Motorhome’s generally have their exterior panels either made of painted aluminium sheets or most newer motorhomes use fibreglass (aka glass-reinforced plastic – GRP, or glass-fiber reinforced plastic – GFRP. Our motorhome exterior panels are made of fibreglass. All the side panels are nice and shiny but the front panels consisting of the engine compartment and the curved area above the windscreen has gone dull and slightly off white.
This is a common issue with fibreglass panels and is often caused by oxidisation caused by weather, dirt and pollution with the front panels more exposed. The dull and rough surface also meant fly’s and insects stuck to the surface easily and was difficult to clean.
Cleaning with usual car/motorhome cleaner and waxing just did nothing. They were still dull and off white.
Its important to note to use the correct cleaning product for the surface of your vehicle. I read on some forums to use T-Cut. This is an excellent product for cutting car and painted aluminum panels, but fibre glass panels do not normally have a paint coating. If you read the instructions for T-Cut there is mention of several different applications for T-Cut but fibreglass is not one of them! Instead most fibreglass panels have a gel-coat. This is a much thicker coating than paint and often made of polyester which is much more robust and scratch resistant than paint.
I spoke to a local fibre glass supplies and repair company who said to use a cutting compound made especially for fibreglass to clean the surface which is called a gel coat. They sold me a tube of Farecla (pronounced far-rec-la) PROFILE 500 Light Cut Liquid Compound – 200ml. The small tube easily covered an area of 3 square meters.
I tried it on the bonnet cover first and there was an immediate difference. The white was now bright and after washing down with some clean water it had a nice shine to it. The shine was not a glossy shine – more satin shine – but the dull/rough finish was gone. Adding a layer of good quality car wax gave it a nice finish and water now beads off the surface plus insects and bugs don’t stick so well and come off much easier.
In my case I didn’t use a conventional car wax but had bought a new type of wax which is more often called a sealant wax. The one I used was “Armour all Shield” liquid wax. Its was easier to apply and remove than normal wax and according to the reviews I read it lasts longer and better than conventional car wax.
Edit: The Amour all Shield has been on for 5 weeks now and the body work is still beading rain water nicely and the front of the van is much much easier to remove dead insects from.
The photo above shows the top panel after cutting, cleaning and waxing. The lower panel is the before area. The shadow has made the lower panel look greyer than it really was but there was a significant difference between the 2. The very top photo shows the whole front after all panels had been cut, cleaned and polished.
- Clean as as much dirt and insects etc from the surface and dry
- Using a clean cloth apply some of the cutting compound in a circular motion. Apply to a small area at a time – approx 30cm square
- Wash off any excess cutting compound and check the new clean surface is uniform and smooth. If any area looks patchy or dull then apply a little more cutting compound
- Once happy wash off with clean water and dry
- Apply a layer of good quality car wax or polish and polish up to a lovely shine
- Stand back and admire your handy work!
Warning… Your arms and shoulders will ache after doing this!!! Unless you use an electric car polisher. I didn’t have one and next time I think I will buy one from Amazon!