Heat and GRP caravan sides - a cautionary tale

Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
I thought I'd post a warning following a monumental error made by me earlier. After a catalogue of problems with our caravan we have changed it, I needed to remove the Isabella wheel arch draught cover strip which is fixed in place with 3M tape, as usual I used a length of MIG welding wire and carefully sawed through the tape like a cheese wire, no issues but there was a lot of tape left stuck to the panel. I decided to use my wife's hair dryer to soften the tape up to remove it, this is where things went horribly wrong........

I used the dryer on it's highest setting and held it close to the panel, I have a fair bit of experience with GRP and knew it was tough stuff (I now know different). As I heated the first bit the tape softened but suddenly the GRP surface started to go out of shape, in a panic I removed the heat and pushed the blisters back down, creating an indentation in the panel!!!!

It turns out that the outer GRP skin on Swift's really is very thin and nowhere near as robust as I assumed. The rest of the tape was removed "cold" by picking it away. The damage is about 5" x 3" and obviously needs repairing. Honestly, I could have cried. Only myself to blame, the dealer will get it sorted when we take it in but it'll be costing me between £300 and £400! If we were keeping the caravan I think I'd add a vent cover over it!

I'm not looking for sympathy as it's my own daft fault but I have read before of people using hair dryers to remove tape etc, just be careful folks, it really doesn't take much heat to go out of shape.

IMG_7969.JPG
 
Nov 12, 2021
348
313
1,935
Visit site
I genuinely feel for you. The only consolation, for what it's worth, is that hopefully by sharing you have prevented someone else from doing the same.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
I genuinely feel for you. The only consolation, for what it's worth, is that hopefully by sharing you have prevented someone else from doing the same.
Thanks, that's what I wanted to do. It really is very thin and while excellent for resisting knocks etc it cannot stand heat like I assumed it would.
 
Nov 11, 2009
20,282
6,224
50,935
Visit site
Sorry as to what should have been a simple job actually turned out. I tended to pre soften adhesive tape using sticky stuff remover then dental floss. The residue then gets another going over with sticky stuff remover. What I have no experience of is following my approach on a grp caravan. In theory it should be okay, but caravans don’t always obey the norms.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
If you don't mind me asking, why were you removing the strip?
To attach it to the new caravan, they come with the Isabella draught excluder, they aren't part of the original caravan. In hind sight it would have been cheaper to leave it alone and buy a new draught excluder. lesson learned....
 
Jul 18, 2017
12,110
3,385
32,935
Visit site
To attach it to the new caravan, they come with the Isabella draught excluder, they aren't part of the original caravan. In hind sight it would have been cheaper to leave it alone and buy a new draught excluder. lesson learned....
Or even buying the whole unit again. When we rejected our caravan due to numerous faults, it was part of our claim and we were paid. It is just about impossible to remove without damaging the side.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
Or even buying the whole unit again. When we rejected our caravan due to numerous faults, it was part of our claim and we were paid. It is just about impossible to remove without damaging the side.

I'm sure there was a voice in my head screaming "don't do it!" but stubbornness and thinking of determined to save a few pounds shouted louder. My wallet isn't on speaking terms with me currently.
 
  • Haha
Reactions: Buckman and Hutch
Sep 23, 2023
279
77
235
Visit site
Sorry to hear of the mishap..methalated spirit comes in usefull for removing some tape adhesive as does panel wipe/,degreaser as used by vehicle body repairers...
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Sep 2, 2023
67
47
85
Visit site
Gary. Thanks for sharing that extremely heart felt and well written little story which will hopefully save a lot of owners a lot of grief and £££.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jun 20, 2005
17,345
3,545
50,935
Visit site
Ouch Gary! Damaging your own caravan is a hard one to admit. Thanks for the heads up . I am sure it will be useful to all Forumites.
Aluminium will of course deform , probably faster than GRP..It’s not a big dent. Have you considered a mobile body shop firm. May be cheaper than the main dealer, who may use an outsider anyway!
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
It isn’t just a dent, it’s out of shape (proud bumps) as well as an inward dent. The dent was where I panicked and pushed the bumps back down. The dealer has photos and will talk to their body repair people on Monday. Either way it’ll cost me, but if it’s too much then I’ll have to go through the insurance.

