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Old 10-08-2021, 03:34 AM   #1
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THOR #16721
Oxidation removal from Fiberglass RV (How to Blog)

Since this is a fairly long & drawn out process, I thought I'd just start a thread and document the process as I go along.

The details:

I have a 2020 Thor Chateau 24F purchased new in the fall of 2019. It sits an appreciable amount of time - at home in Ohio. Although only two years old, the fiberglass gelcoat is showing significant signs of oxidation. The vinyl graphics appear like new - other than a few rock chips (?) here and there.

The oxidation has appeared in an odd pattern - which, for lack of a better term, looks like a faint x-ray of the side wall. The outline of the metal wall frame is visible in the oxidation pattern. Where the frame members are behind the wall do not appear as "chalky" as areas between the frame members.

This pattern is accentuated when there is dew in early morning on the RV walls. Perhaps due to surface tension the water droplets cling to the oxidized areas better??

I typically wash the entire RV about every two months... more frequently if needed due to bugs/road grime. This includes a thorough washing of the EPDM roof. Until recently, I have never applied any type of wax or protective coating to the gelcoat. I have only used a product called 303 Aerospace Protectant on the window and slide room seals.

About two months ago, I coated the entire RV (sans roof) with a Turtle Wax ceramic coating. This was in response to noticing the gelcoat oxidation becoming more pronounced. While the ceramic coating has held up well in terms of being a decent dirt/bug repellant, it DID NOT impart any gloss (disappointing) and is now starting to lose it's protection properties... also disappointing. Considering that the oxidation has progressed considerably, I have serious doubts about the UV protection properties of the Turtle Wax ceramic.

The passenger side is the ONLY side of the RV showing this oxidation - which happens to be south facing. I'm now convinced the oxidation probably accelerated from constant unprotected southern exposure to the sun's heat and UV radiation. That said, it's a little disconcerting that only two seasons of sun exposure (in a northern state!) could cause so much gelcoat damage!

Up until now, I have not "rotated" the RV to avoid having one side continuously facing south. I'm rethinking a plan to rotate the RV, allowing it to "cook evenly" - at least side to side. The bigger part is a plan to remove the oxidation - then make a serious effort to prevent it in the future.

The battle plan:

I researched gelcoat restoration methods ad nauseam and watched countless videos. While there are literally HUNDREDS of products which work in a similar fashion, likely with excellent results - I decided on using Meguiar's products, simply because I had used their products before. I chatted with one of their tech specialists (on their website) about my specific situation, and decided on a 3-step system which contains:

#49 Oxidation Remover
#45 High Gloss Polish
#56 Pure Wax

I ordered through Amazon, and got the box a couple days later. I already had a pile of microfiber towels. A trip to Harbor Freight for a variable speed buffer and I was all set.

Here's some pics of what I'm dealing with.
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Old 10-08-2021, 03:55 AM   #2
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THOR #16721
So today I did a little test - a proof of concept. Since I was dodging rain, but it was IDEALLY overcast, I went to work.

First I washed the offending side of the RV. Then I chose an area with a fair amount of oxidation which would give me an idea of the result to expect.

Following the instructions, I applied the Oxidation Remover to a small section, and used the buffer on SLOW speed to work the compound... carefully avoiding the vinyl graphics. I used a microfiber towel to apply the compound along the edges of the vinyl. After buffing/scrubbing - I used a clean towel to wipe the area clean. This took a couple applications, especially working by hand along the vinyl.

I am really impressed! With just the Oxidation Remover application, the oxidation in that area is completely gone - and the gloss is back... which I didn't expect. I figured I'd have to apply the polish to get the shine.

These are NOT PHOTOSHOP PICS!! Here's the test results. If the rain holds off - more tomorrow.
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Old 10-08-2021, 05:52 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
So today I did a little test - a proof of concept. Since I was dodging rain, but it was IDEALLY overcast, I went to work.

First I washed the offending side of the RV. Then I chose an area with a fair amount of oxidation which would give me an idea of the result to expect.

Following the instructions, I applied the Oxidation Remover to a small section, and used the buffer on SLOW speed to work the compound... carefully avoiding the vinyl graphics. I used a microfiber towel to apply the compound along the edges of the vinyl. After buffing/scrubbing - I used a clean towel to wipe the area clean. This took a couple applications, especially working by hand along the vinyl.

