Grizzly Grip - Coleman roof repair write-up

Discussion in 'Roof/Floor Repair & Maintenance' started by ultraclyde, Nov 28, 2012.

  1. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    Hi all - I have started redoing the roof of my Coleman with Grizzly Grip, so I thought I'd start a thread to detail my experiences. If it turns out well or fails completely, at least others can see what's involved.

    Background: 2000 Coleman SeaPine with factory AC roof unit. We've had it since 2005 or thereabouts, and it has always been parked outside in the sunny south. About 3 years ago I saw the first cracks, along the bottom edges. The cracks then started on the top corners of the camper that got more sun exposure in its normal parking spot. I started parking it 180 degrees around, and the cracks started on the other side. It's starting to sag a little too, but it's not bad yet and I plan to address that later as needed with fabbed roof rails and through bolting, but I figured there was no point if the cracks were continuing.

    So, here's how it looked to start:


    Driver's side:

    [​IMG]



    Passenger (door) side front corner:
    This is the worst ( and the first) crack. You can see the remains of a vinyl patch I put on just to keep the water out. It's high-end adhesive vinyl that was designed for wrapping a vehicl ( I used to work in the sign business) It worked for about a year but was starting to disintegrate. I was testing to see if wrapping the entire roof in printed vinyl was an option. It's not.
    [​IMG]


    The cracking was pretty severe, but I wasn't seeing any water intrusion inside the camper. There were cracks all around the bottom edge at the weather stripping, and along the underside of the awning rail. there are also a few in the center of the trailer in front of the AC. Initially, I'm being lazy and not going through the MEK crack welding before coating it. The cracks are so numerous and the top is so brittle, I just don't see the return on the work invested. I may regret it, but so be it. If I can get another 3 years out of this camper we might be ready to upgrade anyway.

    General prep: You can see I'm lucky enough to have a shop I can fit the camper in easily. I pulled it in a month ago so that any moisture that had leaked in through the cracks might have time to dry. We've been blessed with really low humidity ( rare in GA), so I'm pretty confident it's as dry as it's gonna get.


    Basic gameplan:

    Order 2+ gallons of snow white Grizzly Grip fine texture aliphatic, and 4 rollers.
    Remove AC unit & clean area under unit
    Remove edge gasket
    sand down top with green 3M scuff pads
    mask camper body
    2 coats Grizzly Grip
    New AC gasket, reinstall AC
    Reinstall roof gasket, maybe replace with new gasket



    I'm going to break up these posts for photo content, so read ahead to follow along.
     
  2. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    So, I bought all the required gear - Grizzly grip and 4 rollers ( $230 shipped), 3M LARGE green scuff pads, MEK Substitue to wipe down the roof, HEAVY nitrile gloves for the MEK, disposable nitril gloves for painting, a 9" roller frame, a metal rollar pan, a couple disposable (but not foam) brushes,disposable sanding dust masks, and a 3M half face respirator with cartridges for organic solvents.


    I started by popping the camper up as far as it would go in my shop. This was just high enough that I could scramble inside and lay on the unopened bunks while taking the AC's interior fittings and screws out.

    [​IMG]


    Then I lowered the roof and rolled the AC unit over to the edge. With some help from DW I set it on a cart I have. Unfortunately the plastic surround is brittle and cracked in several spots. I'll have to figure out what to do with that later on.

    [​IMG]

    I removed the old roof-to-body gasket next. It already had a 2" gap at the back and it started to separate as I pulled it off the camper. Most of it was a pain to pull off, but the long run on the driver's side was hanging loose already. Looks like I'll be buying a new one after all. ouch.


    I then started sanding, using a standard 1/4 sheet palm sander and 3M green scuff pads. BE SURE TO WEAK A DUST MASK. REALLY. I found that If I cut the large pads in half, they are the perfect size to clip into my sander. I changed pads whenever I felt it wasn't cutting. I used both a circular and cross hatch pattern and covered all the areas at least 3 times to make sure the surface was well sanded. I hit all the cracks and crevices by hand with scuff pads wrapped around a plastic squeegee I had. In this pic the right half is sanded and the left is not. You can see the difference in shine.
    [​IMG]

    Next, wipe it! Wipe it good!
     
  3. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    Now for one of the messy parts, the MEK wipe. As you may know, Methyl Ethyl Ketone, or MEK, is a solvent for most plastic - it melts it. It also dissolves any oils that would keep the GG from sticking. MEK is a KNOWN CARCINOGEN, and the vapors are god awful, even if they don't give you cancer immediately. It can also be absorbed almost instantly through the skin. Short term contact can cause rashes, headaches, nausea, irritation, etc,...and long term multiple exposures carry the aforementioned cancer risk. Trust me on this, I'm a chemist. Believe me when I say you need to take all serious precautions to limit your exposure - respirator and heavy gloves, long pants and sleeves, leather shoes. Make sure your respirator filtera are rated for organic solvents and paint, and that they're fresh.

