Motorhome Make Over

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Well-known member
May 11, 2005
Riverton (SLC) Ut
My coach is in need of some restoration, but all  cosmetic. The original owner I bought it from was maticulous with the mechnics and condition, but the sun and weather has taken it's toll on the exterior. In particular the decals. I've spent numerous hours striping off the old decals, because they were so cracked and faded that it really detracted from the true condition of the motorhome.

Now that I have "most" of the decals removed, wanted to leave some so it wasn't so plain, I have the area that is not sunfaded against the area that was covered by the decals. It's almost like ghost flames on some show cars, just not a cool looking.  So now I need to decide what to do? I'm really looking at selling the coach in 2-3 years, but for the time being would like to have pride in it.

So here is where I'm looking for advice from some experienced RVer's of the world:

My choices are as follows: Trying to not sink a ton of money, knowing it's not really going to increase the resale price.
1- Leave it as is, with the "ghost striping" - Really has improved the look of the coach tremendously.
2- Get decals made to replace the originals - local company said he could do it. (Same Color: Green, Blue, Purple)
3- Replace Original decals with updated color tones - (Earth Tones)
4- Have the stripes painted on, rather than deal with the decals. (Original or updated colors).
P.S. Exterior is Fiberglass.

I'm really thinking if I'm going to spend the money to have it restriped, either paint or decals, that I would like to update the color scheme, but would that be a bad idea when I go to resale? The interior is in great shape (Green base) and I have no intentions of replacing it.

I'm just looking to have pride in what I drive and give the best possible product to the person that buys it from me down the road.

Thanks in advance for your opinions.
I, personally would lean towards the paint as it could be taped off exactly where the old goast stripes were.? You could controll the color to complement the interior colors.? Just painting stripes would be a lot cheaper than the whole coach.? I am like you in that I take pride in what I am driving and want its appearance to look its best.

Something as large as a motorhome may not be able to fit in a shop paint booth or building so you may be able to contract a local painter experienced in painting cars to do it in his off time as a side project.? Painting some stripes on a calm day in the shade may be "Good enough and greatly improve the look of your home on wheels for not a lot of coin.

I don't think that changing color scheme or decals will have any negative effect on an older motorhome .  After a certain age (8-10 years?), condition is everything, so as long as your color scheme is tastefully done it sould be fine.
I guess I'm kind of curious - why the decals to begin with? Some motorhomes seem to have some strange paint/stripe schemes. Is it because of the size, to break it up? Why not just spray paint some details instead of decals? Anyone know?
Yes, I would say it is to break up the imposing size of these things.  That said, one of the most striking motorhomes I have seen was an all black Prevost with all black tinted windows surrounded by snow in Breckenridge.  It was a monster and looked very $$$$$

I think vinyl is cheap and easy to apply once you know how.  It can give what would be a very boring exterior some visual interest and break up the square box look these tend to have.  If you look at a lot of the schemes, they tent to give the illusion of streamlining and aerodynamics.  I personally like the wild paint schemes on a lot of the newer motorcoaches.


Why not just spray paint some details instead of decals? Anyone know?

Decals are much cheaper than spraying. Can be applied directly over the fiberglass with no surface prep, don't require a special facility (paint booth) or drying time, and most any worker can be trained to do it in 30 minutes or so. Even though the decals themselves are expensive, the botton line cost is much less.
Shadowman, quick question to you... how did you remove the old decals?  I'm looking at mid-80s Class C's for our first MH, so I suspect I may have the same cracking/peeling issues with whatever we buy.

I live the idea of striping over the old decals, with vinyl as suggested.  The color could be a very subtle earth tone, not to detract but just accent/compliment the base body color.  Any "sign shop" should be able to fix that up, for probably much less $$ than paint as mentioned.
Thanks for all the advise from everyone. I agree from a prep and facilities standpoint, the decals would be a much less expensive proposition and probably something I might be able to takle myself??? 

