Category Archives: General RV Knowledge

Delamination – What is it?

If you read Facebook RV Groups at all or any RV Forums you will see many articles or questions about delamination.  Many of us know little about the issue but maybe would like to know more or you need to know how to fix it.

I recently chatted with Andrew Newton of Composet Products L.L.C.  Composet offers a product for fixing delamination.  I asked Andrew about delamination and what causes it.  Here are some of the questions and his responses.

What is delamination?

Many RV walls are a “composite”, meaning different materials are bonded together in layers. Typically, a thin fiberglass sheet forms the outer layer, followed by luan plywood*, Styrofoam, and an inside panel. Framing elements are also incorporated into the wall. The materials are glued together creating a composite structure. Delamination occurs when the bond between one or more layers fails. This happens in isolated segments, or throughout the entire panel.

Why does delamination occur?

In many cases a leak forms allowing water into the wall. Typically this happens at windows, vents, lights, roof lines, etc., where caulking is sometimes the only barrier to outside elements. Age, workmanship, vibration, maintenance, and environmental exposure are factors. In my opinion, most delamination occurs when the water breaks down the glue used in the manufacture of the luan plywood and results in the plies separating.

How can you spot delamination?

Look at the wall from an angle and check for bulges. Most sidewalls are not perfectly flat, so this can be tricky, however, the bulge will be worse when the wall is in direct sunlight due to the de-bonded materials expanding at different rates. Next, tap lightly on the wall with a plastic screwdriver handle, solid areas and delaminated areas sound different.

How is delamination fixed?

The most comprehensive way to fix delamination is by replacing the entire wall, requiring major reconstruction. Sometimes sections of walls are cut out, with a seam or joint created where the patch panel is installed. I have seen cases where the layers are re-bonded one at a time. Another process, developed by our company, Composet Products L.L.C., utilizes an injection process to saturate the affected area with a proprietary catalyzed composite bonding adhesive, followed by clamping. Every situation is different with your expectations and budget guiding the definition of a successful repair.

*Luan or Lauan plywood is made from the wood of the Lauan tree from the South Pacific Rim. Lauan wood is usually referred to a medium-grade Philippine mahogany. This produces a very lightweight wood that is softer than most softwood plywood. The surface finish of Luan plywood is very smooth, mostly without defects. The small defects that are found are filled and sanded smooth with the surface. However, because of these defects, Luan is generally only used for projects that will be painted.

Thickness

Luan is typically only manufactured in 1/4 inch thickness, although you can find it as thin as 1/8 inch at times.

Next week, I will go over the process of repairing delamination using the products that Andrew’s company offers.  It is an inexpensive kit that fixes a very expensive repair.

If you need more information or want to learn more about how to fix delamination, contact:

Composet Products L.L.C.
801-821-0964
http://www.delamrepair.com

 

Just wanted to let you know about the Facebook Page

I also have a Facebook Page that is used to support this site.  You can access it at Facebook Page.

I am starting to work on the video series.  It will cover the complete inspection process from roof to frame and everything in between.  Not sure how long this is going to take, probably a few months at least.  Also haven’t figured out what or if I will be charging for this.  I do plan on having a manual that will go with the videos.

Please let me know if you have any ideas or special interests.

 

Tip of the day… AC Circuits

Tip of the day… AC.  Electrical Systems on RV consist of 3 different circuits.  120 volts AC, 12 Volts DC for the house/trailer, and 12 Volts DC for the coach.  The 120 Volts AC is typically supplied by either the generator or shore power (don’t ask me why they call it shore power, I don’t know).

This 120 v runs the lights, microwave, tvs, stereo, refrig and air conditioners to name a few items.  Depending on the unit it may also run into an inverter and charge the house batteries.  The first place that you as the buyer want to check is the fuse/circuit breaker box.

This is the first place that the AC will be available.  You want to make sure that the circuit breakers and fuses are all operational and that no loose connections can be seen.  Next you will need a circuit tester.  This is a three prong device used to check AC outlets.  Test every outlet in the RV.  Making sure that the tester indicates correct readings.  Make sure you check the storage areas as well.  Note any outlet not reading properly.

Next you want to find the GFI circuit. This is usually in the bathroom.  It will have GFI and a test/reset switch on the outlet.  Press the test button and recheck ALL of the outlets.  Make a note of those that no longer work.  These are all controlled by the GFI Circuit that you just tripped.  Again, make sure you test the ones outside as well.  You will be surprised at the number of outlets that are wired together.

If your unit has a converter/inverter unit, it more than likely also has at least one circuit breaker.  This is a good time to test it and see what outlets are controlled by the unit.  Some will have 3 or more circuit breakers.  Test then individually so you can identify which is which.  When the lights go out because one of the kids is running the hair dryer, while the microwave and coffee maker are on, you will be glad you did this.

Slide Outs

Today’s tip deals with slide outs. Many of the RV today have slide outs. They help increase the living space. There are several things you need to look at when inspecting them prior to buying.
There are two sets of seals. One on the slide out and one on the main body of the rig. The one on the slide out is used when you retract the rig. It should go all the way around the slide out. You want to make sure that this seal is clean, soft, pliable and without any tears. With the slide out fully retracted you want to make sure there are no gaps anywhere around the slide out. You can test for possible leaking areas by putting strips of paper between the rig and the slide out before bringing fully retracting. If the papers pullout with no resistance, the slide out could leak in those areas.
The second set of seals is on the rig body and they are used with the slide out is extended. These will be inside the rig. As with the external seals they should be complete around the slide without tears etc. You will need to inspect these prior to fully extending the slide. Watch around the lower areas of the slide. If the slide out does not extend all the way, you will get water, dust, dirt, bugs etc in the rig from these areas.
If the slide does not seal all way around it is possible to adjust it. Contact your dealer or a certified RV repairman to have them look at what needs to be done.