(Not Knowing These Could Cost You $1000s)
Caravan exteriors are designed to withstand the extreme weather right? They are made for the outdoors so they must cope with being outdoors, right?
You’d be surprised..
We have detailed so many caravans that are only a couple of years old that are already fading and deteriorating.
If your van lives out in the extreme weather 24/7 without any type of protection it is almost certain that it has some level of oxidation, it may not be evident at first because it is a gradual process.
RVs are not cheap and protecting them is a MUST and here are 3 things you can do to keep your caravan shining like new:
1. BUSTING THE MYTHS:
* Myth no. 1: Have you heard anyone say “Just wash your van on a regular basis and it will stay shiny”?
Washing your caravan will just clean the dirt off of your caravan, that is it!
It is NOT a magical process which will keep your van looking like new until the end of times.
* Myth no. 2: I often get enquiries to polish caravans in order to protect them.
Although a good cut and polish is an essential step to remove oxidation and bring back gloss, it does NOT protect.
The protection comes from the different protective coating which can be applied to your van after being polished.
2. PROTECT IT LIKE YOU’D PROTECT YOUR BABY:
I’m sure you didn’t spend a big chunk of your hard-earned money to watch your caravan deteriorate right before your eyes, right?
Fortunately, there are different ways to protect your caravan which can be tailored to your lifestyle.
The most obvious option is to have your caravan completely enclosed
and if you want to take the protection to an OCD level you can apply a spray wax before you hit the road. That way your van will be protected while you travel.
DURABLE PAINT PROTECTION COATINGS
Unfortunately, most of us don’t have big enough sheds to store our caravans in.
The good news is that there are durable and tough paint protective coatings which offer several years protection.
They are the ultimate protection for RVs that live outside as they keep them protected wherever they go without the hassle that comes with using a caravan cover or waxing regularly.
The prices for these durable coatings usually start around the $1500 mark.
Sounds like a lot of money..
However, the cost of NOT protecting your van is much higher when you consider:
1. That you spent years or months looking for the right van, then you paid a lot of money to get it and how is it going to be left out to the weather’s mercy?
2. The total cost of getting your van polished regularly.
3. Also, if your van gets past the point of no return, polishing won’t bring back the new look. This can happen right before your eyes without noticing.
If you are not quite ready to invest in durable paint protection, there is this super convenient thing call spray wax.
They are easy and fast to use and they offer some level of protection, you will just have to apply it on a regular basis to get consistent protection.
A caravan cover is another well-known option and used together with a spray wax form a winning combination.
3. PREPARATION BEFORE PROTECTION.
Before applying any type of protective coating the surfaces have to be OXIDATION FREE otherwise the protective coating will NOT bond to the surface.
Even if a surface appears to be glossy it can still have* some level of oxidation.
To check if there is any oxidation, look at a panel from an angle from bottom to top and make sure that panel is exposed to direct sunlight.
You are looking for a hazy look or hazy spots, these hazy spots are an indication of oxidation.
To remove oxidation you will need to polish, the level of oxidation will determine the aggressiveness of your polishing.
REMOVING LIGHT OXIDATION
The most effective way to remove light oxidation FAST is NOT by polishing by hand because:
* It is possible that you won’t polish deep enough to remove all the oxidation.
* It is unlikely to keep an even effort throughout the whole van.
and more importantly..
* You may need a shoulder replacement after you are done.
In order to remove light oxidation effectively without needing physio, you must use this winning and simple combination:
A polish, a polishing foam pad and a dual-action buffing machine, something like this:
REMOVING MODERATE TO SEVERE OXIDATION
Severe oxidation is evident to notice and an indication of long exposure to the severe weather.
However, it can still go unnoticed if you are used to seeing your van every day. So here are the signs:
* Dull and faded look, the duller it is the more severe the oxidation is.
* Stains easily and difficult to clean.
* Chalky finish.
* In the worst cases there is mould stains.
* Small fine cracks become evident on Gelcoat surfaces.
If you are going to deal with severe oxidation on your whole van you must first arm yourself with patience and book your whole weekend out. Preferably get it done on the coolers days to prevent getting a heat stroke.
This is the artillery you must-have for the cutting stage:
* High speed or rotary buffing machine. Something like this:
* Cutting compound.
* Wool buffing pad.
* A spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol mix with water, 80/20.
* Painters masking tape.
This is how you take on the beast:
1. Clean and dry surfaces.
2. Tape off areas that could potentially be damaged like lights, vents, sticker, etc.
3. Start polishing.
4. After polishing over an area, clean that area with isopropyl alcohol. This process will clean oils from surfaces and reveal the amount of oxidation that is left.
5. Repeat 3 & 4 until all oxidation is removed from your van.
6. Apply the light oxidation removal polishing process to remove swirls marks and enhance gloss.
7. Apply wax for protection and extra enhancement.
NOTE: This heavy cutting process in NOT recommend for corrugated aluminium caravans as it can remove paint.
I hope this information has given you a better idea of what to do and if you have any questions post them below.
If you are NOT the DIY type of person and you think polishing your van is as exciting as weeding your garden on a hot day then..