Scottydl,  As for getting the decals off, I used a number of methods. Some worked some didn't.
1-The first method was to use a razor blade, that eventually got painful on the hands.
2-Next moved to a putty knife. I used my grider to sharpen the edges of the putty knife which worked pretty good on some of the colors. (Yes different colors are harder than others to get off). 
3-The next thing I tried (NOT RECOMMENDED) is a heat gun. Maybe it was my inexperience, but on fiberglass I tended to get the surface too hot, which made for easy work of the decals, but it also caused the fiberglass to get so hot that it was very easy to actually get small chunks of fiberglass or the gelcoat off, which I would suspect is not a great thing to do.
4-Finally based on some of the advice I read on this site, I used an eraser wheel which is used with a drill or really any kind of rotary tool that will accept the shaft. That worked pretty good, but once again you have to be careful not to stay in one place too long, as you can create burn marks. I don't know if it is common or I just got real lucky, but the burn marks tend to go away over night. So I'm not sure if they were burns or not, but I was just extremely careful not to create to many of them. So far I have gone through 4 wheels. I don't remember the brand of wheel I used but it was not the 3M, I don't' know if their better, but their 3 times more expensive and the guy at the auto paint store said they didn't work any better, plus you need a special tool for the shaft, a drill won't work.
5-The last thing you will need is a good adhesive solvent once you get the decal off. I picked up a quart at the paint shop where I bought the eraser wheel that worked better than only other solvent I had used.

I can tell you this, it is not a quick process, I tend to pick a section at a time and be consistent on both sides, that way I can still use the coach and not have it look like a work in progress.  On the other hand it is something a novice can do. Best of luck and if you need any help or advise, I couldn't recommend any other place than here. Tons of experience.
Great tips... post back with whatever you decide and photos of the before/after results.  I'd love to see the progression!
Has anyone gone to Mexico for a paint job on their MH?  Seems like you could save $ and get decent work depending on where you go.  I had thought about painting a trailer to match the MH but never went much further than that.
Try spraying household with ammonia then covering with clear plastic wrap for about 10 minutes then scrape off with plastic body filler spreader, worked fast and easy on my project....good luck :D
I'm in the process now and have had the best results by spraying down the decal with WD40 and then using a razor blade (in holder).  I've still got some to remove and I may try the eraser.  I'm like the other post....doing a little at a time and doing both sides the same so I can still us the RV without it looking like a work in progress.  ;D  By the way, the WD40 will also help remove the glue once the decal is off.  That's my 2 cents.
A couple caveats:
I use to be in the decal business and supplied to three major RV manufacturers. I could tell you hair raising stories, but my fingers would get too tired!
The decals of today, if made right, will last 3 times longer than the decals of 5 years ago due to improvement in inks and coatings.
Decals will not stick well to oxidized surfaces and I never met a coach more than 3 years old that wasn't too oxidized to work properly. In every case where the dealer, insurance company or owner insisted on placing the new decals on the old surface, there was lifting and peeling within a few short months.
My company wrapped large fleets of vehicles such as over the road truck trailers, municipal transit buses and trains as well as the RV industry.
We insisted that any vehicle over one year had to be repainted in order for us to back the product. if it was a complete wrap such as city transit buses, or used motorhomes, it was a simple "Earl Scheib" white paint job. (not really Earl, but a cheap job). We weren't concerned with evenness, just a new surface to attach the wrap. If it was decals only such as RV's, the dealers nearly always did a repaint.
It took some big losses for a couple of the insurance adjusters to finally agree to pay the paint cost on decal repairs.  Remember, tho...most decal replacement was due to body damage and required repaint anyway.
So if you plan to put new decals on, consider the paint issue. Also, make sure this supplier has done body wraps and decals before. You don't want him learning on your MH.
I haven't done the new decals yet but I did find out from a local Maaco paint shop that Locke signs commonly does RV work for wrecked RVs.  So, I visited them and found that they've done many decal jobs and seem to be well equiped for any large job like this.  I'll keep you posted and let you know how it goes. 

As to the oxidation, I don't see any signs of chalking, etc even though the RV is 10 years old.  I'm sure it exists but the signs are present on the least on casual inspection.  :eek:

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