    I used masking tape, old newspaper, and trashbags to mask the lower part of the camper. I think blur painters tape wouldn't have enough stick, and real masking tape is really only a problem if you leave it on too long. Masked camper:
    [​IMG]

    I used an old white cotton tshirt, cut up, for rags, and really soaked it with MEK (actually, MEK substitut since my hocal Depot doesn't sell real MEK anymore.) No pictures of this process (MEK + iPhone = no bueno.) You'll notice that as the solvent eats a little of the plastic top, or starts to evaporate, the rack starts to stick to the camper a little. Keep moving and keep the rag VERY wet. Make sure you cover the whole top well, make sure you wear your respirator, and make sure you have the area well ventilated. Keep pets and people away from it until all the solvent has evaporated. It took mine a couple hours before I could get around it without the mask on.


    The camper top was very shiny when done, obviously I exposed a nice fresh layer of unoxidized plastic to paint on. Be very careful not to touch the top too much or get any grease/oil on it.

    Next up, Gettin' my Grizzly Grip On
     
  4. bondebond

    bondebond New Member

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    Thanks for the update (and words of caution). Our safety officer called it "methyl ethyl death" and about shot a guy standing near him with a beaker full of it without warning anyone or any of the mentioned safety gear involved. That said, I have a can of the real stuff before it was near impossible to find. I treat it with respect.

    Anway, good work. I'm looking forward to seeing the results.
     
  5. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    Due to my personal schedule, I have to do the first coat one evening after work, and then do the final coat on a Saturday. I contacted the GG manufacturer, and they said waiting several days between coats was fine. the included instructions mention wiping with Xylene if you go longer than 2 weeks between them. The instructions also say the first coat should be light, and the second medium, making sure to allow enough time for a full cure of the first coat. Curing is a function of temperature and moisture in the air. GG should be applied above 60 degrees F, out of direct sun, and with plenty of ventilation. Unfortunately, it was in the low 50's and raining on the evening I wanted to apply it, so I fired up a small electric heater in my shop and opened the doors about a foot for ventilation. Since I had the respirator for paint and organic solvent, this worked for me. I can't stress how important that respirator is when you're dealing with this stuff.

    I geared up with a full mechanic's jumpsuit I use in the shop, but I'd recommend buing a cheap painter's tyvek jumpsuit if you don't have one. Disposable nitrile gloves and respirator were donned, and then I mixed up the GG. I bought 2 gallons + 1 qt. According to the GG folks, one gallon will put one coat on about 100 sq ft, or 2 coats on 50 sq ft. My camper top, including the sides, is about 9x12, or 108 sq ft, so I over bought a little. The GG came in 2 gallon bottles and one quart bottle. The gallons came with smaller bottles of premeasured activator taped to the side. The small bottle was premixed.

    Note because of the nature of the activated chemical structure, GG is only good for 1 month from manufacture, so don't order till you're ready to do it. Once mixed you mix the activator in, it starts curing, but you still have time to work with it.

    I dumped the activator in to one gallon and mixed it thoroughly using a drill-mounted mixer. Again, this is a necessity. The stuff is thicker than normal paint and you will not mix it sufficiently by hand. Once mixed I used a cheap non-plastic paintbrush to hit all the seams, cracks, and tight spots with an initial coat. It covers the hairline cracks instantly, and all but the largest cracks were instantly invisible. On the larger cracks I put it on as heavy as I could without getting drips.

    The roller covers supplied by GG are an open-cell, course foam, and you won't find them anywhere else. Be sure to order several. They recommend changing rollers every 50 sq ft or so, but I forgot and did the whole first coat with one and had no problems.

    The stuff paints on pretty well, but it's thick and requires some working back and forth, multiple passes with the roller to get even coverage. It also has a tendency to splatter pretty easily as the roller spins. It's self leveling so the roller marks disappear well, and you can heavy-coat cracked spots if you need to. Over all the first coat took me about an hour to put down by myself working at a reasonable pace.

    Parts of the camper were dry but tacky within an hour, and in 2 hours only the thickest parts over the large cracks were still wet. I opened the garage and turned off the heat, so it was pretty cool ( low 50s?) and i think curing would be faster in warmer weather.

    Pics just after painting, still wet:

    Largest crack
    [​IMG]

    From rear quarter:
    [​IMG]


    After drying overnight, all of the coating is well cured except inside the major cracks. Even the thick places are hard enough that you can barely leave fingernail marks if you dig in your nails. The two largest cracks have me a little worried, you can push on the top near them and still see movement, but the GG has formed a seal across them - but this is only the base coat. I checked with the manufacturer and was told I could do multiple coats as long as each cures completely, so I may just build it up thick in the problem areas. I also bought some fiberglass mat like you use for auto body repairs, so I may try to overlay the cracks during the next coat, I'm not sure yet. Just hafta see how it strikes me.

    So far, I'm very impressed. Hopefully I can get the second coat done Saturday and I'll report back afterward.
     
  6. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    I should really check for typos before I post..... [:D]
     
  7. Brad Metzger

    Brad Metzger New Member

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    well beyond my skill level, but awesome detail. Great job.
     