I am really impressed! With just the Oxidation Remover application, the oxidation in that area is completely gone - and the gloss is back... which I didn't expect. I figured I'd have to apply the polish to get the shine.

These are NOT PHOTOSHOP PICS!! Here's the test results. If the rain holds off - more tomorrow.
great start. when you use the polish it will really bring it back. We had boats for 35 years and detailed many. Have even used wet sanding on bad examples. Smart doing it in small sections.
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Old 10-08-2021, 05:19 PM   #4
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THOR #16721
Well, my "dew theory" is partially debunked. The first pic below shows the NORTH facing side, which has NO OXIDATION... but the morning dew forms exactly like the other side... outlining the coach "skeleton". I'm thinking it has something to do with the interior wall temperature being different from the outside... at least until it warms up. Then the "skeleton" outline disappears.

Theory #2: Maybe the temperature differential causes the gelcoat to oxidize in that pattern??

The last two pics show "before and after" of another section. I'm quickly finding the major ingredient needed for this job is ELBOW GREASE!
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Old 10-08-2021, 08:00 PM   #5
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Use a “cutting” pad on your orbital. There are awesome videos regarding technics.
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Old 10-08-2021, 10:25 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HMCSW View Post
Use a “cutting” pad on your orbital. There are awesome videos regarding technics.
Although not ideal, I've just been applying the compound to a polishing pad and using that. One could spend a fortune in supplies/equipment for this... I'm trying to do a "respectable" job without breaking the bank. And so far it's working excellent! The gloss is fantastic!

The oxidation is only on one side of the RV - otherwise I would have invested in more specialized pads... and I'm almost finished with the oxidation removal. This has required a LOT on handwork with the compound on a microfiber towel - scrubbing by hand between the swoosh vinyl graphics. I'm trying to avoid the vinyl graphics as much as possible with the orbital... which means handwork along the edges.

Next step is polish over the entire RV, then wax - both steps will require the buffing pads and LOTS of microfiber towels.

Then... back over the vinyl graphics with 303 Protectant.
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Old 10-09-2021, 07:08 PM   #7
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Finished with oxidation removal! Here's the results... What a difference!

Tomorrow is polish day... then on to the wax.
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Old 10-10-2021, 01:52 AM   #8
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Looks great!! Iím getting ready to do my 2018 Freedom Elite. Keep the pics coming👍
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Old 10-10-2021, 08:45 PM   #9
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Finally finished with the "problem" side of the RV! Oxidation removed, polished and good coat of wax.

As I was admiring the results, I noticed the upper portion of the front cap is NASTY with oxidation! Hope to get that done before the winter nap!
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Old 10-10-2021, 09:00 PM   #10
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We used the Meguiars 3 step process on our Axis last year.

It was tough doing it all in one day both our arms were nonfunctional by the end of the day LOL but the coach did look great.
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Old 10-10-2021, 10:03 PM   #11
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THOR #13058
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
Finally finished with the "problem" side of the RV! Oxidation removed, polished and good coat of wax.

As I was admiring the results, I noticed the upper portion of the front cap is NASTY with oxidation! Hope to get that done before the winter nap!
Looks very good

I guarantee if that is done twice a year, you will never have to worry about Oxidation.
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Old 10-11-2021, 02:32 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JamieGeek View Post
We used the Meguiars 3 step process on our Axis last year.

It was tough doing it all in one day both our arms were nonfunctional by the end of the day LOL but the coach did look great.
Hows it holding up after a year Jamie? I need to do front and rear cap. Thx, Dennis.
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Old 10-11-2021, 03:00 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
Finally finished with the "problem" side of the RV! Oxidation removed, polished and good coat of wax.

As I was admiring the results, I noticed the upper portion of the front cap is NASTY with oxidation! Hope to get that done before the winter nap!
Great job! If you keep a good wax coat (2 times a year once if stored out of the sun) the oxidation is in your past.
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Old 10-11-2021, 03:14 PM   #14
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THOR #16721
So... I'm rethinking my "tentative" decision to not put a cover on the RV for "Ohio winter" storage this year.

I researched my rear-end off about cause and prevention of fiberglass gelcoat oxidation. Most of the answers I got pertained to fiberglass constructed watercraft with a gelcoat topcoat. ALL blame points to exposure to the sun's RV radiation. Since fiberglass RVs are basically the same construction, one can expect the same UV damage potential.

