Anyone ever have a fifth wheel repainted?

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Frizlefrak

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Just curious.  We bought a nice older ('93) Coachmen 21' fifth wheel a couple of years ago.  Got a very good deal on the fiver and TV from an elderly woman whose husband had passed away and she no longer had a need for either.

The trailer is in excellent condition, but has developed a "Texas Suntan"....the white paint has gotten chalky, and the Coachmen decals are cracked and faded as well.  I've tried rubbing compound, but the effect is minimal, and within a couple of weeks it looks chalky again.

It's a great rig, and suits our needs just perfectly.  We use it about 5-6 times per year for weekending and the occasional week off of vacation time.

Anyone ever have a trailer repainted?  It doesn't have to look perfect, but the faded paint detracts from an otherwise great looking fiver.  Any place to get replacement Coachmen decals?

Any advice is, of course, appreciated.
 

Jim Dick

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Hi Frizlefrak,

I would guess that is not paint that has gotten chalky. It's more likely the gelcoat. You might try a gelcoat cleaner/polish to see if it will help. Someone else here might have more information for you.

Replacement decals might be hard to come by for a rig that old. I have a 2000 American Dream motor home and they don't have those anymore!! I would contact Coachmen and see what they have to say. They may also have more info on restoring the gelcoat.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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There are RV and boat repair shops in most regions and they can either restore the surface or paint it for you. It won't be cheap, though.  The old decals will have to be removed (perhaps you could do that time-consuming chore and save some $) and replacements probably are not available. There are decal shops that will design & make a set for you but most people simply have a basic two tone paint job and let it go at that.

Is your trailer have fiberglass or metal siding?
 
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Frizlefrak

Guest
RV Roamer said:
Is your trailer have fiberglass or metal siding?

It is metal siding.

Jim Dick said:
Hi Frizlefrak,

I would guess that is not paint that has gotten chalky. It's more likely the gelcoat. You might try a gelcoat cleaner/polish to see if it will help. Someone else here might have more information for you.

Replacement decals might be hard to come by for a rig that old. I have a 2000 American Dream motor home and they don't have those anymore!! I would contact Coachmen and see what they have to say. They may also have more info on restoring the gelcoat.

Good suggestions, thanks folks.  Also thought I might give this a try.

http://rvpartsus.com/partsystem/browse-model-parts.pl?type=genr_parts&mr=partnum%3d'388757'&lookup=fullitem&cart_id=bf7510ac9dc289644297abea9a438c53

Thank again guys.
 

Carl L

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Also thought I might give this a try.

http://rvpartsus.com/partsystem/browse-model-parts.pl?type=genr_parts&mr=partnum%3d'388757'&lookup=fullitem&cart_id=bf7510ac9dc289644297abea9a438c53

Well yeah.  Ammonia can also do the job.  Given that it is cheaper than dirt, and the alternative is a repaint job, you might give that a try on a small patch at first.  If you start to see aluminum shining thru then try something else.  ;D
 
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Frizlefrak

Guest
Carl Lundquist said:
Well yeah.? Ammonia can also do the job.? Given that it is cheaper than dirt, and the alternative is a repaint job, you might give that a try on a small patch at first.? ?If you start to see aluminum shining thru then try something else.? ?;D

Bare aluminum is God's way of saying you rubbed too hard.? :D

Given the age and relative low value of the unit, I might just visit my old buddy at Maaco and see what he would charge to scuff and reshoot it.? Yes, I know, they're less than diligent about their masking techniques, but removing overspray is fairly easy.

I do happen to have a gallon of ammonia under the sink.....hmmmm....thanks for the tip.
 

Frank B

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Frizelfrak:

You may also want to see an auto detailer before you repaint.

Aluminum siding has a baked-on paint on it, that usually stands up pretty well.  Auto detailers can use a glazing compound to remove the oxide and bring up the finish.  I did that on our old 81 Okanagan, as I own and operate a detailing shop.

Beware, however, that it is a TOUGH job to do that.  There are simply a lot of square feet on the sides of a trailer, and it takes a lot of elbow grease to get the siding clean again, even with a high-power rotary buffer like I used.  This is especially so if it is heavily oxidized.

As to the decals, I have no suggestion about removing them.  Getting them off without damaging the underlying paint is VERY hard.  You might want to check with a sign shop.  I know that my brother, who owns and operates a sign shop, uses some sort of citrus-based solvent to remove decals on commercial truck trailers.  Those, however, are often replaced every few years, and not as 'baked on' as yours are.  You may get a sign shop to produce some painted vinyl decals that can be applied over top of what is there.  Just have them made a bit oversize so they cover the old ones completely.  Car dealers will sometimes put their dealership decals over damaged paint on trunk lids.  It works.

