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Delamination Problems

Duane H

Les, I remember earlier this year someone ask how to repair some delaminated fiberglass. Did you ever post how to go about this task? I have an '89 Pace Arrow that is delaminating under the passenger side mirror. (the rubber boot on the base of the mirror collects water like a bucket, poor design...) I think I can make a straight vertical cut below the back edge of the pass. window to the lower horizontal molding. That way I only have to remove a small piece. (About 2'x4')Also, how is the external molding attached? The fasteners almost look like some kind of tapered torx head screw with a center pin. Its hard to tell as they are painted over. If you could spare a bit of your experience I would be forever indebted!!!

Hi Duane,

Earlier this year? I have trouble with earlier this week!

If you make a small verticle cut you will have to place a moulding over it when done to cover the cut - is that acceptable? Or repair the cut with fibreglass filler, sand and paint.

The problem with laminated construction repairs of this sort is that you need to gain access to re-apply the adhesive that has failed. In order to get the room to spray/brush in the adhesive you need to pull out the panel somewhat. When you do this you end up delaminating more of the panel (or worse, breaking it). It may be less hassle to make the cut as you suggest, and removing the remainder of the panel from there forward. You can then see what needs to be done, relaminate or replace the panel (and the styro insulation, if needed).

Regarding the moulding fasteners, I have never come across tapered torx screws on any RV that I have worked on. Are you sure that they are not rivets? The center pin would just be the snap-off pin on the rivet. What looks like a torx socket may be just the rivet design. Try driving in one of the pins with a center punch, a rivet pin will drive in with a gentle tap while if it is a screw, you would have to whale on it with brute force and a very sizable hammer. If it is a rivet, just drill it out after driving in the pin.

Hang on for more comments from others here.

Gary M

I believe you are right about the rivet. It is a poprivet. Many or those had a beveled or countersunk head. The top is flat. The holes themselves are 3/16". Exact replacements can sometimes be hard to find as an in stock item at your local bolt co. and will probably need to be ordered.

Duane H

Thanks Guys! sorry it took me so long to get back. Been WAYYYY to busy. I think thats what I'm going to do. (When I get time...haha)

Ray M

I own an 88 32' Pace arrow with sidewall delamination. I am trying to locate a reputable companny to due restoration work on this unit. So far the only company I have been able to locate is Sullivan Rv in Indiana. I live in sw Ontario 90 miles east of Detroit West of London Ontario. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Rick Sullivan does come highly reccommended but is a far distance away.

Thanks for the great board Les,

Ken W

Hate to burst a bubble... but, we went through getting an 89 Pace Arrow re-skinned in Houston. Once the out side skin was pulled back, the frame was rusted through and had to be rebuilt and the interior paneling also had to be replaced. You can not match either the interior or exterior materials now. Anyway, it was one of those jobs that expanded to fill a large amount of time and money. After using the coach for another year, we got rid of it. It was delaminating near the front and rear caps aswell as at windows. The coaches of this age we see inland and which are stored indoors seem to do better. See lots of late 80's and early 90's Fleetwoods with delamination. Have some friends witha 98 Southwind that is going back to the factory to get the right sidewall replaced due to delamination.

Delamination - Exactly what causes this, water leaks? If it's solely caused by leaks, will a minor, quickly fixed leak cause this or does it take a chronic leak for this condition to develop? Plus, once it has developed, is the only way to repair it to pull the entire side off? Are Fleetwood products the only ones that experienced this condition or other makes as well?

Sorry for so many questions but as newcomers we'd like to learn as much as possible about class A's. Thanks again.

Les Adams

There are 2 factors usually responsible for delamination...

They are: improper assembly techniques and a water leak that migrates between the fiberglass and the base material destroying the glue bond that once existed...

Improper assembly techniques could include but are not limited too, insufficient glue, insufficient bonding pressure, dirty gluing surfaces, excessive humidty, and a whole host of other problems...

Delamination from water damage is pretty straight forward... Water migrates between the fiberglass outer skin and the base wall, roof, etc material... The water destroys the bond of the glue used to assemble thes components and the FG pulls away from the base material... This type of failure can be do to improper maintenance or poor construction techniques or a combination of both...

It is my understanding that most manufacturers using the FG bonding technique some years ago all had some problems in this area with Fleetwood seemingly having the most in their various models... I don't believe these problems were exclusivly Fleetwoods and that other manufacturers had problems as well... And it could be because Fleetwood was selling the majority of units back then...

Although I am no expert in this area, I would assume that the size of the delamination would be directly proportional to the extent of the water leak (quantity of water would be dictated by size and overall elapsed time of the leak) and the glue bond that were destroyed by the leak...

While there are many schools of thought on which type of construction is better and easier to take care of, I prefer aluminum siding for this and other reasons...

In my opinion, aluminum is lighter, easier to repair and less costly on the intital purchase... If I damage some of my aluminum siding, it is a relatively easy repair to remove and replace it... If the FG is damaged, it too is realtivly easy to repair assuming the hole is not very large... In the case of major damage or delamination, the repair could be very expensive and perhaps not easily accomplished by the RV owner...

FG, especially the smooth type is much easier to keep clean and polished than the corrugated type of aluminum, but I still prefer the aluminum over FG...

It is largely a matter of personal opinion as to which is better and I don't think there is a definitive answer one way or the other...

From my point of view, I prefer Aluminum... Even if I neglect my maintenance schedule and I do get some water damage, it is infinitly easier for me to repair than a wall delamination...

My comments would apply to all RV's that employ FG laminated walls, not just Class A MH's...

Best Regards,

Les Adams

When my Motorhome started delaminating, it wasn't the bonding material between the wood and the fiberglass that came loose. Water got into the plywood substrate and the outer ply came loose from the next lower ply. I have a friend with an aluminum sided unit that did about the same thing. The only difference was that his siding blew off while going down the road. Water leaks must be repaired as soon as you become aware of them. All caulking around windows, doors and other wall openings have to be water tight and inspected often. It doesn't matter what kind of siding you have if the wood underneath it rots out.

Aluminum is probably a lot cheaper to replace, especially if you can do it your self. I wouldn't attempt to replace a fiberglass side at home.

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