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Ask Dave: My RV’s front cap is fading. What can I do about it?

Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses deteriorating fiberglass on the exterior of RVs.

Dear Dave,
How do I prevent “chalking” from the fiberglass or plastic segments, especially the top front header over my windshields, on my older (2002) class A unit? I take good care of my RV and keep it covered from late fall to early spring. When I wash the unit, white chalky water runs off. Should I wax the part that “weeps” to protect it? Does any company make a product that combats this deterioration? This 19-year-old unit still looks almost brand-new! —Ken

Dear Ken,
What you are experiencing with the “chalking” coming from your fiberglass molded front cap is UV degradation of the gel coat outer layer. Ultraviolet rays from exposure to the sun start to wear down the glossy gel coat and it starts to cloud and wash away. Eventually, it will deteriorate the fiberglass material as well. This will also happen to the sidewall and other plastics as you are experiencing. Some of the older beige RVs have now turned a pink color and will never go back to the original color.

Products to protect deteriorating fiberglass

Crane Composites is the company that manufacturers most of the fiberglass skins for the sidewall. They recommend using Meguiar’s #56 Boat and RV Pure Wax, which has carnauba wax for UV protection. If your gel coat is already starting to discolor and chalk, they recommend compounding it with a polishing or rubbing compound. They recommend using Meguiar’s #49 Heavy-Duty Oxidation Remover first, then clean with mild detergent and then apply the wax.

The molded front cap of your motorhome is similar to this Vectra and probably very close to the same year. Winnebago manufactures its own cap layering fiberglass and resin in a mold and with the same gel coat finish. They also recommend using wax with UV protection to combat degradation.

Another product we have been testing is Protect All’s All-Surface Care, which claims to provide a variety of surfaces with UV protection. We have used it on a few units as a test; however, we have not had enough time to verify how well it works. I do think it is a good product and something you might want to apply to the front cap in between waxing.

Read more from Dave here

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for The Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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chris
29 days ago

SOS pad and a bit of elbow grease removes the chalking.

Don
29 days ago

You totally missed a bet here Dave. 303 Aerospace protectant is an industrial standard which works beautifully and lasts for months. It’s not just good for gel coat, but does a great job on any synthetic surface, particularly TIRES – which are severely deteriorated by UV. Try it!