  8. cma7777

    cma7777 Member

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    Thank you for all the details. I will need to do this to my pup.
     
  9. jmcclung11

    jmcclung11 Active Member

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    Great job so far! You want to do mine! I'll bring it up to you! [:D] Mine is starting to get the little cracks all over the roof. Not looking forward to fixing it. But, maybe if I fix it now, it would be better than fixing it later.
     
  10. Hanne

    Hanne New Member

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    Thanks for documenting your roof repair process so thoroughly. As a chemist, you can add details that many of us do not know.
    I did not realize MEK was so dangerous. They put so many warnings on everything these days, after a while you you put them on ignore. I'll be much more careful the next time I use it!
     
  11. fmbhappycamper

    fmbhappycamper PuP Power

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    Looking Good, what is the weight of each coat? Does that matter? [8D]
     
  12. 01YZF6

    01YZF6 Dothan, AL

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    did you do anything to prevent the current cracks from spreading in the future ?
    (like drill 1/8" holes at the ends, adding a fiberglass resin/epoxy to the inside to help strengthen it?)
     
  13. Mr_Custom

    Mr_Custom Member

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    ultraclyde,

    Thanks so much for the photos, the details and the background information. I am glued to this post as I will need to do this next year with my ABS roof just starting to show a hairline crack. Your thorough descriptions are great!
     
  14. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    Hey guys - thanks for the good words. The process really hasn't been hard. If you can paint a house, you can do this. The only mechanical thing has been removing the AC, and that's only 4 bolts and a plug. The rest is just sand/prep/paint.

    Don't get me wrong, MEK isn't lethal, instant poison or anything. If you douse yourself in it, you don't need to rush to the hospital (unless you have some kind of allergic/sensitive reaction) but repeated exposure is a concern. It is well worth protecting yourself. Like anything with strong fumes, using it without ventilation is dangerous partly from oxygen displacement.

    Each coat is one gallon, give or take. Water weighs about 8 lbs/gallon, liquid GG might be a little more. It loses a good bit of weight ( through solvent evaporation) when curing, but for argument's sake let's guess that it still ends up around 8lbs per coat, so it adds around 16lbs maximum to the top. I guarantee that's less than most bike racks that people leave installed.

    I didn't do one single thing to prep the cracks. There were way too many of them. I'm counting on the toughness and resiliency of the (rather thick) coating of GG to halt the spread of cracks. If the cracks continue, I'm fairly certain it will be at a slower rate, and that the GG will keep a water tight seal regardless. Is that the best long term decision? Maybe, maybe not. I'll let you know in a year.

    One other thought: despite my cavalier attitude toward prepping the cracks, the earlier you can do this, the better off you'll be. Do it when you only have hairline cracks and I'd bet you'll be worry-free for many years.
     
  15. BigBaron

    BigBaron Dreaming of Tommy's chili cheeseburgers...

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    You can detail the cracks with a stripe of material, then put the normal coats on. We always did this in high-wear areas of parking structures and pedestrian areas.

    (sent from my phone)
     
  16. RickM

    RickM Member

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    I am kindof wondering if rolling on the MEK with a traditional roller and roller pan would work? Also how much weight do you think this added to your roof weight? I like this better than a rhino approach for that reason. It accomplishes some of the crack filling/prevention, gives it some flexible durability, and also gets the to somwhat UV protected.

    BTW. This writeup is inspiring for sure.
     
  17. BigBaron

    BigBaron Dreaming of Tommy's chili cheeseburgers...

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    You can, but MEK flashes off so quickly, and you have to use a roller skin that is made for solvent-based paints!
    Is the MEK for cleaning or?
    (sent from my phone)
     
  18. ultraclyde

    ultraclyde New Member

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    Rolling on the MEK won't work, for a couple reasons. The quick answer is that the mechanical action of wiping with the rag is important. Rolling something on leaves the chemical on the surface (like paint) instead of removing material from the surface (cleaning.)

    The long answer: the MEK serves three purposes as far as I can tell. 1. Removes any trace of oil or grease on the top so the GG will stick well. In order to remove the grease as the MEK dissolves it, you have to wipe it with something. 2. Removes any oxidized plastic that the sanding missed. The MEK dissolves the microscopic top layer of the plastic, and wiping it removes it from the surface. Removing it makes sure that the GG has fresh, solid material to adhere to. The rags I used had a LOT of plastic on them when I was done. 3. Wiping with a damp rag picks up any sanding dust from the surface - although this could probably be done with a tack rag or other accepted autobody technique, it doesn't HAVE to be the MEK.


    As an update, I used some fiberglass on the worst cracks and have put the final coat on the main body. It turned out really well for the most part. I'll get the pictures and full write-up posted in the next couple days.
     
  19. BigBaron

    BigBaron Dreaming of Tommy's chili cheeseburgers...

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    Agreed!

    (sent from my phone)
     
  20. cma7777

    cma7777 Member

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    My front (storage box) and back panels are also Abs. After doing your roof, what are your thoughts about also covering the front and back panels with GG?
     

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