This is the original damage from the pickup truck in 2005. The water compartment door
on the right has a long groove embossed across the width of the door and the bezel around
the water heater vent is "munched" along the bottom. The fender is slightly damaged on the
right side, it is torn in a place over the tire, and the skin was torn through behind the tire.
The door behind the tire was slightly damaged. The awning mount was torn out from
the sidewall and an awning bracket was broken. There were also deep scratches above \
I initially repaired the torn fender, cleaned up a lot of the dark smears, but left the depression
in the door. I covered the damaged bezel part with white duct tape. I used white primer
that matched very well over the repairs.
In some locations, the decals were in terrible condition! Here you can see edge damage and severe curling of the edges.
On the right, the upper stripe is curled up along both edges making the stripe appear about half width. When flat the top
stripe has 7 color stripes in it.
The first area I worked on was the left front bumper where there was a whole section
broken out from hitting bottom going up a poorly designed driveway at a post office.
ground out all the damaged areas of fiberglass and repaired it using
new fiberglass resin and mat. I finished with some body filler
it with hand brushed on gelcoat. As you can see, it did not flow
out at all. After much sanding, I applied another coat of resin and
with a steel squeegee. This worked very well, but
overall I needed to do this process several times before I managed to sand it smooth and not sand
through any thin spots. Once it was basically smooth, I kept
wet sanding with finer and finer sandpaper up to 1200 grit. I then buffed it out using auto polish.
This was the general technique I used on all the subsequent repair areas, whether sprayed or brush applied.
During the initial repair years ago, I filled a couple of deep scratches with a supposedly
white filler. It cured to a dark gray! I now used a Dremel type tool to grind out the old
filler in preparation to filling the scratches with gelcoat. It took several applications
but came out looking quite good.
Here I have the water compartment door filled and smoothed, ready for gelcoat.
I then thoroughly masked around the doors, then using dollar store tarps (I bought
9 total) I protected the side of the motorhome and the shelves opposite.
spray the relatively thick gelcoat resin, you must thin it. I
used about 25% acetone, then using a low cost HVLP (high volume,
pressure) spray gun from Harbor Freight, successfully sprayed the two
doors. It left a substantial amount of orangepeel as shown
the picture on the right. I found that by sanding enough to
provide a flat top surface, removing any residual wax coating with
then applying a quantity of gelcoat and spreading it with a steel
squeegee, I was able to create a surface smooth enough to
be easily sanded to a perfect finish.
Sometimes there were small areas needing an additional fill
process. The end result after all the
sanding steps was an
extremely smooth, flat, almost reflective surface. Using auto
polish and a buffer added the gloss to the surface.
I was spraying the resin, I wore a respirator (not just a dust mask),
and a "bunny suit". I also partially opened the front and rear
to keep the air somewhat clear. The respirator worked great!
I could not smell the strong solvent or fiberglass smells while
I masked the completed doors in preparation for the spraying of the fender. I put the
heavy plastic on the floor after spraying the small door and seeing how much splatter
ended up on the floor.
I hate color matching! As I was tinting a fresh can of gelcoat, carefully counting the
drops of black and yellow as I had previously done, a blob of black dropped
instead of a drop. I thought it might be close enough after comparing small samples,
but after spraying the fender I could easily see it was too dark. After ordering yet another
quart of gelcoat, I carefully tinted it and prepared to respray the fender. This time it came out fine.
I discovered a small area of damage near the tailpipe, which I repaired in a manner
similar to the front bumper. With what I had learned, this one went much faster and
easier! I also got pretty good at removing the old striping in the areas needing repair!
Replacing the Graphics
had a deadline to meet to finish the body work, as I had already
scheduled the re-striping job for September 1. I finished the
last bit of gelcoat repair with over a whole day to spare. On
Tuesday 9/1 I drove my rig 2 1/3 hours down to Apache Junction to a company called
RV Stripes and Graphics, and left my rig. They will strip all the
markings from the motorhome, design and print replacements on a 3M
vinyl film, then install it all. Samples of their work look
Steve, who is the manager (boss, owner?) and I talked
and emailed to coordinate the schedule, many of the details of specific
stripes, patterns, and logos. He emailed me samples of the
various stripe combinations and color selections. I requested
several changes, then we agreed on many details and it was all in his
care. It was frustrating sitting at home, not being able to
follow the progress, and watch them work. It is over a two hour
drive in the car, and about 20 minutes more in the motorhome, so I did
not drive down to interfere. They did the work in an inside bay
that did not have any excess room. Steve apologized for not
taking progress pictures for me, but said it was just too cramped.
On Thursday, 9/10, one day ahead of schedule, the
motorhome was ready! I drove down and saw it; it is beautiful!!
I brought it home and received other opinions, also that it is beautiful.
The pattern is almost exactly the original one, but the colors
are bright and vivid, and none of the edges are curled, and none of the trim is missing!
did take exception to the way they printed a Foretravel logo that is
used in 4 places. I believe they inadvertently switched the two
colors so the shadow effect is lighter than the lettering. I
"redid" the logo in Photoshop and it looks far better with the
lettering in light blue and the shadow in dark blue. Steve is
printing a new set of these logos and will send them to me. I
does not look like much of a problem for me to remove the old ones and
install the new ones.
Note from Sept 13:
I received the new logos, and after much delaying I started the
job. It took about an hour, and most of that time was peeling off
the reversed logos and washing the areas thoroughly. Putting on
the new ones was a "piece of cake".
The new graphics are guaranteed for 5
years, but are stated to typically last at least 7 or 8 years. I
hope it will be much more, as I keep the rig garaged.