The OVERWHELMING answer for prevention? When not in use, store your boat/RV either COVERED, or in an area completely protected from the sun. While many products claim to "help protect" from UV damage, the science is in the surface of the gelcoat itself, NOT in a "UV blocking" chemical contained in the product.

The science is that when the surface of gelcoat is glossy, it reflects radiation - to a degree. BUT, it is just a matter of time until the gelcoat begins showing the porous/chalky appearance that is oxidation. I found NOTHING other than preventing UV exposure to prevent gelcoat oxidation.

Bottom line is that I purchased our RV to use and enjoy, so it WILL get UV exposure to some degree, which is expected. But KNOWING how to best prevent it is key. I take pride in keeping our motorhome looking as new as possible, and keeping it "oxidation free" as much as possible. Regular waxing greatly helps in cleaning efforts... road grime and bugs are much easier to remove.

Knowing what I NOW know, and the work involved in removing oxidation - I'm definitely going to cover my motorhome this winter. It's an absolute P.I.T.A., but MUCH LESS of one than scrubbing oxidation!
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Old 10-11-2021, 09:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
So... I'm rethinking my "tentative" decision to not put a cover on the RV for "Ohio winter" storage this year.

I researched my rear-end off about cause and prevention of fiberglass gelcoat oxidation. Most of the answers I got pertained to fiberglass constructed watercraft with a gelcoat topcoat. ALL blame points to exposure to the sun's RV radiation. Since fiberglass RVs are basically the same construction, one can expect the same UV damage potential.

The OVERWHELMING answer for prevention? When not in use, store your boat/RV either COVERED, or in an area completely protected from the sun. While many products claim to "help protect" from UV damage, the science is in the surface of the gelcoat itself, NOT in a "UV blocking" chemical contained in the product.

The science is that when the surface of gelcoat is glossy, it reflects radiation - to a degree. BUT, it is just a matter of time until the gelcoat begins showing the porous/chalky appearance that is oxidation. I found NOTHING other than preventing UV exposure to prevent gelcoat oxidation.

Bottom line is that I purchased our RV to use and enjoy, so it WILL get UV exposure to some degree, which is expected. But KNOWING how to best prevent it is key. I take pride in keeping our motorhome looking as new as possible, and keeping it "oxidation free" as much as possible. Regular waxing greatly helps in cleaning efforts... road grime and bugs are much easier to remove.

Knowing what I NOW know, and the work involved in removing oxidation - I'm definitely going to cover my motorhome this winter. It's an absolute P.I.T.A., but MUCH LESS of one than scrubbing oxidation!
We sold our 1995 Searay and the gel oat look almost new. It did spend another 10 year uncovered and we had to compound and polish a few times. The last 6 years under cover and only needed washed and waxed. We bought our 2021 Aria in March and found a 40 x 14 garage. About $80 a month more than other but convenience aside will keep it fresh for years. Being able to work on it in the winter out of weather is nice too.
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Old 10-13-2021, 03:52 AM   #16
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THOR #13058
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chateau_Nomad View Post
So... I'm rethinking my "tentative" decision to not put a cover on the RV for "Ohio winter" storage this year.

I researched my rear-end off about cause and prevention of fiberglass gelcoat oxidation. Most of the answers I got pertained to fiberglass constructed watercraft with a gelcoat topcoat. ALL blame points to exposure to the sun's RV radiation. Since fiberglass RVs are basically the same construction, one can expect the same UV damage potential.

The OVERWHELMING answer for prevention? When not in use, store your boat/RV either COVERED, or in an area completely protected from the sun. While many products claim to "help protect" from UV damage, the science is in the surface of the gelcoat itself, NOT in a "UV blocking" chemical contained in the product.

The science is that when the surface of gelcoat is glossy, it reflects radiation - to a degree. BUT, it is just a matter of time until the gelcoat begins showing the porous/chalky appearance that is oxidation. I found NOTHING other than preventing UV exposure to prevent gelcoat oxidation.

Bottom line is that I purchased our RV to use and enjoy, so it WILL get UV exposure to some degree, which is expected. But KNOWING how to best prevent it is key. I take pride in keeping our motorhome looking as new as possible, and keeping it "oxidation free" as much as possible. Regular waxing greatly helps in cleaning efforts... road grime and bugs are much easier to remove.