As to repainting it a Maaco, remember that aluminum siding flexes.  If they put paint across the joints between sheets of siding, it will crack and peel where it has 'bridged' the seam just as soon as the siding flexes in the heat, or in the wind when traveling down the highway.  We have to be careful about that in our shop when repairing auto paint where we are painting part of a rear quarter and a rear bumper.  Usually, we separate them before we paint to ensure that the paint does not 'bridge' the gap, then re-attach them later after the paint sets.  That is also one of the reasons why pre-painted siding is used to begin with.

Frank.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Metal siding is often in strips, with a sort of corrugated effect. If you have that type, rotary polishers probably cannot be used and its a hand job all the way. I did a 24 foot Wilderness that way about 10 years ago and it was a 3 day job. Came out looking like new, though.  The baked finish on the aluminum was thick and strong and just needed a decent automotive style cleaner/polish to remove the oxidation and bring up a nice shine.  If yours is really bad you may need that Heavy Oxidation Remover product, but I might try something a bit milder first.  Since the advent of the base coat/clear coat system for car finishes, car "waxes" tend not to have much oxidation removal capability, but there are a few available (sometimes they are called "pre-cleaners").  Boat polishes tend to have more cleaning action, so a boat polish might be a better bet.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Decals are removed with heat and gentle scraping.  A good hair dryer or a heat gun with a "low" setting works to soften the old, baked-on decal.  If you are really lucky a lot of the decal will peel up if you work slowly and  carefully.  Use a plastic or wood blade scrapper so that the paint doesn't get gouged.
 
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Frizlefrak

Guest
Carl Lundquist said:
Remember, dilute.? Please, oh please, dilute!

;D ;D  Definitely dilute....no need to render myself unconscious ;)

RV Roamer said:
Since the advent of the base coat/clear coat system for car finishes, car "waxes" tend not to have much oxidation removal capability, but there are a few available (sometimes they are called "pre-cleaners"). Boat polishes tend to have more cleaning action, so a boat polish might be a better bet.

Come to think of it, the stuff I used wasn't real "rubbing compound" like I remember from back in the 70's,  it was a car polish, which like you said, probably doesn't have as much ability to remove oxidation.

Thank for all the tips....I'll give a good cleaning with (diluted) ammonia, and then get some boat polish and get to work on it.  I can do it a section at a time, and there's no hurry.

I've actually thought about trading it on a new unit a couple of times, but no more than we use it, I can't justify the expense.  The inside is like new and everything works perfectly.  With a little care it should last until I another decade and a half or so until I'm ready to retire and trade up.



 

Frank B

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Frizlefrak:

>I've actually thought about trading it on a new unit a couple of times, but no more than we use it, I can't justify the expense.  The inside is like new and everything works perfectly.  With a little care it should last until I another decade and a half or so until I'm ready to retire and trade up.<

There is a lot to be said for being happy with what one has.  We had a great time in our 25 year old Okanagan trailer for many years.  The only reason we  sold and bought another was because of a changing family situation.

Frank.
 
F

Frizlefrak

Guest
Frank B said:
>There is a lot to be said for being happy with what one has.? We had a great time in our 25 year old Okanagan trailer for many years.? The only reason we? sold and bought another was because of a changing family situation.

Frank.

Smart man.  We're much the same way.  I'm nitpicky about everything working correctly, and will spend countless hours hunting down a squeak I don't like, but as long as everything is functional, I'm happy.  Much better to have money in the bank than to needlessly pursue impressing one's neighbors.

Our first camper was a mid 1970's Kit Road Ranger, about a 18' if I remember correctly, that we bought around 1991.  Used it frequently until 2002 when a massive hailstorm totaled it.  Insurance paid me a whopping $600 for it less the $50 I paid for the salvage.  Fixed (sorta) everything on the cheap and sold it to a guy who uses it for hunting.  Had a lot of fun in that old thing....

The fiver and TV we have now was bought new by an elderly couple who used it until the man died, and it was lovingly cared for.  Was a great find, and it's the perfect size for just 2 of us.

Off the subject, but I've really enjoyed this forum.  I've lurked for several months now and have read a great deal and learned a lot.  Great to have a resource to turn to with so much information available.
 
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