buff / wax the scratched gel coat deeper than you can paint.

As mentioned above, most all fiberglass parts are gel coated. Some are then painted.

Filon is almost never clear coated without color paint. That is not cost productive (about the same labor as paint / clear coat) nor provide any customer benefit so it's not done. If the filon is painted...it's color coated / clear coated for appearance improvement (typically full body paint rigs).

But I do agree. Wax will help protect both paint and gel coat. Keeping the surface shiny, slippery will help reduce staining and mold and allow for easier maintenance.

What kills both is sunlight.
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Old 06-07-2020, 08:25 AM   #13
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Thanks for all the insight. My walls are very blotchy looking. Almost like the finish is worn to the point where the substrate is showing through. Also in many areas it is scratched like someone used sandpaper. I am the fourth owner of this mh I believe. I'm thinking painting is my only recourse to make it look good again.
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Old 06-07-2020, 11:34 AM   #14
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Without seeing them, I can confidently predict your sidewalls are laminated filon panels, almost surely painted, and your front & rear caps are molded fiberglass with a gel coated outer surface. Below the beltline, the bay doors will be painted and probably made with a metal skin over a frame.


Any of those surfaces can be sanded and painted.
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