Knowing what I NOW know, and the work involved in removing oxidation - I'm definitely going to cover my motorhome this winter. It's an absolute P.I.T.A., but MUCH LESS of one than scrubbing oxidation!
Certainly a cover has it's advantages. In your case the PITA factor may not be as large if you intend to store for entire winter?

But since you referenced boats... attached is the cover I have for my 2017 Yamaha Limited. It is an $800 OEM Cover made by Yamaha and fits my Boat like a Glove. No chance of it flapping anywhere, My boat is stored outside in the Sun not far from my RV. Note the design of the cover? It does NOT cover the entire the boat and the sides are always exposed to sun. I have only used Meguiars Premium and the Meguiars #56 on the boat. There is ZERO signs of any Oxidation on my boat. My cover keeps leaves and rain out, allows the boat to breathe and for excess heat to escape. I guarantee, if my boat was not waxed properly the gelcoat would have the failures / damage stated by UV. My science is my proof of experience of a 4 year old boat. (Actually I have had other boats stored outside as well) My RV is now 2 years old. I may be wrong but my guess is that if it were outside in Ohio, the only difference would be it would be under snow or ice more than in Texas?

But I can take it a step further, I can send you picture of the side that faces the sun 100% of the time for 4 straight years and you cannot see or point out a seam line where the covered portion of the boat meets the uncovered portion of the boat.

https://www.amazon.com/Yamaha-Limite.../dp/B015TNSPS6

I can put the cover on / off in 10 minutes. I can honestly say that I have never thought of the cover as to protect gelcoat, I do think of it as aiding with keeping the insides of the boat from weathering. i.e. rain, leaves, pollen, dust, snow, leather seats, dashboard upholstery material, controls, LED screen material etc.

Note: I am not saying one should not use a cover. Quite the contrary, I am saying proper waxing will protect your gelcoat from damage that can be caused by UV.
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Old 10-13-2021, 09:33 AM   #17
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Looks great. You caught it in time. A friend of mine tried and tried and could not bring back any shine. Waited too long.

For what it's worth. I use the (Red) Gel-Gloss RV wash and wax (in between waxing with Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax) I used to get those black streaks and were hard to remove, but I found that when I washed it, instead of washing the soap off right away, I would leave it on for about 10 minutes, then wash it off. I don't get any more streaking. By leaving it on longer, it lets the wax portion to adhere better.

That's one reason I said to my wife before moving from Florida to Tennessee, is that any home we buy has to have either an RV garage or enough property to build one. I've seen too many RV's go to hell after only a few years. Forgetting the paint. You also have the roof to worry so much more about, with the sun and rain beating down on it.
Too much of an investment to have an RV that's 2 years old but looks 10.
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Old 10-13-2021, 06:55 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by dkoldman View Post
Looks very good

I guarantee if that is done twice a year, you will never have to worry about Oxidation.
Wait wait, what you say? Do the orbital buffing, orbital polishing, and hand waxing twice a year?
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Old 10-13-2021, 08:58 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by RodIndy View Post
Wait wait, what you say? Do the orbital buffing, orbital polishing, and hand waxing twice a year?
Not quite that much work.

Just wax twice a year. Easy peasey. I try to wax Spring & Fall; so it is not too hot and not to cold. I have a polisher but I try to only use it in wide open areas avoiding most all radiuses. I have kept wax on it since brand new, so no real need for me to go too aggressive with a polisher.

Also a contrary for some; there is no need to wax the entire RV all at once. If I do a complete wax job within a week, that is a rush job for me I never work more than 1 hour and always do with nice weather and shade.

In between I always wash with the RV Gel Gloss RV Wash & Wax. I really love that stuff.
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Old 10-13-2021, 09:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHS View Post
I use the (Red) Gel-Gloss RV wash and wax (in between waxing with Collinite No. 845 Insulator Wax) I used to get those black streaks and were hard to remove, but I found that when I washed it, instead of washing the soap off right away, I would leave it on for about 10 minutes, then wash it off. I don't get any more streaking. By leaving it on longer, it lets the wax portion to adhere better.


I will be honest, I fell in love with Gel-Gloss RV wash and wax. I use it on everything now. I put it in foamer or sprayer and let it sit. Take my telescopic brush and basically mop the RV with the brush. Bugs just slide off. I use the Gel-Gloss RV wash and wax after every trip or every 2 months.
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