The reason for highlighting this is to make folks aware that the oft-quoted robustness of GRP sides is great BUT it’s extremely thin and susceptible to heat damage if you’re clumsy like me.

I’m absolutely gutted BUT as I don’t have a time machine I’ve just to grit my teeth and move forwards.
 
Mar 24, 2014
361
76
18,735
Visit site
I suffered some heat damage a little while ago. I keep the toilet fluids in the gas locker and on one occasion, while I was replacing fluid in the toilet cassette I left the gas locker door open while I did so. What I hadn't realised was that, when wide open, the gas locker door on the Vigo sits directly over the gas flue. We were using the gas heating at the time as we were on a pitch without electricity. I only noticed the damage a little while later, when I saw what looked like a smooth dent when looking down the side of the caravan. It took me a while to work out what had happened. Fortunately, I was able to buy a replacement infill panel for the gas locker door from Prima, and it wasn't too difficult a job to get the new panel in. I now make sure that the gas locker door is closed after every time I use it, even when I haven't got the gas heating on.
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Nov 30, 2022
846
711
1,135
Visit site
Having cut a hole in the side of my (Bailey) caravan to fit an additional EHU input in a sensible location I can confirm that both the outer and inner skins are VERY thin indeed, probably no more than 1.5mm.
I used a jigsaw but I reckon half a dozon strokes with a Stanley knife would have been more than enough to cut through each side.
 
  • Wow
  • Like
Reactions: Bluetonic and GaryB
Nov 6, 2005
7,368
2,065
25,935
Visit site
Having cut a hole in the side of my (Bailey) caravan to fit an additional EHU input in a sensible location I can confirm that both the outer and inner skins are VERY thin indeed, probably no more than 1.5mm.
I used a jigsaw but I reckon half a dozon strokes with a Stanley knife would have been more than enough to cut through each side.
It'll be little or no consolation to GaryB to know that the layer of aluminium on conventional caravan bodies is equally thin!
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
I thought about having the sides done in a pebble dash render to hide it but I suppose the dealer might notice. It’s no-ones fault but mine, but I guess there’s a few that think because it’s GRP it’ll take some stick.
 
Jun 6, 2006
696
82
18,935
Visit site
I thought about having the sides done in a pebble dash render to hide it but I suppose the dealer might notice. It’s no-ones fault but mine, but I guess there’s a few that think because it’s GRP it’ll take some stick.
Or you could possibly fit an external gas point or socket, depending on the size of the damage…..I thought of it having read Mr Plodd fitting a socket, but obviously it would depend on the size of the damaged area, it would certainly be a cheap fix if it is possible 🤔
 
  • Like
Reactions: GaryB
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
Or you could possibly fit an external gas point or socket, depending on the size of the damage…..I thought of it having read Mr Plodd fitting a socket, but obviously it would depend on the size of the damaged area, it would certainly be a cheap fix if it is possible 🤔
No point as it’s being taken in as a part-ex on 12th! If we were keeping it it would get a plastic vent stuck over it. Unfortunately the shower enclosure is behind it so a socket isn’t possible.
 
Last edited:
Jan 20, 2023
778
656
1,135
Visit site
Well, I have just been emptying the caravan in preparation for it going in as a part-ex and now my tears have dried I had a better look at the damage. It is directly behind the cupboard, not the shower enclosure as I first thought and a second external mains socket would be a handy addition just there (IF the door doesn't foul it when open). It would certainly be an easier repair (and one I would have done myself before telling the dealer if I'd been thinking straight!). I'll see what they say when I take it in.2.jpg
 

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts