Should I buy a camper with delamination?

In this blog post, we will discuss: Should I buy a camper with delamination? We will explain what delamination is, discuss whether it can be repaired, and finally give you a few tips to consider before buying a second-hand camper.

Should I buy a camper with delamination?

You should not buy a camper with delamination for two main reasons:

  1. This is a sign that the camper wasn’t kept and maintained very well, thus it could have other issues the current owner may not want to share;
  2. Repairing RV delamination will cost you a great deal of money, as insurance doesn’t usually cover it. 

Delamination occurs when the layer of fibreglass, laminate, or gel coat on the exterior of your recreational vehicle begins to bubble, tear, or peel away from the shell. This coating is used to protect your camper from the elements, but the elements can tear your protective coating over time.

Fibreglass delamination is a bad sign and it usually means that there is moisture under the protective fibreglass layer that loosens the materials of your camper. You may have a bigger issue on your hand than you’d want. 

Can delamination be repaired?

Camper trailers and RVs are constructed with plywood and fibreglass laminate that are held together using weather-resistant glue. In the course of time, this glue can release, causing the veneer to delaminate. When this happens, you will have to repair the delamination or it will only get worse over time. 

In addition to this, delamination can cause the plywood substrate of your camper to rot. If you are trying to buy a caravan that you suspect may be delaminating, you should avoid doing so. Some repairs are much more extensive than can be accomplished by a novice.

Below we are going to explain how you can fix delamination by yourself, but if you are not feeling confident enough, it is best to ask for help from an authorised mechanic. 

How to repair camper delamination step-by-step

  1. Remove the camper trim around the delamination site using a screwdriver or pipe set. This will help you determine the source of the leak that caused the delamination.
  1. Find the edges of the delamination by pressing against the fibreglass with your fingers. If you can press on the panel lightly, then it will be delamination.
  1. Cut around the edges of the delamination using the razor knife. Be careful not to make a messy cut, as this will make the repair unsightly. It is best to cut through the fibreglass by scoring the panel with the utility knife, then going back over the cut until the fibreglass can be peeled away.
  1. Scrape the old glue from the area where the delamination occurred. There will be old glue that needs to be removed from both the plywood panel and the back of the fibreglass.
  1. Apply new glue to the caravan plywood, smoothing over the entire area to be repaired, including the lines where the delamination is cut away. Also, apply an extra bead of glue near where the delamination started. This coarser grain of glue will help prevent future delamination.
  1. Press the fibreglass back into the glue before it has dried. You will notice that a small amount of glue will count up around the repair area where the exfoliated panel is cut. Use your finger to smooth this down. Let the glue dry according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  1. Reinstall the camper trim around the repaired panel to complete the repair operation.

Tips and Warnings:

  • Delamination areas that are larger than one square foot should be serviced by a professional camper repair centre to avoid future delamination.
  • Apply a new label over the repair area to help mask the delamination repair.

What to pay attention to when buying a second-hand camper

Beyond what the vehicle owner tells us, nothing compares to a first-person inspection. This will allow us to see all the parts of the motorhome closely and detect any possible problems.

Some of the things we recommend you pay attention to are:

  • Motorhomes are usually very prone to the appearance of fungus, especially in parts where water is used such as the kitchen or the bathroom.
  • One of the areas where it is most difficult to identify problems is on the motorhome floor. However, and as silly as it sounds, it is advisable to jump several times to verify the structure’s solidity.
  • Water leaks are one of the most typical problems that motorhomes often have, and also one of the most difficult to solve. For this reason, it is advisable to check all the roof joints, especially in the corners and on the bed area in class C motorhomes or campers.
  • The exterior of the motorhome can also tell us a lot about the state it is in.
  •  The wheels of a motorhome are one of the most important components of the vehicle, and one of those that suffer the most from the load weight and the passage of time.
  • Something that is unfortunately often overlooked when looking for a motorhome is the issue of suspension. However, our motorhome must have a suspension in good condition, especially if we are going to take a long-term trip.
  • Finally, we must not forget that our motorhome is not only not going to be our vehicle on any trip but also our home. With which, it will surely come accompanied by several amenities that will make our adventure much more pleasant.

Whether you want to make sure you have no trouble driving or detect any other issue, a test drive (a little longer than a short drive) is the best way to go. If the seller has no problem, it may also be helpful to take the vehicle for a short ride on the road to see how it performs at higher speeds.

Another thing that we recommend is taking the motorhome to a mechanic. And it is that unless you are very clear on this issue, it is always advisable to ask for a professional opinion on the matter.

The bottom line

Delamination can cause the plywood substrate of your camper to rot. If you are trying to buy a caravan that you suspect may be delaminating, you should avoid doing so. Some repairs are much more extensive than can be accomplished by a novice.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions to improve the content, please let us know!

FAQ on Should I buy a camper with delamination?

What does RV delamination look like?

RV delamination looks like a bubble, tear, or peel away from the shell. This coating is used to protect your RV from the elements, but the elements can tear your protective coating over time.

What causes fibreglass delamination?

Delamination is caused by one of two things. One of them is that the panel was not glued correctly at the factory. If you own a motorhome under warranty that is delaminating, return it to the agency for proper repair. The other cause is a water leak that breaks the bond between the fibreglass panel and the wood underneath.

Is RV delamination bad?

Rv delamination is bad because it can loosen your RV’s exterior skin and trap moisture between the exterior and interior walls. These walls are usually made of wood and then some other strong metal or plastic frame, so there are dangers in letting this moisture infect your interior.

What do you have to take into account when buying a motorhome?

When buying a motorhome, you have to take into account so many things that it is best to involve each member of the family in the process. Give each person precise instructions. Do an eye check of the tires, electrical system, the condition of the furniture, etc. 

References 

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