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Old 04-15-2024, 09:25 PM   #1
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oxidation removal

Hi all! I have a 2013 FR XLR Thunderbolt 43 ft toy hauler that has severe oxidation. I'd like to tackle it and would like any tips, recommendations, warnings and recommended product suggestions please. I have some delamination going which doesn't really sound like a DIY fix so I may as well make it shine! Thanks in advance!
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Old 04-29-2024, 08:12 AM   #2
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I'm doing this to my Georgetown right now. Last year was the first time I tried and it lasted less than a year. This year I'm doing a few things differently that I hope will work better. This work takes a LONG time but the effect is dramatic (to me)..

What I'm using: Meguiar's Marine/RV Restoration Kit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0000AY4YT

It's a bit of a misnomer because all it has are the compounds but they are the ones I think I need. I'm sure I'll need at least two of those kits.

The 49 Oxidation Remover is used with a Dual Action (DA) buffer. I tried a couple of off-brand ones from Amazon and they simply did not last. One burned up the motor brushes twice. This year I switched to the Meguiar's branded MT300A. It's marked way down right now but does not come with a backing plate. Those can be bought a lot of places, including Harbor Freight: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OTK5JHG

You'll need several pads of various types because they get gummed up with the compound and need cleaned or replaced. The foam ones can have their hook-and-loop backing peel off when you try to remove them from the backing plate.

You'll need a heavy cutting pad, a polishing pad, and a waxing pad. I use a maximum size of 4" with a 3" backing plate because I try to stay off the decals so as to not damage them. The 1/2" of "overhang" on the edges also allows me to get right up to the frameless window glass and in between the slide edges and other protrusions because the foam pad just squashes. I use foam pads because the pro YouTube'rs seem to prefer them. By "Pro" I mean real detailing companies, not RV'ers going for clicks.

These link shows the ones I'm using. If you click on the pics one will show which foam pad is used for what. You'll need more than one of those packs: .https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N4J9TPB/

The 49 Oxidation removal is what takes all the time. I do a small section, wipe it off with Costco microfiber towels, do it again, wipe it off, etc. Depending on how bad the oxidation is it can take 3 to 5 iterations on each section. When I can hold the yellow microfiber towel up and see a good reflection I start another section.

You need to do small sections, no larger than 2' x 2' or the compound can dry and it's then hard to wipe off.

When using a buffer you want a light touch and low speeds. You do not want to heat up the gelcoat. And you need to do this work in the shade.

The 45 Polishing compound is an important part of the process. After you've removed the oxidation you need to apply the Polish as soon as possible. For example, I'll do a slide one day and apply the Polish after all oxidation is removed the same day. Gelcoat apparently has microscopic pores and those need to be filled in to restore the gloss. The difference between just removing the oxidation and applying the Polish is very dramatic.

Then after the Polish is wiped off the 56 Pure Wax goes on.

I tried the Meguiar's 67 One-Step Oxidation "Restorer" last year but the results did not last. So now I'm doing it the right way. I hope.

Remember, folks, I am NOT a professional.

Ray
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Old 04-29-2024, 09:09 AM   #3
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Holy cow, what a wealth of information, thank you so much! I knew this was going to be a huge job but I'm sure I won't realize just how big until I start, and then it's too late to change my mind! So your recommendation is to not even touch the decals? The cap of the camper is the worst including the decal.
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Old 04-29-2024, 11:08 AM   #4
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I'd try doing the decals but with a fine pad, low speed, and a light touch to get an idea of what's needed. Or try doing a decal by hand first with a soft rag.

Some of my decals have shiny vertical "bars" from the metal framing behind them (due to a temperature difference with the wall, I'd guess).

I have not figured out what to do with those yet.

Some decals apparently react poorly to petroleum distillates as Meguiars uses in some products. I'd get the compound off as soon as possible. The exposure time probably is a factor. Plus just how strong the petroleum distillates in the compound are, which we cannot know.

Ray
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Old 04-29-2024, 11:26 AM   #5
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I have not looked at the products you linked yet (btw, thank you for that, saves me the trouble!) but did any of them give you any idea how long all of this might last once it's done? I know some products that I've looked at have said approx. 6 months. Obviously anybody undertaking a project like this is going to want the results to last as long as possible.
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Old 04-29-2024, 12:49 PM   #6
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I have been through this process several times. The Meguiar's fiberglass restoration system works well on units with heavy oxidation, with the right buffer. It is a LOT of work the first time. My unit is now 13 years old and still looks pretty good. It became heavily oxidized at about 4-5 years after only waxing about once a year.
If your RV is stored outside, it might last 3-4 months after restoring, before the shine starts fading. Here in the SW, if it last 2 months I'm happy. The trick is to remove oxidation and then every 4 months or so use a product like Meguiar's Flagship Premium Wax (M6332) to remove slight oxidation and retain shine.

I gave up doing it myself a few years ago. We hire a local detailer to do ours 3-4 times a year. It will never look like new again, but it is good enough to pass muster.

I never did anything special for the decals, and some of them are faded, but I think that is mainly sun damage.

My unit is a light and dark gray color, which tends to oxidize faster than the white and tan colors. So there is that to consider also.
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Old 04-29-2024, 01:03 PM   #7
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Wow, only 3-4 months. I was hoping it would maybe last a year anyway. It sits out all the time in the glaring sun, no shade unfortunately. Thank you for the information, it's sounding like a bigger job than I'm going to be able to do myself. Guess it's good to know that before a person starts and then part of it looks great, and the rest of it looks like it does now..
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Old 04-29-2024, 07:24 PM   #8
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The original finish on ours looked great until the third year. Then oxidation showed up but I did not know what it was so I ignored it. Last year, the fourth year, it was pretty bad. It took a lot of work to get any reflection back. This year the oxidation is coming off with less work.

Ours was supposed to have a clearcoat over the gelcoat so I wasn't worried about it. Well, I can tell you that all of the basement compartment doors still look brand new. The wall sections around the basement compartment doors still looks great. Above that area on the actual walls and slides? It looks like crap. The front and rear caps look like crap.

Something was not done properly at the factory and several other people with Georgetowns of the same vintage are reporting the same thing. It's not just a sun exposure thing because the outside TV compartment door still looks like new.

I always waxed ours two or three times a year and because the finish looked mirror-like I thought all was well.

But I still have not figured out the technique to get that mirror-like finish in the gelcoat back. It's more like a dirty mirror. Looking at the walls obliquely gives a great reflection. Looking straight on with me in the sun allows me to see the details on my face now. But it's definitely not as good as the partial painted areas and it used to be.

Maybe next year.

I think the only way to get a years-long fix is to get it corrected professionally and have a clearcoat sprayed over it. I'm guessing that's why my compartment doors still look so good, as well as the walls around the doors.

Ray
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Old 04-29-2024, 08:14 PM   #9
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Well I imagine to have it done professionally is financially out of the question! Too bad that with as much as these campers cost they aren't manufactured with quality a little more in mind. Anyway, thank you for all your help and suggestions, I appreciate it a lot. Good luck to you on yours!
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